Fujifilm, in their eight years producing X Series cameras, have developed a reputation for producing digital cameras with a tactile feel and a few features that no other manufacturers are offering. While they still remain the underdog in terms of market share, their cameras have a loyal user base. In a concept straight up stolen from Alex Cooke’s series (with his blessings, of course), today, I’ll talk about three things I appreciate about Fujifilm’s cameras.
When the original X100 camera was released, it created quite a splash with its retro styling and hybrid viewfinder. This hybrid viewfinder, through the X100 series and subsequent X-Pro series cameras would set the stage for Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras. These cameras would be something a little different from what other manufacturers were doing and would be geared more towards the experience of picking up the camera than straight spec sheets.
Since those two releases, Fujifilm has released dozens of camera bodies and a suite of lenses under the same premise: the experience of using the camera should make you want to make photographs. Honestly, that’s what made me buy my first Fujifilm camera (the X100S) and then my X-T1. It wasn’t long after the release of the X-T2 that my Nikon gear took a back seat, because the quality coming from the Fujifilm was great, and I enjoyed using it more than the giant DSLRs I had been working with. Let’s jump in to three things I love about Fujifilm’s approach.
The Same Image Sensor Across Models
One of the things I like most about the X-Series cameras is that it really doesn’t matter which one you buy. Since all the models (bar a few budget entry level models) use the same X-Trans sensor, you get the same excellent image quality across all the cameras in the range. This means you can choose your camera purely on the features you need and the build quality you require. It also means that Fujifilm can focus on creating a great sensor and processor before implementing it in several different cameras.
While creating my book, Hmäe Sün Näe Ti Cengkhü Nu, I used a Fujifilm X-T1 as my primary camera with the X-T10 as my backup. In the 40 °C (104 °F) plus midday sun of Myanmar, my X-T1 suffered the only overheating malfunction I’ve ever had from a Fujifilm camera. Settings started changing themselves, and eventually, the camera wouldn’t switch on. I had no choice but to continue working, as we had limited time living out in the villages to complete this project. So, I grabbed my backup out of the bag. With all the buttons set up exactly the same as my X-T1, I simply moved the lens over to the other body and was working again in a matter of seconds, while still producing the exact same quality of images. The great thing about this is that a photographer can have two different body styles for different approaches to photography, but know that both will produce exactly the same level of quality.
The Kaizen Approach
Since the very beginning, Fujifilm have been committed to improving their cameras after release. While other manufacturers have begun following suit (looking at you, Sony), Fujifilm has added features to and improved all of their cameras over the years with such abandon that they have set a precedent for how mirrorless cameras should be supported. It’s great to see the industry embracing this and even trundling giants like Nikon following suit with great feature updates to their Z series cameras.
Fujifilm took both the X-T1 and X-T2 in the middle of their lifespans and squeezed every last bit of performance out of the sensor/processor combination that they could through firmware updates. With the more recent cameras focusing on video features, we’ve seen internal F-Log recording added, 4K HLG recording, and other requested features find their way into any camera that has the capabilities. This approach means that in today’s world of all-but-yearly camera releases, you can guarantee that Fujifilm will continue to add features to your “old” camera.
From the very inception of the X-Series line of cameras, Fujifilm committed themselves to producing optically excellent lenses designed specifically for the APS-C sensor. Just like the X-Series bodies, you can pick up any Fujifilm XF lens and know that it will produce great image quality. There really aren’t any duds in the lineup.
The first three lenses they released were the 35mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.4 macro, and 18mm f/2 pancake. While these were extremely slow and hunted focus a lot on the original X-Pro1 camera, over the years, they have become much more usable, and their optical quality still shines. After fleshing out their suite of standout primes, Fujifilm turned their attention to the working professional and released the 16-55mm f/2.8 and 50-140mm f/2.8 lenses. After just eight years, the lens lineup has just about everything most photographers could need without the worry of picking a lower quality lens. The XF designation means that you’re getting a great lens every time.
