The Fujifilm X100V was an overnight sensation two-and-a-half years after it was released. Yes, it sold well for Fujifilm during those 30 months prior to the explosion in demand, but, beginning last fall, the X100V was suddenly the one camera model that everyone wanted, yet few could get.
Fujifilm couldn’t make enough copies of the camera to keep up with the newfound demand. The X100V was out-of-stock everywhere. The backorder list quickly grew long. A large camera store told me months ago that if there were no new orders, and at the current rate that Fujifilm was manufacturing the X100V, it would take them six months just to fulfill all of those backorders; however, the backorder list was growing faster than Fujifilm was delivering new cameras.
Some of those who did have an X100V—even a used one—were selling them at significantly inflated prices. I saw one listed at $1,000 above MSRP in one instance. And people were actually buying them! The price for older versions, such as the X100F, but going back all the way to the 12-year-old original X100, also increased and became more difficult to find. Even other Fujifilm series, such as the X-E line (and even Ricoh GR), saw a bump in demand as people looked for alternatives to the X100V.
It’s been about nine months since the craze began and it hasn’t slowed. The X100V has been an in-demand model during that time, but Fujifilm just can’t keep up with it, due to things like parts shortages and balancing manufacturing demands with the also-hot-selling X-T5. Ideally Fujifilm would have been able to truly capitalize on their fortuitous situation, but they really haven’t. Perhaps the only thing that Fujifilm has been able to do is continue to limp the manufacturing of this model a little longer than they originally anticipated, delaying the discontinuation date by as much as a year.
When you look at the history of the X100-series, a release pattern emerges. The X100S came out about two years after the original X100, the X100T came out about two years after the X100S, and the X100F was released about two years after the X100T; however, the X100V was released three years after the X100F, and we’re already beyond the three-year-mark since the X100V came out. I believe that Fujifilm would have liked to have announced the next X100-series camera, which I’ll call the X100Z, back in February, but that obviously didn’t happen. I anticipate that it will be February 2024.
Why didn’t it happen in 2023? The X100V is selling faster than they can be made. What’s the hurry in releasing a successor? I do believe the issues that plagued not only Fujifilm but also most of the tech industry are still problematic to an extent, and this gives Fujifilm more time to get their parts supply and manufacturing operations back on track. I bet Fujifilm is hoping to make just enough copies of the X100V to give a glimmer of hope that one can be obtained with enough patience—and that the buzz continues for a bit longer—but not so many that the demand is deflated when the X100Z (or whatever Fujifilm will call it) is announced in eight months or so. Honestly, Fujifilm should release one or two limited-run special-edition X100V versions between now and then.
The X100-series doesn’t change much with a new release. The improvements are just enough to make you desire the new model, but are never groundbreaking. There’s not going to be a redesign. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What can we expect in an X100Z? What do I wish for?
I do believe the biggest “upgrade” will be the 40-megapixel X-Trans V sensor and processor. While I actually prefer the 26-megapixel sensor in general (as 40mp is overkill for most people), as I’ve thought about it, this sensor makes a lot of sense in an X100 because of the Digital Teleconverter, something I used far more frequently on my recent trip to California’s Central Coast than I had at any point in the two years prior. The X100V has 35mm full-frame-equivalent lens, and the Digital Teleconverter, which is a digital zoom with some smart upscaling, produces a 50mm-equivalent or 70mm-equivalent picture, adding versatility to the fixed-lens camera. There is a noticeable loss in quality when set to 70mm, but it’s still surprisingly good; however, the 40mp sensor would make this feature better and more practical for routine use. In fact, Fujifilm could even add 80mm if they wanted. The one thing I’d like Fujifilm to fix with regards to the Digital Teleconverter is scale the faux Grain, because Strong/Large Grain looks massive when using the 70mm option, but it should appear to be the same size as if the Digital Teleconverter wasn’t used.
The new sensor and processor will bring several improvements to the spec sheet for both stills and video. Autofocus will see a boost. In an age of diminishing returns, I don’t think any of that makes a big difference, but the marketing department will still use it to promote the camera and reviewers will still use it to get clicks and likes.
Will the X100Z have IBIS? Fujifilm has made some significant strides with their In-Body-Image-Stabilization, but I’d be mildly surprised if the new model has it. The argument is that the Ricoh GR III has IBIS, and it’s a much older and smaller camera, so why can’t the X100-series? First, IBIS isn’t really needed in the GR III and it’s pretty mediocre anyway, so it’s often overstated as a feature in that model. I do think it makes more sense in the X100-series than in the Ricoh, but if it makes the body larger or more expensive, Fujifilm will have to carefully consider the potential consequences of that. I think, with the higher-resolution sensor, a digital stabilizer for video would be sufficient.
What I would love to see in the Fujifilm X100Z are more film simulations and JPEG options. Of course that’s what I’d love to see, since I make Film Simulation Recipes. What I don’t think Fujifilm or the photography community in-general realizes is that the ability to get analog-like results straight-out-of-camera is what’s largely driving the interest in the X100V. While many long-time Fujifilm photographers purchased the X100V, for a lot of people the camera is (or would be if they could find one in stock) their first Fujifilm—whether they mainly shoot Canon, Sony, Nikon, etc., or it’s their first “real” camera—and it makes a lot of sense because it doesn’t require investing in a whole system. They can get their feet wet with something fun, and maybe later they’ll jump into the deep end. In the meantime, they’ve got a cool camera that doesn’t require sitting in front of a computer to get great results. Not only does this drive camera sales, but it is also a big reason why many end up sticking around and not moving onto something else.
So what would I like Fujifilm to add to the X100Z? Obviously Eterna Bleach Bypass and Nostalgic Neg. will be included, but I think Fujifilm should strongly consider introducing a new film sim with this camera. Some ideas are Fujicolor Pro 400H (that with overexposure behaves similarly to the film), Fujicolor Pro 800Z (would make a lot of sense if they name the camera X100Z), Fujichrome Sensia, Fujichrome Fortia, cross-process, infrared, Instax, Neopan 400CN, etc.—there are still a ton that Fujifilm could and should do. Some JPEG options that I’d like to see are mid-tone adjustments (additional to Highlight and Shadow), black-point (a.k.a. fade, to lift blacks), split-toning (for both B&W and color pictures), more Grain options (Weak, Medium, Strong; Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large; plus maybe various patters?), and maybe even a tint slider for the major colors to tweak their rendering? I think Fujifilm has to be careful balancing new features with simplicity, so that the many options don’t become overwhelming—in other words, pick a couple of things to add and not everything, as much as I’d love to have everything.
The X100Z will be a very successful camera for Fujifilm, and for a lot of people standing in the long line for an X100V, this new model can’t get here fast enough. There won’t likely be a huge difference between the two versions—just the new sensor and some new features, but it will nonetheless be a nice refresh. While it might seem to be a long ways off, Fujifilm will announce this camera in the not-too-distant future, and it will be here before you know it. In the meantime, I’ve included below a video published today by Leigh & Raymond Photography that discusses this very topic.