Traveling the World With the Fujifilm X100F

Traveling the World With the Fujifilm X100F

After traveling to more than 20 countries in less than 12 months with the Fujifilm X100F, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the reasons why I found this to be my perfect travel companion.

But before I get into why I found this camera to be such a capable travel camera, can we all agree there is never going to be a perfect camera for all circumstances? Every camera has its strengths and weaknesses, depending on the type of photography being called for, and the situation the photographer finds themselves in. But for every photographer there is that one camera which is just perfect for them.

For me that camera is the Fujifilm X100F. Over the past year, I have working on a book project which has seen me criss-cross the globe, and throughout the X100F has been my primary camera used to capture the majority of photographs featured in the book. These are some of my real-world experiences traveling the world with this incredible little camera.

Fujifilm X100F in Havana, Cuba (23mm, 1/250th second, F6.4, ISO 200)


There is no getting away from it: the X100F is a compact camera. Measuring in at just 4.9 inches wide, 2.9 inches tall, and 2 inches thick, it is small enough to fit into most coat pockets, and at around 15.8 ounces, it is light enough to carry around all day. Of course in the studio, or other controlled environment, camera size is less of an issue. But as a travel and documentary photographer I can easily find myself walking 10 miles a day as I explore cities all over the globe. For me, size and weight definitely matter.

But more than just the practicalities of having to carry all my equipment with me as I travel, I also find the compact size of the X100F is a huge advantage in capturing the natural, candid photographs I generally strive for. I have often found myself in situations where a larger camera could have appeared too conspicuous, causing people to react to the camera rather than their environment. Whereas the X100F allows me to fade nicely into the background, enabling the scenes I am capturing to unfold far more naturally. 

Of course, given its size, photographers with larger hands could potentially struggle with the size of the grip, buttons, and dials. Personally this has never been an issue for me, and I can zip around the camera with ease.

Fujifilm X100F at Niagara Falls, Canada (23mm, 15 seconds, F6.4, ISO 200)

Punching Above Its Weight

Despite its physical size, the X100F still packs as much, if not more, of a punch than many of its much larger alternatives. Where it deviates most from those alternatives is the use of a fixed 23mm f/2 lens. I know that many will view a fixed lens as a drawback rather than an advantage, but for me the fixed lens is one of the features which makes this camera so special as a travel camera. By removing the need to cater for multiple lenses, Fujifilm has been freed to really fine tune the lens to the 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor found under the hood, allowing the two to work in almost perfect harmony. From landscapes to portraits, the 23mm (35mm equivalent) f/2 lens offers the range of versatility I need as I head out each day, not knowing what I am likely to encounter.

Another factor which helps the X100F stand out from the crowd as a travel camera is its leaf shutter, which allows it to sync with off-camera flashes at ridiculously high speeds. I simply can not overstate how useful that is. It means even in the bright light situations I am often faced with, I can shoot wide open to achieve a narrow depth of field, using a super fast shutter speed to reduce ambient light and a flash to light my subject. That’s just huge in situations where I am not able to plan for the shoot, having to adapt as I go. And as if the high sync-speed wasn't enough, the X100F also has a built-in 3-stop ND filter; often all I need to take the edge off when shooting outdoors. Having a physical filter built into the camera means one less item to carry around.

Autofocus is excellent, and in real world use I found it could handle pretty much everything which was thrown at it. Selecting autofocus points with the joystick style controller feels extremely natural, and the the facial recognition system is especially good, detecting faces, even multiple faces, at speed. Priority can even be given to the right or left eye. It just seems to work, which is exactly what I need when I only have a very limited time to shoot a particular location.

Fujifilm X100F in Elmina, Ghana (23mm, 1/250th second, F4, ISO 200)

A Photographer's Camera

Let’s be honest, although the X100F can shoot 1080/60p video, you aren’t going to want to. This is a stills camera through and through. On the surface, this would appear to put the X100F at a disadvantage as a travel camera, especially given the video capabilities of some of the alternatives (such as Fujifilm’s latest video-focused camera, the X-H1).

