My life in cameras part 12: Fujifilm X100F review

It is time for the camera that really gave me back my passion for photography. Incidentally this will also be the last “my life in cameras” for a while. The next one will be when I replace the Fujifilm X-T3 which I still own and use.

Why I bought the Fujifilm X100F

Honestly I always wanted the X100F which was the latest model at the time from Fujifilm. But money being a concern and still unsure if such a camera would be enjoyable I bought the predecessor. But I quickly saw that the new model would have been better for me. The F model was much faster, it had better autofocus for taking images of my now very mobile daughter, a separate ISO dial, another front dial, better battery life and a beautiful black and white mode called Acros.

Photographic life with the X100F

When people say they carry their camera everywhere they usually mean they often have it with them. I almost literally carried it everywhere. Trip to the store, hairdresser’s appointment, quick walks, daily commute, museum visits and more. I bought a small shoulder bag that would fit the camera and a small water bottle (and even an issue of The Economist) so I was set and ready to go.

Many people would say that being restricted to one focal length (and 35mm at that) would be very limiting. I found it to be very freeing. I had to really think about composition, what would fit into the frame, which angle would work and how close I could get. And I had to get pretty close for many shots. The X100F was also very inconspicuous with it’s tiny lens and the images were so silky smooth.

Many people criticized the lens for being soft close up when shot wide open but I came to appreciate this characteristic when taking portraits. It was a wonderful camera and I miss it but there would be no point in keeping it together with my X-T3.

Why we had to depart

After two years I sold the X100F and bought a used X-T3 and a bunch of vintage M42 lenses. I reached the end of what I could do with this lens creatively as my only camera. I often wished for more range than 35mm, I am not much into wide angle. Also I never really used the most prominent feature of the camera. The optical viewfinder.

Initially I was very intrigued by the optical viewfinder but I rarely used it. As someone who shoots jpeg and uses film recipes I needed to see the exact framing and exposure before pressing the shutter. As a rangefinder the optical viewfinder would always show a little less than the full frame and would suffer from parallax errors. I tried to shoot raw and use the film recipes in Fuji’s own software which actually “develops” the RAW files with the connected camera but as a Linux user that did not work.

The ISO dial was nice touch but I used AUTO ISO 95% of the time and the dial was very fiddly. I bought the tele-converter which was way to front heavy so I never used it. And in the end the electronic viewfinder was a tad to cramped when wearing glasses which I have to do all day. With time the fixed screen became annoying whenever I wanted to shoot my daughter on her level who was like 75cm at the time 😉 Paired with my interest in vintages lenses the decision became clear. My beloved X100F would have to find a new home.

I thought about keeping it as a small walk around camera but honestly the X100F is too big for this. I almost always carried a small bag or threw into my backpack anyway. Sure the X-T3 is larger and heavier but I still need just a shoulder bag or backpack and I have way more options and could even carry a few more lenses with me. Though usually I carry only one lens to restrict myself. As a secondary camera something like the Ricoh GR or Sony RX100 is much better suited because those things actually fit into a pocket. I tried to pocket the X100F and maybe if you are a big guy with large cargo pants sure…but me wearing a jacket…way too bulky.

Fujifilm X100F sample pictures

Brickwork (2019)

bricks wall X100F
Brickwork (2019) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F4 1/340s ISO 200 Astia Film Simulation

Let’s look at another shot of old brickwork. I did one with the X100T as well. There seems to be distortion close up with the lens. It is usually not a big deal but here you can clearly see it. But I don’t care. I love the rustic colors of the bricks and the dark greens of the creepers.

Looking for love in all the wrong places (2019)

love store big box sign X100F
Looking for love in all the wrong places (2019) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F5.6 1/480s ISO 800 Classic Chrome Film Simulation

This is the outside of a newly built fast fashion store. Quite ironic to advertise it with “love”. It seems many people replace the love they long for with objects they can buy and keep. The one thing that Mad Men taught me is that advertisement does not sell products, it sells emotions. Don’t be a fool and buy emotions when you can have them for free.

Tricolor (2019)

neon tricolor X100F lights colors
Tricolor (2019) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F4 1/125s ISO 500 Astia Film Simulation

I am so in love with lighting installations. The play of human made light on human made structures fascinates me without end. This tricolor light fixture can be found in one of the most unexpected places. An empty and bland tunnel under a train station in a bland and uninteresting sleeper town outside of Berlin. Usually when the government builds something a certain amount of money has to be set aside for local art projects. And this is what the artist did. These lights slowly pulse in different neon colors. It looks absolutely amazing but for normal people it is most likely just annoying. They want a nicely lit tunnel and not some kind of art project on their way to work in the morning.

A Christmas Horror (2019)

Christmas market potsdam blauer lichterglanz X100F
A Christmas Horror (2019) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F8 1/220s ISO 12800 Acros Film Simulation

I don’t like Christmas much. Especially the so called Christmas markets. These are essentially just stalls selling overpriced baubles, cheap and fatty foods and gallons of fortified wine. Despite the bins there are trash and food remnants everywhere on the ground. Christmas is about family or friends, about love, gratefulness and reflection. Christmas markets are about cheap consumerism and getting drunk. In my city most people actually do not like this market which only attracts tourists anyway. Thankfully last year it was cancelled due to some kind of virus pandemic. We all hope that this disgusting market will not come back this year.

Concrete Tennis

table tennis ping pong concrete rain X100F
Concrete Tennis (2020) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F4 1/800s ISO 800 Classic Chrome Film Simulation

The X100F is NOT weather resistant but I could not resist (get it) taking this shot. This is a ping pong table made out of concrete. One of my favorite materials to photograph. They used a special process to wash away the top layer of cement to make the aggregate visible and then smoothed everything to have nice surface for the ping pong ball to bounce off from. Sometimes I stop and watch construction sites when they pour or finish concrete. A fascinating process.

Water under the Bridge (2020)

bridge water lilies X100F
Water under the Bridge (2020) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F4 1/250s ISO 500 Acros Film Simulation

A pedestrian bridge reflected in the river below. It took me awhile to get the framing and shadows right because of the huge number of boats producing wakes and ripples.

Empty Boxes (2020)

Empty Boxes (2020)
Empty Boxes (2020) Fujifilm X100F 23mm@F2 1/30s ISO 12800 Acros Film Simulation

“Tag der Deutschen Einheit” or Reunification Day pandemic edition. They built these glass boxes and put a bunch of posters and video screens in them to showcase the German states and some other institutions. I liked the boxes empty better. Maybe we should add some furniture and have humans live there as exhibits like the Big Brother TV show. But then why would we need to when so many people bare their lives on social media anyway? Still I think such a box could be used for some nice performance art but they dismantled them shortly after I took this picture.

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