XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts

Started Oct 26, 2012 | Discussions
Mark Prince
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XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
Oct 26, 2012

I just received an XF1 today early from Amazon and Fuji Canada because of an earlier pre-order snafu (long story) that put me to the head of the line in literally the first airborne shipment of these cameras to Canada. Still charging the battery, but I've been having a look at the build quality, size and such of this camera. Some very early thoughts:

  • I got the brown leatherette model. The leather is quite tan, almost on the orange side of the spectrum. Quite nice, and looks old school classy.
  • Camera construction overall is quite solid, with one caveat - you can hear a distinct wobble sound from the lens mechanism when everything is closed up tight, if you shake the camera slightly. 
  • The pop up flash is all mechanical in how it works (not the flash, but how it pops up), and pretty basic. Not much separation from the body and no nifty hinges like some Oly EPs have (so you can bounce flash off the ceiling with those if you like). 
  • The lens mechanism will probably take some getting used to, as it is a 3-step process to go from camera off to being able to shoot. Fuji wants you to know this too - there's a big sticker on the top of the camera (where the XF1 branding is) saying "3 steps to...". Ditto with a hang tag on the strap eyelet. Ditto again with a big fold out quickstart guide with the manuals.
  • When extended, the lens does wobble if you shake the camera slightly. Maybe this is normal - I am not a P/S kind of guy, in fact, this is my first point and shoot camera in maybe 7 years. Well, I own a X100 too, but I don't consider that a P/S camera. But after using the only zoom I've owned for a long time (24-105 L Canon) I'm not comforted by lens wobbles.
  • The top FN button on the camera is damned difficult to press with my big meathooks. Fuji seems to have a problem with their cameras in that they test them with delicate slender lady fingers or something. The X100's more glaring problems include the back menu button on the command dial being too shallow and difficult to press on its own with a normal sized finger. Now on this XF1, the top Fn button seems to suffer the same problem. The most logical common sense way it will be pressed is with your index finger moving from shutter to that Fn button while you're holding the camera with the same hand. But in doing so, the flat bottom part of your index finger is what is trying to press the button, not your more pointed end of the finger. And it doesn't press very well that way.
  • That said, all the other buttons, dials and command dial do work with our fatter, "normal" fingers, and don't require lady pianist fingers to accurately press them.
  • All the buttons, dials, etc feel pretty solid and secure. A problem I have with my X100 is the exposure dial is too easy to accidentally be dialed, giving the wrong exposure when I least expected it. The top dial on this for setting PSAM etc is a lot more clicky secure.
  • Camera is just barely front-heavy when the lens is fully extended to 100mm zoom; it will tip over. Mind you, I still don't have the battery in place (charging) so that may change a bit.

And lastly - the strap. For some reason, I thought this camera came with a premium wrist strap that matched the leatherette you chose. But nope. It comes with a cheap black nylon wrist strap.

Now, hopefully the battery will be charged soon (been waiting a while!) and I'll be able to take some initial photos!

Mark

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evogt500
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 26, 2012

Thanks for your insight.  I will be waiting for your opinions on how it actually functions and IQ when the battery is charged.

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silps
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 26, 2012

Hurry up, half charged battery will do ok 

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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Okay - I have had some time now to fool around with the camera a bit. Before I continue, I should point out I have very little experience with point and shoot cameras and gimmicky cameras. I shoot professionally and use Canon 5D MkIIs for my camera work along with a few prime L lenses for 95% of the stuff I shoot. For my "hobby" cameras I have a Fuji X100 and a Leica M6, as well as a few other film cameras I still use.

That said, I've had a chance to test out the following, albeit very briefly: EXR modes, Intelligent Digital Zoom, High ISO shooting, various Dynamic Range modes, and general camera setup etc. I've also been posting photos direct from the camera (via Eye-Fi) without any retouching (except a resize to 1600px) to my flickr account here. I'll probably do some more formal studio shots over the weekend, since I have two shoots already planned - I may even be able to do a side by side comparison of the X100, XF1 and Canon 5D MkII.

Some initial thoughts:

EXR is the Real Deal Almost immediately I was impressed with Fuji's EXR implementation on this camera. I have very limited experience with Fuji's gee whiz sensor technologies in the past, but what I see and experienced on this camera made me impressed. In auto mode, it does a pretty good job of guessing what I'm pointing at or trying to shoot (moving object, landscape, greenery, macro, faces etc etc, the display would read these things as I was composing). It's ability to properly expose just blows away the X100 (which in my case, seemed to struggle often with proper exposure calculations). The preservation of details in highlights and dark zones is impressive.

