“If we decided to stop entry-level products such as X-T200 or X-E4,” Franck Bernard, Fujifilm France Photo Division Director, stated in a recent Phototrend interview, “it is because it is not a promising market. Today, competitors are also deciding to abandon certain more accessible product lines.”
Wow. This seems to be confirmation that the X-E line is done. The X-T200 was discontinued back in 2020, and with that the X-T000 line was abandoned. The Fujifilm X-E4 was discontinued back in March. This appears to be an indication that, in 2023, the X-E series has succumbed to the same fate that the X-T000 line did three years ago.
Of course, in other interviews, Fujifilm has kind of tiptoed around this topic and even hinted that the X-E line hasn’t been axed. They never expressly communicated one way or the other with certainty, but now they have. Sort of. They used fuzzy language—“if we decided”—and Mr. Bernard isn’t a corporate manager (he’s regional), so perhaps he didn’t have the authority to state what he said and it might not be exactly what HQ wanted made public. In other words, this might not be the official position of Fujifilm.
I think that his comment is factual and simultaneously must be taken with a large grain of salt. He’s likely saying something that’s largely understood within the company, but also something that Fujifilm doesn’t want to outright state, because they want to reserve the right to change their mind in a quickly shifting market and with dynamic corporate directives. They don’t want to officially kill off the X-E line, only to discover that they should have made an X-E5; instead, if they quietly cancel it, then it’s a bit easier to bring back at a later date if market conditions allow.
Franck Bernard goes on to provide a little context to his comment: “I believe that Fujifilm has made the industrial choice for more than 5 years now to turn to high-end products and we will not return to entry-level products.”
I’ve heard this said a few times from Fujifilm managers. They believe the future of the brand is not with low-end models, or even with what we once thought of as the mid-range bodies, but with the higher-tier cameras. The X-H line, the X-T0 line, the X100 series, X-S00 line (which was made slightly more higher-end with the X-S20), and X-Pro, along with GFX. That’s where Fujifilm wants to focus their efforts. That’s where Fujifilm sees the future of their digital camera brand. The X-E series just doesn’t fit in, no matter how in-demand the X-E4 was at the time of its discontinuance. Camera brands don’t axe a line that has a lot of demand and a waitlist to buy—unless it was simply impossible to secure the necessary parts to manufacture more, or the higher-ups shifted priorities to other things. I think the latter explains the X-E4’s sudden and inexplicable discontinuation. Fujifilm doesn’t want to offer models in the X-E class. It’s beneath them now. Or, perhaps, for whatever reason, they believe the market is about to dry up for it, despite the demand (which, by the way, still exists more than six months after its discontinuation).
“Logically,” Mr. Bernard continued, “there should be a successor to the X-T30. We would like to maintain older, affordable products that correspond to a certain purchasing power. But we have no visibility on future ranges.” This is a bit after he stated that, “…our flagship product remains the X-T5, the standard model of the range. Comes behind the X-T30 II, and then follows the X-S10/X-S20.”
I think he was saying that, in France, the X-T5 is Fujifilm’s top selling model, followed by the X-T30 II, then the X-S00 series. Because of the demand for the X-T30 II, there should logically be a successor. Fujifilm France wants to be able to offer products that those with a more limited budget can afford. But, Fujifilm Japan has not provided them with a timeline when such a camera will come, if at all. That’s my interpretation, but I don’t know if that’s what he really meant. It’s a bit confusing.
As best as I can tell from all of this, the X-E line is done (but Fujifilm wants to reserve the right to change their minds) and an X-T30 II successor is desired by certain people within Fujifilm (and they believe logically it should happen) but HQ hasn’t provided any information to them on when or if that will happen. This is because—beginning five years ago—Fujifilm began to shift away from lower-end gear and towards higher-end products. This is all a part of the long-term plan, more or less.
Will an X-T40 (perhaps it will be called X-T30 III or X-T50) happen? It sounds like eventually it will happen, but not necessarily soon. Don’t be surprised if it is given new features (IBIS? 40mp?) and a higher price tag. Will an X-E5 happen? Probably not. If a lot of people speak up and state that they’d buy one, maybe. But still probably not. There’s been a large vocal desire for an X80, but that hasn’t happened, nor will it—technically, though, it is still possible, just highly unlikely. I think that’s the unfortunate state of the X-E line.
In a seemingly-unrelated-but-at-closer-look-completely-related article, PetaPixel says that young people are finding digital cameras to be more difficult to use and more time-consuming than cellphone cameras (imagine that!). While it’s easy to dismiss this, I think there are a few points worth considering. First, it’s great that Fujifilm introduced the X App, which is better than their rather mediocre (being kind) Cam Remote App, but the new app is years late and not compatible with older models. If Fujifilm wants to sell cameras to younger folks (which, presumably, generally have a tighter budget and aren’t buying flagship models), having an intuitive and reliable way to transfer the images is a necessity. Unfortunately, Fujifilm has fantastically failed at this, which undoubtedly affects sales of lower-end models. Think about this: film simulations (and especially Film Simulation Recipes) are highly desirable among those who want great results without fuss and without spending a lot of time achieving it. But getting those pictures off the camera can be a pain.
What Fujifilm (and the other camera makers) should have done is create a way to upload directly from the camera to Instagram, X, Facebook, Flickr, text, email, cloud, etc.. Maybe have an Android-like operating system with apps. As it is now, the step in-between that’s time-consuming, frustrating, and unintuitive is one reason why the cellphone is constantly eating away the bottom end of the camera market. Instead of innovating, camera makers just throw their hands up and say “Oh, well.” They blame the cellphone, but really they just concede the fight without trying all that hard to compete with it. Oh, and why did Fujifilm abandon the concept of connecting the camera directly with their Instax printers? That’s another missed opportunity, in a similar vein.
So if Fujifilm were to release an X-E5, but with a whole new way to get the pictures off of the camera and shared wherever the photographer wishes—something that’s easy, fast, and intuitive—I have zero doubts that it would sell well. Yes, there’s the X App, which is a step in the right direction, but ideally there would be no need for an app. It should be a one-step process from the camera itself. As the PetaPixel article illustrates, the hassle of using a digital camera—hassles that don’t need to exist but do, and hassles that aren’t found on the cellphone—is notable enough to go viral. Don’t doubt that the opposite is also viral-worthy. For example, the reason why the X100V suddenly became popular is because it went viral on social media, and a big reason why it went viral is because it could produce analog-looking pictures that didn’t require editing (yes, Recipes!). It produced wonderful results easily, and that caught the attention of so many that the camera is historically long-backordered. Now imagine if those results could be more quickly and intuitively available for sharing. Yes, that’s notable enough to go viral.