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Techgoondu Reviews – Lenovo VIBE Shot and Fujifilm X-T10

Here’s an update of 2 reviews I did for Techgoondu last week – Lenovo’s VIBE Shot and Fujifilm X-T10 (the reviews are hyperlinked).

So when it comes to taking my money, the Fujifilm X-T10 is so agonisingly close that when I first saw it in person during a pre launch media unveil I was practically screaming in my head saying,”Why?!!?”

Why? The X-T1 to me was a machine that was very close to greatness but was a let down (at least to me) when its weather sealing caused some of the much loved features of X-series to be forgone. It’s shutter threading was dumped so water couldn’t seep through but I couldn’t use the plunger shutter cord and also the soft release. The later was a godsend as it makes it easier to trigger the camera and make it steadier as a result.

It also has so many locks it puts Changi prison to shame. Last but not least, the buttons are awful to press.

So all of these were rectified  in the X-T1 with the improved EVF BUT the ISO dial on the X-T1 was gone. That was totally not cool although I can easily overcome it by customising the front dial to choose an appropriate ISO setting and make the camera one hand operation again. But it just reminds me of the X-E1/E2 . If that’s the case why upgrade?

When it comes to mirrorless cameras, I wonder why they have to designed it so small (the Olympus E-M10 is also very small) so as to show that they are smaller than DSLRs? Let me give a hint. The old Rangefinder cameras are handy. They are not very small but of a size that is comfortable to hold and shoot and yet able to be bagged pretty easily. That’s why they are the photojournalist’s tool of choice until the advent of SLRs. Even so the old SLRs are not much bigger except for the prism hump.

No. When going mirrorless one need not go super small. In fact, it has to be around the same size as an entry level DSLR sans the thickness no thanks to the mirror box+focusing system. Maybe a Canon 760D size, squarish enough would be good but please not too small.

So what of X-T10? My strong advice is to get a bigger grip to make the camera taller and have a better finger grip that comes with arca-swiss L-plate for tripod use. There are better alternatives than what the Fuji is selling at a price that is more sane as well. Really Fujifilm, make us love our cameras more by making the accessories more affordable and use your cameras more as a result.

X-T10. So near yet so far. Like the X-T1. Perhaps X-E1/E2 is really what i was looking for and can stop there but I really dig the X-T1 viewfinder.

Lenovo VIBE Shot is another smartphone that touts good camera that goes with it. This is on top of the offering first done by HTC One X, ASUS Padfone series, Samsung K Zoom (or the Galaxy) and Panasonic’s CM1 (this I was very disappointed I didn’t get to see).

What I don’t dig is the fact they are following all the design cues from the iPhone. Seriously… i think more can be done. Just look at Oppo and ASUS…these two companies are churning handsome phones. So why the need to follow what Apple has done?

Of course I won’t lament the fact that I can use some of those special clip on lens on the VIBE shot that was meant for the iPhone but really Lenovo can definitely do much better than that!

So how about its camera? The camera user interface is fine but to me the image quality do not have that pizzazz I was looking for. Perhaps I got spoiled by what the K Zoom can do with a proper Zoom and presence of a real aperture. Yes it is an able shooter but it still can’t be a fully controlled camera. Nice presets and functions though BUT the focusing left much to be desired especially when focusing things that are nearer. Oh…the best camera I have seen to date is from none other than Xiaomi’s Redmi 1. Cheap and good camera – lethal combination.

Lenova VIBE Shot – so near yet so far too.

These two companies are doing something that is at once safe but also dangerous. Let me elaborate.

They are following the trend of what other people are doing. When people are doing weather sealing or having camera centric phones, they followed the trend. I don’t see any break through although I admit the market is so saturated all the obvious problems are comprehensively solved so much so even the cheaper smartphones and cameras are pretty capable.  Yes they try to be safe by following trends that are successful but when a product looked too similar, then the obvious assumption is that the insides are also going to be similar anyway.

One has to go beyond the obvious nowadays and copying the look won’t help. Why? If people like the iPhone look, most would have gotten the iPhone already. Android is a symbol of being debonair and perhaps allow people to do the most with the hardware. But instead the opposite happens.

And following the trend is also not the worst sin. Prevention of a new product from not cannibalising their own product line by dumbing down their cheaper product lines may serve to prevent sales from dropping but it doesn’t help in the long term by giving consumers the impression that they are not ahead of the game.

To me, ISO, Aperture, Shutter and EV are the basic dials that should be on the cameras and shouldn’t be the domain of just ‘professional’ cameras. Missing one don’t cut it and putting too many other things may look ‘professional’ but is so cluttered that even fingers need to do gymnastics to change settings.

When it comes to innovation, Nokia used to be like that. HTC used to be like that. Samsung used to be like that too but somehow success got to their heads and lost their way. They gave cutting edge things that matters when fighting for dominance but things went downhill when the features and functions are more fluff than practical/pragmatic solutions at a price that has gone insane.

On paper it doesn’t look good that their profits have gone down so much and so the only solution is to sell them expensive with not much improvement on features when in fact they took out the removable battery and MicroSD card slots (the very things that make Androids the darling of geeks).

What these two reviews shows, although they are unrelated in some ways are some trends in corporate thinking – when safe is actually dangerous. You can treat this more like a rant or just an observation. But whatever I said and typed here I hope is taken in a perspective that aims to make the products from these two companies better and hopefully allowed me to throw money and for me to shout “Shut Up and take my money!”

I wait for that day to happen, and for Fujifilm…please make it happen again (that said, I am still extremely happy with the X100 and X-E1, both are testament to what Fujifilm has done right then and the longevity of these two cameras).

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