Fujifilm FinePix X100: Where the Hell Did THIS Come From?

Fuji X100 front

by Miserere

  

Your one-stop resource for all Fuji X100 information

  

NOTE: This article was originally published on September 19th 2010. Since then I have been updating it regularly as new information becomes available. To the best of my knowledge all specs and other information are correct.
Latest updates:

  • September 1, 2011th 2011 The follow up camera in this series, the X10 is introduced. See Fuji X10 Release notes.
  • June 29th 2011 (updated new firmware link specs section; added video of the Fuji X100 manufacturing plant and how it recovered after the earthquake)
  • June 20th 2011 (added link to best cards for the X100 in the specs section)
  • June 19th 2011 (updated Review section; added info on alternative batteries for the X100 in the specs section)
  • June 9th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • May 19th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • May 16th 2011 (updated Video section)
  • May 5th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • April 26th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • April 21st 2011 (added Fuji X100 firmware item to specs list)
  • April 15th 2011 (added Fuji X100 DxO Mark evaluation to Interesting Links; updated Review section)
  • April 11th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • April 4th 2011 (updated Review section)
  • March 29th 2011 (added links to order in Australasia; updated Review section with lots of items; updated shutter speed specs)
  • March 19th 2011 (updated Review section with lots of items)
  • March 13th 2011 (updated Preview section; updated Review section)
  • March 9th 2011 (updated Preview section with 5 new items; added a new video)
  • March 7th 2011 (updated release dates; added preorder link for Amazon UK; added new section: Where Will the British Fuji X100 Cameras Come From?)
  • March 6th 2011 (updated specs with link to Fuji X100 owner’s manual in English; added first X100 review to the Review section)
  • March 3rd 2011 (updated Interesting Links with Q&A session in Taiwan; updated sensor specs)
  • March 1st 2011 (updated Preview section with QueSabesDe preproduction field test; added buffer specs)
  • Feb 28th 2011 (updated Preview section with Flickr gallery by Mio Cade; added video from WhatDigitalCamera.com)
  • Feb 25th 2011 (updated Preview section with DPR samples gallery)
  • Feb 22nd 2011 (updated sync speed; updated lens aperture info; added video by Tyler Stalman)
  • Feb 17th 2011 (added item(s) to videos, previews and links sections; updated shutter speed specs)
  • Feb 16th 2011 (added price and availability in Japan)

  

Click to order the X100 NOW! (Doing so through our links will help EtL at no extra cost to you.)

  

Index

Fuji X10 Released
Introduction
Fuji X100 Specs
Fuji X100 Lens
Fuji X100 vs Leica X1
Size Comparisons
My Opinion
Mount and Price Info
My Opinion, Part 2
A Look Through the Optical Viewfinder
Photos of the X100
Videos of the X100
Where Will the British Fuji X100 Cameras Come From?
Previews of the Fuji X100
Full Reviews of the Fuji X100
Interesting Links

  

Introduction

If there’s such a thing as love at first sight in Photography, I just got hit by it. My oh my oh my…what a beautiful camera this Fuji X100 is. Styled after a classic fixed-lens rangefinder of the 60′s or 70′s, it’s actually a digital camera with an APS-C 12MP CMOS sensor and a fixed 23mm f/2 lens. And see that thing that looks like an optical viewfinder? It’s a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, which should keep both old- and new-schoolers happy. I had no idea Fuji was working on anything like this and was completely blind-sided a couple hours ago when I spotted the announcement. Given the flurry of activity on the fora and blogsphere, I am not the only one who is smitten with this beauty.

Fuji X100 back

Can you spot the ancestry in the Fujica GW670 and GW690 from the 70′s and 80′s? The kids over at the rangefinderforum.com are very excited and I can imagine many reviewing what gear they can sell to purchase this camera. I have no idea of what the price is going to be, or where in the World it will be distributed, but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as I find out. For now, check out the official X100 website and read the X100 brochure (PDF).

February 8th 2011: Fuji’s official X100 announcement.

