Fujifilm X100V: My Honest Review (after 5 months of heavy use)

I talked a lot about the Fujifilm X100V in the past five months, especially on my Youtube-Channel. Today it’s time to come to a conclusion. So here’s my honest full review of this camera.

Summary

While writing this review, I am not at home, at the moment I enjoy my vacation at the Dutch coast with my wife and kids… and by the way, it’s the first time, I can take the Fujifilm X100V with me for traveling. And I can tell you: It’s great. But more on that later…

I have had the Fujifilm X100V since the black version appeared in mid-March. Since then I have been using it literally every day. So after these five months I feel able to share my honest opinion about this camera with you. The easy way is usually the best, so I do it based on my personal pros and cons. Keep in mind: This is my review, I am telling you my personal opinion, I make no claim to omniscience. And please don’t get mad at me if I do not light up every little aspect of the camera, as I have already made some YT-videos about it’s features, such as the AF Range Limiter, the clarity setting, accessories, function buttons and so on. And there will certainly be some more after this review.

And now, I’ll give you a brief summary of the camera we’re talking about:

The X100V came out in February / March 2020. It is the fifth iteration of the very successful X100 series of premium compact cameras from Fujifilm, The X100, X100S, X100T and the famous X100F. The most important changes to its predecessors:

It has the last  X-Trans sensor and processor built in, namely the same X-Trans 4 variant, which can also be found inside of the current Fuji flagships X-T3 and X-T4 or in the X-Pro 3.

For the first time, the X100 got a completely revised version of the fixed 23mm lens with a maximum aperture of f2.

The V version now has a tilting screen. And not, as some “feared”, the one of the X-Pro 3, that I really like by the way, but the same principle as the X-T3 or X-T30 has built in. Maybe even a little nicer, because the screen is absolutely flush with the body of the camera if unfolded. So purists have no reason to complain that it makes the body bigger.

Speaking of the body: the design has been made over, the plate material is aluminium now and feels more valuable than before. Also the corners have been rounded a little here and there. The camera is available in a silver version, which is really beautiful but felt too striking for me and my street photography. Therefore: My X100V is black and still a very beautiful camera. The body is now basically weather sealed, the ISO dial has also been revised and has now not to be hold up while changing the values. Everything else, the whole look and feel has remained true to the series.

On the software side, the new processor gives you more power of course, so a lot more features came into the X100V. The classic Neg film simulation is now supplied with it, just like settings for clarity and tone curve introduced with the X-Pro3.

My personal reasons to buy this camera

Street photography grabbed me about a year and a half ago. Since then I have always been looking for the perfect package for me and my way of taking these kinds of photos. Up to version V, the X100 series was unfortunately out of question for me, since I was already not satisfied with the X-E3 because its missing a tilting screen. When that changed with the “V”, I was immediately hooked. So, Street photography was my main reason for the purchase. But there was also the wish to have a smaller package for my daily snapshots of my children when we are out on short trips or on vacation like we are at the moment. And I can tell you it’s great, nothing more is needed, I did not miss a bigger setup yet. In addition, I have already tried it out with portraits together with the TCL X100 Mark II and I made a video about it, check it out on my Youtube-Channel. Maybe I will try to combine my two photographic passions and start doing some candid or spontaneous street portraits, for which the camera will also be absolutely great. And after testing the X100V on some shootings, I know: If I ever need to do portraits with as little equipment as possible, I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it with this great little camera.

My Pros- and Cons-List

Cons

Finally I will start with my personal pros and cons list about the Fujifilm X100V. Let’s  start with the cons first, to get rid of the negative feelings here.

Max Aperture f2

Many fans of the X100 series have long wanted an aperture stop more, because an f2 lens was the standard in all predecessors of the X100. I also agree that it would be great to have a faster lens, even if it were „only“ an 1.8 or 1.7. 

Aperture 2 sometimes is a bit too small in some lighting situations. Of course I do not expect the same performance as from my beautiful 56mm f1.2, but sometimes I would also like to separate more from the background, when doing portraits with the X100V (e.g. together with the TCL X100 Mark II). And there are other manufacturers who install faster lenses in their very compact cameras, for example Sony in the new ZV 1 with an aperture of 1.8, Canon with its PowerShot G7 X Mark III, also 1.8, Panasonic in the Lumix LX100 II even with 1.7 or of course the Leica Q2 with 1.7. Yes, I know that the comparison is not always fair and there are reasons for that, sensor sizes, bigger lenses etc. And also in case of the X100V it would probably increase the cameras size fundamentally. But is it still justified to mention the maximum aperture as a negative point? Of course:

I would. prefer. a. faster. lens. 

