I just read a review of the new Fujifilm X100T on Petapixel, and wanted to get some words down, because this is something that’s been bugging me for a little bit, about the camera and also the reception it seems to have received.
I don’t understand how this camera is well liked. It looks like an okay camera in a lot of ways, but it’s pretty damn weak, and it’s crazy expensive for what it is. I mean crazy, CRAZY expensive. Some people think the LX100 and RX100 and cameras like that kind of are pushing it price-wise (although that may be irrational of me), and those cost maybe $750 or $800 – this thing is $1300 and is a worse, bigger camera, and yet it gets glowing articles.
“What glowing articles?” you might say – well check out this love letter from The Verge to the X100T, it’s kiiiiind of over the top maybe. The basic gist of it is, and I paraphrase: “Wow this camera looks amazing, wow this camera takes much better pics than a smartphone, wow the uhhh controls are better?”
I mean, I understand how powerful it is to have a small camera that takes great pictures, it’s an awesome thing. For years and years and years we’ve had to trade off quality for size in digital cameras, period. There was a time, within the last decade – maybe within the last 5 years – where if you wanted to take a good, clear, sharp picture (and you weren’t in a dream lighting situation), you needed a bigger camera, and that was it. It is natural and fine for people who lived through those dark times to be incredibly impressed by the idea of a small, high quality camera.
I also understand the allure of a retro design. The X100 line have a nice, retro look. It’s, uhh… nice. I don’t personally think it has any problems, but I also don’t think that in the world of retro designs it’s anything special. It’s an 8.5 out of 10. And guys, I do love retro camera design. I read Tokyo Camera Style and get jealous of all the cool cameras. I still have my oldest SLR, a Nikon FG, and I always try to keep it somewhere on display, just because it looks pretty darn good (I’d say it’s a 8.5/10 too).
But really, I think people are going a little too gaga over the X100T looks. I’ll be honest, I’d definitely pay $100 extra to get a well styled camera that looks nice and retro, but really, this thing is getting by just on its looks, the rest of it is not good.
The Verge article, as fawning as it is over the picture quality, admits that the lens is hazy at 2.0 and you should stop down to 2.8. This is terrible! How can you buy a $1300 camera on the basis of picture quality and then just accept that you can’t use the fastest aperture in all situations. It’s crazy.
The video on the camera is universally judged with a resounding meh, even by people who love the camera. Again, this is something that’s maybe not vital for everyone, but if you’re paying $1300 for a fixed-lens camera, it’s ridiculous to justify your purchase by saying “The picture quality is so great!” but then with the other side of your face go “But video quality doesn’t matter”. Do you value visual quality or not? Video is actually a much, much larger differentiator between cameras right now than still quality, so discounting it is just especially nuts.
Speaking of the fixed lens: Yes, this camera has a fixed lens and you will never be able to change it. Again, not the worst idea on its own, but this camera is expensive as hell, and getting stuck with one lens forever – and not even a lens with any zoom to it – is really boxing yourself in. Especially when it’s an f2.0 that even huge fans of this camera are saying doesn’t always look great at f2.0.
Also the size is supposed to be one of the best things about this camera, but it’s not really that small. It fits in a jacket pocket, but lots of cameras do – there is nothing about its size that sets it anywhere but the middle of the pack among the many new premium compacts. The size is fine but not great.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this camera, but again: I just don’t get it. If it was maybe $800 I would lighten up on it big-time (although I still don’t think it’s going to beat the LX100 or RX100 in anything but aesthetics), but holy moly, it’s $1300.
Maybe the most damning thing about this is how many times in even the most glowing reviews, people are like “Sure [some aspect of the camera] isn’t great, but ignore that, it’s not a big deal because [some justification]”. I mean literally, this happens over and over. I don’t think I’m allowed to quote from Amazon reviews, but if you look at their page for the X100T, there’s a whole lot of rationalizing in them, in my opinion.
Okay, okay, anyhow, enough of me complaining – I meant this to actually be quite a short thing, but 1000 words later, it becomes apparent that I may be physically unable to write short things.