After the announcement of the Fujifilm X-H2S, which has a PASM dial instead of the traditional dials of the X-H1, many people asked, “Is Fujifilm losing its soul?” I’ve had a number of Fujifilm photographers tell me that they believe so, and some have inquired if I believe so, too. What’s my opinion? Is Fujifilm indeed losing its soul?
Fujifilm has already lost its soul. It’s done gone. Elvis left the building awhile ago. The design decisions during development of the X-H2S are simply the manifestation of that lost soul.
What was this “soul” that Fujifilm lost? How can a company even have a soul?
A whole book could be written on this topic, but to summarize in a short sentence, Fujifilm’s philosophy for their X-series cameras was analog-inspired innovations with a focus on the photographer’s experience (both while using the camera for photography, and as customers of the brand). This was their soul. That philosophy, which seemed to be clearly understood, is what drove the camera department of the company (remember, Fujifilm’s main business is not photography nowadays). From the design decisions to the Kaizen firmware updates and everything in-between, this philosophy oozed out—it was both obvious and attractive, and is why Fujifilm was suddenly successful, quickly overtaking other brands, including iconic Nikon.
Fujifilm didn’t need to have a photography department at all, but they decided that, even if it was a bust, they’d still fund it and keep it going, because photography had been such an important part of their company’s heritage, and had been an important aspect of Japanese culture. They were merely the caretakers of this thing that was bigger than themselves. That’s how they looked at it, anyway, and it was noticeable and refreshing.
Somewhere along the line, however, Fujifilm began to view this differently. The photography division needed to be built bigger. It must grow. It must become more profitable. It must gain more marketshare. It must become as big as—or bigger than—Canon and Sony. I think there are actually two competing sides within Fujifilm (and maybe this battle has been taking place for awhile now): one is profit-first driven, and the other is nurture-first driven. The side I would like to see win is the latter, but the side that seems to be winning is the former.
Where this lost-soul has most obviously manifested itself is Kaizen, or the lack of it. This is a word that I hadn’t heard of until I owned a Fujifilm camera. It’s something that attracted a lot of people to the brand. It means continuous improvement—making something better over time, even though it was already purchased. Why? Part of it is duty (what you are supposed to do), and another part of it is that it creates loyalty, because it shows the customer that you care about them, and not just their money. That care will cause the customer to overlook shortcomings, because the caring is more important to them in the whole scheme of things. And long-term loyalty is more valuable to the company than short-term gains. I don’t know the exact timeline of when Fujifilm stopped caring (or, more accurately, began caring less about their customers in favor of caring more about profits), but it seems to be during the development of X-Trans IV. That’s when the profit-first people seemed to first get an upper hand on the nurture-first people. I don’t know for sure, though. What I am confident in is that, as X-Trans V rolls out, the profit-first philosophy is the current mantra of Fujifilm’s photography division—it’s Fujifilm’s current soul, unfortunately.
Am I overreacting? After all, the X-H2S is just one camera, right? There are two points that I’d like to make. First, Fujifilm removed the traditional dials on the X-H line in favor of PASM. For Fujifilm, PASM cameras are intended to attract new customers who are not interested in or are otherwise intimated by the traditional controls of their other X models. They don’t put PASM on cameras that they intend to market to their current customer base. The X-H2S is their top-of-the-line “flagship” model, the first X-Trans V… and it’s not for you. It was never intended for you. Screw you! It’s for them. Those guys with their Sonys and Canons, that’s who it’s for. We give our best to them. Our current customers who have been so loyal over the years will have to be happy with the crumbs that fall from the table. Second, X-Trans V is rolling out, while the X-T3 (their all-time top-selling model) and X-T30 are still on an island, and the X-Pro3 and X100V (premium models) don’t have as good of JPEG features as the X-S10, X-E4, and X-T30 II (mid or lower tier models). That’s shameful, in my opinion. Take care of your current customers first before working so hard to bring in new customers. Fujifilm is making their customer base less loyal, which will only hurt them in the long run. Nurture first.
If you build it, they will come. Fujifilm built it and they came; however, not enough for the profit-first people. They want more, but they’re barking up the wrong tree. Instead of becoming Sony in order to attract current Sony users who are unhappy with their gear (how does this makes sense to anyone?), Fujifilm should double-down on what makes them unique. What’s special about Fujifilm? Analog-inspired innovation and the photographer’s experience—that’s what’s special, or at least it used to be. There’s one other thing that’s unique, and that’s community. Fujifilm didn’t build it—instead it was built around them; however, they have not done nearly enough to embrace it and engage it. In fact, at times they’ve been standoffish to it. That needs to end, because community is Fujifilm’s greatest asset, yet they seem unsure of how to engage it, so they do so halfheartedly and from a “safe” distance.
I didn’t mean to write a negative article. When I sat down at the computer, I had no intention of typing out this post; however, it’s something that has been circling inside my mind for a few weeks now, so I suppose that it was inevitable. I really hope that it doesn’t make you feel angry towards Fujifilm. This article’s aim is to, on the off chance that this is actually read by Fujifilm, inspire reflection and perhaps even change, and secondarily put into words something that maybe you have felt but weren’t sure how to express. Perhaps this is somehow therapeutic. For me it feels good to say, even though it is negative, and I hope that getting it out in the open will somehow produce something positive.
Absolutely correct, Richie! It almost seems like kaizen is a thing of the past. Fuji used to release updated regularly, now it seems they very seldom do that anymore. Maybe they want to push us to Canon and Sony. I left Nikon for them, and now I’m not so sure that was a good move. I love my X-T4, but I’ll change if they really become more mainstream and leave us behind.
Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Even though you don’t own an X-T3 or X-Pro3, if Fujifilm had taken care of those customers, you’d have a lot more warm-and-fuzzies going forward (knowing that you, too, would be taken care of), but instead you’re questioning yourself. Fujifilm is a good *brand* with great cameras… they used to be a great *brand* with good cameras. Ideally, they should strive for both, and at times they have achieved that. Thanks for the comment!
I think when (and if) they announce the X-T5 that will be a suitable time to look at the overall state of Fujifilm. The profit guys cannot be ignored as nothing can be run forever on history or the feel goods…they must produce while trying to do what we expect…and remember not everyone who shoots Fuji even cares about all this history. Or even awesome jpegs they like the camera for it’s size and great lens.
I guess I don’t mean that the “nurture-first” people don’t care about profits. Their philosophy, while not necessarily profit-driven, is the vehicle (system) that brought them success and profits. If you have the right philosophy and system in place, the profits will come. If you simply strive for profits, sometimes that works (but at what cost?), and sometimes that’s your downfall. We’ll see how it goes for Fujifilm. About 20-25 years ago, it almost sent Fujifilm into extinction (although the exact “lessons learned” from that situation are certainly diverse and debatable…).
While part of me is a bit melancholy over this development, I’m reminded that Fuji survived when Kodak didn’t. Why? They diversified and stayed true to their mission of innovation. They must have done extensive market research before making key X-H2s decisions, and likely found the consumer need for PASM outnumbered those of us quirky traditionalists who would oppose it. Is it soul-sucking? Nah. It’s about survival. Again. Will I flee back to the Cult of Canon over a silly camera dial? No way.
No way for me either…Canon did me well for 10 years before I switched when the X-T3 came out…but I plan to stay at least for the next few years at least…
Fujifilm didn’t have to fall in the first place. They got greedy with the skyrocketing and seemingly unstoppable profits from film, and they practically abandoned what they knew was the future: digital. Fujifilm led the way with digital in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, but got greedy with film profits and doubled-down on that while ignoring the future. Because of that, they nearly folded when film collapsed, and only through creativity, diversification and innovation did they survive; however, they only kept the photo division because of tradition… yet after more than a decade they made it profitable. Now that it’s profitable, it seems like money is more the driving force than anything. The previous driving force, which was their philosophy, is what made it profitable to begin with, yet that’s being ignored, it seems. As far as market research… the majority (by far) of Fujifilm users prefer not-PASM (as has been demonstrated in polls and such that Fujifilm consults), but the majority of non-Fujifilm users prefer PASM, which is why the X-H2S has PASM: it’s not for Fujifilm users, but Sony and Canon and such. That’s all well and good, but now a whole lot of current customers feel slapped in the face… or at least ignored. Fujifilm is betting that the camera will bring more sales from new-to-Fuji users than sales lost from current-Fuji users who won’t buy, and might even leave the system. We’ll see.
