PetaPixel

Switching to the Fujifilm X100 from the World of DSLRs

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I’ve done it. I’ve switched over from a DSLR to a compact camera — the Fujifilm X100. Well, technically, that’s not true since I didn’t really consider myself a DSLR user to begin with, but regardless of that, my main (and only) digital camera is now an X100. Here are my impressions after three weeks with the camera.

Before I start, I have to mention that I hate composing using a screen. It’s just completely counterintuitive to the process of photography for me, and one of the reasons why I enjoy shooting with my film cameras so much is that they all feature some form of optical viewfinder.

x100viewfinder

For me, a decent viewfinder is a necessity on a camera. So when it comes to digital, that mainly leaves me with the option of a bulky DSLR, as most compacts don’t feature optical viewfinders anymore.

This is where the Fujifilm X series comes in, and I can’t praise the engineer that suggested the revival of the optical viewfinder enough — thank you! Now I, and likeminded people with the same viewfinder preference, finally have suitable options when it comes to compact digital cameras. Anyway, we’ll get back to the viewfinder of the X100.

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If you’re coming from a DSLR, there are a couple of things you’ll love and dislike about the X100.

What You’ll Love

The weight. Nevermind the size, the weight of this camera is perfect. Most people mention how compact it is, but the fact is that even though it’s smaller than a DSLR, it’s still too big for most pockets, so it will probably still live on a neck strap. But unlike a heavy DSLR, you won’t mind having the X100 around your neck the whole day. In fact, you’d probably forget it’s there until you want to take a shot.

The image quality. High ISO noise? What noise? Okay, to be fair you’ll still get noise in underexposed areas at high ISO sensitivities, but correctly exposed scenes look great. ISO 3200 is completely usable to me. I set the Auto ISO range to 200-3200 and forget about ISO values, it’s that easy.

The lens. Sure, it’s a bit soft wide open, but only of you look for it. Otherwise it’s sharp and there’s minimal distortion from what I can see. And while the AF isn’t exactly quick, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be – AF performance is a non-issue for me.

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The sounds. Or lack there-of. Turn all the artificial beeps off and this camera is seriously quiet. When you’re on the street, you can’t even hear the click of the leaf shutter or the AF motors – people will probably think that you composed the shot but decided not to take it, and yet the photo is safely captured on the memory card.

The viewfinder. Coming from a crop-sensor DSLR, the viewfinder on the X100 is a pleasure to use. It’s much larger, and the information overlays are extremely useful. Not to mention very cool, kinda like science fiction. I don’t care much for the electronic-only viewfinder, but it’s there for those that like to see exactly what the lens sees. And even though the camera doesn’t feature rangefinder focussing, the viewfinder makes it operate more like a rangefinder than an SLR, which is a plus in my books.

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The control dials. Much like the 35mm cameras of the 60s, this camera does not feature a mode dial. You have a physical dial on top for shutter speeds and a physical dial around the lens for the aperture, and between these two dials and the exposure compensation dial, you can choose your exposure mode and settings. The camera also has a command dial and sub-command dial like DSLRs – these are definitely inferior to those on a DSLR, but thanks to the aforementioned physical exposure controls, you won’t need to use the command dials as much.

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What You’ll Dislike

The menu interface. I can’t comment on Nikon’s menus, but if you’ve been using a Canon DSLR with DIGIC III or later, then you’ve been spoiled with some very nice and user friendly menu interfaces. Can’t say the same for the Fujifilm – it’s pretty bad. But for most users of this type of camera, they’ll probably set it up in a certain way and then rarely venture into the settings menus. Nevertheless, the menus suck and it’s an area where they can improve things – which they seem to have done with the newest X series cameras.

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The autofocus. While I said that the slow AF is a non-issue for me, it might be an issue for you. Especially if you’re used to the speed and accuracy of a good DSLR. If fast AF is a very important feature to you, then it might be best to look elsewhere.

The manual focus. Put it this way – consider that this camera has an AF mode, and a fixed focus mode, because that is all that the manual focus mode is good for – setting a fixed focus distance. The fly-by-wire MF ring is a pain in the ass to use thanks to being completely unresponsive and slow – much like the broken volume knob on my cheap HiFi.

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The battery life. It’s not great. Grab a spare battery or two and you should be okay.

