Fuji Announces X100F and X-T20

Millau Viaduct, France. Panorama shot in-camera with Fujifilm X100S.

Millau Viaduct, France. Panorama shot in-camera with Fujifilm X100S.

Today Fujifilm announced the X100F and XT20 cameras (along with the drool-worthy GFX medium-format camera, at a relatively paltry $6,500 for the body). I've been eagerly anticipating the next generation X100 series camera, as I didn't upgrade to the X100T after owning the X100S. Based on what I've seen, the improvements are to be as expected given what has been done with the X-T2 and X-Pro2. But will I get the F? Hmm, I'm actually not so sure...

The X100S was my gateway drug to the Fuji system. I bought it soon after it came out in 2013 and immediately fell in love. I took it as my only camera on a 2 week trip to England and France, leaving behind my Pentax SLR kit. (All the photos in this gallery of England and the South of France shots in this gallery were taken with it). The camera performed like a champ with everything I threw at it, and I loved the simplicity of its design. When the X-T1 came out, I bought that and started accumulating lenses, and have been using that more than the X100S now.

Gymnasts at Muscle Beach, Santa Monica. Shot with Fujifilm X100S.

The Good

While the X100S still takes great images, it uses Fuji's older interface which I now find slow and a bit clunky to use. So having a new camera that's more consistent in terms of interface would be great, and makes it easier to move between cameras. Fuji brought the joystick from the X-Pro2 and X-T2, which by all accounts works well for quickly setting AF points. The control dial set-up has been brought more in line with Fuji's other cameras, which makes it easier and more intuitive to use as a companion camera.

The I-Don't-Care

Fuji has upgraded the X100F EVF, but you're still paying in dollars and weight for the complexity of the hybrid viewfinder. Many people still love optical viewfinders, but for me they are not a major draw anymore, somewhat to my surprise. The EVF's (electronic viewfinders) in the newer Fuji's (and other brands) are so good now that I actually don't care about having an optical viewfinder anymore, despite that being one of the things that drew me to the X100S in the first place. The benefits of EVF's (accurate exposure, color, framing and depth-of-field preview, electronic level, etc.) now outweigh the downsides for most shooting situations (fast moving action sports or wildlife photography are still a exceptions where EVFs can have more lag and blackout than an OVF).

The Disappointing

We'll have to see with more hands-on experience, but there are some things that seem disappointing also:

I'm surprised that Fuji didn't upgrade the lens on the F to go with the new 24MP sensor. It's still the same lens going back 2 generations to my S (maybe even to the original X100). I'm frankly really skeptical that this lens is going to hold up to the higher resolution, especially wide open. One of my complaints about the X100S has been that wide open it can get pretty fuzzy, and especially when focusing up-close, the image quality degrades quite a bit. I just can't see this going well with the new, more demanding sensor.

I'm also really disappointed that Fuji didn't include any kind of tilt screen, and not a touchscreen either. Their spin line is that the X100 series is for traditionalists and that traditionalists don't want those new-fangled features. Frankly this is rubbish. A tilt-screen is super useful, specially in street photography and shooting from the hip, which is what the X100 is directly pitched at. I'm flabbergasted that Fuji stubbornly refused to put this increasingly common feature on the X100F. Even the lower-cost X-T20 has it, as does the much smaller X-70. So it's not a cost or size issue.

The touchscreen matters less to me, but it can be handy - if done well. My Olympus Pen E-PL7 does it OK, but not great. But we obviously have examples of devices all around us each day with really great touchscreens, and it's disappointing that Fuji didn't push further on how to incorporate this technology.

Lastly, the X100F continues to not have stabilization. Like the tiltscreen, this is a frustrating omission for a modern camera, especially as so many of the competitor products have it - in some cases offering five or more stops of additional handheld capacity. Maybe the existing lens doesn't produce a large enough image circle to allow the necessary sensor shift?

Maybe Not for Me

For the moment, I'm not sold on upgrading to the F, despite my S getting long in the tooth. I'm concerned about the lens quality holding up (though we'll obviously have to wait for more samples before a final judgment). And the 23mm f/2 WR lens that Fuji recently launched is small enough on one of the interchangeable lens bodies that the slightly smaller size of the X100F is not a major selling point. But it's the lack of tilt screen and in-body stabilization that are probably the deal-killers. I can't see myself going to a camera at this price point that lacks these capabilities. The X-T20 actually looks very interesting as a slightly smaller companion to the X-T1 (or T2) and has a tilt-screen, and if paired with the right lens also gains image stabilization (though granted not with the 23mm). But if I'm going to spend $1000+ on a new body, it will probably be to upgrade to an X-T2, which with the 23mm is not that much bigger than the X100F, and which I use considerably more these days than the X100S.

Seattle Sculpture Garden. Shot with Fujifilm X100S.

Seattle Sculpture Garden. Shot with Fujifilm X100S.

Note: Updated on 1/23 to include comments on lack of image stabilization.