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Body & Design

The XF1 has a minimalist design that, with its silver top and base plates and lens barrel, pays homage to 1970s film compacts. Fujifilm hasn't sullied its lines with anything so crude as a handgrip, but the leatherette material that covers most of the body provides a better grip than you'll get on its smooth metal-bodied competitors. There's also a small 'hook' on the back for your thumb, and a single eyelet on the side for a wriststrap, which we'd consider an essential addition. The aluminium body shell is lightweight but feels completely solid - the XF1 feels like a quality product.

The back of the camera is dominated by the 3" 460k dot screen, with the rear controls clustered to its right. There are two dials; the one at the top of the body is clickable to change its mode, while the lower surrounds the 4-way controller. The XF1 has a dedicated movie recording button, allowing video capture from all exposure modes. The E-Fn button acts as a 'shift key' to access further functions from the 6 buttons above it (Play, Record and 4-way controller), all of which are user-assignable - see later in this preview for more details.

Top of camera

The XF1's top plate is distinctly austere - it's home to just the shutter button, customizable Fn button and exposure mode dial on the right, with the pop-up flash on the left (released by a sliding mechanical switch). In this view the lens is in the fully-collapsed position, leaving the camera reasonably slender and pocketable.

In your hand

The XF1's manual zoom ring essentially demands two handed operation, unless you want to treat it as a fixed focal-length camera. This is in no way a bad thing, though; it encourages use of a more-stable shooting position than the infamous compact camera 'one-handed at arm's length' pose.

The XF1 has no handgrip as such, but the leatherette covering means it feels less-slippy in your hand than its competitors can. There's a clear area on the back for your thumb to go; the upper dial and video record button are both well-placed for quick operation.

Mechanically zooming and collapsing lens

The XF1's distinguishing feature is its lens mechanism, which manually collapses into the body, and zooms mechanically with a ring around the lens. The rollover below shows how it works.

Retracted Standby Power on, wideangle

From the retracted position, you twist the lens barrel slightly to the right, pull it out, and twist again to engage the 'Standby' position; at this point the camera is still powered off. Rotating the zoom ring to the 25mm position powers the camera on, and beyond that it zooms the lens conventionally. As the zoom is mechanical, it's entirely stepless and easy to set to exactly the composition you want.

Fujifilm is very proud of the XF1's lens - it uses 7 elements in 6 groups, including four aspherical and three extra low dispersion glass elements. All of them use the company's 'Wide-band High Transmittance Electron Beam Coating' to minimise flare and ghosting, and the exotically-profiled front element is just 0.5mm thick at its centre. The image stabilization group is also unusually complex, consisting of four elements, which Fujifilm claims should improve image quality towards the corners of the frame.

When the lens is set to the retracted or standby positions, you can power the camera up into playback mode by holding down the Play button for a couple of seconds, which is useful for browsing though your images without having the lens extended.

The zoom ring is metal with a finely-knurled grip. It's marked with 35mm-equivalent focal lengths - 25, 35, 50, 60, 80 and 100mm. These can also be shown as an animated display on the rear screen as you zoom. Like other 'shirt pocket' compacts, the lens is protected by an integrated two-piece metal cover when retracted or in the Standby position.

Lens operation video

The video below shows how the XF1's lens mechanism works. Starting from the retracted position, the camera is first set to standby, then turned-on (which set the lens to the wideangle position). It's then zoomed to telephoto, after which the entire procedure is reversed.

Variation of maximum aperture with focal length

The XF1's headline maximum aperture of F1.8 only applies at wideangle, and like the Canon S100 and Sony RX100, the lens is much slower at the telephoto end. The table below shows the maximum aperture at each of the focal lengths marked on the zoom ring (as 35mm equivalents):

Equiv Focal Length
25mm
35mm
50mm
60mm
80mm
100mm
Max aperture
F1.8
F3.4
F4.2
F4.7
F4.9
F4.9

One point worthy of note here is how rapidly the maximum aperture diminishes as you zoom in; it's dropped by almost two stops at 35mm (equivalent). In comparison, both the S100 and the RX100 offer F2.8 at the same angle of view; about 1/2 stop faster than the XF1.

