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Fujifilm Finepix X100: First Impression

with 37 comments

Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Well, I guess it was inevitable. The X100 has been calling my name ever since it was announced. Since its release, I’ve seen some mixed feelings about the camera in reviews, but somehow I felt that I understood the design concept behind the camera well enough to realize that it would match my style and make a great addition to my gear bag.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Right now the X100 is out of stock everywhere and very hard to acquire.  Some are being sold on Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon with significant markups. I just happened to be browsing B&H’s website one morning and what?! In stock!? Ordered with no hesitation, and only minutes after I placed the order, stock was dry. Snagged it. Yes!

This post is a first impression in the strictest sense. I’ve barely started using this thing as I only just received it two days ago. So far, I’ve used it in the house to take snaps of Suki, and took it downtown last night to meet the wife for dinner after work.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 800

The first thing I do when I start shooting with a new camera is see what kind of image processing power it has on its own, so all images in this post are out-of-camera JPEGs, all shot aperture priority with Auto ISO and Auto Dynamic Range set on the camera. It’s a sort of “whatchu got, X100?” test.

The ground-breaking, highlight feature of the X100 is obviously its Hybrid Viewfinder, which I tell you truthfully, is so stinking fantastic. I’ve never shot with a rangefinder-style camera before, so the parallax error at close distances seemed pretty weird at first. Fortunately, the bright line frame moves in the finder to correct for parallax, and switching from the optical viewfinder to the electronic viewfinder easily eliminates the issue when you need to get in close.

The video below that I took with my iPhone does no justice to how bright and wonderful the OVF really is, but it does give you an idea of what its like to see the shooting info and bright lines displayed, what its like switching between OVF and EVF view, and how pleasantly silent the shutter is:

No blackout when hitting the shutter release. Yesssss.

There’s another video here that’s even crummier but adds more info on the display, including grid lines, a histogram, a focus scale, and an electronic level, among other things. Hopefully I can manage better videos in upcoming reviews.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 640

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/50 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

High ISO images are looking good on this camera. Still see some nice details on Suki’s fur with little image noise in the shot above, taken under dim lamp light at ISO3200.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/640 sec, f/2, ISO 400

Image quality is extremely good, but you knew that already if you’ve read other reviews about the X100.  I love the lens as well. It’s sharp, vignetting is minimal even wide open, and the 35mm full-frame equivalent view is a great focal length for shooting in a wide variety of situations, especially in city streets. The camera feels very similar in size to my E-PL2, but the X100 produces very visibly better image quality, largely due to its bigger APS-C sized sensor.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/150 sec, f/2, ISO 400

The leaf-shutter built into the lens is deadly silent. Coupled with the old-school design of the camera, no one notices you using it (unless they’re a fellow gear-geek). You can slip right up behind someone and just snap away.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/950 sec, f/8, ISO 400

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/210 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/850 sec, f/8, ISO 800

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/1,600 sec, f/8, ISO 800

The X100 features a few “film simulation” modes. The one used for the image above is Velvia, which seems a little over the top to me. I think the preset pushes blacks down a little too hard, which is something I can do myself in post, thank you very much. The rest of the images in this post are taken using Provia, which is the standard film simulation mode for the camera.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/850 sec, f/8, ISO 400

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/450 sec, f/8, ISO 400

Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/75 sec, f/11, ISO 800

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/950 sec, f/2, ISO 400

For the image above, taken in pretty bright afternoon light, I used the camera’s built in 3-stop ND filter to cut the light down and let me shoot the image wide open. Going to base ISO would have helped too, but hey, ISO400 was the camera’s decision, not mine. It has to do with how the X100 optimizes dynamic range.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/550 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/480 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/1,000 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/25 sec, f/2, ISO 800

As light got dimmer, shutter speeds got slower. The lens is wide enough to allow hand held shots at pretty slow shutter speeds, but with no built in stabilization, you have to be extra careful. High ISOs look great though, so I can live without it.

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm,  1/17 sec, f/2, ISO 800

Fuji Finepix X100: 23mm, 1/600 sec, f/2, ISO 400

Even in the short amount of time since I received it,  the X100 has won my heart. There’s a certain joy I get from shooting with it that’s so unique. I can’t wait to take it out for another spin, so stay tuned for more impressions!

Written by Jonathan

June 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

37 Responses

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  1. Yay! Nice post and thoughtful first impressions. I love how in the video, Suki just keeps looking at the camera. She’s so used to getting filmed and photographed!


    June 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

    • Thank you! She’s used to it because she has crazy photographer parents 😉


      June 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      • LOL, if you can count me shoving my iPhone in her face!


        June 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm

  2. Jealous! The high ISO is impressive at this size. Looking good at 100% ? Can you tell me something bad about the camera? I need to get it out of my system


    June 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    • Haha, yes, 100% looks fantastic. I’d print large from these files without worrying about it. What’s bad about the camera? uh…I’ll get to that. I haven’t really used it enough to run into anything significantly annoying yet. I’m in the honeymoon phase with the camera right now…it’s aaaaall love. =P


      June 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  3. Ahaha! It must have been fate that B&H had it in stock, only to be sold out in a matter of moments! Great pictures and great review. This is an excellent and fun camera isn’t it? Now we can definitely have an X100 Shoot out 😀

    By the way, I think the provia and astia film simulations might be switched.


    June 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    • Yeah man, this camera is rockin’! We’ll have to share stories on it in person one of these days. Also, I think you may be right about the simulation modes. I just compared to shots on the back of my camera right now and Astia does look more bold and contrasty compared to Provia. Hmmmmm…..will have to do more testing.


