Packing Light: Fujifilm X100VI Review

Fujifilm’s highly anticipated X100VI—the second in the 100 series—packs a host of new features, including a whopping 40.2-megapixel sensor, and a new Film Simulation mode. Reala Ace offers faithful color reproduction and high-contrast tonality, making it suitable for a wide variety of subjects and situations. The X100VI has the same fixed 23mmF2 lens as the X100V, and a digital tele-converter in camera for 50mm and 75mm, plus a newly native ISO 125. And just like the X100V, the top deck has analog controls for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. These features, including an impressive autofocus that uses a prediction algorithm for subjects in motion, sound great on paper, but how does it perform in the field? 

Three friends and I went on a 20-mile round trip hike to see the breathtaking waterfalls in Havasupai, Arizona. Besides a GoPro 11, the Fujifilm X100VI was the only camera I brought. This is the first time in my life that I’ve only taken one camera and lens on a trip, especially to a location this special.

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I love the separation of the main subjects from the background at 23mm f/2. Exposure: f/2.0 at 1/500 second, ISO 400
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Reala Ace renders incredibly true-to-life color reproduction.
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The Pro Negative Hi simulation offers more color saturation and contrast than the Pro Negative Std.

Late one evening, I decided to take a series of photos (the red rocks illuminated by the setting sun) to decide which film simulation I preferred the most, which turned out to be Pro Negative Hi and Reala Ace.

The Pro Negative Hi is designed for fashion and portrait photography and offers more color saturation and contrast than the Pro Negative Standard. Reala Ace has an incredibly true-to-life color reproduction.

To access the Fujifilm Film Simulations in Adobe Lightroom, click on the Color Profile and scroll down to Browse. From there you will find the Adobe color profiles, along with Fujifilm’s film simulations. You can apply different simulations to find the one you prefer and learn how the color grade will look with your images in post-production.

After seeing the final results on some of the images, there’s no doubt that Fujifilm has its color science dialed in. It looks like film stock. I’ve photographed with Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic cameras, but Fujifilm has a unique look that stands out, thanks in large part to the film simulations.

You’re also given the option to add grain (weak/strong or small/large) in camera, but unless you’re truly committed to it, I’d advise adding it as a layer in post-production. You can always add it in post, but you can’t take it away once it’s baked into the image.

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At Havasu Falls I got the edge-to-edge sharpness at f/11 in this 3.1-second exposure. Exposure: f/11 for 3.1 seconds, ISO 125
Image Quality

The fixed 23mm lens allows you to shoot at f/2, which is perfect for creating depth and separation from subject and background; however, like any lens, it does have its limitations.

When photographing the Havasu waterfall with a slow shutter speed, I found the sweet spot for edge-to-edge sharpness between f/8 and f/11. However, most of the landscapes I photographed were captured between f/3.2 and f/5.6. Unless you scrutinized the images, you wouldn’t notice much difference.

My day-to-day camera is the Canon R5, which has a 45-megapixel sensor. If you showed me the same image taken with the R5 and the X100VI, with the same settings, I don’t think I would see a difference from a normal viewing distance. It’s not until you zoom in and pixel peep that you can see where the X100VI falls short of higher-end cameras like the Canon R5. That’s really saying something for Fujifilm, because now you have a $1,599 APS-C camera comparable in quality to Canon’s full-frame R5 at $3,199.

I also appreciated the digital teleconverter. With 40-megapixel captures, you have the flexibility to crop in significantly. The digital tele-converter crop applies to the actual image in-camera if you capture in a JPEG-only format, so be sure you are committed to 50mm (1.4X) and 70mm (2X) cropped captures.

