Fujifilm makes some of the most interesting and beloved cameras on the market, with a range of unique designs and features. Here are three of my favorite things about Fujifilm cameras.
I have written in the past about what I appreciate about Canon cameras and Sony cameras, and now, it is time to talk about what I appreciate about Fujifilm cameras. Here are the three things I most appreciate about Fuji cameras.
Controls and Design
Fuji's controls harken back to classic film cameras, and while that retro design is certainly neat to look at, it is also highly functional. All three exposure parameters are easily accessible via tactile external dials, making the shooting experience intuitive and efficient and keeping the photographer focused on making images instead of controlling complex machinery. Whenever I have used an X Series camera, I have always been impressed by how much it felt like an extension of my body and thought process as opposed to a middleman between me and my subject with whom I had to negotiate. It is hard to overstate the difference it makes when you can keep your eye to the viewfinder and change settings entirely by feel and without thought. Though their cameras come with a share of advanced professional features, it is not an overwrought process to use them. And though the external controls keep you out of the menu system more often, when you do have to dive in, it is generally logical and well organized. This is particularly impressive when you consider that the cameras are relatively small, and real estate for controls is at a premium. Fuji knows what to prioritize, which is why their bodies are often referred to as "photographers' cameras."
Several generations in, their cameras are highly refined and capable. There is no doubt that a lot of other cameras are just as capable (or even more in some cases), but all the features in the world mean nothing (and can even be a hindrance) if the camera does not simply get out of your way.
Listening to Customers and Upgrading Existing Cameras
With some cameras, the body you buy is the body you will have for the entirety of its life. This is because manufacturers generally devote the majority of their resources toward newer models that will earn them additional revenue. On the other hand, Fuji devotes impressive effort toward upgrading existing bodies through firmware updates. For example, the X-T1 has received a high-speed electronic shutter, the Classic Chrome film simulation, Q menu customization, new video frame rates, vastly improved autofocus, exposure compensation with auto ISO, and way more. The X-T2 received F-Log, programmable long exposure, improved face detection, and way more. The GFX 50S received focus bracketing capabilities. The X-Pro2 received 4K video. The list goes on.
And it is not just the high-level cameras that have received new features. A perfect example is the X-E2, which received an entirely new autofocus system in firmware 4.00. Quite a few of these features came about from direct feedback from customers.
Daring to Be Different
When the world was obsessed with full frame cameras and performance, Fuji built an entire camera lineup around APS-C sensors with retro-inspired controls. The move seemed bizarre to a lot of photographers at first, as if quirky for the sake of being quirky, but over time, the X Series has come to be one of the most respected lines of cameras in memory, and those quirky choices have become beloved both for their retro look and for being highly functional, giving photographers an intuitive control system that simply stays out of their way and allows them to work unencumbered. In addition, their performance remains unaffected by their size, making them fantastic for traveling professionals.
Similarly, while most professionals eschew quick-edit schemes like presets and the like, Fuji's film simulations have become a favorite of many shooters, providing beautiful color and tonality right out of camera. This gives photographers the option of applying them in post to a raw file or straight out of camera as JPEGs, a fantastic option for anyone who needs a quick turnaround on files or does not need or want to do a lot of post-processing work.
And then, in recent years, with the company looking to expand on their success, instead of starting a full frame line, they again bypassed that busy marketplace and went straight into medium format. Not only that, they made it remarkably affordable and gave it a healthy dose of modernization. Whereas digital medium format prices were traditionally well into five figures (save for Pentax), the GFX 50S was $6,500 when it was announced, competing with flagship full frame cameras on price. Granted, the 50S has a smaller sensor than top-end medium format cameras, but it was still a remarkable achievement. Not content to stop there, they then released the even cheaper 50R, which sat near the same price range as high-resolution full frame cameras. Finally, perhaps the most impressive achievement was the GFX 100. Of course, the marquee feature is the 102-megapixel sensor, but along with that, Fuji made an impressively versatile camera with a 5 fps burst rate, phase detection autofocus, and in-body image stabilization. Instead of a niche tool meant to be sat on a tripod in the studio and used for slow, methodical shoots, the GFX 100 is a versatile and dare I say, fun camera to use. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that Fuji did all this and kept the price under $10,000. Medium format is now an accessible tool as opposed to a niche thing left to rental houses and only the most top-end studios. Even if you do not use it for your own work, that sort of competition forces other manufacturers to continue to innovate and compete on price.
Fujifilm is the most unique company among the major manufacturers, and their uncommon approach has earned them a loyal following and a lot of respect across the industry, finding their way into the hands of a lot of professionals and enthusiasts.
What are your favorite features of the Fuji system? Let me know in the comments!