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Reviews, Tech Talk

Fujifilm XF1: Review


This week I received a shiny new Fujifilm XF1 compact camera, for reviewing purposes, so without further ado, here’s what shall be a rather lengthy look at the camera, with my thoughts on using it, how it performs, and how it compares with other compacts on the market

The XF1, released around September 2012, is one of the latest members of Fuji’s very nice X series, and while it doesn’t quite replace the X10 as its flagship compact, it is their newest camera of the sort. I say it doesn’t really replace the X10 because at first glance, whether at its body or the spec sheet, it doesn’t seem as high-end as the X10, for some reason, and this is reflected at the price, with the X10 still going for around $599 while the XF1, just released, can be got for less than $499. I guess the fact that while the XF1 is smaller, and a true compact in many ways, the X10 has the ability to pack in a bit more of the good stuff due to its size. Then again, the XF1 features the same-sized 2/3” EXR CMOS sensor, a nice manual zoom ring with a similar zoom range, a fast Fujinon lens, and pretty much everything else that the X10 offers…so I’m not really sure what’s up with that. For now, at least. Read on to find out what I discover while using it

Fujifilm XF1

While making this review, I always had the idea on my mind that if I really liked what I saw and felt when using the XF1, I might replace my current Sony RX100 with it; so to be honest, it is with this frame of mind that I am writing this review. In parts, it’ll be a comparison between the XF1 and the older X10, even though they’re a ‘generation’ apart, but for the most part, it’s going to be a look at how the XF1 stacks up against the best compact on the market: the Sony RX100

Alright then, let’s get on to the review. As usual, if you’re looking to buy this camera, now or after you read the entire post, please use my affiliate links here (and at the end of the page) to make your purchase. You know why. Thanks!

Fujifilm XF1 (Black) on AmazonFujifilm XF1 (Red) on AmazonFujifilm XF1 (Brown/Tan) on Amazon

Fujifilm XF1: Specifications You Want To Know

  • Body Type: Compact, Magnesium Alloy
  • Resolution: 12.0 mega pixels
  • Sensor Size: 2/3”
  • Sensor Type: EXR CMOS
  • Lens: Fujinon 6.4-25.6mm f1.8-4.9 (25-100mm equivalent)
  • Image Stabilization (Yes, optical)
  • Shutter Speed: Max 1/2000 sec, Min 30 sec
  • ISO Range: 100-3200 (expandable at low resolution)
  • Video: 1080p (30fps)
  • Video Format: H.264
  • Metering Modes: Multi-area, average, spot
  • Exposure Modes, P, A, S, M, EXR, Scene, Advanced, Custom (2)
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Forced, Suppressed, Slow Sync
  • Flash Range (at ISO 800): 50cm-7.4m (wide) / 80cm-2.7m (tele)
  • Hot shoe: No
  • Autofocus: Contrast Detection
  • AF Modes: Multi-area, center, single spot, tracking, continuous
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Macro Range: 3cm (wide) / 50cm (tele)
  • Screen: 3” LCD (460k-dot) fixed
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Optical/Electronic Viewfinder: No
  • Max Drive Speed 7fps at full resolution, 10fps at lower resolution
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, HDMI (mini)
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 108 x 61 x 33mm
  • Weight: 225g (including battery)

First Thoughts

As usual, I’m writing this review with the camera just out of the box, so my thoughts noted down here are absolutely my first! Alright, with that, the first thing that naturally strikes me (or anyone else) is the design of the camera. And I liked it! I know it’s going to be a love/hate thing – many people who saw the camera while I was using it commented on how weird they thought it looked – but at least it’s different, and that’s always a good thing. But yeah, I think many people will agree that it looks very good. The retro-style, with it’s silver-and-colored leatherette, looks very stylish to me – and while it’s not got the wide appeal of the X10, it has a lot of style and class of its own. If you like how it looks in the pictures, as I did, I’m sure it won’t disappoint out of the box

Once I picked it up, the next thing I noticed was the weight. Compared to the X10, which weighs 350g, and the RX100 (240g), the XF1, while fitting in the middle in terms of physical size, weighs 225g…and though some might think of the lighter weight as a good thing, I unfortunately have to bring it up as a negative. Holding it in my hand, I just find it lacks that premium feel, the feel I get when I use something like the X10 or the RX100 or the Lumix LX7. It feels light, and slightly toy-like. Mildly cheap. Again, it might not be an issue for some, but I definitely didn’t like how it felt when I first picked it up. Not a good start, I’m afraid

