A $400 Alternative to the Fujifilm X100V, X-E4, and X70
Since the Fujifilm X100V is difficult to find and sometimes outrageously expensive, something that I inadvertently had a hand in, people have been asking for recommendations on alternatives. Of course, the X100F or any of the older X100-series versions would be a top substitute, but even those are going for a lot of money, more than they should be for how old they are. The Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 could be a very nice consolation prize, but due to parts shortages, those can be difficult to find, too, but thankfully there doesn’t seem to be much price gouging on it (knock on wood). The Fujifilm X70 would be a solid alternative, but they are pretty pricy, often going for the same or more than the original MSRP, despite being almost seven-years-old. If you are really set on owning a Fujifilm X100V (as a proud X100V owner I can understand why), if you just exercise some patience and constantly stay on the lookout, you are sure to find one for a reasonable price. If you are not patient, a used X100F isn’t too difficult to get, or even consider an X-E3, which can still be found brand-new if you look hard enough.
I’ve had a few people ask me for a recommendation on an X100V-like alternative for under $500, and one even asked for under $400. At first I scoffed at the idea. Even the original 12-year-old X100 currently goes for more than that, as well as every iteration of that camera since. Fujifilm doesn’t make entry-level cameras anymore, but even when they did, they were more than $500. Then I looked at my camera case, and I noticed two things: a Fujifilm X-M1 and a TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8. Hmmm. Maybe it’s possible after all.
Fujifilm introduced the X-M1—the third and last X-Trans I model—nine years ago. It’s an unusual camera, because it has an X-Trans I sensor but the X-Trans II processor, and in the same body as the Bayer-sensor X-A1. I think Fujifilm had some spare X-Trans I sensors sitting around after moving onto X-Trans II, and this camera was their way to unload them. There was never a predecessor, so when the X-M1 was discontinued so was the line. I paid $210 for mine two years ago. More commonly they’re found for around $250, and I’ve seen them for under $200 a couple times.
I think the X-E1 is a better body than the X-M1, and you can find those sometimes for $250 or less, but more often they’re $300-$350. If you see a good deal on one, I’d choose that over the X-M1. The X-A1 is basically the same thing as the X-M1, but with a Bayer sensor instead of X-Trans, and those are often a little cheaper. It’s definitely easier to find one under $250, and it’s not uncommon to see one under $200; however, between the X-A1 and X-M1, I’d choose the X-M1, but the difference isn’t huge. The X-A2 often is found for $250, and is another option. Occasionally you might find a good deal on an X-A3 or X-E2 (or X-E2s), so it’s worth looking just to see if you can get lucky, because that would be even better. If your budget is $500, you certainly have more options, but if the ceiling is only $400, you are much more limited, and the X-M1 is probably your best bet.
Of course, there’s still the lens. Sometimes you can buy the body bundled with a kit lens for nearly the same price as body-only (my X-M1 was bundled with 16-50mm zoom, for example), but the cheap kit zoom isn’t going to give you an X100-like experience. You’ll need a prime, but it has to be compact and cheap. The options are pretty limited, and are even more limited if you expect an autofocus option—the TTArtisans 27mm f/2.8 pancake-ish autofocus lens is the only one I can think of that is both cheap and small. If you don’t mind manual-focus-only, there are a few other lenses that could work, but I think this TTArtisan option is your best bet, and it’s only $160.
So, yeah, add $210 and $160 and you’re under $400. Will the X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm really give an X100-like experience? No, not at all. But, for under $400, it’s surely as close as you’ll get. If your budget is $500, spring for an X-E1 instead of the X-M1 and you’ll be a little closer, but still not there. The X-M1 is not as good as any in the X100-series models (or X-E-series or the X70), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a decent camera capable of capturing good photos, because it is!
So if you are looking for a low-budget alternative to the Fujifilm X100V, X-E4, or X70, I suggest to you the X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm lens attached to it. The X-M1 is smaller than the X100V and X-E4, and just a little bigger than the X70. Obviously the TTArtisan lens, despite being pancake-ish, is bigger than the lens attached to the X100V and is especially larger than the one on the X70. It’s also a little bigger than the Fujinon 27mm lens (a popular companion to the X-E4). The Fujifilm X-M1 with the TTArtisan lens is small enough to be in the same compact category as those cameras, but is much, much cheaper. If you can spend more, there are better options; however, if you don’t have much to spend or are looking for an inexpensive first-camera, this is my recommendation for under $400.
It would be easy for me to suggest this to you, and not use it myself. That would not be very genuine of me, so I did use the Fujifilm X-M1 with the TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8. I also let me 13-year-old son, Jonathan, use it a little, too. This combo is very capable of producing lovely pictures straight-out-of-camera that have character and some analog-like qualities. It’s also easy to use for those who want good results without much fuss.
The 15 pictures below are all unedited (aside from some cropping and straightening), captured with the Fujifilm X-M1 and TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8.
Now, let me tell you about the Film Simulation Recipes, because otherwise I’ll get a whole bunch of inquiries—you all want to know, right?! The top picture (of the X-M1 by itself) was captured with a Fujifilm X-E4 and Fujinon 27mm using the Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe. The next four pictures (the X-M1 with other cameras) were captured with a Fujifilm X-T5 and Fujinon 90mm using an upcoming recipe that I’ll publish soon. The 15 pictures above were captured with a Fujifilm X-M1 and TTArtisan 27mm using an upcoming recipe that I’ll publish soon. So, for now, only the very top picture is a recipe that you can currently use—you’ll have to stay tuned for the others.
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TTArtisan 27mm f/2.8 Amazon