Fujifilm has a strategy problem they need to fix

The latest release of the X-T3 is a good and bad problem to have for Fujifilm.

On one hand they have released a camera that is likely to restore Fujifilm’s reputation after the X-H1’s release was overshadowed by Sony’s release of the A7iii. With this release, Fujifilm did a good enough job on the X-T3 to ensure that not even the release of two prominent full frame cameras from Nikon and canon could overshadow their announcement. It’s a damn good camera with very little to complain about.

This being the case, what exactly is the problem?

The X-H1…

If you have a look at the forums, there is a consistent issue arising. With the X-T3 being so good, where exactly does the X-H1 fit it. Despite what people think, it wasn’t a video camera, it was Fujifilm’s attempt at a professional camera. The X-T3 on the other hand is a better stills AND video camera so their “high-end” camera just got overshadowed by a lower model and that is raising some heads.

The consensus from most people is simple: Fujifilm should have waited 6 months and put the new sensor in! Fujifilm knew the new sensor was coming, they wouldn’t have been developing the X-T3 blindly so I would be questioning who made the call to put that sensor in and whether there was any actual thought behind it because it could turn out to be a death nail in the X-H1 coffin.

Past decisions aside, Fujifilm have a problem to fix and they need to do it quickly. Those looking for IBIS and the new sensor won’t find it in the X-T3 and for potential switchers that may be a problem. If I was sitting on with Nikon or Canon, disappointed with the current releases, and trying to decide which way to go, Sony still has an advantage with IBIS and far better battery life and even Nikon has put IBIS in their new mirrorless. For potential switchers, this offers compelling reasons to switch and the Sony glass in the equivalent apertures (i.e. 24-70 f4 vs 16-55 f/2.8) isn’t actually much bigger than Fujifilm so the size argument is mute.

But its not only potential switchers that are confused. It’s current X-H1 owners who are scratching their heads at Fujifilm’s strategy and asking “where to now?”.

If Fujifilm continue their previous trend of releasing the X-H2 18 months after the X-T3, I won’t be a buyer of it and neither will 50% of the X-H1 buyers, so the line is essentially dead.

Why the X100 isn’t the best Point & Shoot

It may seem like a bad thing to say, but it’s the truth, and I think it’s time to be honest about it. The X100 series is not the best Point & Shoot (P&S) on the market. It never was.

Part of the challenge with the X100 series is the appeal. It’s built a reputation as “the” P&S camera to carry and as a result, there are a lot of people buying them that really shouldn’t be. There is this perception that the X100 will take amazing photos and obviously it will, but it won’t for everyone.

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I’m not trying to be exclusive. This is not an attempt to try be part of a special club of X100 owners that you can’t be part of. Fujifilm products were never about exclusivity, if you want that, go to Leica. This is about practicality, ease of use and customer experience. It’s like a mum or dad buying a Nikon D5, leaving it in P mode and wondering why he / she is getting terrible photos. It’s about bad choices.

The problem in this case is that the X100 is not just a P&S, it’s a photographer’s P&S. There is no switch to “Auto” button with scene modes that the lesser beasts like the X70 have. You can’t switch it to sports mode and expect it to take good photos of your kids playing on the grass. Use it in auto (aperture auto, shutter auto, ISO auto) and you’ll get worse outcomes than a camera designed to do the work for you. The X100 doesn’t want to do the driving, it wants you to do the driving and it expects you to know how to drive. The X100 is a sports car without ABS and traction control being driven on wet roads. Obviously cameras don’t kill people so I’m being a little over dramatic but you get the idea.

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I don’t blame Fujifilm, they aren’t marketing this as a beginners camera. Blaming the stores would be incorrect, I’ve never seen stores pushing X100’s down the throat of consumers. 90% of the time, the blame falls on the consumer, fair and square. Mr Consumer walks in and insists on buying a specific model based on what a friend told them and won’t listen to common sense.

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So what do you do if you’re a novice and you bought one?

Take the time to learn how to use it. Take the time to do a basic photography course that teaches you about how to get out of auto mode. Learn how to shoot raw, when you do so, you’ll find it’s an incredible camera and it deserves better than to be left in P mode it’s entire life hoping it will get better.

Is Eye-AF the solution to Fujifilm’s problems?

Introduction

I’ve toyed with the title of this article. Technically, this isn’t about eye-AF, it’s about a simplification of Fujifilm’s autofocus. The reason for this is I don’t think eye-AF is the complete solution to user problems, at least not entirely. It’s a great feature, and Sony’s facial preference technology (which gives preference to specific people) is the kind of technology that is helpful for some scenarios, but the real reason for the – popularity of eye-AF is the ability of the AF to decide the appropriate starting point for autofocus. In essence it’s the simplification of the AF system, and by simplification, I mean dumb it down to get better results without losing performance.

The current Fujifilm AF system is great but it requires constant customisation to get the best out of it, and most users don’t know how to do it, nor do they want to. You could argue that cameras are technical pieces of equipment, but in the land of iPads and Google, technical devices are becoming increasingly simple. For that reason, AF needs to be incredibly powerful and simple at the same time like ABS, traction control and similar technologies that are both powerful and simple.

Continue reading Is Eye-AF the solution to Fujifilm’s problems?

Weathering the onslaught – the battle ahead for Fujifilm

There will be battle coming, and Fujifilm will find themselves in the thick of it.

Nikon has announced their mirrorless is coming spring 2019 and there is no doubt that Canon will release something more substantial than the current M series, with a full frame likely to be released in the next 12 months.

With that will come a mirrorless Armageddon, with many manufacturers battling for a declining ILC market. Whilst it does open the door to greater market shares with mirrorless being considered main stream, I don’t think Fujifilm can afford to rest on the success they have had to date. When Nikon and Canon release their mirrorless cameras, the pressure will be on all of the current mirrorless brands, despite their perceived advantage and they have. I wouldn’t be surprised if one (or two)  of them falls away as a result. Continue reading Weathering the onslaught – the battle ahead for Fujifilm