But for the stills photographers out there, this is a dream. Nowhere is this more obvious than the abundance of exposure control dials. The X100F features a very tactile aperture ring with a satisfying click for each of the third-stop increments on offer, along with shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. On the surface this may not seem such an advantage, but in practice it means that when I am in the middle of the action, needing to make fast adjustments, I am able to control my entire exposure by touch, without having to remove my eye from the viewfinder.

Talking of viewfinders, the X100F features the same hybrid electronic and optical viewfinder as found on its bigger brother, the Fujifilm X-Pro2. The EVF is stunning, providing such a good representation of the photograph being composed, overlaid with a wealth of information, I use it almost all the time. But for those occasions when the situation calls for it, I really appreciate also having an optical viewfinder available at the flick of a switch.

Fujifilm X100F at the Colosseum, Rome (23mm, 1/250th second, F2.8, ISO 200)


Above all else though, one of the main reasons I find this camera to be such a capable travel camera is it maturity. The X100F is the fourth generation of this X-series of camera, and it shows. Fujifilm has a strong reputation for regular hardware and software improvements, and for listening to their user base. As a result, this is a camera which is extremely well tuned to those who use it. This fine tuning is further enhanced with the high level of customization available. With seven programmable buttons, any of which can assigned to a wide range of specific functions, I am able to set up the X100F to perfectly match my shooting workflow, so much so that muscle memory will account for the vast majority of my interaction with the camera.

That isn’t to say there isn’t room for improvement. Personally, I would really appreciate seeing weather sealing introduced to the next version. As I never know what weather I am likely to encounter, I have to roll with whatever Mother Nature has in store for me. More than once I have been caught in a sudden downpour while stuck in the middle of nowhere. It would be nice to be able to carry on shooting without having to worry about rain damage.

An articulating screen would also been a huge bonus. Rolling around in the dirt, searching for the right angle for a shot, is not fun when others can simply flip out the screen. And while we are on screens, adding touch input certainly wouldn’t go amiss. These are all incremental improvements however, and although these features which would certainly make life easier they definitely aren't essential to getting the job done.

Fujifilm X100F at the Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo (23mm, 1000th seconds, F6.4, ISO 200)

What I Liked

  • Compact, go-anywhere design.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Solid autofocus capabilities.
  • Sharp, fast lens coupled with high performance X-Trans III sensor.

What I Didn't Like

  • No weather sealing.
  • No articulating screen.
  • No touchscreen.
  • No 4K video capabilities.

Final Thoughts

There are many outside the photography world (and quite a few inside, if truth be told) who hold the misconception that size equates to quality, that a larger camera is somehow more “professional” than a smaller camera. The X100F helps smash that misconception. Over the past 12 months, it has had to cope with the blazing heat of the Dubai summer to the freezing cold of the Icelandic winter, and pretty much everything in between, while delivering top quality photographic results along the way. Of course, this isn’t going to be the camera for everyone. You aren’t going to want to shoot sports or wildlife photography with a compact, fixed lens camera. But for travel, documentary, or street photography, the Fujifilm X100F is practically a must-buy camera, which is why it remains my first choice every time I head to the airport for another travel assignment.

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Deleted Account's picture

"...for travel, documentary, or street photography, the Fujifilm X100F is practically a must-buy camera". Depending on the kind of travel, documentary, or street photography you like to do. I can see how it would be very nice for a lot of people but far too limiting for me.

Paul Choy's picture

I agree, it does very much depend on what type of photography is called for. I think it is one of those products that has a more narrow target market, but for those who do fall within that target it will prove invaluable.

aaronbratkovics's picture

It's amazing to have with you for everything. The only reason I decided to go with an xt2 is because I wanted to be able to change my lenses.

Benedict Eric Kwasi Baah's picture

:) happy you came to Ghana 🇬🇭 how was your stay?
hope to see you again!

Paul Choy's picture

Ghana is spectacular!

The Makola market is a street photographers paradise, and the fish market of Elmina is just as incredible. And I have no idea how the street vendors at the traffic lights manage to carry enough stock on their head to fill a small department store!

