Interview: Kayce Baker, Director of Marketing, Fujifilm North America

The Fujifilm stand at this year's PPE is busy, and it's all about the company's latest compact camera, the X10. There's a lot of buzz around the enthusiast-oriented X10, which offers a new 12MP EXR sensor, manually controlled optical zoom lens and coupled optical viewfinder. We caught up with Director of marketing, and keen photographer Kayce M. Baker, who was proudly toting her X10 and X100 (jacketed in a custom-designed leather case) around the stand, and asked her for more details about Fujifilm's X-series.

The fujifilm X10 offers a 12MP EXR sensor and manually operated zoom lens in a small, stylish body. From the back, the X10 looks a lot like its near-relation the X100, although the viewfinder is optical, rather than the more expensive hybrid version used in the APS-C camera.
The X10 is turned on by rotating and extending its zoom lens. To turn the camera off, you simply rotate the lens back to the 'off' position. No luxury camera would be complete without a leather 'everready' case...

First, we asked her why the X10 features a conventional contrast-detection AF system, rather than using a varient of Fujifilm's innovative focal plane phase-detection system, found in some of its consumer-level compact cameras. Baker told us it was all about quality. 'quality above all else'. One of the reasons why PDAF hasn't made it into the X10, according to Baker, is that its contrast-detection AF system is so good - 'way better than the X100'. Baker explains, 'Everything we've done in the X series so far has been about moving up. The top three priorities in the X10 and X100 were styling, image quality, and a good viewfinder'.

Although she wouldn't be drawn on specific details, Baker did promise that Fujifilm has some 'great changes' in the pipeline, as regards AF.

One piece of technology which has made it into the X10 from Fujifilm's compacts is its EXR sensor. Unique to Fujifilm, EXR sensors have three modes - high resolution, high signal to noise ratio, and high sensitivity. The latter two modes combine the signals from neighbouring photodiodes for greater dynamic range and low light performance, respectively, at a reduced resolution of 6MP.

Fujifilm's other major release this year of course was the 12MP X100 - a rangefinder-styled, fixed-lens 'luxury' compact camera with an APS-C format sensor. Following our own in-depth review, where we found serious and systemic issues with the X100's operation, Fujifilm has already released two firmware updates. We asked Baker whether X100 users can expect further improvements: 'absolutely', she told us. 'There are a lot of features that I'd really like to see added, like automatic close-focussing mode'. She explained 'right now, if you want to take a shot of a closeup subject with the X100 you have to put the camera into Macro AF mode, but as an X100 user I'd really like it to be able to switch into close focussing automatically [when a close subject is detected].'

'January 2012 will be a good month'

Baker was at pains to point out that nothing is certain yet, but reiterated 'the X100 is a benchmark for quality in a small camera and that's where we want to go'. When asked whether X100 users should be optimistic about future updates her reply was abrupt: 'Yes'. Although she wouldn't be drawn on future plans, Baker did promise X-series fans that 'January next year will be a big month'...