Fujifilm FinePix XF1


    Photo Review 8.5
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    Fujifilm FinePix XF1

      In summary

      Buy this camera if:
      - You’re looking for a pocketable, retro-styled camera with manual shooting modes and raw file capture plus Full HD video recording with stereo soundtracks.
      - You want above-average performance in low-light conditions at up to ISO 800.
      - You want to record high-speed video clips for motion analysis.
      - You'd like a manually-adjustable zoom ring.

       Don’t buy this camera if:
       - You require an optical viewfinder.
       - You prefer a normal on/off power switch and zoom lever.
      - You make frequent use of ISO  settings higher than 800.

      Full review

      Introduced at Photokina 2012 as the entry-level model in Fujifilm's X-series of cameras, the FinePix XF1 shares a lot of features with the FinePix X10 but is sleeker, slimmer and lighter. The camera's aluminium body has a synthetic leather cladding that comes in black, tan or red and the retro design is in line with other cameras in the series.  Coordinating retro-style cases are available.
       

      Front views of the FinePix XF1 showing the three colour options. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The XF1 has the same 12-megapixel EXR-CMOS sensor and EXR Processor as the X10 but it lacks an optical viewfinder. Although the stabilised lens is slightly wider and faster (f/1.8) at the shortest focal length, by 25.6mm, the maximum aperture is reduced to f/4.9, giving the X10 a smaller maximum aperture for most of its zoom range. And there are only six blades in the XF1's iris diaphragm, where the X10 has seven.

      Other features include a top continuous shooting rate of 10 frames/second (fps) for up to 16 JPEGs or eight RAF.RAW images or RAW+JPEG pairs. Fujifilm's EXR and film simulation shooting modes are available, along with 360-degree panoramas and an electronic level gauge to help keep horizons straight. ISO settings range from 100 to 12800 in 1/3EV steps, with settings above ISO 3200 only available for JPEGs and at reduced image sizes.

      Build and Ergonomics
      With its aluminium body and simulated leather cladding, the XF1 looks and feels as if it's been built to last. While the retro design is clean-looking and appealing to the eye, the body configuration is Spartan and much less attractive to keen photographers because key controls aren't readily available.

      The front of the camera is totally flat with the lens only protruding a couple of millimetres. There's no viewfinder and no grip of any kind but the leatherette gives it a non-slip finish. The focus mode selector switch has also vanished. A wrist strap is provided for added security.

       To make the camera body small enough to take anywhere, Fujifilm's designers have extended the twist-on function that enables the lens to double as a power on/off switch. Whereas turning the X10's lens simply switched power on and off, the XF1's lens has three positions: off, standby and power on.

      The three lens positions for the XF1.

      For the off position, the lens is pushed into the camera body, minimising the overall size of the camera and making it more portable. Pulling it out sets the lens to the standby position, from which you can power-up the camera with a quick  twist of the lens ring. Graphics on the camera's top panel provide a guide for users.

      It works well enough once you're accustomed to it and prevents the camera from being switched on inadvertently. But when you're swapping between the XF1 and a camera with a conventional on/off button, delays can occur while you pause to recall how to switch the camera on.

      Optically, the XF1's lens contains seven elements in six groups and includes four aspherical and three extra low dispersion elements. The first aspherical element has a highly variable profile and a high refractive index, while the second has an extremely high refractive index. All elements are anti-reflection coated using the Wide-band High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating process developed for Fujinon broadcast lenses.

      Front view of the FinePix XF1 with the pop-up flash raised. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      Pulling out the lens reveals a surrounding ring engraved with focal length settings in 35mm equivalents, ranging from 25mm to 100mm and including 35mm, 50mm, 60mm and 80mm positions. The Standby setting is the default position.

      Since you can't camera controls or playback images, the Standby position doesn't appear to do much, beyond positioning the lens for a faster start-up. Turning the ring to the right switches on power and allows you to rotate the ring for quick adjustments  across the zoom range. As you zoom you can track equivalent focal lengths on a horizontal scale displayed on the menu screen.

