Early spring and sun call for photography.
With the new X100F in my pocket, a spare battery and a newly formatted SD-card, I wanted to give the camera a try without looking in the manual. The church ‘Sct Bendt’ in Ringsted was my place to go. The medieval church was opened in 1170 by the danish king ‘The Great Valdemar’. The church is huge, almost a cathedral, and there is a lot of space and green areas around the church. I selected Classic Chrome as Film Simulation, set the noise reduction to -4 and shadow to -3 to compensate for the harsh light. ISO and shutter speed was in auto and the focus slider was in ‘Single shot’-mode. The first thing I noticed, was the absence of shutter noise. The leaf shutter is so silent!!! The auto focus mechanism produces more noise than the shutter.
OVF vs EVF
Compared to the X-T2 with a huge EVF, the OVF of the X100F is something quite different. Default, a small grey frame marks the area, that will actually end up on the sensor. Depending on the distance, this rectangle will move on the diagonal from lower, right corner (closest) to upper, left corner (infinite distance). The rest of the Optical View Finder shows what might come into the frame either by pointing the camera in that direction or – for moving objects – by waiting for the right moment. This is a very different way of seeing. Normally I am able to look in the EVF of the X-T2 with my right eye, and use the left eye to spot what going on in the surroundings. It work, but the brain has to cope with focusing on two distances. With the X100F, this is can be done ‘effortlessly’, and I can spare my left eye. I start to understand, why Range Finder style cameras have a purpose in their own right.
The downside of the OVF is a visible lens. The focal range of 23mm implies that the front part of the lens is visible in the lower, right corner. With a lens hood, the annoying ‘missing’ area only gets bigger. I know, it is a part of the ‘shooting experience’, but it will take some time to get used to it.
EVF in OVF – or how to use the area covered by the lens.
At this point, I started to fumble around with the controls on the camera, and I managed to get the lens covered with a little black rectangle in the lower, right corner of the OVF – or rather a square. When the release button is half-pressed, the square shows the part of the picture in focus. Nice combo. Only odd thing for me is that when the camera is in Continuous Mode, the little square shows the whole picture… ???? Not that I do a lot in Continuous Mode, but why?? (Afterwards I have consulted the manual, and the zoom-level of the square can be changed in Single-Focus and Maual-Focus mode by pressing the rear dial; full frame, focus area or zoomed-in focus area. For some reason, I am not able to get the same behaviour in Continuous-Focus mode. Maby the processing power is used for focusing…?).
EVF – the new black…
With my X-T2, my normal routine is ‘Lens Cap-off, Turn Camera On, EVF to the Eye, Reframe, and ‘Click’. With the X100F, you are able to look through the optical viewfinder without turning the camera on. If you find something interesting, then you turn the camera on, working on the framing. From here, you have to paths to frustration. A: Enyou composing your shot within the electronical frame, pressing the focus button, waiting for the f…. camera to focus, only to see the little ‘blended’ square being grey to black all the time listening to the pumping sound of the mechanics, or B: If the camera is in EVF-only mode, the viewer becomes total black. Cause: The lens cap is still on… It reminds me of the good old days with my Kodak pocket camera. With an EVF-only camera, this is never an issue… So with X100F, EVF is the new black!
All the buttons are placed similar to the X-T2, so this causes little confusion, and is very straightforward to operate. Many reviews have criticized the Q-button. My thumb rests naturally on the rear wheel, so I do not find the Q-button annoying. But the AFL-button is too distant from the rear wheel. I like ‘back button focus’, but I find it difficult to move my thumb all the way to the AFL-button while holding the camera with my right hand only. On the plus side, the button is elevated from the back plate and easy to find compared to my X-T2, where the button is aligned with the back plate. Please copy that to the X-T3 / X-T2s.
The lever on the front is a nice ‘retro’-feature. But I find a two-way lever counterintuitive; When you set the viewfinder into pure EVF-mode by pulling the lever to the right, pushing the lever to the left has no effect. Why not just a one way lever to toggle through the modes OVF, OVF with EVF-square, EVF?
At my X-T2, the Single/Cont./Manual focus mode is a switch on the front. On the X100F, the switch is a slider on the side of the camera. On the first, I can flip the switch with my index finger, on the later I can push the slider with my middle finger. Poh-tay-toe, Poh-tah-toe…
One of the four function keys around the Menu/OK-button on the back of the body, is assigned to selecting ‘Drive Mode’. The function key on the top, is assigned to Photometry (Light metering mode). Both are switches on the top plate on the X-T2. The button on the front is assigned to something odd; electronic zoom. I am not a function key addict, so the initial settings are fine with me, but one of the function keys will be mapped to WIFI-communication very soon.
Joystick and front-/rear wheel is similar to the X-T2 and feels quite natural.
The combined shutter speed/ISO-dial is copied from the X-Pro2. Many people hates this combo, but I do not find it hard to lift and rotate it with my right hand thumb and index finger. I do not expect to use the ISO-dial as intense as with my X-T2. On the contrary, I pretend to let the ISO stay on auto, and select between ISO Auto Settings 1, 2 and 3.
All in all, I was very happy with my little new member of the X-family. The OVF is something completely different than an EVF. The fixed focal length is optimal for street, and the handling is straightforward, when you are used to an X-T2 or similar. My only two complaints are the OVF/EVF-lever and the AFL/AEL-button. The silent shutter and the compact format, makes it optimal for carrying along in a pocket.
Softness in Backlit shots ???
On my way home, I wanted to take a backlit shot. Looking at the shot reveals some softtness around the center. I will have to test if it is inherent in the construction of the lens or due to the UV filter.