Fujifilm included a very nice lens with the XF1, even if it doesn't offer much of a zoom capability. This Fujinon 4x manual zoom lens can use an aperture of between F1.8 and F11 at its wide-angle setting. The F1.8 aperture setting is an impressive capability in a fixed lens camera. At telephoto, the lens offers aperture settings between F4.9 and F11.
Although some photographers won't like the limited zoom, this lens will do a great job of capturing sharp portrait photos. The combination of the high-quality lens and the 2/3-inch EXR CMOS image sensor gives this camera the ability to create amazing images. You just don't expect to see photo quality this good in a camera that's so small. The large image sensor, which measures 0.67 inches diagonally, allows this camera to shoot much higher quality photos in 12-megapixels of resolution versus a 14MP or 16MP camera that has a smaller image sensor.
The EXR designation for this image sensor is a Fujifilm technology that uses two processor chips to shoot images, allowing for fast responses and good low-light performance. The XF1 offers ISO settings up to 12800, but any ISO setting above 3200 must be shot at a limited resolution.
When the lens is at its full zoom, it extends almost 2 inches from the camera body, but when the camera is powered down, it contracts to less than half an inch from the camera body. A metal cover automatically protects the lens glass when the camera is powered down.
The XF1's lens is a manual zoom lens, meaning you must turn a zoom ring to move through the zoom range, rather than using a motorized zoom switch. Although I typically like having manual zoom options, I found the manual zoom on the XF1 to be difficult to use. The lens is just too small to comfortably use the zoom ring. It does become easier with a little practice, but because this camera's body is so small and thin, you don't hold it like a DSLR model or a large fixed-lens camera, where turning a manual zoom lens is a much more natural motion because of where your left hand is positioned when supporting the lens.
You'll find a really fast and accurate autofocus system with the XF1, although this camera does struggle a little bit to find the focus when using the zoom for movies and in close-up photos, unless you're using the macro setting. The measurements for the autofocus range are:
- Normal: Wide, 1.6 ft. (50 cm) to infinity; Tele, 2.6 ft. (80 cm) to infinity
- Macro: Wide, 1.1 in. (3 cm) to 9.8 ft. (300 cm); Tele, 1.6 ft (50 cm) to 9.8 ft. (300 cm)
Although the Fujifilm XF1 has a few features that really set it apart from other fixed-lens models, one of the strangest is the method by which you turn on the camera. When the XF1 is powered down, the lens looks like it does in the above photo (a view from the top side of the camera), with the lens retracted tightly to the camera body.
Notice the two red dots that are lined up in the middle of the lens, with one red dot on the lens and one on the lens housing. This indicates that the lens is locked in place. You must manually unlock and extend the lens to turn on the camera. There is no power button on the XF1.
To start the power up process, slightly twist the lens to the right, causing upper dot to shift to the right.
You then pull the lens forward, away from the camera body. The lens will extend almost a full inch, as shown in the photo above. When you do this, the red dot next to Standby will line up with the dot on the lens housing, while the original red dot on the lens is now to the right and far beyond the Standby red dot.
You're now ready to power on the camera.
Twist the lens to the right again, and the camera will power on once the red dot next to 25mm lines up with the red dot on the camera housing. To extend the manual zoom lens, continue twisting the lens to the right, and the zoom will be magnified. The numbers imprinted on the lens in black indicate the 35mm equivalent measurements that are available with this lens. The number that's lined up with the red dot on the lens housing is the current magnification level, up to a maximum setting of 100mm.
To give the lens more of a wide angle setting, you twist the lens back to the left. However, once you twist the lens beyond the 25mm setting, the camera will power down, going into Standby mode again. Although the lens catches as you twist it to the 25mm setting, if you're using just a little too much force, it's very easy to inadvertently twist past 25mm and put the camera into Standby mode. After about the 10th time you do this inadvertently, this will become an unbelievably annoying feature of this camera.
Once you get the hang of turning the camera on through this odd set of steps, it will seem easy. But any time the camera maker has to place a sticker on the camera, explaining how to turn on the camera, my view would be that the power on process is far too complicated. It also greatly slows down the XF1's startup time, which makes this process of turning on this camera much more hassle than it's worth. For a camera that has excellent response times in all other areas, the complex startup process is very disappointing. You can turn on Quick Start Mode in the camera's Set-Up menu to speed up the process, making the camera's software ready as soon as you complete the twisting of the lens.
The XF1's popup flash unit is located on the far left side of the top panel of the camera (as you're holding the camera). The camera is just thick enough that you can comfortably hold the camera, even when the flash is open.
You'll find that the XF1 performs very well in low light photos, with or without the flash, thanks in large part to its high-quality image sensor. The flash may suffer an occasional problem with a washed-out subject if you're too close, and it does have some weakness over a distance. However, you can adjust the power of the flash unit through the on-screen menus. The range of the XF1's popup flash is:
- Wide: 1.6 ft - 24.2 ft (50 cm - 740 cm)
- Telephoto: 2.6 ft. - 8.8 ft. (80 cm - 270 cm)
The flash modes available with the X-S1 include: Auto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, and Suppressed Flash. All four modes can be operated with Red-Eye Removal activated or deactivated. The types of flash modes that are available will differ depending on what shooting mode you're using.
To open the flash, you'll slide a switch on the upper back corner of the camera, just behind the flash compartment, as shown here. To close it, you just press the popup flash back down.
