Fujifilm XF1 Preview
by Roger Slavens
Fujifilm, a recent leader in classic camera designs, brings even more retro into its X-series of digital cameras with the new XF1. And we're not just talking about the attractive throwback look, complete with your choice of three classic (albeit synthetic) leather colors wrapped around its aluminum body (pebbled black, smooth tan or red). The Fujifilm XF1 puts a strong emphasis on old-school manual control, including a PASM dial and other manual modes, as well as a 4x manual zoom lens (25-100mm equivalent) designed to be almost fully retractable into the camera body. That's right, the XF1 is fully pocketable and portable - measuring 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches -- and it's clear Fujifilm intended to fill the gap in its X-series lineup with a flexible, all-purpose, everyday shooter for advanced consumers and professional photographers.
Lens. The new FUJINON 25mm wide-angle manual zoom lens incorporated into the Fujifilm XF1 boasts a maximum aperture of f/1.8, a rare find in a pocketable digicam (the widest aperture changes to f/4.9 at 100mm). The lens features seven glass lens elements in six groups, including four aspherical and three extra-low dispersion elements, as well as a new High-Transmittance EBC coating on all lens surfaces, which Fujifilm says reduces flare and provides greater clarity. The Fujifilm XF1's lens also features Optical Image Stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake. And Fujifilm states the camera is capable of Macro shots as close as 3cm, and can produce an attractive bokeh effect due to the XF1's fast lens speed and six diaphragm blades.
Sensor. There's a lot to be excited about on the surface of the Fujifilm XF1. But the next spec may worry you: the XF1 employs the same 12-megapixel, 2/3-inch EXR-CMOS sensor as its predecessor, the X10. We liked a lot of what we saw with the X10 when we tested it earlier this year, but it had one fatal flaw--the dreaded "white orbs" (blooming specular highlights) that were pretty much impossible to miss in bright highlights of shots taken with low ISOs. Fujifilm sent out a firmware update this summer designed to reduce impact of this problem, and then began physical sensor replacements for users who sent in their cameras. We assume those new sensors are in the Fujifilm XF1, but we've not yet had the opportunity to try one, so we won't know for sure the new sensors completely fix the problem (and whether they have any other effects on image quality) until we get one in for testing.
The Fujifilm EXR-CMOS sensor and high-speed EXR processor were developed to provide fast, smooth autofocus, even in low-light situations. Fujifilm says the sensor and processor speed up all operations, with start-up in 0.55 seconds, focus acquisition as fast as 0.16 seconds, and minimum shot-to-shot time of 0.8 seconds. The Fujifilm XF1 sensor also allows for high sensitivity, with a full-resolution ISO range of 100 to 3,200 and up to ISO 12,800 at reduced resolution, adding to Fujifilm's boast of solid low-light performance.
Operation. Fujifilm hopes photographers find using the XF1 as easy as 1-2-3. That's because there are three ways to carry, turn on and use the digicam. Travel Mode means the lens is retracted and the camera fully powered down. Standby Mode has the lens extended for quick startup, but the camera is still in a power-saving mode. And then there's Shooting Mode for active photography at a moment's notice. To move from Travel Mode into Standby Mode, you need to twist the manual zoom ring to its first stop. Or you can skip Standby and fully extend the lens to move right into Shooting Mode.
Menus and display. The Fujifilm XF1 features a 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD monitor, and the on-screen menu system has been completely redesigned. The company claims that menus are more intuitive than ever, and no longer require you to dig deep to find just that right setting. Fujifilm also says the dial that controls the on-screen menus is fully customizable, allowing for quick setting of adjustments and selections. Additionally, the E-Fn button located below right of the dial, can be programmed with up to six functions. One useful feature is that you can pull up a cheat sheet on the on-screen menu that reminds you how you programmed all your customizable buttons, just in case you forget.
Video and other features. Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second is supported by the Fujifilm XF1, as well as the ability to zoom and take photographs while filming. Video also comes with Automatic Scene Recognition. Other key features of the XF1 include continuous shooting of up to 10 fps, raw format capability, a pop-up flash, Motion Panorama 360, and several artistic effects and filters. The battery life is approximately 300 shots per charge, according to Fujifilm. The Fujifilm XF1 doesn't have wireless built in, but can use Eye-Fi SD memory cards for copying images to your computer and other devices.
Availability. The Fujifilm XF1 will be available in October 2012 for US$500 in black, tan or red, a price that Fujifilm hopes opens up the X-series to a broader audience. Coordinating cases, in full retro styling, will also be available at or near launch, the company says.Imaging-Resource.com on twitter!