The Bottom Line
The Fujifilm XF1 is one of the more interesting looking cameras currently on the market. Not only does the synthetic leather covering give the XF1 a unique design, but its boxy shape and aluminum trim contribute to a retro look for this camera.
The Fujifilm XF1 also makes use of a really odd start-up procedure, in which you must twist the manual zoom lens in a series of steps to turn on the camera's power. Throw in a high-resolution LCD screen, great performance times, and really sharp images, and you have a camera that will turn some heads.
It's impossible to ignore the Fujifilm XF1.
However, that odd start-up procedure will annoy some photographers, as will the fact that this model has only a 4X optical zoom lens. There's a few other drawbacks to the XF1, which are pretty disappointing for a camera that has a price tag near $500.
If you like the look of this camera, and you want a unique model that you can show off to friends and family, the XF1's photographic quality is more than good enough to justify this camera's high price tag. However, if you aren't thrilled with this camera's retro look and if you prefer a plain-old power button on your cameras, the XF1 probably isn't worth your time.
Thanks in large part to a large image sensor (2/3-inch or 0.67-inch), the Fujifilm XF1 captures some really nice photographs with great color accuracy. This camera's autofocus mechanism is extremely accurate the majority of the time, and its images are very sharp. Fujifilm did include a manual focus dial with the XF1, but the autofocus works so well, having a manual focus option seems a bit unnecessary for most photographers.
Even though the XF1 offers "only" 12 megapixels of resolution, this model's large image sensor means that it will outperform some 16 megapixel point and shoot cameras that have much smaller image sensors.
Another key component to creating the high-quality images you see with the Fujifilm XF1 is its f/1.8 aperture lens, which is a great option on a fixed-lens camera. You may end up with more versatility with other lenses that have larger zoom capabilities, but it'll be tough to find a lens in a fixed lens camera with better performance than what's available in the XF1.
Flash photos are pretty good with this camera, although you may notice that the popup flash may not provide enough power when you're trying to use it at the far end of the flash range. You can adjust the intensity of the XF1's flash unit through on-screen menus, though.
You can shoot full HD video with this camera, and the movie quality is really good.
Although the majority of the XF1's performance times are outstanding, the odd start-up procedure required to use this camera ends up negatively affecting performance. You must twist the zoom lens in a manner that requires a few precise steps to turn on the camera. Even though you'll get used to this procedure after a while, it still requires 2-3 seconds to turn on the camera. I'd expect that if the XF1 had a normal power button, it could start much more quickly.
The start-up procedure is just long enough that it could cause you to miss a few spontaneous photos. In addition, as you're using the camera's manual zoom lens, if you twist the lens too far, you could end up inadvertently turning off the camera or placing it into a standby mode. This also can cause you to miss a spontaneous photo on occasion.
The Fujifilm XF1 has almost no shutter lag, and shot to shot delays are barely noticeable. If only the start-up procedure was faster, this camera's response times would be almost perfect. Then again, the quirky start-up contributes to the XF1's unique look and feel that some photographers will find very appealing.
Having a zoom lens that measures only 4X (25mm to 100mm) is going to be a significant problem for photographers who want to shoot photos of animals in nature, where a large zoom is a necessity. This camera is going to work best for those people who want to shoot portrait photos of a really high quality, where a large zoom lens isn't needed.
Unlike some other advanced cameras, there is no viewfinder built into the XF1. You'll have to use the 3.0-inch LCD to frame all of your photos. Although the LCD is bright and sharp, it does have some issues with glare when you're using the XF1 outdoors. This is a pretty disappointing feature in a camera that costs this much.
Battery life for this camera is about average to below average. I expected better battery performance for a camera with a manual zoom lens. However, because of the LCD glare, you may have to operate the LCD at the brightest setting quite often, causing the battery to drain more quickly than you'd expect.
I really liked the sturdy feel of the Fujifilm XF1. There is no part of this camera that feels cheap or flimsy, and the overall package has a high-quality look to it.
Because the camera is so small, I thought it was really difficult to use the manual zoom lens. This is a small lens, which makes it tough to adjust the zoom when you're in a hurry. Most cameras that make use of a manual zoom are large DSLR models where you support the camera's weight and twist the zoom lens naturally with your left hand. With the smallish XF1, you don't support the camera in the same way, making it more challenging to twist the zoom lens.
Obviously, Fujifilm's designers paid extra attention to the XF1, providing a unique look. Offering a synthetic leather finish on this camera not only gives the XF1 a classy retro look, but it also makes it easier for you to gain a bit of a grip on the camera. Because the XF1 is so thin and lightweight, having a bit of a grip on the camera is a nice feature.
The fact that the XF1 includes a manual zoom lens, a popup flash unit, and a large LCD screen also make this camera one of a kind. The aforementioned start-up procedure adds another layer to the odd design of the XF1.
Admittedly, these design features aren't going to appeal to everyone. If you don't like the design of this camera, it's tough to justify spending nearly $500 on it, as nearly every entry-level interchangeable lens camera will carry a similar price tag with almost certainly more high-end photography features.