Optional accessory - matched leather case

Each of the XF1's three colours variants gets its own matched slip-in case, made of the exactly the same material as the body coating. These are shown below, pictures courtesy of Fujifilm UK. Of course there's no law against putting a red camera in a black case if you feel so inclined (or vice versa), although the fashion police might be appalled.

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Comments

Total comments: 129
12
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Sep 17, 2012)

Veeeery beautiful!!! Buf f/4.2 at 50mm eq. is a bit too much... :(

1 upvote
zoranT
By zoranT (Sep 17, 2012)

When will fuji arrive in the 21st century aesthetically? In 100 years' time?

1 upvote
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Sep 17, 2012)

You mean Canon Sxxx like? No, thanks.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Sep 17, 2012)

Fuji without a doubt designs the most aesthetically beautiful cameras these days except for perhaps Leica. If they are not to your taste, you have a lot to choose from from other vendors.

10 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Sep 18, 2012)

When will you start to develop a taste? At around 50, maybe?
;-)

6 upvotes
lokthefish
By lokthefish (Sep 18, 2012)

what are you talking about? Fuji are making some of the most beautiful cameras out there, and people are loving them, look at the sales figures!

3 upvotes
Dmitriy Balashov
By Dmitriy Balashov (Sep 22, 2012)

Just look at Hasselbad.

0 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (Sep 17, 2012)

Interesting and pretty, but not for me. Hope they sell a boat load to the ladies and the men who like bling.

1 upvote
Dafffid
By Dafffid (Sep 17, 2012)

Seems perverse to leave the XZ-2 off the comparison chart. The XZ-1 was the best of the last generation after all

0 upvotes
Andrew Butterfield
By Andrew Butterfield (Sep 17, 2012)

Apart from the raw flesh finish it looks interesting. Would be nice to have a regular finish to the body for those of us born after 1930.

1 upvote
Jimrod
By Jimrod (Sep 17, 2012)

The black finish in the preview looks fine :)

4 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (Sep 17, 2012)

That lens mechanism...
is slow operation a signature of Fuji?

0 upvotes
technic
By technic (Sep 17, 2012)

maybe it's just part of the retro design ;)
slow photography :)

0 upvotes
Jos van Dijk
By Jos van Dijk (Sep 17, 2012)

Who needs a electronic motor to start a camera and to zoom? It consumes a lot of power. Even 110 years old people like me don't need to be assisted to take pictures of their 25 years youg girl friend.... ;-)

1 upvote
Dougbm_2
By Dougbm_2 (Jan 27, 2013)

It's not slow. It's nice to use as it is mechanical. Turning on is as quick as any camera - just different.

0 upvotes
mrdc76
By mrdc76 (Sep 17, 2012)

Will Adobe improve its support for the EXR-sensor? As far as I remember, Lightroom produced notably soft output of X10 RAW files. If so, was it fixed?

0 upvotes
_sem_
By _sem_ (Sep 17, 2012)

I guess this is mainly Fuji's responsibility, because no serious 3rd-party raw converter seems to fully support EXR, and the enclosed one isn't serious. Effectively, I can't consider this a raw-capable camera.
And, the user interface is so intuitive that one has to carry a table of modes ;) I't take the X10, once the orbs thing was fixed, if it had a competitive normal sensor.

0 upvotes
easyeddy
By easyeddy (Sep 17, 2012)

This does look to me like an X10 replacement in everything but name. Which would mean Fuji has gone the same way as other manufacturers in reserving the viewfinder for more expensive compact cameras.

0 upvotes
ashwins
By ashwins (Sep 17, 2012)

At least from the lens speed point of view it's a bad replacement (F1.8-4.9 vs. F2.0-2.8).

0 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Sep 18, 2012)

It's more like a little sister to X10 in my opinion.

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
JesperMP
By JesperMP (Sep 17, 2012)

It is not a decisive factor for me, but I have to say that it is a very nice retro design. The design of the lettering and knurled zoom dial around the lens base is the most perfect 1950's design I have seen yet. Only when seen from the rear, the LCD and the plastic buttons and dials gives it away. The "leather" body covering will make for a reasonably good grip.

It seems that there is a new product category - "pocketable enthusiast compact" - where there are many good offerings, with a range of quality and prices to chose from. Good times indeed if you want such a camera - I certainly do, I have an S95.

Despite that X10 looks very nice and retro too, I think that this really pocketable camera makes more sense and will sell better.

