After a hectic period of going through the bazillions of first-looks and previews of the newly announced Fuji cameras and lenses, I am going back to basics and simplicity, taking the good old X100s on photowalks with me (you can follow my Instagram feed for some of these pics as I upload them in the coming days). I have also been able to sell my X-E1 and X-E2 (which used to be my back-up camera, currently replaced for that purpose by the X100s… until the X-T2 is announced and the X-T1 becomes the back-up?), and used the proceeds to order the XF90mmF2 (primes are really where the Fuji X-Series shines in my opinion), which is currently on its way home.
Meanwhile, DPReview has published a very interesting interview with 2 senior Fujifilm executives (see at the bottom for details) they met in Tokyo during the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the X-Series. You can read the full interview by clicking here.
What stands out is that the Fujifilm executives are not only very ambitious for the X-Series, but there are not shy in expressing these ambitions and discussing the competitive landscape.
We’d like to be at least in the top three companies in the camera business by market share.
Mr Toru Takahashi
The strong domination of the 2 giants Canon and Nikon might come to an end some day, but for the moment they have more than enough room to stay well ahead of the rest in the near-future (to give you an idea, Canon and Nikon combined accounted for more than 75% of the interchangeable-lens camera market by volume in 2014, while Sony came third with 13%, according to data compiled by the market research company IDC).
With Canon and Nikon at least temporarily out of reach, if Fujifilm wants to achieve its ambition of being in the top 3, that means they will first need to win the battle of the mirrorless market, to complement the staggering success of Instax cameras (which are dominating on the market they have created themselves).
Regarding Sony, the executives recognize that the fact that they produce their own sensor gives Sony an edge. However, they also very candidly (and unusually) point out what they think are the weaknesses of Sony.
Sony has a big advantage, they make their own sensors. That is a very big advantage for them, but they are weak in lenses.
Mr Toru Takahashi
They are weakened by having so many formats. APS-C, full-frame, [across both] DSLR and mirrorless.
Mr Toshihisa Iida
While I personally prefer the lens lineup of the X-Series and trust in its future expansion, Sony’s recent effort to tackle the argument of the lack of lenses should not be underestimated. This argument is becoming less true and Sony now also offers some clarity regarding the future with a lens roadmap, similar to what Fujifilm did when they started the X-Pro1 with only 3 prime lenses.
In any case, the Fujifilm executives seem very confident that Fujifilm will win the longer game while Sony will squander because of a lack of focus. I have always been confused by the number of models with different mounts that Sony has been releasing over the past few years, and they would logically benefit from focusing on a single system and lens mount. However, I would not discount as much Sony’s potential as the Fujifilm executives are doing. By experimenting in so many markets, Sony has found one domain in which they are more or less alone and that could be very profitable to them if they were to direct all their efforts into it: full-frame mirrorless cameras. They still haven’t found the magic formula that would allow them to mix their technological advance with some photographic mindset, but if they can find a way to do it…
As far as Micro 4/3 are concerned, they are not discussed in the interview, but I personally hope that a in-body image stabilization similar to the one developed by Olympus would make its way into a Fujifilm body. Also, in terms of video capabilities, Panasonic has a lot to teach to Fujifilm.
Overall, the competition is fierce, with many actors targeting the same market with different strengths. While I am not convinced that Fujifilm will achieve its objective to be in the top 3, the fact that they are trying to achieve it by deliberately focusing on one system thought for everyday photographers, rather than packing a ridiculous amount of megapixels on a tiny sensor, makes me confident that the X-Series is at least the right choice for me. Let me know what you think in the comments below 😉
Mr Toru Takahashi, Director, is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fujifilm’s Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Divison. Mr Toshihisa Iida is General Manager of the Sales and Marketing Group of Fujifilm’s Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division.