FIRST LOOK: Fujifilm Finepix X100


      In summary

      A fixed-lens compact camera for serious photographers that sports an APS-C sized sensor plus a hybrid viewfinder that combines optical and electronic systems.Fujifilm’s FinePix X100, which is scheduled for release in Japan next month, represents a departure from the company’s regular compact camera line-up. Designed for DSLR users who need a compact back-up camera, it features a 12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a non-interchangeable Fujinon 23mm f/2 prime lens and a newly developed Hybrid Viewfinder that combines the best features of optical and electronic viewing systems. . . [more]

      Full review


      Fujifilm’s FinePix X100, which is scheduled for release in Japan next month, represents a departure from the company’s regular compact camera line-up. Designed for DSLR users who need a compact back-up camera, it features a 12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a non-interchangeable Fujinon 23mm f/2 prime lens and a newly developed Hybrid Viewfinder that combines the best features of optical and electronic viewing systems.

      The X100’s ‘retro’ styling and control system were a big hit when the camera was first shown in prototype form at Photokina 2010 and are bound to please many potential purchasers. Only four shooting modes are provided: Program AE, aperture-priority AE, shutter-priority AE and manual exposure. And there’s no mode dial for setting them. Instead, you adjust apertures with the ring around the lens and shutter speeds with the dial on the top panel; simple!

      Fujifilm Australia provided Photo Review with a pre-production sample of X100 so we could publish a ‘first look’ at this interesting new camera. But, so early off the production line, it had a number of issues that prevented us from conducting full tests. As well as issues with potential lens flare and autofocusing accuracy, several Film Simulation Modes were non-operational, as was HD movie recording.

      There were also problems with high ISO settings. A number of cosmetic and mechanical features were also being improved before full production begins, among them reduction of the autofocusing motor’s sound level.

      Consequently, we’ll wait until we have a full production unit before publishing any photos taken with this camera. However, our initial assessments of test shots taken with the pre-production unit show them to be very good, with high levels of detail, accurate colours and the subtle tonality serious photographers expect.

      Build, Ergonomics and Controls
      The rangefinder-style body of the FinePix X100 is mostly metal, with the upper control deck and base plate cast from magnesium alloy to provide rigidity without extra weight. All control dials on the top panel have been fabricated from metal and they have been designed to enable users to set and confirm the position of the settings without turning on the power.


      Front view of the FinePix X100 with the lens cap in place. (Source: Fujifilm.)


      Front view of the FinePix X100 without the lens cap. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The chassis has been finished with leather accents that provide a secure grip and the front panel has a subtle grip moulding for the second finger. The lens covers roughly a third of the front panel and has a fit-over aluminium lens cap with a fabric lining around its inner lip and over the area that covers the front of the lens. The former ensures a snug fit without making the cap difficult to remove.

      The lens is a 23mm f/2 prime lens that is fixed to the camera body. Its optical design comprises eight elements in six groups and includes one aspherical glass-moulded lens. With the APS-C sensor, it covers an angle of view equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format, which is slightly wider than a ‘normal’ lens.

      An in-lens leaf shutter supports flash synchronisation at the fastest shutter speeds and makes the camera relatively quiet to operate. Shutter speed settings range from 1/4 second to 1/4000 second with T and B settings also provided for longer exposures.

      The T setting is unlike a traditional Time setting (which opens the shutter with one press and closes it with a subsequent press). Instead, it’s used for setting exposures between 1/2 second and 30 seconds in 1/3 EV steps. Adjustments are made with the command dial on the arrow pad.

      Lens aperture adjustments are carried out with a ring on the lens, located very close to the camera body. Aperture settings range from f/2 to f/16 in 1/3EV steps, controlled by a 9-bladed diaphragm. According to Fujifilm’s press release, optimum performance is achieved when the aperture is between f/2.8 and f/4.

      A manual focusing ring is located near the front of the lens but, unfortunately, there’s no depth-of-field scale. Close-up shooting is limited to subjects at least 10 cm from the lens, which limits the value of this camera for shooting small subjects, such as bees – although it’s certainly usable for larger flowers and animals.