2 upvotes
RichardAB
By RichardAB (Sep 17, 2012)

The ladies will love this camera as a fashion accessory.

2 upvotes
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Sep 17, 2012)

Is that a bad thing?

0 upvotes
gadgets
By gadgets (Sep 17, 2012)

@RichardAB, So you're saying you like it?

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Sep 17, 2012)

Nice! More and more small quality cameras. Big sensor - small camera. Good.

7 upvotes
technic
By technic (Sep 17, 2012)

interesting to have so much choices for a quality compact. Seems to me that Sony stretched the limits of optics a bit too much with their RX100 (frequent decentering issues, soft corners, low closeup image quality). The XF1 retro design isn't my taste, but 25mm WA is a nice extra compared to the 28mm of RX100 (and XZ-1/XZ-2). Will be interesting to see how the lens performs, compared to RX100, XZ1 (with its great lens but smaller sensor) and S100 (even smaller but also a bit compromised lens).

0 upvotes
pannumon
By pannumon (Sep 17, 2012)

If the lens performs well wide open, I'm almost forgiving that it is so freaking slow. F4.2 at 50mm-equiv. Seriously?

0 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Sep 17, 2012)

Fujifilm telescoping lenses are famous for being decentered so dont think only Sony has this problem. The Fuji F550's lens was horrible.

0 upvotes
technic
By technic (Sep 17, 2012)

yes, the lens needs to perform well wide open to compare favourably to RX100 (which needs 2-3 stops down for good corners). Better close up images could also be an advantage compared to RX100. Will have to wait for the reviews and real life experience regarding decentering issues ...

0 upvotes
Azfar
By Azfar (Sep 17, 2012)

Any word on the pricing yet ?

0 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Sep 17, 2012)

DCRP says $499.

0 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Sep 17, 2012)

Nice concept, but lacking usability, I'm afraid.
The lens' aperture decreases too rapidly, the zoom mechanism does look very fragile to me, and it it not suited for videos. I really don't think this was required for such a small camera.

2 upvotes
Azfar
By Azfar (Sep 17, 2012)

You thing of beauty !!!! I can buy this camera for its look alone if nothing else.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
TxCamFan
By TxCamFan (Sep 17, 2012)

Perhaps a slight edit here:
From: When a camera a self-consciously stylish
To: When a camera is as self-consciously stylish

1 upvote
mcam
By mcam (Sep 17, 2012)

Looks like a great compact! 12MP is just right (RX100's 20MP is too much) for me. Wish it was f3.5 or wider on the tele end though...

0 upvotes
Ace Disgrace
By Ace Disgrace (Sep 17, 2012)

So pretty!

4 upvotes
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Sep 17, 2012)

So far, I'm still leaning towards the Sony RX100 - will have to wait for in an-depth review to see how IQ and AF performance compare.

4 upvotes
aim120
By aim120 (Sep 17, 2012)

Its no brainer as far IQ is concerned the RX100 should have a comfortable edge,Fuji also has bad AF reputation.

2 upvotes
Jimrod
By Jimrod (Sep 17, 2012)

The preview says it has fast autofocus...

4 upvotes
Tahir Hashmi
By Tahir Hashmi (Sep 18, 2012)

The preview mentions that the IQ is expected to be similar to that of Fuji X10, which looks quite a bit worse than RX100 as per DPreview's tests.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Oct 14, 2012)

The RX100 will (obviously) capture more detail but the Fuji will hold the highlights in contrasty situations whereas the Sony, like all small cameras will blow the highlights through the roof. (I had an RX-100). Neither approach is ideal but for now, that's as good as it gets.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 17, 2012)

Assuming it performs like the X10, it won't have the blown highlights that the other compacts have, but given the sensor size, I don't see the comparison with the RX100.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Sep 17, 2012)

I wouldn't bring up the Samsung EX2 in comparison, because now that the Samsung is available in the US, all the specs state that the Samsung is jpeg only.

0 upvotes
bluevaping
By bluevaping (Sep 18, 2012)

I have EX2f in my hand and there is a raw option.

2 upvotes
MartinaB
By MartinaB (Sep 17, 2012)

I like the sensor size and the styling. We already have several modern style choice of this type of camera (re:S100) and this adds the retro look. The larger sensor compact cameras coming down the pipe are good news in deed!

1 upvote
Total comments: 129
12