Photography allowed me to fall in love with the world’s curiosities by seeing the world with fresh and naive eyes.-Andrew
I usually stick to Canon and Sony, but I recently purchased the Fuji X100V, my first Fuji camera. It has single-handedly reignited my passion for photography, and I sit here wishing I had discovered it sooner.
This camera has seen a lot of action, and I was lucky enough to take it abroad with me while travelling over the last month, so I’ll be sharing a number of unedited snaps to give you an idea of the type of images that come out of the X100V.
But how can a single $1,400 camera garner such high praise? As a first-time Fuji owner, here’s my review and perspective.
Aesthetic & Build Quality
The Fuji X100V is the fifth model in the company’s X100 series, which debuted in 2011. The line is known for its fixed prime lens and retro aesthetic.
For that ultra-fine finish, the top and bottom are milled from a single slab of aluminum and satin coating. Unlike its Leica counterpart, the lower portion is plastic rather than rubber.
It’s not just the looks; the compact build quality is brilliant, and it’s a redesign from its predecessor, the X100F. It is now weatherproof and dust and splash-proof, making it an ideal travel companion. Just keep in mind that it does require a lens filter for complete protection.
The buttons maintain the premium resistance and tactile experience that Fuji is known for. They’re complemented by a responsive touchscreen experience – I love using it to spot focus even when shooting through the viewfinder, as well as pinch and zoom into photos.
The hybrid viewfinder is also a treat; with the press of a single button, you can switch between an optical and an OLED electronic viewfinder. A lot of fun for framing your shot.
The X100V’s good looks make photography more enjoyable and will make you proud to be holding the camera.
Fuji Film Simulations
The other big draw for the Fuji X100V or any Fuji camera is the Film Simulations, which I’ve been having a lot of fun with.
They are powerful image profiles that are based on a century of analog film color science. It’s an incredibly creative tool for capturing these very unique and creative looks straight from the camera.
To achieve a specific look, photographers typically shoot in a flat RAW file and then spend hours in front of a computer, for example, in Lightroom or Photoshop enhancing photos individually. Yes, presets help speed up the process, but the workflow happens AFTER the photo is taken.
The beauty of Fuji Film Simulations is that they apply these looks directly to the photo as you take it. You can see the film sim immediately after taking the photo, which means you can post beautiful stylized photos straight from the camera to your social media.
You’ll find stock film simulations like Astia, Pro Negative Standard, and my personal favorite, Classic Chrome. The real fun, however, comes from completely personalizing your film sims.
I tweaked one to have a vintage true film look to it. It has that lovely ethereal, almost-dream-like film look that I adore, and it would take me a long time to create if I processed it in LightRoom, and it wouldn’t even be the same.
And if you think that once you shoot in a Fuji Film Sim, you’re stuck with that look – as I did – you’ll be pleased to know that you can shoot in both RAW and Film Sims. This gives me a beautifully stylized photo that I can use right away, as well as a flat profile copy in case I want to experiment with it.
Lens + Picture Quality
Film simulations are useless if the lens itself is subpar. Fortunately, the X100V’s fixed prime lens is excellent and is one of the best prime lenses I have ever used.
It’s a 26.1MP 23mm f/2 lens, but keep in mind that the X100V’s sensor is APS-C, so the angle of view is closer to that of a 35mm full-frame camera.
In comparison to the X100F predecessor, it has been internally redesigned, and from what I’ve heard, it is incredibly sharp. Sharpness, contrast, and chromatic aberrations have all been significantly improved. I can shoot at a low ISO and aperture and still get a deliciously crisp photo.
With the new lens, sensor, and processor, autofocus is also excellent. I have yet to see the X100V autofocus hunt in any situation, including extremely low light, which I cannot say for my Sony A7III and A6400.
I should also give credit to the built-in ND filter. We have a four-stop filter and can underexpose daylight with a completely open aperture.
