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Fuji Finepix X100: Style like nothing else?

20 Sep Posted by Matt in News, Reviews |
Fuji Finepix X100: Style like nothing else?

Fujifilm Logo

Fuji Finepix X100

Fuji Finepix X100

Well, not quite. In fact the Fuji Finepix X100 happens to look a lot like the prestigious Leica X1, but lets not let that distract us from what is a fascinating yet surprising new offering from Fujifilm.

Dig beneath the extremely cool retro looks, and you soon realise this is a very serious camera. Fuji have pitched the X100 as a flagship ‘ultimate compact’ in their range, and claim that every element of the feature set is designed to maximise image quality. Lets kick off with the vital stats…

Key Specs & Features

Leica X1: The original retro

  • Retro design with an emphasis on physical buttons and dials
  • Fixed 23mm f2.0 lens
  • Large 12mp APS-C sensor
  • Very high ISO for a compact (ISO 100 – 12800)
  • 720p video recording
  • Hybrid Viewfinder
  • 2.8″ LCD Screen

Despite appearances, this isn’t an interchangeable lens camera. In fact, the lens is the most restrictive part of the Fuji X100, as not only is it non-interchangeable but it’s a got a fixed focal length. That’s right, there is no zoom on this camera.

What?! No Zoom?

Correct, read it again. The Fuji Finepix X100 has no zoom.  Whilst initially this does sound like a big real-world disadvantage (don’t get me wrong, it is quite restrictive), there are some advantages to this.

Lots of DSLR owners end up using a fixed length “prime” lens as their main weapon of choice, and while the X100 has a wider angle lens than I would personally choose for general use, it should produce sharper and better images than a telephoto. This is a serious lens, and with an aperture value of f2 you will easily be able to achieve a pleasant soft background depth of field effect. Another advantage of the fixed lens is that when you turn the camera on it’s ready to go – no waiting for the lens to pop out.

Bokeh

Big Sensor. Big Difference?

The Fuji X100 uses a 12Mp CMOS sensor designed specifically for this model, and is relatively unique among compact cameras in being APS-C size. Without getting too technical, APS-C refers to the physical size of the sensor; it’s the standard size found in most consumer and prosumer DSLRs, and is much larger than what you’d normally find in a camera this size.

The benefits of a physically large sensor like this include much better low-light performance, increased ability to create a depth of field effect, and less noisy pictures. See our Megapixel Myths article for a more thorough explanation of why a larger sensor is better.

Fuji claim the X100 sensor is around 10 times as sensitive as other compact models, allowing the extremely high ISO values listed above. Fuji have long been famed for their excellent low light performance in compact models, and it’s good to see this focus continue in the flagship model.

Video

Depth of Field Effect - Insect

Depth of Field Effect

Fuji haven’t jumped on the video bandwagon as quickly as other manufacturers, and while some models (such as the excellent F70EXR) do offer video, they tend to at a quality somewhat lower than you would expect from a modern camera. It’s a mild shock then that the X100 takes video so seriously.

Recording is at 720p, which is more than good enough for normal use, but the real highlight is that the large aperture and image sensor make creating a shallow depth of field and smooth videos much easier than with other compacts.

Sounds like a Bargain?

Sadly, it’s unlikely that the Fuji X100 will come cheap.  This camera is very firmly focused on quality, and offers a very similar feature-set to its’ lookalike the Leica X1. Some sources have been speculating that the X100 will hit American shelves at around $1500. Big bucks, but still somewhat cheaper than the Leica, which retails at around £1400 in the UK ($2000 in the US).

I’ve fallen a bit in love with the Fuji X100, but the high price (heck, you could buy a Canon EOS 60D for about the same money) means I won’t be getting one. Something like the Fuji S1800 remains the budget choice for those looking for a more affordable “pimp my compact” camera.

 

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