Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:
Part 104: Any X-Pro3 Really Needs Magic
Last week (click here if you missed it) we spoke about the next generation of Fujifilm X-Pro camera, and what we might like or not like it to have.
As I’ve had some fun discussions about this subject on the various forums, we’re going to run with it a little more!
Last I shared the opinion (ok complained 🙂 ) that cookie cutter specs and over featured cameras were diluting our enjoyment of choice when choosing what cameras we’d like to own (YMMV)
Often though we seem to find that no matter the views held in niche circles (not everyone who buys a camera joins the Facebook group for it), there’s no changing progress.
One of my other hobbies (almost past hobby, not as into it as I was) is watches
And on the watch forums you often see posts that read something like
Hi everyone, just joined and looking forward to learning all about watches. I’ll say this though, I hate this modern obsession with big watches, I just wish that the manufacturers would make normal sized watches
And it seems the same with cameras, many of us want at least one camera that’s a simple rig with just what we need to take photos, and nothing else
Yet every year cameras get more complicated and feature rich (and watches get bigger :D)
I’ll put it like this.
Although I’ve written quite a few Leica/Fujifilm comparison pieces (they’re very different animals) and always scoffed at any notion that the X-Pro range is a substitute for an M (they’re very different animals) or that Fujifilm has made any sort of M clone (because Leica didn’t invent the OVF, the SS dial or the rectangle – which is basically all they have in common beyond being cameras that take pictures)
I actually now think it’s time for Fujifilm to take a bit of notice of HOW Leica are doing things (So that’s how, not what)
When the X-Pro1 arrived, Leica had the M9. The fuji had way more going for it, better ISO and an EVF with a moveable focus point, basically give or take video, everything on the fuji was to take pictures, across a broad range of light and conditions.
Now we have the X-Pro2. Leica has the M10. The M10 beats the fuji for ISO, its (admittedly accessory) EVF has the same resolution as the X-Pro2, you can move the focus point around and the Leica has all the same metering modes. Meanwhile the Fujifilm X-Pro2 has a LOT of menu fluff and new video features
How has Leica managed to ‘out Fuji’ Fujifilm?
It was Fujifilm who started with a pure modern product that delivered the basics of all that’s needed, the M9 was more basic (you can say ‘pure’ if you’re a Leica lover!) but also the performance envelope was narrower.
Now the M10 offers only what you need for the shot (give or take your personal acceptance of the manual focus of the Leica), the M10 has external dials for the important stuff, a choice of metering modes, strong IQ and ISO performance.
Yes I realise that Leica has always been known for simple digital cameras, but it used to be that this simplicity came at the cost of crap ISO or a low spec EVF or zero choice in metering modes.
But in short:
Leica have managed to update the M to be a modern performer, but without losing what made it special to begin with.
Also, I’m becoming slightly ambivalent to the IQ of the X-Pro2 too… (bear with me)
The X-Pro1 took the same 16mp chip that was in the Nikons, the Nex, the Leica X Vario (and maybe the Pentax) and Fujifilm owned that chip, they made it make images with a style that no one else was really getting from that chip
Nearly six years on, and still every time someone posts an X-Pro1 image to a Facebook page, there’s a group of people that state it’s their favourite Fujifilm camera for pleasing images.
Six. Years. On.
The new (from 2016) Fujifilm 24mp chip is technically better than the 16mp one in every measurable way, ISO? check. Acuity? Check. DR? Check. Colour depth? Check. 14bit lossless RAW? Check.
But unlike the very first variant of X-Trans, the output from the 24mp chip doesn’t look that far away from everyone else’s 24mp chip.
I don’t mean to sound down on Fujifilm, I’m not…. nor am I about to get an M10 (too much ££££££)
But you could make a list of the features found on the Sony A7ii, the XH1, the Olympus and they’re practically interchangeable… and I think we can ALMOST say the same for the base ISO IQ too….
Is this truly what we want? Cameras so ubiquitous that we chose them based on the brand name?
I’d like to think I get it… I’m sure if a Fujifilm shareholder was here, I’d be told; “but Adam, big tech-specs and industry standard IQ sells more cameras”
And I do get it – shareholders kids need shoes too.
But Fujifilm has the X-T (and now X-H) line to cover that off, I’m reliably informed that the X-T line outsells the X-Pro line by a considerable margin.
So surely the more popular, better selling X-T line should be the one with the more popular, more marketable industry standard features?
The X-Pro range has always been a bit niche, so why not cater for niche tastes?
My fear is that I’m not seeing any hint of a return to the original X-Pro1 we fell for…
….perhaps I’m being daft… maybe it’s just a case of when your favourite club band makes it big…. plays the Superbowl half time show…. all glitz and razzamatazz and you should be happy for them, but instead you find yourself thinking
You’ve changed man, it used to be about the music
For an X-Pro3 I’d nearly love to see something that has simple, external controls to control basic features.
SS / Drive Mode / a better ISO wheel concept / Metering
I think these should be implemented like the X-T dials
I’d like to see a hybrid VF solution that takes it to the next level. I PERSONALLY find it wrong that the X-Pro1 OVF is more legible than the X-Pro2 one, and slightly embarrassing that the Leica M10 has your spec of EVF matched. After all, Leica is renowned for its optical viewfinder, the EVF ‘on’ (sic) the M10 is an off the shelf clip-on item, yet matches yours on resolution, and can be flipped up 90 deg, which helps negate the lack of flip screen.
But most of all, I want to wowed again by the images, like I was with the X-Pro1. I won’t care if the other cameras have a bit more DR or ISO or whatever. Just as long as the images sing.
I’ll end with this… as an X-Pro 1 and 2 owner, any X-Pro3 needs to have an output that charms my pants off and whisks me up to the bedroom or I doubt I’ll be that bothered to own one, but maybe I’ll relent if the hybrid VF is otherworldly
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