So, maybe with the next revision of the lens we will see some magic done, a faster lens of the same size, but for now we will have to live with it. And I would like to emphasize that we are doing quite well with it.

No real WR

The next thing that annoys me about the X100V is the lack of weather sealing on the lens. Yes, I understand why Fujifilm did it that way. I understand that due to the construction of the lens with its moving parts, protection cannot be built into the lens. So it has been decided that the adapter ring and UV filter „can“ be used to protect the entire camera from splash water and dust only if necessary. Fine. But I don’t understand why they didn’t just add the adapter ring and the filter as solution for a complete WR into the package of the X100V. They decided to let us pay extra for it. Keep in mind, that the body of the camera is already weather sealed, and those customers who may not need or want this protection also already paid for it when buying the X100V. And those who really need it pay extra? Apart from that, I am still waiting for my WR kit in black from Fujifilm and it’s over 5 months now, with no information that it will ever come. And I did not buy it online, I ordered it in a local camera store who are in direct communication with Fujifilm. Until it arrives, I have to help myself with accessories from the good old Chinese third-party manufacturers. I would like to see a little bit more from Fujifilm next time, because I know, they can do better.

Battery-chamber and card slot.

The battery chamber and the slot for the SD card are difficult to access. That’s nothing new with the small bodies and may not be that bad because of the possibility to charge the camera and also transfer the pictures to the computer via USB-C. But if you are outside shooting and work with a tripod, it can be annoying, because without an additional grip attached you have no chance of reaching the battery chamber and the card slot if you have to change one of the two. Unfortunately, I had this problem many times, also with the X-T30 by the way. I am sure that there can be better solutions for this.

And in addition: The lid of the battery chamber is just stupid. I don’t understand why you can’t build a lid on a camera of fifteen hundred Euros that closes when pushed. On the X-T3 it works too. I simply do not understand. Did I miss something? Please Fujifilm, only build self-closing battery chamber lids on all camera models. I would really appreciate that.

Digital teleconverter without RAW

Maybe you saw my YT-video on the digital teleconverter of the X100V. I think it can be a useful feature to digitally zoom into an image if you don’t want to edit the images. Here on vacation It is more than enough for quick snapshots with the kids on the beach. Nevertheless, I would like to have saved the uncropped RAW in addition. Sometimes there is a need to edit the picture again from the RAW, so you can do the cropping afterwards. I don’t know why the Digital Teleconverter feature is only available if you shoot JPEG only, but it would be great if it were also available at Fine + RAW. I would also accept a longer storage time for the files of needed. Maybe this is an idea for a firmware update? We‘ll see. In general this is an underestimated feature I would like to see evolved. 

Price

Okay, let me be clear here: As I said, it annoys me that the WR kit is not included for the price, but I am repeating myself. But still, for me personally, every cent of the 1,499 € of the X100V was worth the purchase.

But I think that the camera could be much better represented on the market if it were offered for 150 or 200 Euros less. Sure, it is not a camera for casual shooters and if you compare the price with that of a Leica Q2 it is a bargain – full frame sensor or not. But still: People who want to start with photography will hardly understand that they should pay more for a compact camera with a fixed lens than for a system camera with almost the same technical specifications including the corresponding interchangeable lens. Of course I’m talking about the X-T30 with the 23mm f2 here. Check out my Battle of the cams. The fight was extremely narrow in favor of the X100V, and whether this narrow lead is worth € 300, everyone has to decide for themselves. Again: I think the X100V is absolutely worth the money, but to appreciate that, you have to be very connected to photography.

Pros

Now that we got rid of my personal negative aspects of this camera, I can continue with the many things, I like about it.

Size

My first point here: the size factor. I’ve always valued the Fujifilm X70 in the past for its really tiny size. But the overall compromises regarding AF performance and the lack of a viewfinder were too great. Nevertheless I was skeptical whether the X100V would be small enough for my needs. You can laugh at me for that, but I think it’s really great for street photography when a camera is as small as possible. Check out the Ricoh GR series that many street shooters appreciate for it’s compactness. But, what can I say, I have to correct myself regarding the X100V: What it lacks in tinyness, it compensates for the X70 with better performance and much better handling. And this is something I came to realize when I took only the X100V here on my trip to the Dutch coast. I only have the camera, an additional battery, the alternative WR kit, a mini tripod and the converter lenses with me. Everything fits in my tiny Peak Design everyday sling and I did not miss something from my other gear. So For me it has become the right compromise between compactness, functionality and grip. I love it.

IQ: Sensor/Lens

The combination of the revised lens and the Sensor and Processor of the actual Fujifilm-Flagships X-T4 and X-T3 is responsible for the really amazing Image Quality coming out of the X100V. The fact that Fuji did not build the X100V with a cheaper interior is a sign that they really take this camera series seriously. The lens is also very sharp in photos up close, which was not the case with the older models. But in my opinion it still has a character that cannot be explained, it is not a soulless piece of sharpness. I also love the bokeh and low light performance, so I really have nothing to complain about here.

