Disclaimer: I am no gear addict and the usual discussions about camera and lens bother me… I just need a good tool I am comfortable with and that gives good results. For information the current camera I use is a Fuji S5 DSLR (basically a Nikon D200 with Fuji sensor) and a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 zoom, most of the time at widest focal (which gives an approximate 26mm width in equiv 35mm film). I like this combo, it is not that bad – although it is not the most appropriate gear for what I am after. My real concern is that the sensor is not FF and cropped sensors (x1.5 or so) really suck for wide angle (you get the distortion of a 20mm for a 35 frame). And for sure I would prefer a RF camera, with 24 or 28 and 35mm primes. But I don’t want to invest on a Leica M9 because frankly it is too expensive and IMO way overpriced.
But yesterday I learned that Fujifilm is about to issue the new Finepix X100, a new 12M digital compact camera which looks like that:
… and it looks really good, isn’t it ?
OK, it looks good, but will it be really good ? The first thing that I find is misleading is that you might think it is a rangefinder camera. But it is not. It is basically a compact camera with both optical (*) and electronic viewfinder. Optical viewfinders differ from RF which are completely different beasts, especially for (manual) focusing purpose.
The X100 will come with a 23mm f2.0 prime lens which is described as very good. It is a fixed prime, as far as I understood. Together with the cropped sensor x1,5 magnification you come up with 35mm frame. Here I have the same concern that with my Fuji S5, and the focal length is not wide enough for me. But if the lens is good I probably can live with that, at least as a second all-purpose camera.
One thing I wonder is focusing. Does the X100 allows manual focus operation ? It is not quite clear from what I have read so far. But I noticed that 1/ the lens does not seem to have a manual focus ring (I believe the ring is for aperture) and 2/ the lens barrel has no distance/DOF scale (see pic below, view from top).
And that – together with a mere optical viewfinder – is a clue for a not-so comfortable manual focus (assuming that manual focus is possible with the X100). I personally almost always use pre-focusing technique for street shots, and that lack of DOF scale is a real flaw for me.
So… is the X100 just a (probably good) compact camera with vintage Leica/Contax look ? Or is it a valid substitution product for way-too-much-expensive digital RF camera ? Wait and see…
(*) – EDIT – and the Fuji website says the optical viewfinder of the X100 has only 90% coverage, which is disappointing.