Compact cameras are evolving faster than ever. Some of them offer full manual shooting modes. Some have Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities. Some even have operating systems in them. The industry just keeps putting more and more power into the pocket camera. For some users, though, these devices still won’t do, and they look for something just as portable, but can give them as much control over the lens as a DSLR. An interchangeable lens camera is an option, but is still too bulky to fit in an average-sized pocket. So, what should this type of consumer choose? The Fujifilm XF1 is a worthy alternative, and we think it deserves a closer look.
The Fujifilm XF1 is a compact camera with a slight twist. It enables you to manually operate the zoom function-a feat that is rare in point-and-shoot cameras. This, combined with full manual control over shutter speed and aperture, plus the ability to shoot in RAW, makes the XF1 a good option for serious photography enthusiasts who want a compact camera they can tote. Inside the XF1 is a 12.0-megapixel 2/3-inch EXR CMOS sensor and EXR image processor that work together to enhance low-light performance, as well as the device’s overall speed and response.
Given its slimness and compact size, the XF1 is a pocketable delight. It’s the kind of camera you’d have no trouble popping in your pocket or in your tiny bag. The XF1 is not only sleek, but also stylish. Its aluminum body is wrapped in an attractive leather coat that comes in red, tan and black. The XF1 ‘soldfashioned design is something that both analog rangefinder enthusiasts and retro fashion aficionados will adore.
For cameras geared towards enthusiasts, a viewfinder is sort of a must. Alas, the XF1 doesn’t have one. It does, however, have a 3-inch LCD monitor out back with which you can compose your photos. A flash hotshoe is also absent, but the device has a little pop-up flash on the top left area. The camera has no protruding grip, but I doubt the device will slide through your fingers as the texture of the leather coating provides a solid grasp.
Mounted on the XF1 is a 25mm- 1 OOmm (on a 35mm format) Fuji non lens that, as I mentioned, is operated manually with a zoom ring. This allows users to have full control over what part ofthe scene goes into the frame. This makes the composition more precise. Twisting the zoom ring enables you to not only zoom in or out of a scene-it is also the only mechanism by which the camera is switched on. Simply pull the lens out, twist, and the screen lights up. When you need to put it away, you can just pop the lens back into the body and twist it again to keep it locked.
The manually operated zoom barrel is not the only thing that’s hot about the XF1 ‘s lens. With its f/1.8 maximum aperture, more light is permitted to enter the camera each time you hit the shutter button, making the XF1 incredibly handy in low-light conditions. In fact, I used it to capture a gig in a small bar, and it worked terrifically with the dimness of the venue.
Overall, images are sharp and have just the right color saturation. My only concern with photo quality would be the noise levels. The XF1 has an ISO sensitivity of up to 3200, but there is already a drop in quality at this level. Metering is generally accurate, while image stabilization is so-so. The AF lock is impressively quick-something you’d want to take note of if you’re into street photography.
The ability to shoot in RAW format, the manual shooting mode, and the custom settings mode are other attempts at appealing to more professional users. For more casual users, however, automatic and semiautomatic modes are also on deck. The XF1 also has a video recording function that can shoot 1920×1 080 Full HD videos at 30 frames per second (fps) and 320×112 slow motion videos at200fps.
Interestingly, the XF1 features photo filters that recreate different types of film. There’s Provia, the default look; Velvia, which makes hues more saturated; and Astia, which gives a soft, smooth tonality to your scene. There’s also the BW (black and white) film simulation mode that probably tops the in-camera black-and-white filters of any other brand. The black-and-white images produced are very dynamic, and users are given the option to pair the monochrome filter with yellow, red and green filters to enhance tonality. On a full charge (which usually takes less than three hours) the XF1 runs for about four hours of heavy use, which includes both stills and video recording. The Fujifilm XF1 costs PHP 21,500-a price that is notably within range of certain smart cameras in the market. However, given the choice, oldfashioned users will more likely spend money on the XF1.
Amidst the pool of bridge cameras and smart cameras, unique compact cameras like the XF1 are a breath of fresh air. The XF1 ‘s manually operated zoom, the ability to shoot in RAW and manual control over exposure settings help users become the master of their scene. Sure, ILCs can do that, too, but they’re not nearly as portable as compacts. What’s possibly missing from the XF1 is a bigger sensor, a viewfinder and manual focus control, but if Fujifilm were to throw those in, then it would have to become a slightly bulkier package.
Sensor: 12MP 2/3-inch EXR CMOS Processor:EXR Image Processor
Zoom and optics: 25-1OOmm Fujinon
4x optical zoom lens;with 2x digital zoom
Dimensions:107.9(W) x61.5(H) x
Weight: Approx. 225 g with battery and memory card
Approx.battery life: 300 frames (CIPA
Memory: 25MB internal memory;
expandable via SD/SDHC/SDXC
• Attractive retro design
• Fast AF response
• f/1.8 maximum aperture
• Dynamic black-and-white filters
• No viewfinder
• No manual focus
• High noise levels
• Within price range of more high
The Fujifilm XF1 offers a fast lens that enables manual zoom in a sleek,
Words by Racine Anne Castro
First published in Gadgets Magazine March 2013