FujiFilm FinePix XQ1 Full Review - Cameras For Photographers
Specifications 2:

Type:
compact

Weight (inc. Battery) [?]:
206g

Wide Angle [?]:
25mm

Max. Focal Length [?]:
100mm

Zoom Range [?]:
x4

Sensor Size:
1/1.5"

Low Light Support [?]:
well lit rooms

Image Stabilization [?]:
Optical

Raw Format Support [?]:
yes

Manual Exposure [?]:
yes

Video Resolution [?]:
1080p

Optical Zoom In Video [?]:
yes

Stereo Sound [?]:
stereo

Battery Life [?]:
240 shots

Flip Lcd [?]:
none

Touch Screen [?]:
none

Viewfinder [?]:
none

Freeze / Water / Shock - Proof [?]:
no

Dimensions (w-h-d) [?]:
100 x 58.5 x 33.3 mm

Macro Distance [?]:
3 cm

Built-in Wireless [?]:
yes

Built-in GPS [?]:
none

Direct Video Button [?]:
yes

Panorama [?]:
sweep panorama

Rank: [?]
76.6

Initial Price:
$499 (change: $140, 28%)

Last Price Change:
$10 (3%) (Sep 29th)

Last Lowest Price:
$359





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FujiFilm FinePix XQ1 - Full Review

Last Lowest Price: $359
A truly compact camera with a 2/3" X-Trans II CMOS sensor inside. Sounds good, right?
xq1
  
FujiFilm FinePix XQ1 (photos: FujiFilm)
Important Note: the XQ1 was replaced by the FujiFilm FinePix XQ2 (compare ).

The XQ1's Price Watch:



Strengths & Improvements


It's small! Smaller (mainly thinner) than the S120 and than the LF1 - shorter and narrower to be precise. Unlike the highly reputable X10 and the X20, Fuji has had a hard time with its XF1, predecessor to the XQ1. It had one hard pill to swallow - a collapsible lens, which required a tug and a turn to operate and to shut the camera off.

It inherits all the goods from the XF1 - including its small but useful 25-100mm zoom along with large (at the wide end) f/1.8-f/4.9 apertures, but while the XF1 shared the X10's EXR CMOS sensor, there's a 12mp X-Trans II sensor at the core of the XQ1, much like the X20, promising fast and accurate autofocus thanks to its on-sensor hybrid AF capabilities.

Another sweet addition to the XQ1 is a control ring around its lens, customizable to control any of several common settings, at the expense of the second rear dial on XF1's back.


Build Quality & Handling


Fuji had come to realize the unpopularity of the XF1’s click-switch snap-out manual-zoom collapsible lens. In turn, they gave the XQ1 an automatic lens with the exact same 25-100mm and f/1.8-4.9 apertures. For anyone who does favor turning the lens, the XQ1 provides fly-by-wire zoom using its lens ring. It’s not the same experience, but is a very nice touch.

The lens ring can also be set to control any one of a large number of settings. If set to standard, it will control the aperture in A and M modes, the shutter in S mode and the scene/filter in SP, Adv. and Filter modes. It can also be set to control WB, ISO, etc. The zoom option might not be the most practical, as the zoom rocker already does that, but it’s definitely adds an elegant touch to the camera’s feel.

The ring has a cute digitally generated clicking sound when you turn it. That's definitely preferable to nothing at all, but it could have been even better if the ring had real clicks instead of fake audio ones.

The XQ1 makes up for its low number of physical controls with the E-Fn button - which doubles up the functionality of the rest of the buttons. That's a neat and useful idea in itself, but the XQ1 really should have had an real, native, configurable Fn button in the front.

Furthermore, there's no option to activate silent mode with a single long button press, like on the X20. too bad.

In regards to build quality, the XQ1 felt plenty sturdy in my hands and there were just a few quirks to spoil the party, like the lens ring turning which isn’t entirely smooth - it’s harder to turn it at some points.

Also, the main dial was a bit too loose - I found myself shooting in M mode instead of A which I previously selected, finding much brighter or darker exposures than I expected.

Performance


Focus & Zoom Speed: Despite Fuji's promises for fast and accurate focusing thanks to the X-Trans sensor's on board hybrid focusing capabilities, the XQ1's focusing is the single fault which might break its appeal in its entirety.

It does focus very fast, but in some situations, the focus just doesn’t lock. It hunts and gives up rather quickly, displaying a shameful red rectangle. Making the focus area larger helps a bit, but doesn’t solve the issue. If this can be solved by firmware, then Fuji needs to fix it asap.

Focus peaking is a great addition to manual focus, which is pleasantly controlled by the lens ring. Also, instant AF during MF is a nice touch. That being said, the lack of a distance meter in manual focus came as an unpleasant surprise.

Operation: At first look, the small size and low number of buttons of the XQ1 suggests average quality. The red markings of the 'Q1' in front and the 'f/1.8' on the lens adds to the tacky plasticky appearance. Why would Fuji choose to emphasize its looks like that rather than give it a restrained, professional (as much as possible) look is beyond me.

As said, it has few buttons, so immediate, intuitive control is out of the question, but it does have that E-Fn button, which masks all the buttons on the back with secondary designations. These are, naturally, fully customizable, but only the secondary functions, not the buttons' primary ones.

