Fujifilm FinePix X100 Review – Retro design, great photo quality
Fujifilm FinePix X100 is a pricey camera and it’s a bit odd too; looking at other cameras in the market. We call models like Canon PowerShot G12 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 ‘large sensor’ compacts because the CCDs are tiny as compared to APS-C-sized CMOS in X100. The ILCs or interchangeable lens cameras like Samsung NX series or Sony Alpha NEX come with APS-C sensors inside but the resolution is higher having smaller photo sites. X100 has prime lens having 35 mm equivalent focal length and more main stream focussed, less expensive compact models have zoom lenses. Prime always gives good clarity and sharpness irrespective of the range of zoom. However, you get to stick prime on ILCs too.
Hence, I was looking forward to see what X100 gives. The photo quality is stellar but the performance is disappointing. The camera is wrapped in semi compact tank like body having a cool yet frequently frustrating design. The price is high but looking at everything, it is justified.
The photo quality of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 is better as compared to the less expensive competitors. The quality is also on par (or a bit better) as compared to midrange dSLRs which come in this price range. The images are clean up to ISO 800 and the pics are usable up to ISO 1600. Results start getting soft from ISO 3200 but they still don’t look like they have been run through filter. The images remain pretty saturated. The latitude is also good for fixing the underexposed pics without introducing a lot of noise.
Fujifilm FinePix X100 review says that high quality of this camera’s JPEG processing is surprising. It is hard to get such results having low noise from processing raw ones. The images are sapr and natural looking and this is due to filter over sensor and prime lens. As expected from expensive prime lens which isn’t too wide, there is some distortion. The sharpness at the edges is awesome and it falls only at extreme corners. There isn’t any fringing either. You get out of focus, soft, and round highlights due to undistorting lens and 9 blade aperture.
The color accuracy of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 is really good in standard profile. However, I felt that it often oversaturated the saturated colours, particularly reds. There was hue shifts at saturated reds and this camera also tends to blow out the details for the reds as compared to other colours.
Fujifilm FinePix X100 can shoot 720/24p video clips and you get control over the continuous autofocus and aperture. The videos were good looking and were nice in the close-ups having wide apertures. The stereo mic inside has good sensitivity. The video shots in sky had a kind of vignette appearance having centre bleached and there was gradual darkening for cyan on the sides.
This is where the Fujifilm FinePix X100 disappoints. The performance is slow looking at the price tag particulary while using autofocus. It is somewhat comparable to the less expensive cameras like Canon PowerShot G12. This speed is also much slower as compared to the interchangeable lens cameras.
In default configuration, this camera takes around 2.6 seconds for getting up and start shooting. This is a bit slow and you will surely miss shooting a quick shot in the streets. There is something called Quick Start for reducing the start time but it decreases the battery life which is already short of expectations. In the optimal conditions, the shot lag is 0.5 second and in dim light conditions, it goes up to 0.9 second. This is mediocre and focus is inconsistent especially in the macro mode. In my shooting, I often thought that the focus was lacking but that wasn’t the case.
The macro performance is important here due to inconvenient optical behaviour of lens. In standard mode, it focuses just 2.6 feet and above. This means you will have to choose macro mode too often.
Taking 2 sequential shots in JPEG will take around 1.5 seconds. For raw, it goes up to 1.7 seconds. This is mostly due to inefficient auto focus and the time taken is also longer (than other cameras) for writing images on card. Using flash increases it to 2.1 sec.
Handling the performance issues
Some performance issues can be alleviated by using continuous autofocus or manual autofocus. But this solution isn’t an optimal one. A lot people (including me) won’t like manual focus ring. It isn’t responsive or precise enough. The view is too coarse to focus accurately even when you use magnification. Using continuous AF is a solution but it will drain the battery fast.
Design of his camera is mixed bag. The camera, on one side, is well built having retro appeal to it. It is comfortable to grip while shooting too. Hybrid viewfinder initially made be a bit sceptical because of its old fashioned style. However, it is bright and big and I eventually loved it. That said, the updating the EVF is little sluggish particularly when you are panning. Quality of viewfinder is important because the LCD has low resolution and viewing it in bright light is difficult.
Apart from the awesome manual aperture dial on top, Fujifilm FinePix X100 has exposure compensation and shutter speed dials located on top. Pressing Fn button will give you options for ISO sensitivity. Top and front side of this camera has retro feel but the back side is typical of other cameras. On the left, there is switch to select the single shot, manual auto focus and the continuous AF. AE button will give you choices of metering and AF allows you to choose AF point (when you are in default AF mode area). Command Control jog dial located in upper right gives you zoom view for manual focus and also duplicates the functions of dial like program shift. The raw over ride button is really good too.
However, the navigation control/command dial is pretty bad. I often pressed other buttons nearby while going for the menu button. Also, you will often miss a shot while enabling neutral density filter. I had to switch between the normal and macro shooting mode using this control and this only added to my frustration. I often slowed button hitting the buttons using fingernail.
You need to use menu system for a lot of things. For instance, it is good that this camera has neutral density filter, film simulation and dynamic range presets, and ability for configuring 3 custom settings sets but you can only map 1 on them for Fn button. The self timer is located in menus and no drive modes. The manufacturer should have done better here.
Fujifilm FinePix X100 review says that there aren’t a lot of feature on board. You just get the basics. You can adjust the sharpness, colour, shadow tone, noise reduction, and highlight tone. There is Motion Panorama which is quite similar to Sony Sweep Panorama. You can pan to record 120 or 180 degrees scene vertically or horizontally. You get to three shot bracket the film simulation or dynamic range pre-sets and exposure and ISO sensitivity. The manufacturer should have put intervalometer here as well.
Some people will like this camera – it is good choice for portrait or landscape photography. You can also use it like fixed focus camera in street photography. For people who are going to use manual focus a lot, I would recommend them to try this camera before buying it to make sure that the viewfinder and mechanism is comfortable for them.
Fujifilm FinePix X100 price is $1100. The price will be a stumbling block for a lot of people. The prices might have gone up due to Japanese shortages. Yet, the quality is really good enough considering the price.
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