      You can fit add-on filters (including close-up lenses) but you must first unscrew the ring around the front of the lens and replace it with an optional adapter ring (AR-X100) with a 49 mm thread. This is a somewhat clumsy and probably costly system that could deter some potential purchasers.

      To make it easier to use wide apertures in bright conditions, the X100 comes with a built-in ND filter that cuts light entering the camera by the equivalent of three f-stops, giving users greater depth-of-field control. Above the lens is a narrow flash tube and one of the pair of holes for the stereo microphone. The other hole is just left of the viewfinder switch lever.

      At the right hand end of the front panel is the viewfinder window, while towards the left side (and attached to the leather-covered section of the body) is the viewfinder switch lever. (See below for details of the viewfinder.) A yellow AF-Assist LED is inset into the body immediately to the right of the base of this lever.


      Top view of the FinePix X100. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The top panel is dominated by two rotating dials. The larger one, which sets shutter speeds lies close to the flash hot-shoe, while the smaller one, which adjusts exposure compensation, is adjacent to the rear right corner. In front of the exposure compensation dial is a small function (Fn) button which can be set to provide quick adjustment of one shooting parameter (such as ISO, depth-of-field preview, dynamic range adjustments, image size/quality).
      Aside from these dials, the only other control is the shutter button, which has a surrounding off/on power lever switch. Missing is a dial for setting ISO sensitivity, which must be done via the menu system.

      The shutter button itself includes a socket for a screw-in cable release, an unusual feature on a modern camera. The hot-shoe is recessed into a raised section that covers roughly half of the top panel, including the viewfinder.


      Rear view of the FinePix X100. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      Almost half of the rear panel is covered by the 2.8-inch LCD monitor with a resolution of 460,000 dots, which is high enough to satisfy potential buyers (although not as high as some lower-featured cameras provide). This screen is very vulnerable to fingermarking and nose grease when the viewfinder is used for shooting.

      Ranged along the left side of the monitor are four buttons for Playback, AE, AF and View Mode. In the shooting mode, the AE button selects the metering pattern while the AF button selects the active focus point; in playback these buttons let you zoom in and out of displayed shots. The View Mode button is used for switching between the LCD and viewfinder.

      On the opposite side of the monitor is a four-way controller with a central Menu/OK button and directional switches that access delete/drive, flash, white balance and macro settings. Inside these switches is a slim knurled ring that acts as a command dial for navigating menus and selecting settings.

      Below the arrow pad are the Display/Back and RAW buttons, which are self-explanatory. Above lies the AF/AE lock button, which is customisable. To the left of the thumb moulding that is part of the top panel is a press-and-turn switch that is used for adjusting the function that is selected for the Fn button.

      If you have set the camera for JPEG capture, pressing the RAW button lets you record a RAW+JPEG pair. In playback mode it accessed the in-camera raw file conversion facilities (to JPEG only).


      Side views of the FinePix X100. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      A slider switch for selecting focusing modes is located at the junction of the front and left side panels. Three modes are supported: AF-S, AF-C and Manual focusing. A cover on the opposite side panel lifts to reveal the USB and mini-HDMI ports.

      The battery and memory card share a compartment in the base of the camera. SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards are supported. This compartment has a plastic lid that feels at odds with the otherwise rugged and elegant build quality of the rest of the camera.

      The X100 uses the same NP-95 rechargeable battery as the company’s F30 and F30fd digicams. The claimed battery capacity of 300 shots/charge is low compared with most DSLR cameras.

      Also on the base plate is a metal-lined tripod socket, which sits some distance from the optical axis of the lens (not the optimal position). A three-slot microphone grille is also located here, just off the lens axis.

      Compared with………….
      Potential buyers of the X100 may have already considered other compact, large-sensor cameras from Olympus, Panasonic and Samsung. The table below compares key features of models from these manufacturers that most closely resemble the X100 with the Fujifilm camera.


