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Thursday, 23 December 2010


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What I love most about these engineers is the passion they have. How many people just turn up to work and get by? These guys actually care about their product and how their potential customers may feel about using it.


As this is a camera I am looking forward to in a way I can't remember doing for a long time, the article is like a little Christmas Gift from TOP. So thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Great viewfinder story and one that appeals to me. A compact with a viewfinder as clear and useable as my Ikon?

Also, I picked up this comment on the lens page - again suggests a real commitment to delivering quality.

'Before each X100 lens is shipped, the MTF characteristics are measured and the lens is tuned. That is why I am confident that the photographer will enjoy the satisfaction of a lens that performs according to the original design specifications. '


It could be argued that any DSLR that provides focus points, grid display, varying format framing and shooting information in the viewfinder is a hybrid. The superimposed focus points, frames and grid display are sourced from a LCD as well. So Fuji has not invented it, just provided a new implementation that looks as much like featureitis as something useful. Since when is shooting information sprayed all over the view you are trying to take a good thing? If the response is that it can be switched off it becomes another unused feature they hope will catch the customer in the shop.

The X100 promises to be the "ultimate" camera for many photographers, and probably it will be true until the next "ultimate" unit will be announced. This is why we are living perhaps the most exciting moment in the history of photographic technology.
Personally I look forward to this new viewing device, as it will confine the need for a DSLR to specialistic applications, allowing a most modern and creative camera design.
That said, it will be up to us humans to make this moment the most exciting in the history of photographic art too.

Purely from a marketing perspective i think this is a masterstroke by Fuji. Involve potential users, educate others and curb unrealistic expectation buildup.

Thank you Mike for publishing this (I gambled on the fact that you would be interested ;) and a Merry Christmas to TOP and all readers.

In the context of this page, what do they mean by "real image" viewfinder? It's never really made clear.

i have a much more jaded view of the evf functionality. i figure it was deemed a feature that is necessary to sell the camera to people who are unfamiliar with rangefinders, as well as supporting movie mode. the story makes it sound like the evf came as a freebie while they were solving problems that are more important to old fuddy-duddies.

they give several reasons for why they chose to use an lcd panel, and only the first one is believable. leds have some limitations compared to lcds. there are also more things to show nowadays: histogram, white balance, shooting mode, iso, exposure compensation, file size, and distance scale. the histogram and distance scale in particular would have been difficult to achieve with an led display. however, i'm a little worried because there has still been no mention of field-size compensation, a feature that should have been highlighted from day 1 if it was included.

reasons 2 and 3 seem odd: no image review in the viewfinder, and parallax correction for macros at 10cm? chimping in the viewfinder and taking macros with a 35mm-e lens are that important? not tooooo persuasive, especially when the rear lcd will undoubtedly be preferred for both purposes.

i guess the evf and lcd panel don't really hurt me none. i'm just not happy with what these guys are cooking up. i wonder if they'll post a story on the design process of the camera body. oh, that will be horrifying.

Great scoop Mike. I now think of you as photography's very own Julian Assange.

Julian Assange watch out! Thanks for the camera candy. :-)

It means you're seeing the world through glass, not looking at a screen of any sort.

I don't think you understand this viewfinder yet....


Is this different technology to the LCD overlay in higher-end Canon and Nikon dSLRs?

Its nice to see a company with the guts to be so innovative and to create a camera that is high quality and with characteristic alot of photographers have been thirsting for.

This made me excited about the viewfinder alone! I can't wait to actually see one of these cameras in person.

Okay, that sounds pretty darn interesting. I agree with Nikhil above - this is a camera to get excited about. I can remember the Leica M8 generating similar buzz and enthusiasm, but nothing equivalent since.

Have a great Christmas, Mike. Congratulations for a stellar year with TOP, to yourself and all of the contributors. Wonderful, wonderful, stuff.


I might be missing something obvious here ...but with this design, how will the photographer be able to tell where the focus is?

