Hands-on: Fujifilm XQ1 review

Fujifilm continues to push into the more affordable, yet tech savvy market space with the introduction of its latest X-series camera, the XQ1. Think Fujifilm X20, then think smaller, and that's what we have here. It's Fujifilm gunning for a place in Canon S120 and Panasonic LX7 territory.

And Fuji might just have shot both those competitor cameras down into the dirt thanks to its "mine's bigger than yours" sensor. Because, and small though the XQ1 is, it still packs in a large 2/3-inch sensor into that body. The very same 12-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II as found in the X20 model no less.

READ: Fujifilm X20 review

Not bad, eh? Pair that with a 4x optical zoom lens that ranges from a 25-100mm f/1.8-4.9 equivalent and it's comparable in aperture terms to something like the Canon S120, albeit with a physically larger sensor under the hood.

We had a play around with a pre-production XQ1 in London a number of weeks ahead of its official announcement to see what we thought and we were impressed with what we saw. On the one had it's "just" a miniaturised X20 without the viewfinder and minus some physical controls, but on the other it's the sort of pocketable loveliness that Fuji tends to miss the mark on. It's F-series compacts tend to miss the mark, while something more advanced like the XF1, for example, pushed too hard with its faux leather design and didn't hit the sort of highs it could have.

READ: Fujifilm XF1 review

We think the XQ1 looks like a turning point. But it does owe several similarities to the XF1. It's got the same dual control method whereby the rear controls double-up their functions via the press of a button, for example. It manages to fall into the same trap as the XF1 in this department too, as it looks like these secondary controls are touchscreen options. But that's not the case as the XQ1, just like the XF1, has no touchscreen. Sad faces all round.

But there is a physical control ring around the lens and that brings a big smile to our faces. This twist-to-perform method of control is one we're fond of, as shown off well by the likes of the Canon S120.

READ: Canon PowerShot S120 review

But enough Canon talk. The XQ1's overall build quality feels sturdy and looks understated. We like this simple look a whole lot more than the XF1. It's subtle and unobtrusive, although we're not totally convinced about the silver colour option. We'll stick with black thanks.

We also found the Fuji XQ1 handled well in the dim interior conditions that we were snapping away in. Without a touchscreen feature selecting an autofocus area was a little slower than it might have been, but we could just about live with that, particularly as the autofocus speed is very impressive indeed.

The shots we snapped we weren't able to take away with us, but a cheeky zoom-in on the rear screen of the camera revealed some quality looking detail. There's no reason that the XQ1 won't live up to similar levels to the X20, although we'll have to wait out until a final review sample is available before we can truly put that to the test.

Sat back to back against its bigger brother X20 camera and it's clear just how much smaller the QX1 is, as shown in our image gallery. Even though that comes at the expense of a viewfinder, main mode dial and other such controls we still think it's a sensible prospect that'll attract in plenty of photography lovers.

Price is set to be £350 for a November launch, which is very competitive and undercuts much of the the competition. Sounds pretty reasonable to us considering what's on board.