What is the future of the OVF?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Ray Sachs, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    One of the MAJOR features that got me interested in the Fuji system in the first place was the hybrid viewfinder, with OVF, first in the X100, then in the X-Pro. I initially got the X-Pro with the 18 and 35mm lenses, which both worked brilliantly with the OVF half of the hybrid finder. The 60mm didn't appeal to me both because of it's very slow AF and because the OVF used such a small frame with that lens that it didn't appeal as a practical alternative.

    I later added a 14mm lens for the X-Pro and, while it was technically compatible with the OVF, I didn't find shooting with the OVF a practical alternative because the frame didn't quite fit into the entire frame of the OVF and the lens blocked quite a bit of the view, particularly with the hood in place. Once I bought an RX1 and Nikon A, I sold the X-Pro with the 18 and 35mm lenses and just picked up a used XE1 to use with the 14mm. The EVF is really all that's needed with that lens, because the OVF isn't a very pleasant shooting experience. I never used the X-Pro with a zoom, but I seriously doubt I'd enjoy using the OVF with a zoom, particularly one where you'd really want to be changing the magnification level mid-zoom. And with the more extreme zooms, like the 55-200 and the coming 10-24 it wouldn't work at all.

    Then today I saw a couple of first impression type posts about the new 23mm f1.4 lens, which I figured would be right in the wheelhouse for use of the OVF, right between the 18 and 35mm. BUT, two things keep the OVF from really being a great alternative with this lens either. FIrst, the focal length is sort of between the two magnification levels in the OVF, so if you use it with the 35mm level of magnification, it would evidently exceed the limits of the frame. And so it's used with the 18mm level of magnification, but that leaves the framelines quite small out in the middle of the OVF, with a HUGE area around the frame. And, second, even with that greatly reduced frame size, the lens is just enormous and still manages to block a good portion of that reduced frame, and even more-so with the large hood. So, as with the 60mm, the OVF is useable, but far from optimal. I would imagine that the same types of challenges will be there when the 56mm lens is released, with framelines probably quite similar to the very small frame used with the 60mm. I haven't tried the 27mm pancake with an X-Pro, but it would seem that it should work pretty well with the OVF, with framelines somewhat smaller than the 35 (using the same level of magnification), but at least the lens wouldn't be in the way of the view!

    So, I'm wondering if the OVF really has a future in the Fuji lineup? The X100 and X100s have a relatively easy time of it, with a single focal length (although the 28mm lens adapter, which is otherwise excellent, also creates problems here). But the X-Pro OVF seemed to be designed specifically to optimize for two of the three lenses initially released with the camera, the 18 and 35mm. And now, a year and a half later, the system has grown considerably with several more lenses. And the OVF is really only particularly useable with 2-3 of the lenses. This, combined with the rumored release of an XE1 update before any mention of an X-Pro update makes me really wonder what Fuji's future plans for the OVF are, if there are any plans for it at all. Given the compatibility issues with the majority of the lenses in the line, will the OVF hang on in just a niche model and be primarily useable with the 18, 27, and 35mm lenses? Or will they re-engineer the thing to work with a wider variety of lenses and continue to offer it in their flagship model? The hybrid viewfinder seems like a no-brainer in future models of the X100/100s, assuming there will be future models. And maybe if they ever release any other fixed lens cameras it would work. But I recall wondering when I heard the rumors of an ILC version of the X100 back before the X-Pro was a reality - how would Fuji make an OVF work with various focal lengths? It just seemed like a huge engineering challenge. And maybe, in retrospect, it was a bridge too far. I'm really wondering if the primary hook that got me into the Fuji system is coming to an end...

    Any thoughts? Any speculation? Any knowledge beyond mere speculation (yeah, Rico, this one's mostly for you!)?

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    There will eventually be an upgraded X-Pro1, but I'm not aware of any sensational improvements in the OVF department. Instead, I expect other (EVF based) concepts to steal the show, maybe as soon as January. There's plenty of room for innovation in the EVF department, especially since Canikon have not clue / experience with this technology. This is major Sony, Panasonic and Olympus territory, so Fuji should try to keep up with (or even lead) the innovation in this area. Throwing everything at niche technology like the hybrid viewfinder won't help improving overall sales. It will only please some forum users.
     
  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants Solving for X

    718
    Jul 28, 2013
    Oh, yes, those forum users like Zack Arias. Honestly, Rico, sometimes you manage to dismiss and insult so many people with a wave of your hand. You did it with the X-A1/X-M1 controversy early on as well, lol.