  

Fuji X100 Specs

Sensor 12.3MP CMOS APS-C (Fuji say it is custom built; I believe it to be by Sony; UPDATE Mar 3 2011: Fuji insist it’s theirs)
Lens 23mm f/2(16), fixed (non-interchangeable), with 9-blade diaphragm and built-in ND8 (3-stop) filter.
Aperture set via ring around lens in 1-stop increments (1/3-stop increments available via rear lever).
Lens construction 8 elements in 6 groups (see optical diagram)
Minimum focusing distance 10cm (max. reproduction capability of 1:4.3)
Viewfinder Hybrid optical/electronic. Optical VF offers 0.5x magnification with 134% coverage with projected frameline and other information. Electronic VF offers 90% coverage using a 1.44 million dot LCD; eye relief is 15mm.
Focusing Autofocus via contrast-detect (AF area variable in size and position). Manual focus via lens ring (focus-by-wire) with rotation direction being user-defined.
ISO range Standard: 200 – 6400 (expanded: 100 – 12,800)
Max. shooting speed 5 FPS (3 FPS setting optional)
Buffer size 8 RAW, 10 JPEG
Shutter speeds 1/4000s – 30s (up to 60 min in Bulb)
Max. shutter speeds Dependent on aperture being used:

  • 1/1000s at f/2 – f/3.5
  • 1/2000s at f/4 – f/7.1
  • 1/4000s at f/8 – f/16
Shutter type In-lens 4-leaf shutter (in front of diaphragm)
Sync speed 1/1000s
Exposure modes Progam, Av, Tv, Manual and Bulb
Metering 49-point metering matrix
EV compensation -2.0EV – +2.0EV
Rear screen 2.8 inch 460k LCD (can be turned off)
RAW 12 bit RAF files (in-camera conversion available)
Movie mode 720 HD 24fps with stereo sound (Av available while shooting)
Software filters PROVIA, Velvia, ASTIA and B&W
Storage SD, SDHC or SDXC cards
(best card for the X100)
Body construction Magnesium alloy with metal dials
Battery type Rechargeable NP-95 Li-Ion
(info about alternative Fuji X100 batteries)
Filter size 49mm via optional adapter ring
Dimensions (WxHxD mm) 127 x 75 x 54 (x 34 excluding lens)
Weight 405g (445g with battery and card)
Accessories
Owner’s Manual (PDF) English
Firmware ver. 1.01, released 21st April 2011
ver. 1.10, released 24th June 2011 (get it here)
Release date Japan: March 2011
USA: May 2011
UK: March 2011
Rest of Europe: April 2011???
Latin America: ???
Australia: March 2011
Price Fuji has stated that around $1,000/€1,000 (source 1, source 2) $1,200/€1,000 (source)  

  

Fuji X100 top

  

Fuji X100 Lens

Fuji X100 lens diagram

A great camera with a crappy lens is pointless. I don’t know how good the X100′s lens will be, but it does seem the designers put some serious thought into it. I go into the fixed vs interchangeable issue further down, but I think right now this is a moot point because Fuji decided to go with a fixed lens design and that’s how we’ll have to use and judge the camera. The lens diagram to the right (click to enlarge) shows the location of the 3-stop ND filter, shutter and 9-blade diaphragm, which are all grouped behind the front lens group (light enters lens from the left and sensor is located on the right in this diagram). The advantage of an in-lens shutter such as this versus a focal plane shutter (which is found in DSLRs) is that it can be made smaller, thus lighter and quieter (and allow for higher sync speeds to boot). Together with the lack of a mirror, this should enable the X100 to be a very quiet camera.

Fuji are claiming the lens is optimised for performance in the f/4 – 5.6 range, but that is true of most lenses (i.e., they perform better 2 – 3 stops down from wide open). What they don’t say is how the lens performs wide open, and as a street shooter that is something I care about. I hope they’re not using marketing-speak to tell us it’s very soft wide open!

Learn more about the lens here.

  

Fuji X100 vs Leica X1

The X100 will be competing against the Leica X1, which lacks a viewfinder, but otherwise shares a similar ethos. Not only does the Fuji provide an optical viewfinder, it also provides the benefits EVFs provide. The X100 also has a faster lens, f/2 versus the f/2.8 of the Leica. Their dimensions are very similar, with the X100 being about 15mm taller. But the one question everyone is asking is…will the Fuji cost $2,000 like the X1, or will it be affordable to mere mortals. Sadly, I expect it to be built in small quantities, be on perpetual backorder, and cost North of US$1,500. I’d love to be wrong, but this isn’t Panasonic, Olympus or Canikon we’re talking about, but Fuji, a small player in the non-P&S digital market.

For those wondering about the size similarities I threw together this composite showing them side by side; click for larger size.

Leica X1 vs Fuji  X100 size comparison

Leica X1 (left) vs Fujifilm FinePix X100 (right), to scale.

