Review: FujiFilm FinePix X100 – sexy, but read the manual

Review: FujiFilm FinePix X100 – sexy, but read the manual

Apr 1, 2013

Having seen its sexy retro styling and great reviews, I couldn’t wait to try out the FujiFilm FinePix X100. Once I did, I was a little disappointed.

It’s pitched as a compact alternative to a full-sized dSLR and it certainly looks the part.

Small, rugged and retro, it looks built for the uber cool street photographer who wants to take it everywhere and snap away unobtrusively.

With an SLR-size APS-C sensor and traditional analogue control dials, the FinePix X100 looked positioned to fill the void between compact camera and clunky, full-sized dSLR; for those who want a high quality camera that still fits in a pocket.

Sadly, it doesn’t deliver all the performance users would hope for, especially considering its price – between R11 300 and R12 500.

Firstly, it’s slow. The lag between click and capture is big enough for users to completely miss the shot of a race winner or a bird taking off.

Users could opt for continuous shooting mode, but this will leave them waiting for many seconds while their photos are stored.

Secondly, its low light performance leaves a lot to be desired. Although it promises ISO ranging up to 6 400, I failed to photograph anything truly usable in low light. The noise levels and blur were disappointing.

Deep shadow and high-contrast scenes presented another problem – everything in the shade disappeared into deep, noisy blackness.

Users could get around this with a bracketing option, but this would slow them down.

Certainly, using a fill flash helps, but clicking around the controls searching for the “force flash” option at short notice while out on the street could cause users to miss the shot. Leaving the camera in permanent “force flash” mode resulted in too many over-exposed images.

Focusing accurately took quite some getting used to, as did mastering the controls and menus. It’s not entirely intuitive, so this is one of those where users really need to read the manual first.

To be fair, I found rave reviews online about the FinePix X100, so my trial version may have been the exception.

It does allow for a wide range of settings, several film effects, multiple bracketing options and a very nice panorama tool. The fill flash does the job and the macro function works pretty well – with very pleasing background blur.

In good light, there’s little to complain about: the camera delivers crisp, clear pictures.

It seems a 16.3MP successor, the X100S, is on its way, promising “the world’s fastest AF” and faster processing.

If users are in the market for a sexy, retro compact dSLR, I’d say wait and see what the next version looks like.


*    It’s compact, solid and nice to handle;

*    The retro styling is cool, particularly for the arty and street photography set;

*    RAW option;

*    Hybrid optical viewfinder and live view; and

*    Nice panorama tool.


*    Some found it too heavy, although I liked its solid weight;

*    Those not used to film cameras were confused by the analogue controls;

*    Less-than-awesome low light performance;

*    Slow to focus;

*    Shutter lag and slow processing;

*    Only 12MP – there’s a new 16MP version on its way; and

*    Priced a bit steeply for what it delivers.

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