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Fujifilm X100F review: A first-rate advanced compact shoots for stellar

With a new sensor, better autofocus system and more streamlined design, the X100 line evolves into a great camera with the Fujifilm X100F.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

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7 min read

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The previous generation of Fujifilm's popular enthusiast "compact" with an APS-C-size sensor, the X100T, had been around for over two years before Fujifilm debuted the X100F, and the camera had only gotten one significant update since it launched in 2011, when the original X100 graduated to the X100S. And while the X100F has essentially the same design, albeit with a few layout tweaks, Fujifilm has made some notable improvements in the camera. That, combined with a dearth of cameras in its category -- fixed-lens compacts with large-ish APS-C sized sensors --  makes the X100F pretty much the only game in town at a reasonable price. Thankfully, it's worth the money.

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Fujifilm X100F

The Good

The Fujifilm X100F produces excellent photos and the updated autofocus system is a great improvement. Plus, it improves on the control layout and retains the manual-optimized shooting design and fast lens that have made it a favorite.

The Bad

Sad battery life.

The Bottom Line

An advanced compact for wide-angle and manual-photography fans, the Fujifilm X100F improves upon an already great camera with better autofocus performance and a fine-tuned design on top of its already excellent photo quality.

That price is $1,300 (£1,330 and about AU$1,800). That's almost twice the price of its older sibling, the $700 X70, which seems to be discontinued in the UK and Australia, but is still available in the US. That's too bad, because all that's really left at that price are 1-inch compacts like really old Sony RX100 models and the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

The big upgrades to the X100F include the same 24.3-megapixel X-Trans III CMOS that's in its X-Pro2 and X-T2 mirrorless models and the far-better autofocus system inherited from the X-T2. The result is an excellent camera for enthusiasts who want the best stills possible without having to spend serious bucks on a full-frame model like the Sony RX1R series or Leica Q or X-series APS-C.

Sharp and snappy

It helps that Fujifilm has finally updated the sensor in the line, increasing resolution from 16.3MP to 24.3MP, and the combination of the new sensor and the sharp, fixed focal-length lens delivers excellent photos. There's a bit of wide-angle distortion on the edges that's to be expected from a 35mm lens (especially one that's physically 23mm), but otherwise it's sharp edge to edge and has graceful background defocus with round highlights. 

The manual warns you that shooting at the Low expanded ISO setting can decrease dynamic range, and it really does blow out more highlights. That's too bad, because you need lower sensitivity the most when the scene is very bright; there's a built-in neutral density filter, but it reduces exposure by 3 EV. And I highly suggest you spring for the optional lens hood (which requires the optional adapter ring) if you plan on shooting in bright sunlight. Flare!

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Photos are very sharp with good dynamic range. (Note: If the samples look overly pink, it's a browser issue. They do have a slightly red/blue bias, but not as much as I see in Chrome.)

Lori Grunin/CNET
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JPEGs look clean through ISO 6400 and they're still pretty usable; if you shoot raw you retain a little more dynamic range. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

Fujifilm is still referring to its tonal presets as Film Simulations (even though most people have never shot with any of the films simulated), and because there really aren't any "neutral" films there's no neutral preset. The default (Velvia) increases contrast, which results in some blown-out highlights and clipped shadows and darkened midtones, especially at higher sensitivities. The look can be pleasing, but you should probably shoot raw+JPEG in case you need to bring back detail in those areas or you want more natural-looking colors, especially skies; they can get annoyingly washed out. You can bring back quite a bit in the shadows, but not a ton in the highlights. 

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With the X100F, Fujifilm introduced a new Acros black-and-white film simulation which has options for red, green and yellow filters. (Note: enlarged image will take a while to load.)

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All but one aspect of performance is as good as you need for this type of camera: battery life. It barely makes it through a day of shooting unless you're the type who only takes a shot every now and then. (But if that's you, you probably don't want to pay $1,300 for a camera.) 

Unlike previous models, the X100F can now use autofocus and autoexposure for continuous shooting, and it averages a reasonable pace of about 7fps for JPEGs. It doesn't maintain a consistent speed, though, speeding up and slowing down randomly, which can mess with your timing. On the other hand, I don't know that there are a lot of situations where you'd want to burst at such a wide angle; unless you're right on top of the subject, most things are pretty small in the frame.

The autofocus is faster, but the full wide-area AF isn't smarter. It still picks the closest clearly delineated items in the scene, unless there's a face -- then it chooses the face and the closest items. Otherwise, the AF system is nicely responsive.

Typical shooting speed

Ricoh GR II 0.2 0.7 0.4 0.5Fujifilm X100F 0.4 0.6 0.3 0.3Fujifilm X70 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.7
  • Shutter lag (bright)
  • Shutter lag (dim)
  • Typical shot-to-shot time
  • Raw shot-to-shot time
Note: Seconds (shorter bars are better)

Typical continuous-shooting speed

Fujifilm X100F 7.1Ricoh GR II 4.1Fujifilm X70 3.3
Note: Frames per second (longer bars are better)

Enhanced design

Some things haven't changed: It's still a solid but hefty-feeling camera at over 2 pounds/470 g, and could still stand to have a slightly deeper grip. It's got an aperture ring on the lens (now it can be adjusted in 1/3 stops) and ISO sensitivity has moved into the shutter speed dial, which you lift up and twist to adjust in order to change sensitivity. 