      Fujifilm X100

      Olympus E-PL2

      Panasonic GF2

      Samsung NX100

      Sensor size/type

      23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS

      17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS

      17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS

      23.4 x 15.6 mm CMOS

      Effective resolution

      12.3 megapixels

      12.3 megapixels

      12.3 megapixels

      14.6 megapixels

      Raw file format





      Video formats/ resolution

      MOV (H.264)/ 1280 x 720

      AVI Motion JPEG

      AVCHD/1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720

      Motion JPEG: 1280 x 720, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240

      MP4 (H/264)/ 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240

      Video soundtracks


      Wave Format Base Stereo PCM

      Stereo with adjustable volume



      Integrated hybrid

      Optional EVF

      Built-in stereo

      Optional EVF

      LCD monitor

      2.8-inch TFT LCD with 460,000 dots

      3-inch HyperCrystal LCD with 460,000 dots

      3-inch touchscreen TFT LCD with 460,000 dots

      3-inch AMOLED monitor with 614,000 dots

      ISO sensitivity range

      200-6400. exp to ISO 100 and ISO 12800



      100-3200, exp. to ISO 6400

      Max burst speed/ Raw capacity

      5 fps / 8 frames

      3 fps / 10 frames

      3.2 fps / 4-7 frames

      3 fps / 10 frames

      Storage media

      SD/SDHC/SDXC cards

      SD/SDHC cards

      SD/SDHC/SDXC cards

      SD/SDHC cards

      Interchangeable lenses





      Built-in flash





      Body dimensions

      126.5 x 74.4 x 53.9 mm

      115.4 x 72.7 x 42.0 mm

      112.8 x 67.8 x 32.8 mm

      120.5 x 71 x 34.5 mm

      Body weight

      405 grams

      317 grams

      265 grams

      282 grams





      $899 with either 20mm or 20-50mm lens

      The Hybrid Viewfinder
      A key feature of the new camera, the Hybrid Viewfinder combines a typical ‘bright frame’ optical viewfinder from a rangefinder with an electronic viewfinder system. Most of the optical components in the ‘finder are arranged in a reverse-Galilean configuration but without the ‘bright frame’ section, as shown in the diagram below.


      A schematic diagram of a conventional reverse-Galilean optical viewfinder with ‘bright frame’ superimposition. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      In this type of ‘finder, the brightness of the ‘bright frame’ data is automatically adjusted according to the brightness of scene. The X100’s finder consists of all-glass elements made from high-refractive index glass with low chromatic aberration and distortion. It has an eye point of approximately 15 mm and a proximity sensor that detects when your eye is close and switches from the LCD. Dioptre adjustment of -2 to +1 dioptres is provided, which may not be enough for some potential users.

      The optical viewfinder has a magnification of 0.5x and the frame line covers 90% of the subject. Outside of the frame line it provides a slightly wider view of the subject than the sensor ‘sees’, enabling users to keep track of objects just outside the frame.


      A schematic diagram of the Hybrid Viewfinder in the FinePix X100. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      The electronic viewfinder replaces the ‘bright frame’ elements with a 1,440,000 dot LCD panel that displays data like shutter speed, aperture, white balance, exposure correction and sensitivity. Users can switch between optical and electronic viewfinder images with the lever switch on the camera’s front panel, giving them the ‘best of both worlds’.

      In use, the X100’s viewfinder is a pleasure to use. The optical setting provided the advantage of real-time viewing and minimised capture lag. Because it responds automatically to ambient lighting, the electronic mode appeared slightly brighter in low light levels.

      In bright conditions, however, it displayed a narrower dynamic range than the optical mode. Nevertheless, it enables you to see how shots will be exposed and provides true 100% frame coverage.

      The Display Custom Setting mode in the Shooting menu allows users to select a range of data overlays for display in both OVF and EVF modes. Included are framing guidelines, electronic level, AF distance indicator, histogram, aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, exposure compensation, photometry, flash, white balance, film simulation, dynamic range, image size/ quality, frames remaining and battery level.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 23.6 x 15.8 mm (APS-C sized) sensor in the X100 has been developed exclusively for this model. Offering an effective resolution of 12.3 megapixels it provides high-speed read-out to the camera’s EXR Processor. Together they optimise autofocusing speeds, taking advantage of the camera’s optical viewfinder and low shutter lag times.

