There are a lot of ways that Fujifilm could improve based on what other brands are able to do. But for the most part, I also truly believe that Fujifilm is a leader when it comes to one particular style of cameras — rangefinder-inspired camera bodies. Sure, Leica does an incredible job with the M series cameras as they’re designed to be used in a specific way. But when tackling an autofocus design, Fujifilm gets it right in ways that many other cameras just don’t.
This article is specifically being written from my frustrations with rangefinder style camera bodies on the market right now. The Sony a7c II, Sony a7c R, and the Leica Q3 all lack a joystick. But more importantly, brands think that there isn’t a demand for a camera body like this — yet the X100V can’t stay in stock at all. More importantly, it goes for more money on the second-hand market than it does when buying it brand new.
So here are some things that I believe other brands could learn from Fujifilm.
There is a Demand for Rangefinder Style Camera Bodies
As much as people like SLR-style camera bodies, the X100V is proof that people want a rangefinder-style camera body that’s small, well-priced, durable, and works well. Last year when I talked to a Canon rep about this, they commented that it was too small of a market for them. However, I’ve always found that to be marketing talk for “we tried it, and we failed.”
Brands tend to just not do rangefinder-style camera bodies all that well. Panasonic could with the GX series and the LX series — but they never incorporated the level of weather resistance that the segment needed. Instead, brands treated these cameras like afterthoughts instead of giving them their all.
Some folks might cite the Fujifilm X Pro 3 to be a failure when it came to sales, but I truly actually believe that it was more of a failure when it came to marketing and helping the consumer understand why they needed something. During the pandemic, lots of photographers took up shooting film. And with that, people then started to understand the X Pro 3.
Film isn’t dead. If you truly think it is, look at several big publications and the photos that they’re producing.
They Need a Joystick
I remember years ago reading on a forum that camera engineers needed to be beaten over the head with Leica rangefinders until they understood better ergonomics. I don’t condone violence, but instead, I believe that camera manufacturers need to show more compassion for their own products. They need to stop thinking about their rangefinder-style camera bodies as something to just throw things at to hope that they stick. Instead, they need to put love into their products and instill a sense of romance that’s majorly missing from photography these days.
How about the sound of the shutter?
What about the way that the knobs turn and the metal feeling of the camera bodies?
Why can’t cameras feel like cameras for photographers? Why do they need to do everything just well enough and not have split products for video and photo?
They Don’t Need to be Large or Have a Massive Grip
Most importantly, rangefinder-style camera bodies don’t need to have a massive grip or be very large as long as you just design it correctly. It’s rare that someone wants to put a grip on a Leica M camera because they hold it correctly in the first place. The same goes for the X Pro 3 and the X100V.
There’s too much monotony in the camera world to the point where it feels algorithmic. And there aren’t enough risks being taken from billion dollar companies to make bold products.