I agree with your assessment. I like the tactile approach to Fuji, though I came to the brand for the colours and image quality. But the tactile is a signature they’d be foolish to disregard. All said, I’m with you.
Thanks so much for your input! 🙂
I do hope Fujifilm continues with it’s tactile dials into future versions of the X-T series as that’s what made it special
I think they will, at least for now. The X-T5 will for sure. The X-T6 might depend on how well the PASM cameras sell. Eventually it might be X-Pro, X-E, and X100 lines with the traditional dials, and everything else PASM. If the PASM cameras don’t sell well, it’s actually good for the X-T’s tactile dial security; however, at this point I’d be surprised if there has been any discussions of making the X-T a PASM line.
We want our cake and eat it too… Fuji must be profitable, so they can continue to invest in bringing new/better chips and cameras to market for us. To do that, they need to expand market share (or start raising prices). I think those of us who value the manual tactile aspects of current cameras are in the minority of the market, similar to Leica shooters. If X-H2 series brings market share and profits, then the technology will trickle across all lines. After all, it’s the chips and simulations most of us love about how the camera captures. As long as they keep the technology coming and the body styles of today (X100, XE, X-Pro series, etc.), I’m happy.
The system that made Fujifilm’s X-series successful and profitable is the philosophy that’s currently being ignored. I think it’s a risk: if they are successful, it reinforces that profits trump soul (and loyal customers), and if it fails, it could take down everything with it. I personally think it’s lose-lose, but I could be wrong. When companies abandon systems that are successful for them, that rarely works out well, but occasionally it does, so we’ll see.
Sigma has different lines of lenses: A technically professional line, a budget line, and their Art line. I was hoping Fujifilm would follow a similar principle, but it seems their marketing department is considering using the X line name as a way to give status to cameras that are X in name only. Said that, is also true that Japanese are less focused in cameras than us, they are more focused in the expression of the photograph. Photos with the hashtag Fujifilm X30 and XQ line are wonderful, but algorithms in Western social media don’t like older models, even if the photos tend to be better than, let’s say, an entry level aps-c Fujifilm camera. So Fujifilm as a company to make noise in the Western world probably has to follow the hashtags :T
If there is something positive in this is that I feel that Fujifilm is still looking, the X-E4, X100V and X-Pro 3 are polishing the experience above the specifications, which are there in the background but are not in the face, ironically something that smartphones are getting right. And is somehow funny that the founding of the X line, as I read you, comes from the Instax line.
Yes, Instax is Fujifilm’s most successful and profitable photography line by far. The X series is pretty far behind. Unfortunately, as you said, the western world (with thanks to Meta…) tends to focus on the “wrong” things, which influence companies, Fujifilm included. I agree with your assessment of the X-E, X100, and X-Pro line’s current iterations. Thanks for the comment!
I was just about to order an xpro 3, should I look elsewhere now ? Lol
It’s up to you 😀
The XPro3 is, in my opinion, the most special camera on the market. If you have researched her and she steals your thoughts, go for her. This camera is magic!!
HI. PASM is not a deal breaker for me as long as lenses have an aperture ring and bodies a shutter speed dial and an exposure compensation dial. I shoot almost exclusively in aperture priority mode.
From a practical point of view, it’s easier to switch to P on the body, than to switch the aperture ring to A, and from a logical point of view, shooting mode selection is rather a body stuff than a lens stuff.
I commited to Fuji because of film simulations, size and ‘analog’ shooting philosophy among others. But hey. PASM was invented when digital didn’t exist. So it’s ‘analog’ too in a way. The XS 10 in that matter is close to a DSLR of old on steroids (PASM was first introduced in 1978 on the Canon A1), and it sells well.
That being said,the competition is tough, with smartphones being the main rival as to quantities sold. P&S have almost disappeared, which almost leaves cameras as a niche product.
Apple and Samsung have put a lot of money in R&D and with great results (see some Apple to camera comparison on Ken Rockwell’s web site) and people change their smartphone very often. On the contrary, no photographer will change his camera every 6 to 12 months. Developing new firmwares (other than strictly corrective ones) means that you sell less new cameras, as old ones are upgrading.
So gaining a new customer base and making existing customers buy new stuff is crucial.
Fuji made a very smart move with instax cameras and printers, something hype similar to LPs and turntables. Of course, IQ has nothing in common with what can be obtained with an APS-C camera with even a kit lens, but most people don’t care. It’s enough as to travel photography.
XH-2 is intented for some professionals, not for enthusiasts like we. Same for the GX series. One digit XTs and XPros are for some professionals and enthusiasts.
For us, mere amateurs, Fuji produces 2-digit XTs, X100s and XEs, Remember that all the models have roughly the same hardware and software, and differ from the ergonomics, which is smart also, since a great part is common (read cheaper to produce) to most cameras.
As long as ‘our’ categories will have new models in the future with stuff from the flagship (a new sensor and upgraded AF, …) with more or less the same user experience, we will be safe.
Oh, and btw, Fuji must sell bodies for the magnificent lenses they produce. Just sayin’
Canon created PASM to make photography easier for the novice, but then as more and more people learned photography on it, eventually it became the “standard” design. I learned photography on an all-manual SLR in the late-1990’s, and continued to shoot exclusively with all-manual SLRs until 2009. Because of that, for me PASM was never logical or intuitive… eventually I got “used to it” but I never enjoyed it. There are a lot of others like me, and Fujifilm is pretty much our only outpost. We’ll see what the future holds, but we might have to start hoarding, lol. Thanks for the input!
I’ve never pondered this question?
I wish I had never. Sometimes my brain just doesn’t shut off…..
In marketing and advertising, it is critical to identify and highlight what makes a product or brand unique. In investing, companies having a distinct quality that is difficult for competitors to replicate are referred to as having a “moat.” In both cases, it is that uniqueness that can provide value if it meets the needs of the consumer. That has been the case for Fujifilm – by fully committing to mirrorless technology, providing an analog user interface, bypassing full frame for medium format, and responding to consumer input with updates to keep existing equipment relevant. If that strategy changes, and Fuji chooses to instead replicate its competitors’ product features, it will find itself in a commodity market; one in which its products struggle to provide definable value. I believe the H2 is an example of that, and fails to justify its price accordingly.
At this point, the H2s is still a one of its kind towards “commodity market” and potentially only something to bring new users to the ball park. So maybe no fear so far.
Upcoming models (X-T5, X-Pro4) will tell us if Fuji gave in to the “Dark Side Of The Force”. Let’s cross fingers …
I think the X-T6 could actually be the camera that goes to “The Dark Side” so to speak, depending on the success of the X-H2S/X-H2. Time will tell.
This is it right here. I agree 1000%. Thanks for this comment!
No offense Ritchie but Thom Hogan, a photographer with a lot more industry knowledge and experience than you, sees things differently.
I posted the wrong link
It’s a really good read. And as I said before when the market is less than a tenth of it’s size a decade ago, and players in that market fail to gain any additional market share at a certain point it is no longer financially viable to continue. Olympus gave up, Panasonic has been rumored to be giving up for the past two years, Pentax is now a tiny niche and Nikon may have turned itself around if they can filter Z9 tech down quickly enough. Fuji either grows within the shrinking market or they won’t be able to afford the R&D to continue.
The previous strategy failed and strangely enough I see a lot of Fuji fans who seem more interested in standing by that strategy than actually being able to buy cameras and lenses from them in the future. A lot of angst about Fuji making a couple cameras that meet modern expectations, but no proposed alternative that has any chance of working. Doubling down on a failed strategy simply burns financial reserves faster.
Fuji already has a tough road ahead with how cheap FF is getting. If they don’t turn APS-C into an advantage they will be gone.
I don’t understand how you can say “that strategy failed” when Fujifilm has been one of the leaders in growth (even in a “shrinking market”), and moved from new-kid-on-the-block 10 years ago to #3 overall today. It’s been a huge success, and a bright spot in the industry. I don’t understand how being one of the best examples of success (even against all odds… look at Samsung) is somehow defined as a failure. I just don’t get it.
Making an APS-C camera that’s as big, heavy, and expensive as a full-frame camera doesn’t seem like a good strategy to me, but what do I know? I’m certainly no expert.
Fuji peaked at around 5% of the market and has stuck there for most of the past decade. Meanwhile the market is less than 1/10th the size it was when they entered it. That means Fuji sells a small fraction of what it sold during it’s peak in terms of units while only maintaining market share.
Also I’m not sure why you think they are third. Canon is in first, Sony is in second, Nikon is in third. Nikon still holds around 12% of the market while Fuji hit around 5.7%. The only metric that had Fuji in third was in mirrorless cameras, but of course mirrorless cameras do not exist separate from the overall DSLR market.