IQ First Impressions - anything under 800 ISO with this camera has a decent enough grain / noise pattern for me. And I'm really critical about digital noise in small sensor cameras - hell, I don't like the digital noise my 5D has above ISO 1600. Up to 1600 ISO, it's acceptable to me in colour shots, still fantastic in black and white shots. At 2400 ISO, I'm really not liking the colour shots, though the grain pattern in black and white shooting is still very good and reminiscent to me of various Ilford film stocks I like to shoot (like X2 and XP). 3200 ISO and above is only acceptable in black and white shooting mode - just too muddy and bleh in colour or RAW modes.

Based on this, and the fact this is a tiny pocketable point and shooter, I'd consider the above very good ISO performance overall. Remember - I'm really severely critical of digital noise in sensors, so my liking ISO 800 is perhaps you liking ISO 2400 or above on this camera.

I firmly believe Fuji has one of the best JPEG renderers / algorithms / what have you in the business. I've experimented with JPGs from Canons, Nikons, Sonys, Olys, Panys and Fuji cameras, and still nothing seems to come close to what Fuji is doing in their X100 and now apparently in this XF1. I can't test RAW yet (not supported on my Mac or Lightroom yet, this camera is too new) but I rarely shoot RAW on my X100 (its jpeg rendering is that good), and I don't see myself shooting RAW on this camera either.

The Options Available to the Shooter This camera is surprisingly packed with options and choices. I RTFM'ed while the battery was charging and am really impressed with the level of customizations and ability the camera has. You can even manual focus (albeit through a counterintuitive way - the back command dial). Getting to MF is not easy though, unless you reprogram the top Fn button. I'm still exploring all these options.

Macro? Why? I can't figure out why this has a dedicated macro mode. Even when I'm in normal shooting mode, I can close focus the same distance away from an object, compared to being in macro mode and focusing on the same object. Also, I am a bit disapointed that the close-focusing ability doesn't extend through the zoom choices. You can be 5" away from a subject at 25mm, but you have to be about 2 feet (or more) away from the object if you're shooting at 100mm.

Flash The flash seems okay. I used it for some "intelligent digital zoom" photos that double the effective focal length, and it did a pleasing job of filling the entire frame I shot with even light. Shooting flash at wide angle is another matter though, but to be expected with such a small flash and such a wide angle lens. Still experimenting with it.

Well, that's all I got for now on IQ and such. Still fooling around with the camera, already burned down the battery once (I shot a lot of flash shots too). I'm continuing to put photos up at my Flickr account - all of them showing up are direct from the camera with Eyefi, no retouching.

Mark

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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Forgot to add this - if anyone has any questions or wants to know how the camera is for specific types of shots, just ask, I'll try to answer / take the shot.

Mark

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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Mark Prince wrote:

Forgot to add this - if anyone has any questions or wants to know how the camera is for specific types of shots, just ask, I'll try to answer / take the shot.

Mark

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Why dont you post some images?

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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Mark Prince wrote:

Macro? Why? I can't figure out why this has a dedicated macro mode. Even when I'm in normal shooting mode, I can close focus the same distance away from an object, compared to being in macro mode and focusing on the same object. Also, I am a bit disapointed that the close-focusing ability doesn't extend through the zoom choices. You can be 5" away from a subject at 25mm, but you have to be about 2 feet (or more) away from the object if you're shooting at 100mm.

Is there ANY zoom lens from ANY brand that has a constant close focusing range?   I dont think so.

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CYF
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to rattymouse, Oct 27, 2012

Thank you for the impression. Does the XE1 do fill flash as well as X100 in terms of naturalness?

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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to CYF, Oct 27, 2012

CYF wrote:

Thank you for the impression. Does the XE1 do fill flash as well as X100 in terms of naturalness?

I was never crazy about the X100's flash because of its proximity to the lens, so I almost never used it (after some initial bad shots); I recently bought the X100's hotshoe flash (the 28? I think - still haven't picked it up yet from the store after ordering it). The XF1's flash is a bit more situated away from the lens, so I imagine it would perform a bit better. All I did so far with the flash was test its ability to fill the room with light when needed - I was shooting with it at ISO 100, 200, 400 and shooting subjects as far away as about 5m. This weekend I'll do some more experiments with its ability to fill flash.

Mark

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David Pen
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Mark, thanks for this. I'd like to ask a few questions if you've time to deal with them. No problem if not.

How would you rate the AF in terms of speed and accuracy?

Have you noticed any drop-off in either IQ or AF capabilities as the efl approaches 100mm?

Do you think the Intelligent Auto Zoom is capable of capturing any more detail than a crop of a shot without it?

Is the lens at its greatest extension at mid or full zoom?

