COLOGNE, Germany--Fujifilm introduced its FinePix x100 prototype Monday at the Photokina show here. The show is geared toward photo enthusiasts, and so is the x100: It's got a retro look and a retro design with a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens. The production version of the camera is due in early 2011.
Enthusiasts will appreciate the FinePix x100's fast f/2 aperture, good for shooting in low light and using a shallow depth of field that blurs out background details. In recent decades, though, the mainstream market has grown used to zoom lenses, so don't expect the x100 to have broad appeal. The camera has a 12.3-megapixel CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensor and can shoot 720p video.
A pioneering feature of the x100 is its hybrid electronic-optical viewfinder. It can work in either mode, but even when it's in optical viewfinder mode, some electronic information can be overlaid on the image. This photo, taken directly through the viewfinder, shows a rule-of-thirds grid helpful for photo composition.
The hybrid viewfinder also can overlay a histogram on the optical viewfinder to help gauge exposure. The green line at left shows the degree of exposure compensation. (The barrel distortion in the view is an artifact of the photo; the lines are straight when the human eye is looking through the viewfinder.)
The x100's lens is mounted permanently to its body, a fact that makes it easier to engineer the combination optical-electronic viewfinder but that means the x100 isn't tapping into the latest camera trend, small ICL (interchangeable lens) cameras from Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, and Samsung.
The x100 has manual controls for the main settings--aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. The shutter speed leads to 1/4000 sec., after which it goes to an automatic setting. Likewise, the aperture ring around the base of the lens also has an auto setting. When shutter and aperture are both sent to auto, the camera is of course automatic. Setting one or the other to auto puts the camera into aperture- or shutter-priority modes, and setting them both specifically is used for manual settings. The aperture has nine blades, and the camera has a built-in neutral density filter than can cut light by 3 exposure values for deeper depth of field when it's bright or slower shutter speed for moving-water shots.
The x100 is compact but not diminutive. It comes with a relatively large APS-C sensor, the same size as used in mainstream digital SLR cameras. It's custom made for the x100 and that size theoretically allows much higher image quality than most compact cameras.
The back of the camera features the LCD, a scroll wheel with four-way rocker switch, the inevitable a range of mode buttons, and a button to control whether the camera photos are stored in the higher-quality more less convenient raw format. Pushing the "DISP/BACK" button cycles the viewfinder through different modes, showing an unadorned view, a rule of thirds overlay, a histogram overlay, and a horizon-leveling aid.