Without a doubt, Fujifilm stole the thunder from every other camera manufacturer's feet when they announced and previewed the FinePix X100 at Photokina 2010. The idea of an affordable digital rangefinder is so obvious that once you hear about it, you wonder why it's taken so long for anyone to have made one. It's not the first digital rangefinder camera in existence, but unlike the Leica M and the Epson R-D cameras, the Fujifilm X100 isn't prohibitively expensive.
The specifications are tantalizing: An APS-C sensor, the same-sized sensor found in entry-level DSLR cameras, but in a smaller, compact body; a fixed lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of, well, 35mm; and a fast maximum aperture of f/2. A hybrid viewfinder, which lets you use the viewfinder either optically, like a traditional rangefinder camera, or electronically, like a digital camera.
And if the specs don't entice you, the camera's looks certainly will. Inspired by classical rangefinder cameras, the X100 emanates style. The upper deck and bottom surface of the camera are cast from magnesium alloy, and the chassis is covered in synthetic leather. Large manual dials adorn the camera, giving the photographer immediate access to essential controls, and adding to its old-school charm.
It's hard not to fall in love with the X100 simply by looking at it. It's been eagerly anticipated since its announcement last September, and so coveted that existing stock has sold out and the camera is currently in pre-order status (in part due to the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami, but more on availability later).
Fortunately for us, we managed to score personal time with a production unit, and we set out to answer the question that's been on everyone's mind since the X100 appeared: Is it simply a looker, or does it bring brain and brawn as well?