Is Fujifilm Growing Out of the Brand We Love?

The Fujifilm X mount is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year — and for such a young ecosystem, what they’ve managed to accomplish is nothing short of incredible. Having said that, we admit that the recent years haven’t brought as much innovation as we would’ve imagined. And some moves even left us wondering where the brand was going.

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When I jumped on the Fujifilm bandwagon a few years back, I couldn’t stop hearing fellow photographers rave about how great the tactile nature and ergonomics were, how much the company cared when providing firmware updates, and most of all, how much smaller and lighter your kit could be compared to full-frame. Those facts held true back then and were probably the reasons most of us joined the adventure.

But, a lot has changed in 10 years. Canon and Nikon jumped into the mirrorless arena, Sony is flushing out its second generation of lenses, and Fujifilm doesn’t look as differentiating as it once did.

Tactile Egonomics

Fujifilm loyalists love their retro design and dials, but we have to admit there are fewer of them with each generation. There are things like the removal of the D-pad on most bodies while the GFX series is foregoing the shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation dials. These are factors which make it similar to the Canon EOS R5 or Sony A1. The upcoming X-H2 is reported to have a similar design, feeling more like a DSLR than an X-T4. I’m not sure this move will be popular with hardcore loyalists. We can only hope to see that whatever improvement the X-H2 brings is trickled down to the future X-T5 and X-Pro 4.

Firmware Updates

Firmware is probably one of the most frustrating subjects in the Fujifilm community. Some film simulations have been restricted to specific bodies. And if we understand the need for market segmentation, the X-Pro 3 hasn’t received much love since its launch despite being the most expensive in the lineup. Worse than that, the X-T30 II is a huge departure from what we became used to. That should have been a firmware update.  

Size and Weight 

Coming from a 5D Mark III, the X-T2 was a slice of heaven. I could go further and shoot longer without cursing my heavy bag. “Carry less and shoot more,” they said. More than that, it was less intrusive, almost discrete, and it didn’t scream “professional.” This is what made it for me.

These days, Sony can give you an f2.8 trinity that competes in weight with Fujifilm’s while covering a sensor nearly two times as large — all while letting you enjoy the low light and bokeh benefits that come with it. If those are a little rich for your blood, you can either nearly equalize depth of field with the Canon RF f4 trinity (making your bag even lighter for a similar budget) or take a look at Tamron’s offering on the Sony FE mount. A similar argument can be made while looking at the Sigma i-series when considering primes. 

The bottom line is that the goalposts have shifted. Professionals retiring their D850 or 5D IV today simply do not have as much incentive to go the Fujifilm route. 

What Do We Want to See Next from Fujifilm?

The Fujifilm Superbowl is on the horizon. With the X-summit later this month, we’re already hearing reports of 40MP sensors. As much as I love more megapixels, how many of us will truly benefit from a 40MP body that two-thirds of the lenses probably can’t truly shine on? A significant portion of the current lineup was designed on a 16MP sensor and is already showing limits on the current X-trans IV. Sharper lenses and reliable autofocus will do a lot more for image quality than a soft and hunting DC motor will on the upcoming X-H2. We need more of that new LM glass.

I guess 8k is meant to keep Fujifilm relevant in the specs race and attract new users. But I’d love to see them accelerate the renewal of their lenses, especially the pro zooms as those lenses need to be smaller and render finer details. I’d love to be able to focus with them as reliably as I can my Canon, tracking accurately and picking faces where there are actually faces and not in trees. I’d love to have regular 4k without pulsing, focus breathing, noisy DC motors, or IBIS wobbles. And PLEASE, I’d love to see some of that X-H2 goodness brought to both my X-T4 and X-Pro 3 via firmware.

With a more limited market share, there’s little to no chance to see Fujifilm competing with Canon and Sony on R&D and it’s okay, they don’t need to. It used to be all about the small package and the user experience. Fujifilm needs to get back to that. Let’s hope that while gunning for new customers, they don’t end up alienating the ones already in the fold.

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