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Fuji X100 ~ Review: A Love Returned, Nostalgia Reclaimed

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Fuji X100 Review


I really only want to write once about the amazing Fuji X100. I will satisfy that intention by approaching it from two aspects:

  • As somebody who recently moved from an SLR system; replacing his setup with just the Fuji X100 (most of the technical comparisons are against my previous Canon equipment, some might consider this the wrong approach as the Fuji X100 isn’t an SLR replacement, but it is what it is).
  • As somebody who wanted to get back to the simplicity and joy of using a rangefinder camera (this was after having previously flirted with a number of them over the years, in particular a pair of Contax G2’s).

Image by Flickr User Nokton

So you’re reading this, there is no doubt you’re already well informed about the Fuji X100. Especially if you have been a regular reader of this blog. I’ve posted so much news, reviews and general information about the Fuji X100. I’ll dispense with in-depth tests, image results, pixel peeping and weighty comparisons. You will have read them elsewhere. I’ll re-post some of the links if I feel I can’t add anything to what has already been published.

As we all know, the excitement started in September 2010 at the Photokina Trade show. When I first saw the X100, I thought it could give back to me a bit of my nostalgia for handling a film camera, while at the same time I also thought, finally this is what many photographers have been asking for; a digital sensor wrapped around the beauty and character of a rangefinder camera.

Image by Flickr User Tingan Bow

It didn’t surprise me that it would be Fuji who were bringing a digital rangefinder to market. Fujifilm were always a little different with their innovations, releasing cameras now and again that were a bit odd; making us sit up and think for a moment. They did it with the GF670 (medium format film camera) and the Fuji W1 (a 3-D camera).

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Fuji X100 – Mini roundup and thoughts

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Just one review and a DxOMark score (discussion of score) this week, this link describes the significance of the DxOMark results (the camera basically outperforms 4/3rd cameras).

Photoreview in Australia have also posted their review. Giving the Fuji X100 high marks all round. It looks like another un of the mill review but there are a few interesting tidbits inside it. Aside from covering the usual attributes, they have posted some nice graphs with comparisons to similar cameras, CA, resolution and ISO. Below their summary they also post a suite of images shot under; different lighting, long exposures, flash exposures and close ups, both macro and normal.

The review though indepth, is nicely laid out on one web page, which is nice to see.

It’s been a slow week for Fuji X100 news, the hoopla has started to die down now, those with their cameras are happily shooting away, the rest of us are either waiting for their own X100 to arrive, waiting for Dpreview to put it through its paces or waiting for some word from Fuji about a firmware update. I’m waiting for all three.

In the mean time, a few fellow photographers have posted some well written reviews on their respective blogs. We have:

Meeting a Stranger: The Fuji X100: A Street Photographer’s Review by John Goldsmith

A Different Beast – How the X100 kicked my butt by Patrick La Roque

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Written by jonathanjk

April 14, 2011 at 11:39

Panasonic/Leica Lens Conclusion (Part 9)

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Have I benefitted from purchasing this lens? Below I’ve listed the positives and negatives. But remember for the most part it is how it benefits me, even though I might make comments that compare it to other lenses which don’t entirely fit. I’m judging it primarily for myself and how it works for me but including general statements making reference to other primes for the benefit of you.



This is a huge chunk of change as stated in the beginning of the review for a prime lens. I’m well aware of the fact that for the same price as this lens I could have repurchased Canon’s own 50mm f1.4 prime lens along with an EOS 3 and still have money left over. Or as one of my friends did note, I could have bought the same Canon 50mm prime and a second hand Canon 5D for £400 more, odd, but that was his take. Those are weird comparisons to make but as somebody who owned that gear, I understand what my friend is trying to say because he is a Canon user and doesn’t look favourably on the Olympus lineup.

There are two Sigma lenses for the 4/3rds lineup, a 24mm f1.8 and a 30mm f1.4 respectively, they are both cheaper but I never considered them.
Focusing (Low Light)
This is more of a fault with the Olympus E420 really as it has a reputation for not being a good low light focuser, I did have trouble using it in dim light and I can only wonder how it will perform with a higher end body such as the E3.  As a side note, even the 12-60mm performs best when coupled with an E3 so I can only hope to assume the same thing applies here. For the rest of the time in everyday light I’ve not had any issues with trying to lock focus.
Aperture Dial
I really wish I could use the aperture ring. It takes seven flicks of the thumb to get from f1.4 to f8 or 5 from f2 to f8. How practical or useful that is for you will of course be down to personal preference. If there was a firmware update so Olympus users could use the Aperture ring I would be a happy. Somebody recently commented on stating who Panasonic shouldn’t have included it on the lens in the finished product and the Aperture should have been controlled via the camera dial since the 4/3rds system is entirely digital and its the way forward. I disagree, for me it is a step backward for Olympus users and we should at least have the option anyway so that we can decide for ourselves.
It has none as far as I’m aware. The 12-60mm sure, because it is weather resistant, but neither is the Canon 50mm.
Lens Hood
I mean come on, it’s bigger than the 12-60mm! (Though not really an issue with the lens).
The Leica is a heffer, never mind the lens hood. But I want to remind myself and you reading this; because it is only fair to say that the camera it is attached too IS the world’s smallest and it sticks out more because of it. If I still had the Canon prime I would make a size comparison between the two. However it is an inch shorter than the 12-60mm which was my walkabout lens. This Leica replaces it because as stated before I like my primes. Not a true negative then as such but not a whole positive either.


