DCRP

Fuji FinePix X100 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: May 4, 2011

Last Updated: August 8, 2011

In a world of me-too compact cameras, Fuji has come up with something decidedly different. Their long-awaited FinePix X100 ($1199) is a rangefinder-style, fixed lens camera with an APS-C sensor and unique hybrid viewfinder. They're not the first manufacturer to do the fixed lens / big sensor combo (Sigma's been at it for several years), but the FinePix X100 is a lot more professional in terms of design, features, and performance.

Some of the highlights on the FinePix X100 include:

  • 12.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, optimized for the X100's lens
  • F2.0, 23mm Fujinon lens, equivalent to 35mm
  • EXR image processor
  • Rangefinder-style magnesium alloy body (looks a lot like a Leica) with dials for aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation
  • Hybrid Viewfinder can be optical (with frame and shooting data superimposed) or fully electronic
  • 2.8" LCD display with 460,000 pixels
  • Full manual controls, with RAW support
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • Electronic level
  • Hot shoe for external flash
  • Built-in neutral density filter
  • 180 degree panorama creation feature
  • 720p movie mode with stereo sound
  • HDMI output

Okay, you can wipe the drool up off the floor now! The FinePix X100 is one of the most anticipated cameras in recent memory. Does it live up to the hype? Find out now in our review!

Note: Fuji released a firmware upgrade in June that addressed twenty-three issues, though only one of the issues raised in this review was fixed.

What's in the Box?

The FinePix X100 has a fairly typical bundle for a compact camera, though it comes in a fancier box. Here's what you'll find when you open everything up:

  • The 12.3 effective Megapixel FinePix X100 digital camera
  • NP-95 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • Shoulder strap
  • Metal strap clips w/protective covers
  • Clip attaching tool
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring MyFinePix Studio, FinePixViewer, and RAW File Converter
  • 121 page camera manual (printed)

Despite its price, the FinePix X100 has the same amount of built-in memory as one of Fuji's $200 cameras: just 20MB. That holds just one RAW or four fine quality JPEGs, so you'll need to pick up a memory card right away. The X100 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, and you'll probably want a 4GB card to start with. Buying a high speed card (Class 6 or above) is recommended for the best performance.

The FinePix X100 the NP-95 lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which was first used back on the FinePix F30 (remember that?). This battery holds 6.5 Wh worth of energy, which is good but not fantastic. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Fuji FinePix X100 300 shots NP-95
Leica X1 260 shots BP-DC8
Olympus E-P2 * 300 shots BLS-1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 * 300 shots DMW-BLD10
Samsung NX100 * 420 shots BP1310
Sigma DP2s 250 shots BP-31
Sony Alpha NEX-5 * 330 shots NP-FW50

* Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturer

The only true competitors to the FinePix X100 are the cameras from Leica and Sigma. However, a lot of people will also be looking at compact interchangeable lens cameras, so I'm throwing them in there as well. I'm not sure whether Fuji's numbers are with the LCD or viewfinder (I assume the former), but they're just about average in this group.

Every camera on the above list uses a proprietary battery. These batteries tend to cost more than AAs (a spare NP-95 will set you back a whopping $80, though generics are available), and you can't grab something off the shelf to get you through the rest of a day when your main battery runs out of juice.

When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. For some reason, my battery wouldn't actually stay in the charger (I had to tape it down), but I imagine that it's a fluke with my early production model. It takes a lengthy 3.5 hours to fully charge the NP-95.

Fuji includes a metal (!) lens cap to protect the X100's Fujinon lens. There's no retaining strap included, but the cap seems to stay on fairly well. You can also see the leather protectors on the strap rings, which is a nice touch.


The X100 inside its optional leather case

There are just a handful of accessories available for the FinePix X100, and I've compiled them all into this table:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Lens hood LH-X100 From $130 An aluminum lens hood that helps reduce flare when shooting outdoors. Also includes the adapter listed below.
Lens adapter ring AR-X100 From $50 Required for the lens hood, and also supports 49mm filters.
External flash EF-20
EF-42
From $139
From $209
The EF-20 uses two AA batteries and can tilt upward 90 degrees. The EF-42 is much more powerful, uses four batteries, and can rotate as well as tilt.
Leather case LC-X100 From $130 A pricey leather case (pictured) that allows you to take photos when the camera is inside.
* Prices were accurate when review was published

So there you have the official accessories for the FinePix X100. Looking at the camera, it appears that it supports an AC adapter, but I can't see one listed anywhere.


MyFinePix Studio

Fuji includes a number of software products with the FinePix X100, and the first I want to mention is My FinePix Studio. This Windows-only product can be used for transferring photos from your camera to a computer, after which you can edit or share them. On the main thumbnail screen you can filter through your photos in a number of ways (people, events, location) and create "Smart Albums", like in iTunes. Here you can also view a slideshow, print or e-mail a photo, or upload them to YouTube or Facebook.


Editing a photo in MyFinePix Studio

The editing features in MyFinePix Studio are fairly basic. You can do an auto image enhancement, or adjust the brightness, contrast, and gamma manually. You can rotate or crop a photo, and remove redeye. There are also numerous special effects, including classics like grayscale and sepia. Unlike with JPEGs, when you double-click on a RAW image you won't get the screen you see above. Instead, the RAW FIle Converter software mentioned below will load and open the selected image.


FinePixViewer for Mac

Mac users get their own piece of software, but it's not really worth installing. FinePixViewer for Mac hasn't changed in several years, and it's basically limited to viewing, cropping, rotating, and placing text onto your photos. It can't view RAW images at all, so you'll need to use the RAW File Converter software below, or just do everything in iPhoto.


RAW File Converter EX

The bundled software for working with the X100's RAW images is known as RAW File Converter EX. If it looks familiar, it should -- it's SilkyPix. This is a very powerful RAW editor, though the interface is clunky, and some of the English translations are a bit strange. Both Mac and Windows versions of RAW File Converter are included.

If you want to use Photoshop or Lightroom to edit the X100's RAW images instead, they are both compatible, assuming that you're using the latest versions of the software.

So what are RAW files, anyway? They are files which contain unprocessed image data captured by the FinePix X100. Since the data hasn't been compressed and saved into another format (e.g. JPEG), you have the ability to tweak things like white balance, noise reduction, and color, without effecting the quality of the image. The downside is that file sizes are larger, photos take longer to be saved to your memory card, and that they all need to be post-processed in order to get them into more common formats.

As you'd expect from a camera that comes in a fancy box, Fuji includes a printed manual with the X100. In terms of user-friendliness, it's not too bad, with a decent font size and not too many "notes" on each page. It is a bit short of some details, but most folks will probably figure things out just fine. Documentation for the included software is installed onto your computer.

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