Fujifilm X100V… Finally?

Fujifilm has launched the all new X100V, successor to X100F. Is this the ultimate X100 series camera? As of now, of course it is. A friend of mine asked me whether this will tempt me to get one. Well, let’s take a closer look on my complaints about X100F and see what’s fixed:

The gimmicky ISO dial

Yes, the new ISO dial on X100V makes more sense in terms of usability. This is certainly a plus point and Fujifilm has done a good job in redesigning this part.

The quirky EVF

EVF has been upgraded to have higher resolution and magnification, which is a plus.

The wrongly placed Q button

Yup, that’s fixed as well. Q button has been moved further away from where you would naturally grab the camera, so no more accidental press on it with X100V.

Software problem that are still unknown

AF point does not follow when you rotate your camera between portrait and landscape mode, only horizon level without tilt angle level, need to turn on camera to view pictures taken, all these are unknown. Have they been fixed via firmware update for X100F? Or are they fixed/improved with X100V? Can’t comment further unless I get a hands on with the camera.

Exposure compensation dials

I prefer them to stay flushed with the top plate, this is not major and has not changed. But Fujifilm has improved the design around the ISO dial and made it more compact and flushed with the top plate, which is pretty nice. I complaint that the dials were a little too stiff, not sure whether things are better with the new camera (but it is minor issue).

The lens and their “world fastest auto focus”

Everyone complaints about the lens on previous X100 series camera, and finally they have updated the design and lens formula. This is welcomed for sure.

Okay, they didn’t claimed world fastest, but Fujifilm did always boast about their AF performance and yet has always failed to deliver their promise. Is the AF performance going to be better? I doubt. It seems to me that the lens still require the AF motor to move the whole lens group while focusing, if X100V is still designed this way without better or stronger AF motor, the AF speed will not caught up, and not to mentioned it’s AF performance in video shooting. This is of course going to be clear when more reviews surface online, or when I get a hands on with the camera itself. For now, I’ll remain skeptical on this. I wished Fujifilm would have redevelop the lens inside out, but I think their priority is to remain backward compatibility with the conversion lenses, hence limiting themselves. It’s not a right or wrong thing, just a matter of choice and decision made.

So?

The addition of weather sealing and flip screen are also welcomed, though they are not among the top of my wishlist. So… all in all, will this be the camera that makes me go back to Fujifilm?

At this point of time… no. For now, I think the form factor of X-E3 + XF23mm F/2 R WR makes more sense, mainly due to the fact that I don’t use the OVF on X100 series at all. I still don’t find it useable, and that’s coming from someone who shoots Leica rangefinder for quite some time. Of course the X-E3 is not weather sealed, and there is a reason for that (price and differentiation come to mind). I’m not sure whether the lens performance  will be better, but I’m pretty sure the AF performance will be better on the XF23mm F/2 R WR. X100 series is a little more compact (but X-E3 is pretty small and light too), other than that… I can’t think of much advantages of using a X100 series camera over the X-E series camera.

Of course that’s not the point. After all, people purchased the X100 series camera not because it is the “best” camera with “best” specification, but because it is arguably the “best” looking camera, or best-Leica-look-alike camera out there (I can’t deny that this was one of the reason why I bought the X100 series in the past :P) where money can buy.

So am I saying X100V is not worth the upgrade? To be honest, I believe the updates here are substantial enough for even X100F users to justify for an upgrade. But for those who are new to this camera series, I would suggest you to think twice on your priority before pulling your trigger. For me, I have sort through my priorities and decided that this form factor is not for me at this point of time, no matter how pretty and good the camera is, that’s all. Of course priorities will change, who knows in the future I would ended up coming back for more X100 series camera? For those who bought it, I believe you will enjoy it very much as I enjoyed using my X100F in the past. Till then.

It all depends…

 

Yes, it all depends.

Something that seems right to you could seem wrong to others. Something that is acceptable to you could be unacceptable to others. In the end, it all depends. It depends on each individual’s value, needs, upbringing, requirement and etc.

For example, X-Pro 3 released with a inward-flipping screen. There are those who love the idea, and there were those who felt it is plain stupid. Take another example, Face ID login on an iPhone, some find it as a game changer, while some prefer to stick with their fingerprint recognition. Some say Leica is overpriced, some say Leica has soul. At the end of the day, it really depends whether something resonates with you.

The photo you took could mean a lot to you and perceived as a great shot, but to others it could be just a meaningless snapshot. Sometimes, it is very hard to draw a line that’s clear enough for everyone to agree with, especially when it comes to photography, something that’s art-related, something that everyone would have their own opinion on.

So?