Alright, next up, I turn it on for my usual first test shot. For some reason, I always end up with these new cameras at night, which means that my first shots are always taken in lowlight indoor conditions, immediately posing a challenge to the camera’s AF system and stuff. Here, the XF1 blew me away. I don’t want to sound like I’m exaggerating, but the XF1’s AF speed is fantastic. Even in low light, the camera locked focus almost instantly, with no real lag or delay. It doesn’t seem to try for very long – it tries to lock focus, and if it can’t lock almost instantly, it gives up with the red AF failure symbol – but it usually got it right most of the time. And fast. More on this later on, but I have to say this felt good!

Lastly, let me talk about the power-on/zoom mechanism. This manual zoom ring (and the cool power-on sequence) is one of the reasons I was thinking of switching from my Sony to this Fuji, mainly because my experience with the Fuji manual zoom ring (on the X10) was extremely nice and far nicer to use than the RX100’s electronic control ring; and from what I saw on the pictures and videos, the manual zoom of the XF1 looked as good, and the power-on sequence, even though some thought it a bit of a nuisance, seemed a great idea to me. In case you haven’t seen pictures or videos of the XF1 being powered on yet…well, it’s a bit of a process. Firstly, you have to pop out the lens. You just give it a light twist and a tug and pops out. That’s your stand-by mode. From here, it’s just like the X10: turn the zoom ring from OFF to the 25mm position and you’re good to go. Start up speed is very fast – there’s a built-in lens cap, which is great – and from here, you’re good to go

Fuji XF1 Power-on Sequence: Start in the compact mode. Give the lens a little pull, and you’re in stand-by mode. Twist the ring from OFF to the 25mm position and it’s on

Once you’re done shooting, just turn the zoom ring back to the OFF position, and leave it like that…or if you want to put it back into your pocket, give the lens a light twist and a push, and it collapses into the camera body, making things very compact

This worked nicely, but I have to say, things just don’t feel as polished or high-quality as the X10. The lens pops out alright, and locks pretty securely in place, and you don’t feel like a light push will cause it to collapse back…great…but the quality of the zoom ring is not even close to the X10. It’s just not as smooth, and doesn’t have that ‘premium’ feel. It feels a bit cheap – not wobbly or anything of the sort – and just lacks the lovely feel of the X10. Starting to see why this thing costs noticeably less, are we? Maybe

The power-on method itself is a bit complicated, but it works well, and I find myself liking this system. Remember that you don’t always have to collapse the lens, meaning that for most occasions, it’d be like turning on an X10, with an automatic lens cap thing. I love that. And even though the zoom ring isn’t as awesome as the one on the X10, I find myself wishing the ring around the RX100 was a true manual zoom ring like this one

Anyway, my first impressions overall were mostly good, but the things that didn’t particularly strike me as impressive – the cheap, lightweight feel of the camera, and the not-so-smooth zoom ring – are making me already feel like there’s no way I’m switching to this camera just yet

Controls & Handling

Although compact, and flat, with no grip, the XF1 handles fine. The leatherette makes it look good while also giving you a fairly secure grip on the body. That, and your left hand which naturally ends up holding the zoom ring, means you just feel comfortable gripping this camera. Very nice

Controls are not as extensive as the X10, naturally, as it’s more compact, but having more space than the RX100, it has a few more controls than the Sony, which I find very pleasant to use. The buttons are nice and solid, but again, I have a complaint with the feel of the camera, and this time it’s a control: the mode dial. Unlike the X10 (or any other premium compact) which has a solid mode dial that just clicks into place, the XF1’s mode dial lacks quality. You’re not going to accidentally change the mode because of it, but it doesn’t have the feel that I expect from a camera of this class. And worst of all, it sometimes gets stuck on an ‘in-between’ setting, which is something that I hate! Disappointing, again – but apart from this, quality of controls is fine

Looking at the controls…

Top Panel

On the top panel, we have: the mode dial, the shutter button, an Fn button, as well as the flash on the other end. Just below the flash is a manual flash release switch

Back Panel

On the back are the rest of the controls: a thumb dial called the command dial, just like the one on the X10, a playback button, a dedicated movie button, a Display/Back button, and a rather clever E-Fn button, which I shall explain in a bit. Of course, there’s also the four-way controller – which doubles up as a ‘sub-command’ dial – and controls macro mode, exposure compensation/delete, flash, and self-timer/drive mode. There’s also a large 3” LCD. No optical/electronic viewfinder

