Date: 25/09/2014 | By: Mathieu
Photokina 2014: Interview with product manager Riccardo Scotti of Fujifilm Italy
After trying the new X100T, X30 and XF lenses at the Fujifilm media session, we stopped at the Fujifilm press lounge to talk with Riccardo Scotti, product manager for Fujifilm Italy. We discussed not only the new products announced just before Photokina, but also the growing interest in the system from professional photographers, customer support, full-frame and other interesting topics.
MirrorLessons: Fujifilm has always paid a lot of attention to user feedback. How much did this aspect influence the various new features present on the X100T, X30 and other recently-announced products?
R. Scotti: The influence of our users is practically 100%. Fujifilm pays the upmost attention to its users and it also demonstrates this in the firmware updates that have been been released for cameras that are already two years old. For us the collection of information, that is then put to use in the field, is at the heart of this.
A practical example would be the X100T–we made a list of user needs, not on a qualitative level as the camera is already 100% satisfactory (and actually exceeds expectations), but on an efficiency level. One of the most important aspects concerns the viewfinder, a viewfinder that has become an “advanced hybrid viewfinder” where on the inside you have the pleasure of using an optical viewfinder with the possibility of having a live view of a small frame. This allows you to see focus magnification when working with manual focus. This was something our users requested. Before we had an optical viewfinder that forced you to switch to the electronic viewfinder when you wanted to manually focus. These days our clients appreciate being able to use a camera with an optical viewfinder with a complete manual focus option. This is the most important aspect of the X100T.
Other important points are the video mode, where we now have the possibility to adjust shutter speed, ISO and aperture while recording. Even the frame rate can be adjusted, and I also think that it is important to have an electronic shutter. It would be difficult to get the most out of a camera with an f/2 aperture in full sun otherwise. It is true that the camera has an ND filter on the inside but we wanted to make the user experience even more enjoyable. It wasn’t the silent aspect that was the most important in this case because a central shutter (leaf shutter) is already very silent. These are just a few examples that show why we’ve come so far. Another example of an operational improvement suggested to us by our clients, that perhaps was slightly overlooked, is that the aperture dial now has 1/3 EV mechanical stops. On the previous model, this wasn’t possible and you had to access it from the rear dial.
In the case of the X30, I would say that client feedback was 90% important. Obviously clients desire a lot from a smaller camera, and the optical viewfinders on these cameras simply can’t live up to the performance that you find on hybrid viewfinders in superior models. As such, we made the radical decision to take advantage of current technology and replace them with a high quality electronic viewfinder. I invite users to pay attention to this aspect because the EVFs of today have attained a high level of quality and are far better than EVFs of a few years ago. Also power consumption is now lower, so this was the right moment to give the camera this kind of viewfinder. On the X20 many people asked us to include a tilting LCD, and perhaps their decision to buy one product over another was dependant on this. As such, we also included this feature.
MirrorLessons: Aside from amateurs and enthusiasts, CSCs are attracting the attention of professionals as well. The X series is a great example of this. What is missing from the series to make it complete from a professional point of view?
R. Scotti: The CSC world is less mature and as such, in a phase of evolution. As of today, I can confidently say that at a qualitative level and in terms of usage, in 99% of all cases you can work with this kind of product. Of course we haven’t stopped developing our products, and we’re always trying to expand the system to its maximum potential. There are situations in which a reflex clearly has an advantage but we are talking about 5% of the possible situations that could arise in a professional environment. I’ve seen many clients who are tired of working with heavy gear, so I personally see more advantages than disadvantages. The main advantage is having an EVF like the one on the X-T1. Once you’ve digested the fact that the quality of the viewfinder is exceptional, you realise how incredible it is to have the possibility to see the correct exposure before you take the picture. Removing your eye from the viewfinder to see how your photo turned out on the LCD screen is a thing of the past. Today technology allows us to keep our eye to the viewfinder, and in my opinion, this is an incredible advantage because the photographer can remain concentrated on his work. To experience a change in light, deal with it, and know before shooting just how the photo will look is an evolutionary step ahead. Many also obsess over the size, and it is true that it is an important point because our backs inevitably suffer the consequences of carrying around lots of gear.
MirrorLessons: Professional assistance is an area that is still in need of improvement. With professionals becoming increasingly interested in the X series, it could become a necessity. Are there any developments on this front?
R. Scotti: Yes, we are working on assistance for professionals. We have to distinguish professional users from amateur users. Unfortunately, I cannot elaborate any more than this.
MirrorLessons: There has been lots of talk about a full-frame X system. Leaving aside rumours for the moment, do you think a full-frame X system would work?
R. Scotti: Yes, it could certainly work but we are very practical in what we do. Today it’s not a matter of full-frame or APS-C but balancing a product, to have a product that provides high quality and high ISO performance. (And let’s not forget that these cameras don’t have low-pass filters and much work goes into making sure that people can work with high ISO speeds without issue.) We don’t want our cameras to become too large or heavy for our clients. As such at this moment, the best and most balanced solution is the one we have chosen. We’ve made it clear that we could come out with something different, but why do it?
MirrorLessons: After having announced various new models, it seems that Fujifilm is now concentrated on updating its current models as in the case of the X30 and X100T. Can we expect some surprises in 2015?
R. Scotti: At this moment, I can’t say anything. If I do, they’ll hunt me down! *laughs* The range is in a phase of continuous evolution, so there will be more interesting updates. I can’t say any more than that.
MirrorLessons: Thank you for your time!
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The MirrorLessons team attended this year’s Photokina, where the products mentioned in this article were on display to touch and try. To stay updated on our latest hands-on review articles, be sure to keep an eye on our Live Blogging page and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!