GX7 vs X100s: The Fastest Decision Ever


News, Photography / Sunday, January 5th, 2014
GX7 X100s
GX7 X100s

It’s 2014 and I resolved to spend less on photography gear this year and spend more time on honing my photography skills by taking pictures and studying the craft. Well, I’ve been taking more pictures and enjoying some additional study, I did not however resist the urge to buy something new and less than 24 hours after purchasing a Fuji X100s, I’ve decided to sell it in favor of keeping my GX7.

Why, when the Fuji’s rendering is so smooth and the ISO performance via the APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor is (arguably) so much better than the GX7? Well, there are a few reasons: I’m not seeing enough of a benefit in the sensor difference for the photos that I take that outweigh the fact that the Fuji is considerably slower to focus, isn’t as easy to hold ergonomically, does not have image stabilization to help offset the handling difficulties, has a fixed 35mm lens which is ok but not as versatile as the GX7, does not have WiFi or NFC for ease of picture transfers, and has a build quality that while solid, looks too much like a toy in my opinion.

Ice on a bush taken with X100s.
Ice on a bush taken with X100s.
Ice on a bush taken with GX7
Ice on a bush taken with GX7
Ice on brick steps taken with X100s
Ice on brick steps taken with X100s
Ice on brick steps taken with GX7
Ice on brick steps taken with GX7

Now the X100s and the GX7 are really different cameras and not intended to compete directly with one another–I understand and accept that. In fact, I’m selling my beloved Ricoh GR and I bought the X100s as a fixed lens APS-C take along camera for use when I didn’t want to pack my micro-four thirds kit or carry my full frame system. The GR and X100s are more direct competitors and I’d hoped the X100s would have replaced the GR. In seeking to reduce and simplify my camera equipment, I’ve discovered that if I’m willing to forego having something truly pocketable (like the GR) and if I’m serious about taking my skills to the next level, a camera the size of the GX7 that is cool looking, fun to use and also capable of using the same lenses and flashes as my OMD EM1 (so that it also operates as a perfect backup camera) is all I really need. Instead of four cameras (6D, X100s, EM1 and GX7) and three systems (full frame, APS-C, micro four thirds), I can simplify to three cameras (6D, EM1 and GX7) and two systems (full frame and micro four thirds) while saving some money and increasing my intimate working knowledge of these cameras through greater use.

Some people swear by the X100s while accounting for performance concerns by stating that through prolonged use you become accustomed to how to best operate the camera and that it’s best suited for thoughtful and reflective photography over quick, catch the moment shots where other cameras might perform with greater accuracy. I’m ok with that, but given the cost for thoughtful and reflective via the X100s, for similar money I favor the creative speed and accuracy of the GX7. There’s also nothing to stop me from taking my time to be thoughtful and reflective with this excellent tool that also allows me to do that and so much more.

It’s an expensive decision and I’ll lose money overall but it’s a lesson in doing more with less and understanding your style and preferences as they relate to the tools available.

8 Replies to “GX7 vs X100s: The Fastest Decision Ever”

  1. Glad to see I’m not the only one who made this same exact decision. My x100s lasted a bit longer but is on its way to eBay. I simply cannot accept the focus issues and the many frustrations that arise due to it. Yes there are ways to push the AF but in all reality the slight difference in IQ can’t make up for the loss of shots due to slow af.
    I also opted to keep my GX7 and add a second one to my bag since I’ve grown accustomed to carrying two cameras. I felt that if I truly was to benefit from immersing myself in the system that having a second GX7 would draw me away from any potential desire for another camera. Thus far the plan has worked. I find myself quite content in a prime on one body and a zoom on another. My movements through the controls are second nature and the camera has become as much a welcomed tool as my full frame gear.
    So very glad you shared your thoughts!

    1. jay, thanks for the comment. I don’t miss the x100s at all. My struggle now is spending enough time learning how to use my GX7 when my EM1 is also competing for attention. I’ve since added a GM1 to the mix and I think something will have to go.

  2. To me it sounds as if you fell for all that gimmickry crap like swivel viewfinder/lcd screen instead of what really matters in photography and thats IQ (image quality). The X100-s is far superior in IQ than the Pana, your photos if anything have said more about your level of photography rather than the cameras limitations. I think you have actually downgraded to a poorer camera. Your comment “it looks too much like a toy in my opinion” explains why you ditched the better performing camera. Sad

    1. Andre, appreciate the comment. IQ with the X100s is certainly better than the GX7 but IQ doesn’t mean much if what the camera requires by way of use isn’t consistent with your style of photography. It isn’t about the gimmicks as much as speed–the X100s is simply too slow for my tastes and I’ve nailed more shots with the Pana with IQ that is good enough. Build quality is also important even if it has nothing to do with performance; you want to feel good about purchasing and using your camera as a creative tool. Given that I do like the Fuji IQ that is inherent in their APS-C X sensors, I have fallen in love with my XT1 which addresses both the speed and build issue. And it includes some nice gimmickry crap too. Now it’s a matter of whether the GX7 gets sold as the XT1 is better and I’m already building a system around it.

  3. Kind of agree with Andre, you said that ” IQ doesn’t mean much.” Then you decided to put up a few pictures as comparison, what is worse is the ones from the X100s were consistently overexposed and the ones from GX7 were a bit underexposed. Of course at the end of the days, the results will come out differently, so what was the reason for posting those pictures again ?

    1. Chris, fair point. As I look at the pictures now and having shot many more pictures since then in an effort to improve, these pictures don’t help to advance the argument that the output that each camera provides for the photos that I enjoy taking is fairly similar though I admit the X100s has much better IQ. Why I say it doesn’t mean much, is it requires much more reflection and consideration where I need responsiveness and fast AF. As with many things, you decide what’s more important when confronted with tradeoffs: in this case, it’s speed versus IQ and the GX7 IQ is good enough in my opinion for the trade in speed. Now that I have the XT1, I’ve since sold my EM1 and the GX7 may not be far behind. Despite the better IQ, I’m still not a fan of the X100s build quality and that makes a big difference for me. The XT1 is also much better in that regard. Thanks for the comment–I’m glad the post is attracting some great attention and I’m becoming a better photographer as a result.

  4. Jay, very interesting post since now I own the GF1 and want to upgrade with the GX7 or the X100. Can you tell me if the viewfinder of the GX7 is better of the X100 one? And what about IQ? These are the 2 main aspects. Thank you

    1. The GX7 EVF is of higher resolution than the X100. If you like the notion of also having an optical viewfinder, the X100 is the better choice as the GX7 only offers an electronic viewfinder. I think IQ is relatively equal although the edge goes to the X100 based on sensor size: however, with fast micro-four thirds lenses, the GX7 comes pretty close and offers some additional versatility.

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