Our Fujifilm X100V review looks at the latest model of a compact camera that revitalised an entire brand. The original Fujifilm FinePix X100 was first shown off in 2010; combining a high-quality APS-C sensor with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens, all housed in a stylish body with retro controls. The Fujifilm brand had been floundering in the new uncertainty of the digital photography age, but the X100 showed it the way forward.
• 26MP APS-C CMOS sensor
• 23mm f/2 lens (35mm full-frame equivalent)
• 117-area hybrid phase/contrast autofocus
• 11fps continuous shooting
• 3-inch, 1,620k-dot tilting LCD
• Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder with 3,690K dots and 95% coverage
• 128 x 75 x 53mm dimensions
• 478g weight (with batteries)
Since then, the X-series has flourished, adding a suite of compact and mirrorless cameras and carving out a dedicated fanbase of photo and video enthusiasts. Through twelve years of development and a lot of Fuji X camera releases, there have been four successors to the X100, and though things have been improved, added, removed and tweaked, the basic formula has remained the same. The Fujifilm X100V (“V” as in fifth) is built around an APS-C sensor paired with a 23mm lens, housed in a retro-style body with dial-based controls.
In this review, we’re going to take a closer look at the Fujifilm X100V to find out just why this formula has worked so well, and why these cameras have such devoted fans. It’s not only one of the best point-and-shoot cameras, but one of the best cameras overall. Let’s dig in and try to figure out why that is.
Fujifilm X100V review: build and handling
The Fujifilm X100V stands out for how slim it is. The slight profile of this camera makes it ideal for travel, with the 23mm f/2 lens only protruding a small amount from the body. You can slip it into a large pocket or small bag with no issues, and carry it everywhere with you.
The feel of carrying and using one of these cameras is just magic. This right here – this is design. The magnesium alloy body of the X100V, with its aluminium plating, is satisfyingly heavy in the hand without being a chore to carry. The 35mm equivalent focal length of the lens is pitch-perfect for street and day-to-day photography, capturing a generous view of every scene and letting you fill the frame for dramatic shots. The fixed perspective forces you to think on the camera’s terms – if you’re not close enough to your subject, you have to move your feet. If you’re too close to your subject – well, you get it.
The hybrid viewfinder can be used as an optical viewfinder with 0.52x magnification, or switched to electronic with 3.69 million-dot resolution and 0.66x magnification. Then you’ve also got the monitor, which is a touchscreen – a first for the X100 series – and sits so flush to the camera body that you could be forgiven for not realising it can be tilted up and down. This is perfect for low-angle shots.
Control-wise, there’s no four-way D-pad of the kind you might be used to seeing on the backs of cameras. Instead, you navigate by swiping the touchscreen. But really, this isn’t a camera for menu hunting – it’s got physical controls, and it wants you to use them. There are the top-plate settings dials – with even an ISO dial in the style of an old film SLR, if you like – and there’s an abundance of customisable buttons and levers you can configure to control the settings you want. The lens’ focus ring too is customisable – most users will probably have it controlling aperture, but it’s your party, do as you feel.
Design-wise, we have very few real criticisms of the Fujifilm X100V. If you want a zoom lens, you don’t buy this camera, so there’s no sense docking it points for not having one.
Okay, fine, one bugbear – the touted “weather sealing” on the X100V is a bit of smoke and mirrors, since the camera isn’t actually fully weather sealed unless you have a separately purchased adapter ring and protective filter. On a camera that’s already on the pricey edge, this is a little annoying.
Fujifilm X100V review: performance
The image quality of the X100V is simply fantastic. Especial points go especially to the out-of-camera JPEGs, which have always been a strength of Fujifilm. It makes sense – this is a very “in the moment” camera, so more than a few users prefer the immediacy of JPEGs to the post-shot tinkering of RAW. Of course, for those who partake, the RAW performance of the X100V is also excellent, and allows you to get back a lot of detail in highlights and shadows.
The colour rendition right out of camera is generally excellent, with true-to-life tones of human subjects especially. Playing around with Fujifilm’s excellent film simulation modes is a never-ending source of fun too, and a great way to give your images a distinctive retro look.
Fujifilm has aimed to fix a few criticisms of previous X100 cameras like the X100T and X100F – namely the sluggish autofocus, and the fact that the 23mm lens has been prone to a little softness when used close-up and/or wide open. The X100V’s lens, totally redesigned, is visibly sharper than predecessors’ when used at close-range. The autofocus does a better job too; it’s not as super-smooth as you'd find with some of Fuji’s mirrorless X lenses, but there’s a limit to what’s physically possible with a pocketable f/2 lens like this. It’ll be absolutely fine for most purposes.
Battery life is beefed up too. The Fujifilm X100V is CIPA rated to 420 shots if you’re using the optical finder, and 350 if you’re using the electronic version. Remember that CIPA ratings are pretty conservative, so in reality you’ll probably get more than that. In real-world conditions, I found that it would get most of the way through a day’s shooting. It’s worth bringing a spare battery, though you may not end up needing it.
Fujifilm X100V review: video
Video-wise, the Fujifilm X100V is surprisingly stacked for a fixed-focal-length camera. It can record 4K Log footage in 8-bit 4:2:0, and if you hook it up to an external recorder this can be upgraded to 10-bit 4:2:2. A recent firmware update allowed the built-in ND filter to be used for video, and there’s a 2.5mm jack for plugging in a mic.
However, it’s unlikely to be anyone’s choice for a main video camera. There’s no in-body image stabilisation, so you’ll need a gimbal of some kind if you want to shoot on the move. Furthermore, the X100V has some pretty brutal recording limits – 10 minutes for 4K, 15 minutes for Full HD. For quick grabs, or perhaps as a secondary camera, it’ll do the job, but there are considerably more flexible and versatile options at this price point for vloggers and videographers. Check our our guides to the best cameras for vlogging and the best camcorders to see our top picks.
Fujifilm X100V review: verdict
In its way, the Fujifilm X100V is perfect. It’s designed to be a brilliant, take-everywhere street camera, and it fulfils that function in exemplary fashion. It builds on a winning formula that’s been working since 2010, and corrects some of the flaws of previous versions without radically reinventing the wheel.
The only things I’d really describe as flaws or drawbacks of the X100V are things that are baked into the premise, like its lack of a zoom lens. It is slightly odd when it comes to video – the high-spec video on the X100V feels both extremely premium and a bit of an afterthought – but I’m going to bet that most of the people salivating over this camera right now are stills photographers foremost, and probably don’t care.
Its nearest rival is perhaps the Ricoh GR III, which shares that winning combination of a fixed 35mm equivalent lens and an APS-C sensor, but lacks a viewfinder. At the other end of the scale, there’s the absolutely sublime Leica Q2, which provides one of the best shooting experiences of any compact camera ever made, but costs more money than god.
Everyone loves the Fujifilm X100V, and this does mean that it has stubbornly held onto its value in the years since its initial release. This is a four-figure camera when bought new, and even second-hand versions go for not far off that. If you can justify this cash outlay, and you want this camera, take my advice and just go for it. You will absolutely love it.