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X100 Design
Old 08-28-2011   #1
Macmook
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X100 Design

Good day all,

Recently I must have read 25 reviews of the Fujifilm X100. Each and everyone of them expressed a strong opinion that "retro" looks and photographers "nostalgia" helped drive the market and that was the reason for the design.

While I agree that the X100 echoes my memories of a golden age of photography (bring back Dwight Eisehower), I would also argue that for a camera to meet the usage aspects of a specific style of shooting it must almost invariably look like the X100 (or all those nifty rangefinders from the past). It's a case of form following function. Where else would you place the aperture control? Both from a user and engineering perspective around the lense is most efficient. Where would you put the shutter speed control where a user could manipulate it while shooting? etc. etc. etc.

About the only design characteristic that is purely ornamental might be the plastic leather embossed waist and even there the texture provides a slightly improved grip.

So to end my rant, for all those pundits who believe that the X100 is just a pretty face, remember why we think it's pretty in the first place. It's an archetype.

Regards,

Alex
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Old 08-28-2011   #2
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It's like a smaller digital version of the Hexar AF ... in fact owning an X100 has made me consider a Hexar in my future at some stage.

When I got my X100 my son refered to it as a boutique camera ... I have to disagree with that and although the styling is certainly pleasing to the eye I agree with you that it's very functional!
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Old 08-28-2011   #3
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I completely agree - in fact it rather bugs me when people go on about it's 'retro looks'. It's just the way a camera with good controls SHOULD look.
There's a reason the Leica has been the same for so long - because it works superbly. there's also a reason the x100 has sold so convincingly - because it works superbly.



Besides, all the other tries at completely re-inventing the camera design have failed...





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Old 08-28-2011   #4
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I disagree. Even with something that you believe is as incontrovertibly correct "from a user and engineering perspective" as having the aperture dial on the lens. I love rangefinders and would PREFER the aperture on the lens - but can at least recognise I do so for purely nostalgic reasons.

In fact, from a user perspective, it would be better to use a front/rear dial in an AF camera such as the fuji X-100 (which would then open the possibility of one-handed use).

From an engineering perspective on the Fuji x-100 it makes no difference whatsoever where the "aperture selector" is placed as it is still an electronic motor which moves the diaphram, not the selector itself ... actually, I take that back, it kind of does matter ... it would be MORE EXPENSIVE for Fuji to adopt the click-stop aperture ring around the lens rather than to use one of the pre-existing dials.

I notice someone mentioned the Fuji is a digital equivalent to the Konica Hexar AF which made me laugh a little as I own that camera, and where is its aperture selector ? It's a dial on the top plate.

And this is JUST talking about aperture selection. It would take too long to go through each design decision and show to you that there is absolutely NO "invariability" about the position of controls etc. on the Fuji x-100, or any other camera for that matter. You are fooling yourself if you believe "nostalgia" was not a primary design consideration (in fact, I believe I could even find a quote from the Fuji designers STATING as much without too much trouble) !!

Last edited by DamenS : 08-28-2011 at 19:16. Reason: its not it's !
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Old 08-28-2011   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamenS View Post
I disagree. Even with something that you believe is as incontrovertibly correct "from a user and engineering perspective" as having the aperture dial on the lens. I love rangefinders and would PREFER the aperture on the lens - but can at least recognise I do so for purely nostalgic reasons.

In fact, from a user perspective, it would be better to use a front/rear dial in an AF camera such as the fuji X-100 (which would then open the possibility of one-handed use).

From an engineering perspective on the Fuji x-100 it makes no difference whatsoever where the "aperture selector" is placed as it is still an electronic motor which moves the diaphram, not the selector itself ... actually, I take that back, it kind of does matter ... it would be MORE EXPENSIVE for Fuji to adopt the c

lick-stop aperture ring around the lens rather than to use one of the pre-existing dials. I notice someone mentioned the Fuji is a digital equivalent to the Konica Hexar AF which made me laugh a little as I own that camera, and where is it's aperture selector ? It's a dial on the top plate.