After a quick search, I found this answer: "With manual focus selected, focusing is achieved using the focus ring around the lens barrel. A distance indication bar enables you to pre-focus if required, or you can simply use the electronic viewfinder to focus accurately. There is, however, no rangefinder focusing capability."


Wait a minute... It dawns on me that if the only way I can see what's in focus in the viewfinder is if I use the EVF (completely missing the point of an optical viewfinder) this is a huge disappointment indeed.

More that than... A deal breaker, actually.

I'd like to compare this new hybrid viwfinder against the RTSIII's, the best vf of any camera I've ever seen...

I was particularly wondering what a "real image" viewfinder is in contrast to the reverse-galilean style ... the text makes a big deal about this, but it's never really made clear why.

p&s cameras, especially those with zoom lenses, have real image viewfinders. the best example can be found in the contax g1 and g2; a 35-70mm zoom was made for that system.

the point they were making is that reverse galilean viewfinders are sharper and brighter. unfortunately, they neglected to mention that real image viewfinders don't show you what's outside of the recorded area, while reverse galilean viewfinders do. argh, how could they miss a gigantic selling point like that!?

Cameras come and go, and this one will too. The interesting thing about the overall story though is Fuji's interest in thinking outside the box. I am so pleased that innovation with respect to photography within that company seems to be encouraged and rewarded. I'm in the "EVFs will take over the formerly-RF world" camp, so this report tends suggest what that world could be like. Interesting.

I have been disappointed with the Sigma DP's and Leica X1 compacts because they are so slow. If the Fuji has the following features, I will definitely buy one.

1) real high speed AF and minimal shutter lag, i.e., a fast camera
2) good high ISO quality
3) a reasonable accurate viewfinder with my eyeglasses on.

I don't care about the EVF as I have been a Leica RF user for decades and I like to look through glass. One of my cameras is a Panasonic GF1 w. 20mm lens and a Voigtlander 40mm viewfinder in the hot shoe. If it had better high ISO performance I would not be considering an X100.


many thanks for pointing this out so clearly!

Quote: (It dawns on me that if the only way I can see what's in focus in the viewfinder is if I use the EVF (completely missing the point of an optical viewfinder) this is a huge disappointment indeed.) Unquote.

Yes, a deal breaker.


Dear Charles and Chris,

I think you are missing something... well, two things.

First you need a "through the lens" (TTL) viewfinder to actually SEE what's in focus in the scene. It can be an optical SLR viewfinder or an electronic viewfinder driven by the sensor. An optical rangefinder-style viewfinder NEVER shows you what's in focus-- it is purely a framing device.

In a mechanical rangefinder camera, there is a distance-measuring optical gadget built into the viewfinder that you use to focus,hence the name. But you still don't know what the lens sees. Said gadgets are in no way superior to through-the-lens viewing in terms of focus accuracy.

The X100 has replaced the distance-measuring gadget (a.k.a. the rangefinder) with direct focus measurement off the sensor with the option of actually seeing what's in focus via the electronic viewfinder mode. No one says you have to use that mode, but TTL is the only way you can ever see what's in focus.

If you need to have focus previewing in an optical viewfinder, you really need a proper SLR; this is not the camera for you.

pax / Ctein

Dear Aizan,

A real-image finder can show you what's outside the recording area-- it just has to be designed with the wider field of view. Designers may not routinely do that, but the Fuji engineers wouldn't bring it up as a point in favor of reverse-Galilean, because it's not a distinguishing characteristic.

Don't assume the LCD panel won't provide distance-compensating frames lines (something you can't do with LEDs) just 'cause they didn't explicitly call it out. Honestly, it never occurred to me that it wouldn't, since that's a standard feature in high level mechanical rangefinders. Their engineers might have been thinking the same thing-- why mention the obvious.

It's a fair question to ask them-- maybe you should post it to their website. But I sure would assume they don't, absent a statement to that effect.

As for the benefits of the EVF for close work, a limitation that most rangefinder-camera users note is that their viewfinders become increasingly inaccurate the closer one gets to the subject. Once you're closer in than about 10 times the finder-lens spacing, it just becomes unworkable. The EVF gets around that.

