Year 2010 saw a few manufacturers banking on the retro looks of some models to drive sales.
In 2011, Fujifilm also joined the race with the launch of the 12.3-megapixel FinePix X100. Fujifilm was once a strong brand in the professional camera segment, but it slipped somehow after Nikon produced a few D-SLRs. It looks like the company is trying to regain its lost pride with the X100. With a classic range-finder look and a fast fixed focal length lens, this new professional compact is certain to turn heads at shop windows.
Design and Build Quality
On first look, the camera might appear rugged and built like a tank with full metal armour, but a closer look will reveal that the body is largely made of tough engineering plastic with metal panels on top and bottom. The camera has a Shutter speed dial on top along with an exposure compensation dial. The shutter release button has a mechanical cable release thread and completing the top panel is a standard accessory shoe with TTL contacts. The camera has a fixed lens with an Aperture ring. The old-time self-timer lever is reborn in the new camera as a viewfinder selector to switch between the viewfinder modes. There is a switch on the right side of the camera for changing the focus modes. The viewfinder too has a retro look, but this is an advanced viewfinder that can switch between optical, hybrid, and electronic modes. The camera has a metal tripod socket.
The 12.3-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix X100 uses an APS-C format (23.6 x 15.8 mm) CMOS sensor. This is an improved sensor with superior high sensitivity/low noise performance according to Fujifilm. With this, the company claims 10 times the sensitivity of conventional FinePix compact in the market. This sensor, combined with a new, improved EXR processor is believed to deliver superior image quality. Fujifilm’s unique EXR technology allows the user to re-orient the capturing method of the sensor to provide better image quality suiting different situations. The options are High Resolution (HR), Wide Dynamic Range (DR), and High Sensitivity and Low Noise (SN). The camera features a fixed Fujinon focal length 35mm (equivalent) f/2.0 lens. The lens is constructed with 8 elements in 6 groups including an aspherical glass moulded element. It focuses from approximately 80cm to infinity in Normal mode and approximately 10cm to 2m in Macro mode. Still images are recorded in JPEG or RAW (RAF) format (with an option of recording JPEG + RAW) at a maximum resolution of 4288 x 2848 pixels while movies are recorded in MOV format at a best quality of 1280 x 720 pixels at 24 frames per second. The ISO sensitivity ranges from ISO 200 to 6400, which can be boosted up to ISO 12800. Exposure control is through TTL 256-zone metering with options of Multi, Spot, and Average. Exposure can be compensated up to +/-2 EV in 1/3 EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 30 to 1/4000sec. The Fuji X100 can capture continuous frames at either 5 frames per second or 3 frames per second. You can capture up to 10 JPEG images or up to 8 RAW images in one burst. As in all EXR models of Fujifilm, the X100 also has various options for Auto Bracketing. Exposure bracketing can be set to +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, and +/-1EV. Film Simulation options of Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, and Astia/Soft are also included. Dynamic range can be bracketed by 100 percent, 200 percent, and 400 percent. Finally, ISO sensitivity bracketing lets you set the bracketing amount to +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, and +/-1EV.
Shooting modes available are Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, and Manual. Unlike in other cameras where you select the modes using a menu or mode dial, the X100 achieves this using different combinations of the Aperture ring and the Shutter speed dial. Both these controls have a common ‘A’ (auto) marking in red. If you need to use Program mode, both the controls have to be set to ‘A’. If you set the Aperture ring to A and select the shutter speed using the Shutter speed dial, Shutter priority is activated. On the other hand, if you select ‘A’ on the Shutter speed dial and set the aperture using the Aperture ring, the camera activates Aperture priority mode. If none of the controls are on ‘A’, you can choose both Aperture and Shutter speed using the respective controls, thereby activating Manual mode. Focus modes available are Single AF, Continuous AF, and MF. AF frame options are Area and Multi. White Balance can be selected from Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm white), Fluorescent (Cool white), Incandescent, Underwater, Custom, and Colour temperature selection.
The camera features a built-in flash with an effective range of approximately 50cm to 9m at ISO 1600. Flash modes available are Auto, Forced flash, Suppressed flash, Slow synchro, and Red-eye reduction. It also features a dedicated TTL accessory shoe. The Fujifilm X100 uses an advanced viewfinder with display options of optical, hybrid and electronic. In optical mode, the viewfinder acts as an optical viewfinder without through-the-lens functions. In hybrid mode, you can see all the shooting parameters including the new level indicator and shooting grid. In the electronic mode, a physical shutter covers the objective side of the viewfinder and an electronic display appears. The X100 uses a 2.8-inch, approximately 460,000-dot TFT colour LCD. It has an internal memory of approximately 20MB and accepts an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card as external storage. The device has a USB 2.0 High-Speed connector along with an HDMI mini connector. It uses a Li-ion battery pack NP-95. The camera weighs approximately 445g including battery and memory card and measures 126.5 x 74.5 x 53.9mm.
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 gives a boxy feel without any ergonomic considerations in design. The design has compromised user-friendliness with unconventional use of certain controls on the camera that could test your patience when it comes to handling. Though shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation can be changed directly through mechanical controls, we could not figure out exactly why some buttons and levers exist. The company could have done well to replace few of those like the AE and AF buttons and command control lever with more useful shortcut and customisable buttons. The initial charge of the battery proved insufficient during SP’s elaborate review process, necessitating us to recharge the battery. But surprisingly we found that the battery terminals never touched the terminals of the charger, leaving a gap of about 2mm between the two. We checked the user manual and confirmed that the battery and charger supplied were the ones included in the universal kit. Finally we managed with a visiting card inserted between the charger and the battery as shown in the image.
Having said that, we cannot keep from complimenting the excellent hybrid viewfinder and the electronic level indicator.
The Fujifilm Finepix X100 features an APS-C sized sensor and fixed lens, giving an impression that it is a serious professional compact. The camera delivered sharp results. We did not observe any distortion in the images. Autofocus was slow and difficult to latch on especially in low light situations. Prominent darkening was seen at the corners with the lens wide open. The lens produced distinct flare and chromatic aberration, though coloured fringing were not visible in the images. White Balance of the camera performed rather well. Distinct magenta cast was observed in images captured under incandescent light source.
Native print size of the images was 9.493 x 14.293 at 300 ppi. At 16.67 percent of the native size, ISO 12800 was noisy. When viewed at 25 percent, we observed mild noise at ISO 6400 also. At 33.33 percent, slight noise appeared from ISO 1600 onwards. At 50 percent of the native image size, slight noise was observed at from ISO 800 onwards. Overall, the images were usable up to ISO 6400, which is excellent. Analysing the performance of this camera, the general impression we get is that if you consider the image quality, the Fujifilm FinePix X100 is a good performer. But the camera lags behind in autofocus speed and accuracy.
Value for Money
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 retails at an MRP of Rs.66,999. At this price, the camera is rather expensive, considering that it sports a fixed lens.
+ Retro look
+ Fast lens
+ Hybrid Viewfinder
+ Good performance
– No mage Stabilisation
– Confusing controls
– Boxy design
– Clumsy autofocus
– Battery and charger incompatible
Design and Build Quality 16/20
Key Features 17/20
Noise Control 5/5
Extra Features 5/5
Value for Money 5/10
Grand Total 77/100
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 seems to be aimed at a niche crowd with a penchant for retro looks. A fast fixed focal length lens, features filled to the brim, and good performance are the strengths of this rather vintage-looking camera. If you have a high level of patience and do not get frustrated with a few misplaced buttons, the X100 is worth a look.