Having never actually touched the Hexar AF ... that disappoints me.

It's now off my list!

DSLR's are an interesting conundrum then ... because depending on your lens you have a choice of actually changing aperture conventionally or with a command dial.

I like the sound of 'lick-stop aperture' ...
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Old 08-28-2011   #6
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LOL - even better ... it's a "c lick" aperture which are known to be tastier than the "b lick" you find in some 4x5 designs.

It is unfortunate with DSLR's that so many (all Canon EF, all new Nikons) no longer give you that choice and must be selected from the camera body itself. As I said, I prefer it on the lens, but this is primarily for reasons of nostalgia and compatibility with older (non-AF) bodies.

PS - It wouldn't surprise me (but can't be bothered looking it up), if the Hexar AF is actually smaller than the Fuji x-100 rather than the other way around !

Last edited by DamenS : 08-28-2011 at 19:07.
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Old 08-28-2011   #7
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x100 is my fav fashion camera.
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Old 08-28-2011   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Having never actually touched the Hexar AF ... that disappoints me.

It's now off my list!
That's one of the things I like the most about my Hexar AF... That lens moves inside a strong barrel, (a tank) so its Autofocus system remains untouched forever... I thought the aperture dial on camera top (includes half-stops!) was part of the same great design decision on protecting that superb lens and its truly incredible AF system...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-28-2011   #9
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Personally I think the camera works great the way it is, but ok, so what if the design is partly or wholly decorative?

I never really understood the unwritten gear forum ethic, that purchases need to be justified in terms of need/functionality rather than desire. Is this a macho thing?
Maybe a religious thing?
Protestant?
Amish?

Maybe it's me, maybe I'm too much in touch with my feminine side
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Old 08-28-2011   #10
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Absolutely agree. I honestly can't understand the point the OP was trying to make or the reason behind it. The Fuji is a great camera. "Nostalgia" and "Retro looks" should not be labelled, or considered, spurious claims by nasty reviewers which need to be defended against ... in fact, Fuji themselves have used these very things as selling points and well-done to them. They produced something very close to the camera so many of us have been asking for for so long, and which other companies have claimed would never sell in sufficient quantities !!

Last edited by DamenS : 08-28-2011 at 20:16.
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Old 08-28-2011   #11
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One of the best things about the retro looks is that in a way it's like shooting film - people react differently when you're at them with an old fashioned camera. At least to me it's relaxing and I can be more creative and sometimes take the shots I wouldn't dare with a modern camera, especially of older people.
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Old 08-28-2011   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
It's like a smaller digital version of the Hexar AF ... in fact owning an X100 has made me consider a Hexar in my future at some stage.

When I got my X100 my son refered to it as a boutique camera ... I have to disagree with that and although the styling is certainly pleasing to the eye I agree with you that it's very functional!
Oh, Keith, that was a masterpiece of a funny thread. Should we start over again?
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Old 08-28-2011   #13
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Oh, Keith, that was a masterpiece of a funny thread. Should we start over again?

He lost all credibility with me after that remark. He's since been cut out of my will and I've requested that he no longer use our family name!
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Old 08-28-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Maybe it's unfortunate from a nostalgia point of view but from a usability perspective, changing the aperture with the finger-wheel is most efficient, especially if you can see in the viewfinder what aperture you dialed in. I can live with it on my M8 but the 5D operates much better here.
I agree, I find that the "pro" level (D3, D700, 1D, 1Ds) DSLR bodies have great ergonomics that are logical and practical. I just wish they were a little smaller
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Old 08-29-2011   #15
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Originally Posted by tom.w.bn View Post
Maybe it's unfortunate from a nostalgia point of view but from a usability perspective, changing the aperture with the finger-wheel is most efficient, especially if you can see in the viewfinder what aperture you dialed in. I can live with it on my M8 but the 5D operates much better here.
Changing the aperture from the camera means the lens will be electronic and AF, which means motors, which make it bigger, noisier, plastic-er and (to keep the cost down) more likely to be generally sh!ttier construction. And eating into your battery life.