Your assumption that people working close won't care because they will just default to the rear screen seems highly questionable. A lot of people out there much prefer an eye-level viewfinder. Even I, who am entirely happy with rear LCDs, think this will probably be very useful. Especially since I don't like changing "modes" when I'm working.

I can think of lots of times when I'll use the rear LCD. I can think of lots when I won't (or can't). How nice I'll have a choice!

This is apparently not the camera for you, but you're making the mistake of assuming that what you want is in any way representative of the larger photographic market, let alone the market the Fuji is after. That's always a wrong assumption.

pax / Ctein

Anyone else feeling there is too much hype going on with the X100?

I am guardedly excited about this camera. My "working cameras"are a Nikon DSLR with various large ( physically and costly) zoom lenses and a 4x5 field camera. None very practical for slinging on the shoulder and always being there. When not working I very frequently have a Canon G11 with me and I am very happy with the image quality except the higher ISO stuff due to the smaller sensor.

The viewfinder of the G11 is terrible, not much better than my Holga really. The articulating rear LCD screen is great for some shooting but I really miss the actually seeing through a quality viewfinder. I also feel way more in control of my camera with the viewfinder at my eye due to the physical connection of camera, skull and hands. Using the LCD at arms length has always seemed awkward to me and I am sure I miss shots because of it.

The promise of a small camera with a larger sensor, quality viewfinder, fast lens and quick shutter response is exciting.

After reading about this camera for months, I'm still underwhelmed, especially by this "new" viewfinder. My understanding is that it's an OVF with image info (ISO? exposure?) overlays. DSLRs have had this for ten or so years, so I don't understand why everyone is so excited about it and calling this some kind of huge advancement. Sure, the tech under the hood is impressive, but the end result isn't anything new, and the end result is what matters.

X100 looks like a Micro Four Thirds, NX-10 and NEX competitor with larger sensor, but bulkier and no interchangeable lenses. Olympus and Panasonic are coming with "pro" level bodies soon, so the promised image quality advantage of X100 might be negligible by the time it's released. And anyone who's shot the latest MFT cameras can vouch for their IQ.

I'm sure there is a niche for X100 - a very vocal one as can be seen here and some other forums -, but it remains to be seen if that niche is big enough to support further development. The form factor is already crowded with Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, so the X100 really needs to differentiate itself to make it. From what I've seen the differentiation is largely negative.

I think their biggest chance for positively separating themselves from the competition is to have an outstanding UI, as everything else thus far is overhyped and underwhelming.

The opposite of "real image" is "virtual image". A "real" image is one that can be focused on a viewing screen, ground glass, a piece of film, or even a piece of wax paper if you held it behind the eyepiece. A "virtual" image on the other hand is characterized by rays that diverge as they exit on the image side. So, they can't be focused to make an image on film or anything else.

Hold and positive lens up near a white sheet of paper and you can focus the real image. But it will inverted (upside down) and reversed left to right. The real point is that a virtual image doesn't have to be inverted and reversed left to right but a real image does. More optical elements are required to make a real image viewfinder.

Personally, I've always liked virtual image viewfinders because the image seems to hang out in space and it makes you feel like you are looking thru the glass instead of at it.

"I'm still underwhelmed"

Okay, not the camera for you then. No reason everybody has to be enthusiastic about the same things.


"This is apparently not the camera for you, but you're making the mistake of assuming that what you want is in any way representative of the larger photographic market, let alone the market the Fuji is after. That's always a wrong assumption.

pax / Ctein"

i'm pretty sure the market they're after is 18-25 year olds looking for the most stylish camera to throw into their head porter bags.

Dear ahem and aizan,

You're analyzing the camera based on specs. Fuji has said they're trying to differentiate based on image quality.

You can't judge that by specs. We will need to see pictures.

Btw, ahem, you haven't understood the viewfinder. Go back to the website and reread.

Pax / Ctein

I think a lot of people are missing the fact that with the OVF you can use AF. It will project a small green AF window almost anywhere on the screen, (though most, and myself, will choose the center most point, but maybe it will be quickly changeable) and use it to AF.