If all that sounds a bit minimal, this is where the E-Fn button comes in. What does it do? Quite simply, it acts as a “Shift” button, allowing you to program an alternate setting for 6 other buttons: the playback button, the movie button, and the four directional buttons. Press the E-Fn button, and an overlay pops-up on screen, showing the alternate settings that these 6 buttons control. Press the respective button and you get access to that setting. Brilliant, I think

Along with the also-programmable Fn button on the top panel, that’s seven features you can access with the press of a button (or two). Similar to the RX100, which allows you to access seven settings with its Fn button, but different. I thought, when I first saw this feature, that it’s a much nicer way of doing things than the Sony, but when using it, I found it simply different…and nice…but I can’t say it’s so much better

Front

The front of the camera has absolutely nothing, save for the zoom ring, and as I’ve already gone through how you turn on the camera and use this ring, there’s not much more to say here. Oh, it’s also got the AF lamp in front

When you look at how compact this thing is, I think the control layout is very good indeed. The second command dial, the thumb dial, makes it a better experience than the RX100

NOTE: I realize that this entire page is very similar to my own “First Look” post at the XF1, but it’s not my fault, as the controls haven’t changed at all since then!

Performance

If I had to describe the overall performance of the Fuji XF1 in a few words, I’d say that it’s great. For the most part, it performs like a camera of this class should, and even in the few points that I note below, where it wasn’t that great, it’s nothing too severe – just a bit annoying. Looking at the details:

Power-on speed is very fast. From stand-by mode to ON takes less than two seconds, and is a tad faster than the Sony RX100 here. Of course, if you’re keeping it in your pocket, you need to take it out and pull out the lens…which takes another couple of seconds…so in this case it’d take around 4-5 seconds to turn on, which is considerably longer than the Sony. I very much like the lack of an external lens cap, as I find it a nuisance in compacts, so this part of the XF1 works great for me

I already touched on autofocus speed, and after spending a lot more time with it, the AF performance still impresses. It’s just fast. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t try for very long, and if it doesn’t manage to lock focus instantly, it tells you to try again…but most often it gets it right. In daylight, I don’t remember it ever failing to lock, and even at night, it did an excellent job. The AF performance on the X10 was really good, but it’s good to see Fuji continuing to improve their products. In daylight, I’d say the XF1 is a tad faster in the AF department compared to both the RX100 and the X10, and is quite a bit faster than these two in low light

Shot to shot speed is pretty good, regardless of whether you shoot JPEG or RAW. I reckon it takes around two seconds between shots? Something like that. Similar to many other cameras of this class, if you ask me…maybe a bit slower than the X10 and RX100

Talking of shot to shot speed, I noticed that when shooting this fast, the LCD tends to ‘stutter’ a bit immediately after focusing or after shooting i.e. take a shot and move the camera, the LCD stutters…a sort of slow refresh rate, I guess. It doesn’t really affect performance, but it makes things feel a bit slow and sluggish, more than it actually is

Burst shooting is good. They advertise 10fps – I remember reading this and being excited about it – but it turns out that’s at lower resolution. At full resolution, the XF1 can fire off 7fps, and buffers approximately 7 frames before slowing down to write to my Class 10 SD card. Once complete, the camera is ready for shooting pretty quickly. The RX100 is better in this department, and I’d say even the X10 handles burst shooting a bit better, but I think the XF1’s continuous shooting should be perfectly fine for most people

Browsing the menu and all that sort of thing is fine – no lag or anything of the sort. The menu itself is a typical Fuji layout, and I find it very easy to navigate. One complaint here is that they put the option to shoot RAW in the Settings menu, which takes a bit of time to find…so unless you program a button just for this setting, it’s a real hassle to switch quickly to RAW and back to JPEG. The only laggy bit when using this camera was that immediately after taking a picture, and pressing the playback button to view it again after the initial preview, it sometimes takes a couple of seconds to view. No idea why. It shouldn’t do that. But the rest of the operation works fast

Then there’s this little issue that I noticed after using the camera for a couple of hours, and I think this is the only place in this review where it’d fit. What is it? The lens, or something inside the camera, makes this strange, squeaky, creaky noise when switching between playback mode and shooting mode, or when you turn it on/off. It’s not really loud and it shouldn’t be a major issue, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence…and adds yet again to the growing list of things that makes this camera feel cheap. Not to mention after a while, it really starts to get on your nerves. I double-checked this with a few other users of this camera to make sure mine wasn’t a faulty unit…so yeah…rather odd

