Various tidbids from Summer 2012

This post, being written on the last day of August 2012, qualifies for the end-of-summer entry for this blog. So I decided to collect some thoughts and issues I faced during summer and post them here.

First of all, a Fujifilm X-100 issue, that I was aware of, but never remembered. Don’t try to use the build-in flash of the camera, with the lens hood attached. It’s a known issue, but since I store and always carry my camera with the lens hood attached, I didn’t remember to remove it, when I shot some pictures with the flash activated. Results? Bottom left corner of the pictures is significantly darker than the rest. Just remember: flash and hood do not go together on this camera.

Second, Apple Mountain Lion server has significant issues. I am now officially back to Lion server, since the new version has so many issues that I do not want to upgrade. I have spend several summer days trying to fix the issues with the Mountain Lion server, unsuccessfully, so I decided that it was about time to go back to the previous, stable, Lion server and call it a day. Thanks Apple, as if I had nothing better to do with my summer days.

Third, spending almost a whole summer month with a broken foot, is not fun. I broke a bone in my foot, as I was climbing down from a chair I was on, doing some rearrangements of my network equipment. As I was coming off the chair, my right foot stepped on my shoe and the ankle turned. I heard a “crack” and felt an acute pain at the right side of my foot. A visit to the hospital (after two days) showed a broken bone. A cast was applied for almost 20 days, which severely reduced my mobility. Not fun.

The weird thing is that at least eight other persons I know had foot issues this summer. Isn’t that strange?!?!

Fourth, vacations. We spent our vacations in the island of Crete, in the apartments of a friend, but more about that you will read in another, dedicated post, with pictures and everything. Needless to say we appreciate Spyros hospitality.

Some more thoughts on the Fuji X100

While my rants about the X100 may make visitors think that I do not like the camera, the contrary is true. I love it. The pictures I get from it, have the same IQ (and for the uninitiated that means “Image Quality”) as those I get with my Nikon D700 when used with some of my prime lenses. Only the Fuji weights about 500 gr while the D700 about 1,0 Kg.

I do use the Fuji more than all my other cameras these days, and if it wasn’t for the bad feelings I have for not shooting some of my film babies lately, I wouldn’t mind at all leaving the D700 and the D300 in the closet.

The issue I have with the X100, is just that I can’t stand some of its peculiarities. For example, why can’t focus be initiated by the AE-L/AF-L button, in all modes?!? Or why the Focus rectange in MF is not resizeable, while it is in AF-S. These things are easily fixable in the camera’s firmware, so I am wondering why isn’t Fuji fixing them.

Oh, yes, there are also some morons on the Internet, who are supposed to be close to Fuji (is that the only relation they have with the company?!?!?), who try to justify these inconsistencies with crazy excuses. Today, in another forum dedicated to Fuji X-cameras, where one of those “Fuji cameras are perfect as they are” morons frequents, a member asked this same question “Why is the focusing rectangle in MF not resizeable?”. And here is the moron’s answer:

There isn’t an AF box in MF mode. The box you mean is a magnifier frame, bit since there’s currently only one magnification setting available (16x, I guess), there’s currently no reason for an adjustable box. There’s simply nothing to adjust to. This will change once Fuji update their firmware to allow multiple magnification settings. Then, the box will change along with it. Wait until June.

He had given me the same answer some time ago, when I had asked the same question and when I asked him which area of the viewfinder is used to focus the camera, in MF, when I press the AE-L/AF-L button, he had no answer to give me. There is certainly a section of the viewfinder, that is used for focusing the camera in MF mode, and that section corresponds exactly to that rectangle, as the awful firmware 1.20 has shown to every X100 user. Except that according to this moron, that is not a focusing rectangle, it is a magnifier frame. So which is the area used for focusing, if it is not that rectangle? And this guy should be close to Fuji, because he knows that these things (or at least some of them) will be fixed in the next firmware version, which will come out (according to him) in June.

