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Friday, 02 December 2011


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Wonderful writing, great photos, and thanks for defusing my need to buy an X100!

Thanks for this review. I especially enjoy the sample images. Several of them are quite amazing.

I feel bad for your wife or girlfriend.

A classic camera which Fuji will build upon


Awesome piece. I say this as much because of the way it cuts across the grain of most camera "reviews" as its content, which is punctuated by images that tell me everything I need to know about image quality. I am an X100 non-owner and was more excited about the possibilities suggested by this offering than by the prospect of actually purchasing one. But like a movie review that changes your mind about a picture you haven't thought of seeing, Robert's piece casts the camera in a new light. I still don't want to buy one. But its inevitable upgrade? Now you're talking. . .

Very clear and accurate reflection on a unique product. I've had my X100 for three weeks and it has rapidly become one of my few "you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands" possessions (right up there with my Fuji GA645 MF cameras, another inspired but not-quite-perfect Fuji classic). The focus thing is situational: it is too slow for a party in tight quarters but just perfect for a walking tour of San Francisco. It's also MUCH faster than any digicam I've ever picked up under all conditions. It's not for beginners, but it isn't the miniaturized view camera operating problem some reviewers have claimed it is.

The important thing is: Fuji is going in the right direction with this camera. Its successor could be amazing...if Fuji doesn't act like Fuji and lose interest before they reach an optimal design.

A wonderful review - thank you!

I like the shots you're making with that camera. And, for that matter, the ones your son makes.

Several of them show what seem to me unnecessarily high shutter speeds (I'll exclude from that the ones where you handed it to your 5-year-old son; a lot of safety margin there is probably appropriate, both to get the picture and to make his experience a successful one) and high ISOs. Is this your idiosyncrasy, or something the camera has lead you to consider desirable, or "just how it comes out" sometimes?

Great pictures. Thanks. Mine is not for sale either.

Nice writing but let's not get too carried away with the revolutionari-ness of it all.

The Internet chatter would have you believe that the Leica X1 was so slow it was unuseable except for landscapes. That's just not so, the AF is OK once you figure out how it works and MF is dead simple. I am hard-pressed to see how the Fuji is any faster in real life. The author's own shots of his jumping boy prove the point; they were done in MF because the AF cannot keep up with that sort of movement with any degree of consistency. Fuji didn't get the Oly/Pany AF wizardry yet, and neither obviously did Leica. But when you look through a brightline finder and get the little green dot focus confirmation, which comes not much slower if at all than lining up the old M rangefinder yourself, it sure feels nice.

The Panasonic G3, ugly and utilitarian as it is, and boy is it, does not make substantially inferior images up to about 1200ASA. But if you're working a bit of a crowd and want to do some wide-angled shooting, the ugly lump sure works well. And the EVF? Eh, it does the job. You can see what's there just fine.

So I've had a hard time figuring out just why the Fuji is such a lust object beyond the retro styling. It sounds slow in operation, and in terms of IQ is no better than the X1. Hmmm.

Thanks - in its idiosynchratic way this review (if thats what you want to call it) told me more, in fewer words and pictures, than I have gleaned from everything else I have read. And it it entertained me to boot. I'm going to wait to see what Canon come up with in the mirrorless market, but the Fuji is still a strong contender.

What a great post! Thank-you for doing the eminently rare thing of bringing a fantastic sense of humour to the passionate discussion of photography. Only Dante Stella has made me laugh like you have. You are in rare company indeed. Well done.

A good review, nice idea for the analogy and well chosen photos that for once really demonstrate the capacities of the sensor and software. Some beautiful photos there. I don't find the auto-focus so bad at all and this is the experience of many on rangefinderforum (when will it be up and running again?) who have spent time working out the ideal settings for a rangefinder like quickness with this camera. There is a quick way to lock the focus when in AF mode, allowing a Leica-like capture of the peak of the action like your son jumping, without having to pursue the menu tedium of burst mode. The size of the unit is such an advantage. Mine is in for repair - faulty switch between A and 1/4000s on the shutter speed dial. The size and weight of my M5 makes it a very different prospect for an every day camera. I hope the X100 proves durable as it is simply the best thing there is at the moment for a convenient go anywhere camera that reliably gets fantastic images in any light.

Nice review and photos, although I have to ask if Robert has upgraded the camera's firmware in order to have the AF-frame parallax correction and better camera responsiveness.

The slow startup can be easily resolved too with a in-camera formatted fast SD card. Since I bought one the slow startup is gone.

There's also a thing that I've been noticing that many X100 users don't know about: you can change the size of the AF frame making the AF significantly better. The problem is that the steps to do it are not exactly intuitive - actually many menu-driven aspects in this camera aren't intuitive, this was the first camera I had that I felt the need to read the manual.

