Viewfinder and Rear Screen
The headline feature on the X100 series cameras has always been the hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, and the X100V’s viewfinder sees upgrades in both optical and EVF specifications. Optically, the X100V gets a small updgrade to a 95% coverage optical finder with 0.52x magnification. The electronic finder also gets the first upgrade since the X100s, with a resolution bump up to 3.6 million dots at 0.66x magnification, from the 2.4 million dot finder of the X100F.
The hybrid finder is rare in the camera world, giving the user the option of an optical finder similar to an AF rangefinder or a traditional mirrorless experience with the electronic finder. The optical finder shows a view a bit wider than the 35mm equivalent field of view of the attached lens with frame lines showing what will be captured. The frame lines will move to adjust for parallax when shooting closer up to ensure that your framing stays as accurate as possible. These frame lines cover about 95% of the frame to be captured.
A third mode can be activated when using the optical finder that shows a small electronic enlarged area of where your focus point is. This allows you to confirm critical focus while using the optical finder. As mentioned earlier, the viewfinder modes can be changed by pushing or pulling on the small lever on the front of the camera. Below shows the three different views.
The hybrid finder definitely adds a cool dimension to the camera. The optical finder allows you to anticipate action when doing street shooting or reportage, but I found it to be somewhat dark in lower light. Also, precisely placing focus can be a challenge. As such, I tend to use the EVF for most of my shooting, as I think the overall experience is superior in most situations. That optical view is excellent in bright outdoor light, though, so I will often use that when shooting outside.
The EVF is reasonable in resolution, but I found the dynamic range of the electronic viewfinder to be a little behind some of the other EVFs in cameras released in the past year or two. Turning on the Natural Viewfinder mode helps this, but as this mode doesn’t apply any film style to the view, you are left with a rather flat image as a result. Overall, it’s a good EVF for the size of camera that this is, but it won’t compare to the amazing EVFs that are present in high end mirrorless cameras from 2020 and 2021.
One of the most notable changes the X100V sees over all the previous X100 bodies is the addition of a tilting rear screen, and I think it’s the single biggest positive change in the camera. The X100V is a great camera for candid shots, and I find the tilting screen aids this function tremendously, allowing for easy waist level shooting.
The tilting screen is extremely well integrated into the camera body. The screen sits flush with the rest of the camera back when closed, and aside from a small notch on the left side to pull the screen out, you’d never know the screen isn’t a fixed model. This implementation does limit the amount the screen can tilt, with only about a 30 degree downward tilt for shooting overhead, but it does allow for a full 90 degree upward tilt for low shots. I love that they finally added a tilt screen to the X100 series, and it makes the camera much more usable.
The screen itself is a 1.6 million dot 3″ display, and is nice and clear with good contrast and color.
Autofocus and Performance
The X100V features the same X-Trans IV image sensor as the X-T4 and X-Pro 3, and as such inherits the same phase-detect autofocus system. The X100V’s sensor has 425 total focus points, evenly distributed across almost the entire image frame. Focus accuracy is excellent.
The X100 series has never been known for blazing fast autofocus, and that continues with the X100V, though focus is fast enough for most reasonable needs. Changing focus from near minimum focus distance to more distant subjects takes a little less than a second. Changing focus on subjects that do not differ much in distance is a fair bit quicker and can feel quite snappy. The lens makes some noise while focusing, but it isn’t overly obtrusive unless you are shooting in very quiet environments. If you use the filter adapter with a filter, this noise is muffled by the filter and becomes much quieter.
Like all recent mirrorless cameras, the X100V has a face and eye detect focus algorithm, and it does quite well for the most part. While the speed of the lens limits how well the camera can keep up tracking very fast action, the eye detect system does a nice job at placing focus right on the eye when shooting more static or slower moving people. For casual street photography or environmental portraiture, the X100V’s eye detect does a nice job hitting focus. It isn’t a match for the latest from Sony and Canon, but it doesn’t really have to be for the type of photography one is likely to do with the X100V.
The general performance of the camera is quite good, with a reasonably quick startup, low shutter lag and quick writes to the SD card. The camera can shoot at bursts of up to 11 frames per second with the mechanical leaf shutter, or up to 20 frames per second with the electronic shutter. This can even be pushed to 30 frames per second if you can live with a 1.25x crop. This is great in theory, but the buffer fills very quickly, yielding just 17 RAW images before slowing down considerably. As such, if using the burst drive mode, you’ll want to time your bursts accordingly.