A Year with the Fujifilm X100

Having lived with the Fujifilm X100 for a year, I thought I would write up my thoughts on shooting with this awesome little camera. Not so much a review, since there are plenty of those already, but more a summary of my experiences. For some, the X100 may be a second or third camera. But for me, the X100 was it up until I purchased the X-Pro1 a week ago. Has the X100 been perfect as my only camera? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. But once I got use to its quirks and annoyances (and Fuji released some much needed firmware updates), it became the camera that I wouldn't want to be without.

Shot at the Hollywood and Vine Metro station in Los Angeles.

What I Love

There are many things to love about the X100; the small size, the cool retro design, the unique hybrid viewfinder, the excellent high ISO performance, and the superb image quality. The thing I love most however, is its minimalistic feel and ease of use. Sure, the menu system is confusing, but once I programmed the Function (ND Filter) and Raw (Film Simulation) buttons, I rarely need to dive into the menu system anymore. With its dedicated controls for aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation, I have everything I need to compose and shoot. Since the Auto ISO feature in the X100 actually allows me to set a minimum shutter speed (unlike the X-Pro1), I don't miss having a button or dial for changing the ISO.

The other things I love about the X100 are its added features. Some, like the ND Filter and Auto ISO features, make the camera more usable and allows me to focus on creating photographs. Others, like the Motion Panorama feature, really makes the camera fun to use. Being someone that enjoys exploring and traveling the world, the ability to create stunning panoramas without using stitching software is a huge plus.

Shot on Hawaii Island using the motion panorama feature. 

What Drives Me Crazy

On the flip side, there are also some things about the X100 that drive me crazy.  Before I get to those, I'd like to address something that makes this camera unusable for many; the auto focus system. When I first got the X100, Fuji hadn't added the menu option to show the corrected auto focus frame in the optical viewfinder. This resulted in many, many mis-focused shots. But once this was fixed, I had no more complaints about the auto focus of the X100. I know this simply isn't the case for those that need a quicker auto focus system, but for me, the auto focus speed is fine. Is it the fastest auto focusing camera I've used? Nope. Would I like to be faster? Sure. But 95% of the time, it doesn't bother me at all.

With that said, there are two annoyances that I just haven't been able to get over. The first of these is the implementation of the X100's macro mode. I know there is a technical reason why I have to switch over to macro mode whenever my subject is too close for normal focusing. But the fact that I have to press the macro button and then enable close-up shooting drives me crazy. Why couldn't Fuji have made the macro button just an on/off toggle. It wouldn't even be so bad if I had to turn on macro mode for actually shooting macros. But having to do so for making a portrait of someone across the table just plain sucks. 

Shot at the Huntington Library using the annoying, but useful macro mode.

The other thing that annoys me is that I can put the battery in the wrong way and still shut the battery compartment. I read about this before I bought the X100 and dismissed it as something that wouldn't bother me. But after a year, I still find myself putting the battery in the wrong way and wondering why the camera doesn't start up with I power it on. I'm glad that Fuji decided to fix this for the X100S because it really is something that can ruin the user experience of an otherwise great camera. 

Final Thoughts

In many ways, the X100 reminds me of my orignal iPhone. Like the orignal iPhone, the X100 is beautifully designed but far from perfect. But also like the original iPhone, the X100 has gotten incrementally better from firmware updates and obtained a loyal following of users that will likely stick with Fuji for their photographic needs. 

I even see similarities between Apple's approach to the smartphone market and Fuji's approach to the camera market. Much like Apple, Fuji decided to take a different approach with the X100. They didn't copy what other camera manufactures were doing with their DSLR or micro four thirds offerings. Instead, they took a chance and put a big sensor and fast prime lens on a compact camera and created something revolutionary. Is the X100 perfect for everyone? No, it's not even the right camera for most people. But for those that the X100 fills a need, it is the perfect photographic companion, regardless of what other cameras are available in ones camera bag.

Shot from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.