The comparison to the m43 system is inevitable and being a former E-P1 shooter I can say that they are very different systems and many dSLR users will feel more at home with a m43 setup: it's a more well-ballanced system made to satisfy a broader audience, I just felt it just didn't really excell at anything in particular - it was like every aspect was "good enough" but not trully "excellent".
But I have to confess that it still hurts when I remember I've sell that lovely Panasonic 20mm f/1.7...

But the review it's spot-on: after getting used to it's little quirks and finally configuring the camera to your liking, to use the X100 is all about the shooting experience and image quality.

Let's all hope Fuji will continue to support the X100 users with more firmware upgrades regardless of this new camera system they're working on.

What a wonderful review! Like a good road test, it dispenses with boring statistics and gives us the feel, the flavour, the spirit. And yes, I love this camera, for all the reasons so eloquently described.

I love mine. Especially when I shoot in b/w. It gives me different tones than the Ricoh GRD 3, yet, the magic is different also.

Now this is camera review!

What fun.

This is a lovely article Robert. I concur with your experience of the X100 - it is a wonderful camera when it wants to behave. I discovered that I have to half press the shutter button to avoid shutter lag, even when using manual focus mode. The auto focus is pretty hopeless in low light too. I've installed the official Fuji lens hood and filter holder, and this conveniently blocks the AF assist light and built-in flash.

Apart from these little problems I am loving the camera. I can't remember when I last used the SLR.

The timing of this article is a nice coincidence for me. I received my X100 in the mail this morning. After having read numerous complaints in various reviews and forum discussions about the X100's quirky controls I was prepared for a day of reading the manual. But I'd also purchased the Fuji X10 recently and already paid my dues with its manual. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the two cameras share a lot of software code, so I have become reasonably proficient with the X100 in short order.

The x100 may be contemptuously labeled a camera for "men of a certain age", i.e. guys like me who began our passion for photography over a quarter century ago with a fully mechanical Nikon F or Leica M3 hanging around our neck. All I can say is "the thrill is back"! The X100 captures the feeling of a 20th century mechanical camera and combines it with thoroughly modern digital qualities in a very delightful way. Perhaps most importantly, its superb prime lens insists that you interact with your subject matter in a way that kit lens zooms attached to auto everything dSLRs do not.

Brilliant. Describes the highs and lows of ownership perfectly.

A new high (or low) in hyperbole. (Loperbole?)

What a great review--so much more interesting and, quite frankly, more insightful than the usual techno-babble, self-appointed internet guru crap.

But the author forgot one important aspect I discovered about the x100. Its social aspects.

I call my x100 the "big chest" camera--no offense, I hope--since when I wear it around my neck in urban areas certain people will stare at my chest, strain to get a better look as I walk by, and talk to me "face to face" with their eyes locked on to some point well below my mouth. I'm a guy and at long last I really "get" the complaint some females make about some males.

Regarding another commentator here, who didn't "get" the revolutionariness of the X-100: When it was announced I gasped "at last!" and was one of the first to receive a copy. See review, above, for details.

What a great post. Thanks.

Wow. That's nearly as nice as the Canon S95 for only a thousand bucks less.

ahhh. all I want for Christmas is...this.

This review is a breath of fresh air. Great imagery, both verbally and pictorially. Thank you.

Dear Readers:

Your affirmation has put a strut in my step and rouged my cheeks with the faintest hint of a blush.

I am presently reviewing the Olympus EP-3 with 12mm, 17mm, and 45mm lenses and will lend you my thoughts next month.

I crave your tonalities. m4/3 owner here. In good light, I can get them too. In low light, hardly. But I held the X-100 and didn't emotionally connect. Strange. I wanted to. It didn't happen. I had a Yashica T4. I wanted the X-100 to be what the T4 was to me. I compare and compare reviews and find myself in Andy's camp - the ugly utilitarian functionality of a G3 (in my case a G1) is hard to explain away.

"There is nothing like a big sensor married to a sharp, prime lens. The image quality is a magnitude better than Micro 4/3 sensors and on par with all but full-frame cameras."

I thought the myth about the "magnitude" of difference between the image quality (especially in prints) of 4/3 sensors and the various APS-size sensors had been debunked long ago. Other than that quibble, this was a very interesting and entertaining article. As usually happens, I learn more from "real life use" reviews like this one than all the technical mumbo-jumbo that often tries to pass as a camera review. Good job!

I am hoping that at the other end of the spectrum in addition to the X100 and X10 there will also be a compact camera (XF10?) as a worthy successor of the F10/11/30/31s series.

I would have to ask... Is this sensor available in any other cameras? I'm impressed with the dynamic range implemented in this camera. For the price I can't imagine myself buying one.... unless the interface were much more user friendly and a little more engineering to speed up operations a bit. Oh yeah, (I know all the purists will hate this)a tilt rear display so I can street shoot with it in me lap. :)

I like your review and the photos too. Thank you Fuji for making a real camera! I know (hope) this is just the beginning of more cameras like this. Bring on the interchangeable lens too. And, bring us a full size sensor rangefinde to complete with the Leica's which are soo expensive.