      Aside from the lens, the only other feature on the front panel is an AF-Assist/self-timer LED, which is inset into the metal panel just above the lens. There's only one dial on the top panel and many will regret the loss of the exposure compensation dial, which is sacrificed to slim the camera body. The hot-shoe is also gone for the same reason. 

      The top panel on the FinePix XF1. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The mode dial carries the standard Auto, P, A, S and M settings plus two custom memories and Fujifilm's EXR mode. The latter uses the camera's image processor to provide 'optimised' settings for improving image clarity, reducing is engaged and the camera is set according to the subject type detected.

      The Scene Position (SP) mode contains the same 16 settings as the X10: Natural Light, Natural Light & Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text and Underwater. The Advanced (Adv.) setting includes 11 effects filters (half of them 'partial colour' effects as well as the Motion Panorama modes and multi-shot Pro Focus, Pro Low-Light and two-shot Multiple Exposure mode. There's also a 3D setting for recording stereo pairs of images.

      The Panorama modes are identical to those in the FinePix F550 EXR and covered in our review of that camera. The EXR and 3D recording modes are the same as in the FinePix F770, which we reviewed in June 2012. 

      Aside from the mode dial and shutter button there are only two items on the top panel: a programmable Fn button and an inset pop-up flash. The Fn button can be programmed to access one of the following settings: ISO, image size, image quality, raw recording, dynamic range, film simulation, photometry (exposure measurement), focus mode, face recognition, face detection and intelligent digital zoom.

      Button controls on the rear panel are pared back and the only controls are the arrow pad, which has a surrounding sub-command dial, plus four buttons and a semi-inset command dial that is similar to the X10's and is used for changing the lens aperture or shutter speed. The sub-command dial is used to adjust focus in manual focus mode. Pressing the command dial in lets you switch settings in M mode.

      One of the buttons above the arrow pad is for movie recording, while another handles playback. The location of the movie button isn't ideal but it's workable if you can train yourself to start and stop movie recording with your thumb. Below the arrow pad are the Display/Back and programmable E-Fn buttons.

      The rear panel of the FinePix XF1. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The E-Fn button provides an additional programmable button, offering the same selection of functions to choose from, with the addition of the continuous shooting mode. However, in this case you can allocate different functions to each button on the arrow pad as well as the playback and movie buttons above it.

      At 460,000 dots, the resolution of the LCD monitor is low for a camera in this category and it's almost impossible to read menus in bright outdoor lighting. Composing shots becomes point-and guess when you're shooting in sunny conditions, even when the Monitor Sunlight Mode is selected in the Screen Set-up menu.

      As usual, the battery and memory card share a compartment in the base of the camera, which is accessed via a plastic, flip-up cover. The metal-lined tripod socket is pushed well towards the left hand side of this panel and lies off the axis of the lens. This means you can change battery or card without having to take the camera off a tripod.

      Sensor and Image Processor
      The 2/3-inch type (8.8 x 6.6 mm) EXR CMOS sensor in the XF1 is the same chip as used in the X10. It's back-illuminated and features Fujifilm's proprietary EXR technology with photosites rotated through 45 degrees to collect more light and improve horizontal and vertical resolution. 

      The EXR processor is also the same as the X10's and supports the same ISO range (100 to 3200 at maximum resolution plus up to ISO 12800  at reduced image sizes).

      The XF1 also provides four aspect ratio settings plus six Motion Panorama options. The table below shows typical image and file sizes.

      Aspect ratio

      Size

      Resolution

      Fine

      Normal

      4:3

      RAW

      3648 x 2736

      26.9MB

      RAW+JPEG

      3648 x 2736

      26.9MB

      L

      3648 x 2736

      5.2MB

      3.28MB

      M

      2592 x 1944

      3.24MB

      1.68MB

      S

      2048 x 1536

      1.77MB

      0.94MB

      3:2

      L

      3648 x 2432

      4.61MB

      2.94MB

      M

      2592 x 1728

      2.88MB

      1.49MB

      S

      2048 x 1360

      1.58MB

      0.83MB

      16:9

      L

      3648 x 2056

      3.90MB

      2.49MB

      M

      2592 x 1440

      2.46MB

      1.28MB

      S

      1920 x 1080

      1.20MB

      0.81MB

      1:1

      L

      3648 x 2056

      3.90MB

      2.49MB

      M

      2592 x 1440

      2.46MB

      1.28MB

      S

      1920 x 1080

      1.20MB

      0.81MB

      Motion Panorama

      360 degrees (H)

