In complete contrast to the day before, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies. After getting somewhat hot and bothered about the Fuji X100, which is now right at the top of my shopping list, I decided to get into the spirit by going out with the Leica M9 and Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Classic. Since the X100 uses this equivalent focal length, it seemed a nice idea to have a day using mainly this.
35mm, or equivalent, is one of those "classic" focal lengths that are more versatile than they seem. Its surprising how often it gives just the right coverage. Ever since my film days it has always been my most used lens.
Multi-Image Panoramic Stitch
I must admit to being very excited by the Fuji X100. Its no surprise, I'm sure, to anyone who reads these pieces that I would be! The combination of classic retro styling, and modern technology is totally irresistible to me. I am of course assuming that it does what its supposed to! However the Fuji samples were very encouraging. No high ISO admittedly, but the "leaked" samples showed that is taken care of. I've already started moving some little used items of gear to ebay to raise the money for it.
Like many people, I'm not immune to its visual charms, and the video of it being used with its leather case and silver lens hood was almost too much. Its called "camera porn" and not without good reason!
If Fuji have got this right, and from the specs. it seems they may have, then this is a step on from the Leica X1. I doubt the Fuji will better the X1's image quality, though from the samples it seems that it will certainly equal it, but from the point of view of actually taking pictures it seems a much more useable camera. The X1 was slow and limited and in the end I became very frustrated with it. Much as I admire Leica for their resolute determination to make image quality the overiding priority, I'm not sure they have the mind set to even conceive of something like the X100.
It won't happen, but a collaboration with their Panasonic partners to produce the ultimate modern "rangefinder style" camera could give many of us the camera of our dreams. With the M9, I'm sure Leica have many new customers, not all of whom will be content with the limitations of the system.
If the X100 becomes a surprise hit and a big seller, then maybe we can expect more of the same from other manufacturers. I do think it will be difficult for that to happen. Despite the enthusiasm of many of us, I'm well aware that much of the photographic mainstream wonders what all the fuss is about. I'm sure there will be an initial burst of good sales, though £1000 for what is essentially a fixed lens "super-compact" will deter an awful lot of people, but whether it can sustain healthy long term sales is anybody's guess. However m4/3 proved that a well-designed product can defy the trend and become successful, so here's hoping the Fuji X100 can do well. It would be a shame if it just became a much talked about "collectors item" in years to come.
Words - David
Images - David and Ann