Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Fuji X-S1 Is Odd

Fuji is continuing their X nomenclature for their cameras, seemingly using the letter to separate their current cameras that don't suck from their older cameras that do. I'd argue that they should use a different damned letter, because EVERYONE EVER is using X.

But about this camera; it is the new X-S1. Fuji is calling it a bridge camera, which is a market segment that I've never really understood. I think that a bridge camera is like the V6 Mustang of the photographic world. It looks kinda' like a DSLR, but it doesn't cost as much and isn't as scary. Thus, it is the domain of poseurs.

That works totally fine when the prices are low. An expensive point-&-shoot has the advantage of a small size. Bridge cameras do not have that advantage, and as such must cost far less than a true SLR camera. For example, the #1 bridge camera on Amazon is the Canon SX40 (more X names), at $379. Next up is Nikon Coolpix P500 at $294.

Fuji's X10 is expensive, but compact. As are the Canon G12, Panasonic LX5, and Olympus XZ-1. At $600, the Fuji is, in my mind, undoubtedly as far as one can go in that category and still have a valid argument to make for one's product.

So what has Fuji done? They've made a bridge camera that is as big as an SLR but with the image quality of P&S. It has the same sensor as the newly released X10, so it will certainly have very good P&S image quality, but it will still be P&S. They are also charging $800 for it.

So, their plan is to make a camera for more money than the market will bear, for a greater size than makes sense? For $800, I could buy a Sony Alpha 580 and lens, a Nikon D5100, a Sony NEX-5n: I could go on. The point is, $800 opens a lot of doors.

The only rationale that appears to make sense is providing a camera in a comparatively compact package that provides an enormous focal-length while maintaining high image quality. Look at the Olympus XZ-1. Its lens is so excellent that compared to higher-end cameras with bad glass, images frequently look better on the XZ-1.

If Fuji can attach some really, truly fantastic glass in front of the sensor, that massive focal length range could provide a real selling point. That is a big "if" in my book, though. With a focal range of 24-626mm equivalent, even in front of a small sensor, a lens that delivers excellent quality will be difficult to design. And since there is no size benefit, whatever the camera provides, it must exceed what one can get from a Panasonic GF2 or Olympus E-PM1, which can be had with a 14-42mm lens for $300, and the Panasonic 45-200, which costs $260.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with the "X" abuse sentiment. Typically I find that companies append an X to a brand once it has cycled through ten tired iterations without any real redesign. Shameful, really. Microsoft Office comes to mind...


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