Some say the X200 will sport a 35mm full frame sensor. Others reckon it will adopt a flip screen. Many of us are waiting for a 24 megapixel sensor, and/or more. So far, every rumour focuses on technology, not implementation. Not one considers the Xx00 series' target customer- that is, if it even has one. I hope for all X fans that it does.
How could Fujifilm could improve the usability of the X100s? First, it would have to decide what who the Xx00 is for. While tidy, it is the X camera with the most singular, deliberate of utility blueprints. It doesn't have the latest _____ or _____, or even that awesome ______. (Feel free to insert the most fandled of dangles.)
If all you can see is its limitation, the Xx00 is not for you. And that is fine. The camera market is obsessed with price/performance. Technology alone makes or breaks the company which competes solely on what is inside their product. It is incestuous. It seldom tolerates high-level innovation. It prefers the status quo.
And it is absolute shit.
Fujifilm have something special in the X100/s. Changes to it should should be minimal, logical, and necessary. And the simplest thing I could come up with is the addition of branded lenses in multiple focal lengths. That would allow the event photographer to sling two or three lightweight cameras in their belt, and be done.
I own several Summicron and Elmarit lenses. Why not Summilux? I value reduction in size and weight more than I do absolute speed. In the shopped examples above and below, I 'installed' a Summicron onto the current X100/s body.
The X100s' 'S' is replaced by the camera's focal length and speed.
Numbers, however, aren't branding. Despite slavishly copying their cameras and lenses, Japanese camera makers failed to adopt Leica's simple, powerful branding. Summicron, Summilux, Elmarit: each bears a unique meaning, each targets a unique market, and each boasts its own draw style.
Japanese lens makers have proved time and time again that they have the technology and know-how to design excellent lenses. But most of today's Japanese prime lenses render the same way: smooth bokeh, sharp centres, and all the expected rest. Put a stamp on that. While those elements are appealing to many people, they are the only choices we have. The Japanese lens landscape has bowed to a singular, homogeneous design: one style to rule them all. Where first-party options exist (in the dSLR category), they are slaved to massive cameras. Slow/light/compact options do not exist. Neither are there lenses that draw with painterly out-of-focus elements.
Branding for draw styles. Branding for lens size. Branding for lens speed. Branding for less expensive lenses, viz. the categorisation of lenses based on economic or artistic concerns, allows freedom. Truly creative, truly good design necessitates boundaries.
I cooked up four rudimentary ideas based on much-loved 35mm staples: 18mm (28m); 23mm (35mm); 35 (~50mm); 60mm (90mm). Just two of these, 18mm and 60mm would be perfect for press events, weddings, and the walkabout.
The X200 will be a compact camera. DOF-equivalent 2,8 lenses would keep it small- certainly smaller and simpler (though more expensive) than today's wide and tele converter options.
I know that Fujifilm don't trawl little ol' Ω. But if they did, I hope they would take away a few things that will ensure the Xx00 series remain must-have cameras for the long-term customer:
1. Cut the fat.
2. Say a thousand no's to every yes.
3. Focus on cultivating customers, not keeping up with the Sony's and Nikons.
4. Brand build.
The Xx00 is the perfect platform from which to reach out to a target customer. It isn't a platform to evangelise to every person out there. Its tenets -- simplicity, unobtrusiveness, traditional layout, its deliberate control scheme -- force users to interact with it in a specified manner. That is true design.