Bonus: SOOC Quality
The final thing that I really appreciate about Fujifilm’s approach is their dedication to offering fantastic straight-out-of-camera jpg files. By spending a little time to craft a jpg custom preset that works for the situation at hand, you’re able to output jpg files with beautiful colour, sharpness, and dynamic range straight from the camera. All of these settings can be added to either a custom preset or to your Q menu, allowing for rapid changes on the fly to get the best from your jpg files.
This has been a lifesaver with certain corporate clients who require real-time delivery as speeches are made. I can simply connect my camera to my phone after I have what I need from the speech and text images to the client, which they can upload immediately.
Fujifilm’s cameras have gone from being beautiful-if-clunky toys to viable tools for professional photographers over the years. Their dedication to offering great image quality in a small package, supporting that package via firmware, and continuously updating their lens lineup with more great lenses than your G.A.S. can handle has given them a place in the competitive mirrorless market. There are plenty of other small features of the system that I love and plenty that I don't, but these are the three major things that I feel set X-Series cameras apart.
Fujifilm cameras are now my workhorses of choice and I really enjoy working with them. Do you own and use X-Series cameras? What do you love about them? What do you not?
Never owned a Fujifilm camera, but they just seem like such fun camera systems to shoot with.
Nice write up. Very interesting since I’m not as familiar with their system.
They're a good time, for sure. When they were first introduced, I would never have considered switching away from Nikon. They were simply just too slow and clunky. These days they hold their own and make great tools for everyday work.
The x100f is a great cam, in the near field the lens could be much better, one has to stop down to get decent sharpness when using close focus. It's not hat bad, but compared to the pricey Leica Q I recently bought second hand it sucks. In every other sense it's really great and usable.
Ok, the lens hood isn't great, so I bought a squarehood (now it looks like a Leica too, but that wasn't the reason, the squarehood shields better).
I had the x100f for about a year as well, but sadly had to part with it for financial reasons. It's an extremely fun camera to work with and I think embodies the design goals of Fujifilm well.
Yes, surely. It's just that I as an amateur can't use this cam as it could be used. For the price you get a lot more value. My Leica Q was even second hand more than double the price of a new x100f, so I sold a rarely used lens to get the price down. Now I rarely use the x100f, but, as it's still good, I won't sell it. It's smaller than the Leica, lighter, and the built-in ND filter helps avoiding electronic shutter issues.
I've had most of them, and sold them all. Except my S3Pro and X100F, both kept for nostalgia.
I tried using them alongside my Nikon setup for a while but the controls are too small and fiddly for my sausage fingers. AF was too slow, RAW files got muddy quickly. The best setup I had was the X-H1 with the 56mm 1.2
However, that was eclipsed as soon as the Z7 arrived. The Fuji kit was sold and I don't miss it one bit. Which is sad actually because it is a nice system.
The SOOC stuff? I've never subscribed to that, in a commercial environment that has no added value at all.
Of course, it all depends on what type of work you do or aspire to do.
It's not for everyone, that's for sure. Just like any system, it's going to work for some and not for others. The new Z system has me intrigued as I moved from Nikon to Fuji a few years back. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Z7 as compared to your DSLR kit.
As a relative newbie to photography, owning an X-T2 massively helped me to understand the exposure triangle in detail, having dials and aperture rings that are numbered and tactile seemed to make the learning process easier.
somebody said below and I don’t doubt, the Z7 will wipe the floor with Fujis top line X camera but for me personally I couldn’t ever think of moving away from the X series now, they are a joy to use.
I also picked up an X-M1 for £90 recently, took it out the other night to see what the image quality was like, I was blown away with how detailed it was.
Agreed. The heart of the Fujifilm system is in the fact that it makes you pick up your camera and make pictures. If you don't need the bleeding edge of what digital cameras are capable of, it's a really great system that is a lot of fun to work with.
Completely agree, and if im honest the images im getting out of this camera, i really dont need any more from them.
Moved from Sony A7R3 to Fuji X-T2/3, can't be happier.
No more super heavy/bulky camera/lens liability, no more big spend on gears, no more rely on camera function brainless shooting, and the quality is more than capable for any kind of photography.
