Of fanboys and AF.

Started Oct 20, 2012 | Discussions thread
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CraigArnold
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Of fanboys and AF.
Oct 20, 2012

The biggest promise going forward would seem to be the hybrid PD/CD AF systems, PD for initial work to get 95% of the way fast and then and then switching to CD for accuracy.

It's weird - Fuji has to some extent been a victim of their own success here.

I'm pretty sure the original idea of the X100 was to be the first "modern" digital camera designed to appeal to the rangefinder crowd. When it was first announced the thread on rangefinderforum hit 40 pages in 2 hours. It was literally growing faster than you could read it at times. Now of course there was the Epson and the Leicas, but they were old designs with a sensor instead of film, the X100 was stunningly innovative. And hugely successful. Fuji weren't even sure they would sell ANY of them outside of Japan. But Fujifilm are a company where many of the top brass simply love photography and are willing to take some risks. The CEO of Fujifilm has as his personal camera the first X100 that came off the production line.

BUT that wasn't the only kind of customer they got. And with the X-Pro1 particularly they have now probably got most of their new customers from places which were not their original target market, and the original target market very much affected the camera design.

In the real world, most RF camera users (like myself) cannot focus even nearly as quickly as the Fuji AF can. Not even close. Most experienced RF users take 1-2 seconds to focus, sometimes a lot more. So from that perspective it's blazingly quick. And RF users are long-acquainted with parallax, and don't really even need to think about it.

So the main fanboy base has its origins in the original target market of RF users who wanted a digital alternative. This was me. As I'm perfectly happy with just a 35mm equivalent the X100 was and remains an almost perfect camera for me. And from day 1 (and I got one of the first units shipped outside of Japan) I never had a single problem with it, finding for my type of photography it emerged almost perfect from the factory. Of course subsequent FW updates have made the AF even better. But frankly not particularly for the kind of photography I do. At distances >2m in decent light it was fine from the start.

But from the perspective of a DSLR user wanting a lighter system, or a m4/3 user wanting better IQ, or even a high-end P&S user, the AF system varies from horrible to unimpressive to adequate. But no-one thinks it's fantastic.

Also there is a particular problem for DSLR users in adjusting simultaneously to dealing with parallax and the demands of CDAF. The Fuji has a learning curve. Once you understand the tool it gets a lot better, but Olympus for example manage to get brilliant AF without the users needing to understand anything beyond "point it at the thing you want in focus". Skill can close the gap, but customers who are not from the RF crowd don't expect the gap shouldn't be there at all.

So by misjudging who their customers would be and possibly the additional challenges they would face and the fact that product lead times are not measured in days, but rather in tens of months they have had some catching up to do.

I think the X-E1 is really the first camera they have released which is properly aimed at who their biggest pool of real-world customers has turned out to be. I just hope they don't abandon us old RF users.

Curiously though I find myself quite attracted to the X-E1 and zoom, which could actually replace my Canon 5D2 and 24-105. The XPro1 for me was a step down from the X100 because I only want the one FL.

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 CraigArnold's gear list:CraigArnold's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Sony Alpha 7R Sony FE 35mm F2.8 Sony FE 55mm F1.8
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X-E1 Fujifilm X-Pro1
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