Now I'm rather young, but even when using my nice big 5D viewfinder, I can't accurately manual focus, and I trust the AF to give me what I want. I plan to use the X100 the same way. Put the center point over the subject, hit the AF start button, recompose, and shoot, all while using the OVF.

I understand people expecting mechanical rangefinder window being dissappointed, but really the big draw is that this is a small, compact camera with a large sensor AND a useable viewfinder. The Nex is a great sensor and tiny body, but so far the lens choices are too narrow, and not having a viewfinder is a big deal to a lot of people. The m4/3rds are quite a bit behind the Nex and crop dslr image quality bar, and while we don't know the Fuji's performance yet, it looks very likely like it's the d90's sensor, which is no slouch and far superior in noise and dynamic range to any of the current m4/3 offerings.

Charles and Chris

I'm with you on this, if you cannot use the optical viewfinder to manually set the focus it's just a framing device. It seems that using the optical viewfinder with manual focus will be just like lens distance scale focusing. I use that on a couple of cameras, including the otherwise superb little Rollei 35, but I'm afraid I'm quite relieved to get back to a rangefinder, (or an slr even)

I went and re-read it, and it still looks like a bright OVF with active image info overlays. Although they go to great lengths explaining how novel it is, the end result (bright real-world image of the photo to be taken with exposure info etc overlays) has been in DSLRs for years. The fact that one can switch between OVF and EVF has some novelty value and might even be useful, but once again, not the second coming many make it out to be.

Or I'm thick and don't understand it (possible).

Why don't we wait until the camera comes out and we actually see how it works before making up our minds ENTIRELY about it? Would that make sense?


Ahem, name a DSLR that can project a live histogram on the viewfinder, or even show you the actual image you just took inside the viewfinder. (that isn't an EVF, that is)

Several dslrs can project stuff, but it's like comparing an LED clock to an iphone. One can project pre scribed things like 3rd grid-lines or AF points, the other can project literally anything and everything.


Are you not being a teeny bit harsh? A lot of the comments are speculating about what the camera might be like given what we know - that's OK surely?

I haven't made my mind "entirely," I'm merely underwhelmed and not entirely sure where the (over)hype is coming from. Perhaps it's the fact that Fuji is (once again) doing something very different and unique - talking about the camera being a digital rangefinder with a claimed high-end sensor.

Ben - I wasn't aware about live histogram on the OVF. That is indeed useful, and something which hasn't been done before. Nevertheless, it's an incremental evolutionary step rather than the revolution many seem to think the combo EVF/OVF is.

So it's essentially marrying a live view LCD screen with an OVF? Nifty for sure, but still not convinced about its superiority over current generation EVFs, let alone next generation. EVF allows for zooming and boosting in low light, and they're only getting better.

Am reading this and many more forum's and the fuji site about this camera after she lay there under glass in the kina in sept. Why why I want a small camera that give me the feeling that as one of my teachers told me many years ago, photography make you able to steal a moment from life and it belong to you and will be there for ever that's its all about. Do's this model do me think back at my first haponette I got on my 12 birthday and increase it because of that the feeling on steeling the moments of life I like. Or bring it back the day's I travel the world with my contax G2 with 35mm I've got after selling the M6 with 35mm stealing the hot spots. It"s that feeling I miss with the big D's with big zooms, there are colleagues who work make me feel good to look at and how they feel there camera. One of them I never met him but I think I can quote some of his words David duChemin I love the feel in his blog why he change from one big D to another big D. When the feeling increasing by using a brand or camera type, that's good that's the one to take. Why the feeling increase I do not know, there are people who do, but why spent time on a bench when you can wounder the streets and steal from the world with a camera you feel good with, using your feeling not your finger.

The only reason a camera company would invest this much preproduction time and energy into a product is to make a lot of money. They are emphasizing quality while being totally mum on price. The last time Fuji was that quiet about a new camera, they released a camera nobody could afford.

Prepare thy pocketbooks.

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