Fuji, those people are not doing you any justice. They are destroying your image in their effort to defend the issues your cameras have. If they are so close to you, as they want to appear in public to be, may I humbly suggest that you put some ice on their heads?

The X100 issues are by now well-known to the entire photographic community. Why don’t you guys address those issues and come up with a time schedule for fixing them? We would all applaud and no one will hold you liable if you are off a few days or weeks. But pretending there are no issues and having those morons defend you in public, is much worst than acknowledging them.

Another round in the X100 match

Well, yesterday, Fujifilm released the new firmware for the X100, version 1.20.

From Fuji’s web site here are the “improvements”:

  • 1. Some functions, which can be set to “Fn” button and shown as “Fn BUTTON” in SET-UP menu, can be also set to RAW button. After pressing the command dial to right in the SET-UP menu of “Fn BUTTON”, “Fn” and “RAW” are displayed and each of selectable them,
    Also, by holding down RAW button for more than 3 seconds, same type of selection menu for RAW button is displayed, just as short-cut procedure.
  • 2. By selecting in “ISO” menu in the shooting menu, either ISO sensitivity value or “ISO AUTO CONTROL” can be selected.
  • 3. When AF MODE is set to “AREA” in Single AF (AF-S) mode, active focus point is zoomed in (magnified to approx 5x) by pressing center of the command control.
  • 4. When “ND FILTER” is set to “Fn” button or “RAW” button, setting between ON (“ND” is displayed) or OFF (“ND” is NOT displayed) can be changeable by pressing “Fn” button or “RAW” button, which is set for “ND FILTER”.
  • 5. When the image is shot with vertical angle of the camera and played back the shot in the LCD, the image is displayed with whole area of LCD even after pressing “playback zoom in” button.
  • 6. When the human face is shot, the detected face is displayed during the playing back, and pressing the command dial to down, detected face is magnified during displaying.
  • 7. AE control system and AF performance including AF speed has been improved for movie recording mode.

Unfortunately, while it appears that Fujifilm did listen to some user complaints, again, in reality Fuji is taking two steps forward and one step backwards. Here is an explanation.

1. While it appears that Fuji has improved the response of the autofocus mechanism when the camera is set to AF-S mode, a lot of users are complaining about problems with the camera set at MF mode. I still didn’t had time to shoot any tests of my own, but I am sure all those complaining about these issues are NOT crazy.

2. While the ability to have some function assigned to the RAW button, at the rear of the camera was something every X100 user has been asking for, since the day the camera was launched, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Say for example you set the RAW button to activate/deactivate the ND filter the camera has. This will be next to useless for one simple reason. The RAW button (and its assigned function) gets locked, when you lock the control wheel at the rear of the camera. The control wheel is used for things like turning on the flash, changing the white balance, entering the lens macro mode, or changing the shooting mode (from pictures to video for example). All these are not changed very often, when you are out shooting pictures. The ND filter though needs to be switched on for one picture and off for the next one. That button shouldn’t get locked, when you lock the control wheel.

3. It is reported by some users that the turns required to manually focus the lens from infinity to its closest focusing distance has been reduced from ten plus, to two. If this is possible, then why not reduce the number of turns to 3/4 of a full turn? I have never seen a lens that needs two full turns to go from infinity to 30 cm. Why not reduce it even further?

Again, Fuji firmware programmers seem to be a totally disorganized team, with no central guidance or with guidance by someone who has never used any camera to take pictures. Who decides how new features are implemented and why? Who gives photographers a very useful feature (for example the ability to activate/deactivate the ND filter at the press of a switch) and then negates it, by allowing that button to be locked when the control wheel is locked? Who authorizes the reduction of turns required to focus the lens from ten to two and doesn’t understand that two full turns are way too much for a 35mm lens?!?!?

Fuji, wake up. You have in your hands a camera that has become a cult object among photographers. It has the capability to become the Leica M3 of the digital era, the revolutionary camera of our times. Assign a photographer as the head of your firmware team, someone who can understand what photographers want and need. Someone who understands how a camera is used by photographers. Fix the bloody camera and I am sure all X100 users will love you. Keep doing the same mistakes and I can see a flood of X100 being sold in Ebay.

