The Fujifilm X100 series | Photography Redefined

The beginning of 2019 marks eight years since the launch of the Fujifilm FinePix X100, the camera that changed everything for so many of us.  I still remember seeing the X100 in early magazine ads, featuring a photograph of this new retro looking camera beneath a tagline that read:

The Camera : Redefined

I wanted this camera as soon as I saw the ads.  I know that sounds insane, but  I was experiencing a lot of frustration with my photography, especially with my DSLRs, and I remember thinking that the X100 was exactly what I needed at the time:  one small camera, one fixed focal length lens, pure simplicity.  I was hooked, despite the fact that I had never touched it.  Things only got worse when the groundswell started, with people I respected like Zack Arias writing about it, until finally I gave in and placed my order.

I remember opening the box with a mix of excitement and reverence, all the while accompanied by an unshakeable feeling that my photography was about to change (which is strange to say… it’s just a camera, right?).  I have long struggled to put into words how it felt to shoot with the X100 in those early days, but thankfully my friend Patrick Laroque worded it perfectly when he wrote his Fujifilm X100S review:

“I longed for Istanbul. Or Madrid, Cairo, Rio. I longed for the circus, for freight trains, for a rush of uncertainty in long and aimless circumambulations; for an assault on the senses and a total loss of balance, making my way through the unknown, sinking in strange quicksand crowds with my eye to a small window. I wanted more and everything, the pulse of an insane city or the slow crashing of a wave on a deserted beach of the pacific rim. I wanted new topographics and new lights to twist reality, like opiates in the bloodstream, igniting the muse – her name would be Discovery. Testament. Witness.”

That is so completely spot on.  Nothing has motivated me to push my photographic boundaries more than this camera; I found myself on planes to foreign countries, shooting genres that I had never previously considered and becoming part of a wonderful online community of like minded artists.

The early days of the X100 weren’t perfect of course, sometimes feeling like we fought the camera as often as we nailed great photos with it.  Then the free firmware updates started coming, an early indication of how committed Fujifilm was to the success of the X100, and my camera got better and better.  The X100 was literally changing as I redefined myself as an artist, something that I hadn’t ever seen before from a manufacturer.

Since those early beginnings I have had the pleasure of becoming an Official Fujifilm X Photographer, of using and reviewing new products as they were added to the lineup, and of representing the brand on stage many times.  It has been a wonderful, exciting  journey.  Fujifilm now has something for everyone, from excellent but affordable entry level cameras and lenses to a full medium format system for those who value image quality above all else.  My current work bag is centred around two X-T3s.  They are amazing cameras, but there is still something intangible about the X100F that makes me reach for it first.  It is, for me, the perfect camera.

I went through my library last night, looking for images from the various iterations of the X100 for this article.  The photo essay below features street images, cityscapes, family photos, portraits, landscapes, detail shots and travel photos.  I loved making these images with the X100 / X100S / X100T / X100F, and I look forward to another eight years shooting with this wonderful system.

What was your entrance into the Fujifilm X system?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Cheers,

Ian

 

35 thoughts on “The Fujifilm X100 series | Photography Redefined

  1. Volker says:

    Long time ago I photographed with film cameras, Contax at the end. Then I had to sell my cameras as I needed money for studying. As the digital cameras came up, I looked at them but don’t like them. To complicated, to bad image quality, and so on.
    In summer of 2013 I got to know a mate who had a X100s. Wow, I thought, superb quality in a tiny body with all the controls I knew from my contax cameras. I looked deeper into it and bought a X-E1 because I wanted the capability to change lenses.
    Now, some years and fuji cameras later my setup consits of two X-T2 (the workhorses), a X100f (the beauty), a X-E1 (my start to the fuji system) and an original X100 limited edition (with which all started).
    I’m very content with the x-series, ok, a gfx would be great but to me not affordable at the moment.
    The X100f is my carry-all-day camera and there is a little story about it which shows how addicted I am: some times ago I selled my X-Pro2 and X100t to get another X-T2. The day after I regretted selling the X100t very much (no such feelings about the Pro2, interesstingly). So I had to re-get one of those X100 series and few days later the X100f joined my camera-club. 🙂

    • Ian says:

      That is a wonderful story my friend. Like you, my X-T3s are definitely the work cameras, but for anything else I grab the X100F.