Is it possible to use the self-timer in conjunction with continuous shooting?

Cheers,

David

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PAUL TILL
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to rattymouse, Oct 27, 2012

rattymouse wrote:

Mark Prince wrote:

Forgot to add this - if anyone has any questions or wants to know how the camera is for specific types of shots, just ask, I'll try to answer / take the shot.

Mark

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Why dont you post some images?

He did, if only you were to read the posts before opening that big mouth of yours. flickr account here

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RickRhodes
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Thanks SO much for your comments.  I've been anxiously waiting for hands-on info about this camera.

I would like to purchase a new camera, moving up from a old Panasonic DMC-LZ10 that finally died.  I'm considering the Canon S100/S110, Sony RX100 and this XF1.  I've crawled through the manual and have some questions that would be nice to know.

How does the Intelligent Auto Zoom interact with the manual zoom?  The other cameras run up to the end of optical zoom, then kick in their intelligent zoom.  With the manual zoom of the XF1 I'm not sure how the manual and intelligent zoom work together.

Does it have AE Lock?  The only AE Lock the manual indicates is when the shutter button is half pressed.  I don't' see a way to lock exposure across multiple shots.  Is this correct?  I like creating Panoramas, but I like to stitch them myself, and without AE Lock across shots I don't see much way of fixing the exposure without going into Manual mode.

According to the manual, the Program Shift function requires the ISO to be set to a specific value - cannot be AUTO.  This makes sense.  But when I read the Canon/Sony manuals I don't find this limitation.  While this is the wrong forum for to ask - how do the other cameras handle Program Shift while having AUTO ISO set? (or do they!)

Thanks!

Rick

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PAUL TILL
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to RickRhodes, Oct 27, 2012

RickRhodes wrote:


Does it have AE Lock? The only AE Lock the manual indicates is when the shutter button is half pressed. I don't' see a way to lock exposure across multiple shots. Is this correct? I like creating Panoramas, but I like to stitch them myself, and without AE Lock across shots I don't see much way of fixing the exposure without going into Manual mode.

I've never had a problem with any camera without an AE lock button doing panos, all you have to do is lock the exposure with a half press on the first frame and keep moving back to it then across to the next.

I would use this method to do a pano like the one below and use up to 43 images and they blend perfectly. Child's play and no AE button needed.

Paul.

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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to David Pen, Oct 27, 2012

David Pen wrote:

Mark, thanks for this. I'd like to ask a few questions if you've time to deal with them. No problem if not.

How would you rate the AF in terms of speed and accuracy?

Hi David. Well, my experience with point and shoots is pretty limited - I guess my X100 is a point and shoot of sorts, and my previous P&S is a Canon 850 that is about 6 years old. All the rest of my shooting experience is with SLRs, and their focusing ability is something that, in the past, P&S focus systems couldn't touch.

So with that said, the XF1 focuses VERY VERY quickly. Much quicker than the X100 does, and it also focuses in more diverse lighting conditions. I was pointing the camera at dark, low contrast areas, at bright high contrast zones, up close, far away, and it was nailing focus almost every time, sometimes using the built in focus light but many times just doing fine on its own. It is not as fast or secure as a state of the art focusing system in an SLR, but it is at least on par with my wife's Olympus EPL-1 on focusing and much better than the X100.

Have you noticed any drop-off in either IQ or AF capabilities as the efl approaches 100mm?

I haven't really had a chance of testing this, and don't know if I will get to that level of testing; I'm doing two studio shoots this weekend and will be co-shooting some of the staging with the XF1 to put it through paces, but I don't know if I'll be able to set up tests to really check the 100mm spectrum of the camera this way.

Do you think the Intelligent Auto Zoom is capable of capturing any more detail than a crop of a shot without it?

Intelligent Auto Zoom works a lot better than previous "digital zooms" I've used in point and shoot cameras or on smart phones, what have you. I happened accidentally onto the Fuji's Intelligent Auto Zoom (which effectively turns the camera into a 50-200mm camera) and it produced very crisp images, even at the 200mm digital zoom level.

Is the lens at its greatest extension at mid or full zoom?

At 100mm, the lens is at its greatest extension.

Is it possible to use the self-timer in conjunction with continuous shooting?

Let me see... no, doesn't seem able to do that. It just fires off one photo. However, let me test the "best shot" mode to see  if can fire off 8 (or 16) photos with the timer...

Yes - okay that works. So you can set the auto timer (2 seconds or 10, I set 2 seconds), put the shot into best frame capture mode, and it will fire off 8 (or 16, if you set that) shots in rapid succession.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to RickRhodes, Oct 27, 2012

RickRhodes wrote:

Thanks SO much for your comments. I've been anxiously waiting for hands-on info about this camera.

