Fujifilm has become a shining example of how to do things the right way, but they can’t rest on their laurels.
Fujifilm has become a significant player in the Mirrorless camera space over the last seven or eight years. While they hit a few bumps in the road along the way, they actively listen to their users and have made improvements to their APS-C X line of cameras, which thrust them into the spotlight. On top of their success with cameras like the X-T3, X-Pro 3, and the X-H1, Fujifilm has revolutionized the Medium Format market with their GFX cameras. All might look rosy for Fujifilm right now, but they can’t afford to let their guard down. After the break, we will take a quick look at five things Fujifilm needs to do to make sure they retain or improve upon their current standing.
Fujifilm’s fortunes really started improving when they released the Fujifilm X100. A small digital camera with a hybrid viewfinder that captured the hearts of many, this little guy set the standard for what compact cameras should be. While we didn’t review the X100, we did review the X100S, and we loved the camera when it hit the streets in 2013. Since then, Fujifilm’s cameras and their lenses have been on a rapid ascent to Mirrorless stardom.
Today, Fujifilm can be called the clear winners in the Mirrorless APS-C space. The APS-C market that used to be dominated by both Canon and Nikon is now Fujifilm’s, and while other Mirrorless APS-C cameras on the market from the likes of Sony are great, they just don’t have the charm the X series possesses. Fujifilm has stuck to the original notion that Mirrorless cameras and lenses should be smaller than DSLR offerings, and it has paid off in a big way. Even their GFX Medium Format cameras are a lot smaller and more manageable than those from the past. As well as both of these platforms are performing, Fujifilm needs to make sure they don’t stagnate. Let’s take a look at five things that Fujifilm can do to ensure they continue to thrive.
“You have a unique opportunity to tailor each of your camera models to certain crowds, and I think that is being missed right now. “
Fujifilm, You Need to Expand Your X-Series Camera Tech Portfolio
Fujifilm, we genuinely love your cameras. From the X-T series to the X-Pro and the X100 series to the X-TXX lines, your cameras are consistently great. The problem is that each of these cameras is so identical from a tech standpoint that they just run together.
Take the current line up, for instance. The X-T30, the X100V, the X-Pro 3, the X-T3 and the soon to be released X-T4 all feature the same 26.1-megapixel X-Trans sensor and the same image processing units: the only differences are the form factors. Otherwise, these cameras (besides a few firmware nerfs) are the same. The X-T4 adds a few more features such as IBIS and a fully articulating screen to make it stand out from the rest, and the X-Pro line does have a hybrid OVF/EVF, so you’re on the right path, but there needs to be more distinction between your cameras.
Each series (not just a few) needs to have that one feature that makes it stand out from the rest. I could buy an X-T3 for $1,499, but why would I when I can get the similarly spec’d X-T30 for $899? The only major differences are the form factor, a slightly better EVF on the X-T3, and that the X-T30 is limited to 1/4000 sec shutter speeds.
The price gap between the two is huge, and it makes little sense to go with the more expensive X-T3. You have a unique opportunity to tailor each of your camera models to certain crowds, and I think that is being missed right now. This brings us to our next point.
“Ah, Fujifilm, you’ve gone and made the X-T4 the new XH camera, so now you need to re-imagine the XH series and turn it into something unique.”
Keep the XH Series Alive and Really Make It Stand Out
Ah, Fujifilm, you’ve gone and made the X-T4 the new XH camera, so now you need to re-imagine the XH series and turn it into something unique. The original X-H1 was a game-changer in the Fujifilm landscape: it was the only camera you made that featured IBIS. On top of that, the X-H1 had a much more durable and rugged design that appealed to many professionals. Looking back, the X-H1 was clearly designed for videographers, but now that the X-T4 has IBIS and the latest 4K codecs, the X-H2 would need to offer something different. It could be the perfect APS-C camera for professional sports and wildlife photographers.
Each system (apart from Medium Format) has a camera geared toward professional sports photographers. DSLR systems have the Canon 1DX III and the Nikon D6. Micro Four Thirds has the Olympus E-M1X. Mirrorless Full Frame cameras like the Sony A9 II steal the show, but there currently is no Mirrorless APS-C camera that can be considered a professional sports camera.