Lastly, I think this is a good point to mention that for some reason, while testing in auto/priority modes, I sometimes wasn’t able to get a shutter speed faster than 1/1200 sec. Reading through the specs on the Fuji website later on, I found this note stating that the maximum shutter speed at maximum aperture is 1/1200! That’s rather ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean, you need the fast speeds especially at maximum aperture, right? And since there’s no built-in ND filter or anything, it really can be a nuisance, as I found out when I was testing this thing on a fairly sunny day. I recall not being able to shoot at more than 1/1200 even at f2.0 or f2.5 etc. and had to resort to full Manual mode very often to get the right exposure. Rather absurd. And inconvenient

UPDATE: I just realized that this probably means the XF1 shutter mechanism is a central (lens) shutter, which is usually not capable of firing off its fastest speed at maximum apertures. Still, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing, especially when the fastest speed itself isn’t THAT fast!

Overall, performance was very good, with these few minor annoyances – although the last one I mentioned was actually more than minor. There’s no such thing as the perfect camera, though…so if you like everything else about it, and you can live with these few issues, the XF1 performs pretty well…especially when you look at its excellent autofocus speed. For me, the lens noise, along with the other stuff I didn’t like about it, as well as the max shutter at wide apertures, are really starting to put me off


Features

Manual Zoom Ring: The manual zoom ring, and the way you turn on the camera, initially seems similar to the X10 – and as I loved the X10 and how this part of the camera worked, I was expecting the same on the XF1 – but as I mentioned before, this wasn’t the case. The power-on sequence works well, and I find no issues with the slightly complicated way it has to be done – I actually think it’s a pretty smart design, and gives you the option of keeping it really compact, while also allowing you to turn it on in a hurry if you need to – but the fact that the entire operation, including the zoom action itself, was not smooth and felt cheap is what I didn’t like. That, and the annoying sound that occurs when you switch between shooting and playback mode…which seems to come from the lens. It just doesn’t have that X10 feel. In any case, I’m a big fan of Fuji’s manual zoom rings, and even though this isn’t the best, I wish the Sony RX100 had this sort of manual zoom control instead of the electronic ring it has. Anyway, before I start repeating myself – I probably already have – I’ll move on…

Fujinon Lens: The 25-100mm f1.8-4.9 lens is faster than the X10 at the wide end, but slows down considerably at the telephoto end. Yes, its speed is identical to the Sony RX100, but you have to note that the RX100 has a sensor twice the size of the XF1 – meaning that at the same aperture, the RX100 will give you shallower depth of field, due to the larger sensor, and also perform better at high ISo speeds. You can probably shoot at f4.0 at ISO 1600 on the Sony, and get similar quality to the XF1 at f4.0 and ISO 800. The depth of field at f4.9 on the Sony will definitely be shallower than the Fuji in the same settings too. You get the idea. I like the wide-angle speed of this lens, and as you will find out, the image quality that it produces is right up there, but I don’t like the fact that it slows down so much at the telephoto end. Compared to the X10, it’s poor…and you can’t really compare it to the RX100 in this case, as the sensor is completely different

EXR Mode: The EXR CMOS sensor, also found on the X10, is something rather cool developed by Fujifilm. I really don’t know the details about what it is and how it works and how it differs from ordinary CMOS sensors, and I don’t think that’d interest many people anyway, but like on the X10, the EXR Mode allows you direct access to the benefits of this sensor. It is an automatic mode, and detecting the scene, it selects one of three ‘sub modes’ if you will: High ISO/Low Noise, Dynamic Range and High Resolution. Naturally, the High ISO/Low Noise mode reduces noise when shooting at high ISO speeds…the Dynamic Range mode captures more detail from highlights and shadows…while the High Resolution mode preserves fine detail in the shot. If the automatic mode doesn’t quite detect the right EXR mode for you, you can choose yourself. It works quite well…although on the Noise and Dynamic Range modes, you shoot at lower resolution. Have a look at the sample images below to judge for yourself…they’re pretty good…and if I reason to use them, I probably would

NOTE: You can also increase dynamic range while shooting in P, A, S, M modes – and although this doesn’t increase dynamic range as much as the EXR mode would, it shows noticeably more detail in shadow and highlight areas, while maintaining full 12MP resolution

