Fujifilm announces pricing, availability for expensive X100

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
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 2x 2x
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
None Electronic
100 percent
1.44 million dots
Optional Electronic
Autofocus n/a
contrast AF
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
Video 1280x720
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
460,000 dots
2.7-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed touch screen
460,000 dots
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.

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