Roundup: Enthusiast Zoom Compact Cameras
12MP | 25-100mm (4x) Zoom | $450 (US) £320 (UK) €460 (EU)
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The Fujifilm XF1 is the latest in its reputation-building 'X' series - with the company showing off what it's capable of doing. It's impressive in terms of specifications but it also tries to offer something distinctive in terms of design and technology. Conceptually the XF1 sits towards the Canon S-series end of the spectrum - prioritizing small camera dimensions over direct control or a bright lens (it's the X10's job to fulfil those needs).
- 12.0MP 2/3" CMOS EXR sensor (offering 6MP output with higher dynamic range or lower noise)
- ISO 100-3200 (up to 12800, at reduced resolution, JPEG only)
- 25-100mm (equivalent), F1.8-4.9 optically stabilized zoom lens
- Rear clickable thumb dial and four-way dial
- 1080p30 video with stereo microphones
- 3.0" LCD screen with 460k dots
- 300 shot battery life (CIPA)
- Built-in ND filter
- In-camera Raw conversion option
Performance and Image Quality
The XF1 has three modes - a full resolution mode or two 6MP modes that combine pixels to improve either dynamic range or noise performance. Confusingly, the camera also has a second mode to capture more highlight information, but doesn't ever make it clear which you're using. And, while the EXR capability means the XF1 can capture 6MP images with unsurpassed highlight detail, for a compact, it imposes some limitations on the full resolution output. Shoot at 12MP or in Raw and you can't quite match the resolution performance of its more conventional peers. More problematically, fine detail - particularly fine green detail - is often rendered in a rather blurred, smudgy way.
However, the Fujifilm's images are pretty good unless you dig around at the pixel level - the camera behaves very well in terms of exposure and its color rendition is on the pleasant side of realistic. The imperfect corners of the lens at its widest setting, plus the camera's rather disappointing demosaicing mean the image quality doesn't live up to the standards set by many of its rivals.
The XF1 is undoubtedly a pretty camera but it's also one that does a good job of balancing the needs of the different potential user - it works well as a stylish point-and-shoot but is still quick and enjoyable to take control over. The XF1's output lives up to the standard of its exterior design - the metering is reliable and the color rendition is attractive. The manual zoom lens, once you've figured it out, gives precise control over your framing in a way that powered zooms don't.
Ironically the one thing the XF1's interface doesn't do well is to give easy access to its EXR capabilities - one of the features that should help the camera stand out. Getting to the EXR features in anything but the EXR Auto mode is unnecessarily difficult, but the XF1 is still a pretty good camera, even if you choose not to use them. Overall, though, the XF1's slightly glitchy image quality takes the sheen off a camera that looks great and is a pleasure to use.
Studio and Real-World Samples (links open in new tab)
|Studio Comparison Tool||Fujifilm XF1 Samples (25 images)|
What we like: Classy styling and good build quality. Useful lens range. Well-designed user interface. Flash performance.
What we don't like: Disappointing lens corner performance at wide-angle. Poor detail rendition in full-size images.
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