X1 vs. X100 reflections IMHO

Started Apr 7, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Peter Vaktor
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X1 vs. X100 reflections IMHO
Apr 7, 2011

I must say, I had been seduced by the marketing hype around the Fuji X100. As an X1 user for the last year, I confess, I started waiting for the X100 not unlike "the second coming" or at least as the camera that the X1 should have been. That, however, lasted only till the time that I actually got my hands on one to try out for a few days. It was then that I came to really appreciate just what a wonderful, intuitive, simple and well designed and built camera the X1 really is!

Sure, the Fuji looks nice, recalling the classic Ms, but actually, in the hand, I think the X1 feels more solid and better built. The magnesium alloy top of the X100, although metal, looks and feels somewhat plasticky and not like the smooth silkiness of the X1. Ergonomically, I give the edge to the Fuji as it is a lot more sure and comfortable to hold than the bare X1 without the grip (or ThumbsUp). However the X100 cannot be really called a "compact" camera when compared to the X1.

Much has been written about the Fuji's "hybrid" viewfinder. It is certainly innovative and I do wish we had a built in optical viewfinder in the X1. However, I have a Voigtlander viewfinder on the X1 which I find perfectly usable. It is nice to have the settings information in the viewfinder like the Fuji but then again, is it really necessary or just a needless distraction when framing the image? I was not blown away by any functional improvement of the Fuji's viewfinder over the Voigtlander on my X1. After working with the X1 and the external viewfinder I am instinctively able to compensate for both focus point and parallax error so these have not posed any problems. I did not like the EVF of the Fuji. Particularly the "freezing" of the image when focus is locked. I found that most distracting.

The overall auto focus speed of the Fuji is faster than that of the X1, but not by much, now that we have V2.0. In fact, the X1 AF speed in good light is easily as fast as the Fuji, particularly on repetative shots of subjects at the same relative distance from the camera as you would encounter in street photography.

Manual focus is definitely better now on the X1 than the Fuji. Even though the focus ring is "on the lens" for the Fuji, I find it fiddely and very slow, having to turn the ring awkwardly too many turns. I much prefer now the quick thumb wheel focus of the X1.

I prefer the control dials, buttons and menu system of the Leica. It is a masterpiece of elegant simplicity and function. Everything you need is obvious, intuitive and on hand. No menu diving here. On the other hand, I found the Fuji X100's controls less than intuitive. Sure the aperture dial is "on the lens", but even with my not so large hands and fingers, I found it awkward to turn being so close the camera body. Having to switch to macro focusing for closer subjects and then to have to use the EVF added steps that interfered with my work flow.

As far as IQ quality, I unashamadely admit that I prefer the X1. The Fuji burns highlights and needs about a -2/3 exposure compensation to have a good balance of highlight and shadow to work with. Its image files also do not have that smoothness and the "indescribable, indefinable" Leica look that the X1 images have.

So, the bottom line; I was initially excited by the potential of the Fuji, even to the point of considering changing my X1 for it. But that lasted only as long as it took me to actually work with the X100. That was when I realized, actually, what a treasure we have in the Leica. Elegant, intuititive, simple and in the hands of competent knowledgable photographers, capable of producing stunning images. What more does one need?
Peter

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