These are small things, but since photobuffs are notorious for being anal with small things I thought I'd mention them
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Old 08-29-2011   #16
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Changing the aperture from the camera means the lens will be electronic and AF, which means motors, which make it bigger, noisier, plastic-er and (to keep the cost down) more likely to be generally sh!ttier construction. And eating into your battery life.

These are small things, but since photobuffs are notorious for being anal with small things I thought I'd mention them
Not necessarily - electronic contacts sure, but there is no correlation between focus method and method of aperture adjustment, the motor used to adjust aperture electronically is so tiny and has such a small battery draw as to be virtually non-existent, and there is also no correlation to quality/materials used in construction: think Zeiss ZE lenses or the Voightlander lenses for Canon.
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Old 08-29-2011   #17
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The Fuji does well because it is the only large sensor mirrorless camera with an optical VF that works great. If this camera came out with just the looks and no VF, it would not have been as exciting.
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Old 08-29-2011   #18
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Not necessarily - electronic contacts sure, but there is no correlation between focus method and method of aperture adjustment, the motor used to adjust aperture electronically is so tiny and has such a small battery draw as to be virtually non-existent, and there is also no correlation to quality/materials used in construction: think Zeiss ZE lenses or the Voightlander lenses for Canon.
No correlation - but a statistical fact: 99% of these lenses are AF.

- As for virtually non-existent details, like I said photobuffs have a specialty and great interest in those. If there is a difference they will find it, they will go to a gear forum, start a thread on it and discuss it for days
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Old 08-29-2011   #19
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That's what I am saying - the ZE and Voight are not AF, yet their apertures are controlled from the camera and they are built like brick sh*t houses. You were saying "Changing the aperture from the camera means the lens will be electronic and AF" and also that "which means motors, which make it bigger, noisier, plastic-er and (to keep the cost down) more likely to be generally sh!ttier constructio". I am saying these correlations you made do not necessarily exist and was using these lenses as examples.

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Old 08-29-2011   #20
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ok true there are exceptions
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Old 08-29-2011   #21
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LOL - no dramas ... as you said - there certainly aren't many exceptions : )
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Old 08-29-2011   #22
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They picked the wrong focal length. 40/50 equivalent would be better as a fixed lens for me.
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Old 08-29-2011   #23
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There is a tendency here to generalize one's own preferences derived from one's own shooting style to absolute statements (no offense intended):

Quote:
Maybe it's unfortunate from a nostalgia point of view but from a usability perspective, changing the aperture with the finger-wheel is most efficient, especially if you can see in the viewfinder what aperture you dialed in. I can live with it on my M8 but the 5D operates much better here.
For example, in my shooting, I have no time to read all the information in the viewfinder around the frame before taking a shot. The information is useless there for me. I shoot with my camera preset. What I therefore do need to see, is how the camera is set from outside the viewfinder. That's why I prefer traditional controls. (D)SLRs and many other modern designs put their displays to sleep after a short period of inactivity and no longer show aperture and shutter settings without half-pressing the shutter. On my Leica, in one glance I can always see what's going on, anytime. I don't care where the aperture control is, lens, dial on the body, etc., but that the information is easily accessible anytime is important to me.

- N.
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Old 08-29-2011   #24
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The word "archetype" is a funny one. Some people are uncomfortable with Jung because of this concept: it implies that there are absolute truths that exist out there, before anyone comes along and understands them.

The danger is that the concept of "archetype" lets one interpret one's personal biases and prejudices as "truth", as what is natural and correct....when these things may only be provisional and arbitrary.

Back to cameras -- yes, your point about form following function is valid, and interesting.

However, I'd argue it's not a total coincidence that the x100 so closely resembles its ancestors.
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Old 08-29-2011   #25
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I Just hope there is such a thing as a perfect camera. Unfortunately each and everyone of us have differing styles and preferences. IMO Fuji is smart actually very smart in getting that X100 out. It puts a shame to the rest of the gang Leica included.
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Old 08-29-2011   #26
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I Just hope there is such a thing as a perfect camera.
I gave up waiting for what I consider the perfect camera** and decided that the x100 is as close as it's ever going to get. And even that seems like such a massive fluke for a whole design team to swing my way like that that I still cant believe it exists...

