Do 7 out of 10 Fujifilm Photographers Prefer PASM?

More Than Double Wide – Arlington, AZ – Fujifilm X-T5 – 1970’s Summer Recipe

Once the upcoming GFX100 II is announced tomorrow, seven of the last 10 Fujifilm models will have been PASM cameras. First was the X-S10 in fall 2020, then the GFX100S in early 2021, followed by the GFX 50S II in mid-2021, then the X-H2s in mid-2022, followed closely by the X-H2, then the X-S20 back in May, and now the GFX100 II. The three non-PASM cameras released during that time are the X-E4 (which has since been discontinued despite more demand than supply), the X-T30 II (which was mostly just a firmware update to the X-T30, and has also been discontinued), and the X-T5, which has been out for a little over nine months now.

PASM cameras have a shooting-mode dial on top for Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and Manual modes—most cameras by other brands have this dial. Traditionally, most Fujifilm cameras don’t have a PASM dial because the retro tactile controls found on most Fujifilm models make it unnecessary. It used to be that only the low-end entry-level models had PASM, and the rest did not. Beginning with the X-S20, Fujifilm began placing PASM dials (in lieu of the traditional knobs) on cameras that weren’t entry-level. Now, the highest-end models all have PASM.

When Fujifilm began to do this, a lot of the long-time loyal customers sensed a philosophy shift within the brand. Others insisted that, by offering more options, Fujifilm could attract new users, which would only be good, and those who prefer non-PASM had nothing to be concerned about. Well, actions speak louder than words, and it is clear that the shift has happened, even if it hasn’t been publicly spoken by Fujifilm (although I do believe that they have hinted at it several times).

What does all this mean? What exactly is this shift? What’s Fujifilm’s new focus?

Canikony brands—Canon, Nikon, and Sony—are focusing less on APS-C and more on full-frame. They haven’t abandoned APS-C, but are clearly spending much more R&D time and money on their higher-end products. I believe that Fujifilm sees an opportunity to position themselves as the clear leader and king of APS-C. While Canikony brands are aiming their attention towards full-frame, Fujifilm is putting their attention towards higher-end APS-C, along with the GFX line.

Evening Charge – Santa Rosa, NM – Fujifilm X-E4 – Kodak Portra 400 v2

A camera like the X-H2 can compete not just against the competition’s top APS-C models, but pretty well against their low-end full-frame and arguably even against mid-range full-frame models. A camera like the GFX100 II can compete well not only against other medium-format models, but also against high-end full-frame models. Fujifilm is clearly trying to gain market share by competing against the full-frame options from Canikony brands, both from below and above. In order to do this, Fujifilm clearly believes that they need to become more like those brands, instead of embracing what has made them successful in the past. In my opinion, Fujifilm should double-down on what is unique about their brand, and focus on better communicating why those unique characteristics are desirable. Instead, Fujifilm seems to be moving towards becoming a part of Canikony… Canikonyfilm?

I personally don’t care that GFX has gone fully PASM, as I’m not in that system. I have no skin in the game. I don’t think as many X-series photographers jumped into the GFX line as Fujifilm first thought would; the majority of those who have bought into the new system are first-time Fujifilm photographers—in other words, photographers largely coming from Canon, Nikon, and Sony. They’re used to PASM—many of them prefer it, actually—so it made sense for Fujifilm to make that change. Those hoping for a GFX 50R successor might be waiting a really long time.

I do care about X-series cameras, since I’m deeply invested into that system (more than most, I assume). Traditional tactile dial models have taken a backseat to PASM cameras. Yes, there’s the X-T5, but Fujifilm “cheapened” it just a little by not offering the battery grip like all the previous iterations of that series. The X100V replacement is supposed to be announced early next year, once the X100V is four-years-old. The X-Pro4 isn’t even visible on the horizon, despite that line being due for a successor. The X-T00 and X-E series are both in limbo, with their current versions being discontinued while the new ones are possibly far off, if they come at all (the X-T40 has been long anticipated—some people thought for sure it would come out sometime in 2022). If you want one of the two flagship models that offer the best-of-the-best, you’d better be happy with PASM. If you want IBIS but not PASM, the X-T5 is your only options (…for brand new, the X-T4 and X-H1 can be purchased used), while currently there are four PASM options with IBIS: X-S10, X-S20, X-H2, and X-H2s. Yes, the X-S10 hasn’t been discontinued, even though the two models released afterwards—one of which had a long backorder list—are no longer available.

