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Fuji XQ1 Preview

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Fuji XQ1 review -- angled front shot

The high-end pocket camera market continues to heat up with Fujifilm's latest X-Series camera -- the Fuji XQ1. This ultra-portable, high-end compact digital camera is one of Fuji's smallest X-Series cameras, with a design that looks like the merging of the XF1 and X20. Fuji states that this camera is their "most portable X-Series camera ever developed." And like we saw with the new Panasonic GM1 and other small premium pocket cams like the Sony RX100 II, these diminutive cameras can still pack a powerful punch, and the XQ1 appears to be no exception.

The big story with the Fujifilm XQ1 is that, unlike the similarly-sized Fujifilm XF1, the new XQ1 employs the company's award-winning X-Trans sensor technology -- to be precise, the latest generation X-Trans CMOS II sensor in a 12-megapixel, 2/3-inch size. Now users can have the a slim pocketable design similar to the Fujifilm XF1 but with increased image quality and performance. (The XQ1 is actually a bit smaller and lighter than the XF1, measuring in at 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches (100 x 59 x 33mm) and weighing 7.3 ounces (206g) with the battery and memory card, compared to 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches (108 x 62 x 30mm) and 8 ounces (226g) for the XF1. That's impressive.)

Lens. The XQ1 features a Fujinon 25-100mm-equivalent 4x optical zoom lens with a very fast f/1.8 aperture at the wide end, but it slows down to f/4.9 when you hit full telephoto. Lens construction is comprised of 7 elements in 6 groups, 4 of which are aspherical elements with 3 extra low dispersion lenses, and each lens surface has been coated with Fuji's HT-EBC (High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating) to help reduce ghosting and flare.

Fujifilm XQ1 review -- XQ1 vs XF1
The Fujifim XF1 (left) compared to the new XQ1 (right). The XQ1 combines the compact, slim size of the XF1 with the higher image quality offered by the X-Trans II CMOS sensor.

Imaging. Like Fuji's other X-Trans cameras, the XQ1 also does not employ an optical low-pass filter, thanks to the sensor's unique randomized color filter layout. This should help increase fine detail and sharpness of images from the XQ1 compared to its non-X-Trans cousin, the XF1. Fuji XQ1 features other image quality improvements including Fuji's Lens Modulation Optimizer that helps correct fringing when shooting wide open, as well as diffraction when shooting stopped down. The XQ1 also includes optical image stabilization with a CIPA-rated correction of three stops.

The combination of the three-stop I.S., the fast f/1.8 aperture at the widest angle plus the high sensitivity of up to ISO 12,800 should make it a fairly decent low-light performer for a camera in its class. We were impressed with the XF1's higher ISO performance at ISO 1600 and 3200, as well as its AF capabilities in low-light conditions, so we are hoping to see a similar, if not better performance from this new Fuji.

Fujifilm XQ1 review -- lineup
The Fujifilm XQ1 will be available in both all-black and all-silver versions.

Autofocus and performance. Not only can we expect image quality advancements to the XQ1, but focusing performance enhancements as well. The manufacturer says the XQ1 delivers "the world's fastest autofocus speed in its category of up to 0.06 seconds," which is due to the on-sensor phase detection (with over 100,000 on-chip PD pixels) combined with Fuji's EXR Processor II. The phase-detect algorithms are said to be improved, and when combined with contrast-detect AF in their auto-switching AF system, the XQ1 should show improved autofocusing performance with low-contrast subjects in low-light scenes. The XQ1 also features focus peaking for easier, faster manual focusing (no information as of yet on whether or not that knurled ring around the lens can be used for manual focusing).

It's not just AF speed that's been given a boost with this faster processor, the shot-to-shot lag time is also significantly improved to just 0.3 seconds in High Performance Mode. The Fuji XF1 with the older first-gen EXR processor had a cycle time of 1.12 seconds for large JPEGs in our tests, so the XQ1 should be noticeably improved. Fuji is also claiming a shutter lag of just 0.015 seconds. We found the XF1 to have a prefocused shutter lag of 0.026 seconds.

Fujifilm XQ1 review -- rear view
The rear of the Fuji XQ1 is dominated by a 3-inch, non-touch, 920,000-dot TFT LCD screen.

Video, Wi-Fi and more. Other features of the XQ1 include video recording frame rates of up to 60p at full 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, as well as video AF tracking capabilities. The new camera also has built-in Wi-Fi with a dedicated button allowing users to quickly transfer photos and videos wirelessly to their smartphones, tablets and computers. The XQ1 pairs with smart devices using the free, downloadable Fujifilm Camera app for iOS and Android devices. The app will let you batch transfer up to 30 photos at a time, as well as download movies from the camera. A convenient little bonus feature is that after the initial pairing of devices, a simple press-and-hold of the Wi-Fi button will automatically initiate a transfer of media to your smart device.

The XQ1 includes a built-in "Super Intelligent" pop-up flash as well as an array of filters and film simulation effects, similar to what we've seen on similar Fuji cameras. The film simulations include effects to mimic Fuji's classic Velvia, Astia and Provia films. There's also sepia and monochrome film filters. The artistic and creative filters feature fun options like Toy Camera and Miniature effects.

Fuji XQ1 review -- BLC-XQ1 bottom leather case

Pricing, availability and accessories. The Fujifilm XQ1 is set to round out Fuji's premium compact X-series lineup and will not be replacing the XF1 or the X20, residing somewhere in the middle. Introduced alongside the camera is a set of accessories including a bottom leather case BLC-XQ1, in either black or brown, shown on the right. There is also a new waterproof case WP-XQ1 capable of protecting the camera to underwater depths of up to 40 meters, and a remote release. The new camera itself is set to be available in October 2013 for a price of US$500 in either all-black or all-silver color options. There are no prices available yet for the accessories.

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