Six months with the Fuji X100F. What I love and what I hate. And will I keep it?

Back in July of 2018, I sold all my Fuji lenses and purchased a fixed lens X100F. I was taking a sabbatical from client work and really in need of creative refreshment. My focus was shot, my direction non-existent. Something needed to change. I needed a new perspective. The simplicity of a single camera sounded like just the ticket. And in many ways, it really was.

I have, in the past, tried to stick to shooting with just one body and lens for a period of time but honestly, I always lacked the discipline to see it through. I’d frame a shot in my mind and think, “Oh man, I know I said I’m only going to shoot with my 23mm but the 35mm would be perfect for this!” And so it goes.

I always had the best of intentions… But my own lack of self discipline is why I determined that the only way I’d stick to it was if I didn’t give myself any other options.*

I’m not going to lie, I was a little terrified of selling off my gear and limiting myself. But it wound up being the best thing for me.

DSCF9471

The last six months have seen not only an increase in the number of images I’ve shot, but I’ve also enjoyed photography more than I have in years. I’m very grateful to the compact X100F for giving me that. Shooting with it has been a joy. I carry it with me most of the time, fitting it easily in my regular bag along with my wallet, glasses and car keys.

Things I love about the X100F:

  1. Portability – so small and compact. Really easy to take anywhere. It even fits in my jacket pocket.
  2. Digital zoom – a handy feature to have. It does only work when shooting jpeg, but I do shoot jpeg most of the time so it works great for me.
  3. Simplicity – no need to waste time and energy deciding what camera to bring with me.
  4. Acros film simulation – beautiful. Truly.
  5. Custom function buttons – many more options for setting up custom functions with this camera so I’m able to really tailor it to my style of shooting.

Things I hate about the X100F:

  1. Grip – as in there isn’t one. There’s very little to hold onto so the camera never quite feels secure in my hand, slippery almost. I purchased a leather wrist strap and ALWAYS use it, just in case.
  2. Sharpness – wide open, the native lens isn’t as sharp as the 23mm f/1.4. And if you utilize the optical zoom, sharpness suffers further. Images are still perfectly usable but coming from the 23mm f/1.4, I definitely noticed the difference.
  3. Back button focusing – just doesn’t feel as good as on my X-T1 so I found I didn’t use it, even though back button focusing has always been my preference. Having to lift my thumb for focusing makes the camera feel even less secure in my hand.
  4. WCL-X100 and TCL-X100 conversion lenses – I love the ability to get a different focal length but screwing them on and off is tedious and they really throw off the balance of the camera. In fact, with the telephoto conversion lens attached, the set up is bigger and feels heavier than the X-T1 with the 35mm f/1.4 attached. There is also a slight degradation in image quality when shooting jpeg. I mean, maybe most wouldn’t notice it, but coming from the primes I was shooting prior, I noticed.

All in all, I’m not sure the pros outweigh the cons for me. I’ll re-evaluate in another six months. The next question is whether the X100F could really deliver for professional work.

DSCF9469

After some much needed time off, I began shooting client work again and have to date, shot four full editorial spreads almost exclusively with the X100F. (I pulled out my X-T1 with vintage glass to shoot a handful of portraits). It’s a very capable little camera. Here is my first takeaway from the first six months of this experiment:

I don’t need as much gear as I had. And I’m happier without it.

I think the X100F is a great camera. Truly. I love shooting with this camera. The portability, the simplicity and oh man, the image quality! The mom in me doesn’t need any more than this. It’s so easy to use, so lightweight and the digital zoom to 50mm and 70mm is a great feature, but still leaves me having to sit in the first couple of rows at my kids’ award ceremonies if I want to get some decent close ups.

And then of course, I do shoot professionally as well, primarily editorial interiors. This means I need a wide lens – wider than the native 23mm offered on the X100F. And the conversion lens just doesn’t cut it for me.

I find that I’m using my iPhone a lot more as well and part of me wonders if that’s due to the grip on the X100F. As I said, it’s almost non-existent and though I wouldn’t say I have large hands, it’s sure not comfortable for me to hold. I always feel like I’m going to drop it. Sure, you can purchase an aftermarket grip, but that adds so much bulk, why wouldn’t you just shoot with an interchangeable lens mirrorless?

IMG_0078
iPhone 8+

I gained so much creative understanding of myself, my needs and how I shoot over the past six months. Still six months to go but I’m not sure the X100F will be able to meet all my needs. It is an exceptional little camera but it’s not as well rounded as I hoped and seems like it would be a good fit for a very specific style of shooting like street photography.

I do really love not being heavily invested in one specific camera brand. Technology changes so quickly. I have been a big Fujifilm fan for several years but will I still be five years from now? A lot can change in that amount of time. I like the freedom of being able to select the best tool for my style of shooting without being financially tied up in one particular system so regardless of whether the X100F stays or goes, I don’t see myself having more than one digital camera body and possibly two lenses – one wide and one telephoto.

Stay tuned…