The long-awaited FinePix X100 is a true street machine
More annoying is the X100’s tendency to reset certain controls, as is often the case in compact cameras. For instance, when set to 2-sec self-timer, it stays put for only one shot. On top of that, it’s buried in the menu system instead of being assigned to the drive modes, so street shooters can’t conveniently use the self-timer for surreptitious shooting, as they can with Leica’s X1. Thankfully, the X100’s shutter button accepts threaded cable releases, so you have an inexpensive option.
Motion Panorama also resets after one shot. This mode lets you hold the shutter button down while you pan the camera, and then stitches a panorama image out of the sequential frames. The results, though, aren’t very good if you handhold the camera—if your arc sways up or down a little, you’ll notice that hard edges on stationary objects, such as tops of buildings, will not stitch seamlessly as they do in Sony’s Sweep Panorama mode. So we’d recommend use of a tripod to keep your pan steady.
A small switch on the left side of the body lets you swap between auto and manual focus. To focus manually, you turn the front ring on the lens barrel, although, as with Four Thirds lenses, the ring activates a motor that does the actual focusing. The upside: You can reverse the direction of the ring if you want. The downside: It can take a lot of turning to get anywhere when focusing very closely, or going from one end of the focusing range to the other.
One of the big selling points of the X100 is its hybrid viewfinder. A flip switch on the front of the body toggles between the optical finder and a 1.44-million-dot electronic viewfinder. The optical view is very clear, and it has a bright overlay for framing lines and setting info. While focusing manually, you can see a distance scale that also shows depth of field via a white section of the bar that increases as you stop down—a different experience from a distance scale on the lens, but, as electronic substitutes go, it’s acceptable.
When manually focusing with either finder, press the command lever on the camera back and it will activate the EVF to zoom in on your selected focus point to help focus by eye—a very nice touch. To save time, you can press the AE/AF-Lock button while in manual focus, and the X100 will autofocus; you can then fine-tune manually.
Like most cameras these days, the X100 will capture high-definition video. It’s limited to 720p at 24 fps, but the footage we captured looked very nice, and the f/2 lens allows for pleasingly defocused backgrounds.
If you’re looking to recreate the rangefinder experience, but don’t want to pay thousands for a Leica, Fujifim’s X100 is a very appealing alternative—as long as you won’t miss true rangefinder focusing or swappable lenses. While it has some quirks, there’s no other camera on the market anywhere near its price that offers the X100’s classic rangefinder feel and level of imaging performance.
IMAGING: 12.3MP effective APS–C-sized CMOS sensor captures images at 4288x2848 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW.
STORAGE: SD/SDHC/SDXC stores JPEG, RAF RAW, and RAW + JPEG files. Optical finder: Reverse Galilean; 0.5X magnification; 90% accuracy.
EVF: 1.44 million–dot LCD.
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs up to 10 shots at 5 fps with focus, white balance, and metering locked.
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast detection with Multi-AF or Selectable Area AF from up to 49 areas in EVF or LCD shooting, or up to 25 areas with the optical finder.
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/1000 to 30 sec, plus B; expands to up to 1/4000 sec at f/8 or smaller apertures.
METERING: 256-segment TTL metering for evaluative, average, and spot. video: Records at up to 1280x720p at 24 fps in H.264 MOV format, built-in stereo microphone, no mic input, continuous AF available in movie mode.
ISO RANGE: ISO 200–6400 (in 1/3-EV increments); expands to ISO 100–12,800 for JPEG capture only.
FLASH: Built-in, GN 15 (ISO 100, feet); hot-shoe accepts optional EF-20 and EF-42 TTL flash units.
BATTERY: Rechargeable NP-95 Li-ion, CIPA rating 300 shots.
SIZE/WEIGHT: 5.0x2.9x2.1 in., 1.0 lb with an SD card and battery.
STREET PRICE: $1,200