Simplicity vs Complexity


Keep it super simple (the KISS method). Simple is simply better, right?

Why, then, are cameras so darn complicated? Why are there so many menus, options, buttons, knobs, wheels and switches? Why does it take a novel-sized instruction manual to tell you how to operate it?

There are four critical camera controls: aperture, shutter, ISO and focus. This is true for every camera, although in some cases these things might be fixed, such as a home-built pinhole camera (the aperture is a tiny hole, the shutter might be a piece of tape over the hole, ISO is whatever film was placed in it, and focus is determined by the position of the camera itself).

Fujifilm has simplified what other camera makers have over complicated. On the X100F, the aperture is adjusted via a ring around the lens. The shutter speed is set via a knob on top, as is the ISO. Focus is controlled by a ring around the lens. This is how cameras were designed for many decades. This is a simple, user-friendly setup.

When cameras became more electronically controlled, camera makers got away from simplicity, and convoluted the whole process. They changed everything, and made you use a PASM dial and dig through menus for even basic adjustments. It never had to be this way. Thankfully, with Fujifilm, it’s not.


If you don’t want to manually control some of the settings, the X100F can auto everything. Do you like shutter priority? Set the aperture to A. Like aperture priority? Set the shutter to A. Want the camera to choose the ISO? Set ISO to A. Don’t want to manually focus? Flip the switch on the side to C or S. It can be as manual or auto as you’d like, and going back and forth is easy.

All of the less important settings can be adjusted through the various buttons, wheels, switched, etc., found all over the camera, which can be customized to taste. The Q button allows quick access to almost everything.

Different people have different needs, and prefer different features and settings. The more people demand various things, the more complex the design becomes. The X100F, which is the fourth generation in the series, has many more features and options than the original X100.

What I appreciate is that, even though there are tons of features, options, settings and buttons, the four critical camera controls–aperture, shutter, ISO and focus–are kept simple. The other stuff is kept fairly uncomplicated (all things considered), too, but the things that I adjust from image-to-image are right where they are supposed to be. The design is how cameras were meant to be designed. Fujifilm kept it super simple. Or, at least, as simple as they practically could.

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