Advanced Mode: In addition to the Scene modes, the XF1 has this Advanced mode that allows you to do a few cool things. The X10 just had three of these modes, if I remember right, but the XF1 adds a few more. Pro Focus is a pretty good one, where it takes two shots – one in focus, one out of focus – and merges them together to give you a sharp subject with an extra-blurred background. Quite natural, I have to admit. Other than this, there’s a sweep panorama mode, which performs as expected, a 3D mode that takes 3D images, and a Pro Low Light mode which is supposed to make it easier to shoot moving subjects in low light. The 3D mode requires a tripod, for you to shoot two exposures without moving, and creates a .MPO 3D image file. The Pro Low Light mode also shoots a couple of shots, and blends them together, using both shots to increase detail while shooting at high ISO, allowing you to get a faster shutter speed in low light. Pretty basic stuff, made easier for beginners, I guess. In practice, I didn’t find it particularly useful

The Double Exposure mode, however, is one that I personally loved, and until now thought was only possible on film. In case you’re not sure what this does, it allows you to shoot one image, then shoot the next shot over the first…getting a rather unique, weird fusion of two shots. Nice. There’s also a bunch of effects, such as Toy and color highlight modes, which work pretty well too. Have a look at the sample images to get a better idea of all these shots. For the 3D mode, I’m not sure how to view these .MPO 3D image files, so I’m just attaching a link to the file for you to download and view yourself

Click here for a rather boring but useful sample of the .MPO 3D image file

NOTE: Again, some of these modes work at half resolution so don’t expect to get your full 12MP all the time if you’re into these!

Macro Mode: Like on the X10, the macro mode is very good. It doesn’t allow you to get quite as close to the subject as the X10 – the X10 has an MFD of 1cm at the wide-angle end – but with an MFD of 3cm at the wide-angle end (and 50cm at the telephoto end), you can get some pretty good close-up shots using this mode on the XF1. Slightly better than the RX100’s 5cm MFD

LCD: A 460k-dot screen is sort of sub-par these days, don’t you think? I didn’t realize it until I used it. The LCD works fine as a viewfinder, and is perfectly clear…and bright enough to use even in direct sunlight…no issues there…but the low resolution is rather obvious once you take a shot and view it. Preview images tend to appear quite grainy, and until you get used to it, you’re going to feel disappointed with your shots, as they look rather bad on the LCD. High ISO images look particularly terrible. Of course, they look perfectly fine on your computer, but it can be a surprise when you first preview your work, until you realize that it’s the LCD and not the camera itself

And that’s about it for the special features of this camera. Quite a few, and most of them work well. If you’re really serious about photography, you’re probably not going to be using some of the different modes and all that, but then again, I found quite a few of them rather useful, so don’t dismiss them without trying them out!

Fujifilm XF1: Image Quality

And with that, I come to the image quality of this camera. The part that matters more than any other. Yes. And like most of the products I’ve been reviewing recently, the XF1 really delivers in this aspect. Yeah, I found the image quality to be quite excellent. A slight improvement on the X10, and although lacking in resolution and detail compared to the RX100, I have to say the overall image quality is comparable even to the fantastic Sony. Sharp, bright, punchy images with really nice colors…with more than a hint of the Fuji look to it, if you get what I mean…wonderful

Looking at the different elements that make up the image quality that the XF1 produces, one thing that immediately struck me was the super-accurate automatic white balance of this camera. Out of the many new compacts that I’ve used recently, this one has to be the best. In normal shooting conditions, it produced great results – no surprise – but in more challenging circumstances, like my living room at night, where most cameras struggle, the XF1 had no trouble whatsoever, and produced extremely natural results automatically. I don’t think I ever needed to switch from auto WB, and definitely never needed to use the custom preset. Very impressive

Distortions are pretty well controlled in-camera. RAW and JPEG both. When shooting, the image through the viewfinder shows obvious distortions, especially at the 25mm end…and at the telephoto end too…but hit the shutter, and the final image has nothing that noticeable in the end. Can’t complain if they’re automatically fixed, can you? Nope

Colors, as I already mentioned, are lovely. Bright but natural. It just makes your shot look beautiful. The Fujifilm look? I’d say so

