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Fujifilm XF1 review
What is it?
The Fujifilm XF1 is a stylish compact that blends retro styling with modern technology to great effect.
Funky styling makes it a head-turner while the performance is brisk thanks to a beefy sensor and there’s the capacity for shooting in the RAW format.
While some might love the looks, others may run a mile. Can be a little unwieldy on occasions and it takes practice to get the best from the lens options.
The bottom line:
If you like this kind of retro styling and don’t want too much in the way of advanced features then the XF1 is a reasonably bulletproof, do-it-all compact, but it does lack some of the extra punch compared to the marginally pricier Fujifilm X10 that boasts a similar design.
Fujifilm XF1: Review
Fuji has some great cameras in its current X range and, for the most part, they’re all nicely put together and boast a plentiful supply of innovative features. The XF1 takes things in a slightly different direction in the fact that it’s got a decidedly quirky look that blends a little bit of old school retro with plush metallic lines.
It’s an ideal model to consider if you’re looking to trade up from a decrepit point-and-shoot with a redundant feature set or, perhaps, if you need punchy performance but don’t want to go the whole hog and invest in a DSLR.
Of course, spend a little more and you could also bag yourself a bulkier superzoom, but the fact that this compact squeezes in a collapsible manual zoom lens means that it’s good for all kinds of shooting scenarios, but takes up less space.
An obvious competitor from the same stable is the slightly more expensive Fujifilm FinePix X10, but there are also pricier but arguably better looking options such as the Sony RX100 or Panasonic LX7 to consider, if you’re not taken the by the retro-flavoured looks of this pair.
Fujifilm XF1: Design & Build
One of the best things about the XF1 is its size. Although that clever little zoom protrudes a fair way out in use, once it has returned to the confines of the metallic casing, this is a camera that is truly pocketable. It’s also nicely balanced and feels solid to the touch, thanks to the large proliferation of metal components, which is complimented by the faux leather wraparound grip that comes in black, brown or eye-popping red shades to add further visual interest.
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Around the back of the XF1 there’s little in the way of fussy control options. In fact, it all looks rather spartan and could lead you to believe that this is a spineless compact without much in the way of either picture power or interesting features to enjoy. The reality couldn’t be more different however, which we’ll get to shortly.
Meanwhile, dominating the rear quarters is a 3-inch LCD screen that features tempered glass and the sort of clarity and vibrancy that makes it work well in the great outdoors. This is worth bearing in mind too as you’ll be using it a lot because there’s no viewfinder. In that respect, some may find this a bit of a turn off, but the straightforward screen/button arrangement here works well, including a one-touch video option.
Fujifilm XF1: Usability
Powering up the camera comes by turning the lens, and this isn’t immediately obvious if, like most people, you don’t read the manual when you first unpack. The standby mode can also be employed using a similar technique, which is actually pretty useful if you’re on the prowl for pictures and don’t want to power down again.
Focusing the zoom is done using the ring on the front of the lens, which is unusual compared to the majority of its rivals that employ a top or rear-mounted button to get the job done. On the face of it, the XF1 gives the impression that it’ll be a doddle to use with the rather simplistic control layout not throwing up too much in the way of surprises, but the lens antics tend to keep you on your toes. What’s more, considering that it’s a relatively humble compact, there’s actually a good degree of manual control to be had once you’ve got to grips with both those humble buttons around the back and also the on-screen menus.
Adding to the ease of use is a mode dial up on top allowing access to core functions, while the capacity for manual intervention means that you can tweak the likes of aperture and shutter priority should you need or want to.
On the back of the camera there’s also an E-Fn button, which is handy for calling on to dive headlong into shot settings that you use on a regular basis. If you’re au fait with Fujifilm cameras then the menu setup is pretty standard fare and anything you do is laid out on the screen for you to monitor as you go.
When using the lens at full zoom, you’ll also be aided by image stabilisation, which helps remove any unwanted shake. Elsewhere, it’s possible to look forward to quick and easy shots, while fun stuff comes in the shape of numerous film simulation modes that emulate the look of film stock from days gone by.
Fujifilm XF1: Performance
The aforementioned 4x optical zoom lens is new to the XF1 and it’s a complex but well put together part of the package that delivers sterling results. Thanks to its overall versatility, the Fuji is more than capable of returning great shots in a variety of situations, but really excels when it comes to the popular pastime of shooting landscapes. It also does a good job with macro moments too. The latter option is quick to engage thanks to nothing more than a simple prod on the rear-mounted control pad.
Once you’re up to speed, things move along swiftly because the XF1 also boasts an EXR processor, which delivers a speedy start-up time and eager autofocus, meaning little in the way of hanging around when it comes time to take that impromptu picture. The fast f/1.8 aperture lens also means the Fuji is more than able to deliver great shots in less well-lit surroundings. Full HD video is another area that gets a boost from the lively technology packed into the XF1, while there are numerous cool creative filters, such as Toy Camera, that add a further touch of fun to proceedings if you’re so inclined.
Fujifilm XF1: Verdict
There are some quirky features both on the outside and lurking within the elegant chassis of the XF1 and not all of them will appeal to everybody. The zoom lens is capable, but the slightly convoluted way it works to power up and focus shots can also be frustrating to master.
If you’re looking for a bog-standard compact camera that just gets the job done then this might not be the model for you. However, if you like to have a little bit of fun with your picture-taking sessions and also prefer your gadgets packed with a little personality, then the Fuji will prove instantly appealing. With dependable processor power at its heart, a more than decent (though cantankerous) zoom lens and a minimal collection of controls to master, the little XF1 could prove irresistible.
On top of that, images are generally good and, better still, the RAW option allows you to amend any that aren’t quite up to snuff when you get back to base.