Ah what feels so good as opening a proper can of worms? I cannot resist, and thus open one called “Sony Vs Fuji”!
Admittedly, Canon and Nikon still rank 1 & 2 in the “serious camera” space. But Sony and Fuji are the ones making progress at the expense of the over-conservative market leaders by volume. There are early signs that Sony are leading Nikon for the N°2 spot, and Fuji are weathering the market downdraft better than the others.
DearSusan contributors/friends are a fair representation of this, with Pascal, Adrian and I shooting Sony, while Paul, Bob and Adam shoot Fuji. And others shoot other brands too, but, being wise, stay well clear of the Sony Vs. Fuji controversy.
It stands to reason that the 2 brands making headway in a down market with a greater-than-usual advantage for established leaders, would use the same recipe, right?
Wrong! What I find of interest is how the 2 approaches are exact opposites. Yet both are successful, which teaches us a lesson about the ways to penetrate a market.
Sony is a constant innovator. The smallest big-sensor camera with the original NEX. The smallest full-frame camera with the RX-1. The smallest (affordable) interchangeable-lens FF camera with the A7. Etc…
Fuji innovations? Nope. Wrong address. What do Fuji do to woo customers? They offer what customers want. Good form factors. Good UI. Good lenses at good prices. They seem to do everything right, and command serious brand loyalty.
Sony brand loyalty? Nope. Wrong address. Because we don’t love them, as they are so flawed they are basically unloveable, if we could, we’d jump ship, but there is nothing out there that even comes close to the skill set of a A7RII.
Sony, early on, were lambasted for their dearth of E/FE-mount lenses, and welcomed the boost of lenses that could be adapted from other brands. Today, one of Sony’s strongest suits is the peerless range of lenses that it can use, either native or adapted. Native with no less than 4 Sony ranges (“normal”, G, GM, Sony-Zeiss), Zeiss (Batis), Voigtländer (10mm, 12mm, 15mm, 40mm, 65mm Macro), Tamron, Laowa, 7Artisans, soon Sigma. Adapted with all Sigma and Canon, many Nikon, all Leica R, some Leica M. Just about every legacy lens out there, including Minolta, Olympus, even MF. The mind boggles
Fuji? Nope. Basically, Fuji use Fuji lenses. Though some can be adapted, this is not the basic reason why people move to Fuji, quite the reverse.
It goes even deeper than this. Sony and Fuji can’t even agree on formats. Sony have by now a weak presence in the APS-C space. Few new cameras, no new Sony lenses (some third-party ones, though). But they are very strong in FF (35mm). No MF. Fuji? By and large a player in APS-C. No FF. And now a MF camera.
It is as though Sony and Fuji are avoiding direct competition, seeking to complement each other rather than compete. Some might say: “very Japanese”. Some might mention that Fuji buy lots of Sony sensors, though it is a separate Sony division, and so do Nikon, which doesn’t stop direct Sony-Nikon confrontation.
So, does this mean that opposite strategies produce similar results, meaning strategies ultimately don’t matter? As a consultant selling strategic services, you surely don’t expect me to go there, do you? Right! Strategy does matter. And, if one looks deeper than meets the eye, Sony and Fuji have in fact adopted the same strategy, only they deploy it in different ways.
Sony bought the legacy camera business of Minolta, and Fuji had their own legacy camera business from the film days. Where they took the same strategic step was to declare that their existing business was not a foundation for the future, and that they had to (re)invent something totally new. Hence the “small is beautiful providing it has a big nice Sony sensor” strategy from Sony, and the “people want nice cameras and a pleasant shooting experience” from Fuji. Whereas Canikon seem to be on a path that “past greatness and success are the harbingers of our bright future(s)”. To be fair, Panalympus also joined the ranks of the revolutionaries with their “small is beautiful, smallest is beautifulest” micro 4/3.
Oh, sure the deployment of this strategy was not flawless from either Sony or Fuji, but it was basically sound, in that they understood both the possibility and the need to reinvent themselves. That takes a lot of corporate courage. Kudos! Whereas Canon and Nikon are making a Titanic effort just to stay afloat…
Now to the future.
