Born in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1961. Discovered his photographic calling when, as a third-grader at primary school, he took his father’s twin-lens reflex camera and began walking around town, shooting photos. Studied under photographer Koichi Saito after a 10-year career in the corporate world. Went free-lance after 4 years of assisting Saito. Photography-related work includes portraits for magazines and other publications, new camera model reviews in camera magazines, how-to articles and teaching. Kawada-san loves anything that has “camera” in its name from the classic to the digital.
Digital camera shooting styles can be broadly divided into 2 categories: direct viewing through the viewfinder or shooting while viewing an LCD monitor. The merits of shooting with a viewfinder are: prevention of blur due to the firm bracing of the camera by the 3 points of the hands and head, good viewability even in bright light, and finally freedom from distractions and concentration on the photographic objective due to the restricted view of the viewfinder frame.
I am resolutely in the viewfinder camp, but I think that for me, the biggest attraction is perhaps the “sense of directness” that I get from directly viewing the subject. I can feel one with the camera. In the case of shooting with an LCD monitor, I am watching video shown on a display and sense an indirectness not unlike watching a TV show.
X100 is the first digital compact camera in a long time to feature a proper built-in optical viewfinder. In the case of a viewfinder in a rangefinder camera, you can see a broad area outside the edges of the shooting frame. So while looking through the viewfinder, you can release the shutter when you feel the timing is perfect. Also the time lag is minimal so it is easy to shoot snaps that capture motion.
In order to keep the size of the camera small, I believe that there is the approach of using an externally mounted viewfinder. However, because you cannot confirm focus with an externally mounted viewfinder, you would use it for deciding on the right composition and then check the focus on the body display. This is, of course, not a very realistic way to shoot photos.
Because the X100’s viewfinder with its excellent viewability is integrated in the body, it is possible to confirm both composition and focus through the viewfinder. Moreover, it is a hybrid viewfinder that can overlay the OVF with exposure data and other information from the EVF. It can also provide an electronic level display and a histogram. Adding to both the fun and convenience of shooting with a viewfinder, this hybrid viewfinder is one of the key merits of the X100.
Also by using the viewfinder switch lever on the front of the camera, you can switch to EVF mode, and see the reproduction of an image that reflects everything from the area that will be captured to exposure settings, letting you accurately preview the color and other qualities before pressing the shutter. When using exposure compensation, you can keep your eye on the finder while turning the exposure compensation dial with one hand. It’s great since you can make sure you have the right exposure as you prepare your shot. Moreover, the magnification of OVF and EVF are perfectly matched so there is no awkwardness when switching views. I thought it was really great how thought seems to have been given to every detail in combining the two modes.
Another wonderful advantage of the X100 is the arrangement of various dials and controls that let you perform a variety of operations while keeping your eye on the viewfinder. Especially impressive is the inclusion of an aperture ring on the lens. Almost all recent digital cameras no longer have an aperture ring, and instead have an electronic dial on the body for aperture adjustment, which means the left hand is unemployed and only supports the camera. However, because camera control is a physical task, it is better to have the balanced use of both hands. The X100 style with its barrel-mounted aperture ring is well suited to the way the human body is constructed and works, and I believe, more rational.
Also there are no mode dials. If both aperture and shutter speed are set to “A”, Program AE is active. If shutter speed is “A” and you change the aperture, the camera is in aperture-priority AE, while doing the opposite, results in shutter speed-priority AE. Switching is rational and simple.
Let me take a moment to introduce you to some trivia. There are two small holes on the front face of the camera. Actually these are stereo mikes. The X100 can also capture movies so, of course, it has a microphone, but the X100 records movies in stereo. These mikes too are arranged in a way that does not adversely affect the classic looks of the camera. I think the designers had to really work to get it right, but the results are very impressive. In details like this, I can sense the uncompromising approach that went into making the X100.