Are the X-Pro1 & X100s Mirrorless?

Well, yes, they technically are, in the sense that they are not reflex cameras. But I have to confess, it bothers me every time I hear or read about them and they are referred to as ‘mirror-less.’*

Why? Well, it seems to me that currently the term ‘mirror-less’ has come to mean, by and large, micro four thirds cameras (aka M43, M4/3, etc.). The X-Series cameras as a whole are certainly not this. As far as the X-Pro1, X100s, and X-E1 go, not only are their sensors larger, but also decidedly different. The X20 also sits in the decidedly different camp.

Further, in a wider sense, mirror-less could mean any camera that is not a reflex camera, and this would include point and shoots. The X-Series cameras are certainly not this either, with the exception of the XF1 of course.

http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/x/

So, I find the term misleading. Not only for the above mentioned points, but also because the X-series cameras, in particular the top four (X-Pro1, X100s, X-E1 & X20), are quite different in operation from M3/4 mirror-less cameras (let’s exclude for a moment the XF1 and X-S1). Most notably they all have built in viewfinders and, with the exception of the X-E1, they all have an optical option. As well as this, they are also all far more “manual film camera-like” than any of the M4/3 offerings. Basically, their whole gestalt is different. In fact, to be more linguistically accurate, they actually have a gestalt.

I feel the same applies to Leica digital M series cameras. Not many people refer to these as mirror-less, but some do. I suspect it seems really wrong for many to conflate M4/3 cameras and Leica digital Ms with this term, and for me it seems no less wrong with the Fujifilm cameras in question.

So, what term to use instead? That indeed is the question. Perhaps something like “rangefinder-like cameras” or “rangefinder style cameras.” They all seem a bit awkward though.

Personally, I’m all for following the Leica tradition here. Just as we talk about “Leica Ms,” “digital Ms,” “digital Leia M cameras,” etc., why can’t we just refer to these cameras as “Fujifilm X-Series cameras,” or more simply, “X Cameras,” “X-Series cameras,” “Fuji Xs,” etc.?

Surely, these cameras are unique enough, distinct enough and, not the least, stylish enough to have not only their own class but their own class defining name. There is a kind of zeitgeist here, and as I mentioned above, their sum is more than their parts – they have a gestalt.**

Typed with a little help from Radiohead (this song incidentally, is about exactly the same age as the second hand camera I am awaiting delivery of this morning)

* my computer and my education insist that ‘mirrorless’ is wrong and that ‘mirror-less’ is correct

** having said all that, I do think Fujifilm muddies the water somewhat with the inclusion of the XF1 and X-S1 in the X-Series. These cameras don’t really seem to belong here. Not only are they externally / operationally different, they don’t even really share the internal defining features

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7 thoughts on “Are the X-Pro1 & X100s Mirrorless?

  1. Sounds like you are having small sensor complex:)
    The Fuji X-Pro1 and X-E1 are both mirrorless cameras….which has nothing to do with sensor size. Why would you think anyone would infer sensor size from the term ‘mirrorless’….I certainly never have.

    At the end of the day who cares if someone compares your camera to a 4/3 Panalympus. These same people look at my 16-35mm 2.8L and say, ‘Wow, you must be able to really zoom in on those birds with that big lens’.

  2. Yeah, I probably have some kind of complex. Anyway, I have the impression that ‘mirror-less’ is typically bandied about to describe m4/3 cameras as a class (but maybe that term is in transition – who knows?).

    I could be wrong, but from memory, the term was introduced and popularised (by one or all of those companies involved in the new 4/3 standards?) to distinguish the micro offerings from the earlier ‘full sized’ 4/3 cameras. Before m4/3 I’m not really aware of anyone referring to Leica Ms or compact point and shoot cameras as ‘mirror-less.’ Maybe some did, but it certainly never entered my consciousness.

    I guess my point is, ‘mirror-less’ is a class defining term. It’s also true that technically, in the wider sense, the Fujifilm X-Trans equipped and hybrid viewfinder equipped cameras inhabit a type of class of mirror-less cameras, along with Leica (digital) Ms, m4/3 cameras and compact point and shoots (and the Kodak Retina IIIc, the Nikon SP, the Contax II, the Minolta Hi-Matic, etc. etc.). However, this is a meaningless class definition, as it identifies nothing distinguishably unique or distinct for any of these four groups (five if we count the ones in the parenthesis), which are far better served by identifying different qualities, qualities that set them apart and make them distinct. Really, all I want is a bit of meaningful (as in, useful) accuracy.

  3. The X-S1 has the same sensor as the XF-1 and X10. And although the X-S1 doesn’t look like the others (more like a DSLR style) the features and functions are virtually the same. So is the build quality. These characteristics definitely qualify its inclusion in the X-series of cameras.

    • Hi.

      While there is no denying that the cameras you specifically mention definitely have interesting sensors and associated bits and bobs, and the letter “x” does occur in their sensor and processor names (EXR sensor and EXR processor), they aren’t actually “X-Trans.” So, on that alone, I find their inclusion problematic. Also, while extremely good for what they are, they simply are not in the same class.

      More interesting to me is your mention of “DSLR style.” Many people, myself included, are attracted to the X-Pro1 and X100(s) because of their rangefinder style. However, the rangefinder experience is not for everyone, and why should those who prefer the ‘solid’ framing of optical SLR style cameras and viewfinders miss out on the X-Trans yumminess?

  4. Only half of the “X” series cameras have X-trans sensors (X Pro-1, XE-1, X100s and X-20). I don’t think that the sensor is a factor in the inclusion of a camera in the “X” series. Fuji created this “X” series before they had the X-trans sensor. To be included in the “X” series, a camera had to have excellent build quality, image quality and features. I would even guess that the naming of the X-trans sensor itself was because these new sensors would be introduced in new, high quality cameras that also otherwise met the criteria for the already-existing “X” series. In any case, the manufacturer includes the X-S1 along with the others in its “X” series, so it is, de facto, and “X” series camera.

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