This article will be dedicated to the Fujifilm XF1, the latest model in Fujifilm’s X-series. With all the new models announced at Photokina 2012, it’s might be easy to missed this one. However the Fujifilm XF1 might be the perfect camera for those who are searching for a high-end compact camera and wiling to spend a price of an entry-level DSLR camera for it.
Fujifim makes amazing cameras, and their XF1 belongs to the X-series camera’s lineup, a range of premium cameras which X100, X-E1, X10, X-S1 and C-Pro1 are among it. The XF1 is not a Interchangeable-lens camera, it comes with a fixed lens, but what a lens it is, a F1.8 bright Fujinon lens and I will talk about more later on this review.
The category of fast high-end compacts is getting very popular in the recent years, this includes cameras like the Sony DSC-RX100 (F1.8-4.9), Samsung EX2F (F1.4-2.7), Olympus XZ-2 iHS (F1.8-2.5) and others. The Fujifilm XF1 features a F1.8-4.9 lens, which means that it’s very bright at the wide-angle(f/1.8) but gets less bright through the zoom range up to F4.9 at 100mm (equiv.). This means that you can shoot in pretty much very low light but mostly when you shoot wide-angle shots. This is great for catching breathtaking landscapes, nightscapes and indoor shots where you probably be shooting those with a wide-angle setting on the lens.
The Fujifilm XF1 comes in various stylish premium colors including brown, black and red andit’s a very slim and stylish looking digital camera, probably has this unisex look to it if you know what I mean.
XF1, a Stylish Compact Camera
The XF1 is first of all a very elegant, slim and luxurious compact digital camera. This camera was designed to appeal with anyone who want a camera that looks great on the outside. It’s lightweight and durable and covered with beautiful synthetic leather that makes the camera looks prestige and well as feel prestige. The synthetic leather feels and looks like genuine leather.
For some people, a digital camera is a statement, it’s like buying new clothes, it needs to fit what you are wearing, fits your personality and overall look and feel.
The XF1 comes in various luxury colors, including brown, red and black. It’s a very elegant combination of prestige colors and the slick metal chassis that gives the camera a very simple but great looks. The zoo, lens is retracted, so hwne not in use, the overall camera size is minimized and you can easily put this camera in a small bag and even in your pocket. There are three configurations to the camera. In portable mode the lens is fully retracted into the boy, so this is the most compact way to carry the camera. In standby mode the lens is partially extended but still remains closed. In this mode, all you have to do is to rotate the lens ring a bit and it’s activated instantly (0.16 sec).
The XF1 has few buttons, but those will appeal to both beginners and also for advanced photographers. You have the mode dial at the top, including P/A/S/M (this camera offers full manual control), custom function button, dedicated movie button, preview button,quick-response command dial, navigation wheel, etc. All buttons are arranged nicely and fit well with the overall design of the camera. You also have a tiny button at the left-rear to flip out the popup flash.
The top plate has a very nice curvy design that gives the camera a very nice stylish profile when you look at it from the side. Even the memory card / USB door is coated with this synthetic leather. All in all, a very stylish looking camera, one of my top 5 favorites.
You can also dress up your XF1 camera with a matched soft case sold separately in either Black, Red or Brown.
Fujifilm has setup a dedicated mini-site for the XF1 if you want to take a look.
Although I believe that many will buy this lens only because of its looks, it’s still important to know what you get with the camera when you pay a premium price for it. After all, the selection is pretty large out there. I don’t see the XF1 as a competitor model to Canon’s G15, it’s more like a competitor to the Canon PowerShot S110 due to its slim and elegant design but a host of powerful and advanced features, and it’s also very close in terms of price. I can also see the XF1 competes again the Sony RX100 and Olympus XZ-2 iHS.
The thing to note here is that the Fujifilm XF1 has a 2/3″ (8.8 x 6.6 mm) image sensor, which is larger than the conventional 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm) that you find on many other compact cameras. Still it doesn’t fall into the large-sensor compact cameras category. In comparison the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-Rx100 features a 1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor, almost twice the size of the XF1, that’s why it’s not a direct competitor to the XF1. On the other hand, the Canon S1100 and the Olympus XZ-2 iHS have a 1/1.7-inch (7.44 x 5.58 mm) sensor which is a bit smaller than the XF1 sensor, but still very close to it.
Fujifilm XF1 direct competitors:
- Canon PowerShot S110 (1/1.7-inch, 24-120mm f/2-5.9)
- Olympus XZ-2 (1/1.7-inch, 28-112mm f/1,8-2.5)
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 (1/1.7-inch, 24-90mm f/1.4-2.3)
- Samsung EX2F (1/1.7-inch, 24-80mm f/1.4-2.7)
So what’s are the advantages of the XF1 sensor?
First of all, it’s a relatively large sensor, which means that image quality will be better in comparison. Actually what matters is pixel density, and Fujifilm decided to use s 12MP resolution, which is pretty much ok for this kind of sensor and a standard in what we see these days (i.g. Olympus XZ-2: 12MP, Canon S110: 12.1MP, etc.).
Of course Fujifilm sensors are nothing but ordinary image sensors. The Fujifilm XF1 features an EXRCMOS sensor. Without taking you too deep into the technical details, EXR CMOS sensor are designed to enhance image resolution and image quality by utilizing a different arrangement of the color array on the sensor. The sensor on the XF1 features several modes:
- HR (High Resolution) Mode
- SN (High Sensitivity/Low Noise) Mode
- DR (Dynamic Range) Mode
Each mode was designed to take advantage of the design of the sensor to fit it best for shooting in various lighting conditions. It was designed to adapt to various situations and give an answer to problems that conventional Bayer image sensor technologies can’t resolve.