Yes Fuji has had two straight years of outgrowing the market shrinkage, but you can’t ignore that those two years coincide with their move to more varied cameras. The old strategy was a failure in that while it maintained market share, it overall lost unit sales drastically and no one can do that forever. Especially the smaller players since the cost of developing new technology costs the same regardless of whether you are a large or small part of the market.
It’s my understanding that Fujifilm is third in camera sales, but fourth in digital camera sales, so I guess it depends on how you slice it?
My opinion is that Fujifilm’s current path will either lead to commercial success (somehow wooing unhappy Canikony users with similar products) while simultaneously losing their very loyal fanatic base who would in the past buy a fart in a jar if it had the Fujifilm logo on it (some other brand will come along and woo many of them… maybe Nikon if they have the guts, we’ll see…), or Fujifilm will fail to do so, and they still risk losing their fanatic base. Either way, if Fujifilm continues the way they’re going, they are at risk of losing their base. I don’t say this out of speculation, but because (quite literally) hundreds of people have expressed this to me, and they likely are a fraction of the total who feel this way (if one expresses it, there are probably ten or more who feel similarly but don’t say it).
My point of this article was simply to point out this risk that Fujifilm is taking (by ignoring their fanatic base). It might very well work out for them (but at what cost?), time will tell.
That is a good point, I was only considering their digital camera business, but I know Instax is quite popular and has been for a while now. They may be higher on the list if that is included. For myself I really only have interest in the digital side, but for Fuji’s purposes if the revenue is combined then it matters for both (although if Instax is much more successful that could mean digital side cuts….).
The other main point you make, that making these moves will alienate existing customers, I’d respond to that with a few points –
– Given the unit sales drop over the past decade, current customers are already leaving, or at least not buying new bodies and lenses. Granted that’s just part of a much larger trend that has nothing to do with Fuji individually, but it’s still a fact that what they sell now does not result in much retention of the customer base.
– The argument made by many essentially boils down to existing customers making the case that if Fuji dares to reach out to other potential customers, they are somehow being mistreated. That is untenable to say the least, especially in an overall declining market. While it is true the X-H2 has switched an existing line to PSAM from retro dials, it’s also true the X-H1 was a market failure to the point where the X-H2 was not assumed to even be on the roadmap. And given that it’s primary purpose is hybrid shooting, making the controls ideal for that seems like the right move. IMO the X-T5 is where we find out what Fuji’s intentions really are.
– I think you underestimate how many annoyed shooters there are in the Canon/Sony/Nikon space. I’ve mentioned it before but I started with the M50 (well, technically a borrowed T3i but replaced it quickly). I went Fuji when it became clear Canon had no interest in serving the customers of their best selling camera line (even now 30% of their overall sales!). Their new releases, the R7 & R10 have done nothing to dissuade me from that, I was looking for small, lightweight, easy to operate and advanced controls. Neither of those releases are as nice as the X-S10, much less some of Fuji’s higher end stuff like the upcoming X-H2. Meanwhile Sony is ignoring it’s crop sensor with the only new releases being vlogger cams like the ZV1 and Nikon has done nothing other than the Zfc fashion statement. For anyone who started in the entry level space of any of the big three, Fuji is the only one who has an option for them that maintains many of the characteristics (size/weight/cost) while adding a much wider array of lenses, multiple advanced control schemes, and non-crippled choices for sensors and firmware features.
Given that Canon sells more of just the M50 than Fuji sells in their entire product portfolio, and Canon’s retreat from that line, IMO Fuji needs to get an obvious upgrade for that out there ASAP (X-S20 with the new CPU and updated AF) and start buying the appropriate Google and FB ads to get it in front of existing users. Hell, create a trade in program.
I also want to make clear that I love your writing, I just seek to offer you the perspective of one of those prospective switchers who followed through and who knows several others who have done likewise. I think that market is real and Fuji does not need to sacrifice their existing base to get to them.
Those are all good points. Fujifilm might just win them all over, who knows? But, after the X-H2 is released later this year, five of the last seven cameras will have been PASM (X-S10, GFX100S, GFX 50S II, X-H2S, & X-H2), and one of those two “new” non-PASM cameras was nothing more than a firmware update (X-T30 II). I think if a company came along and offered a couple retro-style bodies (Nikon fell short with the Zfc… it still wooed some Fujifilm photographers), offered Kaizen updates (which some other brands have began doing more of while Fujifilm has been doing less), made quality-built gear (again, Zfc was not…), and had good JPEG output (Zfc was surprisingly alright with this), I do believe there will be an exodus of sorts. Maybe Fujifilm will still come out ahead, I really don’t know (obviously nobody does).
I appreciate all your thoughtful input! The discussion has been good.
I agree there is danger in anything, but I also think the pattern of releases the past 2 years has more to do with delays around getting their fifth generation to market and less to do with deliberate change in strategy. For instance the gap between the third gen (X-T2) and fourth gen (X-T3 was only a bit more than two years. But the gap between the fourth gen (X-T3) and fifth gen (X-H2) will have been just under four years when it launches. Given what has been happening, with the pandemic, the global supply chain issues and an up and down economy, I strongly suspect the rollout would have been quite different had everything been running on time.
I suspect the cameras released after the X-T4 were anomalies seeking to keep sales up in a crazy market situation where they chose to test the waters as they simply could not guarantee production and delivery of a next gen platform. Information gathered from those launches will go to inform the fifth gen releases now that it’s here, which obviously will include a mix of both control schemes. The X-T30 Mk II is clearly a parts refinement specifically meant to help with production problems by simplifying the internals, likely borrowed from the X-S10/X-E4. I’d be curious if a teardown revealed that the X-T3 WW also is using the same internals.
I have mentioned the technical reasons for Kaizen appearing to have slowed down, but I’ll also point out that this would be far less obvious in a world where the fifth gen launched earlier. The X-T3 got a *ton* of updates but they tailed off when the T4 hit, and the T4 did not get many itself. Looking back I don’t see a lot of updates past the release of a new generation (last non-bugfix update for the X-T2 was months before the T3 released), implying that Fuji optimizes for about 2-3 years past a platform release then bugfixes/compat updates from there. Given the recent news about just how limited the CPU in the fourth gen is (single ~600Mhz two generation old ARM), I just don’t think it can pull it off. The new platform appears much more forward thinking, reportedly a 1Ghz current gen ARM design with a separate ~600Mhz core devoted just to the IBIS management. I expect a lot of optimization will be found with a platform like that. I still wouldn’t expect it to go more than 3 years though…
Note: Decided to check myself on the assertion about past firmwares: X-T1 was released in Jan 2014, it’s last significant firmware update was v4.30 released in Feb of 2016. The X-T2 was released July 2016, it’s last significant firmware update was v4.10 released in June 2018. the X-T3 was released in September 2018, it’s latest significant firmware update is v4.00, released in November 2020. I am defining ‘significant’ as firmware releases that are major upgrades to existing features, or addition of major new features. I am not including lens compatibility releases, bugfixes, or minor menu option changes. Based on this, at least with the X-T line, support for the existing cameras has continued at historical levels. I did not include the X-T4 for two reasons, first is that it’s based on the same platform as the X-T3 and is unlikely to be capable of much more, and secondly it’s not end of life yet so we do not know what may come next (neither is the X-T3 for that matter).
The X-Pro3 was released about a year after the X-T3, and well before the X-T4. At that point, or shortly thereafter, the X-T3 should have been given the updated JPEG features of the X-Pro3, but it never happened. Both would be considered “premium” models. Unfortunately, Fujifilm chose to leave the X-T3 (and X-T30) on an island… not X-Trans III, not really X-Trans IV, either. A lot of people who purchased these cameras feel this way (I know because hundreds have told me so). I appreciate the thoughtful input!
I read both links twice, not sure I understand the disagreement. What am I missing?
I may not have as much “industry knowledge and experience” as Thom (I have no idea… it’s probably true), but there are maybe a handful of people in the whole world who are more connected to the Fujifilm community at large than I… that’s not bragging, but simply stating that I have a pretty good feel for the pulse of Fujifilm consumers, and I can tell you (or, more importantly, Fujifilm themselves) with certainty that a lot of people feel similarly. I’m not sure that it matters one bit, though, and maybe that’s the crux of the problem.
I’m stating that the feeling that Fuji don’t care about their early adopters is untrue. I think that what David Fleetwood wrote is closer to the truth.
