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Review | Fuji X100 with Firmware 1.11 Review by Michael R. Cruz

Written by Michael Cruz

Fuji X100 Reviewed In Dubai

Fuji X100 Review x100_lenscapYou guys know how much I adore the Fuji X100, so once again, I’ve invited another trusted reviewer, Michael Cruz of www.michaelrcruz.com to give his view on his Fuji X100, including the latest Ver 1.11 Firmware upgrade that improved the auto-focus performance on the camera.

If you’ve been on iPhotoCourse long enough, you’ll notice that Mike Cruz also provided the review on the Canon EOS 7D when it first came out. So he’s back for more insights and helpful feedback on Fuji’s gamechanger, the Fuji X100.

How Mike Landed on the Fuji X100

Let me start by saying, I am the type of person that carries a camera with me all the time, like literally.

When I started photography, I usually carry my Canon 450D + kit lens with me. When I upgraded to a Canon 7D and some heavier lenses, I found that too heavy and just not practical to lug around on a daily basis.

That’s when I started hunting for a small-sized camera that offers good picture quality and manual features.

Fuji X100 Review dxbmall_x100

At that time, I found that with Panasonic Lumix LX3. That was my everyday camera even when Panasonic and Olympus’ Micro 4/3 format came into the picture; I am not convinced with the form factor and the sensor size, until Sony announced the NEX series with a beefy APS-C sensor in a small body.

I sold the LX3 and took the Sony NEX-5 without thinking twice. Great picture quality, clean high ISO performance and even with lack of manual controls, the image quality of the NEX-5 pays off, and I was a happy camper since then, until Fujifilm announced the Fuji X100.

The Temptation of the Fuji X100

I tried to ignore it, used my NEX-5 more than I used to, but online reviews and youtube unboxing is just too painful… too much to resist. One day, I just went to the store and tried one out.

I read a lot of negative reviews about the Fuji X100 so if I would test it and found it to be useless then I could go back to my normal self and be happy with my NEX-5.

Wrong move! As soon as I touched the Fuji X100, there was a similar feeling. This is the same feeling I had when I first held a DSLR in my hands.

Somehow I managed to forget about the price tag at that moment and just enjoyed shooting with it inside the store.

Fuji X100 Review sleep_dxb_x100

Fuji X100 Review metro_x100

It’s hard to explain but I felt the “need” of getting the Fuji X100 and to cut the story short, after 2 days I purchased one for myself. And that leads me here, writing a review and re-evaluating if I made the right decision or whether it was just a whirlwind romance.

Now that you understand where I’m coming from and what lead me to this camera, it’s time to re-evaluate my decision.

I purchased the Fuji X100 on August 1, so at the time of this writing, I am using it for two months. Let’s start with the basics:

Fuji X100 Handling and Build Quality

The build quality of the Fuji X100 is excellent. The grip of the camera feels good with my hands. The dials are tactile and well placed in my opinion, very responsive too.

There are a few things I don’t like though, first is the material used in the eyepiece of the viewfinder (the black rubber), it seems to be a dust magnet.

The second one is the size of the menu button which seems a tad small so when I press it I end up pressing up or down on the wheel dial.

The third one is the exposure compensation knob; somehow I manage to bump that every time I take it outside my bag.

Anyway, after a while I got used to it and don’t mind them anymore.

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Fuji X100 Features and Menu Structure

The main feature of the Fuji X100 is the Hybrid Viewfinder; both the optical view finder (OVF) and the Electronic View Finder (EVF) are excellent to use.

The screen overlay is superb and the viewfinder is way bigger than I expected which is good. Besides that, I don’t see any other special features worth mentioning here.

Fuji X100 Optical View Finder (OVF) vs Electronic View Finder (EVF)

Whoever thought of combining both features in a camera is smart, but the one who made that switch in front of the camera is a genius. It just works. This is no gimmick!

Both the OVF and EVF is surprisingly big and easy to use, the graphic overlay is sharp and very visible. When I first start using it, I rarely use the EVF because the OVF is really great, but after a while, I found myself using the EVF more.

Mainly because the electronic viewfinder gives me a preview of the exposure when I half press the shutter button and I find the X100 focusing much faster in EVF compared to OVF.

But, that’s just me. Overall, I’m pretty happy that I have both OVF and EVF in a flick of a switch on the Fuji X100.

Fuji X100 Review worker_x100

Flash System

Oh, one more thing… The flash of this camera is excellent! It doesn’t overpower, it just outputs a perfect amount of fill light to your subject.

Although I hardly use the flash on the Fuji X100 but this is the best built in flash I used so far.

User Interface and Menu System

Now onto the menu, I know a lot of the reviews are not so favorable; I didn’t find the menu that bad. It is simple enough to navigate.

The only thing I don’t like is that the Auto ISO and ISO setting are on a separate menu. So if you want to toggle between Auto ISO and manual ISO it can take a while.

By the way, the Auto ISO of the Fuji X100 is also superb! I always leave it on ‘Auto’ unless I need all manual settings.

Fuji X100 Picture Quality

If there’s anything this camera is capable of, this is it! The picture quality is amazing on the Fuji X100!