A rumor has floated around for months that Fujifilm will announce a new X-series model sometime before the end of the year, probably in November. There’s been a lot of speculation that it will be an X-Pro4, since the X-Pro line is overdue for a new iteration, but there have been zero X-Pro leaks, so either Fujifilm is being historically tight-lipped about it, or it’s not coming until summer 2024 or sometime beyond. What, then, could this upcoming camera be? Whatever it is, it’s either inconsequential enough that it’s not worth leaking, or Fujifilm is keeping the lid on super tightly. My guess is the former. I think it will be an X-T30 III, which will be the same exact thing as the X-T30 II (which is basically the same thing as the X-T30), except with the X-Trans V processor (but still the X-Trans IV sensor), allowing for some autofocus and video spec improvements (plus Nostalgic Neg., and maybe Reala, but probably not), yet still keeping it under $1,000. Like the X-T30 II, it will probably just say “X-T30” on the body, skipping the roman numerals, because it’s basically the same camera.

Golden Light in Abandoned House – North Salt Lake, UT – Fujifilm X100V – Fujicolor Reala 100

2024 might be the year of the traditional dials. I suspect we’ll see an X100V and X-Pro4. It could be that the X-T0, X100, and X-Pro series are the last remaining without PASM. If, in fact, Fujifilm releases an X-T30 III in November, that will probably be the very last iteration of that series. If an X-E5 is ever made, it won’t likely be until 2025 sometime. I’ve heard that the X-T5 has been a smashing sales success, which I’m relieved about. I think if sales had sputtered, Fujifilm would have considered putting that series on the chopping block, too. So we’ll definitely get an X-T6 at some point. I don’t think Fujifilm will keep both the X-T00 and X-E lines, or, if they do, they won’t be available simultaneously. By the time we get to “20 years of X mount” there’s a strong possibility that only three lines remain with retro dials and styling.

Markets change. Goals change. Leadership changes. Vision changes. There are some (mostly those who own a PASM model) who will argue that Fujifilm had to pivot to survive. Maybe so. There are some (mostly those who have been in the system for less than three years) who say that no such pivot has happened, that all this is much ado about nothing. Perhaps. There are some (mostly those with PASM and who have been in the system only a short time) who will say I’m just too old and I complain too much, and that Fujifilm camera’s are now for a whole new generation of photographers with different wants and needs. That could be true, too. I’m just saying that I’ve noticed a shift, and I’m personally less excited and optimistic about Fujifilm’s direction. It’s the elephant in the room that I’ll be criticized for mentioning, but literally everyone who has been shooting with Fujifilm cameras for a long time notices.

The good news is that I already own the cameras that I need. As long as they’re operational, I don’t have a need for anything brand new. If Fujifilm releases something exciting, I’ll eagerly buy it, I’m sure. But if they never do, it’s not the end of the world. I can happily play with the toys I already have.

Interestingly, Nikon is supposedly announcing a retro-designed camera in about a week and a half. Maybe Nikon will position themselves as the next Fujifilm? I doubt it, but if they play their cards right and Fujifilm plays them wrong, it could happen. Either way, the more cameras with tactile controls the better. Unfortunately, the Nikon Zf will likely still have PASM, as Nikon won’t play their cards right. This is all, of course, my personal opinions. You might disagree with all of them, and that’s ok. I’m sure that most of us—and all of the regular readers of this website—can agree that Fujifilm cameras produce wonderful straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. Fujifilm has that right, no doubt about it! I just highly doubt that seven out of 10 Fujifilm photographers prefer PASM cameras, but maybe the user demographics have shifted by that much? I think it’s more of a reflection of who Fujifilm wants their customers to be rather than who their customers actually are, but in doing this they’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy—if you build it, they will come. They have come and will continue to come, which is great. But I will remember when Fujifilm—back before they were a part of Canikonyfilm—made some exciting cameras that were much different and more beautiful than those from other brands—in fact, I’ll be reminded each time I open my camera case.


  1. Joe · 15 Days Ago

    Great write up. I’m a fan of the external dials and knobs and I hope there are still new models released for years to come.

    As an X-T30 owner I feel stuck. The ii isn’t worth the upgrade and it only annoys me that I don’t get the same film sims when I adopted earlier. The X-T5 is intriguing, but $1,700 is steep and I’ve heard it feels “cheap” and doesn’t perform go it’s price tag.