It may also be true that what camera consumers want has shifted and what Fuji has been offering is no longer relevant.
I don’t care either way. I’m not on the constant upgrade treadmill. I think Thom has interesting perspectives about that too.
> Life doesn’t stand still in technology products. If you’re a mirrorless camera owner today, you’re in the golden period of mirrorless: you have plenty of choices, they all perform quite well, and they all pretty much live up to the promises that mirrorless was making for you in the first place. The camera makers will continue to refine those products—but not make large advances—right up until the next platform shift occurs.
Thom tends to use market data to backup his opinions. So I trust his insights more than others.
We don’t know. It’s all just speculation.
I don’t disagree with what Thom states.
My opinion is only that I believe Fujifilm has stopped caring about how their very loyal base feels about their brand, and based on the feedback I have received, a lot of people seem to agree with me on that opinion (which I already knew prior to writing the article, because I’ve been hearing this sentiment pretty loudly for awhile now). Whether that’s “good” or “bad” or whatever, only time will tell, but every choice has consequences—some positive and some negative and some indifferent—and I’m concerned about the potential long-term consequences from the choices that Fujifilm is making. That concern is just my opinion, and (as the saying goes) opinions are like buttholes…. 🙂
I don’t plan to make a new camera purchase in 2022, and perhaps not in 2023 either, so whatever Fujifilm does or doesn’t do won’t affect me for a year or two at the earliest. It could be that my next camera won’t be “new” at all, but “new to me” instead, so maybe it will be many years before I buy a new Fujifilm camera, it’s just hard to say right now. The cameras I currently own fill most of my photographic wants and needs at this time (but, as Thom said, life doesn’t stand still…).
I appreciate your input!
It’s all good. The market for digital interchangeable lens cameras is still shrinking and at some point will be too niche to be sustainable unless prices rise. At which point Fuji will be competing with Leica.
I think the digital camera market is shrinking from the bottom up. The pocket point-and-shoot used to be a solid money-maker, then the cellphone rendered it (mostly) obsolete, and that market dried up quickly. Now the entry-level interchangeable-lens is vanishing (that’s why the X-T00 and X-A lines are dead), as the cellphone is “just as good” yet much more convenient, and those who were buying them largely weren’t “serious” about photography (leave it in Auto and snap some pictures of Johnny’s b-day party). Cameras sold to enthusiasts and professionals aren’t really shrinking, though (yet), as the cellphone just won’t cut it for “serious” photographers (for the most part). It’s not as though there are less photographers (actually, there are more), it’s that cameras sold to non-photographers has mostly stopped (because of cellphones), so camera companies have to be profitable selling to “just” photographers. Fujifilm has a leg-up in that Instax is a big money-maker (as long as it stays trendy), so X and GFX don’t “have to” carry the full profit burden. As long as there isn’t a crazy advancement in cellphone camera technology that renders “real” cameras useless for “serious” photographers, in my opinion we’re going to see the “shrinking market” stabilizes (as long as there isn’t some kind of global recession or something). However, as you said, there might have to be a price increase (although the trend with technology is that things become cheaper over time, so we’ll see).
Yeah. I want an Instax camera. But I’ve got too much film gear already. 😁
What film gear do you have?
Minolta X-700, Minolta XD-11, Minolta XG-1, Pentax P3n, and an assorted bunch of Minolta and Pentax lenses. I almost bought a Zenza Bronica ETRS with Zenzanon EII 75mm f2.8 lens but talked myself out of it. I’m not sure why but even though I don’t use,them often I’m having trouble letting got of them.
Nice! I have a collection of film cameras that I almost never use anymore. Right now they’re all in a box. I should consider selling a few, but I probably won’t.
If/when you do I may be interested.
I’ll definitely let you know….
I read Thom Hogan from time to time but although he has very interesting point of views they seem to be very limited to a specific professional niche (birds and sports), and very Nikon-centric. In that post “Nikon” as a word is mentioned as many times as the word “Fujifilm”… If Fujifilm users would want a Nikon they would get a Nikon. And although his blog is not meant to be artistic and he says he doesn’t share his best photographic work the truth is that the X line was about the photographic experience rather than specifications; Thom Hogan, in my opinion, focuses in specifications like usability by professionals, flat or neutral color profiles, lenses stabilization, tele lenses, high ISO quality, sharpness, smartphone compatibility. Many things that, I think he himself says it, are already good enough from a long time ago.
Thank you, Ritchie
Considering the seemingly perpetual backorder of the x100v in the United States, and Fujifilm’s not answering emails when they provided a place to send them, I agree about their loss of soul.
The backorder is not necessarily Fujifilm’s fault (although why introduce the X-T30 II when they cannot stock the X100V, X-E4, etc., which use the same sensor and are in-demand?), but not answering correspondence is a problem. I struggle to keep up with it for this website, but this is a small team (it’s just me…); however, Fujifilm has people, or should have people if they don’t, who handle that. They shouldn’t drop the ball, and maybe that’s another manifestation of this lack of care. Thanks for the input!
You’re passionate about Fuji which is great but maybe you’ve let that passion go your head? I’m sure the next releases of X-T5, X-T40 etc will retain the Fuji ‘spirt’. Surely there is nothing wrong in producing alternatives. What if Fuji went bust because being niche just didn’t work? I won’t be buying the X-H2 because of everything you said but choice is a good thing not a bad thing.
I think my brain just doesn’t stop. I get many messages/comments/etc from others who feel similarly.
I see five possible scenarios (obviously the potential is unlimited, but lets look at these five):
1) The X-H2S/X-H2 cameras are a smashing success. Sales are through the roof, and tons of photographers convert to Fujifilm. Those at Fujifilm will wonder why not bring PASM to the “SLR-like” models, especially now that more of their customers now prefer PASM and it did so well bringing people from Canon/Sony/etc.. Serious consideration is given to converting the X-T0 and X-T00 lines to PASM, and the X-T6 and X-T50 are introduced in 2024-2025 with a DSLR-styled redesign.
2) The X-H2S/X-H2 are fairly successful… not smash hits (like the X-T3), but definitely a money-maker. Basically, life goes on, the X-H line continues, the X-T0 and X-T00 aren’t changed to PASM. This is best-case scenario.
3) The X-H2S/X-H2 aren’t particularly successful… it’s not a loss for Fujifilm, but not a gain, either. Serious consideration is given to never making another X-H model again, although only time will tell. Fujifilm customers will wonder if it would have been more successful had it not been PASM. Otherwise, life goes on similarly to scenario 2. This is the most likely scenario, in my opinion.
4) The X-H2S/X-H2 aren’t successful at all due to their steep price-tag, lack of interest from current Fujifilm users, and not enough Canon/Sony/etc. users are convinced to switch systems. It’s a money loss for Fujifilm, so they hurry out a model or two that they know will sell well (X100 series maybe, or X-T5), but some serious R&D and ad budget was wasted on an unsuccessful model.
5) The X-H2S/X-H2 are huge flops, and Fujifilm basically follows the route of Nikon for several years before re-emerging. I don’t see this as particularly likely, but Fujifilm certainly is taking a risk, and sometimes risks are huge failures, so it’s a possibility.
In line with what you say: how much would it cost Fujifilm to update our cameras with the new simulations that are being incorporated into newer models? I have an XPro3 and I’m thinking about Bleach Bypass but, on older models they don’t even have Classic Negative!
Someone who upgrades is not someone who buys. So far, Fuji has gone once the X-T30 II route, with a new model replacing the old one and its firmware upgrades
I understand what you’re saying, but someone who can’t upgrade a relatively current model with something so simple might be someone who’s disappointed and buys a new camera from another brand. I don’t think you have to update the cameras “ad aeternum”, but neither do you forget the user at the same time you take the money. When the XT4 with the new Bleach Bypass simulation came out, the XPro3 had only been on the market for four months. I think that a halfway compromise can be reached that satisfies both parties.
There’s a solid point here: those who don’t feel cared for, and are actually ticked at not receiving the Kaizen that they should have, might look at other brands. Nikon was super close to making an honest competitor (but fell short on several accounts), and if they had gone that extra step (that they weren’t brave enough to do), I bet a lot of these Fujifilm people would strongly consider a change of brands (heck, I bought the camera…). The premium X-Pro3, for sure, should have the same JPEG options as the entry-level X-E4, and it’s a real shame that it doesn’t—the X-Pro4 will, though, so if you want it, be ready to shell out two grand….
