I've been working on this post for the better part of two weeks. A comment I heard while listening to a podcast this morning gave me the piece I needed to finally finish it. Those of you who have been following along with me lately here, on Facebook, or on Pinterest are aware that I have become fixated on a couple of things. The first is simplification. The second is Fujifilm's X-series cameras. Believe it or not, the two actually go hand-in-hand. For the purposes of this post, however, I'm going to concentrate on the cameras, because they're more fun.
Six or seven weeks ago, I posed this question: Do I Really Need a DSLR? I wrote about the complication of things, my recollection of shooting with an old rangefinder (which wasn't old at the time I was using it), and my decision to go ahead and order the little Fujifilm X10 to see how I'd feel about "less camera." Those following along will know that I've received the camera, and have been using and absolutely loving it, which has prompted my continued investigation into Fuji's line, culminating in my desire to make the move to a Fujifilm X-E1 (and a couple or three lenses).
Aside from being simpler and smaller and lighter, why would I want to move from a DSLR system to what I've been calling a digital rangefinder? Because Fujifilm have approached the digital camera from the standpoint of functionality, creating a true photographers' camera system that won't break the bank too badly. They harken back to the days of nice, simple cameras that were of high quality and were easy to use, like an old Voigtlander Bessa R3a or a Leica M6 or even the Canon FTb or Olympus OM1. In fairness, cameras like this have been around for some time. Leica's M and M9 cameras are nothing short of amazing, but the price is prohibitive at best.
Looking at Fujifilm's flagship X-Pro 1, the X-E1, or even the X100s, we'll see those same simple controls.
As on similar, traditional rangefinders, the Fujis' controls are all logically placed, allowing the photographer think about making photographs, not digging through endless menus or spinning little thumb wheels. Even Fuji's dedicated flashes (all of which seem to be custom versions of Sunpak flashes) carry through this design philosophy -- the EF-20, for instance, has a very simple flash compensation control that is the primary control. So, all the necessary controls can be accessed without having to dig into a menu.
The key here is simplicity; functionality; making pictures without the camera getting between the photographer and the photograph.
I should note that the X10 and X20 models are not quite so cleanly laid out, but I think they're not intended for quite the same market. These lower-priced models have a mode dial on the top, with the shutter speed and aperture controls are on a small combinations switch/thumbwheel on the back of the camera.
The point of this was driven home this morning as I was driving to work. I was listening to an episode of The Candid Frame featuring an interview with David W. Wells, in which he said of the cameras he uses, "[It] solves my [particular set of] problems" -- something I believe the Fujifilm system will do for me.