As long as the flash is closed, you won't be able to control any of the flash commands in the menus. Once it's open, then the flash menus and commands will be activated.
Versus other advanced fixed-lens camera, Fujifilm chose to limit the number of buttons that are available on the top of the camera. The Fn button allows you to create a customized shortcut to a commonly used function of the camera, such as ISO, image size, or RAW settings.
The shutter button is in black to the right of the Fn button. It's a little smaller than I'd like to see, but it is the only button along the top panel of the camera that's raised, which makes it very easy to find with your finger.
The mode dial offers 10 shooting options. There's a good mix of common settings, as well as a couple of customization options. As you turn the mode dial, an explanation appears on the screen of the currently selected feature (marked by the black dot to the left of the mode dial). The mode dial options (clockwise) are:
- Camera icon - Automatic shooting mode
- EXR - Automatic mode with some enhanced processing in camera
- P - Program AE, exposure set automatically, other settings are manual
- S - Shutter Priority AE, set shutter speed manually, other settings automatic based off shutter speed
- A - Aperture Priority AE, set aperture manually, other settings automatic based off aperture
- M - Manual, all settings can be performed manually
- C1, C2 - Customized settings are saved
- SP - Scene Position, opens scene mode menu (Natural & Flash, Natural Light, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night Tripod, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Party, Flower, Text)
- Adv. - Advanced Shooting Modes (Filters, Motion Panorama 360, Pro Focus, Pro Low Light, Multiple Exposure, Individual Shutter 3D)
The control buttons on the right side of the back panel are a nice size. I'd like them to be just slightly bigger or raised just a little more from the camera, but these buttons are comfortable enough to use.
At the top of the panel is the command dial, which has a variety of functions, including the ability to change the aperture and shutter speed in Manual mode, to magnify images on the screen in Playback mode, and to control the XF1's manual focus mode.
Just below the command dial are two buttons, the Playback button on the left and the Movie button (marked with a red dot) on the right. To see images that you have stored on your memory card, press the Playback button. Use the Movie button to start and stop your video recording.
In the middle of the control buttons is the four-way button, which is surrounded by a ring (the sub-command dial). This ring is a great feature, as you spin it to scroll through menu commands quickly. By pressing this ring, you're going to also be able to treat it like a four-way button.
At the top of the four-way button are the Exposure Value and Delete commands, while the right side controls the Flash commands. On the bottom of the four-way button is the Self-Timer feature, and the Macro feature is on the left side. Pressing these buttons will cause popup menus for these features to appear on the screen, depending on which shooting mode you're using.
In the middle of the ring is the Menu/OK button, through which you can open the XF1's primary menus. To select a highlighted command, press the OK button.
Along the lower left of the bottom of the panel, you can use the Disp/Back button to change the look of the data on the main shooting screen or the main Playback screen. You also can back out of certain menus using this button.
On the lower right, you'll find the E-Fn button. When you press this button, you'll see a secondary set of functions for the command buttons appear on the screen. These functions are great for shortcuts to some uncommon features. For example, the Playback button becomes a Film Simulation button, and the Flash function on the four-way button becomes the White Balance function. Some photographers will really appreciate having these secondary functions available through the shortcut the E-Fn button.
The LCD screen included with the XF1 is a high-quality unit, measuring 3.0 inches diagonally with 460,000 pixels of resolution. I did notice some glare on the screen when shooting outdoors, which is a bit of a disappointment for a camera in this price range. However, there are 11 different brightness levels available with the XF1's screen, allowing you to combat the glare by increasing the brightness level of the LCD. The XF1 also has a Monitor Sunlight Mode in its Set-Up menus, which combats the glare problem, too.
Fujifilm included both an HDMI slot and a USB slot with the XF1. Both slots are behind a soft hinged compartment door. The door does snap securely into place.
On the XF1's bottom panel, you'll find the battery/memory card compartment, which is protected by a solid hinged door that locks in place with a switch. Similar to the overall build of the XF1, this door has a sturdy feel, and on the test camera I had, the door didn't wiggle at all.
This Fujifilm XF1 will work with SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards.
The rechargeable Li-ion battery included with the XF1 is about an average size. Fujifilm estimates about 300 photos can be shot on one battery charge, but my tests showed that estimate to be a bit high on average. The fact that the XF1 uses a manual zoom means that it won't drain the battery as quickly as a camera with a zoom motor. However, if you shoot a lot of outdoor photos, and you find that you need to increase the brightness on the LCD screen to reduce the effect of sunlight glare on the screen, the battery will drain more quickly. In addition, if you turn the camera on and off quite a bit -- either on purpose or inadvertently by twisting the lens too far -- you're going to drain the battery much more quickly.
I have to point out one additional feature of the XF1. The synthetic leather finish on the camera is shown in the image above. My test model had a black synthetic leather finish, but tan and red are also available. I liked the retro look, which really sets this camera apart from most models on the market. In a completely unscientific poll, about half of the other people I showed it to liked the look, while the other half said they didn't care for this look.
Although this finish is designed primarily as a stylish feature of this camera, it does offer a bit of a rough surface to the camera that provides good grip for your fingers. The XF1 also has plenty of aluminum trim, but it's more of a dull finish, rather than the polished look that most cameras have.
Fujifim touts the XF1 has having a "distinctive look," and I have to agree: This is one of the most unique looking cameras on the market. When you couple this camera's retro design with its interesting power up mechanism using the lens, you're not going to find another camera like it.