And that’s about it from a DSLR user’s point of view.

If you’re coming to an X100 from previously shooting film, it’s almost all-positives. You can set the camera up to reflect the way you shoot film (no chimping, etc.) and you’ll love the freedom given to you by the useful Auto ISO – no more worrying about being stuck at a slow film speed.

Conclusion

So yeah, after my short time with an X100 so far, I can confidently say that it’s currently my favourite camera of all time. Despite its quirks, it manages to combine what I love about shooting film with the conveniences of shooting digital, and any camera that can do that successfully is a great camera in my opinion.

The upgraded version, the X100S is out already. If you have the cash, go for that model as it features a few improvements and zero downsides. But, if you want to save some cash or simply can’t afford the new model, then go for a used X100 like I did; it’s 95% of the X100S at half the price—not a bad deal at all.

Here are a few more photos that I’ve shot in the last three weeks (Note: All of the photos in this post are straight out of the camera):

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About the author: Francois W. Nel is a a hobbyist photographer, film enthusiast and camera collector based in Cape Town, South Africa. When he’s not shooting, he writes about photography on Orms Connect. This article originally appeared here.


 
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  • Ian Kirk

    I had a Fuji x100. I absolutely loved it. I also absolutely hated it.

    I have never known a camera that was soooo good…..and so maddeningly bad at the same time….mainly for the reasons you have outlined above.
    I hated the mediocre OVF and loved its vibrant EVF unlike you.

    In the end I sold it. Now I miss it.

  • leroy

    bluraschi?

  • jsjedwjkwe

    nothing new… here.
    just another hype soon forgoten

  • Horst Wrabetz

    what hype? small cameras with big sensors?

  • Rabi Abonour

    I love my Fuji X100s. However, it hasn’t replaced my 5D Mark III. The DSLR still comes out for most “serious” work, while the Fuji is more of a walkaround/street camera.

    I think this post actually gets at something that it doesn’t quite mean to – hobbyists should consider whether or not they really need DSLRs. We’re at a point where mirrorless cameras are offering a lot. If you do the kind of work that the author does, you very well might not need a big, bulky DSLR.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    I shoot DSLRs (Nikon), and for many years (film) SLRs- I’ve also spent many years in medium format and plenty of time w/ 35mm rangefinders. I also have a Fuji x100s.

    I LOVE my x100s, its a great little walkaround camera, and it produces really lovely images, however it’s not a workhorse and will never replace my DSLRs.

    I love that it forces me to think deeper about composition, take more time to compose my shots – and ‘going back to the basics’ will help me think about the ways I shoot overall – but its not a tool for every situation.

    For assignment work, the versatility of my Nikon pro bodies and glass allows me to create predictable results in a vast array of situations. There’s a reason for a full professional system.

    Most enthusiasts don’t need full systems, and the x100s is an optimal camera for someone starting out – high image quality with a single lens option that will help the enthusiast to learn to see, compose and grow with limited options – but at some point most serious enthusiasts will out-grow a single focal length. There is the Fuji x-1Pro with a full range of lenses – but its bigger, and you are almost into small DSLR sized body-lens combos at that point.

    Again, LOVE my x100s for what it is, but it will never replace a system if you need versatility.

    (added note: I’ve had both, and the x100s has MUCH better menus than the x100 – many improvements were made on an already really nice design).

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley

    No hype – mirrorless cameras are a great option for many things.

    They are great, light walkaround cameras.

    The ability to shoot unobtrusively and silently is great for many situations.

  • Mike

    Hype…right.

    Well, I have a DSLR for shooting stuff that demands the DOF capabilities, focusing speed (and awesome tracking) and proper work with speedlites.

    There is no way I will carry that bulky piece of black colored metal with its funny huge lenses, when I just go out to enjoy life.

  • faloc

    that is true, I do enjoy my Leica M (perfect for the streets) a lot more than my Canon DSLRs xD

  • Goofball Jones

    Three of the cons he listed were fixed with the X100s, quicker and more accurate autofocus. The Q menu helps a lot with the various settings. And manual focus is totally usable now. In fact, I use it quite a bit with its focus peaking and it works like a charm. Battery life is still pretty bad, but better than the original.

