The Fujifilm X100V | Virtually Perfect
Warning: This is a very dangerous review of the new X100V. Acute GAS threatens immediately after reading!
In my initial thoughts on the new Fujifilm X100V, I actually revealed how excited I was about this camera from the first touch. Now a good six weeks have passed, during which I had the camera in my hands frequently. Six weeks doesn’t sound like enough time for a review, but I have a long history with the X100 series. To be honest, I could have written this text even after two days. However, I didn’t have the time… and the Corona crisis has slowed me down even more. Difficult times! 🙁
For those who are impatient, I can make it very short: For me, this is the sexiest digital camera ever made. Ever! Regardless of type! (By the way, it takes over this title from the Fujifilm X-Pro2)
You’re wondering how I come to such a crazy statement? About a camera where you can’t even change the lens. Which probably has almost no unique specifications at any point. That “only” has an APS-C sensor built in. And no IBIS. Hey wait, and I also own the Fujifilm GFX 50S high resolution monster… and I still stand by that statement?
Here‘s my very personal why in one sentence:
The sexiest camera is the one with soul, great fun factor and huge versatility in real life practice.
For sure, the X-Pro3 or the X-T3 are the “better” cameras, at least when it comes to flexibility – simply because you can change the lens. I really, really love the X-Pro line… but the X100 is the beginning, the soul of the X series. That’s where it all started. And it still embodies the pure joy of photography for me. One camera – one little lens! Go out and shoot…
That was the fascination right from the start. A camera as it used to be in former times, but digital and in a hidden way technically very up to date. The X100V has taken this point to the extreme without betraying its soul. On the contrary – it has once again highlighted this soul.
Here we have a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Which is again only partly a correct picture – rather a wolf in a Dior dress.
OK, first things first… let‘s have a look on the changed things that really count.
Body and design
Some might say that the camera looks just like its predecessor, the X100F. Yes, even with the fifth version of the series, the changes in design are again quite subtle – fortunately! Anything else would have been terrible, though.
The original X100 was already quite well designed. Nevertheless, it was somewhat squiggled here and there and not straightforwardly designed to the last consequence.
Too bad I’m not so good at Photoshop on a professional level… I’d love to morph the continuous transformation of these five cameras into a GIF. Then you’d probably see how „nice and pretty“ (X100) became “clean and beautiful“ (X100V). I actually think the Fujifilm X100V has become a design icon. You might argue that the last Leica M is even a little bit clearer in its lines, but that is almost subtle.
The design of the new Fujifilm X100V is absolutely stunning!
The material and the ‘coatings’
The step to use sandblasted and anodized aluminium for the top and the bottom plate was really an excellent idea. I wonder why Fujifilm didn’t come up with this idea earlier. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a black X100V in my hands yet, but the pictures of it look very good, too. The silver version is nothing else but perfect in my eyes. The camera feels very good, very robust and of high quality.
The tilt screen
I didn’t want it and fortunately I didn’t get it – at least not in the form I expected. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce the coolest flip-up display I have ever seen on a camera? It’s so flat and invisibly integrated into the body that you won’t even notice it. And yet you have one when you want one.
For me, this is an absolute design and engineering stroke of genius!
I wouldn’t have minded seeing this kind of display on the X-Pro3.
Additionally, I have a small but remarkable detail for you: when you flip the display out, the viewfinder’s eye sensor is deactivated. A great idea – and again the question: Why not (yet) with the X-Pro3?
The button and wheel layout
Not much has actually happened here. Except of course that the layout has adapted relatively closely to the X-Pro3. That means the D-Pad is gone, as is the exclusive delete button.
In my opinion, the front and rear dials have become a little more grippy and the Q-button is a little more protected against accidental adjustment in its new position. In contrast to the X-Pro3, the button function of the front dial has been retained. Very pleasing is the addition of another FN function on the front switch for the hybrid viewfinder. To get this, hold the switch to the right for about 3 seconds.
For me the number of FN buttons is therefore sufficient. Apart from the possibility to program the touch display as additional FN “buttons”, I use the following functions for the fixed buttons: ND filter, custom functions, boot mode and face detection. That’s enough for me…
OK, the exposure compensation dial still adjusts much too easily due to the lack of a lock. You can’t have it all, even though I don’t understand why Fujifilm doesn’t put a locking button on it. Could be a nice one made of aluminium that fits the design. Anyway…
The ISO dial
One of the innovations compared to its predecessor – but also to the X-Pro series – is the modified ISO dial. It still works as usual but remains in the upper position when you lift it. This simplifies operation. I know that the design of the former ISO dial was a reason for many complaints, but I can’t understand why. Firstly, I got along well with it before and secondly, I hardly ever use it anyway. The ISO automatic is usually a great thing. Perhaps the change in design here will calm some minds.