X100 issues (continued)

I’ve been puzzled with this camera. On one hand I love the pictures I take with it, and on the other, I hate the way it works so much, I feel like selling it and forget about it.

Last issue I discovered has to do with the way the camera handles its external flash.

I already have two Nikon SB-800 flashes, but the X100 uses a special, dedicated flash (well, Fujifilm offers two dedicated flashes, the EF-20 and the EF-40, I got the EF-20) so I got one, in order to have a complete X100 system.

After trying out the flash though, it looks as if the programmers who wrote X100 firmware, have never taken a single picture with a digital camera. Let me explain to you what I mean.

With my Nikons (they both have a build-in flash, like the X100), if you mount an external flash on the camera, it is immediately ready to be used. If you switch the flash on, it will fire. If you remove the external flash and open the internal one, then the internal flash will fire. Not so on the Fujifilm. After you mount the flash on the camera and switch it on, the flash will stay there and will not fire, until you turn it on, by pressing the right arrow on the camera’s turn-wheel controller and select the “Always fire” from the menu that will appear. OK, let’s accept that, it’s one more step but you can live with it, right? Well, yes, you can, until you remove the external flash from the camera. Next time you fire the camera, the internal flash will fire!!! Ah? I do not want that, I can hear you say. And right you are, you do not want the internal flash to fire, you set the “Always fire” mode for the external flash, right? Well, not according to Fuji programmers.

Oh wait, there is another menu setting, called “Set external flash” and you can set it to “Off”, “On” or “On (Commander)”. OK, you set it to “On” and everything seems to work as it should, except that …. if the external flash is not mounted on the camera, the internal flash can NOT be used. Ah? Come again? Why the setting for the external flash affects the operation of the internal one?!?!?

No, seriously, the people who wrote the X100 firmware, have they ever shot one picture with a camera? Have they ever been sent out to take some pictures? Have they ever tried a camera from a competitor and compare it with the X100? I can’t believe that these people have written this firmware with those stupid flaws in it.

What is even worst, is that it appears that Fujifilm is very happy with the number of X100s they have sold so far, and they do not plan to come up with a firmware upgrade any time soon. They are too busy with their new camera, the interchangeable lenses X-Pro1, to worry about the X100 issues. I sincerely hope this is not true. If it is, then I believe that the X100 purchase was the worst decision I’ve made in my photographer’s life. Even worst than my decision to buy the Leica M6.

Fujifilm X100 firmware upgrade

Just one day after the message I posted yesterday, about living with the X100, Fujifilm posted a new firmware upgrade, version 1.13.

One would expect that some of the issues mentioned in the post below would be corrected in the new firmware version. Well, nope, nothing except some autofocus impovement, as some people say.

I haven’t had any issues with autofocus accuracy per se (using firmware 1.12), so I am not sure what the improvements are, but for sure they didn’t correct any of the inconsistencies  mentioned.

Too bad!!!!!

Living with a Fujifilm X100

Those who know me well, are aware of my love for Nikon cameras. I got my first Nikon, at the soft age of 18 (a gift from my parents upon my acceptance in the University), a Nikon F2 Photomic with a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor AI lens. With a brief break of two or three years, I always had at least one Nikon camera. So you can say that I am pretty familiar with the way Nikons and Nikkor lenses work. My latest cameras are a Nikon D700 and a D300 dSLRs and several zoom and fixed-focal-length (prime) Nikkors.

A couple of years ago, I decided that it was time to satisfy my long-lasting lust for a Leica camera. I’ve fallen in love with them, by reading about all the great photographers that used them. So I eventually got myself a pristine Leica M6 together with three lenses. My love affair with the new camera was a disaster.