The image quality is certainly sufficient for anything you throw at it. How do you find the tactile experience compared to your old Sony?
Love these dials and buttons, it brings me back to photographic fundamental every time. Only complain - no more U1 U2 U3 settings for quick convert.
A great system for enthusiasts 👍. I am looking forward to the x100f successor.
Likewise. That will be a fun day-to-day camera for sure.
Own X-T3 (X-T2 before that) and GFX-50S, they are fun to shoot with
Excellent article. I have a Fuji XT2 that I carry around when I need something more flexible than my Leica D-Lux but still not my 30 pounds of Nikon. It won't replace my Nikon full frame gear but it is one hell of a camera. So far I only have the 18-55 f2.8-4 kit lens (That term cracks me up when it comes to this lens. Such a great lens!) along with a couple of old Olympus OM lenses (50 f3.5 Macro and the 100mm f2.8) used with a Fotodioxpro adapter.
I'm having a lot of fun with it all.
I actually moved from Nikon to Fujifilm a couple of years ago. What started out as a fun toy to carry around on the weekends very quickly became my workhorse after the X-T2 was released (I still have my first X-T2 and it's going strong at over 350,000 shutter actuations). What keeps you from using it in place of your Nikon gear? Specific applications? Ergonomics? I'd love to hear more!
I'm so new to the Fuji system and been firmly entrenched in Nikon (No complaints by any means!) for years that I have yet to consider the option.
I feel you there. I had so much invested in glass that it hurt in the beginning. I think I was closer to divorce than I realise. Ha!
Did the divorce thing a few years before I got back into photography. I got the better end of the deal!
Fuji's firmware upgrades brought a new lease of life to my X-Pro1 with features like Focus Peaking. Combined with the small f/2 lenses and you have a very enjoyable carry around digital 'rangefinder'.
Did you ever use the X-Pro1 with firmware 1.00? It's come A LONG way. Haha. How do you find the autofocus with the f/2 lenses? I never had a chance to use the newer lenses on the X-Pro1.
Couldn't tell you what firmware version the camera came with, but it really is a lot better with the updates, and I wish I had updated it sooner. Autofocus with my older 18mm f/2 improved with firmware updates to both body and lens, and the newer f/2 lenses are really good - quick and quiet even with my old camera. I'd say they match my 5Dii at least, which is certainly not the benchmark for AF speed these days, but isn't a bad result for the X-Pro1 considering its age and how far it has come.
In any case, I mostly use manual focus now that focus peaking is there to help and it's a really enjoyable camera to use like that for the kind of street/documentary photography Fuji intended for it.
Fuji's firmware updates have essentially mitigated any "need" I might have had for an X-Pro2 with its improved hybrid viewfinder. It has, however, garnered some loyalty towards their system and in my case seen me continue to invest in more lenses which I could use on other bodies at a later date. They may have 'lost' a body sale, but they've kept a customer in the long run.
I shoot a combination of real estate photography, and and travel/ Family snapshots. I originally learned how to shoot on the Minolta so it made sense for me to migrate over to Sony. I was looking at Sony's new mirrorless bodies when a friend told me about Fuji. I loved the color profiles and actual knobs & not menus and haven't looked back since. Fuji Xt1 & xE1 are fantastic!
That's what got me hooked as well. It felt like working with my Nikon FM again, only I had a digital preview.
I have been captivated by Fuji cameras since early on, but until the X-T30 and now the XT-3 I never trusted the AF system, and the dynamic range wasn't on par with my Nikon fullframes. That all changed with the introduction of these bodies, and now I am in for the long haul, for all the reasons indicated in the article. I love this X-T30 I have for street work, it just doesn't miss focus and the files it produces are really amazing.
The autofocus was never quite as good as the Nikon D750 with the X-T2 or earlier. Nikon's AF system was just fantastic. For me, it was the X-T2 where the autofocus became "good enough" for my day to day work. But, the X-T3 is yet another leap ahead. What type of work are you using it for?
