January 3, 2024 ·

Jon Swindall

Back in 2011 when the Fuji 100X first came out, I was one of the first to purchase it. This small, compact digital camera had an exceptional lens that made me feel like I had my very own Leica. 

 The images it produced out of the box were gorgeous.  However, it did have some technical downfalls like noisy low light shots, slow repeated shooting, and terrible autofocus that eventually led me to shelf it.

In the ten years since, Fuji has released four more versions of the 100X and I’ve read the autofocus and image processing is now amazing. It’s surprising how far they’ve come with this camera line in just a decade!  

 What I’m most excited to try out – which may make some photo purists roll their eyes – are the film simulation looks Fuji applies to the JPEGs.  Using this camera could be an excellent way to get creative shots with less need for post-processing.

So when the chance to review Fuji’s newest X100V came up, I jumped at it. I wanted to see how far the specs had progressed on this beloved camera line. This may not be the first camera a landscape photographer reaches for but these fixed lens cameras fill an important niche today as true compact cameras.

Having a dedicated photo-taking tool in your hands provides a different creative mindset. It says to the universe that we are open and expect something special to happen. 

Having a camera in your hands opens your eyes to photographic inspiration and special moments in life around you.

With an upcoming quick trip to Florida, it seemed a perfect time to test out the Fuji X100V be ready for some special moments. The bustling holiday crowds would provide great fodder for this lightweight travel camera. But in searching, I found the X100V was sold out or booked everywhere – it’s a hot item!

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As LuLa members, we get a 15% on gear purchases and rentals at LensRentals. Use code: Lula15

With no X100V available to rent in time, I turned to ShareGrid, an online U.S.-based equipment rental marketplace. It’s like Airbnb but for cameras – individuals list their personal gear for others to rent.  It can be hit or miss and I wouldn’t trust them for a professional shoot unless in a pinch. 

But for our needs, it seemed a good option. I located a local ShareGrid user named “Henry” renting out a Fuji X100V. However, when I asked Henry if he had any flexibility on lowering his rental price, he stopped responding.

With the ShareGrid option fading, I knew much of what draws me to the Fuji cameras also applies to Leica’s famous rangefinder models – the styling, fixed lens, and portable size. Maybe this was the perfect chance to finally test out a Leica travel camera.

I discovered the Leica Q2, an impressive full frame camera with 47MP resolution and a special color processing system. On Lensrentals, I found a good Q2 rental price that fit my budget.

Leica’s hand-crafted engineering and incredible lens quality set their cameras apart, as these articles explore:

In my excitement to finally shoot with a Leica, I mistakenly ordered the Q2 instead of the newer Leica Q3 model. The megapixel race continues – the Q3 now boasts 60MP! The Leica Q3 was also sold out in my area. Here are links:

Lensrentals Leica Q3

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/

Despite it not being the latest, I was thrilled to try the Leica Q2. Its specs are still impressive and it offers a more affordable entry point to Leica on the used market.

There are some key differences between the Q2 and Q3 worth noting. The Q3 goes up to 1/40,000 electronic shutter speed to freeze action. This is perfect for street shooting, the fast speed helps reduce camera shake being handheld. It’s also more durable with weather sealing. Autofocus is improved on the Q3 with phase detection, and it adds a tilt screen. Oh, and incredibly, the Q3 shoots 8K video – wild for a fixed lens camera! But likely ideal for travel vlogging.

When the rental Q2 arrived, I was able to play with it before my trip. It felt great in my large hands with the indentation for my thumb – smaller hands may find it heavy. The lack of a battery door seemed odd at first, like it had broken off!

The menus were intuitive as I set up the camera. For my first shots around Atlanta, I just let the camera run in full auto to see how it captured the neon night scenes. Performance was great for a quick street snap.

Wandering with the Q2 during my trip, the small retro body and quiet shutter made me an approachable, friendly photographer. I was asked to take photos for a family who handed me their phone to take their pictures. Next time, I’ll be bold and use the Leica!

The built-in macro mode provided close focusing ability that was fun to use for intimate detail shots.

I loved the tactile experience of shooting with the Q2. Whipping it out to get shots made me feel like an old west gunslinger! But sadly, I didn’t pay close enough attention to focusing in some shots near dusk. We came across a beautiful marina full of twinkling Christmas lights on boats, but the images came out soft.

User error – I had mistakenly left it in manual focus and didn’t double check.  In travel shooting (especially with family), balancing speed versus care is tough.  At times, I rely on autofocus, burst mode, and exposure bracketing to grab moments often times without reviewing until later.  But with a new camera, I should have slowed down and checked focus more diligently. Lesson learned!

Despite missing some shots, the Q2 continued capturing the festive lights decorating the quaint shops as the night went on. It was a photographer’s dream, until…disaster struck.

The thin leather strap gave way, sending the Q2 crashing to the ground. My heart sank seeing this marvel of engineering lying still. My first review for Luminous Landscape cut abruptly short.

After the initial shock wore off, I remembered the photographer’s mantra – the best camera is the one you have with you! So for the remainder of the trip, I relied on my trusty iPhone 14 Pro Max.

 Switching to uncompressed RAW and using Lightroom Mobile, I was able to get some nice shots like this sunset heron photo with symmetric composition.

Once home, I retrieved the images from the Q2’s SD card and processed them in Pixelmator Pro. The large 80-90 MB DNG files provided ample latitude for editing. Though cut short, I enjoyed the time with the Q2 and would certainly recommend it.

Thankfully Lensrental fully refunded my rental despite the mishap. Lesson learned – replace the Leica’s stylish leather strap to protect your investment!

In the end, testing the Leica Q2 reaffirmed my love for this camera form factor. The combination of simple operation, small size and high image quality make them ideal lightweight travel cameras. I look forward to examining more in this category like the Leica Q3 and Fuji X100V.

Please share your experiences with these cameras in the Lula forum!

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum

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Jon 'Swindy' Swindall, based in Atlanta, GA, is a seasoned photographer, cinematographer, and skilled drone pilot, known for his dynamic visual storytelling and passion for capturing the world's diverse beauty through his lens. Sr. Editor Click, connect, and create at Luminous Landscape.

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