Nikon lenses and Leica lenses work in … opposite ways. In other words, while Nikkors have the aperture ring towards the camera body, Leica lenses have their focusing ring there. And while Nikkors have their focusing ring towards the front of the lens, Leica ones have their aperture rings there. Not only that, but these rings turn in different ways. So using the Leica M6, was for me, an exercise in futility. My subjects (unless they were inanimate) were bored before I was done setting up the camera for the picture. So I sold the Leica and decided to focus on Nikons for the rest of my life.

However, I always wanted to shoot “Leica-style” i.e. with a rangefinder camera. The only problem being that the only Leica-style cameras in the market were those made by Leica, so the lenses problem was a deterrent again and the price was outside my budget.

That was true until about November 2010, when a brand new camera from Fujifilm, stirred the water. It was the all-new X100, a retro-looking camera, with enough digital features to make photographers take notice. I won’t do a detailed presentation of the X100 in here, Google can help you find several reviews in the net. These started appearing on the Internet soon after the camera was presented to the public and all were unanimous: excellent picture quality but quirky user interface. Fujifilm corrected some of the problems shooters have been complaining about, but there were still quite a few that they didn’t fix, in the latest version of the camera’s firmware (1.12).

After making sure that the X100 lens operated in a way similar to the Nikkors I am used to, I decided to buy one and try it out. Below, I describe my personal experience with this camera, after about two months of using it.

First of all, the good news:

  • The picture quality is indeed amazing. The X100 has a 12 Mpixels APS-C size sensor, which produces amazing pictures.
  • The quality of the camera is top notch. The body is made of magnesium alloy and the camera feels as solid as a vault in your hands.
  • The camera controls allow the photographer to take full control over any picture situation. Having independent control dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation, together with an aperture ring on the fixed-focal-length lens, allow you to take full control of your shooting and of the picture you’ll get.
  • The camera’s hybrid viewfinder (a standard optical viewfinder combined with an electronic one) is a joy to use and gives you a lot of flexibility to match different shooting conditions.
  • The fixed, prime lens with which Fujifilm equipped this camera is as sharp as any lens I have ever tried, even in its widest aperture setting. Its “macro” capabilities are a bonus, which was greatly appreciated.
  • The camera is light, as expected. You can carry it around all day long, and you will never feel its weight.
  • Finally, the mechanics of the camera are also top notch, providing positive feedback from all controls, with the single exception being the lens focusing ring, which is a disaster (more later).

However, the camera is seriously disadvantaged by its firmware. More precisely:

There are a lot of inconsistencies in the way the camera operates. Take for example its focusing system, which appears to be right there at the top, equivalent to any dSLR focusing system in the market. After all, it has manual focusing, single-point auto-focus and continuous auto-focus. So what more could you ask for?

Well, the way the focusing system operates, is totally different than in any other camera. First of all it uses Contrast Detection instead of Phase Detection, which by itself is NOT a bad thing. The way however that Fuji implemented the focusing system is a disaster.

For example, while the camera has a “manual” setting for focusing and there is a focusing ring on the lens, it has no manual focusing system. Read that again. The camera can’t be manually focused, no way. What Fujifilm means when saying “manual focusing” is similar to AF-S of any Nikon dSLR. You press the shutter release button to focus, instead of using the focusing ring on the lens. This last one is a disaster, it takes about 10 full turns to go from infinity to the lens’s closest focusing distance and that is NOT an exaggeration.

Another issue: on any digital camera I have ever owned, focusing is initiated by a single, consistent action, no matter what your focusing mode the camera is in. For example, on Nikons, you either initiate focusing by half-pressing the shutter release or (if you have selected that in the menus), by pressing the AF-On button. The procedure is the same, no matter if you use AF-S or AF-C focusing mode, one button starts focusing. Not so with the X100, if you are in manual focusing mode, focusing is initiated by the AE-L/AF-L button, but if you switch to AF-S or AF-C focusing mode, then focusing is initiated by pressing the shutter release. Very … consistent Fuji, thanks!