Fujifilm X100F breathes some fresh air into a veteran design

See all photos

While it's optimized for photographers who like buttons and dials and levers and whatnot, you can use it in complete auto if you want; just set the shutter, aperture and ISO to A. Like many a Leica, the X100F is designed so you can choose exposure settings with the camera off -- some street photographers like to be able to (somewhat ironically) simply point and shoot without looking, and I occasionally work that way. However, the shutter-speed and ISO sensitivity dials have small text that may frustrate some people, and I really, really wish they were illuminated or glow-in-the-dark, because they're almost impossible to see in low light. That means you have to look through the viewfinder while changing settings.

One of the camera's continuing highlights is the versatile viewfinder, in which the front lever toggles between electronic and reverse-Galilean optical with an electronic overlay that can display the frame offset caused by parallax, focus areas and other information. It includes a rangefinder-like split-image for manual focus, which operates by switching to the EVF and magnifying the center. You can choose to have it display in monochrome, as well. It's quite nice; I've never been able to focus via split-image, even back when it was the only focus option on cameras, but the X100F's is quite usable. It also has good focus peaking. I do wish the focus ring was a little bigger and tighter, though.

An issue with dials is there's a physical limit to the number of options you can put on them. So there's now a "C" (custom) option on the exposure compensation dial that provides digital access to a couple more stops of adjustments, from +/-3 EV to +/-5. The ISO sensitivity dial only has one "H" for the expanded range, so you have to preset in the menus whether you want that to be ISO 25600 or ISO 51200. And video shooting is still an afterthought; it's considered a drive mode and uses the shutter button to start and stop. 

Both the front and back dials now function as jog dials -- for instance, you access the extended exposure-compensation range by pressing the front dial and turning -- and the back controls have been much simplified. I don't really like layouts where important buttons are on the left side of the display; to use them you usually have to look at the back of the camera. Fujifilm removed all the buttons you use while shooting, leaving just those you use while reviewing images on the right side of the screen. A new joystick (called the "Focus Stick" or "Focus Lever") allows you to select your focus areas.

Fujifilm also has a pretty robust app for remote shooting, reviewing and transferring via Wi-Fi. 

Conclusion 

The Fujifilm X100F remains a top choice for people who want something (relatively) affordable and who prize the experience of manual photography as much as the photos.



Fujifilm X70 Fujifilm X100F Ricoh GR II

Sensor effective resolution

16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II

24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III

16.2MP CMOS

Sensor size

APS-C

(23.6 x 15.6mm)

APS-C

(23.6 x 15.8mm)

APS-C

(23.7 x 15.7mm)

Focal-length multiplier

1.5x

1.5x

1.5x

OLPF

No

No

Yes

Sensitivity range

ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 -ISO 6400/ISO 51200 (exp)

ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 -ISO 12800/ISO 51200 (exp)

ISO 100 - ISO 25600

Lens (35mm equivalent)

28mm

f2.8

1x

35mm

f2

1.5x

28mm

f2.8

1x

Closest focus

3.9 in/10 cm

3.9 in/10cm

3.9 in/10 cm

Burst shooting

3 fps

unlimited JPEG/n/a

(8fps for 10 frames JPEG)

8fps

60 JPEG/ 25 raw

4fps

unlimited JPEG/4 raw

Viewfinder

None

Hybrid

Reverse Galilean

92 percent coverage

EVF

0.48 in/12.2 mm

2,360,000 dots

100% coverage

Optional

Reverse Galilean

Hot shoe

Yes

Yes

Yes

Autofocus

77-point phase-detection AF

49-area Contrast AF

91-point

Hybrid AF

190-point 

Hybrid AF

AF sensitivity

n/a

n/a

1.5 - 17.5 EV

Shutter speed 30 - 1/4,000 sec (1/32,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 60 minutes 20 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 minutes 300 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb; time

Metering

256 zones

256 zones

n/a

Metering sensitivity

n/a

n/a

1.8 - 17.8 EV

Best video

H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p @ 36 Mbps

H.264 QuickTime MOV

1080/60p, 30p, 25p 24p

Motion JPEG AVI

1080/30p, 25p, 24p

Audio

Stereo

Stereo; mic input

Stereo

Manual aperture and shutter in video

n/a

Aperture only

No

Maximum best-quality recording time

14 minutes

14 minutes

25 minutes

IS

None

None

None

LCD

3 in/7.5 cm 

Tilting touchscreen

1.04m dots

3 in/7.5 cm 

Fixed 

1.04m dots

3 in/7.5 cm 

Fixed 

1.04m dots

Memory slots

1 x SDXC

1 x SDXC

1 x SDXC

Wireless connection

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi, NFC

Flash

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wireless flash

n/a

n/a

Yes

Battery life (CIPA rating)

330 shots

(1,800 mAh)

270 shots EVF; 390 shots OVF

(1,260 mAh)

320 shots

Size (WHD)

4.4 x 2.5 x 1.8 in

113 x 64 x 44 mm

5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1 in

127 x 75 x 52 mm

4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in

117 x 63 x 34.7 mm

Body operating weight

12.4 oz

350 g

17 oz

470 g

8.8 oz 

248 g

Mfr. price

$700 (est.)

$1,300

£1,330

AU$1,800 (est.)

$700

£600

AU$750

Release date (US)

February 2016

February 2017

July 2015

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Fujifilm X100F

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Image quality 8