FujiFilm FinePix X100 review

Excellent compact digital for the pro or serious enthusiast.
Photo of FujiFilm FinePix X100
£999.99

If the words ‘compact digital camera’ conjure up images of a slim, credit card-sized device you can slip in your top pocket, the FinePix X100 will come as something of a surprise. At 445g with battery and SD card installed, this little monster is seriously heavy, thanks to its precision die-cast magnesium alloy body, which measures a relatively bulky 127x74x54mm (wdh).

Retro looks, powerful new sensor
Everything about the X100 screams, “Look at me! I’m different from the herd!” – and that’s because the concept behind it is to provide the serious DSLR photographer with a worthy back-up that doesn’t demand the full kit. Deliberately styled like a retro classic (complete with faux leather wraparound), the X100 nevertheless has more than few surprises up its sleeve for modern enthusiasts.

For a start it has a large 12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS high-performance sensor which is around ten times as sensitive as conventional compacts, so used in conjunction with the new EXR processor, the amount of detail and dynamic range it can produce is quite astonishing. There’s also no zoom function as the X100 has a Fujinon 23mm fixed-focal length f2 lens (its nearest rival, the Leica X1, has an f2.8 lens) which takes some getting used to if you’ve always handled zooms before, but it does mean you can create high quality soft-focus background shots.

Amazing hybrid viewfinder
The other major unexpected feature is the presence of Fujifilm’s innovative ‘hybrid’ viewfinder. What effectively happens is that you can alternate between a more traditional style ‘bright frame’ optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder via a flip-switch on the front of the camera. Not only does this provide you with lots more data when composing your shots but you also have the option of framing up via the 460,000-pixel 2.8in LCD (which can even be set to flip off when you set your eye to the viewfinder).

Low light shooting
This is a dream camera for anyone shooting in low light conditions, as the ISO range can stretch from 100 to 12,800 and noise levels are virtually negligible for at least half of these settings. Large dials near the shutter allow you to manually vary shutter speed from 1/4 to 1/4,000 as well as exposure compensation, plus there’s a dedicated Fn button to keep favourite settings. The lens has its own manual focus ring which is particularly necessary in macro shooting, as the normal macro setup is more sluggish than usual, together with manual aperture adjustment.

When you add in a neutral density filter that will effectively drop you down three stops, RAW shooting and a Drive mode with a raft of bracketing settings for – amongst others – dynamic range, white balance and film simulation, you know that the Leica X1 has met its match, particularly now that Amazon is currently selling the X100 for as little as £900.

Company: FujiFilm

Contact: 0844 553 2322

Positives
  • Stunning quality images; hybrid viewfinder
Negative
  • Macro not as efficient; still pricey

Verdict

The FinePix X100 has a retro look, fixed lens and extremely solid build, but carries with it a number of ultra-modern innovations including a dual function viewfinder, wide ISO range and a powerful large sensor that creates astonishingly detailed photos.