Name: Fujifilm FinePix X100
The Backstory: By our estimation, at the moment, there are three types of X100 people. There are the ones who were lucky, or smart, enough to get on the pre-order list earlier than everyone else. There are those who are silently—and not so silently—suffering, waiting for their savings to accrue and for a X100 to make its way to a website or nearby store. And then there are those who are on the verge of kidnapping someone that somehow managed to get their hands on the Fujifilm FinePix X100. I struggled a bit, but the kid got one.
Fuji built the anticipation for its new camera with a beautiful and informative website and well strategized teaser looks at what many thought could be the perfect everyday, image-capturing monster. Based on a lot of the initial, albeit rushed, reviews, my anticipation went from hourly trips to Google, madly clicking "latest" on the News tab to building an escalating sense of dread that once again I had been tricked by clever marketing. Here's what we think.
• Hardbodied: For this price, NEVER has a digital camera felt this well-thought out and crafted. It feels so good in the hands and looks so dope around the neck some people might just buy it as an accessory.
• Switchable EVF/OVF: Putting a camera up to my eye again instead of relying on framing with an LCD just feels right and the Hi-Res electronic viewfinder is on that futuristic shit that will excite techies. The Optical Viewfinder with overlay frame lines to correct the parallax phenomenon should please even lingering Luddites
• Physical aperture, shutter, and exposure dials: Instant access to the most important imaging controls for when you need it most. This is the realest it gets.
• Fixed Lens: Don't be fooled—this is NOT a hindrance. Get off your ass and move. Having a fixed 35mm lens pushes you into the action and makes you less reliant on zooming in from a mile away. Hey, if you're hijacking someone's image be prepared to pay the consequences.
(We're in an age where flaws can be fixed by a simple download so considering there was already one firmware update waiting for me by the time the camera came in shows Fuji is on top of things and more importantly, listening to consumers. My hope is that they can address these issues and all of these should be able to be fixed with software updates.)
• Manual focusing: The fly-by-wire manual focus might not be a strong suit for fast capture since you have to turn the ring a frightening amount of times to get it to come into focus. It kind of feels like when you're swimming towards something that keeps floating further away. A fix for now is to press the AFL button while in manual lens mode to pop your focal point with the quickness and make minor adjustments with the ring if necessary.
• Auto focusing: Though almost always spot on, with beautiful management of contrasty scenarios, I still had struggles sometimes even in fair lighting—it just occasionally dumbed out.
Final say: The Fuji X100 is and will be the Camera Of The Year. This camera is amazing. One of a kind. A special breed and one we haven't seen rise from the sludge of the digital market in ages. The classy chassis replicates the classic cool look and feel of the rangefinder cameras of old and when I hold it up to my eye to frame up with the viewfinder, taking pictures just feels right again. For so many years digital enthusiasts had to suffer for with compact cameras fitted with chintzy toy viewfinders, putrid ISO range, or complete reliance on LCD framing. They made the image-making experience feel too segregated and as cheap as a plastic bottle drunk, and we were made to feel inferior by the big DSLR-swinging photogs laughing at our plight. The manual options at your fingertips all designed to be accessed without your eye ever leaving the viewfinder is the result of a brand truly in touch with how you compose your picture. And it's here that Fuji has clearly succeeded. Finally, a camera company set out to create a gem based on every photographer's wish list and it is a resounding success, a smash hit starter in a hopeful series that for once doesn't leave me feeling guilty for early adoption.