This is an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X100F camera, which was released by Fuji on January 19, 2017. The X100-series cameras have been very popular since they were introduced to the market and the X100F is the fourth iteration of the product. Sporting a 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, a fast X-Processor Pro image processor, an improved 91-point AF system and an updated button layout with joystick autofocus control for easier AF point selection, the X100F is the most refined camera of the series. I had a chance to test out the X100F earlier this year for a few months when traveling to Morocco and Uzbekistan, so I decided to write this review based on my field experience.
Since it took over two years for Fuji to release the X100F, it was a much anticipated release, with many existing X100-series owners wanting to upgrade to a worthy successor (especially those who owned the first and second generation cameras). The camera has seen quite a few changes overtime, but the differences between the X100F and the X100T were not all that drastic. The 16.3 MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor was upgraded to 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III with an expanded ISO range of 200-12,800. The processor was upgraded to the latest X-Processor Pro for faster processing, faster continuous shooting of 8 fps and quicker autofocus calculations. The autofocus system was updated from 49 points to 91 total AF points, while the menu system also saw slight changes and improvements. However, the biggest changes, as I detail further down below, were delivered ergonomically. These changes aren’t as subtle as some of the feature differences, impacting the way one uses the camera in the field. Let’s take a look at these differences in more detail.
1) Fujifilm X-100F Specifications
Main Features and Specifications:
- Lens: Fujinon 23mm f/2
- Sensor: 24.3 MP (1.5x crop factor), 3.93 μm pixel pitch
- Sensor Size: 23.6 x 15.6mm
- Resolution: 6000 x 4000
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 200-12,800
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 100
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 25,600-51,200
- Sensor Cleaning System: Yes
- Weather Sealing/Protection: No
- Body Build: Magnesium Alloy
- Shutter Speed: 30 sec to 1/4000 and up to 1/32000 with Electronic Shutter
- Shutter Control: Leaf Shutter
- Storage: 1x SD slot
- Speed: 8 FPS
- Exposure Meter: TTL 256-zones metering
- Built-in Flash: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- Manual Focus: Yes
- LCD Screen: 3″ 1,040,000 dot LCD monitor
- Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ up to 60 fps
- Movie Output: MOV (H.264)
- GPS: No
- WiFi: Yes, 802.11b/g/n with smartphone control
- Battery Type: NP-W126S Lithium Ion
- Battery Life: 390 shots
- USB Standard: 2.0
- Weight: Approx. 419g (excluding battery and accessories)
- Price: $1,299 MSRP
A detailed list of camera specifications is available at Fujifilm.com.
2) Camera Construction and Handling
Thanks to the magnesium alloy top and bottom covers and overall solid build, the Fuji X100F is a camera that is built to last. Although I wish the whole shell was made out of magnesium alloy like on some other Fuji cameras like the Fuji X-Pro2, it would have certainly added to the weight of the camera. Instead, Fuji used a plastic shell for the middle section and covered it with high quality synthetic leather.
The overall look of the camera has been getting some facelifts from generation to generation and while the X100F certainly looks similar to its predecessors, some of the buttons and dials have been re-arranged. Arguably, the front of the camera has seen the least amount of changes overtime, with slight changes here and there and the addition of the front command dial on the latest X100F. The top of the camera has also seen minimal changes, with the exception of the added ISO function to the shutter dial (ISO can now be changed by lifting, turning and dropping the outer part of the dial), as well as the updated exposure compensation dial with a new “C” position that allows up to ±5EV of compensation.
The back of the camera is where the X100F stands out from the rest of the X100-series cameras. Fuji decided to move the key function buttons such as “Playback” and “Trash” from the left of the LCD to the right, while the “View Mode” button has been moved up to the top magnesium alloy panel. In addition, the “Drive” button has been moved as the top button on the four button control pad, while the “AFL / AFL” button has been moved up to roughly where the “Drive” button used to be. To make it a consistent experience with other Fuji cameras, the “Q” (Quick) button has also been moved to the right of the camera.
For me, the most important change in the X100F design is the addition of the joystick for quicker autofocus point selection. This is one important feature that I wish every camera had from the get-go – I cannot stress how important it is for one to be able to quickly move a focus point towards the subject in a timely and convenient manner. The updated layout and refinements, along with the joystick are the two main reasons why I would personally upgrade to the X100F from the previous-generation X100-series cameras. These changes make a big difference in the way one uses the camera.