I don’t think X-T30 users are the ones who primarily have purchased the X-T30 II. For the most part, I think it is those who are new to the system (first Fujifilm camera), those who have a different camera (X100V, X-T4, X-Pro3) and wanted a second body that’s not too expensive or big, and those who are “upgrading” from older models (X-T10, X-T20). I think most Fujifilm X-T30 users are too offended to even contemplate spending a grand on a firmware update… obviously there are exceptions. I personally refuse to do it. I have heard many people being “so offended” that they might not buy another Fujifilm camera again, so I don’t know how many sales Fujifilm gained vs lost due to this decision.
I think the “cost” is largely time. The same department that makes firmware updates is the same department that creates firmware for new models. It’s a matter of priority, and obviously X-Pro3 owners aren’t the priority (shame).
Well, I actually prefer PASM dial and I have been using Fuji cameras for years. I think it’s just a better design consolidating your controls into 1 dial instead of having to fumble around with 5 different ones.
I have come to the conclusion that those who learned photography on PASM tend to prefer PASM (because it makes the most sense to them and is intuitive to them), and those who learned on traditional controls (non-PASM) tend to prefer to not have PASM (because it makes the most sense to them and is intuitive to them). Unfortunately, 95% of cameras are PASM, and Fujifilm is pretty much the only option for those who don’t like PASM. Because of this, the majority of Fujifilm photographers don’t like PASM (but certainly not all…).
I agree with the concept of people preferring the kind of camera controls they learned when new. I learned on Nikon and Fujica film cameras. I found mainstream digital cameras with their unimaginative menu systems were so underwhelming. When the X Series came out with speed dials and aperture on the lens barrel, I was ecstatic. It is definitely one of the elements that make these cameras so magical for me.
It was only later that I embraced the SOOC jpegs with film simulations applied when I discovered this community.
Unfortunately, I believe most people learned on PASM and are more comfortable with it, and so PASM is by far the most common now, and the options are practically unlimited. If one doesn’t like PASM, the options are quite limited, and Fujifilm is pretty much it. Those who don’t prefer PASM flocked to Fujifilm, and so the majority of Fujifilm users don’t like PASM; however, Fujifilm has been going the opposite direction, and when the dust settles after the X-H2 release, it will have been 5 of their last 7 cameras have PASM: X-S10, GFX100S, GFX 50S II, X-H2S, and X-H2. The X-E4 and X-T30 II (which was more of a firmware update than a new camera) will have been the only non-PASM cameras released also during that time. It’s clear the path that Fujifilm is taking, and I’m not a fan of it personally.
very sad but unfortunately true. i am always proud and happy when i go out on the street with my x100v or xe3 … so different so solid and so metallic.
if fuji will continue to mimic CANON or SONY with their plastic junk it will be hard for me as LEICA is the only serious solution but unfortunately economically unattainable
I will grow old with my old FUJI that I will cuddle and caress until the end.
Less and less are Fujifilm cameras made in Japan (are any anymore?), not sure if it actually makes a difference, but one wonders; I don’t think so, but perhaps there’s slightly less confidence. Thank you for your input!
Good for you, Ritchie! Because of some of their “minimalization” nonsense, I’ve kept my X-Pro2 and X-E3 rather than buying their new model “upgrades.” I truly hope the “traditionalists” at Fuji win out over the bean counters! I left Nikon for Fuji because I love the “rangefinder” look and feel of Fuji cameras better, and suspect I won’t be getting rid of my current gear any time soon, for sure. I have ZERO interest in their big, clunky XH-2….
I think in some ways, X-Trans III was the pinnacle of the nurture-first era, although I do prefer X-Trans IV cameras personally for the new JPEG options. X-Trans V doesn’t excite me so far, but we’ll see what future models hold. Thank you for your input!
People have to remember that the non cell phone camera business is a declining industry and with the overall pie shrinking, companies must steal customers from competitors to grow. So making the X-H2 makes sense.
Imaging is a small part of Fujifilm’s overall business and the imaging division must remain profitable or the company will eventually get rid of it.
The stockholders wouldn’t stand for it, they will force the company to spin off the imaging department if it isn’t profitable.
Even if it is profitable, stockholders could still force a divestment if it’s future profitability is in doubt.
And the camera business isn’t like what it was 20 years ago. There isn’t a lot of potential for growth and we are fortunate that Fujifilm continues to invest in its imaging department even though health care is its primary focus now.
So I see the X-H2 as a positive and not a negative.
Initially, Fujifilm stated that the profitability of their photo division was unnecessary… that they would keep it even losing money because it was such an important part of their history and the Japanese culture. Obviously making profits is preferred. And they have been, and they’ve been growing despite a “shrinking market” (I believe more the lower end/entry level is what’s shrinking). I appreciate your input!
I think they declared that to give potential buyers confidence that they could invest in the system, not because they would go down with the photography ship no matter what.
And while it’s true Fuji has been growing despite the shrinking market, in fact the only one to outgrow the shrinkage the past two years, that growth only started in early 2020 with the introduction of the X-T4, they had been flat on market share for around a decade before that which means their sales currently are a fraction of what they were a decade ago, despite the past two years.
Their product launches in 2020 showed them a path forward, and it was one where they had a mix of classic and modern design. The X-T3 & X-T30 both proved to have much longer legs than expected, meanwhile the X-T4 & X-S10 sold very well. Which is how I think we ended up here with lines distinguished by classic vs modern.
That said I use the term ‘modern’ loosely. Phones are the real modern control scheme. PSAM is one year younger than I am, introduced in 1978 and was the most advanced analog approach to shooting in it’s time. DSLR/MILC have never really grasped what’s possible with digital in the sense of controls, instead focusing on bringing film shooters into the digital world. This is, in my opinion, a big part of why they are getting left behind. There are a ton of possibilities modern platforms enable and that they simply cannot see (not just in the sense of controls either).
If cameras are to survive in the long run with more than just a professional market they’ll need to figure out what other electronics manufacturers have and embrace the tech itself rather than simply overlaying the analog over the digital. Game consoles are a good example of something that transitioned from the 80’s to the modern era extremely effectively, including fending off all sorts of threats (most recently, game streaming) by simply embracing and extending.
The X-T1 was the first Fujifilm camera to sell especially well. Fujifilm’s top-selling camera of all-time is the X-T3. My understanding is that the X-T4 has been slightly disappointing (sales wise), well behind the X-T3. The X-E4 has been more successful than the X-S10 (both successful, though). But the chip shortage has been the biggest obstacle… more buyers than cameras to sell, that’s why nothing’s in stock.
I’m not sure where you are getting those sales numbers honestly. Fuji stated their sales leaders the past two years were the X-T4 & X-S10 calling them out repeatedly in financial statements. While it’s true the X-T3 has had a long lifespan, it’s also true they discounted it heavily repeatedly, selling it as low as $999 effectively pricing it only slightly above their entry level cameras. I do not know if it outsold the X-T4 or not, but at the least I would expect it to during those numerous sales as the question then becomes “How much do I value IBIS?” for someone buying a new body.
I agree though that the market itself is distorted by the fact that they can’t sell as many as people want. We have no real idea what things would look like if everyone was unconstrained by manufacturing (not just Fuji), I suspect market share currently has been impacted more by who can get the what inventory to market than by what the products are.
Fujirumors has stated it in the past. I’d have to dig through their archive to find the articles that mention these things, but for 100% certainty, the X-T3 is Fujifilm’s all-time top-selling model.
Oh it wouldn’t surprise me if the X-T3 is Fuji’s all time top selling model, it’s been in production nearly four years now. The X-T4 is barely two. And since the T4 hit, the T3 has repeatedly been heavily discounted. The question is whether or not the T3 has outsold the T4 during the time frame that the T4 has been on the market, and how much of those sales were due to discounting of the T3?
If you leave something on the market a long time and run lots of deals on it, it will typically surpass the sales of newer items that have been on the market less time at a higher price.
I don’t know the sales graph of the X-T3. I know it was released about a year-and-a-half before the X-T4, and a lot of people were surprised (myself included) that they continued to sell both models simultaneously. I feel that the X-T4 was kind of an X-T0+ camera, if that makes sense… kind of filled in as the “flagship” model for a time. It will be interesting to see what they do with the X-T5. I don’t believe it will be PASM, but it could be depending on how things go. I also wonder if they’ll make an IBIS and non-IBIS version. And then there’s the whole two (maybe three) X-Trans V sensor thing….
Very interesting and thought provoking article – Thanks
You are welcome!
