Fujifilm XF1 review
Review Date : Fri, 9 Nov 2012
Author : Paul Nuttall
Fujifilm’s latest X-series release debuts in the burgeoning enthusiast compact market. It looks to set itself apart not only with an impressive 2/3in EXR sensor and maximum aperture of f/1.8, but also through distinct retro styling and manual zoom lens. Does the XF1 do enough to excel in a market already full with impressive compacts? Read on to find out.
|Pros:||Fantastic design; f/1.8 lens at wide angle of the focal range; manual functionality and Raw capture|
|Cons:||Manual zoom implementation has a lot of travel so may not fair well after lots of heavy usage; premium price tag; slow performance at high ISO settings|
Fujifilm XF1 review - Features
While many have gone for the distinctly modern in designing digital cameras in previous years, of late many manufacturers have looked to the past for design inspiration with new technology. Fujifilm's premium ‘X' range of digital cameras - which launched in September 2010 with the X100 - has fully embraced this retro revolution, heavily leaning on models of yore in terms of styling while managing to keep a firm eye on technological innovation in the process.
The Fujifilm XF1 is the latest enthusiast compact in this premium X range and continues the series' theme. On the face of it, it appears a camera from a different period, complete with a matte aluminium chassis and distinctive leather band. However, look a little closer and you'll see that it's in fact crammed full with cutting edge technology.
As is ever the case with enthusiast compacts, close attention must be paid by the manufacturer to the model's imaging performance in order to keep up with the competition. The XF1 does so with the inclusion of several high-specification imaging features.
At the core of the model sits a 2/3in CMOS sensor, substantially larger than the 1/2.3in sensor found in more conventional compact cameras. The sensor is of Fujifilm's unique EXR variety - this means that the sensor is versatile with a pixel array that can be adjusted while shooting to best suit the scene being captured. As well as offering both JPEG and Raw capture, the EXR CMOS sensor also supports full HD video capture at a resolution of 1920 x 1080p and in the MOV format.
The second key piece in the imaging jigsaw with regards to image quality on an enthusiast compact is the model's lens, and Fujifilm has equipped the XF1 with an appealing optic. The model utilises a Fujinon lens covering a focal range of 25-100mm in 35mm equivalent terms, complete with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly, the maximum aperture of f/1.8 is only available at the wide end of the focal range, swiftly dropping down to the maximum aperture of f/4.9 at the tele end of the zoom. The good news is that it features built-in optical image stabilisation for sharp shots in low light conditions, while the lens also capable of capturing macro images at a distance of just 3cm.
The inner workings of the camera also include a Fujifilm EXR processor to accompany to EXR technology found on the model's sensor. The EXR processor is concerned with speed in all areas of the camera's performance, with Fujifilm claiming a start-up speed of 0.55 seconds, AF times of as little as 0.16 seconds and shot-to-shot speeds of just 0.8 seconds. The processor also provides impressive continuous shooting speeds of up to 10fps, although this is with certain caveats, being available for just 8 frames in ‘medium' JPEG size or 16 frames in ‘small' size. The rear of the camera meanwhile houses a 3in LCD screen complete with a resolution of 460k-dots, in keeping with that found in many other enthusiast compact cameras.
Shooting wise, the Fujifilm XF1 offers full manual control over shutter and aperture in manual capture mode, as well as shutter priority, aperture priority and program shooting modes. The model also features a standard auto shooting mode, advanced scene select auto mode and EXR capture setting which assesses the scene and then selects the correct EXR mode to suit. A range of Fujifilm film simulation modes are available for those wanting to hark back to images of old, while new Advanced Filters offer quick access to six special post production effects including ‘Pop Color', ‘Toy Camera' and ‘High-key'.
Fujifilm XF1 review - Design
Fujifilm's efforts to make the XF1 a camera that stands out from the crowd have not been in vain, as the XF1 is certainly an eye-catching compact. The body is firmly rectangular and features a synthetic leather band around its body, broken only on the camera's front by the lens and the rear by the screen and various buttons. The areas of the camera which aren't covered in leather have a matte aluminium finish, and the combination of leather and aluminium give the XF1 a quality feel in the hand.
Fujifilm displays an impressive attention to detail with regards to the XF1's design, and in no area is this more acutely seen then in the model's lens. The XF1 features an interesting manual zoom lens with markings to indicate the focal length at which you're shooting. The real innovation is that the lens itself can be rotated around and folded back in to the camera's body, creating a slim and easily pocketable chassis.
The more style conscious camera owner, which no doubt the XF1 is sure to attract, will welcome the model's availability in either red, tan or black leather finishes. If that weren't enough, Fujifilm also offers matching leather cases in any of those colours to complete the XF1's look.
The model's top plate also exhibits a keen eye for design, with the amount of buttons kept to a minimum and an adjustable Fn button the sole accompaniment to the model's shutter release and mode dial. The theme continues on the rear, with a control wheel sitting towards the top of the rear plate and four function buttons surrounding the main d-pad which offer access to various camera functionality and the model's menu system. One area that isn't sparse is the model's LCD screen that, measuring in at 3in, takes up ample room on the rear of the camera and with a resolution of 460k-dots is in line with competing advanced compacts.