Wednesday, September 22, 2010

FujiFilm X100: A Breakthrough!

Yum! Fuji stole the show at Photokina 2010 by announcing the Fuji X100 12.3 MP camera--targeted for released in early 2011 (price unkown).

Photo from Go there after reading this blog for some of the best camera news and reviews on the 'net.

A quick perusal of the marketing specs for this baby over on shows that this is not just a another retro-styled digital camera aimed at hipsters looking for shoulder-slung adornment. No, no, no. Do not be fooled by its "classic" styling and charming good looks. The X100 is a high-end point-and-shoot style camera aimed at the professional/enthusiast market. The camera will feature a pro-level build quality, a fast fixed focal length lens with aspherical elements, a big sensor (APS-C), a hybrid optical viewfinder (VF), and manual controls on the body and the lens. [RANT ON] Now, before you freak out and start whining about its fixed focal length lens, know that the X100 is not some photographic freak of nature. There is a long and sturdy tradition of high-end, high-quality fixed focal length cameras going back several decades, so there is a proven market for this type of camera.[RANT OFF] However, :-) the most exciting single detail about the camera for me is the viewfinder (VF). It's a rangefinder-style optical VF, but it's a hybrid. That means its an optical viewfinder with digital information superimposed, which also has the capability to playback your shots.

This is exciting, because as production of film cameras has faded out and digital cameras has faded in--and as the emphasis in camera size has inched toward the diminutive--the optical finder has found itself literally squeezed out of the picture. The bulkier DSLR with its through-the-lens viewing (TTL) has been the one of the last design holdouts for the optical VF. But, sometimes a photographer wants relief from the neck-wrenching weight and unpocketable bulk of a DSLR. Therefore, photographers, who want to shoot with something less bulky than a DSLR have to compromise and settle for LCD screens or tiny, squinty, tunnel vision-styled optical viewfinders as a means of composing their images. Despite the beauty of some of the high-resolution LCD screens, the act of holding a camera at arms length to compose a shot has no correlation in the world of photography where the camera is held to the eye and up against the face (unless you care equate the grab-all blind overhead shooting techniques of journalism and sports photographer or ground-glass viewing and focusing of some medium and large format cameras with composing with an LCD). Besides, shooting in broad daylight with an LCD screen is damn near impossible! So, yes, an optical VF is a very welcomed addition to a digital body.

If the camera proves successful we could very well see the trend back toward optical viewfinders or even toward higher-quality electronic view finders (EVF). For now the X100 is a major breakthrough whose announcement has created a stir that hasn't been seen since Panasonic debuted the first micro 4/3 camera (the G1).

So, be excited all you enthusiasts. Be very excited.