    But I will concede that it's not likely to attract the masses. You know, the forum users...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Nic

    Nic FujiXspot Regular

    118
    Feb 5, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    With the caveat that I yet to try the new Olympus VF-4/EM-1 viewfinder which supposedly is extremely good, I have always found EVFs less comfortable to look at than OVFs. But, and it's a big, big but, they've gotta be a TTL (through the lens) OVF so that I can see what the lens is seeing and can see what the lens is focusing on. Of course to get a TTL OVF you need a DSLR which is now well outside my area of interest. My feeling is that Fuji should also be looking at other EVF and rear screen technologies, with the option of a touchscreen interface being the most obvious one. Fuji would be able to tell you if it is financially viable to maintain a model with the OVF.
     
  5. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    If forum user Zack Arias had bought 100,000 X-Pro1 at retail price, Fuji would certainly reconsider their priorities. Sadly, that didn't happen, so the warehouses are still well-filled, and users who buy a brand-new X-Pro1 today have a decent chance of receiving a camera with a manufacturing date in the first quarter of 2012. Fuji has already sold half as many X-M1s (in less than 3 months) as they have sold X-Pro1 in 18 months. Seems like omitting the OVF and the EVF is strangely attractive to many, even though forum user Zack Arias, you and I don't like it. It's simply not about those forum users who keep asking for full-frame monochrome sensor X-Pros with integrated M mounts. ;) Ray definitely has a point, methinks.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    Nope, I don't think we picky aficionados are who they're mostly designing cameras for. The good news is EVFs are getting scary good. I've been checking out an EP5 and that VF4 really is pretty astounding.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther FujiXspot Veteran

    461
    Feb 2, 2013
    Texas
    Hybrid OVF IMHO rocks! Hopefully, Fuji will continue technical development well into the future for their "Premium X" bodies/cameras
     
  8. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    Your arguments resonate a lot!

    For me, there would be no reason to use an OVF when EVFs become comfortable to use when I am in Monument Valley on a sunny day. I don’t use an OVF for sentimental reasons.

    That day will come, perhaps soon rather than later, but it does not seem to be there yet (haven’t seen the E-M1either). As long as I cannot use an EVF comfortably on a bright sunny day, I will continue to use an OVF.

    I’ve used the OVF with the 60mm only when accurate focusing did not really-really matter and I could use smaller aperture openings. Framing requires a huge correction. I’m not even sure if it can be used with the zoom lenses, but I would not do that. So that seems to underscore your observation that the x-pro1 with OVF remains a niche product for 18-27-35mm lenses. However, 80% of my photos are in that range, even when I had my DSLR with tele- and macro lenses.

    I thought about buying the 14mm but your experience holds me back in doing that. So I may end up with a camera that I only use with the 18 and 35mm lenses. That makes me consider replacing the x-pro by a x100s (or RX1 or other) for travel and city trips. The (yet-tbe-purchased) DSLR can be used for tele- and macro-work.

    Stating that Cannon and Nikon don’t have a clue and that hybrid technology is for some forum users only, is unnecessarily offensive towards Canon and Nikon, to the photographers who do not participate in forums (as if they are not interested in technology) and to those who do (as if they are a bunch of geeks and freaks who are not relevant for manufacturers). Stating that sales volumes and proftability is important is an open door.

    I don’t believe that the Zack’s of this world are not relevant to manufacturers. If they would think that, they would seriously underestimate the power of the social media. The Zack’s are important not because they buy a lot of equipment themselves but because they have a lot followers and are influential. Novices in photography consult friends or family members who know something about photography and they may read the blogs of the Zack’s and the Ming’s. But now I am stating the obvious. ;-)

    I would not be surprised if Canon and Nikon hold back from using EVFs for the reason mentioned by Nic, until the technology matures. They are market leaders and market leaders are typically not known for being first. As soon as the technology fully matures, they will buy or license the technology. Sometimes that is dangerous (see literature on disruptive technologies), sometimes that’s smart. We’ll know that in 5-10 years from now.

    Will OVFs and hybrid viewfinders vanish from the market? I don’t know. People predicted that Leica would go bankrupt. Yet, the company does very well. I am happy that there is something like market segmentation based on buyer preferences. Nevertheless, the benefits of OVFs may become less and less relevant.

    Thanks for starting this thread, Ray.

    Peter
     
    • Like Like x 4
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    The funny thing is that 90% of my shooting is also within the range of focal lengths that the OVF works well with. The problem is I don't like the 50-55mm equivalent focal length of the Fuji 35, so I was basically living with the 18mm on the X-Pro and just used the 35 for extreme low light shooting. Once I'd tried and bought the RX1 and Nikon "A", both my 18mm and extreme low light shooting were covered and I knew the 18mm Fuji lens would get a lot less use and the 35 would get roughly none. So I sold them and the X-Pro, replacing them with a used XE1 for the 14 (which is a lens I LOVE, BTW). I thought about adding an X100s just because I liked the OVF experience a lot, but I was reminded how much more I liked the RX1 than the X100s so I wasn't going to buy a second camera that was gonna take time away from my favorite camera just for the OVF. So, now I'm without a hybrid viewfinder camera, even though most of my shooting is done within the range that works with them. I just like the REST of the cameras I've chosen more than the Fuji models even though I miss the OVF.

