Chapter Three: Designers tell their X100 story.

7Viewfinder switch lever is the identity of this camera.

  • It goes without saying that the Hybrid Viewfinder is the most distinctive feature of the X100 and is synonymous with its originality. The expression of the camera’s unique identity as represented by the incorporation of this original viewfinder was one of the key themes addressed by the design team.
  • As a mechanism for switching between the OVF and EVF modes, it was possible to use various methods such as a button or slide. However, when this question is examined from both the key X100 proposition of 'pursuit of compact form' and the desire for specifications that facilitate intuitive manual operation of controls while peering through the viewfinder, the lever mechanism was seen as the ideal solution.
  • Moreover, this point also satisfies our design aim of creating a presence powerful enough to stimulate the curiosity of a person first encountering the camera to ask themselves 'What could this be?'

8Real leather? Synthetic leather? What material is most appropriate for the body of the X100?

  • The use of chic black leather for the black body of the X100 was considered, but from the perspective of durability, synthetic leather is clearly superior to natural leather.
  • Right up to the end of the design process, the team agonised over the choice between the experience when the material is displayed or touched versus the functionality of long-term use, but on final analysis, the priority on the concept of the camera as 'a tool for taking photos' determined the selection of the high practicality of synthetic leather.
  • However, efforts to distress the material with the texture and atmosphere of authentic leather led to an original manufacturing process using an embossing plate of an authentic leather texture pattern and its application to synthetic leather, resulting in an unprecedented authenticity of texture. Whether viewed or touched, the textural quality satisfies both perspectives of high quality and high functionality.

9Pursuit of the X100 identity in not only the camera but also the accessories.

  • A snap-type lens cap of made of plastic was specifically rejected because it would be a visible part of the X100. Instead a simple aluminium cover with fabric attached to its step-machined inner surface for a snug fit with the lens was chosen. Through this design, even the simple act of attaching and removing the lens cover becomes a pleasurable experience.
  • The lens hood also is machined from aluminium. For the attachment of the hood, the cosmetic ring on the tip of the lens must first be removed and the filter adapter ring attached. Here too, in the pursuit of an exquisite balance between the shading function of the hood and its size, every effort was made to achieve compactness. The bayonet-mount structure promises reliability when attached.
  • Concurrently with the design of the camera body, work on the leather 'holster' case was also moving forward with a priority on maintaining consistency of 'feel', form and specifications with the camera. Every consideration was made to ensure a beautiful appearance whether the leather case was on the camera or just placed on a desk.

10Message to photographers from the X100 design team.

We wanted to communicate both the nostalgic 'vintage' feeling of the exterior and the authentic cutting-edge qualities inside the camera.

  • The aim of the product design team is to inspire people to identify with the product and encourage them to enjoy using it. In the case of the X100, I drew on my own personal experience and tried to imagine how people felt when they first encountered a camera – the sensation when they held it and felt the first stirring of the desire to frame and shoot a photo, and then I aimed to translate this comfortable intimacy inherent to a camera into a concrete design. I was able to experience firsthand the favourable response of the many people who came to Photokina in September (2010), and get direct confirmation that we were not mistaken in the design direction we chose.
  • I believe that among the new products to market – and not just cameras – there seem to be many with a 'classic' look that also communicate equally 'classic' inner workings. The X100 sets itself apart on this point with an exterior that is the epitome of ‘photography’, while inside, it embodies the ultimate in image quality produced by technology at the cutting edge of design.

Masazumi Imai Design Centre.

Beyond the praise of a million people, we wanted to design a camera that would be loved by 100,000.

  • We went back to basics and asked ourselves, 'What kind of camera would we really want to own?' The answer was a design that not only meshed with every one of our senses; from the manual operating systems of the viewfinder and other functions to the feel of the body materials, but one that also put a priority on fine details that accented its true nature as a camera and its comfort as a tool.
  • In order to translate this feeling into a concrete form, our design process invited professional photographers and other people from both within and outside the company, who represented a wide variety of perspectives to share their views. At one point, the process could be likened to changing ingredients while one is cooking a dish. Our aim has been not to find a generic standard that would appeal to any person around the world, but to focus on people for whom the camera held a special place in their hearts and evoked strong feelings, and to appreciate the lifestyle and the word spread by the owners of such a camera. We have put importance on the interaction (communication) that occurs between the camera and people when they pick a camera up and hold it to their eye, when they operate the aperture ring and dials, when they hear the sound of the shutter, or when it is just adorning a shelf. At such a moment, I am certain that your own unique 'X100 Story' will begin.

Kazuhisa Horikiri Design Manager, Design Centre.