      Never sell that original X100, it is a classic now!

      Cheers,

      Ian

    • Charles says:

      Having owned a D3 nd D750 I was unsure about making the Fuji switch but 2 years later and my XT-2 is my main camera and I love the layout and the fact that everything is all to hand to adjust I had a X100s before but sold that when I got XT-2 but found I really missed the fantastic quality and compactness of it so recently bought the X100f .this is my go to camera for parties ,weddings ,street and some landscapes and it’s probably the best digital camera I have owned for image quality.

  2. Rick Vera Jr says:

    A photographer friend of mine let me shoot a few frames with his X-Pro 2. I never had something like that in my hands before. I was using a canon t6. Though I loved my entry level dslr, like you, I was intrigued by the look of the Fuji x system.. Four months later, and too many articles, YouTube videos and test runs at my local Best Buy, I bought an X-T20. I love that camera. The size, interchangeable lens systems , and the quality of jpeg photos swayed me to stay with the camera. I still want an x100f and an X-T2. But for now the 20 handles all my needs. Great article Ian!

    • Ian says:

      Hey Rick!

      The X-T20 is a wonderful camera, offering most of the X-T2’s features at an excellent price point.

      You should definitely get an X100 though. We all should, really. 🙂

      Cheers,

      Ian

  3. Martyn T says:

    I lusted for the X100, but couldn’t afford it at the time (I was invested into Canon DSLRs) so bought the X10. It suffered with the orb problem, but Fuji fixed it. Loved that little thing, so eventually got the X100. That suffered from the sticky aperture blades – Fuji fixed it again. Still loved it. Eventually the Canon gear went and I progressed through XPro1, XT1, X100s, XT10, Xpro2, X70 and picked up the X100F last year. I really want Fuji to combine the X70 with the X100F – miss that little flippy screen and close focus without the softness.

    • Ian says:

      Ah, the early years. They were awesome, weren’t they?

      I would have normally said that I don’t see an articulating screen coming to the X100 / X-Pro line, but then it was added to the 50R so now I’m not so sure.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      Cheers,

      Ian

  4. MYCK1971 says:

    Great reading Ian, lovely images too.
    My first stop on the fuji journey was with the Xe-1, which I enjoyed a lot, then moved on to the pro 1 and I absolutely loved it, I started to make the type of pictures that I wanted to make, pictures that made me happy. Since then I’ve added the XT1, X70 and now the XT3, I’m waiting to see if a new X100 comes along and then I think I might have to add that as well.
    Thanks for sharing your post.

    • Ian says:

      The X-Pro1 was a special camera, wasn’t it? I too am waiting and hoping for a successor to the X100F. Fingers crossed!

  5. Thomas Landgraeber says:

    Great read. Awesome photos. Thank you so much.

    I was a pro photographer back in the good ol’ film era (6 years in advertising and another 10 years as still and set photographer for film and TV). I shot anything – large format, medium format, Polaroid, 35mm SLR. I’ve always been a Nikon guy, but in 2012 I sold most of my Nikon gear and switched over to Fuji X.

    That was one of the best decision in my life. I literally re-discovered photography for me and learned to fall in love with again. The Fuji X system changed the way I shoot – for good. I’m constantly trying new genres and love to play around with compositions, looks and styles. That’s really exciting and I have a lot of fun again.

    I’m pretty late to the X100F party, though. I bought mine 7 weeks ago. It’s a beast but I love it. Challenging first, but it quickly finds its way to your heart. For me, it’s the perfect personal camera.

    • Ian says:

      Hey Thomas!

      Thank you so much for sharing that. You said:

      “The Fuji X system changed the way I shoot – for good. I’m constantly trying new genres and love to play around with compositions, looks and styles. That’s really exciting and I have a lot of fun again.”

      That is exactly what it was for me too. My Nikons always got the job done, but I felt no particular attachment to them (they were simply tools). My Fujis are tools too, but they are so much more at the same time. It is kind of strange, isn’t it?

