I have reviewed quite a lot of Fujifilm gear, and have owned many of their cameras and lenses, but somehow I have never gotten around to reviewing their famous X100 lineup, which has been extremely popular since the first X100 was announced way back in 2010. I’ve tried them out in stores or at trade shows here and there, but never obtained any of them for a full review. However, when the latest incarnation in this series was announced, the X100V, it intrigued me enough to snag a rental for a little over a week and run it through its paces. And then I wrote half the review and got busy at work, and it eventually fell by the wayside.
And now, a year later, I picked up an X100V for my personal use, and can finally finish the review. The X100V is perhaps the biggest update in the X100 lineup since the X100S added an X-Trans sensor, but I think the improvements in the X100V are even more substantial. The biggest update comes withe first redesign of the lens in the camera, which promises improved sharpness close up and other quality improvements. Fujifilm has also put in the X-Trans 4 sensor, added a tilting rear screen, and a host of other small tweaks and improvements. Lets dive in.
Note: I review gear from a real-world shooting perspective, determining how a piece of gear handles for me in actual use. I also am not a videographer, so my camera reviews focus on the still-imaging aspects of a camera.
Body and Ergonomics
The X100 series has continually evolved with each new model. While the overall look of the X100V is still remarkably similar to all the models that came before it, the design is sleeker and more refined than any of the earlier X100 bodies. The leatherette now wraps around the body in the same location on either side of the lens, the finish on the metal has been made smoother, with more subtle curves and lines while transitions to the top plate are sharper.
The camera is available in both black and silver. The copy I rented for my initial review was the black model, but when I purchased one for myself, I had to go for the silver. The silver model evokes the classic rangefinder aesthetic while the changes made to the X100V refine the overall look to make the camera beautiful to behold. I think the X100V, especially in silver, is one of the best looking cameras I’ve ever seen. And while beauty doesn’t matter at all with regards to final output, it can entice the user to pick it up and use it.
If the beauty of the X100V is the first thing that you notice when looking at the camera, the light weight is the first thing you notice when picking it up. The X100V is a surprisingly light camera body. The camera looks like it’s made of solid brass, but it is actually constructed of a lightweight aluminum, and as such it almost feels hollow. While light in weight, the construction is excellent, with no creaks or flex anywhere in the body. Both the top and bottom plates are milled from single pieces of aluminum, so there are no seams anywhere in the metal.
Despite the rather meager hand grip, I feel the X100V is reasonably comfortable to hold. The front sculpted grip is subtle, but gives your fingers enough purchase to comfortably carry the body for long shoots while maintaining positive control over it while composing. The slight ridge added to the rear of the camera gives just enough purchase for your thumb to maintain a reasonable grip. Despite the diminutive size, I found the X100V to be more comfortable to hold than the X-T20. With that said, handling can definitely be improved by adding aftermarket accessories such as a hotshoe mounted thumb grip (my preferred method), or an accessory front grip to add more to hold on to.
The camera is well constructed and has tight tolerances and no creaking anywhere in the body. The body is weathersealed for the first time in an X100 camera, though for full sealing, use of the filter adapter (sold separately) with a filter is required. You can purchase Fujifilm’s own filter adapter for $46, but this brings me to another talking point.
The X100 series, more than perhaps any other camera series, has a thriving third party accessory market. Filter adapters, a variety of lens hoods, thumb grips, hand grips and soft shutter releases: they’re all available for the X100V, and generally of high quality at much lower prices than what Fujifilm itself offers. Rather than purchase the Fufjilm filter adapter and hood for $80, I’ve opted for a much cheaper combination filter and hood from Haoge, which weatherseals the lens, looks great, maintains a compact size and uses the standard metal lens cap that comes with the camera.
For those who wish to have a bit more to hold onto, that accessory market I spoke of can come into play. Accessory thumb grips and front grips of all designs are available, some with integrated Arca-Swiss dovetails for tripod mounting. My LensMate thumb grip has an articulating hinge for flipping out of the way for easier access to the shutter speed dial – a welcome feature. A wide range of soft-release buttons are also available.
In addition to the exterior accessories, Fujifilm also offers two add-on lenses: a wide conversion lens and a telephoto conversion lens. There are two versions of each type designed for the X100 series, with the WCL-X100II being the current wide conversion lens, and the TCL-X100II being the current telephoto conversion lens. The first versions of these lenses have the same optics and will work just fine on the X100V, but they lack the sensing magnet that allows the camera to automatically recognize the converter. As such, with these first edition lenses, you must tell the camera the converter is mounted via a menu item. It’s worth noting that it is trivially easy to add a small neodymium magnet to a version I converter and effectively turn it into a version II.