Sharpness is very good throughout the frame. Look for the crops posted below, if you’d like to see for yourself, but yeah…these X series Fujinon lenses have been really sharp throughout the range, and the XF1’s 25-100mm lens is no exception. As you can see in the sample gallery below, the images are nice and sharp. Nice detail too

What else? Oh yes, noise. At high ISO settings, the XF1 is probably on par with the X10, or slightly better. Even at ISO 1600, JPEGs were reasonably clean without losing much detail, and I’d say at ISO 800, the JPEGs were excellent. Above 1600, of course, there’s a lot of noise reduction applied, and even though you have the option of three levels of NR, you’re always going to lose out, either on detail, or on noise. But getting good images at ISO 1600 is great, isn’t it? Yeah

You should also note that the camera gives you quite a bit of flexibility on how it processes JPEGs. You get to control sharpness, NR, and all that, by choosing between three levels, so even if you can’t get it quite to your idea of perfection, you can get it pretty close! That’s very useful

And that’s it for image quality. Of course, most of what I said above is for the JPEGs, and how the camera handles them…but just so you get an idea of how the XF1’s RAW images look, without NR or sharpening etc., look below for crops of RAW vs. JPEG, among a lot of other JPEG crops

Image Quality: Sharpness/Detail/Noise

All are (approximately) 100% crops

Image Quality: RAW vs. JPEG

All the comparisons below are JPEG first, RAW second. All are (approximately) 100% crops, taken from around the center of the frame

If there’s anything I’ve missed out, let me know – but I think that’s it for image quality! Sharp, bright, colorful…class-leading automatic white balance…very good high ISO performance…and well-controlled distortion. I think it’s obvious from the sample images above that this is a good performer – and when you stop pixel-peeping and look at images like they’re usually viewed (at normal size, like in the sample gallery below) you realize that it’s even better. So for all the little issues that I picked out from this product, when it comes down to image quality, there’s nothing to complain about

Fujifilm XF1 Product Gallery

Yeah, the box was rather battered, and the Fuji sticker ruined things a bit – but as you can see, the camera does look great

Fujifilm XF1 Sample Image Gallery

Fujifilm XF1: What I liked/what I didn’t like

Plus Points:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Automatic white balance (definitely worth a mention here!)
  • Compact, pocketable body
  • Blazing fast and accurate autofocus, even in low light
  • Fast lens (at 25mm)
  • Unique design
  • Manual zoom ring (even though it isn’t as nice as the X10)
  • Nice control set, with the useful E-Fn button
  • Fast power-on speed, and unique power-on sequence
  • Very good high ISO performance
  • Good macro mode
  • Allows quite a bit of customization over JPEG processing
  • Zippy overall performance
  • Interesting and useful EXR and Advanced modes

Negatives:

  • Build quality – feels a bit cheap, and not ‘premium’ like it should
  • Manual zoom ring not nearly as smooth as the one on the X10
  • Max shutter speed of 1/1200 sec at wide aperture
  • Weird noise from the lens (?!) when switching between shooting and playback
  • Very ordinary LCD
  • Sub-standard quality of mode dial
  • Lens slows down considerably at the telephoto end
  • All of the above features combine to create a very ordinary feel to what should be a high-end product

Conclusion

In conclusion, the XF1 is a very good compact camera overall. It takes great pictures, its got a very cool retro-style body, it has a nice set of control buttons and dials, plenty of manual controls, and all that. And it’s cheap. Sounds good? Yes

However, from the moment I turned this on for the first time – in fact, from the moment I held it in my hand – I knew that I was going to be sticking with the Sony RX100 for a while longer. The XF1 was the last compact in this class to be released in 2012, I believe, and it was the only one that had a chance of ousting the RX100 as the best compact of the year…but nope, it couldn’t quite do that. The AF performance, image quality, and many other aspects stack up in its favor, and is quite impressive when you look at it, but with the not-so-premium build quality and feel, the not-so-smooth manual zoom ring, and the fact that the power-on sequence (which works great) looks better than it actually feels, I have to say the RX100 remains on top for a while longer

The more I use it, the more I feel like it’s just not the sort of product that fits the awesome X series by Fuji. And because of that – and maybe the fact that my expectations were quite high – I found the camera rather disappointing

Having said that, the Fuji XF1 does have its plus points. So give it a shot…try it out in a store if you can…and see how it feels to you. If you like that part of it, and if you’re fine the little issues that I mentioned i.e. weird lens noise and the cheap zoom ring, I think it’d be great for you – and at quite a bit less than the Sony or even Fuji’s own X10, it’s a pretty good deal!