I just switched to Fujifilm X-H1. Long time user of Nikon. Nikon a great company and quality gear. At my age, 73, I wanted to dial down my life. Fuji color is dead on for me. Their value proposition suited me. The in camera stabilization helps, I have tremors in my hands. This helps a lot for clarity. I bought two lens, The so called kit lens and the my bady, the 2.8 red tag XF50-140 mm, LM OIS WR. Still working on the daunting menus in my camera body. Enjoy the build quality. I need a menu for dummies for this camera, lol. Just how to keep the focus point in the middle and jump around whether in portrait or landscape. So not the fault of Fujifilm, just remembering “how to set” stuff. I like show and tell. I think handbook writers are more the engineer types. I need baby steps, Like what happens when you do this, etc. But thrilled with Fujifilm. Thank goodness for my local Camera store who has patiently assisted me in my learning curve. There are so many online (and great ones like Adorma and B&H. But nothing like a local retail store who can hand hold me as I adapt to Fuji world.
Things work slightly differently in the Fujifilm world, for sure. The menu items aren't quite as well named as they could be, but I've found that to be the issue with all camera manufacturers. Nikon had a great system with their "Info" buttons that would give you a description of what the menu item did when you pushed it. It was almost like having the manual on hand at all times. This would be a great addition to the Fujifilm system, I think.
I was tired of using my iphone to take pics of the kids when we went out, and when you're dealing with diaper bags and tons of child related gear, the last thing you want is the full Canon 5d rig. too heavy. So I bought an ancient XE-1. The autofocus could be a loooot better, but it's a six year old fuji, so I imagine the contemporary ones are much better. It's light, it doesn't take up space, and it gives you full creative control.
It reminds me of nothing so much as the first camera I ever bought with my own money- the praktica ltl.
i wouldn't use it for professional work, but man is it fun fun fun to shoot. It'll make you remember why you started photography to begin with.
Ooooh yes... that X-E1 is a tad slow on the autofocus side. My wife still has hers and when coupled with older lenses, it's a bit of a slouch. Have you tried any of the new f/2 lenses on it? Those are significantly faster and might help you get more keepers out of that old beast.
Praktika LTL? Good times for sure! That shutter button. Ha!
I'd love to try some of those f/2 lenses, but I'm heavily invested in Canon glass- so I have to figure out of I'm going to jump to full fuji or not. A lot of that depends on what the next camera Canon releases is. If it's an R version of the 5ds with decent low light, then I'll stay. If not.... then I'll be looking forward to the x-pro 3. Either way, until I figure out which way I'll jump, I need to save my money.
Fuji cameras make photography fun again. If you find you haven't been shooting much lately and you are just uninspired then you might want to consider borrowing a Fuji camera to play with for a day or two. It is great to have a compact camera with a small prime lens on it that takes amazing photos that you can use straight out of the camera without spending more time in Lightroom than you did shooting. Ever since I bought a used Fujifilm x-e2 on eBay I haven't touched my other cameras and I'm shooting much more often. I take that camera with me everywhere I go and I love it.
This article pretty much nails it.
XT3 + 23 1.4 goes everywhere. It's light enough to dangle around my neck for the day, slings over a shoulder nicely or wedges into the wife's handbag when not in use. The out of camera jpgs are awesome, esp acros.
Definitely one of my better purchases; no regrets at all.
I love your humble writing basing on your experience, not some scraps of news or what others are(or have been) saying.
I loved my fuji gears, though now my fuji is down to xpro1 with a cheap 7artisans 35mm lens. This is sort of my experiment of going back to basics and taking time in shooting rather than mindlessly focusing and shooting I found doing with new cameras. Not mentioning my financial restraint. While I still have a Sony A7iii for occasional works, xpro series is what I am attached with.
I always enjoyed your writing and your works, one of the few reasons I come and read in f stoppers these days. Please keep it up.
I carry an x30 and Fuji trigger in my bag. It can't quite manage to be my primary but image quality is good enough that in a catastrophe it would enable me to finish a shoot
But if you have giant hands like I do definitely get one of the grips and/or a wrist strap to hold on to the thing.