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Fujifilm XF1 review:Fujifilm XF1

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The Good Wide aperture; Raw shooting option; Stills image quality; Movie performance; Retro design.

The Bad Unconventional lens mechanism; Some wobbling on movie focus.

The Bottom Line The XF1 is a camera that both looks great and takes impressive photos. The unusual power control on the manual zoom wheel, however, is a little fiddly and won't suit everyone. Get beyond this, though, and the wide maximum aperture and raw image recording make for a very exciting, truly pocket-sized compact.

8.3 Overall

You can't deny that the XF1 is a beautiful piece of kit. It's compact and has a retro design aesthetic, with a sturdy aluminium chassis taking care of the top, bottom and lens. Add to that synthetic leather on the front and sides, and the XF1 is reminiscent of cameras from the 50s and 60s To slip this little snapper into your pocket, you'll have to shell out around £280 online.

Features and specs

The lens offers up a 4x zoom, equivalent to 25-100mm on a 35mm camera. It's manually controlled, with focal lengths scored on the barrel itself. A twist of the lens housing though does more than just shift the focal length; turn it far enough and you'll drop the camera into standby. Turn it further still and you'll switch it off, with the lens neatly retracting into the body. It's a beautiful implementation, but not entirely convenient.

Extending the lens from the off position can be tricky the first few times, and you may have trouble if you're wearing gloves, too.

You can't deny, though, that this is a camera you'd be proud to be seen with. Build quality is excellent, the layout of the rear-mounted hardware controls is logical and convenient, and the menu is standard Fujifilm fare: comprehensive and easy to navigate. It even shoots raw files as well as regular JPEGs, which makes it a tempting option for any serious photographer looking for a compact to supplement their primary shooter.

Lens system

It's far from all bark and no bite either, with auto mode supplemented by full control over aperture and shutter speed, plus program and manual modes. Aperture control is a real highlight, as the widest position at 25mm is a generous f/1.8, which allows for some beautiful shallow depths of field. It's controlled using a thumbwheel on the back of the body, which gets you to your chosen setting extremely quickly. At full telephoto, maximum aperture is still a very respectable f/4.9, while at any point in the zoom range the minimum stands at f/11.

Detail test
It's easy to shoot images with an attractive, shallow depth of field, thanks to the maximum aperture of f/1.8 at wide angle (click image to enlarge).

Minimum focusing distance is 3cm in wide angle macro mode and 50cm at full telephoto. In regular use, these distances lengthen to 50cm at wide angle and 80cm at full telephoto extension.

Behind the lens is a 12-megapixel, 2/3 inch sensor with a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3,200 when shooting full-size images (4,000x3,000 pixels). If you need to go any higher than that, you can push it to ISO 6,400 if you're happy to sacrifice some pixels and reduce the resolution to 2,816x2,112 (6 megapixels), and up to ISO 12,800 when shooting 2,048x1,536 (3.1 megapixels) images.

Resolution also has a bearing on the maximum frame rate when performing continuous shooting, with the XF1 maintaining a respectable 7fps at full resolution and upping it to 10fps when shooting 6- or 3.1-megapixel images.

Stills performance

When presented with extreme contrasts in these tests it would sometimes meter more effectively for the shadows than the highlights, leading to a slight bleaching of bright areas. The mile marker (below) is a case in point, but shooting in raw allows for all of the detail in the highlighted side of the stone to be recovered, so the data is accurately recorded and available for use.

The Fujifilm XF1 captures a wealth of data, even in tricky shots like this, allowing you to recover lost highlights from RAW files easily.

Likewise, in the image below, the face of the clock above this gatehouse is lacking detail and it's difficult to make out the hands as they appear to be lost to overexposure. Damping the highlights in post-production, however, recovers not only the hands and face of the clock, but also considerable detail within the sky. If you routinely process your images using Lightroom, Aperture or an alternative raw image suite, then opting for the XF1's raw, or raw with JPEG options really pays off.

Again, the XF1 has done a great job of capturing detail across the spectrum in this shot, as is clear after some minor tweaks in post-production.

It copes admirably with subjects exhibiting a narrow gamut, capturing a high level of detail in areas of only slight tonal variation. In the barn below, for example, the wood grain is easy to make out right across the frame.

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