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Fujifilm X100 Digital Camera Review

fujifilm20120529a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons 

 

The Fujifilm X100, released in 2011, arrived to much fanfare and excitement.  The camera has eclipsed Fujifilms wildest expectations by selling over 100,000 units in its first 9 months resulting in customers waiting weeks for delivery. Though for good reason with the X100 featuring a 12 megapixel APS-CMOS sensor and innovative electronic view finder amongst numerous other positives that will keep even the consummate professional drooling.

2011 was a year Japanese manufacturers found profits incredibly hard to come by due to the earthquake in March, although Fujifilm managed to succeed in pioneering a retro styled camera that gives enthusiasts and professionals a very viable option to a large and bulky DSLR. The X100 has set the market racing to catch up with numerous models from other manufacturers attempting to mimic the success of the X100. So, is all of the praise justified?.

 

Appearance and Functionality


The most notable thing about the X100 is the stylish retro design that has become a trademark of Fujifilms now 4 camera premium X series (except perhaps the XS-1). With very close design to that of a Leica or traditional 35mm rangefinder camera body the X100 is crying out to the user who wants to remember what it was like all of those years ago to use such a camera. Though I did not grow up in film days and see an alternative notion in the size and performance of the X100 as an alternative to a bulky DSLR, especially in the field.

fujifilm20120529b.jpgThe workmanship of the X100 is great and it seems it has been many years since cameras in the X100's price range featured such sturdy and comfortable construction. The two toned body consists of a hardened rubber around the middle which provides excellent grip. Strong metal upper and  lower panels give even further protection to the camera. A moulded hand grip boosts grip for the right hand and holding the camera feels incredibly natural due to its 445g weight.

The buttons of the X100 are arranged in a logical way so as to minimise time needed to adjust functions and settings. The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials are found on the top plate of the camera and benefit from all metal construction. Although all of the other buttons are rubber. With a traditional set up in mind you will find the aperture control located on the lens barrel and this furthers functionality and comfort by allowing the user to quickly change fingers between focus and aperture on the fly. Interestingly a manual cable release can also be fitted to the shutter release button truly speaking to the traditionalists.

The camera powers up quickly and delivers the user to a well organised home screen that allows maximum picture viewing space and minimal clutter. The menus are easily accessed via the navigational pad on the back panel and are well organised with two sub sections; shooting menu and set up. The playback menu affords good picture viewing space as well as offering the necessary information like file type, exposure details and date/time. I do however feel that a little bit more zoom is needed for viewing an image to check for critical focus, although ideal image viewing is always intended on a larger screen like a computer monitor for example.

If you are after 3D mode and cheesy art filters then you would better looking elsewhere as the X100 is a photographers camera in many respects. Instead of the cheesy filter it offers instead film simulations from Fujifilms impressive list of both colour and black and white films. On offer is Provia, Velvia, Astia and a number of different B&W looks. My personal favourite is Velvia which offers a beautifully saturated look.

Whilst there are a number of function modes (e.g. Auto, Panorama, burst mode etc) the beauty of the X100 lies in its manual shooting capabilities. The experience is truly enhanced by the retro feel of the camera and the placement of the aperture ring on the lens. Though the X100 contains all of the little settings expected on digital cameras these days to allow you through difficult shooting conditions for example a self timer, viewable level and of course a flash (a hot shoe is also included).

 

Image Quality


fujifilm20120529d.jpgThe X100 utilises a 12 megapixel APS CMOS sensor to deliver around 4288x2848px full resolution. The larger sensor is really a standout here and distinguishes this camera above the compact market which typically uses smaller sensors which absorb less light. The result is that image quality from the X100 is excellent and has a lot of room to move in terms of ISO with images only becoming over affected by noise above 2000 ISO.

Shooting is possible in both RAW and JPEG format and you will find that with Adobe Camera Raw already support the X100s RAF RAW files processing is seamless with a built in profile.

It is very hard to fault the X100s image quality on anything at all actually and I am honestly amazed  by its performance against many leading DSLR cameras even those with larger sensors..  

 

Lens Quality

 

A standout for many is also a downfall for others with the Fuji utilising a fixed 35mm lens. This means essentially no other lenses can be attached and no other focal distances other than 35mm can be achieved. Now that I have that out of the way I can talk about the positives of both the X100s lens and the nature of shooting with a prime lens.

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Using a prime lens places the user in a mindset whereby composition is brought to the forefront of the image taking process. The X100 reminded me of this by making me physically move to achieve a desired composition rather than relying on zoom lenses to do the moving for me. Prime lenses also hold a number of advantages over zoom lenses including less weight and speedy functionality. Though they are most commonly known for incredible sharpness and beautiful bokeh effects (quality of out of focus areas) and this is achieved through less moving parts and simpler construction.

The X100s 35mm lens is incredibly sharp and contrasty and boasts an aperture range of f/2-f/16. The outer lens is constructed from the same metal that adorns the rest of the camera ensuring strength. Macro range begins at 10cm which is quite good although not really a desired function from this camera.

My only issues are from an auto focus that can be slightly slow although is more than adequate for most subject matters and really this is not a camera designed to shoot fast moving subjects like sport. The manual focus is also only ok, though would benefit from less range as it can take a while to wind the ring from end to end.  