      June 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

  4. what a gorgeous looking camera!


    June 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  5. wow that’s so awesome! I love the vintage look to the camera. This is an excellent review although I’m puzzled as to what the major differences of this camera is to the E-PL2? Quality is better on this camera… so does that mean you’re selling your E-PL2? ;P Btw, your curtains gives a beautiful diffused look to Suki 🙂

    Jasmine Lee

    June 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  6. I think I’m confused because it looks like an old camera but it has all the specs of today’s digital camera?

    Jasmine Lee

    June 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    • Hey Jas! I know I haven’t been very thorough with this review…it’s more of a preview. I typically take more time to shoot with a camera before I start reviewing it, but getting this one was too exciting so I wanted to share my initial thoughts. I’ll get into more details later, but I don’t think I’ll be in a rush to sell my E-PL2.

      The X100 has one fixed focal length, whereas I can swap lenses on the Olympus. I’ve also grown quite fond of the Olympus and pretty adept at handling it, which makes me want to keep it. The main difference as far as image quality would be the X100s much larger APS-C sensor compared to the smaller m4/3 sensor in the E-PL2. And yes, it definitely has a classic build and look, but it’s packed with state of the art tech. Drool!


      June 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

      • Oh wow, you have a variety of cameras now! A good mix of everything ;D… haha. I’m looking forward to your next “in depth” review of this camera! I’ve never heard or seen this one… So definitely an interesting read. I’m going to show this to my best friend. I bet she’ll be interested! 😉 Thanks for sharing!

        Jasmine Lee

        June 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  7. congrats Jon!!! I want one too but I’m saving up for the D800 😉

    Jason Fan

    June 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    • Hah! I am too o_O

      But man, to have a sensor this big in a camera this small….very liberating. It’s a much more comfortable photo-walk camera than my DSLR.


      June 9, 2011 at 7:29 am

  8. Awwww! You got the camera! The pics are as beautiful as the camera, indeed!
    I don’t like the shutter sound of 5D, so that of x100 sounds nice t me, too.
    Looking forward to more pics;)

    Akané Ôno

    June 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    • Thanks Akane! This is indeed the must beautiful camera I have, just holding it is a joyful experience! Every time I hit the shutter release I still expect it to make a sound, but it’s essentially silent. =)


      June 9, 2011 at 7:32 am

  9. ZOMG! Ever since I saw previews of it months ago, I’ve been dying to see how it was. So I was so psyched to see you review it. It looks like a great camera. So quiet and so charmingly retro-looking! I hope you post more with it.


    June 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    • I psyched too! Can’t wait to use it like crazy this weekend =)


      June 9, 2011 at 7:34 am

  10. I’ve been in search for this amazing camera several weeks now, so this post is pure torture! Great first impressions of the cam. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the low-night/night performance and RAW recording speeds (a bit slow from what I hear).


    June 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    • Yeah, I’ll have to dive into that a little more as I use the camera. RAW recording does seem to hang up a little, but I’ve only shot a couple frames in RAW so far so I’m not sure how it will impact my shooting just yet. I can say that low light performance seems to be as good as it gets in the APS-C realm as far as image quality, though its AF performance in low light compared to my D700…eh, there’s no comparison there. =)


      June 9, 2011 at 7:39 am

  11. Wonderful camera. And wonderful photos.


    June 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

  12. So what are you going to do with the olympus now? This seems like it could take it’s place…


    June 9, 2011 at 9:51 am

    • So what are you going to do with the olympus now? This seems like it could take it’s place…

      Sorry did not read the above posts first. Camera looks awesome…


      June 9, 2011 at 9:57 am

      • I’m pretty sure my E-PL2 is here to stay. I’ll do a post about exactly why, so stay tuned!


        June 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

      • I’m wondering too. X100 seems to be a tad larger than the EPL2 but seems close in nature . Looking forward to ur comparison. I was hoping you’d give me a reason not to keep the GF1 and buy a new x100 !


        June 10, 2011 at 12:07 am

      • I think m4/3 still has relevance despite the release of this camera, but stay tuned for comparisons. Thanks!


        June 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm

  13. […] spreads. These are all taken with my Oly E-PL2, which I still feel great about even though an X100 found its way into my bag this week. I think the two can actually work well together, but […]

  14. after seeing this post, i was ready to go and buy one. but you’re right, out-of-stock situation means i’ll have wait (maybe that’s a good think for impulsive buys, ha!). i’m eagerly waiting to see more pics from this camera. I think i like it more than the epl2… darn, more $$ i need to spend on photographic equipment! 🙂


    June 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    • Haha, yeah, this was impulse buying at its finest here. I’ll keep you all updated, because you know I’ll be shooting with this thing like crazy in the coming weeks! =)


      June 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

  15. […] Fuji X100 presents the white balance shift menu differently, along the red/cyan, blue/yellow axes.  So, to […]

  16. showed this post to a few friends and three of them, yes, three of them bought an x100! fuji should give you an incentive or something! 😀

    Juan Paulo

    July 1, 2011 at 6:50 am

  17. […] Fujifilm Finepix X100: First Impression […]

  18. “You can slip right up behind someone and just snap away.”

    Eep! It’s my dream!

    Shannon Scheidell

    July 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

  19. […] approved.  Ever since I started regularly heading out with smaller, lighter gear like my EPL2, X100, and even Nikon FM, I’ve been yearning for an appropriate bag. I have a “carry […]

  20. […] getting a lot of questions and emails about what picture settings I use when I shoot with my Fuji X100. I’ll go ahead and answer that question here once and for all. I’ve mentioned this […]

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