One interesting aspect of the X100 is the battery, which, while asymmetrical in shape, fits easily into the battery compartment either the right way or all three wrong ways. The right way is with the curved edge of the battery matching the curved edge of the compartment, but the X100 will happily accept the battery with the straight edge on the curved side of the compartment, or with the battery contacts facing the battery door as well.
If your X100 refuses to come to life after popping in a fresh battery, make sure you’ve got the battery in correctly before calling Fuji for warranty service. I’ve got the battery in the right way now, so let’s go shoot!
The first thing the X100 requires is that you wait a bit until it powers up – the camera takes about 2.2 seconds to present a focus icon. There is a quick start option that reduces that time to about 0.7 seconds, but the catch is that if the camera has been off for over 20 minutes the full 2.2 second startup time is required. Quick start also increases the drain on the battery, shortening life compared to the normal startup procedure.
With the normal startup, I was able to get off a first shot in about 3 to 3.25 seconds. Single shot-to-shot times ran about three seconds, with the major culprit here being the X100’s write times with a class 10 SDHC memory card and JPEG fine quality captures. In fact, X100 write times across the spectrum are nothing to write home about. Change that single JPEG file to RAW and the write time went to five seconds. A single JPEG/RAW combo capture? Nine seconds.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||0.01|
|Fujifilm FinePix X100||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.04|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||0.24|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.50|
|Fujifilm FinePix X100||0.68|
|Fujifilm FinePix X100||10||5.2 fps|
|Canon PowerShot G12||∞||2.1 fps|
|Olympus X-Z1||∞||2.0 fps|
|Nikon Coolpix P7000||26||1.5 fps|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
The camera made its advertised 5 fps continuous shooting rate for 10 JPEGS (8 if you’re shooting RAW), but the write time after that 10 shot JPEG burst was 20 seconds. Make that burst in RAW and you’re on the sidelines for a bit over 30 seconds as the X100 catches up. Does anyone even dare to speculate how long a burst of JPEG fine/RAW would take? For the record, you get the same 8 shot burst, but write time jumps to about 46 seconds. While the camera is writing, be it a single capture or burst, you can’t abort the write process to take another shot.
AF acquisition time was not spectacular in our studio tests, coming in at 0.68 seconds. In the field the X100 at times seemed fairly quick – certainly quicker than the studio time – while on others it felt more like our studio time.
When using the OVF for burst shooting the image remains constant so tracking a moving subject is easy. Using the EVF or monitor results in a brief blackout after the initial shot, then a millisecond delay before subsequent shots are displayed, so tracking fast-moving subjects can be more of a challenge.
The X100’s built-in flash has a range of about 29 feet at ISO 1600, but drop down to 200 ISO and you’re dealing with about a four foot range. Suffice it to say the built-in flash is low powered, which probably accounts for recycle times in the three second range. The X100 has a hot shoe, so if flash is your thing mount one externally and have at it.
There’s no stabilization to be had with the X100, so let’s talk about a shooting philosophy with regard to minimum shutter speed if you’re going to shoot hand-held. We’re talking about a speed designed to cancel out camera shake produced by hand holding, not necessarily stop action or produce any other creative effect you might want.
The general rule of thumb for hand holding is the shutter speed needs to be the lens focal length you’re shooting at expressed as a fraction. For the X100 at its 35mm focal length (use the 35mm equivalent, not the 23mm design length of the lens), we’d like to have at least 1/35th of a second. A 100mm lens would be 1/100th of a second; a 500mm 1/500th of a second.
If you refer to the shutter speed dial on the X100, there’s a “30” which represents 1/30th of a second and a “60” for 1/60th of a second, but no “35”. Does that mean the X100 can’t shoot at 1/35th of a second? No, it only means you can’t set a shutter speed of 1/35th of a second via the shutter speed dial. The general rule is just that – general – and many folks will be able to successfully hand hold at 1/30th of a second or lower before camera shake becomes a problem. Others will not, and will need to go to 1/60th of a second, or even more.
Either way, using the shutter priority shooting mode that allows you to set shutter speed is a quick way to make sure you’ve enough speed to hopefully dampen out shake. Aperture priority, program auto and manual can all accomplish the same result, so the bottom line is not the actual shooting mode, but rather that whichever mode you use produces enough shutter speed to cancel out camera shake.
Finally, the motion panorama shooting mode is one of the better ones I’ve encountered. First try was perfect, hand held. Here’s a couple of examples.
Specifically developed for the X100, the Fujinon Super EBC f/2 lens does a very good job of image capture from a quality standpoint. There’s a tiny bit of barrel distortion present (and I’m on the fence that it might actually be a tiny bit of moustache distortion instead), but whichever it is the lens is fairly distortion free, with straight lines near the edges of the frame being very minimally impacted.
The lens has consistent sharpness across the frame, possibly just a bit soft in the corners, but very good overall. Chromic aberration (purple fringing) was virtually absent – what examples I did find took extreme magnifications to discern and really were not an issue in anything less than extreme pixel-peeping.
While optical performance is quite good, the lens design is also responsible for hamstringing the X100 with regard to certain combinations of aperture and shutter speeds. The X100 shutter is part of the lens’s internal workings, and this means fast shutter speeds may not be available at large apertures. For example, a shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second is not available at f/2 through f/5.6; 1/2000th is unavailable at f/2 and f/2.8 – you have to go to 1/1000th of a second or slower before the X100 will shoot at all lens apertures.
Fuji has built in a work-around for this design characteristic, however. There’s a neutral density filter built into the X100 lens that can be enabled to provide 3 EV (or stops for you film folks) of exposure reduction to allow slower shutter speeds and wider apertures should you so desire. This sheet-type filter retracts when disabled.