Why Fujifilm Will Have a Hard Time Improving the Almost-Perfect X100V

The replacement may come out this year, but upgrades won’t be easy

  • Fujifilm’s X100V may be replaced as soon as April. 
  • The camera is an almost perfect balance of features, honed over more than ten years. 
  • Most photographers want it to stay the same.
An overhead view of the Fujifilm X100V camera.

Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

Fujifilm may be about to replace its ultra-popular, almost cult-level X100V camera, but how could it possibly be improved?

When I read that Fujifilm may be about to replace the X100V, I asked some photographers how they thought a replacement might improve it, and the answers were telling. Not one respondent made any radical request. The suggestions were all small tweaks and basics like improvements to battery life. So how can Fujifilm replace a camera that's so popular that it had to pause sales last year just to catch up with outstanding orders?

"It's an iconic design with no superfluous features. The design and operation are refreshingly simple, especially compared to the Sony lineup. It's nostalgic while still being highly functional. It's the perfect size and weight—it encourages you to pick it up. I often find myself just fondling it without actually taking a photo—no other camera I've ever owned has this effect (and I've owned many!)." Mark Condon, a photographer, and the CEO and founder of Shotkit, told Lifewire via email.

Too Good

Fujifilm usually announces new cameras and accessories at its X-Summit, and the next one is happening in April. Rumors point to a big year, with updates expected for favorites like the X-Pro3 and the almost-too-popular X100V

Fujifilm's first X100 appeared in 2010. It was extremely flawed but a hit, nevertheless. It had the looks of a film camera, put all the major controls on dials instead of burying them in menus, and its APS-C sensor was considered very big for its small body. 

It's nostalgic while still being highly functional. It's the perfect size and weight—it encourages you to pick it up.

Over the years, Fujifilm has improved the camera to the extent that the X100V, now three years old, is pretty much perfect. It has the same sensor and processor as Fujifilm's pro-level cameras, and it has addressed the shortcomings of the previous models—weather sealing and a new lens design that is sharper when shooting close up. 

"The X100V has been incredibly popular because it offers a great combination of features, including its small form factor, which makes it light and portable," pro photographer Bruce Kramer told Lifewire via email.

Mission Impossible

If you don't know, the Fujifilm X100V is a small digital camera with a fixed lens (no zoom, and it cannot be swapped). Its specs are good, it does everything you would expect, and it does it well. But it's the balance of features that makes it so good. 

As mentioned, it's small but has a big sensor. It uses Fujifilm's Film Simulations, which mimic the characteristics of real and imagined films from the past. This sounds like a gimmick, but in reality, it means you can capture images as JPGs, and never have to edit them later. The B&W Acros setting, based on Fujifilm's Acros film, is just amazing, giving realistic grain and beautiful images straight out of the camera. 

Then there are the controls. Shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, focusing, and ISO sensitivity all get dedicated dials, and you can do pretty much everything with the knobs and buttons. This makes shooting immediate and intuitive. Finally, there's the viewfinder. You can use it as a regular electronic viewfinder, but with the flick of a lever, it becomes an optical viewfinder; only all kinds of info can be overlaid on the optical image. 

Full frontal view of someone holding a Fujifilm X100V.

Reyazul Haque / Unsplash

This results from more than a decade of focused improvements, resulting in a camera that is almost beyond improvement. But there are a few things that could be tweaked. 

"If Fujifilm releases an upgrade, some options may include adding improved autofocus performance with more accurate Eye AF tracking, as well as a few more film simulations and improved battery life," says Kramer.

Those are modest requests. Here are a few more. 

"Some possible changes Fujifilm could make to the X100V without spoiling this balance would be to improve the autofocus system, increase the resolution of the sensor, or add in-body image stabilization (IBIS) to improve low-light and motion photography. IBIS would allow photographers to use slower shutter speeds and still achieve sharp shots," video producer and photographer Andrew Eckhoff told Lifewire via email. 

This was repeated everywhere I asked. Apart from Eckhoff's desire for image stabilization (unlikely, as it would add too much bulk to the cameras), the list of added features is pretty much just small tweaks to the existing setup. This is great news for current owners, as they won't have to upgrade. And also good news for future owners, as they can enjoy an almost perfect camera at a nice low used price once the X100V is finally updated.

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