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?