      Cheers,

      Ian

  6. jeffharrisnz says:

    I actually started with the x-10, a smaller and in many ways an inferior version of the X100 but a lot of fun all the same. I then graduated to the 100 and then the 100s. Possibly the most important range of cameras since the Olympus OM series from the film days. The OM2 being my favourite camera of all time.

    • Ian says:

      I agree, 100%. The X100 was huge both for what it gave to us Fuji users, but also for the influence it had on the industry as the whole.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  7. Peter says:

    My first Fujifilm camera was the S1 Pro. I still have an S5 Pro. The original X100 remains my favourite digital camera and those who think it’s quirky never used an S1 Pro. My other Fujis are the X-Pro1 and 2, and an X100s, but I still love the files from the X100.

      • Mr. Terrie Thompson says:

        Ian, wonderful article! I have had my 100S for 6 years and I’m STILL discovering new things about it. Like you, for me it’s the best camera I’ve ever owned! Bought an XE2 two years ago , with 60 and 55-210 lenses. But I still use my beautiful 100S for about 95% of my photography.

      • Ian says:

        I would say my “X100 to other camera” ratio is around 90% for personal work also. It is just a superb little camera.

        Thanks for commenting!

        Cheers,

        Ian

  8. richardreader says:

    Like you Ian, I saw the adverts for the original X100 and wanted one (I was shooting with a Nikon D700 at the time). The moment came in the duty free area at Gatwick before departing for a break in Spain,and that was that.
    I found the original X100 a bit quirky, didn’t like that rotating wheel around the menu button, battery longevity was ‘meh!’, but the form factor and images (and all that packed into a small, light body), made it for me.
    So next up was an X-Pro1, then the X-T1, the X-T2, and now the X-T3 (and goodbye Nikon along the way). I didn’t feel the need to upgrade the X100 until the F came out but the standardisation of the battery plus all the other features swung it.
    The X-T3 is the workhorse if I’m planning a day’s shooting, but the X100F is my preferred weapon of choice. Given a choice of one camera and lens I think it might win over the X-T series.

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Richard!

      I totally share your experiences (other than the Gatwick part of course). The original X100 had many quirks, but when I held it in my hands and saw the images it produced the quirks just didn’t matter.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  9. Jun Colobong says:

    I myself started with Nikon DSLR but I found it too heavy to lug around. So I wanted a small camera that operates like a DSLR. I read wonderful reviews about the Fujifilm X100 but I waited for the x100s..I was so delighted with this camera, i felt there is something magical with tiny camera.. since then my desire to create and shoot photographs started to grow more and more and to this day I shot with X100s,XT1 and XT2 with several XF primes and zoom lenses.

