Fuji X series ..Fab or Funky? Part 1

Fuji X series ..Fab or Funky?

I have been watching with a growing sense of dismay that Fuji’s X series cameras may be turning into rather expensive paper weights. Sounds harsh? Maybe so but from where I stand as a potential owner I’m now left in somewhat of a quandary. My intention for this year was to update my HS20 with the improved HS30. I had hoped to add an XS-1 to the family later in the year as well, but given the current data reported by early adopters I seriously doubt the XS-1 will ever make an entry into my camera shelves.The really sad thing here is that Fuji have come up with ,to me at least, a seemingly excellent line of premium cameras, showing great innovation and some really great design work. Unfortunately in their haste to get this new series to market they have suffered, in some cases, absolutely horrendous quality control. I can only speculate as to the cause of this but I did wonder if the move from Malaysia to China for their camera production was a mistake.You may remember I has some misgivings in the past at the time of the HS20EXR coming onto the market. This was primarily around the incorrect temperature reading that the camera was giving, plus reports such as dust in the lens and a few other minor irregularities. Fuji to their credit recognized these issues and moved quickly to provide a solution in the shape of a firmware update. I’m happy to say that my HS20 has performed perfectly since then. So we know from the success of the HS10/H20, even with their short comings ( slow write and focus speeds) that Fuji is capable of producing a well designed and built camera. The current upgrades to the HS30 should push the HS series into being a contender for the top superzoom crown. So what exactly is going on in the X series camp?

X100Lets start with the X100. Most users will tell you that image quality from the X100 is superb, and I agree. From a myriad of images I have viewed from the X100 I can say with some surety that the color and sharpness are truly excellent. I still think its a bit too expensive for those wanting to step up from a travel compact such as the F550, however for those wanting the IQ and color then for some its a no brainer.Unfortunately all this IQ has been let down by several problems,

  • Slow Focus
  • Sticky aperture blades necessitating sending the camera back for repair.
  • Inaccurate readouts between the OVF and the EVF,
  • Slow write/buffer times
These are some of the more serious faults being talked about by X100 users.
There are many who have had ongoing problems with the X100 and others who haven’t had too much trouble at all.
Cons reference:
Pros reference:
There is also an issue regarding pricing, although this is generally not touched on in most reviews. At the time of launch here in New Zealand the price from most retailer/outlets was $1900 NZ to $2100 NZ.
This has since dropped to $1600NZ and has been stable at this price now for the best part of a year and I dont see any change in this in the near future. The X100 isn’t a pocket rocket so doesn’t really work as a lightweight travel compact, it is however small enough to be used discreetly for street photography.
So in summary we have a truly innovative product with superb IQ let down by several (and there are more minor niggles than we have touched on here) serious flaws. I guess if you can live with them and are patient enough to work around them then this camera will be a gem to use. Sadly though when paying for a Premium product I would want Premium quality in all aspects of the word and its just not there with the X100.
Would you buy a brand new car that has no brakes? So would you buy a camera that has serious flaws?

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