I never really got the X100 series. I liked them. I tried the latest X100F recently and the older X100S a few years ago and loved the size, simplicity of a fixed lens and the quiet leaf shutter. But the grip didn't feel great and the aperture dial was awkward to use. I shot the X100F next to an X-Pro2 with the 27mm pancake lens and preferred the X-Pro2. It was only a short indoor test but that had me pretty much discounting the X100.
I know the X100 has been the introduction to Fujifilm for many, especially the first and much loved version (released in early 2011), despite it’s quirks. They also seem almost universally loved and admired by street photographers (with a few exceptions). If you're not familiar with the X100 series, they all use the same fixed 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent) f/2 lens with a leaf shutter, meaning they are almost silent in operation and can sync with flash at much higher shutter speeds. The other standout feature is the hybrid viewfinder, switchable between optical (rangefinder style) or electronic. The sensors and processors are the same as used in the majority of x-series cameras, ranging from 12Mp in the original to 24Mp in the X100F, and with improved autofocus and ergonomics in the later models.
Looking for a smaller camera to have with me all the time along with the iPhone, I started to wonder about the Fuji X70. The Ricoh GR is great too, in fact better to some areas such as manual focus features, but I'd still take the X70 for the familiar controls. Just to make sure though, I thought I should give the X100 one more try. So I borrowed one last weekend from the Wonder Photo Shop in New York.
It turns out that maybe the location of my previous tests had been the problem. I’d never actually tried the X100 for street photography. That morning I'd already been shooting with my X-T1 for a couple of hours and got a few decent shots. Picking up the X100T from the store though, it felt invigorating. Nimble. That might sound weird but it's the best word I can find to describe it. It's not that the X-T1 is particularly large or slow, and I've recently drafted an article on how good the X-T1 actually is for street photography. I didn't notice any difference in autofocus between the two particularly, and maybe some of the feeling was just the fun of using a new camera, but the X100 just felt very easy to use quickly and subtely. I don't know if the X100 was originally designed with street or documentary photography in mind, but it has that feel about it.
It's not perfect. Without a strap, it didn't feel that secure in my hand. There's not much grip to hold, and I can see why so many add a case or thumb grip. I'd probably be happy with just a wrist strap. The aperture ring is awkward although I didn't find it annoying. It's much smaller than on most x-series lenses so has two little grips that don't necessarily fall to hand when you want them, but maybe that comes with practice and familiarity.
(By the way, I opted for the X100T because I'd probably buy a used T rather than pay extra for a new X100F at the moment.)
It's a great camera though, which I knew in theory but now I do finally get it. I'm sure the X100F is even better but even a good used X100T is still fetching more than a new X70. Hmmm.