  10. Paul says:

    Hello. I stumbled upon your site when researching info about the X100F. I shoot a Nikon D3400 with a 24mm f1.8 full frame lense. I also shoot with the 70 to 200mm DX lense. I am colour blind with reds and greens. Colour deficiency is a more accurate way of reflecting my condition as very few CB people are actually 100% CB to the point of seeing in bnw. The challenge with that is editing raw files. Although I have built up quite a following on social media, producing moody urban colour images, the post processing process has always been a very frustrating one for me because of my colour blindness. I can literally do 25 different edits for one picture and still not know which one is good or not because the colours get all mixed up in my brain.I end up positing the one where the skin is too orange but couldn’t see it. And although many of my pictures got up to 1700 likes on Instagram, I was never happy with my work and the amount of sleepless nights I spent to edit these pictures took away the joy of photography. Imagine having to go through that ordeal for each edit. I have 30k pictures in my first 1.5 year of shooting. I’ve gotten featured at least 50 times on hubs in Instagram, had hundreds of comments per post but I was never happy. I am still not happy. I am frustrated because my barriers to colours are making post processing too painful to endure any longer. I just want to quit. My strength is composition. I just can’t get the aesthetic look I want for that composition from my mind to the HSL sliders. I reached a point where I just closed my successful Instagram account and just quit social media. The likes meant nothing anymore even if they were high. Don’t get me wrong, I was no superstar but for a guy with CB and only one year or so of casual shooting experience, I was doing well. Ic ame out running. However during this whole time of secret agony, because no one knows I am CB and you can’t tell by my work and those who know just can’t relate or understand, my eyes jump the most when scrolling trough my Instagram when I land on the countless Fuji street shots. It’s easy to recognize a Fuji shot. They are so different than any other brand. This got me to doing research into Fuji but I honestly can’t afford Fuji hence why I never considered it. Nevertheless, I figured no harm in gaining knowledge about it. When I saw your article about how you customize all your buttons on your D pad to do things like ave 3 auto iso combinations etc, I was blown away at the ability to customize a camera to your needs. When I saw your pictures, I was even more blown away. But what blew my mind even more, was how little you have to edit your pics. If all I have to worry about are basic adjustments of 2 minutes in Lr instead of countless hours per photo of HSL sliders and camera calibration sliders adjustments to attain a moody look, then I’m sold because Classic Chrome looks great. Some basic toning and voilà! The Classic Chrome look works for me. All I have to do now is just shoot? That sound awesome. I’m at the point where I stopped shooting because I don’t want to edit anymore. Past successes mean nothing to me. I made a name in my city. But I was never happy. I am not happy. I want to be happy. I want to find that joy again I had when I first started. Having CB is a very difficult thing to have as a colour photograph. I’ve spent many sleepless nights editing to no avail and no, I don’t want to be a bnw shooter. I’m not blind. I enjoy colour too like everyone else. I don’t want my pictures to look normal however. I want them moody and awesome. The normal look on Nikon doesn’T work for me. Hence why I go into elaborate edits scrolling through the thousands of presets I’ve bought that are useless in the end. I don’t want to spend hours editing regardless of how well they may do on Instagram. One day I would get 1800 likes and the next, 300. That hurt a lot because I put so much work into it. Reading about your experience with the X100 has convinced me that I want to join the Fuji family but unfortunately I can’t afford it. Will probably take me 1 year to save up on top of having to sell my current gear. I do have a question however. I am worried about losing all my focal length options. I love shooting at 200 and 300mm for example. The compression is incredible. What do you think of the xe3? Similar to the x100f but with interchangeable lenses and a little less expensive. It appears that most swear by the X100f. Thanks for sharing. It helped. I think the Fuji Classic Chrome with basic edits fits my need perfectly as well as the insane custom options of the x100f and the size. Portable = shoot more. Less edit = shoot more. Colours = Fuji will take care of it. Having to wait a year to swap is going to be very hard because I want to shoot now. Fuji has given me that desire again and so have you. I look forward to it. All the best.

    • Ian says:

      Hello!

      First off, thank you for that lengthy post. It is always an honour when a fellow artist shares their story with you.

      Secondly, I think you would benefit for the ability to shoot in jpg on Fuji cameras. The X-E3 is a lovely little camera, as is it’s brother the X-T30. I don’t think you would go wrong with either of them, to be honest.

      One thing I would like to mention though is this: Regarless of the technology that you use it is important to always find satisfaction in your work. Ultimately, as you mentioned, social media likes should never be the end goal because the only client that really matters is you. If that means shooting Fuji jpg, and being comfortable trusting the camera to nail the colours, then I think that would be a wonderful thing for you.

      Cheers,

      Ian

      • dmaclau says:

        If I may, I would share a change in my work with Fuji. I believe it germane to Paul’s post. After years of spending countless hours processing RAW files 2 events happened at about the same time. I bought a Fuji X-Pro2 and Apple discontinued support for Aperture (my processing platform). As I searched for a replacement for Aperture I also began to look closely at the JPG’s my Fuji was giving me. Cutting to the chase…although I still shoot JPG+RAW the RAW files are only backup, a security blanket. Get it right in camera and these JPG’s are wonderful. I suddenly get back hours (days) after a project and have moved to a mobile centric workflow vs desktop. My iPad delivers a finished product within minutes vs days. Your CB issue coupled with the Fuji JPG engine could very well become your defining style, your “look.”

      • Ian says:

        Sigh, I miss Aperture. To think what it could have been if they had kept up with it.