For instance, upon hitting the E-Fn, the Flash button controls WB, the Macro button controls ISO, etc. It’s unfortunate that the main functionality of these buttons can’t be set or at least it primary/secondary functions reversed. I would have preferred that the Macro button controlled the ISO and the Flash button controlled WB on a single press (Fuji Action Item #1).

Battery Life: With an official value of 240 shots per charge, the XQ1 has very little to brag about, but after I set it to power saving mode I was able to get 360 shots before I had to recharge it.


Image Quality


Colors & Contrast: This is where the XQ1 absolutely shines. Thanks to its fine lens-sensor combo, it's able to produce images with similar quality to its bigger sister - the X20. The results are nothing less than inspiring - full of lively color and contrast, a true feast for the eyes. See the XQ1's image gallery for some example shots.

ISO Range: The mighty sensor of the XQ1 is capable of some impressive low light shooting in spite of its compact size - of course, it's larger than standard compacts, but still very small in comparison to mirrorless cameras and DSLR's.

Images are clean all the way up to and including ISO 800, where even fine detail is preserved and colors are full and shiny. ISO 1600 is where 100% crops show that details at the micro level are lost, but images are still perfectly viewable on screen.

The same goes for ISO 3200, but ISO 6400 is when not only noise is an issue - but also color blotches of all sorts, even at on-screen sizes. ISO 12800 is over the red line of acceptable quality at any size and should most definitely be avoided.


High ISO Performance:


See how the XQ1 performs in various ISO sensitivities:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




High ISO Performance - 100% crops:


Here are full size crops of the images above:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Depth of Field: The f/1.8 of the XQ1's can be used only at the wide end of the lens - which means that in order to achieve a small depth of field, I had to get really close. The f/4.9 at the long end contributes very little to small DOF, even when shooting closely to your objects.

The example below was shot at f/2.2, so imagine an even creamier background in that second shot with the small DOF:


Depth of Field Performance:


See what Depth of Field the XQ1 is able to create:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Video Quality: In today's world of 4K video and 200mbps Full HD's, the XQ1's 36 mbps 1920x1080 videos might seem inferior, but watching the results on a Full HD screen shows a clear and smooth output, with vibrant but not exaggerated colors.

Movie frame rates are limited to 60p and 30p only. There's no 24p and no different compressions or codecs. On the action side of things - video shooting doesn't offer many live adjustments, but does allow convenient control over exposure compensation.


Video Example:






Optical Zoom During Video:






Advanced Features


Sweep Panorama: As in all Fuji cameras, the panorama mode does what it's supposed to, and that's nothing to disregard. Sweep in any direction and except for a few stitching artefacts here and there you get a wide view put together well.


Sample Panorama:





Wi-Fi: The XQ1 shares Fuji's thin wi-fi capabilities, which are mostly about sharing your pics. That's good and fine, but in light of what other companies are offering, namely - remote control, sharing only looks pale in comparison. Come on, Fuji, advance! (Fuji Action Item #3).

Continuous Mode: The XQ1 has a top speed of 12 frames per second - but only for 9 shots. Doing the math - that's less than one second's worth of shooting. Slower speeds imply higher buffer capabilities, so choose carefully which speed is right for your needs.


Continuous Mode:


Here's an example of the XQ1's continuous mode:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Macro: Macro isn’t possible from point blank, but is still sharp and full of detail. I had to make quite a few attempts in order to get a bee up close and in focus - if I had a bit less patience, I would have given up that shot. Take a look at the full size of these macro shots (by clicking on them) to get a better understanding of the detail levels.


Macro Capabilities:


Here are examples of the XQ1's macro mode:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




Neutral Density Filter: There’s no ND filter on board, so I couldn’t make use of the large aperture in bright sun light. You could always mount some external filters, but that not quite the same thing. Not remotely.

Adding sin to crime - when set to f/1.8, the maximum shutter speed is 1/1000. Stopping down to f/2.8 extends the shutter speed to a maximum of 1/1600 and the final step of 1/2000 is reached at f/4.0. This make small DOF is even harder to achieve.

Artistic Filters: The effects in this camera are bland. They offer nothing exciting of any kind, with the standard miniature, toy camera and selective colors to play with.


In-Camera Effects:


The XQ1 offers these creative effects, see what they look like:

Scroll your mouse over the thumbnails to view the images, then click on the images for full size versions.




The Bottom Line


There's more than a handful of high-end compacts out there. As phone cameras take the place of standard compacts, camera manufacturers are pushed 'upwards'. The niche of day-to-day compact cameras is diminishing, forcing more capable cameras to compete with that rectangular device that's in everyone's pockets.

The Canon S120 (compare ), Nikon P340 (compare ) and Panasonic LF1 (compare ) are all 1/1.7" sensor based cameras that easily fit in your (other) pocket. There are also Fuji's own X20 (compare ), Canon's G16 (compare ), Nikon's P7800 (compare ), Panasonic's soon-to-be-replaced LX7 (compare ) and of course Sony's RX100 II (compare ), so the swamp is crowded.

The XQ1 almost stands out among these serious competitors - its imaging capabilities are very impressive - with output as good as the X20's. The bug in the ointment is its focusing - quick as it may be, it misses on too many occasions, spoiling the good taste it otherwise leaves in your mouth.

Last Lowest Price: $359


In Your Hand:












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Total Rank:
76.6


 

Lineage:

FujiFilm FinePix XQ1 Eyal Gurevitch March 31, 2014 $359 76.6 100

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