Review | Fujifilm X100V

Silhouettes | Fujifilm X100V

Over the last two years, I have been contemplating adding a second camera to my arsenal. Before my shift to the Fujifilm ecosystem, I would travel with two DSLR bodies, a Nikon D700 and D300s, along with a host of lenses. I chose to shift to Fujifilm because the two Nikon bodies, grips, and lenses were just taking up too much space in my carry-on luggage and it was becoming a pain to haul everything around on trips.

Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,
I am still searching for simplicity in my travel photography setup, and have been thinking about picking up a second camera to augment my current X-T2 and associated lenses. I know adding a second camera does not sound like I am simplifying my kit, but hear me out. There are times when Krista and I are walking around where having my X-T2 and either the 18-55mm kit lens or the 23mm F2 lens looks conspicuous. When I am walking around a city in the evening, I don't want to draw attention to myself by holding an "expensive" or "professional-looking" camera.

I know this may sound dumb, but I don't always want to be noticed as I am walking around the streets of a foreign country snapping photographs. Maybe it is the shape of interchangeable lens cameras, or it is the shape of lenses protruding out of the front, but I feel like people notice the camera more than if I were to just pull out my phone or point-and-shoot camera to take a few photos.

While I could just pull out my phone, I don't want to sacrifice image quality. I know this is probably hyperbolic, but I wanted to find a solution, so I reached out to Fujifilm to see if the X100V would fit this niche need I have for travel photography.

I am not going to bore you with all of the camera's specifications but these were the ones that drove my interest in testing the camera:
  • Image Sensor: 26.1 million pixels X-Trans CMOS 4 with a primary color filter.
  • Dimensions: (W) 5.04in × (H) 2.94in × (D) 2.10in
  • Weight: Approx. 16.9oz (including battery and SD memory card)
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Price: $1,399.95
My thoughts:
Ahead of my recent trip to Jamaica, I reached out to Fujifilm to see if I could borrow an X100V to see if it would live up to the hype and fill the niche space I have in my travel setup. My hopes were high and two days before I departed, the camera showed up on my doorstep. I spent those two days reading the owner's manual, watching YouTube tutorials, and trying to set the camera up to my preferences. Ultimately, I flew to Jamaica with nearly zero experience with the camera and quickly set out to try and capture images from my five-day trip.

Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,
Not so Picturesque - Tons of seagrass covers Seven-Mile Beach

We arrived in Negril, Jamaica shortly after a cold front moved over the island, causing a dieoff of seagrass and tons of the dead plants to be washed onto the normally picturesque beach. To say we weren't able to get the dreamy beach photos I had in my mind would be an understatement. I was, however, able to leverage the powerful camera to generate a series of photographs documenting the devastation and subsequent cleanup efforts.

Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,
Heavy equipment being used to burry the seagrass

As with my X-T2, I loved being able to quickly connect my phone to the camera, download high-quality JPEGs, and share them on social media throughout the day. The camera renders the tones and colors beautifully, and after some slight cropping and straightening, I was able to share photos with friends and family back home.

After a couple of days of shooting with the X100V, I was really starting to get the feel for the camera. I had missed a few shots in those days, because I wasn't familiar with changing the settings on this new body, but was overall very pleased with the images I had been able to capture. The real test would be capturing images on the fly as we hopped on the famous One Love Bus Bar Crawl. We spent a few hours that evening listening to amazing reggae music, visiting picturesque bars around Negril, and (of course) drinking rum punch and Red Stripe. The highlight of the evening was a visit to a quaint cliff-side bar where local cliff divers entertained patrons. We were there at sunset, and the conditions were going to test the X100V's performance.

Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,   Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,
Silhouettes - Young Jamaican cliff divers entertain tourists in hopes of making a few dollars.
f/5.6 | ISO 6400 | 1/100sec

The series of images captured that evening astounded me. The two images above are likely my favorite from the entire trip. These young men, who were polite and courteous, were death-defying in their craft. It was truly a pleasure to watch them run around the jagged rocks and expertly dive into the water. I spent the time just snapping photographs, and it wasn't until I returned to the hotel that I realized how well the images came out.

So, now that my rambling thoughts are over, let's talk about whether I will add the X100V to my travel photography kit. Here are my three main considerations.
  1. The form factor is exactly what I would want in a travel camera like this. It is compact and lightweight. I was able to easily stash the camera in a medium-sized pouch in my sling pack and it didn't take up any room.
  2. This compact camera is incredibly powerful. Can it do everything an X-T or X-Pro can do with interchangeable lenses can do? No, but that isn't the point. This is in a class by itself and really augments those two platforms very well. 
  3. The X100V was not conspicuous. There were times during the trip when I'd either be walking the beach or on the bus tour where someone was using an interchangeable lens camera system and I was nearby with the X100V. I noticed locals and tourists alike, noticing the larger camera systems more than they noticed me - a big bonus!
Fujilove, travel, Jamaica, vacation, holiday, X100V, Fujifilm,
Framed | Heavy equipment on the beach frames a small glass-bottom boat, contrasting the reality of life after the storm.

This really could be my new walk-around camera for our upcoming trips. Could I have been able to capture the same images on my trip with my X-T2 and 23mm f/2 lens, sure, but it would have been at the expense of twice the bulk and weight. That said, the X100V would not be replacing my current setup. I still enjoy my X-T2 and the collection of lenses I take with me on trips and still see those as important to my travel photography. The X100V would simply be utilized during those times when Krista and I are strolling the back streets of a small Sicilian town after dinner or when we take a quick weekend trip and I want to keep my gear light and pack in a simple carry-on.

Now, I need to sell some photographs and articles so I can purchase an X100V.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was loaned the equipment used in this review in consideration for review publication.


Overland Expo, Living Overland, ToyotaBeau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and former Editor in Chief of Toyota Cruisers and Truck Magazine. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs (Barley & Rye).


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