Fuji Initial impression of Fuji XP90

Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
The Fujifilm XP90 rugged camera just might be the quintessential point-and-shoot camera.

To start, in many ways there is little else that you can do with you besides point and shoot. You can’t adjust focus, aperture, or shutter speed. There are some settings that you can change, and we’ll get to them in just a bit, but first around the XP90.

It’s a small camera (just 203g. 110 x 71 x 28 mm); smaller than the LX100, the Canon G12, and less than 3/4ths the thickness of the Sony RX100 MkIV. On the top edge of the XP90 are three buttons: a video button, marked in red with a dimple in the center; the power button, which is slightly larger and completely flat; and the shutter button which is bigger yet and textured with a waffle pattern. The result is that you can distinguish tactilely, without looking, which button you have under your finger.

On the front face of the XP90, you’ll find a rubberized ridge on the right side which provide a place for the fingers of your right hand to grip, a small flash window, a tiny window for a focus illuminator, and the lens, which is situated at the upper left quadrant of the camera face.

On the button edge of the XP90 is a socket for mounting a tripod. On the right side is a dial with a button in the center. Press the button, rotate the dial, and a hatch pops open, giving the photographer access to the battery, SD card, USB socket for charging the battery, and a mini HDMI socket. On the inside of the hatch door is a soft orange seal that keeps water and dust out of the innards of the XP90 when the hatch is closed and locked.

On the back of the XP90 are a three-inch, 920K-dot LCD for composing the shot, six buttons, a four-way actuator, a small metal loop for attaching a strap, and a spot with ten little plastic bumps in a pattern that gives you a place to plant your thumb while shooting. At the upper right quadrant of the back are the W and T buttons for controlling the 5x zoom, from 28mm e to 140mm e. Kick in the digital zoom and you can stretch that to 280mm e. Below the T button is the playback button. Moving down, you’ll find a four-way controller that controls exposure compensation and photo delete functions, macro mode, flash, and self timer.

In the middle of the four-way controller is a button that activates the menu system. Punch up the menu system, and you will get a bunch of choices for shooting mode (including scene recognition, auto mode setting, P mode, action camera, low light, etc.), ISO, image size, image quality, FinePix Color, white balance, AF mode (center, multi, tracking), face detection, time lapse, and lots, lots, more.

Below the four-way are two more buttons: one for controlling wireless communication or activating 10-shot bursts and another button for back and display functions.

The Big Deal about the XP90 is that it is a rugged camera, environmentally sealed, designed to be waterproof to 15m/50ft, shockproof to 1.8m/5.8ft, freezeproof to -10C/+14F, and dustproof. The appeal of the XP90 is that you can take where other cameras fear to tread. Do a little research, and you’ll find that not even the Big Kahuna, top-of-the-line pro camera bodies or lenses are designed to withstand total submersion for even a little while. Sure, some of them might survive for a little while, but don’t count on it; if you want for-sure water protection, you need a waterproof housing.

I bought the XP90 so I could take it kayaking with impunity, in the hopes of capturing the geese as they float in for a landing over my head, which has now happened twice.

Shooting the XP90

Press the power button firmly down, you’ll feel a click under your finger, and by the time you have “unclicked” the button, the XP90 will be fully booted and ready to take pictures. The XP90 uses folded optics and an internal zoom, so nothing trundles out or extends when the camera boots. In my estimation, it takes less than a second.

Press the shutter button halfway, and the camera focuses seemingly instantly. Set up with center focus and in silent mode, I can persuade the XP90 to focus first on the candlestick in my sunroom window and then on the birdfeeder through the window out in the yard, and it does it quickly and accurately.

I experimented yesterday with “wearing” the XP all on a single point of attachment neckstrap. I was tucked out of view between my t-shirt and overshirt just below my solar plexus. After a while, I no longer noticed it was there.

The most serious downside to the XP90 is the same as any camera that does not have an optical or electronic viewfinder: when the sun is behind the shooter’s back, at the right angle, it can be very difficult to see the back screen to compose the shot. In addition, because the lens is relatively slow -- F3.9 (Wide) - F4.9 (Telephoto – it would not be my first choice for low-light photography. Otherwise, my impressions so far are positive. The results the XP90 produces are acceptable; not as sharp as my LX100 or HX400V, but good enough for my kind of opportunistic photography; it is fast, responsive, and quick to deploy; and above all, it should survive if my kayaking skills fail me.

X90 at full wide:

Full tele:

Full tele with digital zoom:

I bought this XP90 bundle from Ritz photo through Amazon for the same price as Amazon was offering the XP90 camera alone. I also purchased an external charger and a couple of extra batteries. Otherwise, you have to charge the battery inside the camera using a USB charger.

Cheers, Jock

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