Image quality
I’ve only had it three days but I am happy and exceptionally pleased with what I have shot so far. I wouldn’t use this camera for low light work unless mounted to a tripod so my solution otherwise is to fall back on my Contax G2 and its 46mm Planar lens using 35mm film. I’d be happy to wait for an Olympus E430 if it was a better camera in low light or upgrade to the E3 with its Image Stabilisation. It’s not like I have shaky hands either, I can hand hold at 1/30th and sometimes 1/15th of a second with a DSLR. I will state this though, during my testing, using the Leica lens at ISO 1600, it produced a more attractive noise in the image than with the kit lens and the 12-60mm! :)
It is lighter than the zoom lens it replaces as a walkabout lens. But generally for a prime it is heavier than the Canon 50mm prime (290grams), if we were to compare camera to camera and lens to lens, the Olympus setup would still win when it comes to being able to travel lighter with equal kit.
It’s performed well for me so far, I can’t say I miss shots because of the lens. It’s louder than the 12-60mm of course because its not SWD, but it isn’t distracting and I’ve not let it concern me, a non-issue as I see it. Think of the sound Robocop makes when he walks though slightly muted.
F1.4 mean anything? The fact that I can shoot at f1.4 and f2 and use ISO 100 for nearly 90% of what I do means a lot to me. The lens like others is sharper when going up 1 or 2 stops and it is very noticeable, I would still use f1.4 when the situation called for it. But at least I can shoot higher than f2.8, that was the limiting factor of the zoom lens and my decision to not buy the 25mm f2.8 Pancake lens because by then you’re at f4 if you want real sharp images.
*UPDATE* Applied the new firmware that is now available for Olympus users, the focus lock seems faster.

So in conclusion, I am glad to be back using a prime again, I’m not exactly rich but I am happy to have spent the money to get this lens. It was because I was on a budget that forced me to buy the 12-60mm in the first place and I felt I made too large a compromise, thinking the 12-60mm could offer nearly all my needs alongside my Contax G2 with its set of primes. If I could turn back time I might have not bought the 12-60mm and plumped for the Leica instead. I have as I said the Olympus E420 which is the cheapest body in the Olympus lineup and I hope the images I’ve produced have been what you were expecting. Also if you do have a higher spec body such as the E520 or E3 I’m sure your results can only at least equal mine and let me know if I have helped at all.

Written by jonathanjk

August 11, 2008 at 18:39

Panasonic Lumix/Leica 25mm f1.4 (Part 2)

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Lens and Test information

NOTE: Part two is mainly about the differences in the lenses and how it works for me. Part three has the comparison pictures so skip ahead if you don’t want to read about my decision to buy the lenses I owned. I’m not going to comment on the Olympus E420 itself.

What I’ve done is compare this prime lens with two zoom lenses, it isn’t entirely fair of course and comparisons like these are obviously unbalanced to a degree.  What I’ve done is limit the two zoom lenses to the 25mm focal length in order to keep things balanced.  The two zoom lenses are:

In terms of 35mm they equate to the numbers in the brackets. The sensor size for the 4/3rds system has a x2 magnification because it is 50% smaller than a 35mm film negative.  For more information about 4/3rds click the link.

Both lenses have a moving aperture and the f-stop moves in accordance when selecting the focal length. So of course while comparing Bokeh and making comparisons between lenses, the Leica lens will of course produce a greater depth of field because of its higher f-stop!

Now for me personally I have three favourite focal lengths, they are the 24mm, 50mm and 85mm (35mm actual lengths). The 4/3rds system at the moment doesn’t offer many prime lenses when compared to other camera systems. So I knowingly made this compromise because Olympus were offering such a small camera system and I was interested in the 12-60mm Zuiko lens (also small for a zoom lens) because it covered the three focal lengths I like to use the most.
The Zuiko lens itself is quite fast, covering f2.8 at the wide end and f4 on the long end. I could be quite happy to stay at the 12mm focal length using it like a prime, it might seem like a waste but when compared to the price of the Leica prime it was roughly the same and everything else the 12-60mm can do becomes a bonus. So I bought the 12-60mm knowing it would serve me well, until I shot in low light or with a small depth of field.

Panasonic Lumix/Leica 25mm f1.4 (Part 1)

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First impressions and quick comparisons

First off you can get a sense of the quality, simply by holding it. It’s heavy but not too tiring to handle; it’s actually lighter than the 12-60mm Zuiko lens, the construction is solid. My doubts with spending £558/$1116 were cleared as I fastened it to my camera. I bagged this lens on eBay from a very reliable seller, the seller can be found here. The technical specs of these lenses can be found in the links I’ve provided which I’m not going to go into here, I’m simply going to show test images for other peoples benefit as there is a lot of talk about.

The Panasonic Lumix/Leica lens was something I was after ever since I got hold of the Olympus E420, I always want to keep noise down as much as possible by staying away from high ISO. I love my fast primes; I’ve owned the Canon EF 50 f1.4mm in the past and the Canon 50mm FD f1.2mm, these are also great lenses to own. I could have got the Olympus pancake lens but I wanted something faster than f2.8, that for a prime is kinda poor, granted it is a very small lens.

For Bokeh there would be no comparison either :).

In this first part, I’m offering a size comparison between these two lenses and including a Sekonic light meter to help with scale incase you haven’t seen either lens first hand, I hope this helps?

Pictured below are the two lenses. Notice how much extra in length the Panasonic/Leica is, simply with the addition of the lens hood. With the hood down it is shorter but it reminds me of Dark Helmet (also oversized) from Space Balls, the lens itself is quite big but with it attached to my camera, it is still compact for an SLR. It’s much smaller and lighter compared to my 5D with the 50mm lens attached as well.


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