On the Fujifilm FinePix X100

Andy Westlake previews the new Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera, which has a retro body design based upon the 1970 rangefinder cameras.

The X100, though, is something totally different. It’s a beautifully-designed rangefinder-styled camera that squeezes an SLR-size APS-C sensor into its compact body, and sports a fixed, fast F2 maximum aperture semi-wideangle lens with a classic 35mm-equivalent field of view. It uses traditional analogue-style control dials for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, alongside an electronically coupled (‘focus-by-wire’) manual focus ring. But the biggest story is its innovative hybrid viewfinder, which combines a conventional direct-vision optical viewfinder with a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, offering the best of both worlds plus a few unique tricks of its own.

The large-sensor, fixed-lens compact isn’t a new idea, of course, and both Sigma’s DP series and the Leica X1 have already visited this territory. However these haven’t been entirely convincing products, plagued by slow operation, low-resolution LCDs and, in the case of the Sigmas, a somewhat quirky interface. For this reason they’ve struggled to establish a compelling raison d’etre, especially in the face of competition from the new breed of interchangeable lens mirrorless compacts typified by the Olympus Pen series and Sony NEXs. So the real question will be whether Fujifilm has managed to refine the concept, and produce a camera that’s as compelling to shoot with as its specifications (and looks) suggest.

I love the design of this camera.  It would certainly turn heads out and about in the city.

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