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The Fujifilm X100VI, with the ND filter turned on, maintained focus on a headlamp as I followed my brother in near-complete darkness from 30 feet away and became an abstract favorite. Exposure: f/2.0 for 6 seconds, ISO 6400
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Exposure: f/2.0 for 1/8 second, ISO 3200
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Exposure: f/2.0 for 1/4 second, ISO 1600
Autofocus and Low Light

One of the true tests of a camera is how well it can autofocus in low light and how the image holds up with a high ISO. On the last day of our trip, we left our campsite at 5 a.m. With headlamps illuminating our path and the clear sky overhead, we began the 10-mile journey back to our cars. I tested the X100VI’s ability to find my brother’s headlamp as he crossed a bridge 30 feet away from me, with the four-stop built-in ND filter on.

To my surprise, it did. The image turned out to be more abstract than expected, but with a 6-second exposure at f/2 and ISO 6400, I leaned into it and followed him with the camera as he kept walking. Even when my brother was walking in near blackness, the X100VI did not hunt for focus. It’s one of my favorite images from the trip. You will see noise at ISO 6400, but it’s a grain type that I enjoy seeing rather than something that looks like electronic noise.

Video and Built-in ND

About 90% of the work I do is video, so when it came time to film with the X100VI, I couldn’t wait to get started. Although the X100VI is capable of shooting 6.2K at 30 frames per second, it has a 1.23X crop.

All but one of the shots I filmed were in DCI 4K (4,096x2,160, H.265 4🔢2 10-Bit) in F-LOG 2 and then converted to Rec. 709 in DaVinci Resolve. The lone clip was captured with the same settings, but with film simulation Eterna Cinema applied.

After grading both clips of a river the same (Eterna Cinema and F-LOG 2), I realized the Eterna Cinema video did not hold as much data in the highlights, meaning the hot spots were too clipped to recover. The video shot in F-LOG 2 (14+ stops of dynamic range) was much easier to grade and retained the highlights as well as more detail in the shadows.

The built-in ND (neutral density) filter is a plus on the video side. With a touch of a button, you can apply an ND filter, which allows you to maintain the proper video settings while still shooting with a shallow depth of field. Not having to carry around neutral density filters meant I could quickly switch back and forth between photo and video settings without the on/off hassle of physical filters.

Some of the video settings, such as shooting at 60fps in DCI 4K, will automatically apply a 1.14X crop. This isn’t detrimental given the focal length of the lens but keep it in consideration. For those who want to capture slow-motion video, the X100VI has high-speed frame rates from 100fps to 240fps that will film in HD (1,920x1,080).

The autofocus is just as accurate while shooting video as it is with still images. The face detection works flawlessly, even at great distances.

I would not choose the Fujifilm X100VI as a primary video camera due to lack of a 35mm jack for a hot shoe microphone, and its small size and light weight would make it difficult to mount and stabilize on a gimbal.

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Exposure: f/2.0 for 1/90 second, ISO 3200
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Exposure: f/2.0 for 1/1,400 second, ISO 400
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Exposure: f/2.2 for 1/750 second, ISO 320

The Fujifilm X100VI is not a do-it-all camera, but it does check most boxes for me. If you shoot a lot of video, the built-in ND filters couldn’t be more ideal. It really came in handy for photographing the Havasu Falls at sunrise, allowing me to achieve the silky smooth look I was after with a slower speed.

The compact size is another bonus. On any assignment, I will typically have a Canon 1DX III and a Canon R5 with a handful of heavy glass. The weight adds up quickly, and too much gear can be overwhelming. In Havasupai with the Fujifilm X100VI, I found having less gear allowed me to be more present. For the first time since I can remember, I wasn’t worried about switching lenses.

On the downside, for my video work, there is a crop applied in some settings, and the highlight retention (dynamic range) falls short when it comes to color grading. In my landscape photography, the edges were a bit soft, even at f/8. The X100VI is not rugged or weather sealed, but an optional Adapter Ring AR-X100 and the Protector Filter PRF-49 can be added for more weather resistance.

Overall, I love this camera. It made my trip easier, and it allowed me to capture everything I wanted without having to make compromises. On our drive home, I told my wife I want this camera because it would allow me to pack less camera gear on our family trips. The Fujifilm X100VI simplified my life. What more could I ask for? 

Tyler Rickenbach is a filmmaker and photographer based in Idaho.