Opinion: Fujifilm X100V - why it feels like a missed opportunity
I was intrigued to discuss the X100V with my colleague Carey as he wrote his initial impressions. Intrigued because, while I completely understand his perspective and recognize the things he likes about the new camera, I found myself having the opposite impression.
We've both owned original X100s (though with its somewhat Germanic styling, I think of it as the Ur-X100, rather than the O.G), and we both love the look, the feel and the pictures they produce.
I don't dislike the additions
I completely agree with him about the appeal of the tilting rear screen. I was never part of the faction clamoring for one but it's something I felt was missing on the wide-angle Panasonic LX100 II, so I'm certainly not against it being added.
Likewise the touchscreen. I think the joystick that appeared with the X100F did everything I might want to achieve with a touchscreen, but I'm not put-out at all that Fujifilm's added one. Sure, I find its behavior a little annoying (or perhaps just unfamiliar: it's early days, after all), but I can always turn it off, if I don't get used to it.
The best (and worst) of the X-Pro3
Two things that irked me about the X-Pro3 have been directly carried over: the loss of infinity focus indication in the optical viewfinder that's really hard to work around, if you're an existing X100 user, and the almost-very-good Face/Eye detection implementation.
As I detailed in the X-Pro3 review: the camera's Face/Eye detection mode arguably works best in 'Face Selection' mode: letting you select the face you want it to focus on, but making it quick and easy to drop back to single AF point mode. The only downside being that you have to re-engage Face Selection every time you turn the camera on, and there's no menu option for it, so it has to tie-up one of the camera's function buttons.
It's this, rather than the loss of function buttons that comes from the deletion of the four-way controller, that struck me. Even without using the swipes on the touchscreen I found I had plenty of ways to get direct access to the things I want.
Ultimately, both these things could be fixed with firmware, if Fujifilm believe enough people agree with me.
So what's your problem?
Ultimately, I think my glass half empty perspective comes because this is the first redesign of the lens in nearly ten years, and it hasn't addressed the thing I care about most. And any improvements not made in the X100V won't now be addressed for the foreseeable future.
Any improvements not made in the X100V won't now be addressed for the foreseeable future
Above all, the thing preventing me upgrading my X100 was focus responsiveness. With the important caveat that this is a pre-production unit, my impression is that the X100V's autofocus isn't significantly faster than the F's. And, for the shooting I do, and the shooting I imagine myself doing (isn't the X100's romance partly about the photographer you imagine yourself becoming?), I would really welcome something a little more snappy.
|The Mark II lens is the same dimensions as the old one and maintains compatibility with existing accessories. But for my own use, it doesn't address my biggest hang-up about the previous design.|
All the early signs point to Fujifilm living up to its promises of sharper corners and better close-focus performance, which are things I know a lot of X100 users wanted to see fixed. But they never really mattered to me. Like the flip-up screen or touch-capability they were more 'nice to haves' rather than essentials. Faster focus, to me, felt necessary.
I'd personally be disappointed if it turned out they've tied their hands when designing the new lens, in order to maintain backwards compatibility with adaptors I don't have
My suspicion is that this, along with the need to mount a filter on an adaptor to get complete sealing, is a side-effect of trying to make sure the existing wide- and tele- conversion lenses remained compatible. This will no-doubt come as welcome news to people who had bought these accessories.
I'd personally be disappointed if it turned out they've tied their hands when designing the new lens, solely to maintain backwards compatibility with adaptors I don't have (and don't want: if I wanted a 28mm equiv. camera, I'd buy a Ricoh GR, rather than trying to mod an X100 into one). And personally is the key word in all of this.
It's true that I'm a little more glass half empty than Carey is, but I do recognize that there's a delicious-looking half pint sitting in front of me. Every previous version of the X100 has included a series of small but significant improvements , they haven't necessarily been compelling enough to prompt version-to-version upgrading, but each has been better than the last. Even with my downbeat view, the X100V appears to comfortably reach that bar.
|The X100V adds a tilt screen and touch-sensitivity in a way that shouldn't alienate existing users, which is a delicate tightrope for Fujifilm to walk.|
More than that, it appears Fujifilm has found a way of addressing both the 'no tilt-screen, no buy' crowd and, perhaps, the 'add weather sealing, then we'll talk,' brigade. And has done so without alienating the existing audience.
And therein is a hint at the challenge they faced: how do you push forward a series of cameras that so many people already feel personally invested in?
As my and Carey's differing perspectives show: even that existing group isn't homogenous. The X100 series has a surprisingly diverse user base, each of whom wants Fujifilm's next iteration to be their perfect camera. So perhaps it's forgivable, even if it transpires that the X100V isn't mine.
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