Is a large sensor, fast fixed prime lens, sophisticated (but not through-the-lens) viewfinder and retro design worth $1,200? Fujifilm's hoping you answer that with a big "yes."
The Fujifilm FinePix X100 isn't news. In fact, it's been "trade showed," previewed, twittered, and generally overexposed (if you'll pardon the expression) for months now. And yet, until today, we haven't had U.S. pricing or availability for it. The wait is over: it'll be available in March, and you'll be shelling out $1,195.95 for it. Yup, $1,200.
The irony of this post is that despite Fujifilm's buzz-generation machine, I haven't yet actually covered the camera, save the photos from CES linked here. So I'll rectify that right now.
From a market standpoint, the X100 is a bit of an oddball. In spirit, it seems closest to the Leica X1, another expensive rangefinder-style compact using an APS-C-size sensor. But the X1, while it doesn't seem to be officially discontinued, is out of stock at a lot of outlets and no replacement has been announced. I don't know whether that's a commentary on the X1's $2,000 price tag or the size of the market for a product like this.
I do think the potential X100 user may also overlap with those attracted to less expensive cameras like the Olympus E-P2 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2: they're rangefinderish-style cameras with a relatively large sensor that you can slap a nice prime lens on.
For reference, here are some specs on the cameras:
|Fujifilm FinePix X100||Leica X1||Olympus PEN E-P2||Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||12-megapixel CMOS||12.2-megapixel CMOS||12.3-megapixel Live MOS||12.1-megapixel Live MOS|
|APS-C (n/a)||APS-C (n/a)||17.3mm x 13mm||17.3 x 13.0mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 6400/ 12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200||ISO 100 - ISO 6,400|
|Continuous shooting||n/a||3fps |
12 JPEG/ 10 raw
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
magnification/ effective magnification
|Electronic/Optical hybrid |
1.44 million dots
0.5x/90 percent coverage OVF
1.44 million dots
|Optional Electronic |
|11-area contrast AF||11-area contrast AF||23-area contrast AF|
|Shutter speed||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb||30-1/2,000 sec.||60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes||60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/160 x-sync|
|Metering||n/a||n/a||324 area||144 zone|
|Image stabilization||None||None||Sensor shift||Optical|
|None||720/30p Motion JPEG AVI|| 1080/60i/50i @ 17, 13 Mbps|
720/60p @17, 13 Mbps AVCHD or Motion JPEG QuickTime MOV
|Audio||n/a||n/a||Stereo; mic input||Mono|
|LCD size||2.8-inch fixed |
|2.7-inch fixed |
|3-inch fixed |
| 3-inch fixed touch screen|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||n/a||260 shots||300 shots|
|Dimensions (inches, WHD)||5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1||4.9 x 2.3 x 1.3||4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4|
|Body operating weight (ounces)||n/a||11.1 (est)||12.2||11 (est)|
|Mfr. price||$1,195.95 (fixed 23mm f2.0 lens)||$1,995 (fixed 24mm f2.8 lens)||$749.99 (body only)||$499.95 (body only)|
|n/a||n/a||$799.99 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)||$599.95(with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)|
|n/a||n/a||$799.99 (with 17mm f2.8 lens)||$699.95 (with 14mm f2.5 lens)|
|Ship date||March 2011||August 2009||December 2009||January 2011|
Fujifilm seems to be hoping that people will find the much-talked-about hybrid viewfinder, larger sensor, and cool design worth the price premium. The viewfinder toggles between a optical (like a point-and-shoot's, but higher quality with an information overlay) and electronic, which is nice to have. The large sensor is definitely an attraction, with its potential for better-than-average low-light quality, especially compared with the smaller Four Thirds sensors. And yes, the design is cool, though many of the controls are laid out like it's just a big ol' point-and-shoot.