X100V

I have been on a patient hunt for a new every day camera for what feels like forever now. At first I had all but settled on a Sony a7II with a manual Voigtlander lens attached but upon reading more about the latest in the Fuji X100 lineup I was curious if maybe this was a better option for me so I rented it for a week to see if it fit my shooting style. I wont get into all of the details of the camera here, there are plenty of places to get that, this is more a dive into my personal feelings using it.

My attraction to the Sony was of course its full frame sensor in a smallish body, you can pick up the a7II for somewhere around $750 in decent shape. I was also lured by the fast Voigtlander glass available for it. But along came Fuji, stealing my attention away from the Sony by offering an X100 with a re-designed lens, which was what always kept me from loving the older models of the camera, they were far too soft wide open.

I was happy to discover the newly designed lens is pretty remarkable. I love its crisp but smooth rendering and was pleasantly surprised at the depth I could get from it wide open despite it being “only” f/2 and attached to a cropped sensor body.

When I consider the difference between the Fuji and other camera systems, one of the biggest distinctions is its in-body film simulations, the catch of this being that the resulting images are rendered in JPG format and I have no qualms with that fact. While shooting RAW is handy and some see the format as essential in their editing process by utilizing it to dramatically improve and embellish images in post processing, it has never been that important to my approach. The allure of capturing images which are more or less ready to share and enjoy with little to no editing is a huge plus in my book and is a space where the Fuji systems really shine.

Through the week I had with the X100V I slowly started to experiment more and more with what I could accomplish in body and was happy to discover a rich selection of options. Combining these tools with the way they react to the chosen exposure felt natural, charming, and distinct. I loved experimenting with over and under exposing images combined with different simulations and wish that I had more time to really dig deep into the possibilities here. The results have genuine, filmic quality about them.  As a reference for those reading this, I decided not to do any post work to the photos shared here today, everything here was pulled straight from the camera and shared here.

So, where do I stand after this week with the Fuji? I am genuinely in love with the beautifully compact body and lens as well as its ability to mitigate some of my post processing work which is important to me. Time is incredibly valuable to me as of late so I’ll take every second I can spare. Its ability to capture some of the essence of what I love about film photography in digital form is lovely and made using the camera a real joy. The lens, while it doesn’t offer the range of focus that I would prefer, I believe it is enough to use without sacrificing too much of my voice and style.

The only thing tripping me up a little in going all in with the X100V is the allure of the giant depth and rich character of a super fast Voigtlander lens paired with a full frame sensor. It would suit my self defined style of digital shooting using wide apertures as a means of simplifying composition and adding a distinct, sometimes flawed, character to my images which is why I had been looking at it as a solution. I like the idea of having that flexibility in my shooting and fear the Fuji may frustrate me at times when I am unable to get that kind of rendering with subjects further away from the camera.

The tradeoff for achieving this depth is a less inspiring and somewhat larger camera body. The Sonys are nice and all in their utility but they sure feel boring somehow. I want to have a camera that will inspire me to want to keep it out and use it. I don’t want to need a camera bag or case to take care of it. I want it to be there by my side to grab when I need it and the size of the X100V gives me that in spades. I have also glanced at the Leica Q or Q2 but I just can’t see myself raising the money for such a camera and even entertaining it as a viable option feels like a tease.

Since I started sharing photography online, the art form has become mainstream and is full of countless trends and opinions yet my philosophy and approach has long remained the same; Simplify my toolset and seek out ways to get the camera out of my way so I can enjoy the moments I am capturing. The Fuji X100V sure seems like a perfect solution for that mentality.

What do you think? I know some of you reading have followed along for years now, feel free to chime in. I don’t think this will be the last digital camera I ever pick up but with a tighter budget at this stage in my life, most signs are pointing to this being a logical happy medium.

I’ve dumped a few more photos from my short time with the camera below. I ended up having a busy work week so I had even less time than I had hoped to play with it but I think I had it long enough to get a pretty good idea of what I could expect from life with one by my side.

            

Comments

  1. Lucius - June 14, 2020 at 10:01 am

    These photos look great, and the Fuji definitely seems to fit what you are looking for. If you still want to investigate the full frame + voigtlander combo, I’d suggest taking a look at the Sigma fp if you haven’t already.

  2. John Carey - June 14, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Oh, you know, I remember that coming out and it captured my curiosity but I never came back to see what others thought of it as they started to ship. I’ll do that, thanks!

  3. Rob - June 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

    The Fuji X100 series is alluring.

    I’m similar to you in what I like in photography; full frame, wide apertures and prime lenses. Bokeh isn’t everything but buttery-smooth color behind an easily distinct subject definitely is.

    My wife and I are wedding photographers and sold all our full frame Nikon gear in 2018 to try an all Fuji setup. That was sold at the end of 2018 to go back to Nikon, the crop sensor just couldn’t deliver the same way.

    However, we had an X100S that I gave to a family member when our XT-2s showed up and I thought we wouldn’t need it anymore. That X100S was our daily camera. It didn’t go back in the bag even at home. It would come to places like the beach where a full frame camera could never go in a bag that might also contain sand. That camera is gone and now our smallest setup is a Nikon D750 with a 35/1.8. And it never comes with us. It either feels like work or we don’t want to be burdened by it.

    We have so many photos from the X100S days. The big cameras still come on the big trips, but the photos of our daily life are definitely less. I miss that little camera every day. Sure, the depth of field could be greater. But I never miss that when I look at a printed memory on my wall.

    I’d considered Sony before too, but their cameras don’t have that “thing.” The photos look great, but part of the character happens when you use the camera, and Fuji has nailed that feeling. We had a Sony once too and it also stayed at home. It wasn’t any fun to handle or hold.

    If the pandemic didn’t postpone so much of our work I would have bought an X100T already. So, there’s my vote.

  4. meewosh - June 14, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    So many great points in your post!
    I come from a similar background (medium format film cameras, full frame digital ones with 50/1.2, 85/1.2 etc.) and I love my X100T wholeheartedly. I haven’t picked up X100V yet (I’m sure I will), but recently I wrote rather lenghty post about my use of X100 line cameras. It’s only in Polisch unfortunately, but I’ve heard that Google Translate do a decent job with it, if you’d be interested enough to check (https://fabryka-pikseli.com/fujifilm-x100/). In other words, it’s a +1 from me :)

  5. Ben Edwards - June 15, 2020 at 1:58 am

    Very much agree with the other opinions here: I have an X100T and although I subsequently added a ‘better’ camera becuase I thought I missed lens selection and more pixels, I don’t use that one as much and should probably sell it.

    One area worth mentioning is the suprisingly good low light performance. At gigs, parties, camping trips and so on I always take it along, crank the ISO up beyond what seems sensible and get amazing results. As ever with the X100, it’s not the absolute accuracy, but the camera’s idiosyncratic rendering that delights.

    No, this is not the camera of the classic John Carey desktop, but I and I’m sure many other fans would love to see what you can do with it!

  6. John Carey - June 16, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Wow, thanks so much for the thoughtful replies! All in all its a tough call still. I loved my time with the X100V and would be a happy photographer having it in my life. I still cant shake the call of a big fat fast prime, I just discovered a lens that has long been on my “one day you will be mine” list was released for the sony e mount, the Voigtlander 35mm f1.2, an updated version of it even. I am now in even more agony haha. So, well see how it goes. I am currently brainstorming on a way to raise money to be able to afford a new camera either way, I’m about a quarter of the way there, it’s just tough with the way things are and life being what it is to support a passion. Thanks again for taking the time to reply!

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