  

Size Comparisons

I thought it might be useful to compare sizes with other cameras in its performance class (though some are not in its price class…I’m looking at you, M9). Left to right the cameras compared are Sigma DP2, Leica X1, Fuji X100, Olympus E-P1, Leica M9, Samsung NX10 and Panasonic G2. All are shown to scale, and you’d do well to click for a larger version.

Fuji  X100 size comparison with Sigma DP2, Leica X1, Olympus E-P1, Leica M9, Samsung NX10 and Panasonic G2

Fuji X100 & Friends. All cameras shown to scale.

Another size comparison; this time, from left to right, it’s the Epson R-D1s, Fuji X100, Leica M9, Canon 550D/T2i and Nikon D90.

Fuji  X100 size comparison with Epson R-D1s, Leica M9, Canon 550D/T2i and Nikon D90

Fuji X100 & Friends. All cameras shown to scale.

  

My Opinion

In their publicity materials Fuji state they queried photographers to build a camera from the ground up that would meet their needs and desires. Why it’s taken a camera company 10 years to do this is beyond me. And it’s not like this type of research would cost millions of yens, you just have to spend a couple of days reading through wish-list posts on forums and blogs. I myself wrote a post requesting a simple, straightforward compact DSLR from Pentax back in November 2008 (read it here). Really folks, it’s not. That. Difficult! We want small, we want manual controls, we want a good viewfinder.

Fuji have delivered on all these requests, but have made one mistake, which time will tell how big it was: The lens is fixed. I don’t want to condemn this camera just because the lens is fixed, that’s not what I’m saying, but I do want to point out that a fixed lens will limit your pool of potential clients to those who find your chosen focal length adequate for their needs, and use it often enough that a fixed focal length isn’t a big deal. Back in the 60′s and 70′s there were a good number of such rangefinders sold, like the Olympus 35 DC and RD (40mm f/1.7), Konica C35 (38mm f/2.8), Canon Canonet G-III 17 (40mm f/1.7) and others that I can’t remember right now; the point is, they sold pretty well to the enthusiasts who wanted a rangefinder but couldn’t afford an interchangeable lens system like the Leica M. Because there were a number of brands building these cameras the photographer had a choice of focal lengths and speeds to choose from, although (from rough memory) the focal lengths were in the 35-45mm range and the lens speed f/1.7-2.8. Right now we have exactly two APS-C fixed-lens cameras to choose from, and they both have the same focal length (equivalent to 35mm in FF terms). The Fuji does offer a more attractive f/2 vs the Leica’s f/2.8, but we’re missing 2 or 3 other contenders in the field.

But those film fixed-lens rangefinders I speak of are over 30 years old—today we have a different mentality regarding fixed lenses. DSLR have become so affordable that now almost anyone can acquire one and build a lens system. Everyone expects interchangeable lenses. This leads me to think that Fuji will price this camera high because those people who would be willing to pay $700-1,000 (the micro-4/3 crowd) wouldn’t be interested in a fixed lens, while those that appreciate and value the pros of a fixed-lens camera (and have been waiting years for something like this) will pay anything anyway, so why not charge them a premium? Actually, it might not even be a premium—the camera may sell in such low numbers that it will have to be expensive in order to make Fuji a profit.

And price point is one of the mysteries here and a factor that Fuji may be able to exploit to its advantage. You see, right now there is an enormous price gap between MILCs (micro-4/3, Samsung NX and Sony Nex) and digital Leicas. A new rangefinder(ish) camera could happily nestle itself in between both, providing better workmanship than MILCs but also mass-production cost-saving strategies lacking in Leicas.

I get the feeling that Fuji are sniffing out the market with this camera, and if sales and customer satisfaction are positive, they’ll consider either releasing another model with a different focal length or maybe going the full monty and releasing an interchangeable system.

My message to Fuji: You needn’t have been so cautious! Let me give you a recipe for success: Release the X100 as an interchangeable lens body + 23mm f/2 lens kit for $2,000. Announce that within 6 months you will be releasing a 16mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.7 for under $1,000 each and that you “are considering other focal lengths”. One caveat: The body would have to accept M mount lenses via a converter. Do this and I can guarantee you wouldn’t be able to build X100′s fast enough to meet demand. And you’d sell lenses too. Sure, lots of buyers would just want the body to mount their beloved M lenses on it, but so many more would like the benefits of autofocus your lenses would provide, not to mention they’d be APS-C friendly focal lengths with digital coatings.