The stylish retro design of the camera is certainly one of the factors that attracts so many people to the Fuji X100F. Having a similar look as old film rangefinders / compact SLRs, the Fuji X100F is a very appealing instrument with a unique “character” to it. Sadly, not something we see in modern mass-produced cameras anymore. I strongly believe that if it was not for this stylish retro design, the X100 line probably would not have been nearly as successful. The X100-series cameras have that “Leica” look in them, certainly grabbing the attention of those that appreciate such fine tools. I am particularly fond of the silver version of the camera. When using it in the field, I was approached a number of times by other people, who asked what I was shooting with.
Similar to other X100-series cameras, the X100F handles extremely well. When you hold the camera, it feels “just right” in terms of weight, size and balance. The small 23mm pancake-type lens does not make the camera front-heavy like what you would normally see on many other mirrorless and DSLR cameras, and it helps to keep the camera small enough to fit in your jacket pocket. When photographing with the X100F in Morocco and Uzbekistan, I mostly hung the camera on my neck and when shooting in colder days, I did not mind keeping it inside my jacket pockets. The weight did not bother me at all, even when shooting all day. This small footprint makes the X100F ideal for street and travel photography, which is what I mostly used it for.
The fixed single focal length lens (which is equivalent to a field of view of a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera) might be a little limiting to those that want wider or longer reach, but if 35mm is your favorite focal length, you will surely love this setup.
I am sure by now you have heard of the hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder featured on a number of Fuji X-series cameras like the X100F and X-Pro2 – it is one of the key highlights of these cameras. Having tried both (optical and electronic), I personally favor the electronic viewfinder on the X100F for several reasons. First, the optical viewfinder does not show accurate framing when photographing subjects at close distances. The white frame moves to a different spot when half-pressing the shutter, but it is often not close to what the final output will be. Second, I like WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) when using EVF on modern cameras, as I can quickly judge my exposure settings and know what the final image is going to look like before taking a shot. Lastly, I find overlay information to be useful and I can use the same screen for a quick image preview, so that I don’t have to move my eye away from the viewfinder.
The X100F comes with a similar thin strap as other X-series cameras, which is pretty uncomfortable to wear in my opinion. I would highly recommend to replace it with something better and thicker. Personally, I am a huge fan of neoprene straps from OP/TECH. The classic version of the strap would probably be ideal, although if you feel that it is too thick or too big for the X100F, they have all kinds of smaller sizes too. Just make sure to pick up a strap that is thin enough to go through the “ears” on the sides of the camera.
The Fuji X100F also comes with a compact built-in flash in the front of the camera. You can activate or deactivate it by pressing the flash side of the rear rotary dial. Compared to DSLR built-in flashes, this one is tiny and not very powerful. Do not expect it to light up a room for you, as the flash is only meant to be used occasionally. It works great as fill flash for a single subject or a small group at close distances, but nothing more. The good news is, you do not have to rely on it if you like working with flash – the standard hot shoe on the top of the camera will work with any speedlight or flash trigger system like PocketWizard. And thanks to the leaf shutter used on the X100F, you do not have to worry about slow sync speeds when using external flashes! This is one of the main reasons why some photographers go crazy over the X100-series cameras. Personally, I have used the Fuji X-series cameras with my Nikon speedlights both on and off-camera in manual mode and they worked out great.
My biggest handling complaint on the X100F (similar to other X100-series cameras) is the tripod mount placement and the fact that the memory card is located in the same place as the battery. This issue is rather annoying, because the tripod mount socket is located off the center of the camera close to the battery/card compartment, making it painful to remove the card or battery while the camera is mounted. I use the Arca-Swiss quick release system and using a generic plate keeps the camera way off center. It would be great if Fuji could move the card slot to the side of the camera, or move the tripod socket away from the battery compartment to make it more accessible.
3) Camera Controls and Menu System
As I have already written in my prior reviews of Fuji cameras, I love the retro-style controls of the high-end X-series cameras, including the X100F. If you have only shot with a DSLR before, these controls certainly will take a little time to get used to. The main dial on the top of the camera controls the shutter speed and the 1 stop markings are engraved on this dial. If you want to go in smaller 1/3 increments, you can still do it by rotating the rear rotary dial in either direction to increase or decrease the shutter speed. The red letter “A” indicates Aperture Priority mode, so if you switch to it, the camera will pick the shutter speed in 1/3 increments for you automatically, based on the camera meter reading. The aperture of the lens is always controlled through the lens directly. Thus, the camera essentially has no “Manual” mode.
All the key functions and customization options are included, along with features like intervalometer, digital teleconverter (new to X100F), etc. While the camera technically has ISO boost levels up to 51,200, you cannot shoot anything above ISO 12,800 or below ISO 200 on the X100F when shooting in RAW. Unfortunately, the same problem is present on all current X-series cameras. I do not understand why Fuji does not allow shooting RAW at boosted ISO levels. There might be a technical reason for this, but it pretty much makes the camera useless for shooting at ISO 100 or high ISOs above 12,800 for those that prefer RAW over JPEG.