      1624 x 11,520

      6.41MB

      360 degrees (V)

      11,520 x 1080

      9.62MB

      180 degrees (H)

      1624 x 5760

      3.26MB

      180 degrees (V)

      5760 x 1080

      4.83MB

      120 degrees (H)

      1624 x 3840

      2.21MB

      120 degrees (V)

      3840 x 1080

      3.25MB

      Movie options are the same as in the X10 with three resolution settings available normal movie recording, along with three standard definition options for recording slow-motion movies at up to 320 frames per second. Black bands appear at the top and bottom of the frame in the 200 fps movie mode. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Movie mode

      Aspect ratio

      Frame size
       (pixels)

      Frame rate

      Recording time/8GB card

      Full HD

      16:9

      1920 x 1080

      30 frames/sec.

      1 hour 14 minutes

      HD

      1280 x 720

      1 hour 35 minutes

      640

      4:3

      640 x 480

      3 hours 43 minutes

      HS 640x480

      70 fps

      2 hours 46 minutes

      HS 320x240HS 320x240

      320 x 240

      120 fps

      5 hours 32minutes

      HS 320x112

      320 x 112

      200 fps

      2 hours 46 minutes

      You can zoom in and out of scenes while recording video clips, although any associated camera noises may be recorded. If light levels are low, the AF-Assist light may switch on automatically. (You can turn this setting off in the setup menu.)

      Focus, exposure and white balance are adjusted automatically while clips are recorded. You can capture a still image by pressing the shutter button while recording a movie but not in the high-speed movie modes. The image size defaults to M when larger sizes have been selected and the shot is saved separately from the movie.

      Playback and Software
       Playback settings are almost the same as the X10's, although side-by-side comparisons of adjacent frames doesn't appear to be supported. The camera can be set to display shooting data with a thumbnail and small brightness histogram.

      Other playback options include the standard single frame and index display plus playback zoom with magnification dictated by the image size. Images can be searched by date, face, tag, scene, file type or upload mark.

      Slideshow playback is supported, as is Fujifilm's PhotoBook Assist function, which lets users tag images for inclusion in a photo book that can contain up to 300 pictures. Books can be copied to a computer with the supplied MyFinePix Studio software.

      MyFinePix Studio also includes a raw file converter based on Silkypix Raw File Converter EX, which has yielded indifferent results with previous Fujifilm cameras we've reviewed.

      Performance
      Subjective assessments of test shots showed them to be similar to the shots we took with the X10, which isn't surprising as both cameras have the same sensor and image processor specifications. The camera being very new, we also had to rely on the supplied, Silkypix-based raw file processor, which doesn't do justice to Fujifilm's raw files so we can't assess how good they would be with a decent processor like the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop.

      This issue aside, JPEGs from the review camera looked bright, sharp and colourful and exposures were better balanced, although blown-out highlights remained a problem in moderately contrasty situations. Colour saturation was just a tad high, particularly with warmer hues, which affected reds and pinks, although not (fortunately) skin colours.

      Autofocusing was as faster as we found with the X10 and, usually, just as accurate. But, the camera has no shutter lock when the lens is out-of-focus so if you try to take close-ups without selecting the macro setting on the arrow pad, you end up with blurred shots.

      Little noise was visible in shots taken at ISO settings up to ISO 800. However, softening could be seen in shots taken at ISO 1600 and it increased to become quite evident at ISO 3200 in both available light and flash exposures.

      By ISO 6400, the image size had been reduced to 2816 x 2112 pixels and noise was visible, along with obvious softening. A further reduction took place, yielding files of 2048 x 1536 pixels at ISO 12800. We wouldn't recommend this setting as images are soft and noticeably noise-affected with both available light and flash exposures.

      Aside from the ISO 100 setting, flash exposures were evenly balanced across the camera's sensitivity range. This was achieved by adjusting the duration of exposures between 1/30 second at ISO 800 and lower, rising to 1/150 second at ISO 12800.