As I said above, the camera has an AE-L/AF-L button at the rear, just like the Nikons. And it even allows you to select if you want that button to lock exposure or lock focus, or both. So, what’s the issue here? Well, if you are using AF-S or AF-C, then this button locks focus, but if you are using manual focusing, then it initiates and locks focus, as mentioned above. Consistent?! Neah!

Oh yes, in AF-S mode, you also loose the ability to zoom in on your focusing point to verify that the camera has focused correctly, something you can do in manual focusing mode. Sounds strange? Believe me, it is. Oh and let me tell you one more strange thing. While in AF-S mode, there is an optical confirmation that the camera has acquired focus (the focusing indicator in the viewfinder turns green), there is no such confirmation in manual mode, only an audible beep. Why? And that beep is muted, if you turn off the camera sounds, so there is nothing to tell you that the camera has focused on your subject or not. Or in a slightly noisy environment, it is impossible to hear that beep, so again, you have no confirmation that the camera has acquired focus.

Want more? The focusing works differently in portrait mode than in landscape mode. In other words, if you hold the camera in vertical position, it has less chances of focusing on a subject than if you hold it horizontally. Strange, but it has been reported on the Internet and it is true.

Other inconsistencies? While the camera can focus down to about 30 cm from the front of the lens in manual mode, it can’t do so in AF-S or AF-C mode. In these two modes, you have to manually switch on the “macro” mode, from the controls at the rear of the camera, which is a pain. If the camera can focus down to 30 cm in manual mode, without any manual setting from the shooter, why can’t it do so in AF-S or AF-C mode?!

More inconsistencies? If you use the AF-S mode, you are allowed to select the size of the focusing area, in your viewfinder (smaller for a more accurate focusing, larger for general shooting). However, you can not do the same in manual focusing mode nor in the AF-C mode, where the focusing area is one-size only. Why!??!

To sum it up, it appears that the focusing is the strongest complaint between the X100 users community.

More inconsistencies? While the camera can show a histogram in your viewfinder, if you want one, it displays the histogram in some shooting modes, but not in others.

The software engineers who created the camera’s firmware, seemed to … well, let’s say that they seem not to have ever taken one single picture in their lives. What I mean by that is that they have included all (or nearly all) functions that a shooter needs from the camera, but they buried them deep in the menus system. Take for example the fact that you have to go in the menus system to format the memory card. Why couldn’t they assign a pair of buttons, which would do the format, when pressed together, the way Nikon does? Or the fact that you again need to go in the menus system, to use the ND (neutral density) filter that the camera has. On the other hand they have used a “RAW” button on the camera. What this does, is to allow the photographer to switch between raw files and jpg files for his pictures. Now how many photographers do you know, that change their file selection, when shooting? Usually, you select what you want to get (raw or jpg) and leave it like that for ever, since your post processing depends on that. It’s not as if you change back and forth between the two formats every 10 minutes. Why did the engineers bother to give us that button instead of something more useful, is something only them can tell us.

And this mindless lack of consistency goes on and on and on. It’s like as if Fujifilm had its top engineers design the hardware and then brought in the second (or the fourth) team to do the firmware. Or that Fujifilm spend too much time designing the hardware and they didn’t have enough time to complete the firmware by the scheduled announcement day.

But the camera has been in the market for more than a year now and we have only seen very little corrections in its firmware. There is no excuse for that. Fuji needs to come up with a new firmware that will correct those issues.

There are unfortunately, other problems with the camera too. Take for example the next-to-useless lens cap. The one Fujifilm supplies with the camera is a great-looking cap, but I assure you, you will loose it sooner rather than later. It’s a push-on cap, which stays on the lens only by the friction its felt-cover internal surface exercises on the lens barrel. The slightest nudge will set it free and you will be lucky if you noticed it. I lost mine in a taxi ride in Las Vegas, when I was going to a camera store to buy a spare battery for the camera, but didn’t noticed it until I returned back to my hotel. The replacement is not exactly cheap, it costs 25 british pounds to buy one and it’s not an item usually stocked by your friendly camera store around the corner.