    Do I need to upgrade? No. Do I want to? I’d like Fuji to give me a reason to. Unless they surprised us with an X-pro model this year, I think it’ll be a while before another body with external controls comes out and tempts me. It feels like there are a lot of holes in the X body lineup right now.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      Fujifilm should have given more Kaizen love to the X-T30 (and X-T3).

  2. Eric Michael Hilton · 15 Days Ago

    I personally, at my age, want to keep the dials and go less into the menus. Being a commercial /industrial aerospace corporate photographer since the navy in 1966, have embraced the knobs and dials. When Nikon went Digital, I was locked into the system, and stopped using my Hasselblads, Leica’s and other hi end Nikon cameras. about 10 years ago, a fine art photographer friend told me about a new camera he bought called the Fuji Xpro1. When I tried it, I was in awe, that Fuji came out with a digital camera that felt like a real camera. It actually brought fun back into photography. So, I dumped all my Nikons and invested heavily into my Fujis, along with more lenses than I want to admit to. a few years later when I heard about the fuji GFX 50s, I sold all of my old but beloved film cameras so I could afford my GFX 50s. The images are incredible, what depth the images have. But, the system became a bit heavy for travel at my age, so I invested in the XT5 which has been excellent. it was mentioned that they cheapened the camera by not adding an extended battery grip. I can’t think of anything I wanted less than more weight and bulk. My dream and favorite camera was my Leica M-6. it was small, solid but light weight and much less bulky than my Nikon digital cameras. I am hoping that Fuji comes out with a small, light (Xe-5) rangefinder style body, but because of my style of shooting, I need it to have a 3 way tilt and swing LCD to allow me to shoot my low angle vertical shots.
    you can’t do that without a fully tillable screen. I am totally committed to Fuji, and hope that they make a hi end rangefinder XT and GFX med body with a three way screen

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      “When I tried it, I was in awe, that Fuji came out with a digital camera that felt like a real camera. It actually brought fun back into photography.”

      👆 I can 100% relate to that. Well said! Thanks for the input!

      • Greg Adams · 7 Days Ago

        I can see your points about the PASM cameras coming out of Fuji.

        From my POV it’s a bit silly, after all, Fujifilm I’m sure realizes where and on what side their bread is buttered on. If they fail to produce cameras the please their audience guess what, people vote with their feet!

        I came from (in boyhood) a Browne Kodak camera. My Dad bought me a dark room set up which we put in my closet. Great days and tons of fun. I was hooked on my picture taking hobby/adventure for life always having some sort of camera around even if it were a cheapo.

        When I got to Germany I picked up my first 35mm, an Agfa Ambi Sellita (sp?). I was in seventh Heaven. Shot lots of Kodachrome and Agfa film though it and continued once getting back home and out of the service.

        Unfortunately bubbles formed in the lens coatings ruining my shots. Took it to a repairman in S.J.; That worked for a while, however the problem resurfaced and I was left without a snap shooter. Bought another cheapo, however it just wouldn’t due.

        Then a year or so later the digi’s came out. Hope flared again :^) My first foray into that medium was an 8mp Minolta, kinda disappointing. Hmm, digi will never replace film. However it did do away with the cost of film. That was a good thing, now I didn’t have to be so careful of the shots I took. Next up was a Nikon 12mp. Now we’re talkin’.

        Still this didn’t replace film, but it was pretty good. Then the devastating news Kodak announced the end of the film business. Devastating. At the time I was lusting after a good Nikon film camera. Oh No!

        Well, I’ve finally jumped back in. I avidly researched the marked and decided on a Fuji digital camera and one day not to long ago I marched into San Jose Camera to make my purchase of a X-T100V. Well you can guess it wasn’t in stock and stock was expected in 6 mouths. “We do have this X-S10 Kit though.” I bought in. Happy I did and as time has passed even more happy that I bought in.

        In the future I still certain that a used X Pro 3 – 4 or a X-T4 – 5 will be had. Love all those dials and the manual touch. I even went so far as to purchase a Helious 44-2 with mount and was very pleased with the manual shooting results.

        Thank you for all the work that you’ve done with the film sims. I snagged four of them and have applied them to my PASM dial (C1-C4). Two of the Kodachrome (64 & 24), and to my delight two of the Agfa sims.

        I would like to forward you $20 but unfortunately I have a problem with PP stemming quite a few years back when they decided to become a banking institution. Please give a few alternatives to funding you and your fine web site. Master card and Visa would be gratefully appreciated.