Looking at things from a pure image quality point of view, I’d say it goes: RX100, XF1, X10; looking at everything, in a more complete sense, I’d rate the RX100 first, the X10 next, with the XF1 a bit behind. But it’s definitely among the top 3 compacts out on the market today…

Alright, I’m done. Do I recommend this camera? Definitely. If you’re coming from a lower-end compact, or if this is your first compact of this class, you’d definitely be impressed. But I just feel it’s not as good as it should. And I’ve come to the point where I definitely realize I’m repeating myself so I shall stop. Until next time

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By Heshan Jayakody
All content in this post is my own

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Discussion

32 Responses to “Fujifilm XF1: Review”

  1. I’ve been looking for a new camera as of late to replace the one I’ve had for many years. This was one of the cameras that I had been actually looking at and I am so glad that I found this post on it. It has really helped me get a better perspective on this product without having to buy it or having to deal with pushy sales people that don’t particularly care about my needs, but would rather just make the sale. Thank you for this review, it has been very helpful!!

    Posted by Felicia | December 24, 2012, 19:58
    • i’m so glad this review helped! it’s definitely one of the best compacts out on the market, and will never disappoint on image quality. go to a store and test it out to see if it really is for you. good luck! let me know what you decide too!

      Posted by pixelogist | December 25, 2012, 00:07
  2. fantastic review. very well done. i was considering this along with the RX100 but now my mind is made up!

    Posted by Willace | December 30, 2012, 15:16
  3. your reviews are very good and super-detailed! i love how i get a feeling of how using this camera must be like! thanks for helping me decide!

    Posted by Gayle | December 30, 2012, 15:27
    • that’s exactly what i try to do – to give you a feel of how this camera is and how it behaves, and not simply the technical bits that a lot of people talk of – so i’m really pleased to hear you say this. cheers!

      Posted by pixelogist | December 30, 2012, 17:18
  4. terrific review! how do u think this compares with the just-announced X20?

    Posted by Chris | January 10, 2013, 08:37
    • thanks! 🙂 i haven’t had time to go through the finer details of the X20 – but from what i’ve seen, it seems to be a fairly minimal upgrade, with some important features added (new AF system and sensor) and not much else. i don’t think picture quality will be that much different from the X10, or for that matter, the XF1 – which isn’t a bad thing, as both the X10 and XF1 delivered top image quality. i would’ve liked to have seen them go with a 1″ sensor or something, that would really compete with the RX100…but for now, with the size of the X20, i’m still keeping my RX100!

      Posted by pixelogist | January 10, 2013, 12:59
  5. very detailed review, love it. i really get your opinion and the feel of using it. very helpful for buyers like myself…and i have to say, i’m a bit turned off by the sound of this one. maybe i’ll go for the X20 instead

    Posted by Jules | March 5, 2013, 20:58
    • thanks for your kind comment! yeah, i wasn’t very impressed with the XF1 – it’s the only X series camera that didn’t impress me. the X20 would be a great buy, go for it!

      Posted by pixelogist | March 6, 2013, 12:29
  6. i just got myself this camera (I commented some time ago, I said your review helped me decide!) – and I have to say I agree with pretty much everything you say, although I’m fine with almost all of it 😀 I guess that’s why I bought it. I’m really liking it so far

    Posted by Gayle | March 9, 2013, 14:51
    • Ah, as a reviewer, that’s one of the best things to hear 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to let me know. It’s a very capable camera, and like I mentioned here, it takes superb pictures. I’m sure you’ll be super happy with it!

      Posted by pixelogist | March 9, 2013, 15:56
  7. Comparing this with the Lumix LX7, which would you think I shoudl go for? I have both options, and both are affordable for me. I want good image quality, and great useability 🙂

    Posted by Yohoma | March 12, 2013, 12:02
    • I’d suggest the XF1. With a much larger sensor (the X-Trans at that), the image quality is excellent – and the handling of this camera is really nice too, even if it feels a bit cheap. If I were choosing between the XF1 and LX7, I’d pick the Fuji

      Posted by pixelogist | March 12, 2013, 12:48
  8. So many choices for a new compact today! What would you recommend if i were buying one now, and I had a budget of $500-600? I’d like to keep it as low as possible though!

