September 24, 2010

What were they smoking?

While we love photography, we don't generally review cameras here. However, there's a new camera that is "in a class of its own". Fortunately.

Several manufacturers offer small digital cameras with fast (large-aperture) prime (fixed focal length) lenses. These small cameras have image sensors that, while not as large as a "full frame" sensor, are larger (and thus more sensitive) than those typically found in pocket-size point-and-shoots. Examples include the Sigma DP2, the Leica X1, and the Ricoh GR digital. The idea is that by giving up zoom, you get a (somewhat) faster lens & a (somewhat) bigger sensor. And, it seems, because these are considered "prestige" cameras, the manufacturer gets a bigger profit.

The newest member of this family is the almost-released Fuji Finepix X100. And it has one "feature" that's just wack. Namely, it has a built-in non-removable neutral density filter.

A neutral density filter is a piece of grey glass. Like sunglasses. Sometimes (if infrequently) called "smoked" glass.

Now, why would you want to put sunglasses on your camera? Well, suppose you were shooting in bright daylight, and you wanted to use a large aperture, to achieve a very shallow depth-of-field, in order to isolate your subject by blurring the background. Doing so might require a shutter speed much faster than the camera was capable of. So, under those conditions, adding a neutral density filter solves that problem, allowing the use of large apertures in bright daylight. That's why many photographers carry neutral density filters, to use under such conditions.

But. Why on earth would you want to build in a dark neutral density filter that can't be removed? No matter how little light there is, when you're trying to take a picture? A non-removable neutral density filter equivalent, Fuji says, to three f-stops. That's seven-eighths of incoming light, absorbed by the dark filter!

Fuji built a piece of dark grey glass into the lens, and claims that "The FinePix X100 FUJINON lens really is in a class of its own." And they're right. The class of expensive and stupid.

If, NeuroCooking friends, you are interested in purchasing a new Finepix X100 (MSRP about $1000), we would urge you to wait until the release (perhaps early in 2011?) of what is sure to be the 'updated' & 'improved' model, featuring glass that is clear.

[Image credit: Fujinon].

[Late edit: I was wrong.]

1 comment:

  1. No real offense meant here but my question is what are you smoking? The ND filter is built-in but is not always "on". Do you honestly believe that any camera manufacturer will build a camera touting a fast f2.0 prime lens and then just put a 3-stop ND filter on top??



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