Fujifilm XF1 review

Build and handling

All Fujifilm X models are stylish, but the XF1 is especially so. It is available in a black, tan or red leather-like finish that, with the silver-top-plate, gives a retro feel.

Just like the X10, the lens of the XF1 is controlled manually and doubles up to turn on the camera. This makes for a rapid start-up time that Fuji claims to be 0.55sec, which I can attest to.

An excellent feature of the lens is that it retracts into the body, so the camera packs away to a compact size and can be comfortably slipped into a trouser pocket when not in use. Unfortunately, to go from the fully off position to adjust the focal length is a fiddly four-part process (and there is not a lot of lens to work with). The user must make a small turn, pull out the lens barrel, turn it again to standby and then turn it once more to adjust the focal length. With practice, however, it is effective, and precise adjustments are possible. Key focal lengths within the 25-100mm range are marked out on the barrel as a handy aid.

Perhaps on account of its collapsible and compact design, the maximum aperture of the lens is reduced to a greater degree than in the X10. The f/1.8 aperture at the wide 25mm end is faster, but at the telephoto end it reduces to f/4.9, compared to the X10's f/2-2.8 maximum aperture. In fact, the fastest aperture reduces quickly down the range, with f/4.9 the fastest setting even at 70mm. With no built-in ND filter, the fastest shutter speed of 1/2000sec renders the wide f/1.8 aperture setting unusable in bright light.

In keeping with the XF1's slim and elegant design, the button layout is minimal, although two function buttons provide a high level of customisation and quick access to key controls. A function button on the top-plate can be assigned to one control, such as ISO, while the E-Fn button on the rear opens the function menu where up to six controls can be assigned to the buttons on the camera's rear. In effect, this doubles the number of controls available on the rear. In general use, then, there will be little need to enter the main menu to access key exposure controls if the user assigns the buttons wisely.

A built-in flash is included, although it has only a modest output that is manually adjustable by up to ±2/3EV. The camera lacks a hotshoe for attaching other accessories, such as a viewfinder or external flash unit. The battery life of the X10 is disappointingly brief at around 270 shots, and although the XF1 uses the same battery it is CIPA rated to 300 shots, which is still rather modest.