Fujifilm X100V Review
I’m looking for a small everyday carry camera, a replacement for my almost 10 years old trusty heavy Nikon D800. Instead of watching a lot of reviews of cameras and making a buy decision based on someone's opinion. I decided to match my requirements with a camera and rent it for days and decide for myself whether I love it or not. This review is focusing on the experience of me using, learning, and feeling about the camera, not about specs and scientific test numbers. I will not talk about functions feature that I did not use.
My requirements are:
- Small and lightweight, I want it to carry with me every day.
- Having an optical viewfinder, the EVF is not my favorite way of shooting. I like to see the world in real-time while shooting.
- A fast prime lens with superb image quality.
I chose the Fuji X100V(2020) to rent. I rent it from lenslineup.com for almost 5 days with a promotion price of 3 days and it cost me 2,100 Baht ($64) with a deposit of 15,000 Baht ($455) or around 30% of the camera price. I use my credit card payments both the rental fee and the deposit. The deposit transaction will be reversed after I return the camera and the name on my ID card must match the name on the credit card. They provide me with the Fujifilm X100V camera+ Fujifilm original strap, B+W UV filter+adepter, lens hood, 2 batteries, the battery charger(a good choice for charging both batteries at the same time), and a 64 GB SDCard 170MB/s. No lens cap(Good). I refused to use their poor shape camera bag but it’s provided. I just hang the camera around my neck walkout from the rental and keep the accessories in my small shoulder back instead. I asked the rental to change the LCD view to only the viewfinder view as I’m not familiar with the camera setting and they did not provide the user manual.
I wasted no time learning the camera setting and I go out and shoot immediately outside the rental in the street. I didn’t check the camera file option that leaves it on the jpeg fine file for the whole day. My very first shots were mostly overexposed. Due to the Fuji X100V censor ISO with 160 and the max shutter speed is 1/2000s. The X100V spec was shutter maxed at 1/4000s but I don’t know why I cannot use it even in the auto shutter speed mode(I don't want to know too). I always shoot with the wide-open aperture as possible. The X100V at f/2 on the bright sunlight in the afternoon makes it hard to shoot without stepping down the aperture. Thanks to the intuitive aperture ring on the lens, I can quickly adapt without looking for the manual.
I had trouble with the autofocus in street photography. I found it is a bit slower than my usual D800. It makes me get attention and caught on the image. I always thought my superpower is invisible to the cute girls but in fact, I’m just used to quick shots and when people look at me I already got the photo, pull my camera down, and look at the other way. In the shot above, I must take too long pointing the camera at her face and the 35mm equivalent lens, make me get too close under the COVID-19 transmission range. I wish it was 50mm it would be a perfect distance. The single photo mode only allows the camera to shoot a photo when it is in focus not when I press the shutter button but the light metering was locked when I press the shutter(Not sure).
I always shoot with continuous shot mode and continuous autofocus. It will allow me to get the shot exact moment I wanted when I see it in focus not when the camera sees it in focus. In this Fuji X100V, the viewfinder does not see the same image as the sensor. I must rely on the focus confirming, the green rectangle that pops on the center of the viewfinder when in focus and it’s hard to see in bright light. I know I just have to change to EVF to fix it but I like to leave the camera on all the time while shooting and using OVF is the most battery-efficient way to do it. I managed to shoot over 1,000 jpeg shots and around 5 hours of continuous use with 2 batteries.
As I said earlier I shot only jpeg on the first day, not because I wanted to, I just forgot the change it and the result of the JPEG file was fine. The profile was PROVIA Std, It’s kept the skin tone neutral. Red and yellow are bright vivid. Green and purple are neutral. Blue is pale blue. Orange is pale orange. Overall the JPEG was fine for general use but I still prefer to use raw files.
Raw File: Maxed out the full potential
I changed most of the setting to what like. Raw file only, continues autofocus, and the one I want to try the most is ISO bracketing, I never heard of any camera can ISO bracketing, I think it will shoot 3 shots real quick with different ISO to let the user decide what exposure to use. Turnout, It only took one shot with the different ISO. This will change everything I said to myself. No more wrong exposure, I can even use this to merge into the HDR image. After I try to process the raw files, I found a shot that I want to merge into the HDR and I got no more detail after the merge, in shadow, highlight, nothing popped out like it used to. I take a closer look at the files and found out the same raw files just shifted the exposure around. No wonder why I only took one shot to create 3 files. I guess it is only useful when using only jpeg files. The extra raw files are just completely wasting my storage space. Fake ISO bracketing, never use it again.