I would strongly recommend Ghana to anyone looking to experience the true hospitality of Africa.

Benedict Eric Kwasi Baah's picture

Lol... thats the vibe.. one can make even his favorite soup in traffic. And yes, my country Ghana is definitely a true definition of hospitality. which of our staple food did you try out?
Maybe next time, Kindly link up on your next trip.
waiting for the day Lee Morris , Patrick Hall and Elia Locardi will trip Ghana to shoot "Photographing the world.." ☺️☺️🙏🏾

Norman Lee's picture

My X100S came with me for three weeks through six European countries, so I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment! I haven't tried any flashes beyond the built-in one, though, preferring to use the hot shoe for a nice Lensmate thumb grip; I wonder what he uses.

Chadd Wickens's picture

I almost got one but decided to get the xt-20 instead. I wanted it to be more versatile. When I visited Poland, I found I used my long lens alot to pick out the small details on buildings, some of which are my favorite shots. If I could afford it I'd have both but having the 18-55 and the 55-200 allong with a small fast prime will make sure i'm covered for any eventuality.

Paul Choy's picture


Although the X100F is my most used travel camera, even when I am on the road I will also usually have either the X-T2 and X-Pro2 with me as well.

I don't think the X100F can be seen as a replacement for a camera with an interchangeable lens, and there are definitely going to be many occasions when you would want the versatility of changing lenses.

Rather it serves it's own, slightly separate purpose, and for that it is fabulous.

David Tressler's picture

I'm still rocking an X100. I used it on my travels around asia and loved it.

John Nguyen's picture

I really like the 12 mp non-Xtrans sensor in the X100. I could shoot 6400 and not worry about too much noise.

David Tressler's picture

Its actually such a great performing sensor and the image feel is like nothing else.

Jonas Karlsson's picture

i cant stand the fiddling with the built in nd filter. i forget to enable it outside so the first few shots get overexposed, then i forget to disable it indoors and get crazy high iso. its completely beyond me why there isnt an option to automatically have it enabled when the shutter hits 1/1000 or disable it when it needs to raise iso.

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

X100F is incredible - aside for being every day carry, I also use it in studio and it shines :)

Mark McIntyre's picture

I agree whole heartly about the X100 series. I spent a month in Paris and never took my Canon 5D Mark III out of the bag. My X100S was with me everywhere I went day and night.

Ricky Mckillips Jr.'s picture

Awesome article! I've had my X100F for almost 6 months now and i'm still in awe of how versatile it is in so many situations. Fast auto focus, stunning jpgs SOOC, extremely flexible raw files, fantastic ISO performance. The list goes on an on. I'm primarily a portrait shooter and have used it in a natural light and a studio setting and it continues to tackle anything thrown at it. I also carry around the Fuji TCL-X100 II, if i'm looking for a more narrowed portrait focal length. Coming from a Nikon background, I wanted to have a camera with enough under the hood so I was able to photograph moments anywhere without breaking my back.

Agreed,it does comes with its own set of caveats that are listed above. I'd add that the sensor seems to crush a lot of the shadows so I end up usually shooting close to the +1 on my exposure comp dial, but that's just personal preference.

Overall: A joy to carry, shoot and to look at. While it may not be important to some, you have to admit that this camera looks beautiful. I've had multiple people come up to me and comment that they love the design and even wonder if i'm shooting a film camera. Can't say I've had the same experience when i'm walking around with my D500/grip and a 2.8 zoom.

Paul Choy's picture

I also carry the TCL-X100 II with me most places. I did debate including mention of the conversion lenses in this article, but felt it might distract from the main point of the X100F's carry-anywhere virtues. Maybe a separate article on the TCL-X100 II would be in order ...

Julius Quirante's picture

What I Didn't Like
No weather sealing.
No articulating screen.
No touchscreen.
No 4K video capabilities.

The above things has no relevance what so ever. This camera is magical, and there is something about it’s color renditioning.

Paul Choy's picture

I am not sure I agree these points have no relevance. Whilst I agree is it a magical camera, as a travel camera (which is perhaps where the X100F is at it's most magical) any of these would be a huge bonus.