      Imatest testing revealed the review camera delivered files that were slightly below expectations for the sensor's resolution and there was very little difference between the results from JPEGs and raw files processed with the supplied software. Resolution declined gradually as sensitivity was increased, dropping sharply with the ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 settings (which are JPEG only). The graph below shows the results of our tests.

       

      The highest resolution in our Imatest tests was achieved at the widest lens aperture or one stop down from maximum aperture. Edge softening was visible at all focal lengths, particularly at wider apertures. Diffraction reduced resolution from about f/6.4 with a sharp drop between f/8 and the minimum aperture of f/11, as shown in the graph of our Imatest test results below.
       

       
       Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between negligible and low and we saw no evidence of coloured fringing in our test shots. In the graph below of our Imatest results, the red line marks the boundary between 'negligible' and 'low' CA, while the green line separates 'low' and 'moderate' CA.
       

       

      Most lens aberrations appeared to be quite well controlled. Although slight barrel distortion could be seen at the shortest focal length, it was gone by the 50mm position on the lens barrel. Slight vignetting could be detected at 25mm with the f/1.8 maximum aperture but it vanished when the lens was stopped down and when the focal length was increased. Backlit subjects were generally handled well with little visible evidence of flare and ghosting.

      As with previous Fujifilm cameras we've reviewed, the review camera's auto white balance failed to remove the orange cast from shots taken under incandescent lighting but came close to producing neutral colours in shots taken under fluorescent lighting. Both presets over-corrected slightly, the various fluorescent lighting settings imparting slightly different colour casts. Manual measurement corrected all colour casts.

      Digital zoom shots were similar to those from the X10. The camera's close-up mode allowed a high degree of background blurring with the f/1.8 setting at the 25mm focal length. Unfortunately, bokeh was rather choppy when the background was busy, although much less so when the subject filled the frame.

      Video quality was similar to X10's, with best-looking clips recorded at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. Differences between full HD and 720p HD recordings were barely noticeable when played on a TV screen, although there was a clear drop in quality with VGA resolution.

      The high-speed modes provided clear enough recordings to enable motion analysis to be carried out, even though their frame sizes were very small. Sound tracks were much as you'd expect, given the small size and close spacing of the microphones, which restricted the stereo presence. 

      We carried out our timing tests with a 32GB  SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC U1 memory card, one of the fastest available. Powering-up was highly dependent on the speed with which the user could pull out and twist the lens. At best we found it could be done in just over one second, although on average it could take two seconds or more.

      We measured an average capture lag of 0.25 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. It took 2.1 seconds, on average to process each JPEG file and 2.8 seconds for each RAF.RAW file and 3.1 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      Shot-to shot times averaged 1.1 seconds without flash and 3.5 seconds with. In the SH speed continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 10 frames at 2816 x 2112 pixels in 1.1 seconds. The H speed setting recorded 10 full-resolution images in 2.5 seconds. The M speed setting recorded 10 frames in 2.7 seconds and the L speed setting recorded 10 frames in 2.8 seconds. It took between 4.1 seconds and 5.9 seconds to process each burst.

      The buffer memory has limited space for raw files so capture rates slowed after six or seven frames and the burst speed was limited to between two and three frames/second. It took just over 10 seconds to process bursts of RAF.RAW and RAW+JPEG files.

      Buy this camera if:

      - You’re looking for a pocketable, retro-styled camera with manual shooting modes and raw file capture plus Full HD video recording with stereo soundtracks.
      - You want above-average performance in low-light conditions at up to ISO 800.
      - You want to record high-speed video clips for motion analysis.
      - You'd like a manually-adjustable zoom ring.

       Don’t buy this camera if:
       - You require an optical viewfinder.
       - You prefer a normal on/off power switch and zoom lever.
      - You make frequent use of ISO  settings higher than 800.

