4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fujifilm XF1: Pocketable creative photography,
This review is from: Fujifilm XF1 Digital Camera - Black (12MP, 2/3 inch EXR-CMOS Sensor, 4x Optical Zoom) 3 Inch LCD ack (12MP, 4x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD (Electronics)
The Fujifilm XF1 is a 12 megapixel entry-level advanced compact camera with a manual zoom f1.8-4.9 lens with a 25-100 mm (equivalent) focal length. Briefly, if you're willing to do without a viewfinder, hot shoe for an external flash, touchscreen and wireless/GPS capability, the XF1 is a truly pocketable, well built, retro-styled camera with an above-average sensor size representing excellent value for money.
I bought the XF1 in late 2012 as a step up from a point-and-shoot, mainly for taking photos while abroad. My initial decision was whether to go for a high-end travel compact such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V (now succeeded by the DSC-HX50) for the excellent zoom, or to go for an entry-level advanced compact for the higher image quality and more creative control. I opted for the latter and proceeded to agonise over reviews for models from Sony, Fujifilm, Canon, Panasonic and Samsung. Ultimately, the decision to go for the Fujifilm XF1 was for the above-average sensor size at this price point (2/3" vs. 1/1.7", discounting the Sony DSC-RX100 with the larger 1" sensor based on my budget) and for true pocketability. I've taken around 2500 shots with the XF1 so am hopefully in a good position to give a thorough review from a beginner's perspective.
In agreement with another Amazon reviewer, the XF1, which shares the same sensor as the more expensive X10 (worth considering if a viewfinder is a must), delivers superb image quality for the price. The colours are particularly impressive. I would recommend looking at professional reviews for comparisons and before buying. The focal length of the lens (25-100 mm) is on par with the competition, and the aperture range is respectable. However, although the fast f1.8 at 25 mm is impressive, the drop to 4.9 does kick in very quickly (f3.6 by ~35 mm and f4.9 by ~65 mm by my measurement), somewhat limiting the ability for lower light shots at longer focal lengths. The shutter speed is from 1/2000 to 30 s, and I've had some great night shots using a mini tripod with exposures between 20-30 s. Autofocusing is quick and there is a manual focus capability. The minimum focusing distance is 3 cm, so macro capability is good, and I've no problems with the built-in flash.
MODES AND SETTINGS
The XF1 is capable of shooting in RAW format (including a combined RAW + JPEG mode) and has P/S/A/M control on the top dial. Also available is an Advanced mode which has several filters (which are displayed on screen in real time), a 120/180/360 degree panorama mode which is generally excellent - although there are the occasional instances of obvious joins between the stitched images, a pro focus mode which attempts to blur the background around a subject (generally not especially successfully), a pro low-light mode which combines multiple exposures and works well for low light still shots, a multiple exposure mode which allows you to combine two separate exposures into a single image and a 3D mode which I haven't explored. There are also numerous scene options (landscapes, portrait, night etc.), again which I've yet to use. Two user-defined modes are also available.
Perhaps most notable is the EXR mode, which essentially functions as an 'intelligent auto' mode, either automatically adjusting the settings based on the scene (with impressive accuracy), or allowing you to opt for one of three modes to either improve resolution, lower noise for low light-high ISO shots or to enhance the dynamic range. The automatic EXR mode works very well and produces some excellent point-and-shoot images. This mode has proven particularly useful for getting good, quick shots on the go.
Settings such as ISO, white balance, focus mode, continuous shooting etc. can be adjusted using the E-Fn button, which duplicates the physical buttons on the back of the camera onto the display (the corresponding settings which the 'virtual' buttons map to can be customised). Although this will probably prove a frustration for DLSR users accustomed to having dedicated controls, it does a decent job at avoiding the need to cycle through menus for common settings. There is also a small dedicated Fn button on the top of the camera which can also be customised (personally I set to ISO).
AESTHETICS AND HANDLING
The XF1 has a retro look, which may or may not appeal - personally I think it looks great. A couple of minor gripes are that lens does feel and sound a little 'plasticky' when zooming, although I rather like the manual zoom over a typical zoom switch. Secondly there is no real thumb grip, with only a small rubber protrusion to stop your thumb slipping off the camera - it does the job however.
A major point of contention is the on/off mechanism which involves rotating the lens, pulling out from the body, and rotating again to the shortest focal length of 25 mm to turn the camera on. This becomes trivial after a few days of use, and although I wouldn't consider it either a 'feature' or a serious annoyance, it does allow the lens to sit quite flush to the camera body for true pocketability. Playback mode can be accessed without the need to power on via the lens mechanism by holding down the 'Play' button for a few seconds. The 3", 460k-dot LCD screen itself is a pleasure to use. The brightness of the screen can be increased when shooting in bright light by holding down the E-Fn button for a few seconds, although this inevitably makes it difficult to determine if you have the right exposure, so if of somewhat limited use.
I can't comment in detail here having only taken a couple of videos, but as mentioned by another reviewer, the zoom can be heard on the audio and I have had experience of the autofocus hunting back and forth. Personally, video capability isn't a priority for me.
Overall, I think the XF1 is an excellent entry to 'pocketable' creative photography if you're upgrading from a point-and-shoot. On the other hand, you may be frustrated by the lack of a viewfinder and dedicated controls if you're used to DSLRs, and may be put off by the 100 mm maximum focal length if you need the zoom. I've given 5* to reflect the value for money with the high image quality and features on offer.