      The microlenses covering the sensor have been matched to the lens to maximise the sensor’s light-gathering capabilities as shown in the diagram below. This has enabled Fujifilm to provide a normal sensitivity range of ISO 200 to ISO 6400 and offer expansion to ISO 100 and ISO 12800.


      Alignment of the microlenses on the X100’s sensor to optimise light-capturing. (Source: Fujifilm.)
      Image files are recorded by default in JPEG format but users can opt for RAF.RAW or RAW+JPEG pairs. Interestingly, all raw files are recorded with a 3:2 aspect ratio, regardless of the settings selected in the camera and compression rates for 16:9 images are lower than for 3:2 images, particularly with the ‘Normal’ quality setting. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Image Size






      4288 x 2848



      4288 x 2848



      4288 x 2848




      3072 x 2048?




      2176 x 1448?





      4288 x 2416




      3072 x 1728




      1920 x 1080



      The X100 also provides two ‘Motion Panorama’ modes, which are selected via the drive settings. They are distinguished by their angle of view (which is selected from 180 and 120 degrees by toggling the left side of horizontal arrow pad buttons) and their direction (selected with the right side of the arrow pad).

      In these modes, the camera collects a series of JPEG exposures as you sweep the lens across the scene in the selected direction. You can hear the shutter clicking as you pan and the camera will alert you if you stray too far from the indicated path or move too quickly. An indicator bar on the LCD monitor helps you to track progress.

      Fujifilm claims these images can be enlarged to A3 size for printing. However, despite their size, the compression of the resulting JPEG files is very high, as shown in the table below, so we’re a little sceptical of this claim.

      Angle & direction


      Typical file size

      180 degrees vertical

      7680 x 2160?


      180 degrees horizontal

      7680 x 1440


      120 degrees vertical

      5120 x 2160?


      120 degrees horizontal

      5120 x 1440


      The video capabilities of the X100 aren’t particularly impressive. The camera can record HD video clips with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels using progressive scanning and supporting a frame rate of 24 frames/second. Soundtracks are recorded in stereo and there’s an upper limit of 10 minutes per movie.

      In its press release for the X100 – and also in its promotional brochure – Fujifilm emphasises the benefits of the camera’s f/2 lens for shooting HD movies. To quote: the combination of the large-sized sensor and the large aperture lens, lets users shoot with a soft out-of-focus touch (bokeh) – a capability not available in conventional compact cameras.

      Nice as this may be, it can’t overcome the camera’s limited zooming facilities. Users can apply up to 3x digital zoom by pressing the + (AE) button while shooting video. However, this is small compared with the zooming most compact cameras provide. Shooting video with the X100 will involve as many compromises, albeit slightly different ones, as shooting video with a DSLR camera.

      Summing Up
      Fujifilm’s Finepix X100 has been designed with photo enthusiasts in mind and, as such, is totally unsuitable for point-and-press snapshooters. And at a local RRP of $1299, it’s priced at the top end of the compact camera market, where it competes with ‘prestige’ brands.

      As by far the most interesting camera to be released in the first quarter of 2011, it has created a frisson of excitement in a jaded market that has seen little in the way of innovation and few incentives for serious photographers to invest for most of the past year. We found a lot to like about the X100 – but also some things that could have been done better, as outlined below.

      We like:
      – The look, feel and much of the functionality of the camera body.
      – The manual dials that show you current camera settings and provide intuitive adjustment for several key functions.
      – The hybrid viewfinder, a genuine innovation that provides obvious benefits; you have only to pick up the camera and look through it to see them! Its easy-to-reach switch for swapping between optical and EVF is a real bonus.
      – The large, APS-C sized sensor that should ensure low noise at high ISO settings.
      – The support for raw file capture – even though it’s a proprietary raw format.
      – The cable release fitting in the shutter button.