However, because it is a fixed lens, you will have to work for that shot. Not using a zoom lens can be a lot of fun; you’ll have to use your legs to frame a shot. This, in my opinion, only adds to the X100V’s allure. You do, however, have the option of using digital zoom.
This small but powerful lens is truly versatile, which is a big reason why it doesn’t disappoint as a one-stop camera and why I take it almost everywhere.
Another area where the X100V shines is in the accessories department. This thing is a veritable accessory monster.
So far, I have added an extra battery, a leather camera neck strap from Moment that complements the X100V better than the stock standard Fuji strap, and a custom soft release button – which not only looks great but also improves the overall photo-taking experience.
There are numerous accessories available to improve the look and usability of the X100V, and I’m thinking about purchasing a Cinebloom diffusion filter to achieve a film-like aesthetic while retaining the convenience of digital.
Battery & Connectivity
The battery life is rated at an average of 420 images when using the optical viewfinder and 350 images when using the electronic viewfinder.
It’s funny, I thought the backup battery was essential while travelling, but I never used it. I got through every day on a single battery because I wasn’t shooting every single moment and switched off the camera after I captured the moments I wanted to capture.
Fortunately, the camera is charged via a USB-C port, which allows for in-camera battery charging or powering and running the camera via USB.
Now, I realize I’ve lavished the X100V with praise, which is well-deserved, but it has its flaws.
Starting with the Fuji app that failed miserably. There’s a reason why this app has ratings of 1.3 and 1.6 on the Apple and Google app stores, respectively.
It’s not easy to use, it’s cluttered, and the worst part is that the connection between the app and the camera has a mind of its own. It is the worst camera app I’ve ever used because it is nearly unusable.
Sometimes the Bluetooth connection fails after only one photo is transferred, and other times the photo previews do not even load.
I spent nearly an hour late at night while travelling trying to import a batch of photos before giving up.
Fuji has promised updates to improve usability but has yet to deliver, so the X100V experience has taken a hit.
Aside from the app, there are a few minor quibbles: the stock strap is, in my opinion, of lower quality than the Canon and Sony straps, and the camera is known to get quite warm when in use.
It doesn’t overheat to the point of shutting down, but it’s noticeable in hand. The heat is generated as a result of the camera’s electric circuit board and battery being located directly beneath the hand grip. Fuji has acknowledged the heat and claims that it has no effect on camera performance, which I can confirm after using it in Thailand. Nonetheless, it’s a little unsettling.
And, because Thailand was so sunny, I was constantly changing the LCD brightness – an automatic shift in LCD brightness would have been a great feature. Some argue that 26.1 megapixels isn’t enough when the Leica equivalent Q2 has 47.3 MP, but unless you’re shooting for extra large prints, the significantly less expensive X100V is more than enough.
By the way, getting my hands on one was a little difficult. All silver Fuji X100Vs were sold out at the time, and I mean all – I called at least ten stores and was told the silver variant is extremely popular. Stocks should have slowed by now, but good things come to those who wait.
This camera makes me appreciate photography even more. It provides me with unique tools and looks to capture beautiful moments in a good-looking package.
Despite its minor flaws, the Fuji X100V lives up to the hype for good reason.
The fact that this camera has drawn me deeper into the craft of photography and allowed me to explore a unique side of photography through film simulations alone is worth the price tag.
Rather than detracting from my trip to Thailand, the camera added another layer of enjoyment without taking away from the moment – something I can’t say I enjoy nearly as much with other cameras.
This is by far my favorite camera to date, and it is the ideal travel and everyday companion. I’m always reaching for the X100V, which is so portable.
If you’re looking for a step up from an iPhone or a step down from a more serious setup like I did, the X100V will not disappoint, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s one of the most enjoyable purchases I’ve made recently.
I had so much fun with this camera that I made a new Instagram profile just for Fuji photos. Feel free to follow the new profile, and show it some love. Follow @aez.photos if you want to see my travels and shots from the Fuji film simulations.