      SPECS

      Image sensor: 8.8 x 6.6 mm EXR CMOS sensor with  12 megapixels effective
      Image processor: EXR
      Lens: Fujinon 6.4-25.6mm f/1.8-4.9 zoom lens (25-100mm in 35 mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 4x optical, up to 2 x digital
      Image formats: Stills - JPEG  (DCF / Exif 2.3), RAF.RAW, RAW + JPEG ; Movies - MOV (H.264) 
      Image Sizes: Stills - 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536; 3:2 aspect: 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1864, 2048 x 1360; 16:9 aspect: 4000 x 2248, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080; 1:1 aspect: 2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1536 x 1536; Motion Panorama: 360° Vertical: 11520 x 1624, Horizontal: 11520 x 1080; 180° Vertical: 5760 x 1624, Horizontal: 5760 x 1080; 120° Vertical: 3840 x 1624, Horizontal: 3840 x 1080; Movies - 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 at 30 fps with stereo sound 
      Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/2000 seconds
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Image Stabilisation: Lens shift type
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
      Bracketing: AE Bracketing: +/-/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV; Film Simulation Bracketing: PROVIA / STANDARD, Velvia / VIVID, ASTIA / SOFT; Dynamic Range Bracketing: 100%, 200%, 400%; ISO Sensitivity Bracketing : +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV
      Focus system/range: TTL contrast-based AF with Single AF, Continuous AF and Manual AF (One-push AF mode included) modes plus Multi AF, Area AF and Tracking AF area selection; range: 50 cm to infinity; macro to 3 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zone metering with Multi, Spot and Average patterns
      Shooting modes: Auto, Programmed AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Scene Program (Natural Light, Natural Light & Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Underwater), Custom (x2), Adv. 
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100 to 3200 at full  resolution, expandable to ISO 6400 at M size or ISO 12800 at S size
      White balance: Auto, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom, Colour temperature selection
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro; red-eye reduction available; range: 50 cm to 7.4 metres
      Sequence shooting: Max. approx. 10 frames/second (Size M, S) for up to 16 shots
      Storage Media: Approx. 25MB internal memory plus SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-I) expansion slot
      Viewfinder: No
      LCD monitor: 3-inch colour LCD with approx. 460,000 dots, approx. 100% coverage
      Power supply:  NP-50A Li-ion battery, CIPA rated for approx. 300 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 107.9 x 61.5  x 33.0 mm
      Weight: 204 grams (without battery and memory card)

      RRP: AU$549; US$500
      Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355; www.fujifilm.com.au 

      TESTS

      JPEG files:

       

       RAF.RAW files converted with Silkypix Raw File Converter EX

       

       

      SAMPLES

       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      6.4mm focal length, P mode, ISO 400, 1/140 second at f/1.8
       
       

      25.6mm focal length, P mode, ISO 800, 1/40 second at f/4.9
       
       

      Digital zoom; 25.6mm focal length, P mode, ISO 1600, 1/75 second at f/4.9
       
       

      Choppy bokeh with a busy background; A mode, 6.4mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/680 second at f/1.8.
       
       

      Macro mode with the subject filling the frame; A mode, 6.4mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/680 second at f/1.8.
       
       

      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 9mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      4-second exposure at ISO 800; 9mm focal length, f/3.6.
       

      1-second exposure at ISO 3200; 9mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      1/2-second exposure at ISO 6400; 9mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      1/4-second exposure at ISO 12800; 9mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 25.6mm focal length, 1/30 second at f/4.9.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 25.4mm focal length, 1/30 second at f/4.9.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 25.6mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/4.9.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 25.6mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.9.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 25.6mm focal length, 1/300 second at f/4.9.

      16:9 aspect ratio, Velvia film simulation; 6.4mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.6
       
       

      16:9 aspect ratio, Velvia film simulation; 25.6mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/4.9.

      8mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/450 second at f/11.

      18mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/30 second at f/4.9.

       Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 1920 x 1080 pixels.
       
       

      Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 1280 x 720 pixels.
       
       

      Still frame from VGA video clip.

      Still frame from high-speed video clip recorded in HS 640x480 mode at 70 fps.

       Still frame from high-speed video clip recorded in HS 320x240 mode at 120 fps.

       Still frame from high-speed video clip recorded in HS 320x112 mode at 200 fps.

      Rating

      RRP: AUD$549; US$500

      • Build: 8.8
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 8.5
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.0
      • Image quality RAW: 8.1
      • Video quality: 8.3

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