      Features we feel could be improved:
      – If you must have a non-interchangeable lens, a 24-105mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens shouldn’t add substantially to overall size and weight but would increase the camera’s versatility dramatically.
      – Adding an ISO dial to the top panel would make this frequently-used adjustment easier.
      – The RAW button is a convenient way to switch to raw capture while shooting JPEGs but we would have preferred the file format to be DNG, which is supported by all third-party conversion software.
      – At its price point, we feel Full HD video would be expected by many potential buyers (although some may prefer no video support at all).
      The X100 comes with battery and charger, shoulder strap, lens cap and a metal strap clip plus a tool for attaching it. A USB cable is also provided, but if you want to view video clips directly from the camera you’ll need to invest in an AV or HDMI cable.

      The software disk contains viewer software that is Windows and Mac compatible plus a Windows-only raw file converter. A ‘protective cover’ and user manual should also be supplied (although neither was provided with the camera we received).


      The optional leather case complements the ‘retro’ styling of the camera. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      Optional accessories include a leather case (LC-X100), lens hood (LH-X100) and adaptor ring for fitting filters (AR-X100). You can also choose between two shoe-mounted flash units (EF-20, EF-42) and purchase spare batteries and charger.




      Image sensor: 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor with primary colour filter and 12.3 megapixel effective resolution
      A/D processing: 12-bit
      Lens: Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens (35mm i n35mm format)
      Image formats: Stills -RAF.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies – MOV (H.264) with stereo audio
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 4288 x 2848, 3072 x 2048, 2178 x 1448; 16:9 aspect: 4288 x 2416, 3072 x 1728, 1920 x 1080; Motion panorama 180 degrees vertical 7680 x 2160, horizontal 7680 x 1440; 120 degrees vertical 5120 x 2160, horizontal 5120 x 1440; Movies: 1280 x 720 at 24 fps
      Image Stabilisation: No
      Shutter speed range: 30 seconds to 1/4000 second plus Bulb (max. 60 minutes) and Time
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV increments
      Exposure bracketing: 3 continuous exposures in 0.3, 0.7 or 1 EV steps
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Focus system: TTL contrast-detection with 49-point sensor matrix (25 points with OVF) with area and multi modes; AF-assist lamp; minimum focus 10 cm (macro mode)
      Focus modes: Single-shot AF, Continuous AF, Manual Focus with distance indicator
      Exposure metering: 256-zone TTL with multi, average and spot modes
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual
      Picture Style/Control settings: Film Simulation modes (Provia / Standard, Velvia / Vivid, Astia / Soft for colour; yellow, red and green filters for monochrome)

      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Other functions: Select custom setting, Motion panorama, Auto red-eye removal, Framing guideline, Frame No. memory, Histogram display, Preview depth of focus, Focus check, Electronic level, One-touch RAW
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 200 – 6400 (extendable to ISO 100 or 12800)
      White balance: Auto, Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom, Colour temperature selection
      Flash: Built-in Auto flash, range 50 cm to 9 m; Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro modes (red-eye reduction/removal available; hot-shoe for accessory flash
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV increments
      Sequence shooting: 5 fps/3 fps selectable for up to 10 Large/Fine JPEGs, 8 RAF.RAW or RAW+JPEGframes
      Storage Media: Approx. 20MB internal memory plus single slot that accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC cards
      Viewfinder: Hybrid Reverse Galilean viewfinder with electronic bright frame display and 90% FOV coverage and 0.47-in., approx.1,440,000-dot colour LCD viewfinder with 100% FOV coverage; approx. 15mm eyepoint, eye-start sensor; dioptre adjustment -2 to +1 dpt
      LCD monitor: 2.8-inch TFT colour LCD monitor with approx. 460,000 dots, 100% coverage
      Playback functions: RAW conversion, Image rotate, Photobook assist, Erase selected frames, image search, Multi-frame playback (with micro thumbnail), Slide show, Mark for upload, Protect, Crop, Resize, Panorama, Favourites tagging
      Interface terminals: USO 2.0 Hi-Speed, HDMI (Type C Mini)
      Power supply: NP-95 rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 300 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 126.5 x 74.4 x 53.9 mm
      Weight: Approx. 405 grams (without battery, memory card or accessories); 445 grams with battery and card

      RRP: $1299Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355;





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