 

LCD / Viewfinder


fujifilm20120529f.jpgA standout function of the X100 is its innovative electronic viewfinder (EVF), optical viewfinder (OVF) and LCD screen combination. The eye sensor that turns the EVF on when it detects your eye is near the viewfinder is a great addition and allows the user to seamlessly transition between screen and VF.

The OVF is useful although only provides 90% of the scene whilst the EVF gives 100% coverage of the scene and displays great quality with 1.44 million dot resolution over a 0.47” screen. The same information that is displayed on the LCD appears in the EVF further reducing the need to remove the camera from your eye. The LCD screen is a decent 2.8” in size and has a resolution of 460,000 dots which allows it to be viewed under almost all lighting conditions although it fell down in direct sunlight like many other LCDs. Though again the beauty of the X100 is its viewfinder and the options it provides to the user.

 

Video


An added bonus of the X100 is its ability to shoot video, something not necessarily expected of a rangefinder camera. Video recording is in H.264 with stereo audio recording. One thing the video has going for it is the ability to shoot at f/2 allowing some beautiful depth of field fall off to occur. Noise is also fairly well handled by the X100 despite being controlled solely by the camera.

Unfortunately video recording is only possible in one size at 720p and one frame rate and it would have been nice to see the X100 opened up to further video functionality. Though any negatives here can really be overlooked as Video is a secondary function of the X100.

 


   

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Conclusion


The X100 is a truly pioneering camera that has brought retro styling back to market in a big way. Though retro styling aside the real beauty of the X100 is that it offers the market a relatively inexpensive rangefinder camera that delivers incredible image quality from a large APS CMOS sensor.

The minor negative in focusing speed can be easily overlooked in that the X100 produces incredibly sharp images on almost all subject matters (though perhaps not sport). The X100 is a beautiful looking camera that would sit comfortably in the kit of both a professional photographer looking for a point of difference or that of a keen enthusiast looking for fantastic image quality from an affordable camera.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card  

Tamrac Aero 36 / 3336 Camera Bag 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Fujifilm FinePix X100 

 

 

Appearance rating 5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Video quality
3.5 stars
Lens quality
4.5 stars
View finder (EVF)
4.5 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price $1199.95
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.3 million pixels
Sensor Type
2/3-inch  (APS-C) CMOS with primary color filter
Image Sizes 3 Sizes / 2 ratios / 2 motion panoramas
Lens Type: Fujinon Single focal length lens
Focal length: f=23mm, equivalent to 35mm on a 35mm camera
Full-aperture: F2
Constitution: 6groups 8 lenses (1 aspherical glass molded lens included)
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills Still Image
L : (3:2) 4288 x 2848
L : (16:9) 4288 x 2416
M : (3:2) 3072 x 2048
M : (16:9) 3072 x 1728
S : (3:2) 2176 x 1448
S : (16:9) 1920 x 1080

Motion Panorama 
180° Vertical 7680 x 2160
180° Horizontal 7680 x 1440
120° Vertical 5120 x 2160
120° Horizontal 5120 x 1440
Resolution Settings: Video 1280 x 720 pixels (24frames / sec.) with stereo sound
Face Detection -
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds (P mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/4000* sec., (All other modes) 30 sec. to 1/4000* sec. Bulb (max.60min.)
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Equivalent to ISO 200 - 6400 (Standard Output Sensitivity)
Extended output sensitivity equivalent ISO 100 or 12800
ISO AUTO Control available
LCD Monitor 2.8-inch, approx. 460,000dots, TFT color LCD monitor (Approx. 100% coverage)
Viewfinder Hybrid viewfinder
Optical viewfinder
Reverse Galilean viewfinder with electronic bright frame display
0.5 x magnifications
Coverage of frame area v.s. capturing area : approx. 90%
Electronic viewfinder
0.47-in., approx.1,440,000-dot color LCD viewfinder
Coverage of viewing area v.s capturing area : approx. 100%
Eye sensor installed
Eye point : approx. 15mm
Diopter adjustment : -2 - +1m-1 (dpt)
Flash Auto flash (super intelligent flash)
Effective range : (ISO 1600)
approx. 50cm - 9m / 1.6ft. - 29.5.ft.
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance Automatic scene recognition
Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, underwater, Custom, Color temperature selection 
Self Timer 10 sec. / 2 sec. delay
Stills Format/s
JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3)*3, RAW (RAF format), RAW + JPEG
(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
Video Format/s H.264 (MOV) with Stereo sound
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD / SDHC / SDXC(UHS-I) memory card
Storage Type - Internal
20MB
Connectivity Digital interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed
HD output: HDMI Mini connector
Power Source Battery charger BC-65N
Battery Options Li-ion battery NP-95
Battery Life Approximately 300 frames
Dimensions 126.5mm (W) x 74.4mm (H) x 53.9mm (D)
Weight Approx. 405g (inc. battery & memory card)
Approx. 445g (exc. battery & memory card)











 


 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

About Fujifilm

 

FUJIFILM brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was ranked number 15 for U.S. patents granted in 2006. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.

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