X100 - not impressed

Started Mar 8, 2011 | Discussions thread
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gava
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X100 - not impressed
Mar 8, 2011

X100 catastrophe!

Well it seems clear that I have made a major mistake pre-ordering an X100.

Like so many others I have been poring over the manual and the first Flickr streams and have uncovered some very severe problems indeed!

1. This camera is not actually as good as a Leica M9 + 35mm Summicron. Even though it costs 1/10 of the price I was expecting it to be a least as good; now what am I going to say to my brother-in-law who has a Titanium M9? He posted the unboxing on youtube and everything. Most of his photos are out-of-focus, it's true, but he has one of his cat that is quite impressive. And because everything is usually out focus you can see how amazing the bokeh is! I am going to be quite embarrassed, I can tell you!

2. Talking of bokeh - well, it's extremely disappointing that I cannot use the X100 the same way as I use my FF Canon and 300mm f2.8 lens. My basic strategy is to stand at some distance from homeless people and teenage girls and take pictures of them without them noticing. Because I always shoot wide open, and demand tack-sharp images, the background is thrown completely out of focus, so I don't have to care in the slightest about what is behind my subject. Many of my pictures would have been ruined by approaching policemen and irate boyfriends without that creamy-smooth background blur. Also I take a lot of pictures of twigs against brightly-lit skies, and I think it's beyond all doubt that under these conditions the X100 has absolutely horrible bokeh.

3. Fixed focal length. Okay, so they said so in the brochure, but I honestly thought they were joking! I mean seriously, this is the 21st century! How about a little zoom? How about some interchangeable lenses? Have they never seen the NEX? Now that's some good design! I have sent a letter to Mr Fuji. He replied and told me to zoom with my feet - whatever that means. This lens deficiency means that once again I am going to need to adapt my hard-won technique, developed over many years, of standing with all the other people with cameras but taking better photos because my camera has better AF and a bigger lens with image stabilization. Speaking of which...

4. Lack of IS is a problem because I drink a lot of coffee, and sometimes after being chased by homeless people I get the shakes. I actually think the small size of the X100 will work against me here because I was told that a heavy camera is good because it makes your hands steady.

5. I was told this is going to be a good street camera, but I have looked through the manual a number of times, and I'm pretty sure there is no "decisive moment" setting. (Though I was relieved to see they included a "super-intelligent flash" because I find flash confusing.) At first I thought that the RAW button was for decisive moments, but the manual doesn't say how you know when one is coming. Perhaps they can fix this in the first firmware release.

6. I was a bit worried about the silent leaf shutter. (Talk about ironic considering how rubbish this camera is for taking pictures of leaves!) Fortunately however, they have included a speaker and you can set your preferred shutter sound. I can even set it to sound like my FF DSLR, so that's one in the plus column.

7. Sharpness wide-open. Of all the problems with the X100, this is the most disappointing! For most of the first six months of owning a new camera or lens I take pictures of test charts with incandescent lighting, I even have my own testing table (modelled after Andy's with bottles and teddy bears and stuff). I usually try to under-expose by 2-3 stops, to check for high-ISO performance (as one day I hope to take a picture at a concert and of my niece's cheerleading competitions, which is indoors, she will be 14 soon). My main cameras for this type of photography are my D700, with my D7000 as backup. I also take a lot of pictures of my garden wall wide-open to test for tack-sharpness, is very important to me, especially in the corners because I like to print BIG.

8. Finally this camera is way overpriced! I mean it's probably worth $400-$500, but Fuji are just playing games with supply to keep the price artificially high. I predict you will soon be able to get them refurbished on ebay oncepeople realise how flawed they are and start returning them.

So I decided to cancel my pre-order and get a GF-1 which is marked down because it's not being made anymore but is way better than the GF-2.

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