Black Or Silver? Where's The Wear?

on August 10, 2015

A recent short video by the Fujifilm company that we saw at the Fujifilm Photowalk Day showed the process of manufacturing their new X-T10 camera. Along with the pictures of the Japanese workers assembling the bodies wearing gloveless rubber fingers - quite a sight - we saw them applying the various coats of paint on the upper body shell of the camera - and THAT was quite a sight.

Quite a process, too, and it also gave food for thought. In some respects it has caused me to question my previous opinions about camera finish.

I remember the days of Leica chrome silver M2 and M3 bodies. Real matt chrome on brass stampings - work long enough with it and you wore through to the underside and saw brass. You were the proud or horrified, depending upon your job. Ditto with the black painted bodies of the period - and the brassing was even more evident.*

Then came the plastic upper casing - Pentax went from chromed brass in their consumer-quality cameras to some form of painted plastic. Good paint, mind - it looked like chrome - but it wore to black or grey. The black cameras from the same firm just looked like black plastic, but when they scuffed you couldn't tell it.

Well, now the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T10 have come on the scene. The upper and lower casings are metal - and meticulously machined metal at that, Quite a lot of computer and hand work is done before the basic casting becomes the casing. And then begins the saga of the electroplating and spraying. Acid baths, undercoats, multiple paint spray layers and top layers - the end result being either a graphite or silver finish. And the intriguing thought that as we wear these by constant handling , and push on through the layers of finish, we are going to eventually arrive - not at yellow brass - but at silver magnesium. It may be hard to tell with the X-T10 when you actually have gone down to the base. Finally - a finish that will wear as good as it works.

This might mean that finally there is a best choice for finish - and it won't be black. You can fight it out round the back of the camera club all you like about what looks more " professional " in camera colour. Hardly anyone who actually earns money with their cameras gives a damn. They might draw the line at cameras that have mouse ears or Coca-Cola logos but aside from that all they want is to know that the wretched thing works.

*Ask us about the Correspondent's Leica - the Lenny Kravitz one...