Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review
Review Date : Wed, 23 Mar 2011
Author : Phil Hall
- Sample Photos: Fujifilm FinePix X100 review sample images gallery
UPDATED, NOVEMBER 2012: Launched in March 2011, the Fujifilm FinePix X100 was the first model to grace the company’s premium-grade ‘X-series’ range. Packing an APS-C sensor, hybrid viewfinder and fixed 35mm lens into a rangefinder style body, the X100 lacks the proprietary X-Trans sensor of more recent X-series models. Does it still have something to offer? We find out in the What Digital Camera Fujifilm FinePix X100 review…
|Pros:||High-end feel, superb image quality and hybrid viewfinder|
|Cons:||Price, can be a touch slow in operation|
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Fujifilm doesn't make DSLRs anymore. The company's last model - the FinePix S5 Pro - was launched way back in 2006 and has long since been discontinued. Without a flagship DSLR to champion the brand, it's fair to say that Fujifilm ran the risk of being mostly forgotten or at the very least overlooked as a major player - at least until a prototype of the APS-C equipped Finepix X100 wowed audiences at the 2010 Photokina trade show.
The new model showcased a bold new direction for the company, with traditional DSLRs abandoned in favour of the company's new flagship X-series range.
Fast-forward to March 2011 and the Fujifilm Finepix X100 went on general sale, becoming the first model to showcase the new X-series range. There are now six models in the Fujifilm X-series line-up and
the range has certainly helped to enhance the Fuji brand, certainly in the eyes of enthusiasts and professionals.
But, of course, two years is a long time in digital camera circles, and while the Finepix X100's clever ‘hybrid' viewfinder is still unique to Fuji, newer X-series models such as the X-Pro1 and X-E1 come with newer technology, most notably Fuji's clever X-Trans CMOS sensor. This uses a unique colour pixel array that enables the anti-aliasing filter to be removed, which in turn enables X-Trans equipped camerasto produce much sharper and finely-detailed images than is possible with a regular CMOS sensor and anti-aliasing filter in place.
Perhaps more problematic to the X100 is that both the aforementioned X-Pro1
and X-E1 are interchangeable lens cameras, whereas the Fujifilm Finepix X100 uses a fixed 35mm,
f/2 optic. Still, that's not to do the Finepix X100 down; while its fixed lens and
older sensor technology mean that it occupies something of a unique niche market position, taken on its own terms it still remains a very good camera.
Read on to see what we made of the Fujifilm Finepix X100 when it first arrived on the What Digital Camera test bench...
Fujifilm FinePix X100 review - Features
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 sports a resolution of 12.3MP but unlike the majority of compacts available, which have sensors roughly the size of your small fingernail, the FinePix X100 features a much larger APS-C sized sensor - just like you'd expect to find in most DSLRs.
While this is not a revolutionary move in a compact camera as Sigma was the first to incorporate an APS-C sensor into their DP1 compact camera, it's only one of a handful of compacts to feature a chip this size. And the advantages are obvious - though other compact cameras may share a similar or larger resolution to the X100, the bigger physical size of the X100 chip means that the Photodiodes (or pixels) can be larger, improving their light gathering capabilities with a stronger signal-to-noise ratio for reduced noise, better colour reproduction and a broader dynamic range.
The ISO range runs from 200-6400 at full resolution and can be expanded to 100-12,800 if you're not wishing to shoot Raw. This extra flexibility is thanks in part to a new generation EXR Processor that features dual CPUs, the EXR Core and a Reconfigurable Processor for improved high resolution, high sensitivity, low noise and wide dynamic range capabilities.
In an effort to keep size down and maximise quality Fujifilm has opted for a fixed focal length lens for the FinePix X100. The ultra fast f/2 23mm Fujinon prime offers a 35mm focal length that offers a moderate wide-angle coverage suitable for a range of shooting situations, though some may feel restricted by this. Having a fixed lens has allowed Fujifilm to engineer the sensor specifically with this lens in mind, optimising its light-gathering capabilities for improved sharpness and reduced vignetting in the edges of the frame.
One of the most impressive elements of the Fujfilm FinePix X100 is the ‘Hybrid Viewfinder' which is both optical and electronic (EVF). It's a very clever piece of design, allowing you to compose with either a 90% coverage Reverse Galilean optical viewfinder with overlaid customisable electronic shooting information, or instantly swap to the 1.44m-dot Electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage should you prefer. Shots taken when using the optical finder can be instantly fed back to you via the EVF, meaning you don't have to lower the camera from your eye.
At the rear of the FinePix X100 is a 2.8in, 460k-dot LCD screen - perhaps any larger and it would have compromised the overall size and design of the camera.
Autofocus is done via contrast-detection, using 25 points when using the optical viewfinder or an automated multi-zone system utilises all 49 AF points. There's also the option to flick between single and continuous focus, as well as manual focus, too.
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 also uses a lens-internal shutter which means that the built-in flash can be synced at any shutter speed you desire (not the 1/250th or 1/200th sec that's the norm on DSLRs with focal plane shutters) allowing you to use fill-in flash easily in bright sunlight. There are also two dedicated external flashguns available for the X100 (and soon to launch FinePix HS20) in the shape of the EF-42 and EF-20.
There are some other nice touches with the Finepix X100 like the built-in selectable ND filter, allowing you shoot at 3 stops slower than normal to help you achieve movement in your shots. So if you were shooting at 1/60th sec without the ND activated, for example, you'd be shooting at 1/8th sec with. It's worth also noting that, because of the type of shutter used, some fast shutter speeds may not be available when the lens is set to a wide aperture - at f/5.6 and below 1/2000th sec or faster isn't possible, while f/4 and below a shutter speed of 1/4000th sec is out of the equation. This is only an issue in bright sunlight and the built-in ND filter can play its part in reducing the shutter speed and still allow you to shoot wide-open should you wish.
If you'd like to shoot a panoramic image with the Fujfilm FinePix X100 there's a motion panorama mode. Unlike the majority of systems that produce low-resolution files, due to video capture being used, the Fujfilm Finepix X100 takes a series of still images in quick succession (similar to the process used on Sony's NEX-5). A 120° horizontal pano produces a 7.3MP file and a larger 180° sweep is also possible, with both settings providing the option to shoot both vertically or horizontally.