4) Image Sensor and Autofocus Performance
At the heart of the X100F sits the updated 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor that has an expanded ISO range of 200-12,800 compared to ISO 200-6,400 on the X100T. This is the same excellent sensor that Fuji used on the X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras. The increase of resolution from 16.3 MP to 24.3 MP is also rather significant and definitely noticeable when looking at all the details in images, and the 23mm lens is able to resolve plenty of detail.
Similar to the X100T, the X100F has phase detection pixels right on the sensor, allowing for quick autofocus operation. The new sensor incorporates more AF points compared to the X100T as well – you can select up to 325 focus points on a 13×25 grid and if that’s too much, you can switch to 91 focus points on a 7×13 grid. Keep in mind that when shooting in continuous AF and CH burst modes, the camera will use 91 focus points, 49 of which are of phase detection type. In addition, the X100F gains more AF Area modes when compared to its predecessor – you can now select Zone AF and Wide / Tracking.
Overall, the X100F felt much better in autofocus performance and reliability when compared to the X100T. Despite the relatively slow focusing speed of the 23mm f/2 lens, shooting still and moving subjects was a breeze and I was quite happy with the results (it helps that the X100F now uses phase-detection AF for face and eye tracking). However, the autofocus performance is still noticeably slower when compared to Fuji’s interchangeable lens cameras such as the Fuji X-H1 and X-T3. I think the main reason for the difference is the lens – I wish Fuji updated the 23mm f/2 to be on par with other X-series lenses in terms of AF acquisition speed. I am not sure if it is technically feasible to do that without impacting the size of the lens.
5) Fujinon 23mm f/2 Lens
The fixed 23mm f/2 Fujinon lens on the X100F is outstanding in terms of contrast, colors and center resolution. The center and mid-frame of the lens is very sharp right at f/2, which is very impressive. The corners are weaker at large apertures, but improve a bit by f/8. If you are into landscape photography, you might get disappointed by the performance of the lens from f/2-f/5.6. So if you want to get the maximum sharpness, you need to stop it down to f/8. I have taken a few images of distant landscapes with the X100F at larger apertures, some of which I have added to this review. When looking at images at 100% view, the center performance is excellent and you can see a lot of details. Towards the extreme parts of the frame, however, details start getting lost, resulting in lower overall resolution. For most photography needs like portrait and street photography, the Fujinon 23mm f/2 does a very good job though and I would not hesitate to photograph subjects wide open at f/2.
Handling of flares and ghosting depends on the position of the light source in the frame. Seems like the area around the center of the frame results in little ghosting/flare, but it gets much worse towards the corners, so you have to be careful when framing the scene with the sun in it.
Vignetting levels are also very low. At the maximum aperture of f/2, the lens has 0.76 stops of vignetting in the corners and stopping down the lens cuts vignetting by half to 0.32. At f/4, it is reduced a little more and stays the same when stopped down from there.
At the maximum aperture of f/2, the lens renders out of focus areas smoothly and the bokeh characteristics are very good, as the above image sample illustrates.
6) Metering and Exposure
While the Fuji X100F does not have a sophisticated metering system, it actually works surprisingly well in most situations. The camera does have a tendency to overexpose and underexpose in unusual lighting situations, but that happens even with advanced DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, so it is not anything unusual. Gladly, you can easily tweak the exposure by using the exposure compensation dial on the top of the camera.
7) Shooting Speed (FPS) and Battery Life
The Fuji X100F is a pretty fast camera that can shoot at up to 8 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. The X100F received a boost of 2 fps over the X100T, but to be honest, it is not something that makes a huge difference, as the X100-series cameras are not designed for action photography anyway. Having used the camera for over 3 months, I cannot remember shooting in continuous mode at all, perhaps other than for experimentation / review purposes.
The good news is that when the camera is shot in burst mode, the memory card write process does not freeze the camera like it does on other cameras. If you want fast writes, make sure to get a fast SD card. I used SanDisks’s Extreme Pro 90 MB/sec class 10 SD cards and they performed really well with the camera, even when shooting continuously. When shooting in bursts, the camera has a very large buffer for JPEG images, allowing you to shoot continuously for up to about 28 seconds. When shooting in RAW, the Fuji X100F can shoot for around 5 seconds before the buffer fills up and the camera slows down. This is drastically better when compared to the X100T, which slowed down to a crawl in less than two seconds.