    Posted by Cameron | March 23, 2013, 17:44
    • Yeah, we’re pretty spoilt for choice in the compact market today, aren’t we? Get the Sony RX100 or Fuji X20 if you can afford it. Those the best compacts on the market right now. The RX100 for pure image quality, hands down – and the X20 for far superior handling, and image quality that’s close to the RX100 but not quite

      Posted by pixelogist | March 23, 2013, 22:00
  9. somehow, i disliked this cam from the moment i saw it. just the design and everything put me off. a love/hate thing, yes…and i hated it! i’m somehow glad you didn’t love it either…

    Posted by Chris | May 8, 2013, 15:37
    • Oh well, the design is certainly not for everybody. I actually liked quite a few things about it, including the design – but yes, a few rather annoying points kept me from absolutely loving it

      Posted by pixelogist | May 8, 2013, 18:14
  10. Great review! I was thinking of getting this camera – comparing it to similar models from Nikon and Canon Powershots. This one seems to have the best image quality, right? And it’s going quite cheap now, I think it’ll be a great option for me!!

    Posted by Morgan | November 3, 2013, 07:52
    • Thanks Morgan 🙂 I think this is far superior to any compact camera made by Canon or Nikon, thanks to the larger sensor. It’s not only large, it’s really good. Check out the sample images (I’m sure you have) – don’t they look great? It’s a super option if you’re looking for a compact that’s cheaper than the RX100/X20 etc. but still takes really good pictures

      Posted by pixelogist | November 3, 2013, 08:05
  11. So now that the XF1 is available for $200 US, how would you rate it? I was lusting for the RX100 but have just ordered the XF1 – at 40% of the price of the Sony, it looks more than “good enough” for me.

    Posted by Craig | November 26, 2013, 22:59
    • Well, don’t worry about my comments now that you’ve already ordered it! Haha. But like I mentioned in this review, the image quality of the XF1 is really, really good. I only didn’t like some aspects of the design and build quality. Which isn’t bad – it’s just not for me. At $200, it’s a ridiculously good deal. Like I’ve said, the Sony RX100/RX100 II is definitely superior in terms of image quality, but like you said, it costs more than double. I think it’s a good choice – and you should be pleased with what you get out of it!

      Posted by pixelogist | November 27, 2013, 06:58
  12. Thanks for the detailed review! I’m relieved to know that the strange squeaky noise doesn’t mean the camera being faulty. Just picked up my brown XF1 today. It’s on sale for $239.99 in Canada!

    Posted by marc | November 27, 2013, 16:16
    • Yeah, it’s a great camera even at the original price – it’s a total steal at this new price 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the review – now enjoy the camera! Cheers

      Posted by pixelogist | November 27, 2013, 16:26
  13. This is goign for an absolute bargain at the moment, and I’m really thinking of getting it. I just have an Old Cybershot that I’ve been using for like 4 years now, and it’s been great but I feel it’s time to move on. I think this is just the right step up for me, and at like $200, I really don’t think I can go wrong – but what do you say?

    Thanks for a super review, by the way! Cheers

    Posted by Adam D. | December 8, 2013, 20:45
    • Absolutely, it’s a very good camera that takes really nice images. Image quality-wise, it matches the X20. In terms of build, handling, and feel, it’s not right up there – but it’s actually slimmer so it’s more compact. Some might actually prefer it to the X20. It’s a personal thing. Either way, it’s a very good camera, and at $200 it’s a fantastic bargain, go for it! 🙂

      Posted by pixelogist | December 9, 2013, 08:38
  14. I’ve bought this camera (just yesterday) almost solely to use as the ‘point and shoot’ it is, leaving it in our baby change bag for those moments where a phone camera just isn’t good enough.

    Are the auto modes going to be sufficient to leave the camera in 99% of the time? If so, which would you recommend?

    It’s likely that I won’t be using the camera that often and it’ll be my wife or a family member using it.

    Great review and excellent sample images.

    Alex.

    Posted by Alex | January 19, 2014, 18:48
    • That’s great 🙂 These advanced compacts are actually capable of a lot more than a typical point n shoot, but what you get from it is up to you. As for the modes, that depends on what you’re comfortable with, really. If you don’t know much about setting your camera up manually (the XF1 allows you all kinds of manual stuff) it’s best to stick to the Auto modes, but if you know what you’re doing, try out the other modes as well. I shoot almost exclusively in A (aperture priority) mode, but that’s just me!

      Posted by pixelogist | January 19, 2014, 19:42

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