Hybrids, Mirrorless and Bridge...Cameras?

6 October 2011 2:49:51 PM AEDT



The Fuji X100 has arrived and the international media pretend that it isn’t the biggest event of the year. What’s all this fuss about Greece anyway? Haven’t these journalist hacks seen this camera? 



Actually, neither have we – well, almost.  Sightings of the Fuji X100 for a while were pretty rare. It took an earthquake and a tsunami to remind us that there is another country in Asia other than China where they still make things, like the X100, called Japan. The Fuji marketing boys could manufacture the story but the company could barely manufacture the camera.  The was no doubting the hype was genuine. Demand was through the roof but the supply was a trickle.  



The pressure has eased for now, but the effects of the Fuji X100 will linger longer than Eddie McGuire’s heartbreak at another Collingwood Grand Final loss. It is not hard to imagine somewhere in Tokyo various Canon and Nikon executives are having hot miso soup dripped onto their nipples while they dangle from a high rise building for ceding Fuji a circuit breaker in the camera market like this. Sales are hot. The Fuji X100 does make some of their offerings look a bit drab, they way Danny De Vito makes everyone else look tall.  



Why the buzz anyway? 



If modern cameras have a problem, surely it is one of differentiation.  The Fuji X100 sticks out like Lady Gaga amongst a bunch of nuns.  Curiously, if you think about it, a (digital) SLR camera of today doesn’t look all that much different from a (film) SLR camera in 1980. Considering in that time computers went from the size of a fridge to the size of a lunchbox and, well, we won’t talk about what happened to Michael Jackson, we are tempted to wonder what Nikon, Canon and the rest of the club have been doing for thirty years. That is not to deny the vast improvements in performance but the basic design has been constantly reiterated.  



The buzz from the average consumer is for the models that offer something new – sales of the Fuji X100 prove this. Consider the recent arrival of Sony NEX, Micro Four Third, Fuji X100, Pentax Q and trailing along at last, the Nikon 1. The theme is small cameras with interchangeable lenses and adjustable settings. The variance is in the size of the sensor. They are all different. The Pentax Q has basically the same sized sensor as a compact. The Sony NEX has the same as a DX SLR. Tiger Woods doesn’t swing that big. It’s also getting more complicated than his love life.



Suffice to say, the designs are still fairly conservative. Respected photographer Thom Hogan says that the camera should be becoming more of a portal, communicative and interconnected with the web and social media. We agree.



It seems that the camera company that is brave enough to cross traditional boundaries that, if it doesn’t change the game, at least rearranges the rules, like the impact of the iPhone, will strike gold. The alternative is to end up lost amongst everybody else – maybe with plenty of promise but with nobody  listening, it’s hard to sell anything, even a message.  

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