CES 2011: Fujifilm X100 and HS20 for spring launchFujifilm shows off groundbreaking X100 camera

05 January 2011

Fujifilm Finepix X100 camera

Fujifilm Finepix X100 camera - on show at Photokina 2010

Fujifilm has confirmed a spring 2011 launch for its groundbreaking X100 digital camera.

We first saw the X100 at the Photokina 2010 camera event in September 2010, where this model virtually stole the show with its unexpected hybrid viewfinder technology.

There's still no confirmed launch price on the X100, though we're led to believe the camera will debut at around the £900 mark.

Hybrid viewfinder on the Fujifilm X100

The X100's viewfinder is like nothing seen to date on a digital camera. It can function as a large, bright optical viewfinder that benefits from advanced LED displays overlaid onto the viewfinder window itself, letting you clearly view your camera settings.

Alternatively, by flicking a switch on front of the camera, the viewfinder converts into an electronic viewfinder, duplicating the LCD screen and letting you preview picture settings or even view your photos.

To date, we've never seen an electronic viewfinder on any model except for superzoom bridge cameras or compact DSLR alternatives such as the Panasonic G2, Sony a55 or Samsung NX10.

Viewfinders are a hot topic these days - many camera users are increasingly frustrated by the scarcity of compact cameras with viewfinders, so Fujifilm's new hybrid viewfinder technology is a welcome innovation that will hopefully trickle down into more affordable models.

See the Fujifilm Finepix X100 in action in our First Look video review 


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DSLR-sized sensor on the Fujifilm Finepix X100

Inside the Finepix X100 is a 12.3Mp APS-C sensor - the same size as you'd get in a DSLR. This should let you take detailed photos even in challenging low light conditions.

The fixed lens has a focal length of 23mm, and a large, bright aperture of f2.0. The large aperture should further help the X100 to take superior low light shots, and it should also help with achieving shallow depth of focus for artistic blurred backgrounds.

There's a 2.8-inch LCD screen, and analogue dials for controlling the shutter speed, aperture and exposure settings. According to Fujifilm the Finepix X100 can also capture 720p HD video.

Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR superzoom

Lower down the price scale, Fujifilm has also announced the Finepix HS20 EXR superzoom bridge camera. The HS20 EXR is a follow-up to 2010's HS10 model, and it retains its predecessor's 30x optical zoom.

One of the most interesting features on the HS20 EXR is its manually-zoomed lens.

With most superzoom bridge cameras, you control the zoom electronically with a small lever or switch. The zoom on the HS20 EXR behaves more like a DSLR zoom lens, as you manually adjust the zoom range by hand.

This allows for great precision and intuitive use, and it should also save on battery life. The 30x zoom begins from a tremendous wide angle of 24mm, allowing you to fit in wide landscape shots or indoor photos without having to stand too far back.

16Mp resolution on the Fujifilm HS20 EXR

The other notable feature on the HS20 EXR is the camera's 16Mp image resolution. This is the highest resolution we've ever seen on a non-DSLR camera, and it seems that 2011 is the year that 14Mp becomes an obsolete ceiling for compact camera sensors.

Such a high resolution could prove useful if you're digitally cropping and editing your photos, or if you're enlarging your prints, as it helps the camera to capture more detail.

However, our extensive tests have often found that high resolution cameras deliver inferior shots in challenging low light, and camera-buyers are becoming increasingly wary of the higher prices that large megapixel counts can command.

We'll reserve judgment until we've had time to test the HS20 EXR, but it'll be interesting to see if the camera's tiny image sensor can make the most of so many pixels.

EXR technology on the Fujifilm HS20

The new HS20 also takes advantage of Fujifilm's EXR sensor technology. This allows for neat tricks like dynamic range priority, where the sensor uses half of its pixels to capture the light parts of the image and the other half to capture the dark parts. The two are then instantly combines to form a final image which, in theory, retains superior detail across the entire shot.

To date, we haven't found Fujifilm's EXR technology to be as effective as the manufacturer tends to boast with its example images, but we'll wait and see how the HS20 EXR performs in our test lab.

The Fujifilm HS20 EXR will be available in spring 2011, with a launch price of £399

Read our handy Which? guide to buying the best superzoom bridge camera.

Other Fujifilm cameras for spring 2011 launch:

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR

  • RAW shooting
  • 15x optical zoom
  • 24mm wide angle lens
  • EXR image sensor
  • GPS location tagging
  • F500 EXR model also available (no RAW or GPS)
  • Launch price of £329 (F550 EXR), £279 ((F500 EXR)
  • Both models available January 2011

Fujifilm FinePix Z90 

  • 14Mp image sensor
  • 3-inch touchscreen
  • 5x optical zoom
  • 720p HD video
  • 1.7cm thick
  • Easy web-upload to Facebook or YouTube
  • Launch price of £149, available January 2011

Fujifilm Finepix XP30

  • Waterproof to 5m
  • Freezeproof to –10°C
  • Shockproof to drops of 1.5m
  • Dustproof
  • GPS location tagging
  • 14Mp image sensor
  • Launch price of £199, available January 2011

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