The X100 is, without doubt, a very beautiful object. Its design is intended to reach and satisfy those parts that most modern digital cameras simply do not. For a start, it is mainly constructed of metal, including real, machined, knurled metal dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation. This thing has an aperture ring, for God's sake, with click-stops! I'd almost forgotten what those were for. It's just right, in a restrained, classical sort of way, more Audi than Ferrari*. If you didn't know, you'd assume it was a slightly conservative, Leica-styled film rangefinder camera, perhaps dating from the Contax G generation of the 1990s. You just want to pick it up, and use it.
And yet. I find myself wondering, what will I ever use this camera for? When, really, will I choose to carry a not-exactly-light, not-particularly-small, 12 megapixel, fixed-lens, rangefinder camera in preference to either my all-purpose workhorse, the Panasonic G3, or my "just in case" camera, the negligibly-sized LX-3? I suspect it may turn out to be like keeping an open-topped sports-car in the garage.
Fuji and I do have history. Before I finally made the switch to digital, my all-time favourite film camera, and constant companion, was a Fuji GS645S medium-format rangefinder. What a stunner! Once I'd learned to accommodate
I guess we'll find out. If anything is going to persuade me to use this camera, it's probably that extraordinary "hybrid" viewfinder. I've never used anything quite like it. Being able to look through a glass window with framing brightlines and yet with a superimposed display of digital data is a truly novel combination of the old and the new. Whether it will work for me I don't yet know. I have come to like the flatness of digital displays, compositionally, and may have to relearn to see the 3D world in 2D again.
In the end it will come down to image quality. Are the raves about its perfect match of lens and sensor justified, or merely the self-justificatory hyperbole of early-adopting big spenders? (Incredibly, one of these would have cost the best part of one thousand pounds when new in 2011). Though there is always entertainment-value to consider, of course; will it be fun, or will I feel like a fool, tooling around town in an impractical Audi TT convertible? Toot-toot!
Happily, should I decide not to keep it and to sell it on I'll certainly break even, and even make a few quid on the deal. But that's hardly the spirit when embarking on an affaire de caméra. Is anyone out there an X100 user? I'd be interested to hear about your experience in the world of cult cameras.
* I trust readers of this blog will be aware of the gangstalicious Hasselblad Lunar... Well tasty! Tempted? Step inside!