    I don't think OVFs will vanish from the market - there will be a market for DSLRs with OVFs for any number of years to come and Leica will keep on cranking them out. And I think there will be a very limited market for Fuji's hybrid, but maybe primarily with the fixed lens X100 family (and if they should ever add another fixed lens at another focal length, maybe there as well???). But when I bought the X-Pro, I thought the hybrid viewfinder was going to be a mainstay of the system and one very good reason to adopt that system. And now, several lenses a few new bodies later, it's becoming pretty clear that the OVF is going to a niche part of the X-series ILCs at best, with the EVF model(s) being the biggest sellers and no doubt where Fuji will put their resources. And I don't blame them in the least - they're there to make money and the money is clearly in the other models. I hope the OVF can hang in there in at least one current model so it's there as a niche alternative, but I won't be shocked if it doesn't survive for long. But the bottom line is that one of the primary reasons I got heavily into the Fuji system seems to be on a very short leash and I've already moved on from it, if not quite completely from the system. I don't find anything about it as shocking or even surprising - it all makes perfect sense really. But it sort of bums me out because without fully thinking it through I sort of figured I'd be shooting with an OVF-capable camera for years to come, and it only really lasted about a year, for me at least. So a bit of a bummer - nothing more serious than that...

    Oh well, this should be the biggest problem I ever have to deal with! :cool:

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. pniev

    pniev FujiXspot Veteran

    489
    May 13, 2013
    aha. Got it. I use it less than a year and am thinking about moving on already. Unfortunately my wife manages the financials ;-)
     
  11. ean10775

    ean10775 FujiXspot Top Veteran

    886
    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, OH
    Eric
    Initially I loved the OVF on the X100S - I thought it was fantastic to see what was just outside the frame and having the shooting info overlayed was a treat....BUT I found myself shooting the X100S mostly at closer distances where parallax and focus was an issue even with the frame correction on and also shooting in manual where the overlay of the histogram was worthless since it wasn't indicative of the exposure I had set. Therefore I found myself relying on the EVF more and more for accurate framing, more precise focus and exposure preview at half press of the shutter. For me the OVF ended up being a novelty that was fun to use on occasion, but for 90% of my shooting the EVF gave me what I wanted. I didn't, however, get on well with the EVF of the X-E1 for some reason. I think I could have worked with the OVF more if the histogram was reflective of what the actual exposure was in manual, but as Rico has explained in another thread, there is a reason why it isn't. I realise that requiring that may seem a bit over the top since no DLSR or other camera with an OVF offers it, but with mirrorless I've gotten accustomed to being able to preview exposure whether that be with a live histogram or seeing actual changes to the exposure in live view and I really like it. If I were to rebuild my FF DSLR system from scratch today, I'd probably go the Sony route with the EVF.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    It's an interesting discussion. First of all, Canikon have "no clue" as in "pevious experience", because they haven't built enthusiast EVF cameras until now, so they have to play catch-up in the experience department. Sony is leading here thanks to their NEX and SLT experience, Olypana have the MFT experience. Fuji is playing catch-up, too, but to a lesser degree. Btw, I think it is a bit childish to assume that grown adults would be offended if someone says something critical about a company they may or may not have bought a product from in the past. This would basically stop any discussion about any product of any company. ;)

    The X-Pro1 was a follow-up to the surprisingly successful X100. Sadly, the X-Pro1 wasn't surprinsingly successful, either. If anything, it was surprisingly unsuccessful. A lot of forum hype, poor sales. Built around three prime lenses, the hybrid viewfinder seems limited these days, as everybody is looking for more lens choices and PDAF. As it turns out, most MILC converts want to have the DSLR experience in a compact and lightweight (and affordable) package. The X-Pro1 is nothing of this, the hybrid viewfinder adds size, weight and a lot of cost, it's more rangefinder experience than DSLR experience. Sadly, only a few very vocal "forum people" want the rangefinder experience, the concept is not popular in the real world, it is a niche audience (usually Leica fans).