      • Ritchie Roesch · 6 Days Ago

        Thanks, Greg, for your kind input! I have a Helios 44-2 that is a lot of fun to use. Vintage lenses seem to pair especially well with Fujifilm X cameras. I think you’d love the X-T5, you should definitely give that a try someday if you can. Your comment is much appreciated!

  3. Andy · 15 Days Ago

    As a guy coming to digital after years away, shooting film only, I’ll fully admit to being mystified by the PASM talk. In M mode on my X-S10, I’ve quickly learned that I have an aperture dial under my index finger and a shutter speed dial under my thumb. I don’t see how dedicated dials would really be different, as I’m typically reading the changes while looking through the viewfinder. That the dials have no printing on them makes no difference to me. What am I missing?

    • Gie · 14 Days Ago

      I have the X-S10 and the only thing thats kinda missing is the ISO dial. Sure you can kinda control iso using the expo comp dial and autoiso. Problem is when you go to the limits of your autoiso setting, there is no clear indicator that you are past the range of autoiso. Wish the expo comp indicator would turn red when this happens.

      • Andy · 14 Days Ago

        Yeah, that makes sense. I could see wanting an ISO dial, although typically right now I use one of my three auto-ranges. Would be nice to know as you mentioned when an optimal exposure gets you past the edge of the auto band you have selected. That said, I know that’s happening when I can’t dial in a shutter speed/aperture combo I like.

        This ISO business is probably the most foreign thing to me. I’m used to the ISO being whatever my current roll of film is. I dabble some in zone system work with my large format camera, but that’s rare and something I’m still working on grasping.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      When I shoot my (PASM) Nikon Zfc, I use M. It makes sense.

      For me, the traditional dials are much more intuitive and enjoyable. Not sure what else there is to “get” about it. I’m glad that you figured out something that works well for you, but I wouldn’t be happy with that setup personally.

  4. stuartshafran · 14 Days Ago

    I never had any experience with film SLR cameras so I learnt digital photography using PASM and was heavily invested in full frame Nikon D-SLR’s. A few minutes playing with a friend’s XT1 with its easy to use dials convinced me to buy into Fuji-film and I’ve never looked back. It’s that intuitive ease of use and no longer needing to dive into the menu options to access or view the controls that convinced me… I would have though changing the cameras to PASM would actually lose customers, not gain them. Why would I purchase a PASM mirrorless APS-C camera over a full-frame PASM mirrorless camera? The big advantage Fuji-film has over other cameras is in its intuitive easy accessible dials which enable multiple settings to be changed (and viewed) very quickly… perfect for street photography in particular but also for sports, wildlife and portraiture. I do hope Fuji-film won’t lose their uniqueness by going the way of every other camera manufacturer.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      I 100% agree! Fujifilm has a huge asset that is its uniqueness… unfortunately, I don’t think fully know how to leverage that to gain new customers. They don’t really talk enough about why that’s preferable and desirable. Thanks for the input!

  5. Jon Friedman · 14 Days Ago

    I’m an old film photographer, starting with the bessa voigtlander and OM 35RC (rangefinders) to Canon, film and digital. After 10 years in that digital space I rediscovered the joy of “retro”, left Canon and got a Fiji x-t30 and then an E1. Lots of fun. And logical. It’s how film photographers think. No menus, just aperture, speed and ASA (ISO). Good jpeg, no need for post processing. Love it. I would be very upset if we’re left hanging. I enjoy just looking at the camera and knowing the settings, even when it’s off. It’s so easy to prep for a shot. And I hate menus. I set up my E1 so that it is basically a manual camera. Only need to set the sim and sometimes bracketing. I do a bit more with the xt30, I admit, but having a light retro camera is great.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      I started in the Fuji world with the X-E1… also used in manually, often with vintage lenses. It just makes so much sense, especially after using manual film cameras for many years. Thanks for the input!

  6. Ken Walker · 14 Days Ago

    Although I personally prefer retro dials, I don’t think it makes too much difference as long as they are good cameras. I have a Fuji XT30 with retro dials and a Panasonic TZ100 with PASM dials and don’t think about it very much when I am using one or the other.

    I think it will be a shame though if the choice of retro dials is denied to buyers altogether at any time. If it is then Fuji will likely re-introduce retro dials sometime in the future and start the whole thing all over again.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      I wonder what their long-term plans and goals are. I wonder how much they’ve thought of all this.

