Fujifilm XQ1 is a fast premium compact with high-resolution X-Trans CMOS II sensor

Although Fujifilm is planning to exit the budget sector, it’s not leaving the compact point-and-shoot category just yet – it’s just making them stronger. Case in point, the new XQ1. “It’s a great camera for anyone wanting to step into the X-Trans technology,” Fujifilm told us, referring to Fujifilm’s CMOS sensor and associating components.

A “premium pocket-sized digital camera,” the XQ1 uses a 12-megapixel 2/3-inch variant of the X-Trans CMOS II sensor, EXR Processor II, and phase detection autofocusing. Together, they deliver fast performance, with autofocusing speed of 0.06 seconds – the fastest in its category, according to Fujifilm – 0.3-second intervals, startup time of 1 second, and 0.015-second shutter lag. The sensor is slightly larger than those in compacts like the Canon PowerShot S120, but much smaller than the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II’s 1-inch sensor or the APS-C-sized sensors in Fujifilm’s premium X models. However, the X-Trans CMOS II has a color filter array to handle moire and false color generation – in place of an optical low pass filter – to produce images with high resolution. A lens modulation optimizer, which is also in the new X-E2, sharpens the images further. ISO ranges from 100 to 12,800, manual users can utilize the focus peaking feature, and in-camera RAW conversion is built in.

The XQ1 also has a new 4x f/1.8 zoom lens (25-100mm) with optical image stabilization. It’s specially coated to reduce flare and ghosting. On the back is a 3-inch, 920k-dot LCD with anti-reflective coating and tempered glass. There are few dials and controls, but there is a spinning-ring around the lens that can be customized, similar to the one in Canon’s PowerShot S-series. In movie mode, the XQ1 shoots 1080p HD video at up to 60 frames per second, with AF tracking and image stabilization. A dedicated Wi-Fi button takes you into wireless mode, where you can transfer images or connect to a smartphone or tablet to upload photos; there’s no remote control operation. For users stepping up from point-and-shoots, you’ll find several automated creative modes.

The camera goes on sale this month for $500, and is available in all-black or all-silver. It’s also Fujifilm’s X-series camera to have a waterproof case accessory.

Pricing wise, it’s in line with Canon’s high-end compact but offers stronger specs – on paper, at least. It’s much more affordable than Sony’s RX 100 II, but that camera impressed us tremendously, so it’ll be interesting to see how well the XQ1 does with a smaller sensor. We liked Fujifilm’s X100S when we reviewed it, so we have high hopes. Regardless, camera makers know there isn’t a lot of money to be made at the low end, so we should be seeing more and more compacts-on-steroids like this.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: