In the World of cameras, the most challenging ones to update are the models that are already excellent! The ones that have attained a strong following, and who's loyal owners expect the manufacturer to consistently deliver models that match their initial experiences with the product whilst adding meaningful improvements!
After three months shooting over 3,500 frames, I finally feel comfortable taking a deeper look at the latest version of what is our favourite digital camera line here at Frame Focus Foto! We are talking about the new Fujifilm X100V! Released in February this year it comes almost exactly three years after the previous model, the X100F. This is actually the first point I’d like to credit towards Fujifilm. In what has become a rat race of ever increasing upgrades to models by camera manufacturers, Fujifilm have bided their time, and not rushed in to the new model. It makes sense too, the X100 was after all, the camera that started the Fujifilm X movement towards smaller, lighter, high quality digital cameras with an analog heart! It was important to get it right!
Readers of this site will already know my love for this line of cameras, and particularly the X100F. So how does the new model stack up and is it worth the upgrade? Let’s find out! BTW... this is a slightly longer read than most of our posts on this site, so I recommend you fill a glass with your favourite beverage while we ponder Fuji’s latest version of the X100 series!
Before we get into it, I’d like to explain my own approach to reviewing camera gear. The sum total of a camera or lens’ usefulness is what it is like to use as a photographic tool. So you won’t be seeing any detailed technical analysis here, there are already loads of websites out there that have done these and to a high standard. I've tried to keep my thoughts about the new features of the X100V brief and relevant from a practical perspective.
So if you have an X100F, what are the main differences you’d expect to find between it and the V? I’ve listed them below.
26.1 MP BSI X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor VS 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS 3
Touch Enabled, flip screen
Improved ISO dial
Expanded multiple exposure modes
Upgraded EVF & OVF, most notably the EVF is now a 3.69 million dot OLED display.
Advanced Image Quality settings
The items in bold are the ones I've found most meaningful to me in my three months with the camera. Let’s unpack all of these and then I’ll end off with some thoughts on whether the X100V is a worthwhile upgrade.
The new sensor
The slight increase in resolution, in my view is of no relevance whatsoever, the print sizes you could make on the previous sensor are for the most part identical. What I do find though is that there are some small differences in the colour rendition from the previous X-Trans III. Natively the reds in particular seem more muted to me, though if you want the punchy colours of the old sensor it is pretty easy to achieve using some of the new features which I’ll discuss further along in the review.
This must be one of the most asked for features in the X100 series! Certainly it is something I had been hoping for as I think of the X100 series as a “carry everywhere, everyday” kind of camera. If it starts raining I don’t want to feel like I have to get the camera stashed away in a weather proof shoulder bag or backpack. I also love being able to shoot in the rain as it can be ideal conditions for dramatic photographs! That being said, the weather sealing on the X100V does come with a caveat, one only gets the weather sealing if the filter adapter and the 49mm PRF filter are used. When I first picked up the X100V the shop threw in a cheap 49mm filter, it was causing me problems with reflections however as it had no coating. So I decided to pony up for Fuji’s rather expensive PRF49 mainly out of curiosity about whether or not it actually had some built in seals. Looking closely at the filter, it does indeed appear to be beefed up in the areas where the glass is mated to the metal filter ring though I’m not convinced it is genuinely “weather sealed”. More importantly to me, it is also “Super EBC” coated which solved my reflection issues. But a good quality, coated UV filter from Hoya or B+W would achieve the exact same thing and will probably be cheaper too.
I’ve always carried my X100 cameras with filter adapter, filter and hood attached, so this weather sealing arrangement was not an inconvenience for me at all. If you tend to carry the camera in it’s native slimmed down configuration though, this might be a consideration.
This discussion does bring to mind a story about my X100F though. A couple years ago, whilst on our honeymoon in Norway, we went snow sledding. I had thoughtlessly slung the camera over my shoulder. When we reached the bottom of the hill I found my beloved X100F had become a frozen, snow covered block of ice! I carefully removed all the snow and dried the camera off as best I could… it is still working perfectly to this day!
So why did it take Fujifilm so long to add WR to the X100 series when all their other premium cameras have had this feature for years? The answer is the lens! The original lens has been in use from the first X100 all the way to the X100F. The design of this lens was apparently very difficult to weather seal. And on that note, let’s talk about the V’s new optic…