Back in March 2011 I received one of the first Fuji X100 cameras to arrive in the UK. The camera generated a huge amount of interest before release and as a result it was very difficult to get hold of one for months. Now a lot of the initial excitement has died down and it’s possible to get hold of the camera without being on a long waiting list the question for many photographers is does the camera lives up to the hype and is it worth buying?
I wrote a few thoughts on the Fuji X100 back in April and have received many emails from photographers asking what I think of the camera. I have had mine for 12 months now and have used it at almost every wedding since, it has also be used for landscapes and street photography
The Fuji X100 is a small compact camera aimed at professional photographers, I’m not going to list all of the technical data for the camera as I’m not interested in how a camera performs on paper and there are plenty of online sources for those interested in megapixels. The camera is stunningly beautiful and easily mistaken for a Leica. I purchased the Fuji brown leather case and a lens hood, both make the camera even more pretty. Of course how a camera looks is not the most important thing to a professional photographer, but you can’t help but admire the X100’s looks.
The Fuji X100 won’t replace a DSLR, but it does have it’s place for wedding photographers. Many times I have been photographing quiet parts of the wedding ceremony and cursed the shutter on my Canon 5DII’s. The X100 is almost silent, I find people around me can’t hear it at all. I use mine a lot during the ceremony and also find it’s a lovely camera for the bridal preparations, when big cameras and lenses can seem intimidating. You certainly get a different reaction from walking around with the X100 to a DSLR and it allows you to get close to your subject. The 35mm (equivalent) lens is ideal for this sort of photography.
The optical viewfinder is stunning, you can switch to an electronic finder but I much prefer the optical finder with rangefinder style frame lines. The viewfinder allows you to see what is going on outside of the image area, so you can watch people moving into the scene. Another advantage over a DSLR is the viewfinder doesn’t black out during exposure, so you can see the actual moment you take the photograph.
There are a couple of areas that could be improved on the X100, the biggest issue is the focusing system. It’s a lot slower than most DSLR cameras and can struggle in very low light. This doesn’t bother me too much as I’m not the sort of photographer who chases after the action, instead I compose, pre-focus and wait for the moment I want to capture. Focusing on moving subjects can be tricky, but it’s not impossible as you can see from the image below.
So what is the Fuji X100 like as a wedding camera? I find it’s a great camera as a supplement to a DSLR, you wouldn’t want to use it on it’s own to photograph an entire wedding due to the limitations of the fixed 35mm equivalent lens. It does have it’s place at a wedding and allows me to get photographs that would otherwise be difficult, for example at a recent wedding the registrar told me under no circumstances could I photograph anything other than the kiss and a mock signing of the register. I shot the entire ceremony on the X100 standing just a couple of feet away from (and behind) the registrar and nobody noticed. Even when photography is allowed during the ceremony the X100 is a lovely camera to use due to how quiet the shutter is. The small size of the camera also means you can get close to people and they don’t seem to notice like they do with a DSLR, they also don’t realise you have taken the photograph as they can’t hear the shutter. At a recent wedding I was photographing the bride’s preparations and after about ten minutes she asked me if the light was poor in the room, on saying it was fine she commented that she hadn’t seen me take any photographs. In fact I’d already taken about 30 shots but with the totally silent shutter she hadn’t noticed.
Image quality is very good and digital noise is not an issue until you get up to 3200 and 6400 iso. At 3200 iso the camera shows more noise in shadows than my 5DII and at 6400 iso the Canon 5DII is the clear winner. The results at high iso settings are perfectly acceptable for the average size photographs I use in my albums and I’d have no issues using images taken at 3200iso.
The panoramic photograph function is a nice touch, the viewfinder shows you how far you need to pan to get the shot. It works by taking a series of photographs and stitching them together. The results aren’t always perfect and I find they sometimes need a little bit of Photoshop work to fix the same part of an image appearing twice. For example in the panoramic photograph in the gallery below some of the shrubs had ghosting from a double image, this was easily fixed in Photoshop.
X200 update – December 2012
Expect to see a replacement to the X100 announced on January 7th 2013, it might not actually be called “Fujifilm X200” and will possibly be the X100s. The new camera will feature an updated sensor similar to that in the X-Pro1 and X-E1.
A gallery of photographs from weddings taken on my Fuji X100 –
You might also like to read my thoughts on the Fuji X-pro 1 camera – here