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Fujifilm Managers Interviews: About Competition and Alliances, Dreams of Modular and Fixed Lens GFX and More

image courtesy - phototrend
image courtesy – phototrend

There have been two interviews with Fujifilm managers, one in French (the more comprehensive one) and one in Japanese (short).

I will sum up both of them, but the Japanese one only because it involves Koji Matsumoto, the president of Fujifilm Imaging. It does not say much at all, but if we hear from his mouth that X-H2 and X-H2S are selling better than Fujifilm thought, than it has its value.

The French manager was definitely much more talkative and if you don’t speak French, our summary below will cover it all.

French Interview at Phototrend – original French version here

The interview is with French product manager Cyril Duchêne. Of course the main focus is on the French market, but there are general considerations too.

  • impact of Covid was much more limited than Fujifilm feared
  • luckily the X-T4 was announced shortly before the lockdowns and it saved the year for Fujifilm
  • France is the last country to switch from DSLR to mirrorless (other EU countries made the switch faster. Germany for example made the massive switch 4 years earlier than France)
  • Fujifilm was able to intercept part of the customers who were leaving Olympus after Olympus quit the camera market and sold all to OM Digital
  • M43 users come to Fujifilm because the value compactness
  • the post Covid now is marked by chip and parts shortage
  • X-H2 and X-H2S incorporate new technology that will find its way into future Fujifilm cameras
  • X-H2S is by far the most affordable and accessible stacked sensor camera on the market (compared to full frame stacked sensor)
  • during Covid years Fujifilm focused mostly on renewing their GFX series (GFX100S and GFX50SII) and less on APS-C series
  • X-H2 is ment offer high resolution that can be found on full frame in a balanced and compact package
  • the PSAM dial is to attract customers into the Fujifilm X system, who don’t like retro styled controls
  • Fujifilm is Nr.1 in APS-C market, although the Canon EOS R7 is doing well
  • Nikon took advantage of the fact that they had more Nikon Zfc stock, whereas Fujifilm had more difficulties with production
  • Pentax is nonexistent
  • Sony is focusing more on video with their APS-C line, see Sony FX30
  • having competition is always a good thing, but in terms of IQ and ISO noise, Fujifilm is still the best in APS-C
  • other APS-C cameras from other brands have more compromises that Fuji’s latest X-H2 and X-H2S
  • Fujifilm is a high end brand. When customers come to Fujifilm looking with a less than 1K budget, unfortunately Fujifilm can not meet their request [admin note: this pretty much confirms that their entry level line is now dead]
  • the strongest competitor for Fujifilm is the Canon EOS R7
  • entry level (X-A7 and X-T200) is popular mainly in Asia among female audience
  • in France the main customer is usually 55+ man. Sadly not enough young people and women
  • it’s not sure if Fujiflm will return to entry level, as the sub 1K market is mostly in the control of smartphones
  • the new “entry level” for Fujifilm are X-S10, X-E4 and X-T30
  • X100V is doing very well all over the world
  • X100V has the particularity of recording very good sales with each generation, without any shortness of breath. It has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide for each generation, which represents a very good performance. It is a case to which our customers are very attached, since we can always have it in our pocket. We find it especially with SLR owners, since it is the case that we take with us on weekends.”
  • IBIS on X100 line seems superfluous, as it would make the camera bigger
  • the only alternative to the X100V are the Ricoh GR III and the Leica Q
  • opening the mount to third parties is very good for Fujifilm
  • also, third parties only want to make AF lenses if your market is big enough [implying that Fujifilm is now big enough for Sigma, Tamron, Samyang & Co to develop AF lenses]
  • the needs of photographers are different so they can decide if they want to use Fujinon lenses or third party lenses
  • the manager thinks that the market will continue to shrink in volume – but that this decrease will be offset by an increase in the purchase price
  • smartphones is a much bigger market, hence companies put a lot of R&D there that camera companies can not match
  • Thus, artificial intelligence and mechanisms based on Deep Learning are only beginning to arrive on photo cameras, at Fujifilm as well as at the competition, especially on the side of autofocus
  • He thinks Fujifilm has still 10-15 beautiful years ahead. But will all camera companies still be there in 10-15 years?
  • Panasonic, Sigma and Leica merged in the L Mount alliance to increase their chances to survive in future and share R&D
  • why couldn’t Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm and Sony merge in an alliance and share their R&D (especially knowing that Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony share the same sensors)
  • photos taken on the smartphone are made to be viewed on a smartphone screen. To print, it takes much more than a smartphone
  • for Fujifilm customers, video is still mostly an “accessory”. And it’s also more complicated overall than photography
  • and yet, it was a mistake of Fujifilm not to take video too seriously at the beginning
  • X-H2 and X-H2S go all-in with video
  • If a brand declares that the market is driven by professionals, you can shout bullshit!
  • The Pros represent a niche market, who exhaust their equipment before replacing it. On the other hand, some customers are lucky to have extremely large budgets
  • For example, with the GFX 50S II, we are on about 80% of amateurs. With the GFX 100S, we have about 60% of professionals.
  • prosumers are who make the photo market today. They have incredible purchasing power. And they make brands happy
  • Fujifilm moves away from entry level becase “we realize that for part of our customers, price is not an important point“.
  • Fujifilm will update its APS-C fleet in future, it remains to see if with 40MP or 26MP stacked sensors
  • firmware will evolve
  • they will watch Sony Full Frame announcement to see what the future of the GFX range will be made of
  • GFX has made the inaccessible accessible: portable medium format
  • the more Fujifilm sells, the lower the price for the sensors and hence Fujifilm can sell the cameras cheaper
  • the manager dreams of a GFX200 one day, a large format version of the X100V
  • he also dreams of a modular GFX

Next up is Koji Matsumoto, President of Fujifilm Imaging. The interview is in Japanese and can be found here.

  • reservations for X-H2 and X-H2S were stronger than they anticipated and it hence took long to deliver the products
  • Instax keeps rocking

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