The WCL-X100II is a wide-angle converter that turns the lens on the X100V into an 18mm lens (28mm full-frame equivalent field of view.) The TCL-X100II turns the X100V into a 33mm lens (50mm full frame equivalent field of view). The nice thing about these converters is that unlike rear-mounted converters, they do not alter the aperture value, so things remain f/2 with both wide and telephoto lenses mounted. They are also extremely well designed, as there is virtually no loss of quality from these converters. On the down side, these converters are very expensive at $350 each, and they don’t change the field of view particularly dramatically.
On the wide end there is a second option available in the wide converter for the now discontinued X70. The WCL-X70 will also work on the X100V, and that lens has a wider field of view than the one intended for the X100 series. The WCL-X70 yields a 17mm lens on the X100 series cameras (26mm equivalent), giving a bit more width when you need it. The optics are good, and if you can find one, it’s a LOT cheaper than the ones for the X100 series. I picked up a brand new one on eBay for $120, and it works great. Like the first generation WCL-X100, though, it lacks a sensing magnet to automatically turn on corrections. I added magnets to both my WCL-X70 and version I TCL-X100 so they both automatically alert the camera that the proper conversion lens is mounted.
The X100V largely features the same control system as the X100F, but Fujifilm has modified things to fit into the same paradigm as its more recent X mount bodies. As such, the four way controller is gone, and the back is a little cleaner than on previous bodies.
The prime controls remain the same old-school Fujifilm controls that have been in use the past decade. Around the small fixed lens sits an aperture dial that moves in 1/3 stop increments and sets with very positive clicky detents. The ring is operated by two knurled tabs that extend beyond the main body of the lens to allow for easy turning by either your left hand or the middle finger of your right hand. Around the front of the lens is a thin knurled ring, which can operate as a manual focus ring (in manual focus mode) or a programmable control ring.
Additionally, there are dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation, along with an inset dial for ISO that sits on the shutter speed dial. This ISO control is improved from the X100F and X-Pro 2.
You still pull up on the outer ring of the shutter speed dial to change ISO, but instead of being spring-loaded, the outer ring clicks into place to change ISO, and the ISO is locked by pressing the ring back down. It works well, though I would prefer stronger detents when moving between ISO values. As it is now the detents are very weak, making changing ISO through tactile feel alone somewhat difficult. However, if you are in a situation where you will need to quickly change ISO only through feel, you can set the ISO dial to ‘C’, and the front command dial takes over for ISO control. This is recommended if you may be changing ISO while using the flash hotshoe as well, as a shoe-mounted flash can interfere with the ISO lock ring. That front command dial can be pressed to switch between ISO and Exposure compensation if both are set to ‘C’.
The front also contains the viewfinder lever with its programmable button. This lever looks like a traditional self timer lever on mechanical film cameras, but instead of starting a time, it’s a control to switch up the viewfinder modes. Pull the lever towards the right side of the camera and the viewfinder will toggle between the electronic and optical finders, while pushing the lever towards the left side of the camera while using the optical finder will overlay a small electronic window showing the area of focus. More on the viewfinder in a bit.
On the side of the camera is the focus mode switch for quick changes between single shot autofocus, continuous autofocus and manual focus. The switch is easy to access, but can be a bit stiff, such that Continuous AF can sometimes be skipped once the friction lets go.
The rear of the X100V features the ubiquitous Fujifilm Q button to bring up the customizable quick menu, along with a menu button, the image playback button, display button, the drive/delete button, AEL/FEL button, the rear command dial and the focus point joystick. Most of the buttons can be customized to any of a massive list of control options. The focus point joystick now serves double duty as the primary menu navigation tool, and it works well for that purpose.
While the loss of four function buttons on the rear directional pad from earlier models would normally be a problem, I found that I didn’t miss it. You can replicate their use through swipe gestures on the rear touchscreen. These gestures work well, and I found I didn’t have any issues with accidental activation of them. The core functionality of the camera allows access to pretty much any setting I’d really need to access quickly, and the rest can easily be accessed in the personal menu setup or the quick menu.
The menu system is unchanged from other recent Fujifilm bodies, with a well organized main menu and a customizable section to put settings that you feel are important. The quick menu is also unchanged, and features 16 settings for quick access, which can be customized to your liking. While the quick menu can be operated by touchscreen, the main menu cannot.
In all, the X100V puts all the controls needed for everyday shooting at your fingertips, and it is a very enjoyable camera to use. The setup can be a bit daunting at first, but after setting the camera up to your liking, it just melts into the background, allowing for intuitive control of the camera.