In hindsight, taking this as my only camera during my first visit to New York was a pretty bold move. I had never used it before in any serious capacity and the camera was, for all intents and purposes, untested. However, it did a pretty good job under some difficult circumstances, and I would consider it again.
The X100 is a compact system camera – a high end point and shoot. It is mirror less, which means that as opposed to SLR cameras which have a mirror/prism system that takes light from the lens up into the viewfinder then flicks up at the last second to expose the sensor when you press the shutter release, there is no mirror, but the viewfinder is simply a hole, albeit, a very cool one. It has a range of advanced shooting modes, P, S, A and M. It’s small, built extremely well and enables you to take great photographs.
I love my DSLR, but it’s all plastic as Nikon tries to save money and entice more people into photography. The X100, on the other hand, is wonderfully finished. All metal, the top and the lens have a really nice premium feel to them, as does the leather that wraps the body. The machined external controls are a great touch, and really help you get to know how the whole thing works.
One reason I opted to bring this travelling over my DSLR was the size. It is considerably smaller and shallower than the body and lens(es) of my Nikon, meaning I’m much more likely to throw it into my bag on my way out. The best camera is the one you have on you, and so having something small you carry around with you all the time is quite handy. Furthermore, its size allows you to shoot pretty inconspicuously. If you’re on the street and raise a big black box at someone, it changes everything. The shutter also makes a pretty audible click (I did miss this!). With this, you simply point, shoot and move on.
The The viewfinder is nice and large, but as it’s a mirror less rangefinder, it is offset from the lens itself. This means that whatever you frame in the viewfinder will always be slightly different, but the hybrid OVF technology does go some way in making up for it, projecting a virtual viewfinder onto what you’re looking at, which lets you properly frame the shot.
The camera has a fixed lens. This has both positives and negatives. The upside is that it’s a good lens, and you don’t have to faff about with carrying around a whole bag just for the camera, as that option is taken away from you. The downside is that it robs you of versatility. The 23mm f/2.0 is nice and wide, so you can get lovely big street shots, and good portraits, without having too hard about the frame, because chances are it’ll be in there anyway.
When closed, the results come out nice and sharp
But it gets a bit soft at f/2
The sensor is also a bit of a pain. In low light, you’re going to be at 1/30 most of the times, with the ISO cranked up pretty high. Noise isn’t really noticeable until 2500, but it’s still quite a drag having to shoot at such a value.
One cool feature of the X100 is macro. This allows you to take super close up shots, closer than you would with a standard 23mm prime. The macro button is on the back, and turns on with ease. You can use the live view for this, or the electronic view finder (EVF). It’s like a tiny LCD that drops down over the viewfinder and shows you exactly what’s hitting the sensor, getting rid of the problem of offset. The colours do look somewhat washed out on the EVF compared to the OVF, however. This can be used for regular shooting too, by flicking the switch up front (I only found this out a few days ago!), but it’s a lot less enjoyable and takes up too much battery.
All this makes a pretty good all rounder. In the daytime, it’s pretty much the perfect point and shoot, giving good portraits and landscapes without much effort. In low light, you have to be more careful with how you’re taking your shots. Because of the short focal length, however, you can avoid blur by taking a big breath. The burger was at 1/4!
The X100 is also able to film video clips of up to 10 minutes. Helpfully, there’s a virtual level on the screen and EVF to help you keep the frame. It’s nothing special, and the films can be very shaky. Furthermore, once you’ve started recording, you can’t change the focus, so you’ve got to be happy with what you first saw, or use your feet.
Fuji managed to make a pretty good piece of kit. It’s lovely to hold and shoot with, with a decent prime lens that’s good for most day to day jobs. The autofocus could be faster, and the battery could be longer, but if you’re looking for something small, and are willing to be inventive with your shots, this is the camera for you.