I was never one of those for whom the lack of weather resistance in the X100 series was a real showstopper. As already mentioned in my previous post on the X100F, I have used the various X100 cameras both in the Sahara and in the humid tropics of Asia without hesitation and the cameras never had a problem with those conditions.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that this point is now a huge plus. I don’t have to worry at all anymore when I’m shooting in the rain – which I often do with the X-Pro2 or the X-H1. I just love the mood and the light in pictures when it rains.
Some people get upset that the weather resistance is only achieved with a filter in front of the lens and therefore call this a fake. So what? Some people also think the earth is a disk. That’s all I have to say about that.
The new battery door design
OK, it’s no big deal and the old battery door had never really annoyed me, but to be honest it was pretty flimsy. The new design works much better and also makes a more stable impression. In any case, the door no longer opens so easily unintentionally.
In my opinion, the viewfinder has become nothing short of perfect – which applies to both the EVF and the OVF. Technologically an absolute masterpiece and the pure joy of working with it. The X100V has the best and most advanced hybrid viewfinder of any Fujifilm X rangefinder style cameras. I have never had more fun working with a viewfinder on any camera. Period.
Essentially, the EVF is the same as that in X-Pro3. In a few words: a great improvement and for me an outstanding feature. We now look at the same high-resolution 3.69-million-dot OLED panel with a magnification of 0,66x. It’s awesome. That’s all I have to say about that.
Well, now we come to a subject that’s been bothering me a bit. No, not with the X100V, but the X-Pro3. As I reported in my review of the X-Pro3, with my eyes I have a problem with the dioptre correction between OVF and EVF – for the first time on all X-Pro and X100 cameras. And that is still the case. Unfortunately, it is and will not remain perfect with the OVF of the X-Pro3.
And now guess what: Although the viewfinder seems almost identical, the problem is gone with the X100V. OVF and EVF are almost identically sharp for my eyes at the same dioptre setting. That’s great, but why not with the X-Pro3?
However, there is one very small limitation to my praise: I still don’t know what to think about the changed behaviour of the frame lines. As with the X-Pro3, the parallax compensation of the frame lines remains on the last setting. So you have to keep in mind that the frame lines do not show the framing at infinity by default. This also has advantages, but one has to get used to it a little… maybe it would be good to give use the choice.
In one word: perfect!
The material and shape are now almost perfect for my taste and the dial for dioptre correction is also better than the one on the X-Pro3. I don’t know what else could be improved.
To be honest I was always satisfied with the first-generation lens. But yes, it had some problems with sharpness and resolution in the close-up range, especially at f 2.0. The improvement here is immediately visible. And I’m glad that the size of the lens has remained the same. For me the image quality is by far good enough and the compactness of the lens and camera is one of the decisive criteria.
Tech and specs
In this section I do not really want to write much. You can get all information from other sources and the topic is not really interesting for me. Today’s digital cameras are small marvels of technology anyway. So, I will write only the most necessary or if something seems important or noticeable to me.
The same as in X-Pro3 or X-T3. Performance is great, nothing more to say about it.
The same here…
Software and menu
This is so close to the X-Pro3 that I don’t want to talk about it too much. As before, I can handle the Fujifilm menu very well. What I’m personally very happy about is that the X100V finally allows you to give names to the custom functions.
I’ve seen some complaints on the net about the autofocus not being fast enough. To be honest, I have no idea what people are talking about or what they actually expect. This lens may not focus as fast as the most modern lenses with a linear or ultrasonic motor. Maybe the tracking in AF-C (which I never use) doesn’t work as well as with bigger cameras that are built for this type of shooting. But let’s be fair: the autofocus is great for a camera of this type. It’s super-fast and precise.
I have zero complaints here and I am totally happy with its performance.
I can’t say anything conclusive about that. From the first impression, I’d say it’s noticeably better than with the Fujifilm X100F. But that can be deceptive… let’s see what I will say after a year or so.
I don’t use any video functions with such a camera, and I don’t know much about it anyway. The specifications are probably quite good, but of course not absolute state of the art. For me, this a a camera for stills, not for video.