It might sound complicated, but all you need to know is that the Fuji XF1 was designed to help even the most total beginners the option to capture gorgeous photos without knowing anything about photography. The Intelligent software with the combination of advanced hardware is supposed to help you capture amazing moments that will look great on your screen or when printed out.
The camera has 103 patterns in automatic setting so it will know to differentiate between various type of scenes (e.g. portrait, moving subject, night shots, macro, beach, sunset, sky, etc.) and will apply the best practices to make your image look at its best, a powerful automatic mode that will result in much better looking images compare to the cheaper point-and-shoot options out there.
High Quality f/1.8 Lens
A digital camera image quality is measured by the quality of the sensor and lens, not but it looks. To make this camera take amazing photos that looks as great as the camera is, Fuji has equipped this camera with a Fujinon 4x optical zoom lens with bright f/1.8 aperture at the wide-angle. This newly designed Fujinon f/1.8 lens is compact yet provide exceptional optical performance. The lens features six-blade aperture diaphragm to deliver beautiful defocused blur. You can take macro shots from 3cm distance and your photos will look beautifully as if they were taken by a more expensive camera.
We can see more and more companies investing more funds to develop new technologies that will help enhancing image quality in compact cameras. It’s all start with larger sensors and ends up with a high quality optics. Fujinon lenses are well known for their top-notch optical performance and are used by professionals world-wide. However, making high quality lenses with small optics is not easy to achieve. With Fujifilm newly developed High-Transmittance EBC (Electron Beam Coating) technology, which was developed for broadcast-use lenses, the XF1 delivers exceptional results and its the first camera that utilize this technology for all the internal lens elements. This result in sharp, high contrast images with much reduced ghosting and flare.
Some people won’t bother reading those specs, but what I do want you to know is that you get what you paid for, and that’s very high quality optics that will certainly help your photographs look at their best in most conditions.
F/1.8 lens means that when you shoot at the widest angle, the opening of the lens will be very big, which means more light can pass through the lens. This will help you well exposed photos in dim light (e.g. nigh shots, indoors, concerts, pubs, etc.). Most P&S cameras, those will slower lenses, will have to bump up the ISO sensitivity and that leads to much more noise in the image. Because we are talking about cameras with relatively small sensors, a fast lens will help you get well-exposed shots at lower ISO settings, and that means much less noise if any (depends on the ISO setting).
So the Fujifilm XF-1 is a camera that you can take everywhere and shoot with it even when the night comes down. With other digital cameras that was a time to put the camera back in the bag, but with the XF1 it’s time to start shooting beautiful low-light photos!
The Fujifilm XF1 lens is ubilt with lens-shift image stabilization mechanism to minimize blur in images when shooting handheld. This also adds up to the low light capabilities of the camera, because you can shoot at lower shutter speeds too. IT won’t help you stop fast moving subjects (it wasn’t designed for that), but it will help you shoot static scenes with sharper results.
Another great feature of this lens is the zoom ring which provides smooth zooming mechanism compared to power zoom. This is great for shooting video when you want that precise control over the zooming function.
Full HD Movies
This small camera can talk Ful HD video too at 30 frames per second. Full HD videos are the highest resolution videos available today for consumer digital cameras. The XF1 can shoot gorgeous looking videos that will look amazing on your HDTV display at home, on your home computer and even when viewing them on your mobile phone or tablet device.
XF1 Sample Images (High ISO Image Quality Analysis)
Site optyczne.pl has posted many XF1 sample images in various ISO sensitivities and I went on and viewed all the images and here’s my opinion.
Image quality is good and tends to be smooth in general, especially above ISO 400. The ISO800 image of the girl with the blonde hair didn’t satisfy me (look at the hair), at ISO 100 it looks much better, not smushy as at ISO800. color definition is very good and white balance seems to work very well. The Bokeh (background blur) works great and I personally was surprised to see such nice Bokeh considering the sensor size, but at f/1.8 the Bokeh is very smooth and looks great. This certainly helps separating the subject from distracting background.
So I think that it’s good that you can shoot at F1.8 because I probably wouldn’t go beyond ISO400 with this camera. You still get get very good photos for the web and small prints at ISO800 and above, but that’s about it. If you want the bets image quality, you better off shooting at ISO 100 / ISO 200 in my opinion.
The Fujifilm XF1 is a great combination of looks and features. It was designed to appeal to those who care about the looks but also for those who want an advanced camera with manual features. The XF1 provides full manual control over exposure, RAW format recording, Full HD movie with stereo and in-camera Raw processing that will appeal to advanced photographers. The XF1 use the same sensor as the X10 and X-S1. This is a very capable sensor that has proven to deliver very good results
One of the main selling points of the XF1 is its F1.8-4.8 lens with 4-stops image stabilization. This is a camera that you can shoot at night without worrying that you get underexposed photos. The image quality is good, but disappointing at ISO400 and above. Many of you probably won’t be shooting at this ISO anyways, but you need to understand this camera’s limitations.
The build quality of this camera is excellent and it was built to impress everyone who use it. Advanced photographers would probably want to investigate the competitors too (e.g. Canon S110, Panasonic LX7, Fujifilm X10, Sony RX100) before making a decision.