“At the end of the day, it’s all about capturing emotion.”
2016 is going to be an exciting year for Fujifilm fans based on what we know, we have some of the best APS-C lenses on the market and two of the best APS-C cameras on the market. Yet, as Photokina approaches, I can’t help but wonder if Fujifilm will have one last thing to show us to maximize attention at the show. Many believe Fujifilm will release an X-tran medium format camera, but I think that might be a mistake. A few months ago there was also a pretty big stir about Fujifilm being the new Leica, but I can’t agree with the assertion. Leica isn’t a big camera manufacturer, but they are generally behind some of the biggest innovations in the industry, which is probably why they partnered with Panasonic.
Bill Palmer’s article kicked off the rally behind Fujifilm, but it is full of misconceptions. For instance, he claims that Leica clung to film for too long, but neglected to mention the Leica S1 (1996) with a 36x36mm sensor that captured 26MP and 11 stops of dynamic range and the digital back that was available for the Leica R (2003). Kodak and Leica made beautiful digital kodachrome magic together with everything they collaborated on. This is probably your best argument for Fujifilm surpassing Leica because Fujifilm has done an amazing job preserving their color film profiles while Leica abandoned their amazing kodachrome look. You either love or hate the Fujifilm look, but there is a look to enjoy, unlike other camera manufacturers. X-Tran has kind of been a game changer, but the benefits of it can turn into detriments for some.
In every other respect, Fujifilm is simply following in Leica’s foot steps and improving on their design at a more reasonable price point. The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is the first camera to pull me away from my M since the X-Pro 1, which is a huge compliment because I have owned more camera bodies than anyone probably ever should and none have improved on the Leica experience like the X-Pro 2. Leica’s misstep with the SL could give Fujifilm some additional room to capitalize, because no one improves on the Leica feel like Fujifilm. Sony has tried with a few of their lenses, but Sony bodies are not a joy to use.
The Fujifilm feel is superior in many ways and it is that quality that creates an emotional connection with the camera which enhances the emotions captured through the lens. Leica is their only competitor, at this time, but it is unfair to crown Fujifilm the new Leica until we know what surprises Leica has in store for us at Photokina.