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Fujifilm Finepix X100 - Design and Features

By Gavin Stoker

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Fujifilm Finepix X100

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

With the top and bottom plates fashioned from die cast magnesium alloy the Fujifilm X100 feels both reassuringly solid and comfortingly retro at the same time, despite the state-of-the-art technology making up its innards. As when we first encountered Olympus' Digital Pen series a couple of years back with the advent of the similarly 'classic' looking E-P1, the X100 feels like the kind of camera we imagined simply wouldn't be made any more. At 405g in weight without battery or card, it's still lighter than a beginner's DSLR too, though is not exactly what you'd call pocketable, which some will straight away argue defeats its purpose.

With rangefinder camera-style dials on the top to twist and turn the X100 feels very much like a camera creative photographers can fully engage with too. Sadi dials consist of aperture and manual focus rings at the front, plus a viewfinder lever to flick back and forth. Ironically, though, all these dials squashed into such a small space does make them rather fiddly - something that's especially weird as there appears to be ample space round the camera to expand into.

The control layout and feature set here is almost identical to that of the Leica X1, except here Fuji's flash is fixed into the chassis, just above the lens, rather than in a pop-up compartment in the top plate - the latter is admittedly a much better arrangement. Slightly off centre we get a vacant hotshoe for adding accessory flash too, and adjacent to this the largest dial here, for controlling shutter speed, with the choice ranging from 30 seconds to 1/4000 sec. We also get a smaller exposure compensation dial, the options being /- 2EV, and in between the two dials sits a springy shutter release button, encircled by the power switch. The ridged front edge of the latter provides a purchase point for the forefinger, making it look like the zoom lever typically found on a pocket compact. Except here of course there is no zoom.

Easily overlooked next to this is a teeny 'Fn' (function) button to which favourite settings can be attributed, thus avoiding the need to otherwise drill down into the main camera menus (not that this is such a hardship) to find favoured functions, such as ISO for example.

Aperture can be adjusted on the fly via a stepped ring encircling the lens, or you can simply leave it on the 'A' setting to enable the camera's Program AE mode to kick in. Sitting just in front of this is a manual focus ring, with the ability to flick between manual focus, continuous auto focus and single shot AF via a DSLR-like mode switch located unobtrusively at the camera's side rather than immediately below or adjacent to the lens itself.

As this is an enthusiast model conceivably aimed at users who stuck one of Fuji's Provia, Velvia or Astia films in their cameras at some stage in the past, the X100 sensibly includes modes apeing the look of each tucked within the menu options; a staple of Fuji's mid-range compacts for quite a while - and why not as they provide an added USP to help set the camera apart from the herd.

But most notable here is the fact that, in a world first as far as we're aware, Fuji has squeezed both an optical viewfinder and electronic viewfinder (EVF) into the same large, bright window - which Fuji naturally refers to as a 'hybrid' viewfinder - though because of the positioning the left edge of the lens barrel does peep into view. This right of frame distraction doesn't appear if alternatively using the adequate but not huge 2.8-inch, 460k dot resolution LCD screen as a viewfinder, so that's what in practice we found ourselves referring to just as much. The X100 could be said to offer a best of both world's solution.

Switching between optical viewfinder with overlaid electronic display and incredibly high 1,400,000 dot resolution EVF is, meanwhile, simply a matter of flicking the lever at the front. This might have been more logically placed at the back, but at least its location ensures it's not accidentally flicked when gripping the camera in both hands for a steadier shot. Another neat feature is the fact that the backplate screen switches off as you bring an eye level to the viewfinder/s, thanks to a built-in eye sensor alongside. Incidentally the monitor's thick screen surround makes it appear as if you might be able to tuck a fingernail beneath it and flip it out but you can't. Not a big issue but a minor consideration for a next generation model perhaps?

phanaticphotographer

April 5, 2011, 5:41 pm

It would be better still had it got interchangeable lens system.

Noodles

April 5, 2011, 9:24 pm

If a 28mm equivalent version is announced to match the legendary Fuji GA645W, then that will be true camera nirvana for me. No need to ever upgrade after that..

Can't imagine it'll take too long seeing how quickly the X100 seems to be selling!

Money

April 6, 2011, 1:41 am

There is no doubt that the Fujifilm Finepix X100 is an outstanding camera in term of built and image quality,
but it is very hard to justify the high price for it is a fix lens camera;
when you can buy a Sony Alpha NEX-5K 14.2MP Digital Camera in Black with Interchangeable 18-55mm & 16mm F2.8 Lens at Amazon.com for $799 USD.
I am hoping that the Fujifilm Finepix X100 price would drop to a more reasonable level; similar to the Sony NEX-5.

hesperus

April 6, 2011, 2:45 am

Great camera, however, I cant help thinking the technology involved will (like everything else) soon be out of date. I would love this camera but experience of buying such cameras in the past will hold me back from buying one for a £1000. Just give it six months and retailers will be struggling without discounts to match cheaper comparative competition. Knowing my luck though, this SHOULD have been the camera to have bought, but somehow I doubt it.

richtan

April 7, 2011, 2:03 pm

Excellent review. Perhaps, Fuji film should have this camera available also in black. Black gives this camera a pro look and does cover up dirt while shooting in the fields.