        Having said that, it led to you discovering how amazing Fujifilm jpegs are. I too edit primarily on my iPad and love how fast my workflow is with these images.

        Cheers,

        Ian

  11. dmaclau says:

    After many years of RF and SLR film photography I came to use only small imagers such as the Olympus XA or Canon Canonette. Change to digital found a Sigma DP-1 in my pocket. On a shoot almost exactly 8 years ago an associate handed me his brand new X-100. That evening from the hotel I ordered one of my own, never regretted it. 3 (?) years ago, moving in a new direction I needed a medium telephoto lens, low light, quick autofocus camera and queued up for the X-Pro2 & 90mm. Simultaneously my granddaughter “borrowed” my X-100. I love the X-Pro2. GAS has led me to add a handful of primes. I carry them but don’t use them often, relying mainly on the svelte 18mm. I dearly miss the X-100. I likely have 30 film and digital cameras gathered over 60 years. I’m searching for a reason to buy yet another, an X-100 series to replace the (permanently) borrowed one.

    • Ian says:

      That is a wonderful story, especially the part about your granddaughter using your X100.

      The X-Pro2 really is a wonderful camera though, isn’t it?

      Cheers,

      Ian

  12. Mick Cayless says:

    Good evening. I couldn’t help but enjoy your column regarding the Fujifilm X-100. Currently I am shooting with two DSLR’s, my original and trusty 16MP Nikon D5100 crop-sensor, and a Nikon D600 full-frame I purchased early last year. Both are great cameras and I enjoy shooting with them in RAW, and applying edits in Lightroom 5.

    Yet, the X-100 has peaked my interest. I have done much research reading several blogs, watching videos and expert analysis, including yours. I have found most authors rave about the image quality and color rendition of the JPEG’s as well as its retro styling. Now, I am just about to pull the trigger in purchasing one from an online retailer in the $360 range. I will trade in my older Sigma 10mm-20mm, f3.5 lens to help soften the cost of the x-100.

    I believe the simplicity of a fixed lens and output of the JPEG’s would be a welcome change from the Nikon’s. If this camera really works well for me, I may eventually sell my D5100 w/lenses and just use both the X-100 and D600.

    My question is, and why I have yet to pull the trigger is, will I find that much difference in the image quality of the X-100 over the D5100? I know they are two different systems for two different uses. But, any light you can shine on this will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Ian says:

      Good evening!

      I definitely saw a difference between my old Nikon cameras and the Fuji system. It is a subtle thing, but it is there.

      Which X100 are you thinking of buying?

      Cheers,

      Ian

  13. mark says:

    Well Its back. The X100 that is.
    I dropped my Leica M9 in Costa and it didn’t bounce. £1300 worth of repairs and 3 months wait. What to do?
    I was 2 weeks without any form of camera and was experiencing the shakes and sweats (personally I don’t regard camera phones as an option).
    Faced with the large repair bill and 3 month delay I decided that I had to buy a good budget camera.
    After some research and with a budget of £300 I have bought another x100 some 6 years after selling my first.
    £290.00 with its original box and accessories. Great value me thinks.
    I feel as though I am coming home. Cant wait. Panic over.
    Mark

  14. Mark Harverson says:

    Thanks Ian
    I have recently sold my old Canon 5d mk1 with 70-200 f4. Another “first edition” camera that seems to retain a magic in its photographs.
    The chap I sold it to is a relative newbie to photography. Very bright and learning quickly. He now carries two DSLRs because he feels the need to have more than one lens option available as he moves around his chosen venue. I feel exhausted just thinking about the pressure of carrying two DSLRs. He is ex military and I have this image of Rambo with cameras instead of guns.
    I am determined to disarm him. I shall re-arm him with my x100 for a week.
    Ill keep you posted.

  15. Jason Bedient says:

    I have a much shorter history with the x100 series than most. As I set off for a family trip to Brussels and Paris for two weeks, I vaguely remember a friend having an X100s. On a whim I asked him if I could borrow his. It’s been a week and I’m hooked. I haven’t even pulled out my other camera or phone to make shots.

    I’m ordering an x100f when I get home.

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