The development of the FinePix X100 was announced by Fujifilm at the Photokina show in September 2010, and the camera seems to have generated considerable interest ever since. The formal announcement of its commercial release, slated for March, came on February 8, 2011. The Japanese earthquake/tsunami caused an interruption in production of the camera for a time, and even now the X100 can be hard to find.
Consider the two large and reputable New York vendors, Adorama and B&H Photo: as this is being written, Adorama's site says demand is high, supplies are limited and irregular and they are refusing to accept new orders for the X100 at present. B&H says simply that the camera is "temporarily unavailable." E-Bay seems to have no shortage of cameras, but you'll pay a premium of at least $100 over the $1200 MSRP at that site. What's all of the hubbub about with the X100 anyway?
First of all, it's "cute," at least according to my wife. More objectively, the camera resembles a classic rangefinder design, similar to the Leica M8/M9/X1 families of digitals. There's a fixed 23mm f/2 lens that shoots like a 35mm (in 35mm film equivalents) owing to the camera's APS-C CMOS sensor. Here's that view:
According to Fuji, the lens was developed specifically for the X100 and the sensor was specially customized to match up with the lens performance characteristics. Sensor resolution is 12.3 megapixels and the nominal ISO sensitivity range is 200 - 6400; that range can be extended to 100 and 12800 at the extreme ends, respectively. A newly-designed EXR processor promises "...improved high resolution, high sensitivity, low noise and wide dynamic range technologies," along with "...more rapid signal processing response."
The camera's viewfinder is a hybrid, allowing use as either an optical or electronic viewfinder. The 2.8-inch LCD monitor can be used for image composition or capture, and there's an eye sensor that allows the camera to be set up to switch to the viewfinder when you raise it to your eye, and back to the monitor when you take it away.
Video capability is 720 HD, a bit surprising with everyone pushing on to 1080, and the closest you'll get to a full auto shooting mode is motion panorama. No scene modes, no face/blink/smile detection, no stabilization. Fuji styles the X100 as the "professional's choice," and while prospective users need not be professionals to appreciate the X100, folks looking for a typical compact digital full auto experience should probably look elsewhere. You can shoot JPEG, RAW or JPEG and RAW simultaneously, and there's an in-camera RAW converter that will produce JPEGs should you opt to save memory by not shooting the dual file.
The camera utilizes SD/SDHC/SDXC memory media and Fuji includes a battery and charger, camera strap and clips, USB cable, lens cap, CD-ROM software and printed user's manual with each camera. A lens hood and adapter ring to permit the use of 49mm filters are available as accessories.
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