Hi Paul. Thanks. I plan on publishing a full review, with sample pics, on my tumblr page by Sunday evening . Monday morning. Will post the link here. In the meantime, let me try to answer your Questions

How does the Intelligent Auto Zoom interact with the manual zoom? The other cameras run up to the end of optical zoom, then kick in their intelligent zoom. With the manual zoom of the XF1 I'm not sure how the manual and intelligent zoom work together.

I haven't delved into IAZ too much yet, but I think it just replaces the "manual zoom" in that it just effectively doubles the focal length of the lens. So if you have IAZ turned on, your camera is now a 50-200mm camera with 6mp resolution. I could be wrong, but I haven't fully delved into it yet. The pictures are quite crisp and you'd be hard pressed to guess it was digital zoom though.

Does it have AE Lock? The only AE Lock the manual indicates is when the shutter button is half pressed. I don't' see a way to lock exposure across multiple shots. Is this correct? I like creating Panoramas, but I like to stitch them myself, and without AE Lock across shots I don't see much way of fixing the exposure without going into Manual mode.

As far as I can tell so far, there is NO AE lock, which sucks. I tried it last night while experimenting with Pro Low Light and Pro Focus modes. I'd lock focus, recompose, and watch the camera changing aperture and shutter values as I recomposed.

There may be AE lock buried somewhere in the menu system (Fuji's pretty notorious for burying must-have features deep in their firmware menus), but I haven't found it yet. I did skim the manual, reading some parts intently, other parts glossing over, but I should give it a better read to find out about AE Lock, and if it exists

According to the manual, the Program Shift function requires the ISO to be set to a specific value - cannot be AUTO. This makes sense. But when I read the Canon/Sony manuals I don't find this limitation. While this is the wrong forum for to ask - how do the other cameras handle Program Shift while having AUTO ISO set? (or do they!)

I think program shift is either busted in this firmware, or I just haven't figured out how to use it yet. I read that part of the manual too, but when I put the camera into P mode, set ISO to a hard number, and made DR AUTO (as per the manual), I still could not get program shift to work. I tried rotating both dials while half pressing the shutter (which is quite difficult to do btw - this camera needs AE and AF / AE lock!) nothing would happen.

I'm either doing it wrong, or it is not working in the launch firmware.

Cheers

Mark

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Mark Prince
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Hey everyone. I'm working on writing a bit more of a comprehensive review of this camera which I hope to publish on Sunday or Monday on my Tumblr account. It's not anything even remotely of the calibre of DP Review's reviews or even some of the better forum reviews I've seen here on DP Review forums, but it will be what it will be - stuff I liked, stuff I didn't like, some sample images, not a helluva lot of pixel peeping (I'm not into that). It'll be what I personally like to read in reviews - how the thing works, and how intuitive a product is to use, along with some results.

In the meantime, if you have any additional questions, please fire away - I'm coming to the realisation that there aren't many of these cameras out in the wild, and most of the opinions posted online so far come from reviewers and resellers - not many "civilian" opinions yet.

Mark

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wymjym
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Mark, Fuji limits many functions in their more automated modes. So there very well may be an AE lock in A-M-P-S

also if you have another setting ticked it might be automatically correcting for you

reading and digesting the manual is a pretty good first step with these cameras as common sense does not apply.

wj

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vkyr2
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Mark Prince wrote:

...

I think program shift is either busted in this firmware, or I just haven't figured out how to use it yet. I read that part of the manual too, but when I put the camera into P mode, set ISO to a hard number, and made DR AUTO (as per the manual), I still could not get program shift to work. I tried rotating both dials while half pressing the shutter (which is quite difficult to do btw - this camera needs AE and AF / AE lock!) nothing would happen.

I'm either doing it wrong, or it is not working in the launch firmware.

Hi Mark, first of all thanks for your efforts !!!

Related to program shift, in my understanding that part of manual says, that an option other than AUTO must be used for both, DR and ISO! So if you may have leaved it to DR AUTO (?) it may not work according to the manual or it is as you said, maybe more due to the early launch firmware.

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vkyr2
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to wymjym, Oct 27, 2012

Hmm but shouldn't the manual usually tell, if there is a possibility to setup AE lock in some other way (via a button reassignment or menu setable option etc.) than only half pressing the exposure button?

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Nick Sintros
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Re: XF1 Arrives - very first thoughts
In reply to Mark Prince, Oct 27, 2012

Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me how quick the XF1 is between shots. I just was at the camera store and looked at the X10 as well as some others and really liked the X10 except it seemed really slow from one shot to the next. Like several seconds. They didn't have the XF1 for me to look at yet.

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