In terms of battery life, thanks to a faster processor and a larger battery, the X100F can now shoot up to 390 shots before the battery runs out (compared to 300 shots on the X100T). Keep in mind that these numbers are CIPA-based, which uses a combination of different modes and use of flash for calculating battery life. In real life, I was able to get far more than 390 shots on a single charge. In addition, if you turn off image previews and use the OVF instead of the EVF or the LCD, you will be able to extend the battery life of the camera even further.
The larger NP-W126S battery is great news, because it is the same battery that Fuji uses on other X-series cameras. This proved to be very useful for me when traveling with both the X100F and the X-H1, as I was able to use a single charger to charge batteries for both cameras.
8) Video / Movie Recording
While the X100F can shoot high quality video at up to 1080p @ 60 fps, Fuji unfortunately did not provide 4K video recording capability to the camera as it did on the X-T2 and X-Pro2. With 4K video being a key feature on most modern cameras and smartphones, it would have been better if the X100F also came with it. Fuji added 4K video recording capability to the X-Pro2 via a firmware update (as it did not have the capability at the time of its release), but the X100F never got this update.
At the same time, considering that the X100F is a fixed lens camera that is primary aimed at photographers, one could argue that 1080p video recording is sufficient for those situations when one wants to shoot occasional video. Personally, aside from doing a quick video test, I did not bother shooting video on the X100F when shooting in the field. Unlike other X-series cameras, the X100F does not come with a dedicated video recording button and there is no input for an external microphone either, so the video recording functionality is somewhat crippled to begin with.
Just like all other Fuji X-series cameras, the X100F comes with a standard size hotshoe that can be used with Fuji’s flashes such as EF-20, EF-X20, EF-42 and third party flashes and radio triggers. The X100F lacks a PC sync port on the side of the camera, but it isn’t a major issue for many of us that like to use external flash, especially considering that the camera has a leaf shutter, which essentially lifts the typical 1/180-1/250th sync speed limit on focal plane shutters of the X-series cameras. This opens up a lot of opportunities for high speed photography, like photographing subjects with flash in daylight conditions. Here is a sample image that I captured with the X100 at 1/4000 @ f/2, completely darkening the background behind my subject (which was a fairly well-lit room):
I placed a single Nikon SB-900 slave flash behind an umbrella in a shoot-through configuration, placed it very close to the subject and set the flash to full power. Another SB-900 was mounted on the X100 and was set up as a commander, pointing directly at the slave flash. Technically, the practical limit on the X100-series cameras is around 1/1000 at f/2, but that’s only when you need to illuminate the whole frame evenly. With a leaf shutter, anything past 1/1000 at f/2 will result in darker corners, because the shutter will not be able to close fast enough to illuminate the corners.
10) Dynamic Range and ISO Performance
The dynamic range of the Fuji X100F is excellent at ISO 200, in line with what one would get from an X-series camera. I did not perform dynamic range tests to compare the X100F with its competitors, but you can head over to Photons to Photos and compare the dynamic range of the X100F with other cameras on the market.
Since the Fuji X100F uses the same sensor as the X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras, you can expect the same level of image quality performance at both low and high ISO levels. Personally, I am very comfortable using the camera at ISO 200-1600 and if it gets too dark, pushing ISO to 3200 and even 6400 can be acceptable with some noise reduction and downsampling. Anything above that is simply not worth it due to too much noise and heavy losses of dynamic range.
The Fuji X100F is yet another great iteration of the highly successful and popular camera line from Fuji. Although the X100F is not a major update over its predecessor in terms of camera features, the new button layout and the addition of a joystick make the camera ergonomically superior and much easier to use in the field. Additionally, improvements in autofocus performance are quite noticeable when comparing the camera to the X100T, although it still lags behind other X-series cameras. The increase of resolution from 16.3 MP to 24.3 MP is certainly noticeable, but not as drastic as when moving from the 12.3 MP on the original X100. Lastly, the newly redesigned menu system along with a few extra features and firmware tweaks make the X100F the most complete and capable of the series.
While Fuji has been delivering continuous firmware updates to both X-T2 and X-Pro2 to improve autofocus performance and reliability, the X100F has sadly been left out. That’s unfortunate, as the X100F could certainly benefit from faster and more reliable autofocus performance, especially when shooting in continuous servo mode with moving subjects. Considering how expensive the X100F is as a point-and-shoot camera, I believe Fuji should have worked on firmware updates for the X100F to enhance its performance and add new features.
Despite its disadvantages, the X100F is a superb camera that shines with excellent image quality, lightweight construction, small size and a beautiful retro design, making it an ideal choice for street and travel photography. While the X100F might not be something that professionals will use as a primary camera due to its focal length and other limitations, it nicely complements an interchangeable camera system.
12) Where to Buy and Availability
B&H is currently selling the Fuji X100F for $1299.