Fujifilm’s retro-fantastic X100 is probably the hottest-looking camera you’ll see this year. Announced at this year’s Photokina tradeshow, the magnesium-clad compact makes it look like Fujifilm took the wish-list of many photographers and made it real.
The first thing you’ll notice is the styling, which looks almost exactly like the rangefinder cameras of the past, right down to the flash being placed where the little bright-line illuminator window would go on, say, a Leica, and the giant viewfinder being placed over to the left (from the user’s point of view).
In fact, the whole camera is laid out like an old-style rangefinder. The shutter-speed is set by turning a dial on the top plate (as it the exposure compensation). The aperture is set by twisting a dial around the lens itself and the on-off switch is a collar a round the shutter-release. In fact, from the product-shots, it appears that the shutter-release is drilled and threaded for a manual cable-release.
Then we get to the lens. The ƒ2 lens is a fixed 23mm, which equates to 35mm on a full-frame camera. This is the classic focal-length for a rangefinder, and coupled with the 12.3MP SLR-sized APS-C sensor, means that you’ll be able to throw backgrounds out of focus, as well as shoot in very low light (the maximum ISO of 6400 will help there, too).
But the real “holy shit” moment comes with the viewfinder. It works just like a normal optical viewfinder, but has a prism stuck in the middle. Light from the scene in front passes straight through to your eye, but off to the side is a tiny 1,440,000 dot LCD screen. When on, the panel can either superimpose camera-info onto the image or – get this – function as a super high-res optical finder. You can switch between modes with a hardware button (it’s the lever on the front) Here’s the picture:
To be clear, this means that you can use this like an old-style camera, with distraction-free framing but also with the parallax errors of a non-through-the-lens finder, or you can swap to see what you’d see in an SLR. I’m guessing that you’d also get the focus points shown, and maybe even an in-finder histogram? [Update: The histogram is in there].
The X100 will also shoot 720p video, and has a regular 460,000 dot screen on the back, along with the usual host of digicam buttons, and there is even a built-in 3-stop neutral density filter so you can cut out some light and still use the lens wide-open in bright sunlight.
I’m ridiculously excited by this camera. It’s coming out in March of next year, and, at $1000, I predict that Fujifilm won’t be able to make them fast enough. This, you probably already know, is the camera Leica should be making.
Finepix X100 [Fujifilm]
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