I happened upon an article about the alleged demise of the Fujifilm X100, and the comments were full of what people want and what people think will be in the next the line of X-series cameras from Fujifilm, most specifically an “X200”. There is a lot of speculation out there at the moment with Photokina just around the corner that Fujifilm will replace the X100 with a new “X200” being launched. Some of the suggestions are a sensible development of the line, some are just totally out there!
I’ll go through the most popular ones I found, add my opinions to them and whether I think we’re likely to see it happen…
Faster AF is pretty much top of the list for most people! Faster AF is always welcome! Will we get it in a future development? I don’t see why not, but I’m not betting the farm on it. It took both Panasonic and Olympus until their 3rd generation CSCs to get contrast-detect AF right, Sony still isn’t there. It would be the main compelling reason to ‘upgrade’ from an X100 to an “X200” – much as it is for people choosing between the Oly PEN E-P2 and E-P3 upgrade. The X100 is so very good at everything else that if the AF isn’t significantly better I can see a lot of people sticking with their X100’s.
This is closely followed by a lot of people complaining about the manual focus on the X100 – although I wonder how many of these people are just finding something to moan about rather than would really even use MF seriously anyway even if it was good! I know very few people who use MF regularly these days, and if they do it’s generally on a fixed static subject where time isn’t all that crucial. Could it be better? Hell yes! Does it really matter that much day-to-day? Nope!
Face-detection AF – YES PLEASE!!! I know it’s seen as a bit of a point-and-shoot feature, but when you’ve had it and you no longer do, you suddenly realise just how useful it is/was! Even Nikon have now included it in the top-end D4, that shows real [:-)] photographers are asking for it, not just point-and-shooters. Possible, but I’m not sure if Fuji really feel it is a priority on their X-series. Fundamentally faster AF is needed to start with before adding this though.
Full-frame – Just not going to happen! For two reasons. 1. Size – as much as some people want FF, more people want a small camera – if you change to FF, forgetting anything else, the lens has to be physically bigger – no way around that, and consequently the camera has to be bigger. 2. The XF-mount lenses are DX lenses (unless Fuji is hiding some secret). If Fuji came out with a FF X-Pro model, anyone invested in the XF mount lenses would have to replace them all, no doubt annoying a lot of people in the process – that’s in nobody’s interest. This might be a long-term (5+ years) thing, but with sensor technology getting better year on year, I’m not even sure that it’s going to be even necessary – the X-Pro 1 DX sensor is already today widely acknowledged to either out-perform, or at least to be as good as current FF equivalents. If you want shallower DOF, that’s why Fuji have produced some superb fast prime lenses – I honestly can’t see why you need a DOF less than a few mm, and you can already get that with the existing setup. Full-frame might come to an X-series camera in the future, but don’t count on it for a while, if ever. The only place I ever see this discussed is on forums, not by anyone using the X-Pro (or X100) in a serious or professional manner.
Focus peaking – fine on an interchangeable lens camera such as the X-Pro1 (et al) where you might use older manual focus lenses and want a quick way to be reasonably sure it’s in focus, but not sure about how useful it will really be on a fixed lens camera like the X100. If you can’t tell it’s in focus from the 10x zoom, then I’m not sure what you’re doing wrong! I had it on my Sony NEX cameras, thought it was great at first, but then got annoyed with it getting in the way of the composition and turned it off! Might come to the X-Pro range, I’m not all that convinced about its usefulness on a fixed-lens X-series.
Faster lens f/1.4 etc on the “X200″… Great – always useful! We might get f/1.8, but I’m not sure about anything faster than that as it means making the lens that much bigger and the whole point of the X100 is that it is small and compact. Perhaps we’ll see a slightly faster lens, but I’d be surprised if it was that much faster.
1/3 f-stops on the lens aperture ring – yes please, hopefully, fairly likely! The current X100 setup is just weird and generally leads me to just use whole stops.
Image stabilisation – in the fixed-lens X-series I doubt this will happen. IS is great, but it adds bulk, noise, uses more battery power and is also of limited value on a 35mm (equiv) lens.
Weather sealed – not sure on this one. A 10% chance of it happening on some X-series in the future camera I reckon. It’s a nice marketing thing to put in the brochure! I think a lot of people go on about this, but how many of them actually shoot when it’s chucking it down? and by that I mean enough to totally ruin the camera. I took my X-Pro 1 out to shoot the Olympic torch, I got soaked to the skin (literally), the camera got soaked – did it kill it? No! Most cameras can stand to get pretty wet before they die despite not being full weather-sealed. Useful? Yes. Critical? No.
MORE MEGA-PIXELS! Probably going to happen, not really that important. My guess will be 16Mpx like the X-Pro 1, but not necessarily the same sensor.
Quick menu a la X-Pro 1 for the X100 replacement – probably going to happen!
Dedicated ISO dial – I’ve spoken about this before. I like the idea, not sure if it will fit on the X100, might just look a bit too “full”. At the moment the clean design suits the camera – add more buttons and dials and it looses that. Honestly, the ISO setting is pretty easy to change via the menu with the Fn button. If it was done, I hope it would be done well. My guess is that it’s unlikely to happen.
A final couple of things from me, and something that nobody else has mentioned – Buttons. If you regularly switch between the X-Pro to the X100 it can be a really frustrating experience. When you’ve used a camera for a while, pressing the buttons without taking your eye from the viewfinder becomes second nature. When you’ve got two cameras with many of the buttons you use in different places it gets confusing and annoying, especially when both cameras are so similar! I’m pretty sure that the X100 successor will have the buttons in the same place as the X-Pro 1. The is probably the only other reason (see improved AF) that would compel me to trade-in the X100.
The final thing from me is the name – I’d much rather see an X100 mkII than an X200. X100 somehow just sounds better, stronger! The X100 has almost become a sub-brand of its own, it would be a shame to loose it.
These are just my opinions based on my experiences of the cameras. I sincerely hope that when Fuji do replace the X100 they do a proper job of it, and not a half-baked Leica X2 job on it. It would be a huge shame, and I think it would hold back some of the momentum they have built up around the X-series range of cameras amongst pro’s and serious enthusiasts alike.