Fuji XQ1 £399
18th Oct 2013 | 04:30
Fuji's X20 sensor in a tiny body
Although considerably smaller than the X20, this new camera has the same 12MP 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor (without an optical low-pass filter) and EXR Processor II so it promises to deliver the same (or very similar) high quality images.
Enticingly, the new camera's lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 at its shortest focal length (equivalent to 25mm) and f/4.9 at it's longest point (100mm). With Fuji's Intelligent Digital Zoom technology this 4x zoom can be extended to 400mm.
The lens has seven glass elements in six groups, with four aspherical and three extra low dispersion elements. It also includes an OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) group to reduce the impact of camera shake and potentially extend the hand-holdable shutter speed by 3EV.
Fuji has given the lens seven blades to give a rounded aperture shape and promote natural bokeh. In addition, the XQ1 has Fuji's Lens Modulation Optimiser technology, which processes each image to get the best result possible at the selected aperture and focal length, reducing the impact of diffraction.
Further good news is that in macro mode the lens can focus as close as 3cm from its front element.
Like the Fuji X-E2 announced at the same time, and the Fuji X20 and Fuji X100s, the XQ1 has a hybrid focusing system that combines both contrast and phase detection, with the camera choosing which to use depending upon the situation. Fuji claims that the XQ1 has the world's fastest phase detection system in a digital camera with a 2/3-inch sensor and its response time is just 0.06 seconds. The start-up time is also impressive at just 0.99 sec, while the shooting interval is 0.3sec and shutter lag is just 0.015sec.
Meanwhile there are continuous shooting options of 12, nine, six and three frames per second.
In a move designed to appeal to experienced photographers, the XQ1 has an exposure mode dial that allows aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes to be selected in addition to a collection of automatic and scene options as well as the popular Advanced Filter modes. It's also possible to shoot both raw and JPEG files when using the advanced exposure modes.
There's no viewfinder built-in, but there is a three-inch LCD screen with 920,000 dots for composing and reviewing images.
As with the X-E2, Fuji has included Wi-Fi connectivity in the QX1, and after the initial pairing images can be transferred to a smartphone or tablet with a single press of a button.
Build and handling
Although small, the XQ1 feels like a fully paid-up member of the Fuji X-series. It's light enough to be used one-handed, but feels solid and nicely made. A small rubber pad on the thumb-rest also gives good grip in combination with the textured surface of the front of the camera.
The controls all feel well made and responsive. They are also nicely spaced, so although the camera is small it doesn't feel cramped.
Learning earlier lessons, Fuji has given the XQ1 a power switch as well as a control dial around the lens. This dial has just the right tension so it feels responsive, well made and not sloppy. In its default mode the dial changes function depending upon the exposure mode, but if you prefer you can set it to control one aspect such as focal length or exposure compensation. It's easy to set the option you want just by pressing the E-Fn button on the back of the camera and then rotating the ring to the find the desired features.
Pressing that E-Fn button activates a type of quick menu display that mimics a camera's controls. It gives quick access to the drive mode, sensitivity, focus point selection, white balance and Film Simulation modes.
So far we have only been able to handle a pre-production sample of the XQ1, but our first impressions are favourable.
We found that the screen is nice and sharp and gives a detailed view, and although we will have to assess it properly in bright light at a later date, it doesn't seem to suffer adversely from reflections.
The camera also appears to focus pretty quickly even in quite low light, but we'll have to use a full production sample in a range of conditions before we pass final judgement.
As we have tested the X20 and know it to be a good performer, we're looking forward to getting a full production sample of the XQ1 to test the new lens. Will the images be as sharp as from the X20 despite the downsized camera body?
When we tested the X20 we found that it controls noise well up to around ISO 3200, when (unsurprisingly) it becomes more of an issue, so naturally we'll look at this with the XQ1.
In the past we have found that Fuji's automatic white balance and multi-purpose metering systems give good accounts of themselves, delivering correctly exposed images with pleasant tones in most conditions. As a rule the metering only struggles occasionally in very high contrast conditions. While we anticipate similar performance from the XQ1, we will investigate it fully when we get a sample in for review.
With a list price of around £349 the XQ1 is set to offer some serious competition to the likes of the Canon S120 and Nikon P7800. It has a larger sensor (2/3-inch vs 1/1.7-inch) in a similarly sized body and offers a similar level of control with beautiful build quality.
The XQ1 feels lovely in the hand and the fact that it has the same sensor and processing engine as the popular Fuji X20 suggests that it should produce good images. The control ring around the lens also has a high quality feel and is responsive with well though out functionality.
It's a shame that the XQ1 doesn't have a touch-sensitive screen, as this would combine well with its E-Function display and allow the focus point to be set quickly and easily.
We're pretty excited about the Fuji XQ1, it's small enough to be fitted into a jeans pocket yet allows control over all the features that enthusiasts want and has a pedigree that indicates it will produce high quality images.
We'll be reviewing a full production sample in the near future, so watch this space.