Two years ago, at Photokina 2010, there were a number of very noteworthy launches from the major camera manufacturers. Nikon and Canon launched the enthusiast range SLRs Nikon D7000 and the Canon EOS 60D. Other cameras attracting attention were the Pentax K-5 and Sigma SD1 – but one absolute dark horse stole the show. Fujifilm which had thus far been relegated to the role of small-time manufacturer of cheapish compact cameras, unveiled the FinePix X100, a compact camera with an SLR-size APS-C sensor and traditional analogue control dials, that hid ground-breaking technology inside a retro-styled body with looks to die for.
The drooling and salivating this very retro camera caused and the mad media attention that washed over them, just took Fujifilm by surprise. They may have gotten resigned to the role in the camera hierarchy they had and this may have been an odd rebellious foray like the HS10 and HS20 models, both of which were good conceptually but kinda underwhelming.
Now, even the pros were asking serious questions and seriously considering it. This made Fujifilm realise that they had accidently stumbled upon an untouched, unserved market: The pro who wanted a Leica like, small unobtrusive rangefinder for walking around with at off-times. I lustily and hungrily examined it before rejecting it as “good but not good enough”.
The FinePix X100 set the company on a new road to producing high quality similar fashioned retro cameras and now that they knew they had a market, they threw time, energy and money at it. Late last year came the Mark II version – the Fujifilm X10 which was an enthusiast compact with a F2.0-2.8, 28-112mm-equivalent lens. It had a 2/3″ (6.6 x 8.8mm) 12MP CMOS sensor that used proprietory EXR pixel arrangement. The sensor operated in two modes: a 12MP images in high resolution mode, or a 2nd mode which under-exposed half its pixels to provide 6MP images with greater dynamic range, or combine neighboring pixels for a 6MP high sensitivity mode.
Now, everyone from the media, to critics to pros were paying attention. Off we went, with great respect, to check out the new Fujifilm baby. Again, it was very good, a better iteration, but not quite what we really wanted.
But sales did take off, putting fresh wind in the sails of the company.
Now, they DID know for sure they were on the right track even if the pros were not buying in large numbers.
Fujifilm also realised that with pros hungrily eyeing their offerings, they could easily put themselves in the top tier of the camera heirarchy if they did things right. Close to, if not equal to the Canons, Nikons and Sony. After all Sony had wedged itself in with great tries and a succession of stunning products.
Fujifilm was going to try.
Very shortly thereafter, in January of 2012, Fujifilm introduced yet another new model – the Fujifilm X PRO-1. They were now staking out their own piece of the pro market – even in the name, and definitely in the price which sits around the $1600 mark (body only).