Fujifilm, this is what the X-H2 needs to be; a rugged camera with a built-in grip, great IBIS, fast burst rates, and class-leading weather sealing. An APS-C Mirrorless camera that can take the sports photography crown from the Nikon D500 is exactly what the X-H2 should be. Paired with fast telephoto lenses like the 200mm f2, it would be a show stopper.
“It’s time, Fujifilm; share your protocols and AF secret sauce with other lens manufacturers and watch the X series grow like never before.”
Fujifilm, Open Up to Third Party Lenses and Update Your Primes
Fujifilm, you have taken the route of keeping their autofocus systems a closely guarded secret. Because of this, companies like Sigma and Tamron cannot make and release their top-notch lenses for the system; and this ladies and gents is a real shame. Sigma has repeatedly stated that they would love to bring their glass to the platform, but they simply don’t have the resources to reverse engineer your system, and we’re sure other lens manufacturers would say the same.
We understand that you think your lenses are more than good enough. And for the most part, they are, but consumers and photographers like to have choices: that’s just how we work. Closed systems are a great way to control quality and minimize issues, but opening up your platform would make you see exponential growth. It’s time, Fujifilm; share your protocols and AF secret sauce with other lens manufacturers and watch the X series grow like never before.
Please, Fujfilm, Give
Us Updated Lenses with Weather-Sealing
I have to say that Fujifilm prime lenses are some of the best I have ever used. Optically, they are all excellent, but some of the primes on the system are starting to get a little long in the tooth, and they need to be updated. Lenses like the 23mm f1.4, the 35mm f1.4, and the 56mm f1.2 are much slower to focus than Fujifilm’s newer lenses, and they are not weather-sealed, which is crazy to think as these are flagship lenses in the Fujifilm system. It’s even crazier to think that the 23mm f2 and the 35mm f2 have weather sealing even though they cost much less.
The lenses listed above as well as others need to be updated with faster AF motors that can take advantage of the excellent autofocus systems in your current cameras. As pro lenses, they need to have weather sealing, especially considering that these lenses aren’t cheap. More professional photographers are switching to your platform (which we saw in the breakdown of cameras used by the winners of the World Press Photo Awards), and the need for fast weather-sealed primes is real. Please, make this happen.
“Big kudos have to go to Fujifilm. In a relatively short amount of time, Fujifilm has sewn up the APS-C market, and they have cornered the next big thing in affordable Medium Format cameras too.”
Continue Making Medium Format Affordable
What can be said about the Fujifilm GFX platform other than marvelous job, Fujifilm? Fujifilm has set itself apart by skipping over the Full-Frame hype, and it paid off in a big way. The GFX 50S and the GFX 50R really shook the market up when they hit, thanks to their pricing. The Fujifilm GFX 50S comes in at $5,499, and the GFX 50R can be had for $4,499. That means these almost-Medium Format cameras are only a little more expensive than some Full Frame cameras.
Fujifilm has done wonders with this platform, and thanks to technological advances in AF systems, they have shown that Medium Format cameras don’t have to be kept in a studio or on a tripod anymore. Then there’s the fantastic GFX 100, which features IBIS. While the GFX 100 is a $10,000 camera, it is still a bargain when it comes to 100 megapixel MF cameras. The next closest offering from Hasselblad is the H6D-100C, which costs an eye-watering $21,999.
We hope Fujifilm continues to pursue Medium Format, and we also hope they can continue to drive prices down. Before, Medium Format cameras were out of reach for all but the heaviest of hitters in the photography world. Now, thanks to these affordable camera bodies and lenses like the GF50mm f3.5 (which we reviewed), this exciting platform is well within reach of many.
Big kudos have to go to Fujifilm. In a relatively short amount of time, Fujifilm has sewn up the APS-C market, and they have cornered the next big thing in affordable Medium Format cameras too. The future is very bright for Fujifilm. If they can commit to updating their lenses, open the door for thirds party lenses, and continue to make compelling cameras that can push both APS-C and Medium format platforms to new heights, the sky is the limit. Keep moving forward to the beat of your own drum, Fujifilm. Don’t rest on your laurel. We witnessed what happened to Canon and Nikon when they did that.
What do you want to see from Fujifilm going forward? What do they need to do to keep their cameras interesting and exciting? Have you switched to their platform? Let us know in the comment section below.