Fuji has been in the photography game in all sorts of random ways for quite some time now. As a maker of film, they also produced some excellent “niche” cameras such as the 6x7 rangefinder. In the digital world, they have fared less well in the professional space. Their S3 was a Nikon F80 film camera, rigged up Fuji electronic guts. The S5 was a D200 in all physical respects as well except for their sensor, which was basically the same sensor in the S3. Personally, I owned an S3 and really loved it. It had excellent dynamic range and produced wonderful colour rendition… but lets face it, the business of using a competitors body with your electronics likely isn’t a high-margin game.
So Fuji has (I assume) likely decided to get out of the high stress SLR game and has gone niche again — and I’m thankful for it, as I think they have the potential to shake up a few markets in the process. The X100 is basically a hybrid rangefinder/point-and-shoot and from the specs, it seems like they have gotten the best of both worlds. The camera incorporates a new hybrid optical/digital viewfinder, as well as an LCD viewfinder on the back of the camera.
Leica should be very scared, and Fuji seems to have managed to distill everything we like about the M-series cameras (rangefinder, compact, fast f/2 lens, manual operation) with all the advantages of a point and shoot (LCD viewfinder, HD video, APS-C sized sensor, auto-focus, lower cost, macro shooting!!). It even looks like a Leica. If I didn’t already have a great deal invested in my M8 and associated lenses, I would buy one of these on the first day it was released. Anyone who doesn’t know about the compact size, and other advantages to shooting with a rangefinder should seriously look into it.