The Leica earlier models like the M1 to M 4 are silver & black just like Finepix X100 in theme & looks. Of course we are talking about Rolls Royce and Mini minor. But starting from the M 5, there are black bodies available Not colors like red, blue please etc. This will make the camera seems like a toy. Also lens should then be black too to match the body. Hope Fujifilm will think about this. Next have interchangeable lens. Asking too much ? Maybe but let the market decides.

ThatOne

April 8, 2011, 7:48 pm

Don't just preach about it! Go and buy one if you can afford three times the price of a camera which will do a lot more as near as well as makes precious little difference. Every week I see work friends have done on on their Canon G11,G12, S90, or Panasonic LX3, or others I forget, and I've just come home after my first morning with my Olympus XZ-1 and have been looking at the results on TV. Even though I'm a prehistoric old f--- who still uses film all production from high-end compacts that I see tells me that this retro-style X100 is not worth the difference. Not at all. OK, there's less to brag about with a high-end compact, as there's less to brag about with certain Panasonics than with certain Leica, and the X100 has indeed a pretty face, but I've got other things to do with my money than buy bragging rights or pretty faces!

Ed

April 8, 2011, 8:05 pm

@ThatOne: Says the man that has bought a premium camera? Surely you can appreciate the extra level of detail this camera brings as compared to the camera you've bought, just as you appreciated the extra quality your camera has over a basic compact?

There's a reason professional photographers use DSLRs costing thousands of pounds, just as there's a reason for this camera to exist.

Not saying I'd buy one but it fits a market niche.

Splogbust

April 11, 2011, 2:21 am

Thanks for the review. It comes across as well-balanced and I have to admit I'd love one of these but can't really justify (which means afford..) buying one.
Reminds me a bit of my old Yashica range-finder. I really loved using it.
regards
Peter

ThatOne

April 16, 2011, 8:52 pm

To Ed: It took some time, but I've finally managed to see a Fuji x100, and some of its work. My scepticism has become knowledge: It's not worth more than £400 in terms of what can be done with it and its relative build quality. I don't foresee any build quality issues with my XZ-1, but I'll stick to a camera I know very well through "let me play with yours and I'll let you play with mine" try-outs, and which has been around long enough to be generally well-rated: Canon G11 or G12.

Compared with the G12 the X100 has a foreseeable list of weaknesses, and just one potential strength: its viewfinder... I know what you are going to say, and we have had a loud "discussion" about optical versus digital. It's certainly down to personal preference and the willingness or not to pay three times the price just to have a viewfinder and a long list of un-ticked boxes.

Finally, a question: working with film I would frequently take two bodies, or two backs, with different films in each, but what can be the reason for two digital cameras, especially when the proposed spare costs as much as a nice lens?

SLRist

April 28, 2011, 6:08 am

I'm afraid many of you (especially ThatOne) are completely missing the point of this camera, as it being compared with the G12. It's about as different in its target audience from the G12 as is the Nikon D3S or the Leica M9. You're comparing apples with oranges. The X100 is a specialist item. It's not a 'jack-of-all-trades' semicompact like the G12. If you want something with mediocre low light performance, no shallow DoF ability and a distinctly average quality zoom lens, then buy the G12. If you want something with the ability to change lenses and great low light ability but will certainly not fit in your coat pocket, buy a Nikon D700 or D7000. If on the other hand you want a camera with best-in-class low light ability, totally silent shutter and you are prepared to work in the very useful fixed 35mm focal length to achieve a pocketable form factor, then the X100 is your *only* choice. If that's not what you're looking for then shop elsewhere, but please don't tell Fuji their business - they know exactly how well this camera would be received by people like me who love it for what it is and understand its intended use - i.e. reportage and street photography. This has been demonstrated by the backlog of advanced orders and X100s selling on ebay at above their RRP. In addition to my X100, I own a Nikon D700 and a Canon S95 (the pocket sized G12) and I can tell you that the X100 is an outstanding performer, giving me images very nearly on a par with my D700, but unlike the D700, I can take the X100 everywhere. When you factor in the superlative build quality, the X100 is worth every penny of its UK asking price.

c0ldc0ne

July 28, 2011, 2:31 am

Despite the site's name, the feature list is anything but to be trusted. "Camera type Digital: SLR" "Optical Zoom: 12 Xx"? "Image Stabilization: Optical"? "LCD Monitor: 3 in, 2.8 in"? "50mm: fixed lens"?

NickE

June 24, 2014, 9:06 am

I know this is an old review but there are additional lenses available for this camera which are getting rave reviews. There is a wide angle and telephoto converter available now.

WCL-X100 28mm Equivalent
TCL-X100 50mm Equivalent.

These are not like DSLR converters though. they sit in front of the lens also you maintain the F2.0 aperture. They are a bit under $400 each.

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