**a full frame x100 with active infrared AF - basically a digital hexar AF.
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Old 08-29-2011   #27
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IMO Fuji is smart actually very smart in getting that X100 out. It puts a shame to the rest of the gang Leica included.
As a user of the X100 and Leicas, I'd be curious to hear why you think this...
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Old 08-29-2011   #28
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I agree. I think it's fairly obvious that the X100's controls were designed to appeal to those buyers who prefer traditional (though by "traditional" we have to leave out old-school designs like the Olympus OM & Zeiss Ikon Contarex, which had shutter speed & aperture controls on the front of the camera, respectively) manual controls.

Per ndnik's post (#25), I think the great divide is not necessarily between manual focus & autofocus, but rather between those who prefer to use/adjust controls while looking through the VF & those who prefer to do so before (or after) bringing the camera up to their eye. From my experience, most "modern" (post mid-1970s) cameras are clearly oriented around those who fall into the 1st camp, which is also perhaps more compatible w/SLRs, as opposed to RFs.

Quote:
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I disagree. Even with something that you believe is as incontrovertibly correct "from a user and engineering perspective" as having the aperture dial on the lens. I love rangefinders and would PREFER the aperture on the lens - but can at least recognise I do so for purely nostalgic reasons.

In fact, from a user perspective, it would be better to use a front/rear dial in an AF camera such as the fuji X-100 (which would then open the possibility of one-handed use).

From an engineering perspective on the Fuji x-100 it makes no difference whatsoever where the "aperture selector" is placed as it is still an electronic motor which moves the diaphram, not the selector itself ... actually, I take that back, it kind of does matter ... it would be MORE EXPENSIVE for Fuji to adopt the click-stop aperture ring around the lens rather than to use one of the pre-existing dials.

I notice someone mentioned the Fuji is a digital equivalent to the Konica Hexar AF which made me laugh a little as I own that camera, and where is its aperture selector ? It's a dial on the top plate.

And this is JUST talking about aperture selection. It would take too long to go through each design decision and show to you that there is absolutely NO "invariability" about the position of controls etc. on the Fuji x-100, or any other camera for that matter. You are fooling yourself if you believe "nostalgia" was not a primary design consideration (in fact, I believe I could even find a quote from the Fuji designers STATING as much without too much trouble) !!
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Old 08-29-2011   #29
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Reply to jsrockit - Again this is just my opinion, how come the giants (Nikon and Canon) have not done a compact fixed lens camera with APS-C size sensor that can handle color, lowlight and monochrome at such level. The niche market Fuji created is substantial enough to merit their attention. They have vast resources to do so and yet they are so surefooted not to develop new ideas and create new market. Sure new bodies come out often but it's still the big body muscled DSLRs and a lot of useless point and shoots except maybe a few exceptions like the S90/95 and LX3/5.

The Leica X1 at such a price never even thought to give us a VF and a decent AF speed. I really can't shoot arms length with a 2K camera.
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Old 08-29-2011   #30
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Reply to jsrockit - Again this is just my opinion, how come the giants (Nikon and Canon) have not done a compact fixed lens camera with APS-C size sensor that can handle color, lowlight and monochrome at such level.
Both are already world leaders and feel they already have enough cameras to fulfill most people's needs.

Quote:
The niche market Fuji created is substantial enough to merit their attention. They have vast resources to do so and yet they are so surefooted not to develop new ideas and create new market. Sure new bodies come out often but it's still the big body muscled DSLRs and a lot of useless point and shoots except maybe a few exceptions like the S90/95 and LX3/5.
Well, Fuji didn't create the niche, they just did it right after a few attempts by others (olympus, leica, panasonic). Remember, those of us who like mirrorless and rangefinders are the minority. Many people prefer a DSLR and don't care about size/ weight.

