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Fujifilm Finepix X100 REVIEW

Causing more stir than it would seem to deserve, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 may not by itself cause waves in the retail market, but many of its features will surely be taken up by other makers. They just make an awful lot of sense!

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Snatching the X100 from Fujifilm I was, at first, all fingers and thumbs. Read the manual! Nah! Just run for it!

That was my first mistake. With growing excitement, I shot the ISO tests and hit my first wall. Being unable to kick off the live view from the rear LCD I composed the shot with the optical finder and, as you can see, from my ISO shots, managed to get the shots off kilter; this camera is not the ideal tool for precise macro shots … unless you use the rear screen.

The Fujifilm Finepix X100 is indeed a thing of beauty, with a top plate of die cast magnesium alloy, an aluminium body and leather-like covering, mixed with engraved, metal dials. It feels and looks substantial. I could only fault it as regards the speed grip, which I thought was too small.

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It looks like the rangefinder cameras from ye olde film days!

Note: as I was ‘allotted’ the camera for only three days, due to heavy review demand, my overview will have to be read as just that: an overview!

Fujifilm X100 Features

Fitted with a Fujinon f2/23mm pancake lens. The focal length (equivalent to 35mm in 35 SLR-speak) has long been considered to be close to the human eye’s focal length.

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The camera images to an APS-sized CMOS sensor that captures 12.3 million effective pixels, producing a maximum image size of 4288×2848 pixels, or as a 36x24cm print.

Movies? A disappointing 1280×720 pixel resolution at 24fps is backed up by an onboard stereo microphone: you start recording by tapping the shutter button …no dedicated movie button! Because of this you cannot of course shoot stills while recording video.

Operationally, it is quite a departure for a digital camera.

For a start it has a hybrid viewfinder that gives a bright, sharp, direct optical view, combined with an electronic (aka LCD) view. Or you can view via the rear 7.1 cm LCD screen. You switch between all viewing options.

The surprising thing is that the optical view covers more than the actual area captured: ideal for watching events about to enter frame. By tapping a small lever set close to the lens you can switch between the LCD view to the optical, the latter complete with superimposed data on lens aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation (if any), focus position (in manual focus) and actual exposed area framing. Digital photography has never before been like this!

Focus options: auto (single AF), continuous AF and manual by operating a switch on the lens’ left side. You operate manual focus by rolling the front lens ring. This is servo driven so rolling focus from close to infinity can take quite a bit of time!

Hard to believe but the shutter button is threaded so you can fit an old style cable release! Love this retro!
Some may gripe that the card slot is placed under the camera. Pro users may feel unhappy that when the camera is tripod-mounted, a card switch can be a bind. But then again, I figure this camera will see most of its life being handheld!

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The real joy comes when you play with exposure. The lens has an auto setting as well as individual f stops; the shutter speed dial also has an auto setting as well as individual settings from 1/4000 second right down to 4 seconds. And Time! And Bulb!

Or you can leave both lens and shutter speed in auto and use the FX100 just like a full auto camera.
Place the shutter speed in auto and adjust the lens aperture: it’s just like the aperture preferred setting on those ‘other’ cameras!

Place the lens in auto and you can adjust the shutter speed: now you’re in the shutter preferred environment.

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At first I thought there was one essential missing: external control of the ISO setting. Then I discovered the Fn button on the camera’s top plate! Not only can this be set up to give external control of sensor sensitivity but it can also be applied to other options such as a depth of field preview, image quality, an ND filter and more.

aThere is a comprehensive but not overwhelming LCD menu that takes you into extensive control of the camera’s functions, such as AF area, ISO setting (again), image size, picture quality and a whole lot more.

The four way rocker is a busy section: here you alter the drive mode (single frame, 5fps), exposure bracketing, flash modes, macro, white balance and mode.

Startup

In about 2-3 seconds from power on I could take the first shot, then follow-ons came in at about a second a shot.

Fujifilm X100 ISO Tests

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All the way from ISO 100 to 3200 the images were fine as regards resolution. ISO 6400 was surprisingly good, with a slight rise in noise and it was only when ISO 12,800 was reached that things worsened with definition down.

Fujifilm X100 Vedict

Quality: tops in sharpness and colour.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm Finepix X100: you want a high quality, fixed lens camera, complete with multi shooting options.

Why you wouldn’t buy the Fujifilm Finepix X100: you don’t like complexities; you want a zoom!

This is quite a camera! If only Cartier-Bresson were alive I’m sure he would embrace its street shooting prowess. It will not appeal to the casual shooter: I was (forgive me!) continually searching for the zoom control!

It could serve as an easy to use, powerful adjunct to a high end DSLR.

And, as I said, you surely will see some of its features filter into other makes!

Fujifilm X100 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: 256 zone multizone averaging, spot.
Lens: Fujifim f2/23mm.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.6×15.8mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second; Time and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 3 or 5fps; up to 10 in JPEG; 8 in RAW.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 20MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4288×2848 to 1920×1080. Motion panoramas: up to 7680×2160 pixels. Movies: 1280x720p at 24fps (max 10 mins).
Viewfinder: Optical plus 12mm turret (1,440,000 pixels); 7.1cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, Motion JPEG.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 126.5×74.4×53.9 WHDmm.
Weight: 445 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Fujifilm FinePix X100 at B&H Photo or get a price on the Fujifilm X100 at Amazon.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fujifilm Finepix X100
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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