Handling/Usability

I love almost everything about the ergonomics of the X100V. I would like the button layout between my X-T30 and the X100V to be a bit more consistent – I only mention the position of the play button here, which sometimes drives me crazy – but since I find the layout of the X100V even better, it doesn’t count here. I love having a real ISO dial, I think the placement of the Q button is great, I have enough freely assignable function buttons – have a look at my video – the resistance of the dials and aperture ring is great and if you have an extra thumb grip attached, the camera just feels great. It’s that simple. Great.

Design

In short: it is the most beautiful digital camera I have ever owned. Have a look. Again. [Kamerfahrt um die X100V]

Tilting Screen

The only obstacle that has always kept me from buying an X100F has finally been removed. The Version five now has a tilting screen. In street photography, I find myself in situations all the time in which it is too striking to hold the camera up to the eye. So I want to look at the LCD from above and take my photo in the most inconspicuous way. Unfortunately, this was never possible without a tilting screen. As I told you in the beginning: That’s why I even sold my beloved X-E3. By the way I really hope for an X-E4 with the flush screen of the X100V to come.

I also like to take photos from the ground level to sometimes create a certain look. And because the screen is flush with the body of the camera, no one can complain that it has changed anything in the design or that something unnecessary is being carried around. So if you don’t want to use it, just leave it flush. As simple as that.

Leaf shutter

I have a certain love-hate relationship for the leaf shutter of the X100V. On the one hand, I’m always happy that nobody can hear the shutter when I take street photos because it’s so incredibly quiet. If you hear something when pressing the shutter release, check your sound settings. It’s not the shutter itself you hear. 😀

And that’s the disadvantage: I really don’t get any feedback from the camera that a photo was actually taken. Unfortunately there was more than one situation in which I failed. So I turned on the sound on lowest level, just to make sure.

But what is a nice advantage of the Leaf Shutter: It can sync with flash all the way up to its max. shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second with all apertures or 1/4000 of a second when using f8-f16. In comparison: The X-T3 will only sync flash with shutter speeds of 1 / 250s of a second or slower. I’ve already created some pretty portraits with it. A real advantage over Focal Plane Shutters. So the advantages clearly outweigh the small disadvantage here.

Inbuilt Flash

Speaking of the flash unit: I think it’s good to have a small flash on board. On my X-E3 it was removed compared to the X-E2 and instead a small external flash was included. But then it is completely clear: you don’t take it with you anyway and then you’ll have no way to flash if needed. Of course, this little thing doesn’t replace a large flash on body or even an external flash, but it’s still good to have it on the camera.

ND filter 

I find myself using the 4 level in-built ND Filter of the X100V all the time, when the weather is right, so the sun is shining strongly. It’s definitely a very nice feature if you want to lower your shutter speed for catching movements or just to shoot with larger apertures for a shallower depth of field. I left the function on the the viewfinder switch of my 100V, and I really like to use it a lot.

Final three

I will come to the End now with the last  three things, I love about the X100V, but I will only summarize them in short, because they speak for themselves or I  want to do a separate article about it.

Classic neg

This film simulation brought me from Black and white to shooting more and more color. I had not expected that, but it is like this. It maybe should not be the reason to purchase this camera, but I always miss it on my X-T30 and X-T3 and hopefully this beauty will make it to them via firmware update.

Hybrid Viewfinder

I will be honest: It’s really fun to use the Optical Viewfinder if you want to have the whole analog feeling – check out my video about it – but seriously: I Don’t use it THAT much. But it’s beautiful to have it on board, especially if you’re used to this kind of shooting.

Great video options

Last but not least: We have some really great video options on board of the X100V, the same as in the X-T30. It’s not supposed to be a video camera and it’s lacking the possibility of stabilization of course, but it’s still good to have it on board. 

Conclusion 

This is definitely the longest article I’ve ever written, but I have a lot to say about this camera. And it’s because I never owned a camera that I loved as much as the Fujifilm X100V. Really. When I bought it, I wasn’t sure if I should keep it first, but the story went completely in a different direction than I expected. I can’t even explain everything about it because I even have some things to complain about. But all in all, this beautiful camera is something emotional that literally makes you shoot more … I know you may have heard that in other reviews, but it’s true. The X100V has so much to offer that I would never return it. Maybe for an X100 SIX … but I think this will take a couple of years … Until then I’m looking forward to the next 4 months and years with this camera. So, I hope you enjoyed my really honest review about it.

Best regards,
Jochen

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