Tuesday 20 August 2019

Adrian Weckler Tech Review: Fuji X100F

Dig deep for a ­ pocket wonder

Fuji X100F
Fuji X100F
HTC U Ultra
Sony SRS-XB10

Fuji continues to scale the camera world with its latest high-end fixed-lens model, the X100F. But at €1,400, is it an overpriced snapper or a droolworthy pocket wonder? I'm a little closer to the latter view than the former, though I can see the sceptics' point.

I know Fuji products pretty well now. Last year, I bought the predecessor to the new X100F, the Fuji X100T. It's very similar in appearance and function to the new X100F and I use it regularly as it's discreet, fun and produces very good images.

Still, this new model is a eyebrow-raising €200 more than the peak price for the last edition. So what do you get for the extra money in the X100F?

Two things, mainly. The new model comes with Fuji's top-end 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor, the one it put into the X-Pro2 (a brilliant camera) and the X-T2. This means more detail in your photos, allowing you to crop in more from your 35mm shot.

The other notable thing the X100F has is a small joystick on the back for picking your focal spot. This, again, is present on the high-end X-Pro2 and X-T2 and is probably the upgrade feature that interests camera enthusiasts most. Having used the X-Pro2's joystick for a while, I can attest to its handiness. That said, it's not completely essential as you can reprogram the direction buttons on the back of the X100T to do the same thing. What is nice, though, is the expanded number of autofocus points - up from 49 to 91. This will help accuracy.

Other upgrades include a manual ISO control on the topside shutter-speed dial. Film camera devotees will like this, although I find it takes some getting used to. The native ISO now goes up to 12,800, which is useful in really dark situations. The camera's fixed 23mm lens (which would be a 35mm focal length in a 'full frame' 35mm format) is the same as in the X100T. This is a perfectly good lens that takes nice shots. It's not quite in the same league as Fuji's standalone 23mm lenses, which attach to Fuji's interchangeable lens cameras. But it's a lot slimmer, meaning that the X100F is more portable than the bigger models.

Like its predecessors, the X100F features a rangefinder-style hybrid viewfinder that lets you look through the eyepiece or the lens. Leica fans, in particular, will appreciate this.

So is this camera worth buying? If you want a standalone, good-quality 35mm camera, this is probably the best in its category.

That said, it would be really nice if Fuji kept the existing X100T on the market at a reduced price (say, at €799 or €899) to give buyers some choice. Sony adopts this marketing strategy with most of its premium lines to great effect. Unfortunately, that's not how Fuji operates. Maybe it doesn't have to, as the X100F will have no shortage of would-be buyers. Compare prices

Fuji X100F

Price: €1,399

Rating: 4 Stars

Two to try

HTC U Ultra (€700)

HTC U Ultra

HTC has been in relative decline in recent years, but is still putting out some excellent phones. It's new 'phablet' sized HTC U should prove to be proper competition for the big beasts of Samsung's S7 and Apple's iPhone 7. Its 5.7-inch screen is complemented by a 16-megapixel selfie-camera for ultimate posterity-keeping.

Sony SRS-XB10 (€70)

Sony SRS-XB10

Sony has updated its line of Bluetooth speakers. At the entry-level is the almost-pocketable XB10, which packs just about as much bass as you can physically get into a speaker that's only three inches by three inches in size. It comes in funky colours and you can pair two of them together if you want to divide into stereo sound.

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