Fujifilm X100: Hybrid Viewfinder


Next stop in Tokyo: Fujilm Optical Devices for a tour of their high-end cine and broadcast lens manufacturing facility. But first, a detour with their magnificent, just-released Fujifilm X100. Picture at top, shot at magic hour in Tokyo: f/2.8 at 1/420 sec, 200 ISO.

Some day all viewfinders will be like this. Fujifilm developed a new Hybrid Viewfinder.  It combines  an optical viewfinder, an electronic viewfinder, and a 2.8” LCD live-view capable screen. No more holding the camera at arm’s length, squinting to see an image as the sun glares off an LCD monitor back.

The optical finder is bright and clear. On this camera, it’s a rangefinder-style finder. The bright frame markings are digital displays, overlaid via prisms and mirrors–not etched onto glass like a rangefinder. The Hybrid Viewfinder can show frame markings and camera data. When you want to compare the optical view and the actual “shooting” view, flip the lever in front. It’s a great tool at night or in dimly lit locations. It is also a wonderful way to review the shot. Even in optical mode, you can set the camera to review the digital image in the finder.

In optical viewfinder (OVF) mode, the brightness of both the frame lines and text data is automatically adjusted according to the brightness of scene area. The displayed shooting data is constantly updated according to changes in shutter speed, exposure, sensitivity and other settings, so your eye never has to leave the viewfinder. In electronic viewfinder (EVF) mode, you can preview the picture or play it back–the EVF finder has 1,440,000 pixels.

The FinePix X100 uses a custom designed APS-C CMOS sensor (12.3 megapixels) and fixed FUJINON 23mm f/2 prime lens.

The X100 CMOS high-performance sensor was developed exclusively for this camera model. This is really important because of its wide angle lens. Optimization of the angle-of-incidence in conjunction with the specially developed lens maximizes efficiency, reduces shading, and minimizes refraction that can extend to the outer edges of the sensor. This gives you a sharp image with wonderful clarity. The ISO range is from 200 to 6400, but this can be expanded to include 100 and 12800. The camera feels like a classic rangefinder. There’s no shutter lag. This camera has the highest resolution, sensitivity and dynamic range ever produced by a FinePix digital camera.

The FUJINON non-collapsible 23mm f/2 lens has 8 elements in 6 groups, including an aspherical glass molded lens. Having a non-collapsible lens is very helpful because not only is it compact, but it also eliminates the traditional tromboning of the lens when you turn the power on or off. Your ready to start taking pictures as soon as you turn it on. Did we mention the fast f/2 aperture? This lens is not only fast, but very, very sharp. We’ll get to the tour of the lens factory in the next arcticle. The 9-bladee iris produces beautiful, circular bokehs. You can shoot in macro mode as close as 4 inches.

The FinePix X100 is beautifully crafted . The top and bottom surfaces are die-cast from magnesium alloy. All dials and rings are precision milled from metal. The ergonomics are sensational. The camera is well balanced and solid. You don’t have to drill down through a maze of menus to find what you need. Traditional controls give you immediate access to shutter speed, aperture, focus, exposure compensation, and OVF/EVF. Even better, the traditional manual dials lets you confirm the settings without turning on the power. Custom modes can also be accessed with a one-touch setting.

Shooting in RAW format is easy with just a press of the readily accessible RAW Button on the back of the camera. The built-in RAW Development function lets you process the RAW data in-camera using the camera’s image quality settings. It’s no surprise, coming from the same renowned company that makes Fujifilm still and motion picture film that Film Simulation Modes provide the distinctive look of Velvia, PROVIA and ASTIA color film emulsions, as well as Monochrome Mode that can be fine-tuned with R/Ye/G filter settings. There are separate adjustments for shadow tones and highlights to deal with high-contrast scenes.

The Fujifilm FinePix X100 digital camera will be available in March 2011, and will cost around $1,199.95. Below is one of the first shots I took from the Top of Shinagawa Prince Tower at magic hour: f/4.0, 1/33 sec, 1250 ISO.