      I have a few PASM cameras, but I use them much, much less frequently than my tactile dial models. They’re just not as much fun or intuitive for me personally.

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Guy Perkins · 14 Days Ago

    The dials, the retro design and the Fuji jpegs were what got me into Fuji cameras decades ago and I have owned many. But I tried the X-S10 when I didn’t see the point of upgrading an X-T20 to the T30. I love the size, performance and speed of use and frankly don’t miss the dials at all. I love my X-100V, but I have set to change aperture with the front control dial which is so much quicker than manually turning the lens ring. I have rented an X-T5 and loved the sensor, but to be honest found all those dials a bit tiresome (heresy I know!). I am so disappointed that the X-S20 doesn’t have the 40 megapixel sensor because I loved the images from the X-T5. So for now I just keep going with my brilliant, light and fast X-S10. But I would never advocate PASM dials for all Fuji cameras, choice is a good thing.

  8. Taigen · 14 Days Ago

    The title of this post is enough to make the blood boil! Having my controls and settings existing in the physical world, and before the power is switched on, is as big a difference to me as printing photos as opposed to viewing on screens

  9. Don Crawley · 14 Days Ago

    You said:

    “In my opinion, Fujifilm should double-down on what is unique about their brand, and focus on better communicating why those unique characteristics are desirable.”

    Maybe desirable, but only to a small group. Given Fuji’s market share, it seems to be a losing strategy. As much as we might like the dials, it is clear that the market overall, could not care less. There are 5 mainstream camera brands that hold almost 95% of the global market share, and of that 95%, Fuji holds less than 6%. And how much of that small slice are people that don’t want PASM? Hard to say.

    Regardless, as much as some of us like the dials, the approach Fuji is taking makes sense. Hopefully they keep at least 1 or 2 models with dials for us freaks.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      I don’t agree that it is necessarily a small group. Uniqueness is marketable, sameness is not. Fujifilm has pure gold, but I don’t think people understand why they should desire it because Fujifilm hasn’t done a good job of communicating that. It’s not a failure of the design, but of the marketing of the design. Put in the right people and give them a good budget, and I bet they could double or triple the sales. Look at the X100V… it wasn’t Fujifilm that made it popular, but it became so in spite of Fujifilm’s lack of marketing, thanks to some folks who did it for free to the benefit of Fujifilm (all Fujifilm did was trip over themselves…). Imagine if Fujifilm was able to bottle that for their other models, too? They could do it, but only as long as they are unique and can figure out how to convince others that the uniqueness is desirable (because it is desirable).

      Dang, Fujifilm should hire me! 🤣

  10. Paul Chance · 14 Days Ago

    It would be interesting to measure unit sales for pasm styles vs non pasm styles. I have zero interest in a pasm body from fuji.

  11. Larry Adams · 14 Days Ago

    I bought an X-H2s when it came out, used it for nearly a year, and sold it. The PASM change was the main reason. I put up with it in the full-frame Nikons I shoot, but I also bought a Zfc for half-frame use, and it has both regular dial controls and a PASM lever under the ISO dial, so it can be used either way. Seems like a reasonable way to please both types of users. The upcoming full-frame Nikon Zf will give me a nice possible replacement for my Z5, but that’s about all.
    On the Fujifilm side, I am down to a pair of X-H1 bodies (assuming MaxMax finds the one I shipped them for monochrome conversion, which somehow went missing…) and a lot (12) of Fujifilm XF lenses. I have been through an X-T10 (loved it), X-T200 (hated it), X-T30 (loved it), X-E3 (liked it), X100F (loved it). I imagine I would love an X-T5 too, so I guess that is the only way to go right now. I keep hoping for an X-Pro4, but when?
    So, I suppose I am one of the old film camera shooters who prefer real mechanical controls to electronic unlabeled camera dials. And I have no intention of buying another Fujifilm camera that is PASM only. Odd that Nikon would offer cameras with both, and Fuji would not….

    • Ritchie Roesch · 14 Days Ago

      I was hoping the X-Pro4 would come out this November, but I’m less convinced that will happen. I’m thinking summer 2024.

      I wish that Fujifilm had produced a flagship traditional dial option. I’ve heard from a number of X-H2/X-H2S owners who purchased it because it was the flagship, but have been disappointed by the user experience, and would have purchased a traditional dial flagship model instead if Fujifilm had offered one.

      Thanks for the comment!

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