Dear mbka:

A T4 is one thing, but did you ever use an Electro? I think the X100 appeals especially to people fond of classic rangefinders. It may take more than holding the X100 to understand it. Shoot with it for a month or two to discover how different it is from a DSLR (even a tiny one) or an EVIL cam.

Sincererly, J

"I had a Yashica T4. I wanted the X-100 to be what the T4 was to me."

I think that would be a very different camera--but one that I would want.

What a fresh and entertaining piece! I wish there were more writers with such talent and wit.

Really love the photos. Great processing and colors. I too own an X100 and it has become my main camera since March. It is really a great camera.

Hi Jeff, Robin, re: T4: Maybe I should explain. What the T4 was to me is this - pocketable, only one focal length but one I could easily live with (35mm eq like the X-100), and one of the few film cameras with an optical periscope finder to shoot overhead. And the image quality was superb, especially contrast, less so the vignetting. So I see some parallels with the X-100. Even the AF was slow!

When you say the T4 is different you probably mean that the T4 lacks rangefinder-ness. I can see the point here. But strangely, coming from a G1, the X-100 finder did not awe me. It's certainly OK but the only finder I was ever totally in awe of was my friend's M4's finder. Now the Leica THAT is a rangefinder finder. It's huge and so bright and the parallax focusing is super precise. I already thought microprisms were so-so back in the days of MF SLRs but manual focusing on screens made for AF is horrendous, and magnification is just too disruptive of the process for me. The parallax system to me really would make a difference. When I held the X-100 though all I thought was "Now how is this so different from anything I know?" and nothing struck me. Except that camera operation was unintuitive. The finder didn't feel so huge or so bright, manual focusing doesn't seem to be easy, AF is slower than on m4/3. The eyepoint seemed less adapted to eyeglass wearers than on the G1 or any dSLR. Wasn't the main selling point of rangerfinder-ness to make the camera operationally superior? I didn't see that on the X-100. So I stopped lusting for one.

Dear John,

I think you are reading too much into Robert's comment. He's not making a blanket statement about sensor size versus quality, he is merely using the typical quality of 4/3 cameras and full-frame cameras as reference points to try and give you an idea of how good he thinks the image quality is from this. In other words, all he's really saying is that this particular camera is much, much better than the 4/3 cameras he's seen and approaches what he's seen in full-frame cameras.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Well I gotta say I think the camera, as I commented in an earlier post, is severely lacking. It could be a great camera, but just isn't. But I did like reading Robert's review, though he didn't convince me to try it (again!)!

Great article - I don't remember when I had read such a beautiful camera "review" before. I also love your selection of photos - they are all very good examples of the excellent image quality the X100 can deliver. Great dynamic range, great low light performance, great color depth, and a somewhat "analog" look.

Meanwhile, the quirks you describe don't bother me a lot anymore. The X100 feels great. I love how quiet it is, and find the dials and aperture ring so pleasant to touch and turn. I hardly dig into the menu any more. It wakes up within 2 seconds, and SD write speed is pretty much OK with high quality fast and in camera formatted SDHC cards. The only wish I had for the successor is a better manual focus feel.

And no, I will not give my X100 away.

"Then it began clicking at me like a Xhosa princess demanding a quad espresso." Robert, BLOCK THOSE METAPHORS!
Loved the technical stuff and illustrative photos. Good work.

Wow what an absolutely beautifully crafted review. Enjoyed every word!

Thanks for sharing the nice photos and your clear and interesting opinions on the camera.

However, as a X100 owner I tend to think that in a certain way your review also seems to reflect the opinion of a first time user of this camera, expecting it to behave the ideal way without any user settings or prior experience on manual and range focusing.

OK, the Fuji is not as fast as a DSLR, the buffer is limited to 8 shots, but if think that after the firmware revisions, most of the initial reasons for complain are mostly gone and some people continues to talk more based on their issues than the camera one's.

Just take manual focusing as an example: sure the ring is slow as it can be to achieve focus, but I think the camera is built to use it just for micro adjustments not for the all focusing process. If you use the AFL/AEL button to pre-focus and the ring for the precision adjustments you will find no reason for that much complain. And on the top of it, you have a DOF indicator in the viewfinder that allows you to use it for street photography the way range finders and other manual focus cameras were mostly used (I'm sure this is not new to you, but it can be for some people less familiar with the X100 and manual focusing in general, so the reason for this paragraph).

As a matter of fact, for other kind of photography I use a full frame DSLR that focus faster, shoots faster and has not the same buffer limitations, but for the purposes I bought the X100 I'm with you and mine it is not for sale either.


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