You can choose to be bothered and argue with people who disagree with you. You can choose to stand firm and continue to believe in what your faith leads you to. It all depends… again, on your choice on how to react and respond. For me personally, I don’t bother too much on what others were saying or doing, I’m more focused on what I want to say and what I want to do. Of course I’m not saying I will totally shut off suggestion and advice from others, but I will try my best to be aware of my end goal while dealing with differences.

Well, you may agree or disagree with me, it really depends. Till then.

Are we getting “Smarter”?

Nowadays, everything seems to be getting “smarter”… Smart home, Smart phone, Smart TV… getting stuff connected to internet and create an app to control them seems to be on the rage and the new standard of defining “smart”… add in a few AI, Big Data, IoT and you have a full package to market it.

But with all these “smart” devices flooding into our lives, are we really getting smarter? Is our lives really improved? It reminds me of a few instances when I visited a couple of my friends’ home. Walking into the room, my friend will proudly show me his trick by using voice command to turn on the light or air-conditioner.

“Ok Google, turn on the lights.”
From the moment we step into the room, to my friend finished his command, to Google finally understood it and get the lights on… it took like 5-10 seconds? If I were to walk in the room and press the physical switch, it would take me probably… 1-2 seconds?

“But… it’s cool!”
“This is the future! Voice command and hands free!”
“I don’t want to be left behind! I must be at the forefront of technology!”

Sadly, a lot of people just don’t seems to understand what they are getting themselves into. To me, I don’t see a point of wasting 10 seconds to replace a task that can be done in 1 second. It just doesn’t add up, why automate something that’s already been so efficient to begin with?

Now, that’s not to say I’m against the idea of… say a smart home. In fact I find that there are quite a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) of having everything connected to the internet. You can turn on or off appliances at home remotely, monitor power consumption, understand and study your usage behaviour or pattern, group several devices together and control them at once under scene mode… just to name a few of the good and meaningful things that you can and should be doing with your smart home.

Collecting data, providing insights and control in improving life, automation… these are genuine reasons for us to celebrate “smart” devices, but to turn on a switch in front of you with voice instead of your hand? Oh please… Okay, I might be pissing people with this post. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody. If you want to be cool, want to be ahead of times, then invest a little more time into doing some of the things that really harvest the best of technology.

We all can get a little “smarter” with all the smart devices around us, but we still need to take the effort to do so. Having the devices alone will not be enough, we still need to think, understand and extract the best of them, just like how we have been living our lives in the pre-smart era.

Does it spark joy?

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There are times when I took a picture, and then edit them in Lightroom, when everything seems well executed from composition to other technical aspect. But as I stared at the final picture… I tend to feel… empty. Something is lacking, and I wonder what it is.

Some said there needs to be a story, some said there needs to be “soul” in your picture. I think ultimately, the important factor of whether a picture will be included in your collection is: “Does it spark joy?”

There are times when we have some very ordinary pictures, but because it brought us some sentimental values, it carries a meaning, it “sparks joy”, hence it became a keeper for us in the years to come. The same goes to every other aspects in life, if what you are doing at the moment does not spark joy in you, you can hardly deliver a good result. If an item does not spark joy in you, no matter how well made it is, you wouldn’t buy it and bring it home.

I believe the same can be said to photography, and this has become one of the aspect I look into when I’m shortlisting pictures from my pile of collections. Not just the technical aspect, but also the feeling it gives me. Well, everyone has their own selection criteria, so what’s yours?

Camera technology… what’s next?

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In recent years, traditional camera technology has not changed much. You get better sensor performance with better noise control, you get higher speed performance that allows blackout-free shooting through EVF, you get better auto focus performance in the form of eye and animal eye AF… other than that, there seems to be not much going on.

Whereas for smartphone camera technology, computational photography has evolved and allows user to capture HDR image and video with live view, night mode that allows handheld low light photography to be possible, blurring background without the need of large aperture lens, creating lighting effect without the need of studio light and so on.

It’s an obvious threat for sure to the traditional photography industry, smartphones have been eating their piece of pie ever since they were introduced. To photography geek like us, we jolly know the difference between the two in terms of what each can achieve and their limitations. However, for the vast majority of average consumers, it simply doesn’t make sense to buy a camera anymore.

So, can traditional photography platform catch up and make a come back? Or it will slowly fall into a niche? I wonder. Maybe they can add computational photography into traditional cameras, but that would require a crazy amount of processing power that current technology simply couldn’t deliver. Maybe they can innovate by adding internet connectivity and adding apps on their camera to ease content sharing, but that would probably eats in their battery life and annoy some purist along the way.

We are already seeing camera sales dropping year over year, it would be interesting to see how one would react to stay relevant in the business. What do you think is necessary for traditional camera brands to survive the storm?