Agree with you Ritchie. I guess though, that Fuji just want as many customers as they can get and don’t care if we have a preference for Retro or PASM cameras. I don’t think they really care as much about the whole retro thing as we do, or we thought they did.
I’m too old to keep buying new cameras now, but If I do in the future it won’t be based on software updates they are not likely to be giving us, or any misplaced loyalty to Fuji.
Yeah, I think that they initially cared, but perhaps those who did have retired or moved on, or perhaps as the team grew those who came in didn’t care, or perhaps it’s a trickle-down from the top (new CEO). I’m not sure the answer, but there is a noticeable cultural difference between right now and even just a few years ago. Those I’ve talked to who are more connected to Fujifilm than I would agree with this assessment. Thanks for the input!
I agree completely with the sentiment you expressed so well here. The first thing that attracte
d me to the original EX-1 in what seems like years and years ago today, was the tactile feel of the analog dials. It really was a return to a child like joy in picking up a camera and shooing intuitively again. I really bought into the X Series experience with a succession of camera bodies and multiple lenses.
Now it feels like Fujifilm is heading into a completely different ethic of following the herd with derivative camera design and operation via a soulless menu system. Maybe another camera manufacturer will be making offerings that will appeal to Fujifilm’s abandoned customer base.
That’s what I wonder, too. Nikon half-hearted tried with the Zfc… and I know for certain that a number of Fujifilm photographers frustrated with Fujifilm’s current direction at least kicked the tires (I even purchased one). If Nikon (or someone else) started acting Fuji-like with the traditional dials and Kaizen and build-quality and such, Fujifilm could see an unexpected exodus from their brand. It’s certainly not too late for Fujifilm, but I hope they can see the signs (I don’t think they do, or if they do they don’t care, which is worse).
I think it’s an over reaction, they have just changed a few knobs and things. They have actually been giving us more and expanding the diversity of the product. It’s great that the whole range of cameras uses one lens range. We have traditional like cameras and also hybrid cameras. It shows incredible support and development from Fuji. I hope they do well in this diminishing and competitive market.
They have been doing well. My fear is that if this camera is a big hit, it could be the catalyst for a paradigm shift, in which we won’t be saying “it’s just a few knobs…” But I think this is actually much deeper than that, and the shift began a few years ago—this is just one of several symptoms of that shift. It might work out well for Fujifilm in the long term, and it might not; even if it does, it might be at the cost of their very loyal fanatic base who would at one time by a fart in a jar if it had the Fujifilm label on it.
First of all I love what you do and Thank you! Now…this is a ridiculous over reaction. I love my XT3 and all its dials! I came from Canon and Fuji stands for Fun and Functional! its not just the dials, but its the great looking jpegs which means less editing and more posting and printing pics! However, just because Fuji came out with a different model configuration doesnt mean that they forgot their soul. Correct me if Im wrong but the Medium Format offereings have PSAM dials right? You don’t see people losing their minds over that do you? The XHS2 with 40 frames per second is obviously aimed at Sports/wildlife photographers. Not street photographers, not Mom/Dads, travel photographers or even event/wedding photographers…but ACTION shooters. I’m a Dad/Travel/street/event photographer an I enjoy the art of photography with my Fuji, adjusting shutter speed slightly, apeture etc. If I was shooting a baseball game or birds or on a safari, Im pretty sure I’m not going to be making micro adjustments when I’m blasting off bursts at 40 frames per second! Same thing with doing a lot of video. With the PSAM dial with 7 different settings that is a much better set up for a camera with these type of specs! If you don’t like it…COOL…you don’t have to buy it! The XT4 is a great camera that is only 3 or 4 years old at the most and I’m sure the technology will trickle down to the next round of bodies. This camera sounds great and will bring more people to the Fuji world! If the specs and perfromance is as hyped as they say it is then maybe there will actually be pro Sports/wildlife shooters. What is wrong with trying to expand your customer base? It means more money which means more development and great gear. I can’t wait for better autofocus and tracking to bring Fuji up to par with Sony/Canon/Nikon. I have no problem waiting till next year as I just got my XT3. Todays microwave society has no patience and with the internet being what it is, fans/public think they have more power than they do. Fuji knows how their fans feel and I’m sure the XT line which is their most popular line won’t change. I hated the X pro 3 so I didn’t buy it. No one if forcing you to buy this one. Choice is a good thing. As far as Kaizen, updates are great and all but no company will keep doing it all the time. That cuts into profit and that is what companies are about right?
Both the GFX 50R and 50S have traditional dials. The GFX100 has digital traditional dials (something that obviously didn’t catch on). The GFX100S and GFX 50S II have PASM. I didn’t say much about it because I don’t own GFX and I probably never will; however, I have received many notes, messages, and comments from GFX users who wanted to express their dissatisfaction with this, so it didn’t go unnoticed, and wasn’t without controversy.
I wouldn’t be so confident that the X-T line won’t change. If the X-H2S/X-H2 do really well, I’d bet money that the X-T line morphs into more of a DSLR-like styling with PASM. If Fujifilm proves to themselves that they can successfully compete against Canon and Sony by setting aside their previous designs and philosophies, they will be emboldened to do much more of it. Good for them, I suppose, but it won’t be without a cost—which will be their once very loyal fanatic base who would buy anything with a Fujifilm logo on it, including instant noodles (no joke!).
If Fujifilm gave the X-T5 the hidden screen that the X-Pro3 has, would you like that decision? Would you buy it? Or would you state that you don’t like it? And if you did state that opinion, what reactions would you receive from stating that opinion? I mean, choice is a good thing, right? And the X-Pro3 sold really well, so people must really like that hidden screen. It’s just one screen, anyway, nothing to freak out about. I’m just trying to flip the perspective.
I appreciate the input!
Totalmente de acuerdo; ha llegado la hora de mirar (y comprar) las camaras clásicas del sistema X de Fuji. Desgraciadamente!
¡Estoy de acuerdo! Puede que tenga que recoger algunas cámaras para guardarlas para el futuro.
I completely agree with you that direction has shifted with its latest release. Generally it comes down to the fact that it’s a video focused model and have optimised the controls as such.
I also understand that as the first camera with the new X-trans sensor it’s a little disappointing it’s more for “them” but it’s video function and codec choices are what they were behind in, not the ability of making great stills.
My question to those that are unhappy, what is wrong with the camera they have already built you have now?
For stills cameras we have pretty much all we need and wanted in terms of features. (I’m still on my X-T2 and regularly use my X-E1) there are some features in the newer systems that I like, but don’t essentially need, although I keep casting an eye on the X-E4 for its size.
If Fujifilm want to up it’s video offering fair play, after all it’s has played a large role in cinema with film and it’s Fujinon glass.
But what excites me the most is the mindset of cinema.
Take the new Arri Alexa for example they didn’t chase resolution specs like most camera manufacturers it’s a 4K sensor not 6K or 8K because it not currently essential for filmmakers. What they did focus on is dynamic range of its sensor which has a whopping 17 stops. Honestly go watch some test footage and tell me it’s not gorgeous even if video is of no interest.
They are chasing the dream of having a sensor that can hold highlights as well as film stock could. If the X-trans sensor was still 24mp but had that kind of dynamic range, take my money and I will stop buying film.
For those worried they have lost their soul. Take your ISO dial off A your shutter dial off T and relax and enjoy the past and let the new generation do their thing. We have what we want, let “them” have what “they” want.
I have a feeling that the demand for used X-Trans III and IV cameras is going to increase. I think a large number of people are going to consider those the pinnacle of the Fujifilm-experience. Some will stockpile them, so that when their camera stops working they have another model (or two) waiting in the closet, so they’ll be good to go for years to come. I do believe Fujifilm is focusing too little on “us” and too much on “them” (whatever that means, I hate the division), and it might work out for Fujifilm in the long run, or it might not, only time will tell. Thanks for the input!
Totally agree. I’ve got some lovely glass just waiting for their next body or will my xt2 and xh1 be the end.
Maybe pick up an X-T3 since they’re cheap. 🙂
I kind of think it *could* be the “end” but a lot depends on how successful the X-H2S and X-H2 are. Interestingly, the majority of those who disagreed with this article (and wrote a comment or sent a message) self-identified as X-S10 owners, so I think that proves my point about it depending on the success of the new models.
XS10 and PASM are the reason I’m on the Fuji train.
A really good camera and I couldn’t be happier.
The X-S10 is indeed a good camera (just not for me, though).
Careful, Fujifilm. It’s already big enough a business risk to be turning away from a unique and much loved Kaizen culture, let alone sailing on two boats.
