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…
The first thing you notice when you switch on the Fujifilm FinePix X100 is that not a lot happens for the first couple of seconds while it gets itself into gear. By the time you’ve raised the camera to your eye and the eye-sensor activates the viewfinder you’ll be ready to shoot, and the EVF has to be one of the brightest and crispest examples available on a compact camera. Shooting info is displayed clearly along the bottom of the frame, while you can customise the display to feature a wide variety of information that includes a framing guide, electronic level, AF distance indicator, Histogram and Aperture/Shutter Speed/ISO info.
As mentioned previously it’s a simple flick of the viewfinder selector switch on the front of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 to swap to the optical viewfinder. The change to the OVF is pretty much instant, with the field-of-view a touch larger to allow you to easily locate subjects just off to the edge of the frame. The same amount of shooting information that can be accessed with the EVF can be overlaid in the X100’s OVF display and again is completely customisable. A useful feature is that the shot you’ve just taken is instantly played back via the EVF while you’re using the OVF, allowing you to quickly review the shot before you continue shooting. Whether you use the OVF more than the EVF will depend on your shooting style and environment you’re in, but together they work extremely well.
With the hybrid viewfinder so good, you’ll find that the rear screen hardly ever gets used for composition. While shooting you can use it as a quick reference for your information and settings, including the position of the AF point. For playback, and while it may not carry the highest resolution screen, it’s very good for assessing sharpness when you’ve magnified your images.
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 is naturally going to appeal to photographers wanting to capture those spontaneous moments, so will the autofocus cope with these kinds of demands? When compared alongside the performance of a phase-detect system found in a typical DSLR it falls slightly short, but compared to other contrast-detect systems, both in compacts and Compact System Cameras, it’s pretty fast. AF is not instantaneous, with a very minor delay while it locks on with ease to most subjects. When contrast or available light is low there’s an AF-assist lamp to aid focus which can be turned-off in the menu should you want to be unobtrusive.
AF point selection is carried out by pressing and holding the AF button at the same time as using the d-pad/control-wheel to select your AF point – it can be a little fiddly initially when you want to use the viewfinder to compose, but it soon becomes second nature to position your left thumb on the AF button. Most of the time you’ll probably find that you rely on the central AF point to focus, then recompose.
In manual focus, the distance scale in the viewfinder comes in really handy, while pressing the Command Control at the rear of the camera, zooms the feed in to the point of focus to ensure you get your subject in focus. Thanks to the characteristics of a compact camera and the naturally short distance from the lens to the sensor, it’s possible to focus pretty close – up to 10cm away in Macro mode.
While the Fujifilm Finepix X100 is not intended to be a fast action camera, it has a selectable continuous shooting speed of either 3 or 5fps, achieving a burst of 8 Raw files or 10 JPEG files. You can also set the Fujifilm FinePix X100 to shoot HD videos at 1280×720 at 24fps with stereo sound. While you can change the aperture and shutter speed before recording, that’s about it, and manual focus isn’t possible during recording, relying solely on the contrast-detect AF system. It’s clear that the HD video function is seen as a handy little feature, but not a key element to the Finepix X100.
Unlike a lot of compacts, which have got a plethora of automated features and gimmicks, the FinePix X100 is refreshing in it’s simplicity, with four exposure modes – Program (where both the shutter speed and aperture are set automatically), Shutter priority, Aperture priority and Manual. If you’re looking for a load of scene modes, then you won’t find them on the Finepix X100. With a basic understanding of photography (let’s be fair, if you’re spending this kind of cash on a compact you probably will have) then the Finepix X100 is incredibly easy to use. Both aperture and/or shutter speed are incredibly easy and quick to set, while the exposure compensation produces that same hands-on, instant connection. Set the Function Button (Fn) to ISO, and once you’ve set your image quality, you’ll hardly need to dive into the menu while shooting. The FinePix X100 is an incredibly nice and rewarding camera to shoot with.