I’m not saying this camera will not be a success, because I think in its own small way it will. But I’m afraid it’s not going to make Fuji enough money for them to believe they can roll out a full interchangeable lens system based on the concept, which is a shame because that’s exactly what most people would have wanted them to do.

  

Mount and Price Info from the Horse’s Mouth

Updated Sept 21st 2010, 07:00.

An e-acquaintance, Falk Lumo, has been at Photokina and had a chat with the guys at the Fuji booth:

I asked why not with a lens mount? Answer: We want see how this one sells first. I asked: but you know that if this version does not sell it may be because it has no mount? Answer: no, is it so…?

I hate being right sometimes. These guys really didn’t know they could have taken the compact camera market by storm? If it’s true they spoke to many photographers when designing this camera, they didn’t speak to the most important one: me. Seriously, I could have explained to them in 5 minutes why they should not release a “test the waters” camera and just jump into the deep end.

As for the price:

Obviously, the X100 was made to compete against the Leica X1. With the optical viewfinder as its bonus. I asked if its cheaper than Leica X1. Answer was hesitant. Eventually they gave me “1000″ as a ballpark number which would be about 2/3 of a Leica X1.

That would be US$1,333, which is a lot better than what I expected. I hope this is true!

  

My Opinion, Part 2

Updated Sept 21st 2010, 10:30.

In view of the recently announced price of US$1,000–1,200, I need to change my conclusions. This price puts this camera in a whole ‘nother segment: The affordable luxury segment. $1,000 is pricey for a second camera, but not unethical, and for a main camera (assuming it lives up to its promise), it’s practically affordable, especially if you compare it to similar focal length offerings from the competition (Sigma DP, micro-4/3, etc.). I can see those who appreciate what this camera has to offer buying one as a main camera and then having a MILC for wider and longer focal lengths. If you’re a street shooter who lives at 35mm-equiv., you might never even need anything else. HCB spent most of his career with what was essentially a fixed-lens 50mm camera, so this isn’t as crazy as it seems. And at this price, if Fuji decide to release other focal lengths, I can very well imagine buying two at your preferred fields-of-view and calling it a system.

My only worry concerns the corners Fuji might have had to cut to bring it in at this price. Am I being too pessimistic here? :-D I really don’t mean to—I’m glad this is the price!

How does the X100 compare in price to its competition in the large-sensor compact mirrorless camera segment? Find out here: Is the Fuji X100 Really that Expensive?

  

A Look Through the Optical Viewfinder

Updated Sept 22nd 2010

Fuji  X100 through viewfinder

Looking through the Fuji X100's hybrid viewfinder.

Fuji X100 viewfinder

Fuji X100 OVF.

As you can see, this is a very elegant design. The central frame delimits the area to be captured by the sensor. To the left, just outside the frameline there is an EV scale telling you how bright/dark the camera thinks your exposure is. Possibly more useful is the simple histogram in the bottom left, whose position I hope can be customised—I’d place it in the top-left most corner of the VF, outside the framelines. At the bottom of the VF we see, from left to right, the shooting mode (Av in this case), shutter speed, aperture (highlighted because we’re in Av) and ISO. Much more interesting is the scale above these settings and just below the frameline: It’s a distance scale! The lens itself focuses by wire making a standard distance scale impossible, so this might be the next best thing. From this image we can see the lens is focused at around 1.5m and I imagine the white bar indicates the DoF (depth-of-field). The only problem is that if you’re focused at 1.5m with an aperture of f/5.6 on a 23mm lens shooting an APS-C camera, your DoF is actually from 1.19m to 2.19m. The DoF indicated in the image would be approximately correct for f/11. I suppose the marketing department took a few artistic liberties here. Dodgy marketing material notwithstanding, I find this a great idea that, once again, photographers have been requesting from camera makers for the better part of the last decade. Just a little tip to Fuji: Add an “m” somewhere so people know straight off the scale is in meters, not in feet. And while you’re at it, allow the option to set it in feet for those North Americans who struggle with SI units.

Completing the VF tour, we note the whitebalance temperature on the outer top-left of the frameline, while to the right is a number that could be the shots remaining on the card, and the ‘L’ and ‘F’ might stand for ‘Love Fuji’. Finally, that white line across the VF is an electronic level! Rotate the camera anticlockwise here to bring the blue line, ahem, in line with the white line and your photo will not have a tilted horizon, to the joy of millions of photocritics the forumsphere over.

From the Fuji brochure we know that some of this on-screen information will be optional, as will be the electronic level. The brightness of the displayed info will be adjusted automatically to fit the prevailing conditions, ensuring that info is always visible no matter how bright our scene is, and also making sure it doesn’t blind us when we’re shooting in darker environments.