Fuji X100 Review trail_x100

Fuji X100 Review p_x100

It is sharp, wide, open and delivers clean images even on high ISO. The 35mm equivalent focal length is just perfect for everyday use. There are some angles that you may get some distortion but that’s expected for an equivalent 35mm focal length.

The JPEGs are really good and for a RAW shooter like me, it took me a while to just use JPEG only with the Fuji X100.

I just use the RAW button on the camera if I want to shoot in raw format. I like the fact that Fuji lets you customize your picture settings and for those who wanted to know, here are the settings on my camera:

  • Dynamic Range: DR100 (Sometimes I switch to AUTO when shooting in high contrast scenes)
  • Film Simulation: ASTIA
  • Color: MID
  • Sharpness: HARD
  • Highlight Tone: STD
  • Shadow Tone: M-HARD
  • Noise Reduction: STD
  • ISO: AUTO
  • Max sensitivity: 3200
  • Min. Shutter Speed: 1/40

Fuji X100 Focus Performance

There has been a lot of talk about the Fuji X100’s focusing system. I don’t have problems with the auto-focus in this camera; let me put that out first.

It focuses fine for me, could it be faster? Yes. I think my NEX-5 focuses quite fast compared to the Fuji X100.

But is it a deal breaker? No.

There are some techniques to improve the focusing with X100, but this all depends on your kind of shooting.

Fuji X100 Review ferrari_x100

As for the manual focusing and rotating the focus ring on the camera, you will be disappointed; it’s useless. I hope they fix that on the next firmware update. However, if you are on manual focus mode, you can press the AFL/AEL button and the camera will do an autofocus for you and you can fine- tune it using the focus ring.

The X100 offers a lot of focusing points and you can make your focusing point smaller or bigger for a more accurate focus if you are using EVF or the LCD . In OVF, you cannot change the size of the focusing point but you can still move it around, the focus points however are fewer when using the OVF.

Accessories for the Fuji X100

One thing that Fujifilm X100 has to offer are accessories! Not from the manufacturer but from 3rd party. As for myself, I have ‘pimped’ my X100 with the following:

1) Soft Release for the shutter button
2) Fuji Lens adapter
3) B+W Slim UV Filter
4) Ebay Plastic lens cap
5) Fuji Leather Case, although I rarely use it since I like to use the X100 naked. I am using the leather neck strap that came with case all the time though.
6) Extra NP-95 battery. If you can only buy one accessory, this should be it! It is power hungry.
7) Giottos SP8300 LCD protector

Fuji X100 Review x100_softrelease

Fuji X100 Review x100_lensadapter_filter

If you’re also wondering if the Fuji X100 is better than the Sony NEX-5, I think in terms of picture quality, I don’t see any major differences between the two, I would say however that I like the quality of the Fuji X100’s JPEG more – but that is purely subjective.

I bring my Fuji X100 with me every day. Not only it feels better with my hands but the viewfinder combined that with a very silent shutter, I feel more ‘invisible’ on the streets.

Final Words About the Fuji X100

For most people, the question is, “should I buy the Fuji X100?” There’s no easy answer.

The Fuji X100 is not something you would ‘need’; frankly speaking if you are starting in photography; this is not the camera to go about.

You can get a good entry level DSLR with a good 50mm or 35mm prime for that price.

Fuji X100 Review coco_x100

One thing I know is that, it is an advantage if you know your way around cameras if you are planning to get the X100, because you need to spend some time with it to understand it. And when you do, you will have a hard time putting it down.

Firmware 1.11 Update

I am using the camera with the Firmware Version 1.11 which offers a lot of bug fixes since the original release.

As per the description on Fuji’s website it looks like a small upgrade from Version 1.10 but honestly, I am quite surprised that this firmware offers a big improvement on my Fuji X100.

First of all, the Auto Focus (AF) really improved. As per Fuji’s firmware release the new firmware improves macro focusing, which it definitely does, but it also improves non-macro focusing as well. So overall, the focus is much faster and I experience less focus hunt. This is really great and could change a lot of previous opinions about the camera’s AF performance.

I also noticed that when shooting RAW (or JPEG + RAW) and while the Fuji X100 is writing on the card (as indicated by the red LED at the back of the camera) when you try to focus on something the camera locks up, it doesn’t do that anymore. I also tried pressing the shutter button while changing some settings on the menu and yes! No lock ups. So there you go, for 3 days now… no lock ups for me.

I feel that the menu and the camera are more responsive than ever. So, I really liked the 1.11 firmware version and hopefully Fuji continues to improve the firmware and make Fuji X100 users very happy!

Now I am even loving my Fuji X100 even more.

Fuji X100 Review aqua_x100

In any event, the Fujifilm X100 delivers to its promise, which is to give you fantastic images.

And what I like about this camera is that it inspires me to shoot more and more pictures not because I have to but because I want to. It brings back the fun in photography in the sense that you don’t mind carrying it around and shoot at something without the pressure of expectations or because you are doing a job; that is what a DSLR feels like sometimes, but the X100 gives you a creative freedom to take pictures for yourself and not for anyone else.

There is something with the Fuji X100 that I just can’t put a finger on that really excites me, could it be the looks? It’s definitely one of them but there is something more on this camera that when you use it, it feels special and gives you some inspiration to shoot. And that’s what counts in the end of the day.

So, does the Fuji X100 justify its price? I believe so.

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