The previous generation of Fujifilm’s popular enthusiast “compact” with an APS-C-size sensor, the X100T, had been around for over two years before Fujifilm debuted the X100F, and the camera had only gotten one significant update since it launched in 2011, when the original X100 graduated to the X100S. And while the X100F has essentially the same design, albeit with a few layout tweaks, Fujifilm has made some notable improvements in the camera. That, combined with a dearth of cameras in its category — fixed-lens compacts with large-ish APS-C sized sensors —  makes the X100F pretty much the only game in town at a reasonable price. Thankfully, it’s worth the money.

That price is $1,300 (£1,330 and about AU$1,800). That’s almost twice the price of its older sibling, the $700 X70, which seems to be discontinued in the UK and Australia, but is still available in the US. That’s too bad, because all that’s really left at that price are 1-inch compacts like really old Sony RX100 models and the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

The big upgrades to the X100F include the same 24.3-megapixel X-Trans III CMOS that’s in its X-Pro2 and X-T2 mirrorless models and the far-better autofocus system inherited from the X-T2. The result is an excellent camera for enthusiasts who want the best stills possible without having to spend serious bucks on a full-frame model like the Sony RX1R series or Leica Q or X-series APS-C.

Sharp and snappy

It helps that Fujifilm has finally updated the sensor in the line, increasing resolution from 16.3MP to 24.3MP, and the combination of the new sensor and the sharp, fixed focal-length lens delivers excellent photos. There’s a bit of wide-angle distortion on the edges that’s to be expected from a 35mm lens (especially one that’s physically 23mm), but otherwise it’s sharp edge to edge and has graceful background defocus with round highlights. 

The manual warns you that shooting at the Low expanded ISO setting can decrease dynamic range, and it really does blow out more highlights. That’s too bad, because you need lower sensitivity the most when the scene is very bright; there’s a built-in neutral density filter, but it reduces exposure by 3 EV. And I highly suggest you spring for the optional lens hood (which requires the optional adapter ring) if you plan on shooting in bright sunlight. Flare!

Photos are very sharp with good dynamic range. (Note: If the samples look overly pink, it’s a browser issue. They do have a slightly red/blue bias, but not as much as I see in Chrome.)


Lori Grunin/CNET

JPEGs look clean through ISO 6400 and they’re still pretty usable; if you shoot raw you retain a little more dynamic range. 


Lori Grunin/CNET

Fujifilm is still referring to its tonal presets as Film Simulations (even though most people have never shot with any of the films simulated), and because there really aren’t any “neutral” films there’s no neutral preset. The default (Velvia) increases contrast, which results in some blown-out highlights and clipped shadows and darkened midtones, especially at higher sensitivities. The look can be pleasing, but you should probably shoot raw+JPEG in case you need to bring back detail in those areas or you want more natural-looking colors, especially skies; they can get annoyingly washed out. You can bring back quite a bit in the shadows, but not a ton in the highlights. 

With the X100F, Fujifilm introduced a new Acros black-and-white film simulation which has options for red, green and yellow filters. (Note: enlarged image will take a while to load.)


Lori Grunin/CNET

All but one aspect of performance is as good as you need for this type of camera: battery life. It barely makes it through a day of shooting unless you’re the type who only takes a shot every now and then. (But if that’s you, you probably don’t want to pay $1,300 for a camera.) 

Unlike previous models, the X100F can now use autofocus and autoexposure for continuous shooting, and it averages a reasonable pace of about 7fps for JPEGs. It doesn’t maintain a consistent speed, though, speeding up and slowing down randomly, which can mess with your timing. On the other hand, I don’t know that there are a lot of situations where you’d want to burst at such a wide angle; unless you’re right on top of the subject, most things are pretty small in the frame.

The autofocus is faster, but the full wide-area AF isn’t smarter. It still picks the closest clearly delineated items in the scene, unless there’s a face — then it chooses the face and the closest items. Otherwise, the AF system is nicely responsive.

Typical shooting speed

Legend:

Shutter lag (bright)

Shutter lag (dim)

Typical shot-to-shot time

Raw shot-to-shot time

Note:

Seconds (shorter bars are better)

Typical continuous-shooting speed

Note:

Frames per second (longer bars are better)



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