Something I’m sure a few of you will be curious about is the FoV of the VF. If the central frame is a 23mm FoV, then the whole VF offers a 16mm FoV, which is 24mm-equiv. Interesting choice…

When switching to EVF mode the OVF is closed up with a little shutter so we can’t have an EVF+OVF view.

You can read more about the viewfinder on Fuji’s site.

  

Photos of the X100

Here are some photos taken at Photokina of the actual camera (click for larger). All photos are ©Stephen Shankland.

Fuji X100 at Photokina 00 Fuji X100 at Photokina 05
Fuji X100 at Photokina 01 Fuji X100 at Photokina 02
Fuji X100 at Photokina 03 Fuji X100 at Photokina 07
Fuji X100 at Photokina 04 Fuji X100 at Photokina 06

  

Videos of the Fuji X100


Fuji X100 manufacturing plant recovering after the earthquake.


X100 FAQ with the Fuji Guys.


Preproduction Fuji X100 at Amateur Photographer.


Fuji X100 hands on preview at WhatDigitalCamera.com.


Fuji X100 Hands on with Tyler Stalman.


Unboxing the Fuji X100, by CNET Asia.


Kayce Baker, Director of Marketing Fujifilm Imaging Division USA, presents the X100 at CES 2011.


Looking through the X100 viewfinder at CES 2011, by Engadget Spain.


Kayce Baker talks a bit more about the X100 at CES 2011.


See and hear the aperture and shutter working (note: shutter sound is electronic and simulated by the camera, but it can be turned off), by the Fuji Guys.


Hear the Fuji X100 in “silent mode”, with all electronic sounds turned off, by the Fuji Guys.


See and hear the dials being turned, by the Fuji Guys.


Fuji X100 promo video.


Fuji X100 promo video #2.

  

Fujifilm – Press Conference at Photokina 2010 from Olivier Laurent on Vimeo.

  

British Journal of Photography – Interview with the Fujifilm FinePix X100′s designers from Olivier Laurent on Vimeo.

  

Fujifilm FinePix X100 – preview by British Journal of Photography from Olivier Laurent on Vimeo.


Fujifilm FinePix X100 prototype hands-on at Photokina 2010 by Engadget.


The Fuji Guys present the Fuji X100.


Fuji X100 hands-on with WhatDigitalCamera.com.


Qik – Fujifilm Finepix X100 first look preview video by Which? Technology.


Fujifilm X100. Photokina 2010: Tutti Fotografi magazine.

  

Fujifilm X100 from Zoom Denmark on Vimeo.

  

Where Will the British Fuji X100 Cameras Come From?

I received some interesting information from one of our readers in the UK, Julian Evans. He has preordered his X100 and when he contacted his supplier, he had a curious conversation with them about the provenance of their supply of X100 cameras:

Further to this, some interesting comments made [by] the supplier with whom I have my pre-order for the X100 and accessories.

According to them (they’ve asked me not to say who they are as they can’t now guarantee an X100 to any new pre-orders in the first UK batch) Amazon will not be getting X100s direct from Fuji. In fact Fuji won’t supply them to Amazon. My supplier believes that Amazon are buying the cameras in from American dealers. This would explain why the Amazon release date is in April. The UK release date is still in March according to Fuji.

Also, anyone buying an X100 from a Fuji dealer will get superb after sales extras from Fuji. Apparently they will be contacted directly to see how happy they are and answer any questions they may initially have about the camera and then, 11 months later, Fuji will collect the camera and carry out a full ‘health’ check and update software etc at their expense.

They want people to get the message that is a very serious piece of kit that they take great pride in and want every owner to be completely happy with.

We provide this information with no guarantee that it is accurate or correct, but we don’t have any reason to believe Mr Evans is lying either, so digest at your discretion.

  

Previews of the Fuji X100

Here are some previews of the X100 collected from around the web:

  

Full Reviews of the Fuji X100

All the reviews of the Fujifilm X100 that we think are worth reading:

  

Interesting Links

Related posts:

  1. Fujifilm Introduces FinePix X100 Official Specs
  2. The Fujifilm X100 Spike: Or Why Everyone Is Interested in this Camera
  3. DPR Previews the Fuji X100
  4. Is the Fuji X100 Really that Expensive?
  5. Ian Wilkinson Reviews the Fuji X100, Part 2: Real World Use Shooting Children

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