Fujifilm XF1 hands-on preview
Operation and controls
The XF1 isn't over-burdened with dials and switches - the body isn't big enough, for a start - but it still offers a good degree of manual control with direct external access. The new 'E-Fn' button effectively adds six extra user-configurable Function buttons to the one on the top plate, allowing you to set the camera up for direct access of all of your most-used functions.
The camera we used for this preview was running non-final firmware, so some details of the camera's operation may change before release from what's described below.
Top of camera controls
The top-plate hosts the shutter button - unlike other X-series cameras it's not threaded for a cable release. Behind it is a small customizable Fn button (that by default is set to ISO, which we think is sensible), with the exposure mode dial alongside. In addition to the familiar PASM modes and C1 / C2 user memories, there's an EXR position for direct access to the sensor's special low-light and high dynamic range modes.
The Adv. position gives access to image processing filters and 'advanced' shooting modes such as motion panorama and multiple exposure, while SP accesses automated 'Scene Position' modes that are tuned to different subject types. Between them these provide plenty of options for users who are more-attracted to the XF1 by its looks than its manual photographic controls, and would prefer the camera to make exposure decisions for them.
Rear of camera controls
The XF1's rear layout is pretty conventional - there's a four-way controller surrounded by a small dial, with four more buttons arranged around it. The controller provides direct access to exposure compensation, macro mode, self timer (2 or 10 seconds) and flash mode (Auto, Forced, or Slow-Sync, depending on mode) - the latter is only available when the flash is popped-up. The Menu/OK button in its center accesses the camera's menu and confirms selections.
The buttons above the controller are used to enter playback mode and initiate video recording, while the DISP/BACK button changes how much information is displayed on the rear screen and navigates menus. On the lower right is the new E-Fn button - see below for more details on how this works.
Control dial functions
The XF1 has two rear dials, but much of the time they do exactly the same thing. The exceptions are in manual focus mode, when the lower dial sets the focus distance, and manual exposure mode, when one controls the aperture and the other shutter speed. If you're using both manual exposure and focus, then the lower dial sets focus; clicking-in the top dial switches its function between shutter speed and aperture. To set exposure compensation you first have to press the 'up' key on the 4-way controller; rotating either dial, or pressing the up/down keys, then changes the value set.
|Program||(No function)||Manual Focus*|
|Shutter Priority||Shutter speed||Shutter Speed
|Manual||Shutter speed / aperture**||Aperture / shutter speed**
|Auto modes||(No function)||(No function)|
|* Active when focus mode is set to Manual
** Clicking-in upper dial toggles between shutter speed and aperture control
Rather than replicate the X-Pro1 and X-E1's 'Q' screen for access to secondary parameters, Fujifilm has used a different approach on the XF1, with a new E-Fn button. When pressed, this temporarily changes the functions of the six buttons above it (4-way controller, playback and movie); their new functions are displayed as an overlay on the live view display. Best of all, the E-Fn options are highly customizable, and you can set each button's function individually from a wide range of options. This at a stroke makes the XF1 one of the most configurable enthusiast compacts around.
|Pressing the E-Fn button brings up this screen, with the alternate functions of the rear buttons overlaid on the live view display.||Pressing one of the buttons - in this case the left key - brings up an overlaid menu showing the options associated with that function. Simply select the one you want and press OK.|
|This menu screen allows you to configure each of the six buttons to your own needs...||..and the list of options available for each button is pretty comprehensive. A similar set of options can be assigned to the top-plate Fn button for 'one-press' direct access.|
Pressing the E-Fn button down for 2 seconds also temporarily brightens the screen for clearer viewing in bright conditions - a useful trick.