Another problem is the fact that the lens doesn’t have a filter thread, at the front. You need to buy a filter adapter if you want to mount a filter on your lens. And that filter adapter, comes with a dedicated, special hood that goes with it. Total cost for these two items a whopping $120!! Thank God for the Chinese, you can get a complete adaptor-hood set for $20 from eBay.

So you may ask, do I hate the X100? Have I sold it already and replaced it with another Nikon? After all, the Leica M6 didn’t lasted two months, before I got rid of it.

Well, no. I love the X100. I love the light weight of this camera, its hybrid viewfinder, the quality of the pictures produced by it. However, I use it in a special way, which I believe is what most of its users do with it.

First of all, I decided that I would use this camera in the simplest possible way, just like as if it was my old Nikon F2. In other words, set everything up beforehand, so that when taking pictures, all I need to manipulate is the aperture ring, the shutter speed ring, possilbly the exposure compensation dial and of course the shutter release. I set the focusing method to “manual” (some times I switch to AF-S, but very rarely). I set all the other camera parameters the way I want them in the menus, so that I do not have to go in there again, except for formatting the memory cards. In that way, I avoid all the inconsistencies and all the frustrating issues of the camera.

This “modus operandi” though leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. After paying $1,200 (1000€) for such a camera, you are entitled to a better experience. You are entitled to a fully developed firmware, which doesn’t cause you to take anti-frustration pills every time you pick the camera up. You are entitled to not having to forget all you knew about cameras, just because X100 engineers decided to screw things up.

Fujifilm has announced the evolution of the X100, the XPro-1, in January 2012. A camera similar to the X100 but with interchangeable lenses. I would love to have one someday, it is the closest thing to a Leica, but in a digital form and without the problems of the Leica vs Nikon controls. But I do not think I’ll go fo it, until I can find one to try out. If this camera has the same inconsistencies as the X100, then I am definitely sticking with my Nikons!

Come on Fujifilm, fix our firmware, give us the camera you have promised us and which we paid for.

Fujifilm X100

OK, I admit it, I am a photography nut. I love taking pictures, I love working on them on my computer, I love showing them off. But I must admit that I am an equipment freak too. While it is the end result of a picture that matters, and the equipment is just the means to an end, I can’t say that I do not care about cameras, lenses and all other sort of photography equipment.

While I consider myself to be at the front edge of equipment, as far as cameras are concerned, I also love older cameras. In other words, in addition to my digital SLR cameras (a Nikon D700 and a Nikon D300), I also own a Nikon F2A which was produced in the 80’s, and I enjoy taking pictures with it. Actually, the F2 was my first good camera (the real first one was a Russian Zenit B), which I acquired when I was 18 years old.

And while I love modern digital cameras, I still can’t cope well with some of the latest trends in them. For example, one thing I detest is the fact that most of the modern cameras are designed so that you hold them at arms length and use a screen at their back to compose your picture. I just hate using cameras in that way. For me, a camera has to have a “hole”, an opening through which you look at your scene, a tunnel which somehow eliminates all the surrounding distractions and make you focus at what you see in there, what will ultimately be in your picture.

Now that’s something all my SLR cameras have (both digital and film SLRs), but good luck if you try to find a more compact camera with that feature. If you combine this with my other desire, to be in total control of the exposure, then there are very few cameras that fulfill those two requirements.

The cameras which fulfill my above mentioned needs can be counted with the fingers of one hand. Let’s see: There is of course the Canon G12 and the Nikon P7000 but both of these cameras have a small (tiny) sensor and they were actually designed to be used with the rear screen as a composition tool, with the viewfinder added almost as an after-thought. They also do not allow easy exposure manipulation, in the sense that while they do offer an aperture ring around their lenses, they do not have a shutter speed dial. Yes, both of them have exposure compensation dials, but that’s not the same as a proper shutter speed dial.