Apart from that this is also a partly controversial point, because the camera can get quite warm when using the video function for a longer time. More about that later.
This and that
The ND filter
The integrated ND filter was a special feature and a highlight of the X100 series right from the start. Previously, the filter had the effect of three f-stops, in the new X100V it is now four. This is very welcome in any case and makes the camera even more variable in glaring light, as you can leave the aperture wide open.
I have the impression that the difference in the EVF is now more noticeable with the ND filter activated, but that could be deceptive. Unfortunately, I no longer have an X100F to verify this. And it doesn’t matter anyway…
The “overheating problem”
Let us now turn to a “problem” that became public relatively early. Soon after the introduction of the camera, the first users on the net complained about overheating problems with the X100V. These are said to occur when shooting 4K videos and – at least some people report – when taking several pictures in a short time or even when scrolling through the menu.
On the one hand, you can generally feel the heat at the place where the thumb normally rests. And after a few minutes of filming in 4K the camera stops with an overheating message. At least that’s what the reports say. Well, what to think about that?
I only noticed this – very slight – heat dissipation at the above-mentioned place when I used the X100V very intensively – and only because I paid attention to it according to the reports. Neither when taking pictures nor when using the menu, I have ever considered it a problem. I do not know exactly what the people were doing there? Hundreds of shots in continuous mode?
Another story is probably the intensive use of the video function. I’ve also tried it five or six minutes in 4K, without any problems. I noticed the warmth, but it wasn’t a problem. But apparently the camera overheats after ten or twelve minutes of video filming in 4K. Well, it’s just not a video camera for continuous use. Personally, I don’t care about that and I guess other small cameras won’t be much different either.
There is an official statement by Fujifilm on this “issue” – which is absolutely no issue for me at all. However, decide yourself…
The advantages of the X-Pro line compared to the X100 line have become very modest with the X100V – from a technological point of view. Even the often-mentioned main argument – the missing weather resistance – has become obsolete. The main difference is actually concentrated on the possibility to change lenses. That can undoubtedly be a very important point and it is for me too. Of course, this is also why I use other X cameras. But a noticeable difference in the use of an X-Pro3 with 2.0/23mm and the X100V has actually largely disappeared. Except that the X100V is of course smaller and lighter.
So what about a direct comparison to the X100F? Is the predecessor so much worse? No, absolutely not! Unfortunately, the X100V is so much better. What at first sounds like a total contradiction, is not one on closer inspection. The X100F is and remains a great camera. It really has no bad qualities and is already very, very mature. Nevertheless, Fujifilm has somehow managed to make some small and subtle, but also some quite fundamental changes to the fifth-generation model in the series.
This is what gives the X100V all its charm and fascination: it really has become almost perfect. It may be that a second SD card slot and IBIS are still missing for true perfection, but I don’t want to overestimate that with this kind of camera. Everything else about this camera is stunning – from design to functionality. So, I am happy to repeat my opening statement from above:
This is the sexiest digital camera in the world. If not the best…
Some almost final words
At the end of my review, however, a few irritating thoughts remain in my head. I have dealt with some in my opinion not always completely obvious (Titanium top and bottom plate), questionable (hidden display) or even useless (subdisplay) design decisions regarding the Fujifilm X-Pro3. I have even almost forgotten my annoyance about its problematic hybrid viewfinder (dioptre correction is NOT equal between OVF and EVF for my eyes). And I have also accepted things like the not really perfect diopter compensation wheel (flimsy) as well as some other minor slip-ups (eye sensor too sensitive with display open).
And now I see that with the X100V Fujifilm makes almost everything right. The viewfinder is perfect and dioptre correction works fine for me. The eyepiece is slightly better, the folding display is great, the ISO-dial… you know what I mean?
As good as the X-Pro3 may be overall (and it is definitely very good), it remains a bit disappointing that some things haven’t been thought through to the end, especially with this also completely new camera. For me, the X-Pro series is actually the top class of X cameras… so an X-Pro3, which was developed practically parallel to the X100V, should also be as perfect as possible. Now there is just one drop of bitterness…
The final word
Unfortunately, these days I cannot end with my usual final sentence. So, today I say:
Stay healthy, stay human and watch out for yourself.
There is always light somewhere – stay at home and shoot!
Update: Some shots from an at least somewhat normal end of summer 2020 😉