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The Leica X1 at such a price never even thought to give us a VF and a decent AF speed. I really can't shoot arms length with a 2K camera.
Before the X100, this was simply the best compact APS-C on the market... despite its slow AF.

I guess my point is that the X100's popularity does not really impact Leica as a whole... perhaps it only effects the X1 (which was available 1 year earlier). I own the X100 and the M9. The M9 smokes the Fuji in every day photo making at normal daytime ISOs (as it should). However, the X100 has macro, high ISO, and a quiet shutter, so it has its place with me.
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Old 08-29-2011   #31
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Give us a digital Hexar AF ! Upgrade the maximum shutter speed to 1/500th second at F2 (since that is clearly possible now) and provide a display of shutter speed and aperture selected inside the viewfinder - done and dusted ... that camera (even with an APS-C sensor/lets just remove the anti-aliasing filter) would be a MASSIVE seller.
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Old 08-29-2011   #32
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There is a tendency here to generalize one's own preferences derived from one's own shooting style to absolute statements (no offense intended):

For example, in my shooting, I have no time to read all the information in the viewfinder around the frame before taking a shot. The information is useless there for me. I shoot with my camera preset. What I therefore do need to see, is how the camera is set from outside the viewfinder. That's why I prefer traditional controls. (D)SLRs and many other modern designs put their displays to sleep after a short period of inactivity and no longer show aperture and shutter settings without half-pressing the shutter. On my Leica, in one glance I can always see what's going on, anytime. I don't care where the aperture control is, lens, dial on the body, etc., but that the information is easily accessible anytime is important to me.

- N.
Don't you find being able to read the meter from the top LCD of a DSLR to be somewhat useful in that case?
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Old 08-29-2011   #33
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The M9 smokes the Fuji in every day photo making at normal daytime ISOs

In what way does it 'smoke' it? Certainly not in dynamic range but I do see the advantage the M9 may have by being able to choose one's focal length and lens type.

Who did the web comparison between the X100 and an M9 with a 35mm Summicron recently ... I don't remember? What I do remember is that the M9 certainly didn't kick the Fuji's butt in what I thought was a very fair comparison ... the difference was marginal!
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Old 08-29-2011   #34
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Who did the web comparison between the X100 and an M9 with a 35mm Summicron recently ... I don't remember? What I do remember is that the M9 certainly didn't kick the Fuji's butt in what I thought was a very fair comparison ... the difference was marginal!
Hi Keith,

I think this is it:

http://www.digitalrev.com/en/fujifil...0-article.html
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Old 08-29-2011   #35
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That was the usual Kai entertainment but there was another one that had various images shot side side by side along with 100% crops for comparison. It revealed that there was very little difference between the two cameras in terms of resolution and dynamic range.
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Old 08-29-2011   #36
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Sorry Keith. I realized my mistake after posting - as usual! I seem to recall reading something along those lines myself a few weeks ago, but didn't bookmark it.

Kai was much kinder to the X100 when he wasn't comparing it to the M9. If money were no object, who wouldn't want an M9?! Of course, if that were the case I'd have at least one of each!
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Old 08-29-2011   #37
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Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Who did the web comparison between the X100 and an M9 with a 35mm Summicron recently ... I don't remember? What I do remember is that the M9 certainly didn't kick the Fuji's butt in what I thought was a very fair comparison ... the difference was marginal!
http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2011/0...the-fuji-x100/


I certainly wouldn't say the m9 kicks it's butt...
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Old 08-29-2011   #38
Juan Valdenebro
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On those cropped images after the same city landscape at f/8, the difference is HUGE... Not that the X100 is bad: the M9/its lens are just amazing. If the difference is that big on a screen, on prints both cameras must be different worlds. (Just my opinion...)

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Old 08-29-2011   #39
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@ jsrockit : That is precisely why the American car industry is in shambles, too late to get into the compact car. The Toyotas, Nissans, Hondas and Hyundais are so well entrenched in what used to be a niche in the great America.
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Last edited by gilpen123 : 08-29-2011 at 19:11.
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Old 08-29-2011   #40
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Try Steve Huff
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