|The Fujifilm X100V has become something of a star on TikTok, which has contributed to it becoming hard to find.|
The Fujifilm X100V is a lovely camera: the fifth in a series we’ve always liked and recipient of our Gold award, for the net effect of the improvements that have been made to the latest version.
The original X100 launched Fujifilm’s premium ‘X’ series of cameras and prefigured the company’s move to mirrorless with the X-mount. It was one of the first large sensor fixed lens cameras, and boosted its desirability with a combination of classic rangefinder styling, a Electro/Optical hybrid viewfinder and traditional controls.
In fact the series has become so desirable that it’s almost impossible to actually buy an X100V (without paying a substantial premium over the list price). This may be a knock-on effect of the chip shortages and supply chain problems, post lockdown, an intentional restriction in supply to keep prices strong or the winding-down of production in anticipation of a new model, we can’t be sure. But what we do know is that, if you want a small, hands-on street/travel camera with a 35mm equiv lens, you might have to look for a plan B.
The list price of the X100V is $1399, so that’s the approximate budget I’ve imagined.
I’ve looked at X100 substitutes before, trying to see whether there were any substitutes you could cobble together using a small prime lens on a mirrorless camera. At the time Canon’s 22mm F2 lens and the Olympus 17mm F1.8 offered the best ways to gain the 35mm equivalent range. The Olympus is the nicer of the two lenses: faster to focus and with a snap-back focus clutch and styling that’s more in keeping with the Fujifilm.
These remain the best choices if compactness and matching the X100 field-of-view are your priorities. However, both present a challenge in terms of what you can match them with. OM Digital Solutions appears to have trimmed back the PEN range, with only the ‘Lite’ E-PL10 model available in North America. European customers have the option of the E-P7, which offers a more hands-on interface and classic styling, so is perhaps worth a look.
The Canon EF-M 22mm F2 is an even more tricky prospect. It’s hard to believe Canon will provide much more for the system (Sigma appears to have already moved on), so while the pairing of a Canon EOS M6 II and 22mm makes an excellent combination, it might be best to assume that the EF-M lenses that now exist are all there ever will be. If your choice of other lenses is limited, then the benefit of choosing a mirrorless camera over a fixed-lens one is significantly diminished.
|Ricoh’s GR IIIx is one possible alternative. It has an APS-C sensor, but a slightly tighter 40mm-equiv. F2.8 lens. It’s much smaller than the Fujifilm and lacks anything approaching its hybrid viewfinder.|
If you’re less size conscious, there are 23mm F1.4s from Viltrox, Tokina and now Sigma, available variously for E, EF-M, L and X-mounts, or the Fujifilm 23mm F2, which still sticks out a bit if you can still find an X-E4. Personally I think by the time you get to a Sony a6x00 body and a Viltrox 23mm F1.4, you’ve got so far from the small, enjoyable and desirable ethos of the X100 that you should start looking for landmarks and remind yourself of where you were trying to get to.
Fujifilm’s 27mm F2.8 offers a 40mm equiv. option but it’s slow (in most senses) and not especially cheap, so I’m not sure I see the appeal, personally. It’s a similar story for Nikon’s Z-mount 26mm F2.8 for me: it’ll look nice on a Z fc, but the tighter view and slower aperture put me off. Panasonic’s 20mm F1.7 II has its charms but it’s pretty slow to focus and like the Olympus 17mm lens, it’s not obvious which body it should be mounted on.
There aren’t other current fixed-lens models offering a 35mm equiv. lens in front of a large sensor, but Ricoh’s GR IIIx comes close, with its APS-C sensor and 40mm-equiv F2.8 lens. It’s much smaller than the Fujifilm and lacks anything approaching its hybrid viewfinder, but it’s a lovely camera to shoot with and has its own devout following.
If a wider-angle view of the world is more your thing, the non-X Ricoh GR III comes into play, as does the fabulous (and fabulously expensive) Leica Q2. Both are lovely cameras, though the Leica is pretty substantial and both Ricohs benefit from a pocket of spare batteries.
|The X100F offers a lot of what the X100V does, but the second-hand prices of the ‘F’ have crept up, with the newer model being in short supply.|
Widen your net to second-hand options and the choices become significantly broader, albeit with added risk of the product not being as pristine as promised, not necessarily having any sort of warranty and possibly not existing, once your payment has cleared. Caveat emptor, and all that. Large second-hand dealers such as MPB and KEH give some peace of mind, but you’re unlikely to find any fortuitous bargains from companies that know what the market rate is.
Obviously the best substitute for a lovely new X100V is a ‘previously loved’ X100V, but the scarcity of new copies is likely to have inflated second-hand prices. The X100F is the next best thing, frankly. You lose out on the slightly nicer new lens, the adjustable screen and the 26MP sensor, but the ‘F’s 24MP sensor is a pretty good substitute and if anything the viewfinder is a little better. That said, the shortage of X100Vs has had a knock-on effect on the second-hand prices of older models.
It becomes harder to recommend models much earlier than this. I don’t say this to outrage the still happy X100S or X100T owners, but the 16MP sensor shows up the challenges of processing X-Trans in all but the most compliant software, you lose the joystick, revert to a smaller battery and are buying a camera that’s got at least five years of unknowable use behind it. As for the original 12MP X100, it was a groundbreaking camera in its day but that day was over a decade ago. As an owner, I love what it allowed me to do, and it holds many happy memories for me, but too much has improved since then to seriously recommend one today: retro styling is much more appealing than dated performance.
|The Sony RX1R II uses a full-frame sensor, but otherwise offers a similar configuration to the X100V: a small body with a 35mm F2 lens. However, don’t forget to pack along extra batteries.|
So what else is out there? You might find a Sony RX1, RX1R or RX1R II. These were full-frame compacts with 35mm F2 lenses and were capable of delivering beautiful images. But the first two models were slow-to-focus, even for 2013, so I’d recommend you steer clear at this point. The RX1R II improved things a little with phase-detection AF and even found room for a pop-up viewfinder. Sadly the battery life was atrocious (I’ve made the ‘delivering a real film-like experience by making you stop every 36 exposures’ joke more than once), so it’s worth being aware of what you’re letting yourself in for.
What would you recommend?
We have distinct reservations about all the available options. An EOS M6 II and 22mm F2 is a great combination to shoot with (I found the original M6 and 22 made for a very agreeable traveling companion on a European trip), but we’d be wary of investing much more than that in EF-M lenses. The Ricoh GR IIIx is probably makes the best understudy for the X100V: its lens is slower but it’s also smaller and less expensive, and great fun to shoot with. Beyond that, it depends what you can find, second-hand.
Ultimately, though, while some of the options I’ve set out can offer the 35mm equiv. coverage of the X100V, and some can match the hands-on, photographer-friendly experience, none have anything to match Fujifilm’s unique hybrid viewfinder and none combine all of these factors in such an attractive package. So, sadly, I’d conclude the best alternative to buying an X100V today is to add your name to a list for when one becomes available. Or cross your fingers that the X100 is the next model Fujifilm plans to update…