FUJI X100 - Retro Digital Heaven
The Fuji X100 was a camera that I wanted from the moment I saw the marketing (late 2010). Although I was still happy with my DSLR at the time it launched (2012) I still wanted one and by the summer of 2013 I could resist one no longer after Fuji were selling refurbished ones with a year of waranty for only £450. I loved the X100 o much that it became my go to travel camera.
Borrowing a lot from old rangefinder film cameras, but with just the right amount of modernisation, this is a genius piece of design i my opinion. Considering how little it's changed in the four generations and a whole decade since, I'd say that they got this just right. A few viral tik-toks featuring it recently have sent the sales and second hand value of the last few versions skyrocket too. I hope this is a message to camera designers everwhere that this style isn't something we've moved past. Go and look at the Canon P (or Leica M3 it's based on) from the 1950's and tell me that doesn't look sexy as hell!
The simple metal chassis, tiny high-quality lens and gorgeous manual dials are great, but what really makes this design more than a retro knock-off is the viewfinder. The combination of optical and eletronic viewfinder make this camera an absolute dream to use. Want to use it like a modern camera and chimp your shots? Sure. Prefer to relax and use all the manual dials and no screens? No problem, either approach works great here.
The Fuji sensors used in the X100 series have evolved a bit, but they have always been great. Hand-held night shots have always been good enough, so if you're going for a newer model they will be more than capable. The colour reproduction has always been very pleasing to me and the film simulation modes that you get more in the newer models will keep Instagamers who're adverse to post process editing happier than pretty much any other camera.
The lens of the X100 hasn't chanced much since this early version so is a testament to how good it always was. Personally I love the 35mm focal length for a number of reasons. If you're someone who thinks they can't live without a zoom I guarantee you this camera will improve your photography. 35mm is a great sweet spot, so I love it for travel photography. I found this particular lens to be pretty sharp right to the corner and amazingly void of aberrations. Better than most separate 35mm f/2 lenses around, but that's good bcause you are stuck with it.
This older syle of camera (with almost no grip) won't be for everyone, but it's beautiful, compact and lovely to use from a photography purist point of view. I don't think it would feel so satisfying to use if wasn't sturdy and it doesn't disappoint there either. It may not quite live up to the really old stuff, but compared to modern camera designs the X100 feels like a brick... in a good way.
Amazingly, the X100 can shoot pretty decent infrared images without conversion. All you need is a 49mm 720nm IR filter (like the Hoya R72) and you're good to go... oh wait, you'll also need an adapter ring (AX-100) to attach the filter properly, but that'll still cost you a lot less than a conversion and it's a good accessory to have anyway. The IR filter will block out most of the light and you will be limited to using the lens wide open and a higher iso value like 800-3200, but it works. The lens suffers a bit from hotspot, which you can see in the below image on the middle of the tree, but this doesn't come out this badly very often. See below for more IR examples.
I adore this camera. It would make a fine desert island camera... you know, if you had power and a laptop :P. The fact that this model has kept going all these years and with so few changes is a testament to how great this design is. The updates it has had might seem subtle at a glance, but you now get things like a tilting screen and iso dial, which are a nice quality of life addition.
The X100 has great build quality, a superb lens, fine image quality, a decent menu system, amazing dials and its prettiness really inspires you to get out and shoot photos. I can't say enough good things about it. If you're interested in an X100 now I'd proabbly recommnd a newer version. Battery life has improved a bit, Film simulation modes a lot and AF a heck of a lot, but this series has always been great!