In mid-May, on a family visit the the beautiful Howick Hall Gardens in Northumberland, I decided to see how the original Fujifilm X100 holds up in 2023.
Released in February 2011, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 (to give it its full name) was a landmark camera on the vanguard of the move towards mirrorless digital cameras.
At the time, I was still in the Canon system with 5D Mark II and 40D DSLRs but starting to look for something a little smaller.
Micro 4/3 cameras were just emerging and I initially bought an Olympus PEN E-PL2 as a ‘practical’ option because of the interchangeable lenses, although after only a week or so I had decided the image quality wasn’t what I wanted. I sold the PEN on and bought the camera I had probably really wanted from the start: the old-school-looking Fujifilm X100.
The handling and ergonomics – with proper dials for aperture and shutter speed – along with gorgeous image quality and the first round of Fujifilm’s now-fabled film simulations had me hooked immediately and before long I had replaced my whole Canon setup with the Fujifilm X-series.
The original X100 is the one camera I don’t think I would ever sell on, purely for sentimental value. While we’re up to the fifth iteration of the X100 range, Fuji got so much right with the first version that picking it up today is easily familiar and still a pleasure to use.
Yes, it’s slow (it was already considered slow on first release) and yes, it’s missing some efficiency controls like focus-select joystick. But the core experience of photographing with the X100 is just pure and simple pleasure.
It makes me want to take pictures, even today.
At 12 megapixels, the resolution is meagre in a world where even the iPhone cameras have begun to shift upwards and the more recent X series bodies are hitting 26 – 40 megapixels.
But is it actually that bad?
12MP still covers a 4K screen nicely. The main benefit for me in higher resolution is often in the ability to crop in after the fact and while that is handy on the fixed-lens X100 cameras, the type of photos often taken with them probably need that less.
I wasn’t totally confident of that though, so I did hedge my bets a little by taking both the X100 and my X-Pro3 on our walk.
Coming home and reviewing images in Lightroom however, my favourite image from the day was this 2-frame panoramic stitch taken with the X100.
Even with the stitch, it’s ‘only’ a 16MP file but there’s no noticing that here on this web page. The image quality is still lovely and it handled the dynamic range in the scene more than well enough.
The X100 stands as my favourite camera of all time, and it was lovely to be reassured that 12 years into its life, it can still hold its own.