The migration to the Fuji X-System

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This is my third attempt at using the Fujifilm X-system and I recently spent some time analysing my investment in photographic equipment over the last year and a half (December 2012 onwards) and this is now the longest I have owned any system in that period of time. It is also the longest I have owned any component of the Fuji X-system ever; each of the prior ownerships were just over a month. It is also the longest I have owned any system where I am not “thinking” about is replacement already.

The table below shows the breakdown of my camera ownership from December 2011 onwards:

System Name Date Purchased Date Sold Ownership (Days)
Fuji X-Pro1 6th December 2012 20th January 2013 44
Canon EOS 5D MK-III 19th January 2013 3rd May 2013 104
Panasonic Lumix GH3 15th May 2013 13th July 2013 59
Fuji X-Pro1 19th July 2013 28th August 2013 40
Panasonic Lumix GH3 23rd August 2013 10th October 2013 48
Canon EOS 70D 10th October 2013 20th January 2014 102
Fuji X-Pro1
Fuji X-E1
Fuji X-T1
20th January 2014 Still in use as of 13th May 2014) 106

So what’s different now, and am I the only photographer who feels that there is something about the Fujifilm X-system that wasn’t quite right before? Does Fujifilm have some kind of secret sauce that they are using?

I am an avid reader of the Fuji rumours web site and one of my favourite types of article posted on the site is about photographers who were previously using one form of DSLR or another who have “switched” to the Fujifilm X-system.

Some of them simply use this in addition to their DSLR and some may have started this way but after having the DSLR system sit in a cupboard gathering dust for some time decided to fully switch.

The reasons are manifold but the number one reason (and this is the main reason for me) is that they wanted to “ditch the weight and bulk” for a more compact and lighter system that is still capable of delivering the results.

Prior to the release of the X-T1 (and to a certain degree the X-E2 and X100s), the system had many holes and although the quality coming from the X-Trans sensor was mostly agreed to be good if you could extract the details from your RAW tool of choice, the rest of the system (Autofocus, missing or delayed lenses) was sub-par. There was a very loyal following and many photographers tried the system and then moved back to what they were using before or tried another system. Enough of them persevered and stayed with the system though.

However, Fujifilm heard the feedback and delivered a series of firmware upgrades to improve the operation of what was already out there as well as what was to come (i.e. the X-T1). What we have now is a great series of great X-system cameras: X-T1, X-E2 and X-100s and the X-Pro1 (as well as the former X-E1 and x100 models). The same can be said for lenses too and Fujifilm have stepped up to the plate to deliver many of the classic focal lengths and zooms, many of them with faster aperture ratings than the competition. There isn’t a dud lens (optically) amongst them and this includes the consumer XC zoom lenses too.

Fujifilm have a Kaizen philosophy

Kaizen

Fujifilm have delivered on this in many areas:

  1. Listening and acting on the feedback from their customers
  2. Inviting photographers to the factory prior to product shipments to get their feedback
  3. When something isn’t right they own up to it and then provide a pain-free process to fix what isn’t right
  4. Providing many “feature” firmware updates to current and discontinued camera models
  5. Providing a road map for their lens selections
  6. Ensuring that the emphasis is on new lens releases and not camera body releases

Sure, they still have some catching up to do to make sure that the “gaps” in the system have been or are scheduled to be plugged and for the lenses we have the roadmap:

Fujinon Lens Rroadmap 2014-2015 UK-v2.1

I think this Kaizen philosophy is the main reason why with the release of the X-T1 this “migration” to the Fuji X system generally seems to be accelerating and shows no sign at the moment of abating, this is in preference to other mirror-less camera systems.

Just before I posted this I read a post written by Bill Fortney on how he has switched (at least for his carry everywhere gear) to the Fuji X-system. His “Report Card” review can be read here. When photographers like Bill, Zack Arias, Kevin Mullins, David Hobby and Bert Stephani do this you know that there must be something in Fujifilm X-system!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that not all photographers are switching; there are still certain types of photography or situations where the DSLR is still the superior camera and for their owners there is no reason to switch. However, in a few of year’s time who knows.

Note: This is a rewritten version of the original posted on Friday 9th May.