The shot above is on a demanding high dynamic range scene, objects in shadow with a bright blue sky in the background. I found out the sky became white. On the first day, I shot only in jpeg. At first, I thought the in-camera jpeg file processing did not keep the blue sky. I found out later from the raw file that I cannot recover the bright blue sky detail back as I can do from my D800. I have to dial almost -100 on the highlight slider in Lightroom to recover a pale blue with less detail highlight. I think it is more than 1 stop lower dynamic range(just feeling with the raw file, not a scientific test) than my Nikon D800, the 10 years old camera. No wonder why the sky always turns white in JPEG.
Skin tone: The X100v produced a great skin tone for a normal white skin person. I would take this camera for dating in a cafe. It will produce a nice portrait. For the dark skin tone, it would be difficult as usual as any camera.
Bokeh: At f/2.0 it produces smooth rounded bokeh but not exactly circle, no swirl effect. However, at the 35mm equivalent focal length, it is really hard to get close and get bigger bokeh and APS-C cropped sensor can not get the shallow depth of field as a full-frame sensor.
Lens Flare: At f/2.0 X100V handle the flare really well and it’s almost gone when stepping down to f/2.8.
Black and White conversion: I found that making black and white photos from the X100V raw file is a bit harder. I don't know, it’s because lower dynamic range, lower color depth, or lower resolution makes B&W photos take more time to adjust to the shade I like. The below photos are harder to make gradient shade from highlight and kept shadow dark but not pitch black.
Chromatic Aberration: CA is small or nothing thanks to the aspherical lenses but can be found in extreme cases like shooting tree branches in a bright background. Lightroom lens profile won’t fix all CA but can manually fix it easily or use a smaller aperture to reduce it while shooting.
Macro: The X100v lens can shoot really close to the subject. Around 10cm is like a really close, the lens hood can touch the subject and can get a smooth bokeh in the background in the process. When focusing closer the OVF will frame the preview to a smaller area to simulate the view of the actual image on the sensor but using the tilting LCD display is far better for macro shooting.
Low Light: The Fuji X100V is very capable in low-light situations. The wide-open f/2.0 lens helps a lot without the in-body image stabilization. Starting ISO at 160 means the higher ISO will be less noise. I can shoot up to ISO1600 with minimum noise, 3200 is manageable and at 6400 would be the last usable ISO(don't use it if possible).
Film Simulation: I have fun with the film simulation profiles even I think if you like the film looks just shoot with the real films. I can describe the profile as below:
- ASTIA/Soft— General color, keep the yellow light, skin tone turn to yellow. Normal blue sky.
- CLASSIC CHROME — Paler color, blue turn to turquoise, turquoise blue sky.
- CLASSIC Neg — Vivid green turns to pale turquoise green. Purple, pink, and red turn to orange-red. Paler blue sky, skin turn more orange. Strong contrast.
- ETERNA — Like CLASSIC CHROME but lower contrast and more normal blue sky.
- Pro Neg Hi — Like CLASSIC CHROME but darker red and normal pale blue sky.
- Pro Neg Std — Like ETERNA but a bit more contrast.
- PROVIA/Std — Like ASTIA/Soft but less yellowish and brighter red. Lower contrast, pale blue sky.
- Velvia/Vivid — Every color pop out. Green, red, yellow enhanced.
I like the CLASSIC CHROME, It works fine in normal situations without blue sky and the CLASSIC Neg for the super old film look.
Handling: the Fuji X100V is really perfect for my use case except for the right camera strap getting in the way of my index finger to the shutter button but I can adapt to it by inserting my finger inside the strap loop, not a big deal but somewhat annoying for reaching for a quick shot.
Battery Life: 1 battery will last 2.5 hours of shooting or 500 shots and noticeably shorter to 300 shots when using the LCD screen. The battery can charge inside the camera using the USB-C cable.
After 5 days of shooting and processing photos from Fujifilm X100V, I can say that this camera would be enough for an everyday carry camera. The sensor is a bit behind other companies in terms of image quality but It feels good to use and makes me want to go out and shoot every day. Things I would like to change are the focal length to be 50mm, added in-body image stabilization and the price could be lower to $1200 if I still need a converter to make it 50mm. Would I buy one now? No, I missed my old Nikon D800 already. Maybe the next version of the Fujifilm X100 series. I’m cured of the gear acquisition syndrome, I guess.
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