    The "Fuji is the new Leica" discussion is harmful to Fuji, because to normal people (aka the mainstream customers Fuji desperately needs and wants) this just sounds like "ah, so this as very expensive and exotic camera, that is not what I am looking for". Fuji should try to distance itself from being compared with Leica. If Ford would be seen as "the new Bentley", most mainstream customers would not consider buying Ford cars, either. It is deadly for a mainstream manufacturer to be seen as elitist and exclusive. I happen to know Fuji's sales goals for each new X camera model, and there's nothing elitist about that. So no, hopefully Fuji is not the new Leica, because this would be the death sentence for their digital camera department. They would not reach a single sales goal for their cameras and lenses, total failure, game over. I would write Sony books in a few years.

    If anything, the X-Pro1 was/is able to attract media attention and excitement because it is unique and different. Then again, even forum people don't always like unique and different, just look at the ongoing X-Trans discussion. It seems like many prefer the stuff everybody else is offering and doing: Bayer forever, Lightroom forever, never change a running system. It is the same with the hybrid viewfinder, it is different, but it really isn't better than a TTL DSLR OVF. It was the SLR who replaced the rangefinder camera many, many years ago, because that was considered progress, it was the better solution. Today, building a perfect EVF is progress, and that will be achieved within the next 5 years. That makes 1-2 more X-Pro iterarions until the hybrid concept will be obsolete. How much do you expect Fuji to invest in a concept that will become obsolete in 5 years, maybe earlier? Shouldn't they rather invest in being an EVF frontrunner along with Sony and Olypana?
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    At this point in time, I really could care less about OVF's in the sense that they are used in a DSLR. However, I still really like the OVF as implemented in the X100/XP series. The ability to "see" around the frame of the subject area combined with no blackout provides an unique rangefinder-like experience (without having to struggle with the rangefinder focus patch). I hope that Fuji does not abandon the hybrid VF even as the EVF technology gets better and better. But I do understand that it is a business at the end of the day, and if Fuji can't sell enough cameras to recoup the R&D and manufacturing costs associated with the hybrid VF then ... :(
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    Aside from the profitability, if they end up as a system with 10-15 lenses and only 3 of them really work worth a damn with the OVF, it becomes less appealing unless you want multiple bodies and love those few lenses that do work with it...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    Let's hope that the OVF magnification system also progresses accordingly!!

    I remember all the accolades that Fuji received at the launch of the XP1. AA-less sensor. Hybrid OVF. 3 fast primes. A photographer's camera (whatever that means). Full frame performance in an APS-C package.

    Ray, I even remember your post about stumbling upon a XP1 while walking the streets of NY ... and ending up with the XP1. At least I think that was the story as I recall it!! That was sometime in early 2012 ... I think!

    Here's to hoping the XP lives on -- even though I don't have any interchangeable lens X cameras (as of now).
     
  16. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    Oh the other hand, maybe you stumbled upon the OMD ...
     
  17. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    Personally, I doubt that. It would require a lot of resources, and the size (and price) of the hybrid viewfinder would increase even more by adding another magnification level. I have heard that Fuji omitted the diopter adjustment mainly because of size concerns. However, users want adjustable diopters. So here's another challenge to meet.

    That said, there will most likely be a successor to the X-Pro1, but I doubt that it will be a revolutionary camera. I may be wrong, and from what I see, Fuji isn't perfectly sure what they really want to do. Plans for the X-Pro series did change a lot in the past.
     
  18. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    Bummer. Maybe the XP1 will become a classic, and I'll have to re-get one when the prices go lower. I'd be happy with a successor that has blazing fast AF, along with face detection, 1/8000 max shutter speed, and wifi. I'm not very demanding.
     
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs FujiXspot Veteran

    485
    Feb 1, 2013
    Near Philadephila
    It was the OMD. I planned to buy both. They were both supposed to ship and become available in April, which I was spending in NYC. The X-Pro was easily and immediately available - I walked into 17th St Photo the day it was officially "released" and bought one with the two lenses. This was within a couple of days of the beginning of my stay there. The OMD was released in mid-month and was nearly impossible to get hold of. I think I had a couple of pre-orders in, but was not at the top of the list and wasn't in line to get one before I got home (and, in retrospect, it would have been much longer). But I walked into B&H the day IT was officially released, just to see if I could take a look at a floor model. Which I did. And then, despite the fact that people who had pre-orders in months in advance didn't get cameras until June or July (or later), I walked out of the store with one. I guess they hold some number back from mail order for their walk in customers. I was pretty shocked by that one - happily shocked, but very surprised nonetheless...

    Now the X-Pro is gone and the OMD has been marginalized (mostly used for long lenses), but I'll likely have the OMD for a good while yet...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. flysurfer

    flysurfer X-Pert

    Feb 1, 2013
    Nuremberg
    Rico Pfirstinger
    You will get that, but most likely sans the 1/8000s. Fuji stubbornly sticks to 1/4000s and 1/180s flash sync.
     
    • Like Like x 1