What’s the saying—a house divided can’t stand? I think we’re already seeing strongly opinionated and vocal customers with opposing desires. It’ll be tough to please everyone, and likely one will “win out” and the other will feel ignored. You can see it begin to happen even now. It’s a fine line to walk….
I switched from Canon to the Xpro 3 with the pleasure of knowing that Fujifilm, in addition to making magnificent cameras, knew how to take care of their customers.
What a disappointment to see that my Xpro 3 has had almost no updates, no new simulations except that the xt3/xt4 range with the same processor and the same sensor has benefited from it.
What a disappointment to see this new XH2S and its filthy wheel which alone destroys Fujifilm’s entire photo approach.
And what a disappointment to see Fujifilm’s new road…
I almost regret having chosen Fujifilm for its philosophy because in fact, it no longer exists, Just like kaizen died…
I’m sorry for your disappointment. The Fujifilm that you came to find (which did at one point exist) is not the Fujifilm that you found. That’s truly too bad.
Hello Fuji: I hope some corporate bigwig reads these comments – or are we to lowbrow for you now? I agree with this article. I started in 2012 with the X-E1, and the 35mm 1.4. Today, even though I love my 50r and 100s, I still use my 2014 X-T1, plus my X-T2 and X-H1. However at this point I will not be looking to upgrade ANY of my X series cameras, and in all honesty I doubt I’ll ever will need anything more than my 100s.
It seems that those who have been in the Fujifilm system for years largely agree with my article, and those who have been in the Fujifilm system for a short time (18-months or less) largely disagree with it. I suppose in a way it proves my point.
Btw, Fuji confirmed the X-Tx line is their classic dial line and will remain so: https://www.fujirumors.com/fujifilm-manager-talks-x-h2s-with-slightly-improved-image-quality-and-says-fujifilm-x-t-line-x-t5-will-maintain-classic-controls/
I would’ve been pretty shocked if the X-T5, which I’m sure has been in development for months now, would change; however, the X-T6 will likely largely depend on how successful the X-H2S/X-H2 are. If those cameras are a smashing success, I think it’s inevitable that the X-T lines will have to change to accommodate the new customers.
I don’t see why that’s inevitable at all. That’s a slippery slope logical fallacy. The only reason the X-T6 would change is if users start leaving it. On it’s own the X-T line is a success as it stands and one of Fuji’s top sellers. Other models selling more won’t change that, and they already are offering a full PSAM/modern experience on other cameras.
If the classic experience on the T5 sells well it will continue to be sold as a classic experience camera line, other lines notwithstanding. There is just no reason to change it given the X-H & X-S lines exist to serve those customers. If the T5 sells poorly, which seems unlikely, yes it would be in danger, but that danger would exist with or without the existence of PSAM models, Fuji’s position in the market is marginal and every generation is a risk of them phasing out the division due to a lack of buffer.
The hope is that the X-H & X-S line bring new customers in, all these cameras are based on the same internals and PSAM customers expanding the customer base helps everyone get the models they enjoy by reducing costs via volume of sales, increasing the more profitable lens sales and raising overall revenues.
I’ve mentioned it before, but Fuji’s slow abandonment of the M line is an opportunity for Fuji. An updated X-S20 with the new AF system, and ideally an updated X-T300 (maybe renamed X-S300 since it shares the PSAM design?) priced a bit below and using a cheaper sensor should be advertised in every Facebook EOS-M/M50 usergroup, should be the top ad on searches for the M50 on Google, and should be in every Youtube pre-roll for M50 reviews. They should be pitched as the step forward for people looking for an alternative and a step up for those ready to ‘graduate’ to the big leagues.
The X-T000 line (as well as the X-A line) are dead. The “shrinking camera market” has been from the bottom-up, so what was the bottom entry-level models are done for. It’s possible that Fujifilm releases one more (either X-T000 or X-A, but not both); however, I’d be surprised after both flopped so badly two years ago.
It’s not a logical fallacy (slippery slope or otherwise). If the X-H2S/X-H2 sell really well, Fujifilm will have brought in a large number of new-to-the-system users who want that type of camera (they have different desires than the “old” users… and are quite vocal about it). You think that the highest-end “flagship” model (X-H) and the base-level (X-S00) will be the only PASM lines? There has to be at least one other camera in-between. For the X-S00, Fujifilm introduced a new model line, for the X-H, they converted a pre-existing model line. Will the in-between PASM model be a brand-new line, or an already existing line? I think it could go either way. Most logically, if Fujifilm is seeing big growth from the X-H line, they’ll try to continue that growth momentum with other lines. The scenario that seems most likely to me (again, if the X-H line sells really well outside of the current Fujifilm community) is that the X-T6 is PASM, and fills the missing in-between role. The X-T50 also becomes PASM, and serves as the base-level and the only non-IBIS PASM model. So you’d have the X-T50 as the bottom-base (without IBIS), the X-S20 (or X-S30 possibly) as the next step up (basically, the same as X-T50 but with IBIS), X-T6 as the next step up (weather-sealed), and the X-H2 (possibly X-H3) models as the top-of-the-line flagship. In that scenario, only the rangefinder-styled cameras remain with traditional tactical controls. If Fujifilm instead leaves the X-T0 line as non-PASM and introduces a brand-new PASM model, I think the X-T6 likely loses IBIS, and Fujifilm will differentiate it this way: PASM has IBIS, and non-PASM doesn’t. There are, of course, a multitude of other potential outcomes, especially, if the X-H line flops, but if the X-H line is smashing success, those are the two scenarios that I believe are most likely, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s the rangefinder-styled cameras as the only non-PASM that wins out. Time will tell.
The reason this makes little sense to me is that it’s based on the idea that if one model sells well all other models should emulate it. But that literally is the opposite of how anyone runs a camera business. In that model you’d have basically one line with a low, medium and high end and that would be it. There would be no point to specialized cameras since hey, they don’t sell as well as the main line, right?
The point of multiple bodies is to maximize sales while minimizing costs by making bodies for different audiences based around similar internals (the minimizing costs part). I could certainly see, if sales go well, Fuji adding a mid-range PSAM model (or introducing a X-S2 as the X-Tx counterpart). I could not see it supplanting the X-Tx classic line since such a camera would not only have to outsell a classic control X-T6, but *also* a PSAM control X-S2 combined in order to be considered a success rather than a missed opportunity. Given that the X-T line is where most of Fuji’s existing customer base is, that seems extremely unlikely, and even if it were to happen it would still be a missed opportunity leaving 3-4% of the overall potential market behind for no good reason.
It’s not just about having something that moves more units, its about adding net new customers. Even if a PSAM X-T6 sold double a classic control version, it would not be a success by any measure due to all the customers lost who would have happily bought a classic version, given that a PSAM camera can easily be launched alongside it (based on the same internals).
The only way I see that outcome is if the X-T5 is a sales disaster to the point where the line seems unsalvageable. In which case it won’t be PSAM that killed it.
I believe we’re discussing two sides of the same coin. I think it boils down to this: you don’t believe Fujifilm would be so foolish to jeopardize their core customers while expanding their base, and I believe they’ve already taken two (maybe three) steps down that path.
Interestingly, I had about 100 individuals respond to this article (that’s an estimate, I didn’t count)—between blog comments, social media comments, DMs, emails, phone calls, texts, etc.—and about 70 were in agreement with my assessment (including a couple of names that are much bigger than mine in the photography/Fujifilm world). The point of mentioning this is only to illustrate that I’m far from being alone in this sentiment. Perception is reality, and the perception from what I believe to be the majority of Fujifilm users (or a very, very large group if it isn’t the majority), is that Fujifilm needs to be very cautious moving forward or they definitely do risk losing these long-time customers. Obviously not everyone feels this way (as demonstrated by the 25-30 or so people who commented that they disagreed), but those who do feel this way shouldn’t be ignored by Fujifilm… yet that’s exactly what these folks feel Fujifilm is doing, which is the exact problem at the heart of it. It goes beyond a mere dial and firmware update—it’s how people feel about the brand, which for some (a large group, actually) isn’t nearly as favorable as it once was. Fujifilm could fix this easily, but will they? Probably not.
In your opinion, what could Fuji do to fix it that is technically possible?
The issues I see being brought up over and over are Kaizen supposedly not being what it once was and PSAM threatening classic controls. The first one I’ve answered by looking at the firmware update history and noting that historically when a new cpu/sensor is released the first cameras get about two years of major feature updates and just prior to the next gen they fall into a bugfix/compat update mode. Later models in that platform get fewer feature updates, likely due to the hardware constraints I’ve mentioned before. This has been true since X mount began with few exceptions and seems to still be true. The second issue is PSAM being a threat to classic controls.