    I AMA pro that has gone almost totally into using this exclusively. I haven’t touched my 5D MkII in quite a while now. I still travel to a gig with all my lights and modifiers/soft boxes/parabolic umbrellas etc. set up the Einsteins and my speedlights, backdrops etc…..then I bring out this teeny tiny camera.

    While I can’t advocate everyone dump their equipment, I can only speak to the way I personally shoot and so far it’s been wonderful.

  • John Kantor

    If I wanted to waste my time with a mediocre camera, I could get one for a lot less than $800.

  • alreadyupsidedown

    Cool opinion bro. Too bad it produces great images and is a joy to use for many people.

  • Genkakuzai

    It does seem like most of the stuff people hated with the X100 has been fixed with the X100S though :) Perhaps you should consider one?

  • fsrdh

    as a previous owner of an X100 I agree with the article. Wanted to add some of my experiences:

    Fuji showed the worst example of how to implement drive-by-wire controls. Manual focus is non existent. The camera focuses differently when using the OVF and another way when on the EVF/LCD mode.
    The weirdest thing in my opinion was the fact that it would focus much better/faster when using the digital zoom-in mode than when in normal framing mode.
    Sometimes the EVF/OVF would just trail for seconds looking for a focus point and quit failing but switching the digital zoom and refocusing both in AF/MF modes would instantly lock focus.
    This baffles me till now, how did they manage to write such an awful firmware?

    But I guess the lack built quality and any weather sealing is the biggest deal breaker for me, after just a month I had issues with dust inside the viewfinder and a few months later inside the lens itself.
    The glass protecting the viewfinder from the lens side is made from plastic and so is 85% of the body itself. Everybody raved about the full-metal construction when the truth is that you need to gently peal the fake leather to realized that the camera is made of plastic.

  • patrick dinneen

    Would they ever make an X50? viewfinder from the X100 and zoom from the X10 (but without the lens barrel getting in the way of the viewfinder….

  • Emmett

    Or more accurately, consider putting your name on the waiting list to get one…

  • Ashley Pomeroy

    “So yeah, after my short time with an X100 so far, I can confidently say that it’s currently my favourite camera of all time.”

    Whenever somebody says that something is their favourite thing of all time I’m unconvinced that they have the experience or wisdom to make that call. They’re either very shallow, or they have a very limited understanding of the world – same thing, really – or they don’t choose their words carefully.

    Nothing can be your favourite thing of all time after just three weeks, unless you’re talking about your first-born child or the discovery of women and/or heroin. Three weeks is nothing. Based on the photographs that accompany this article the passion didn’t come through.

    Also, the article describes the author as a “hobbyist photographer, film enthusiast and camera collector”, but leaves out the fact that he’s actually the owner of Orms Direct, an online photo goods store. Which sells the X100, fancy that.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ bob cooley
  • Mohd Hazrul

    I love my X100. It does many wonder other than the common overexposure problem which u will notice later on after a few hundreds or one thousand clicks. But it still is a good camera with an exceptionally super sharp pictures it produce!

  • Brian W. Brown

    I have an X100 and really enjoy it. Yes, it can be maddening at times, but when it all comes together the images are outstanding. It should be noted that the latest firmware upgrade vastly improved the AF and manual focus. Focus peaking was also included in the upgrade.

  • darwiniandude

    I’ve recently purchased a used X100 in perfect condition, the original owner didn’t rally use it, didn’t get on with it. And I can see why. The camera came with firmware 1.2 loaded. What rubbish. Horrid manual focus, sluggish AF, issued focusing even 40 cm away… But before I bought the can I did much research online, and used the X100S a lot in shops to get a feel for the speed. The X100S is undoubtedly superior.

    However, I bought the cam and updated the firmware to the current 2.10.

    Massive change. It’s a different camera. It can’t make it an X100S but for the price I paid in more than happy. Manual focusing using the ring works wonderfully. Focus check was also added which enhances contrast in the EVF/LCD of in focus areas when focusing. Much much faster, can reassign raw button, support for tele conversion lens.

    20% faster AF, 30% closer focusing without macro mode enabled.

    I have an X20, which I will now sell although that can has it’s own benefits. But the X100 is now a great camera. A classic. And I’ll keep it until the X100S successor comes out at least.