Then, there is of course the extremely expensive Leica M9, a camera which costs almost as much as a new car. While film Leicas used to be a life-long dream of mine, when I finally got myself one (an M6 with three Leica lenses), I discovered that I just couldn’t get used to it. My problem lies with the fact that the lenses have their controls at the wrong place, compared to the Nikkor lenses I am used to work with. The aperture ring, in all my Nikkors is at the rear of the lens towards the camera and the focusing ring is towards the front. In the M-series lenses, the aperture ring is at the front (and it rotates in the opposite way than the Nikkors ones) and the focusing ring is at the rear. This difference made using the M6 an absolute nightmare. My twins were getting so bored when I was trying to take a picture of them, that they simply walk away, leaving me fighting with the camera controls. So even if I could afford the M9, I wouldn’t buy it.

So, what is left?

Well, last year as I was browsing the Internet, I came across what I thought would be the ultimate compact camera for me.

Fujifilm X100

Just by looking at it, I was in love with the X100.

This camera had not only an optical viewfinder, but also a digital one. It had an APS-C sensor (the same size as my Nikon D300) with a resolution of 12 Mpixels. It also featured a 35mm fixed lens (not a zoom) which in itself is not a deal-breaker for me but it also had full aperture control (the ring is at the rear of the lens, just like on a Nikkor) as well a proper shutter speed dial at the top, just like God meant cameras to have.

Top side X100

That's what a camera's top side should look like.

It was love at first sight, or rather at first read, when I went through the specs of this little camera. The fact that it also looked very “retro” and very much like the Leica M6 I used to have, helped it become a dream. Its price is a little steep at around $1,200 in US or about 800 pounds in UK, but price alone has never stopped me from getting my dreams.

A few months after its introduction, when the first samples of the X100 became available to journalists around the globe, we all learned much more about this camera. Here is a summary of the pros and cons:

PROS

  • Image quality is superb.
  • Lens is sharp, distortion-free, in a word “excellent”.
  • Excellent dynamic range.
  • The camera is virtually noiseless.
  • Built-in flash works great as a fill-in flash.
  • Build quality is extremely high.
  • The optical and the digital viewfinders work quite well.
  • It shoots raw and/or jpeg.
  • Macro-shooting to about 10cm from the lens.

CONS

While the above pros would make any photographer drool and get his credit card out, unfortunately, it seems that Fuji has left this project half-completed. In other words, as some writer/reviewer put it, it appears that while the top team of Fuji engineers set the specs and did the initial design of the camera, somewhere down the road, the masters left the completion to some newbies, which managed to turn one of the best camera designs of the last few years, to a nightmare. Here is a short (and by no means extensive) list of its shortcomings:

  • The menu system is a nightmare to use (*).
  • The focusing leaves a lot to be desired, especially in manual mode (*).
  • Aperture ring and shutter dial allow you to change only between full stops, you have to use a rear dial to get down to steps of 1/3 of a stop.
  • There is no optical rangefinder for manual focusing. With the way manual focusing works in this camera, I sincerely doubt if a rangefinder would be useful. Fuji has to fix the focusing of the camera, and has to do it fast.
  • Writing to the memory card (SDHC cards are recommended) is slow, especially if shooting raw (*).
  • The location of some of the camera controls is irrational.
  • Battery life is too short, by contemporary standards (about 300 pictures per charge). The charger is also of a strange design.
  • You can’t use a filter over the lens, unless you buy a special adaptor.
  • A lens hood is not included in the price (there is a filter-adaptor-lens-hood kit, available separately, which is priced at about $70!!).
  • Burst shooting is there, but autofocus doesn’t track the subject when shooting bursts (*?).
  • Video recording appears to be an after-thought too (not that I care about video).

It’s an almost even balance of pros and cons (without counting). So what would you do? Would you invest $1,200 in an X100, since you can hope that most of the cons (those marked with a *) can be fixed by new firmware, or would you pass?

I have already one in my Amazon shopping card (and the price went up by 35 pounds a couple of days ago) but I just can’t make up my mind to hit the “Buy” button. So what do you guys/gals think?