If the only answers are “update cameras with the Kaizen I want it to have and never release a camera designed for a broader market than exists today” then I think it’s a point where Fuji’s only chance of survival is to give up on their existing customer base altogether since it won’t be enough to keep them alive for much longer.
Are there better answers? Is there a way to handle Kaizen, perhaps on the communication side, to help people manage their expectations and understand where they are in the product cycle? Can Fuji somehow reassure those who love classic dials that they aren’t planning to move on from that but need to reach a broader audience? Are there other issues I’m missing here?
My impression as an outsider has been that the X-T3 & 4 vastly improved Fuji’s product lineup with the only major feature still lacking being autofocus. From the outside, with Canon/Nikon/Sony retreating from the crop sensor space despite it still vastly outselling FF, there is a significant opportunity for Fuji as their product lineup is almost on par in terms of features with the FF competition. And with GFX at the top of the stack, they can potentially make the case that X & GFX are the best of each side of the equation (speed vs quality), with FF the compromise sensor for those with lower standards.
Btw, I won’t be offended if you want me to just stop, I’m keeping this discussion in this thread because you write a lot of great articles and I have zero interest into making them all about camera body wars. I’ll save that commentary for posts you make about Fuji bodies or the larger market. But still, tell me to stop whenever you like.
My advice to Fujifilm (which, btw, I have zero experience as a camera manufacturer… I just hear from a lot of Fujifilm’s customers…) is this: stop looking over the fence at the color of your competitor’s grass, and instead look inward and ask these questions:
– What makes Fujifilm Fujifilm?
– What is unique about our brand/products?
Focus on those things, paying little attention to what others are doing. Whatever it is that makes Fujifilm unique, that’s what Fujifilm needs to capitalize on—take full advantage of it! Make it the absolute best that they possibly can. Then they need to do better at communicating why that uniqueness is something that photographers should want, and perhaps even need in their lives. Unfortunately, I think Fujifilm is sometimes blind to and even resistant to (and even fighting against) what makes them unique, perhaps not even realizing the assets they already have that they could use but don’t. That’s my advice to them.
Personally i think that they will just split into two groups of products. The new XH2S is designed as ultra-efficient, fast workhorse camera for action, sports and wildlife. Its aimed into another type of client, the one who prefers PASM modes and fast operation. And lets be honest – XT series thumb wheel just isnt good enough to scroll fast for those type of situations. It is just different camera for a different photographer. Dont worry that this camera is not for you. I know it can feel excluding. We had this fuji system “for us”, “special” and now you can feel like less loved child. But i think it is needed to accept Fuji going for bigger public in another type of camera. And that’s good. That’s good because there are so many designs you can choose from. XT, X-Pro, X100, XE – all those are still classic fuji designs. I think we just need to wait for X-T5. If it will stay classic, have manual dials and fuji “soul” we can just accept the XH being different and keep going.
I hate that it’s an “us” vs “them” thing… but if there are enough of “them”, the system will have to change to accommodate “their” desires, which in some ways are different (opposite, actually) to “ours”—btw, I dislike writing this. If the X-H2S/X-H2 are extremely successful, it’s inevitable that the X-T lines will have to “evolve” because the customer base has changed, with different wants/needs. If those cameras sell really well, look for the X-T6 to be different, too.
All of this angst over a dial? Then find a Fuji camera without the dial (there are lots of those). The images will be identical either way. Or maybe just adapt a bit, like all those folks who dealt with film to digital, or dslr to mirrorless, or real-life communication to social media, or…
For me, the experience is just as important as the images. YOLO, so I don’t want to waste it doing something that I don’t enjoy or that I find frustrating (something that I did for years with Nikon, Sony, Samsung, Sigma, and others, before getting into the Fujifilm system). If you get it, you get it; if you don’t, you don’t. But, this goes beyond a dial—it’s a philosophy, or, more specifically, a changing philosophy, which seems to neglect very loyal long-time customers in pursuit of potential new customers, which might be at the cost of losing those once loyal customers….
Richie – Right on the money with this post! I absolutely agree. I was a Canon disciple for 40 years and switched because Canon was so damed slow at going mirrorless. Lately I have been questioning my move to Fujifilm and thinking of going back. My X-T3 and X-T30 stand waiting for a great Kaison moment that will sadly never come!
Sadly it will never come. I don’t think Fujifilm is aware of the damage they’ve done by not updating those two cameras. Instead of fostering long-time repeat customers, they’re encouraging a lot of one-and-done customers.
Pretty late to the party, but I have to say that I agree with Ritchie. I was one of the very early adopters of Fuji (using them in parallel to my Leica M’s) and very quickly dropped Leica to go fully for Fuji. In the beginning of this year I started to realize that the advantages of Fuji (the ones I was personally looking at) are slowly disappearing. The new sensors will likely require new lenses, the size and weight advantages between APS-C and FF are very small (20g between R6 and X-H2), price wise as well.
The market is very limiting at the moment and I see that Fuji must play in all segments to win. However with the X-Pro3 (loss of D-pad) and X100V (same issue but loved the build quality) my confidence started to fade and I have to admit – despite some very nostalgic feelings about Fuji – it is time to move on. It was a great decade with Fuji, really.
I really feel that Fujifilm doesn’t truly understand what their long-time current customers want or even how they’re using their cameras; maybe they don’t care, as they put more energy into pursuing new customers and less into taking care of their loyal base. I think there’s time to right the ship, but on the current trajectory, I think they’re set to miss the harbor completely.
In 2015, I switched from Canon to Fujifilm, because the X-Pro1 felt like the right camera for me (I once started with a DDR Praktica SLR). Yes, the X-Pro1 was slower than even the original Canon 5D, but manual focus worked fine for me in daylight. And the photos were wonderful, even with very little (or no) processing. Besides, the X-Pro1 looked and felt very sturdy.
In the meantime I found out that the electronics was Fujifilm’s Achilles heel (at least for me), with both the X-Pro1, X-T1, and X100T having failed on me. So the shell may have been sturdy, but the insides were not. In the meantime, my Canon 5D II went going strong for years in the hands of the new owner. Still I stayed with Fujifilm because of the quality of their lenses, the beautiful photos, and the (for me) superior user interface.
I upgraded my X-Pro1 (repaired under extended warranty) to the X-Pro2, the X100T to the X100F, and kept the (repaired) X-T1. All those three are still excellent cameras, more than enough for me. But from there I gradually lost interest; the loss of the D-pad and the crippled optical viewfinder make the X-Pro3 a downgrade from the “2” for me (besides, if you believe the photography forums, the reliability issue has not been solved yet either). I don’t need a touchscreen or a super fancy electronic viewfinder; I want buttons that I can operate from my finger memory, and the best optical viewfinder they can design. And a camera that makes me want to pick it up and go out.
The whole Kaizen thing has been questionable for me anyway, with the lack of attention for the X100 series. I feel Fujifilm left those behind, partly because those users will not invest in new lenses. And to be fair, apart from the X-Pro1, whose performance dramatically improved with the various firmware upgrades, all the newer cameras did everything I wanted, even if I missed out on some of the newer JPEG features. So yes, lack of Kaizen is a symptom (but maybe also understandable, because of the pressure on software development teams), but not a deal breaker for me.
I still have my hopes up that the X-Pro4 will deliver, but I know that is not very realistic. If they reintroduce the dual magnification viewfinder, and more physical buttons again, I am more than ready to jump on it. Otherwise I keep loyal to my X-Pro2 and X100F. And to be honest, the X-T1 is still great as well.
And when my X-Pro2 finally breaks? Well, if my X-T1 is an indication; once it is repaired, it hopefully stays working for a long time again. But after that? Good question, with no clear answer for me right now; I feel the X-Pro2 was the almost perfect Fujifilm camera. And in the current market there simply is no replacement. Even a luxury vendor like Leica doesn’t have the advanced viewfinder of the X-Pro2.
I’ll first wait for the X-Pro4 (if that ever comes) to see where Fujifilm are going.
I have an X-Pro1 and X-T1… which are both still good, capable cameras… but I’d really like an X-Pro2. I got to use one for an extended time a few years ago, and to this day I miss it. I’d probably take an X-Pro2 over an X-Pro3 right now, having used both. I do like the X-Pro3, but Fujifilm should do more than just go for a shock factor with the X-Pro4. Thank you for your input!