You could say that Sony, with their less-than-class-leading UI, are at great risk from smartphones, because those are so elegantly simple to use. You could say that Fuji with their less-than-class-leading IQ are at great risk from smartphones because the IQ from those is continuing to improve and close the gap with real cameras (they have basically caught up with anything using less than a one-inch sensor, like the Sony RX-100).
That is not the deeper question. The deeper question is: who among the existing manufacturers has the courage and talent to reinvent themselves one more time, while there is still something worth reinventing? But, if I write the same article 5 to 7 years down the pike, one thing is for sure. The landscape of the industry will have changed so much as to be unrecognizable.
It might be something to keep in mind as we make large financial commitments to any one camera system.
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Philbert, I mostly agree with your comments, and I can’t be bothered to get into a brand argument about it.
As a long term Minolta and then Sony user, I never quite understand all the hatred that is heaped on Sony for handling and ergonomics, as much of the control regime and operation of the cameras is carried forward from some of the last great Minolta film SLRs such as the Dynax 7. An example – in matric metering, press the AE lock button, and the exposure is locked and the spot meter comes on. When you move the spot meter around the scene, the EV scale at the bottom of the viewfinder shows the spot meter reading against the locked exposure, and the exposure compensation dial can be sued to bias it. Simple, easy and a brilliant way to meter a complex scene. Where I do agree Sony are weak is the organisation of the menu system, where digital has required more and more options and customisations that have not always been very well organised, although I think the very latest models such as the A6500 and A9 supposedly improve. Since so many options can be configured onto external controls, or into the Fn shooting menu, and the “quick navi” system means all the items on the rear display can be directly changed via the front and rear dials, it rarely poses a huge problem for me, but I know some people get very passionate about it.
I owned an original X-Pro 1 for about 3 years and found it a frustrating experience because the camera had so many design defects and bugs. An example: lock the exposure, and the EVF no longer showed the exposure but instead happily auto-gained to a “normal” view, rendering the histogram and the exposure scale useless. They have made great improvements in rectifying many of the issues over successive generations of the cameras, but I felt cheated by a £1500 “pro” camera that was nothing of the sort, and made me a product beta tester. Just my personal experience. What you do say that is so true is that Fuji don’t innovate – they market on past tradition and “Look-a-Leica” styling cues that hark back to good old days that never existed for the complex electronic products that are actually being sold. Some people like the direct Fuji controls, but any claims of “good ergonomics” often ignore a complexity of control regime that has developed with the X camera system, so that there can actually be 2 or 3 different ways to control aperture depending on lens or camera body used.
Clearly, Canon and Nikon aren’t going to stand still and let it happen. They have been outwardly stagnant because why bite the hand that feeds them – they have plenty of loyal customers invested in their systems and they don’t want to upset or un0nerve them by suddenly bringing out a new systems that’s incompatible with their legacy lens mounts. Canon EOS M, a previously lame duck “me too” product, has suddenly got quite good (although still lacks key features of modern cameras, as Canon products tend to, although their faithful buyers claim it matters not). Dual pixel focus technology is clearly showing the way for decently fast on sensor focusing with their EF lens system, since they have been smart or lucky and moved to in-lens control of focus and aperture, whereas systems like Sony’s A mount (Minolta) still have the features mechanically controlled by the body, making them unsuitable for technologies such as on sensor focusing and video work. I am convinced Canon will either make a serious mirrorless EOS M camera, or somehow take the mirror (or the need for it) out of the EOS system but with full compatibility with their lens system, to keep existing users happy.
Nikon? Who knows.
Ironically, if the big 2 do remove the mirror from their SLRs, I think it will be done more for market perception and fashion than for any huge advantage to the makers or consumers. One of the benefits and attractions of mirrorless has been small size, less weight, and a small registration that allows almost any lens to be used. An SLR without a mirror to allow legacy SLR lenses to be used delivers none of these benefits. Ultimately with Sony snapping at the heels of Canon and Nikon for full frame sales, they will respond. I don’t know how much it will damage Sony’s business as they imaging division is spread across multiple markets from consumer to pro-video (remember, E mount supports APS-C and full frame video cameras with prices in the thousands). Fuji are more exposed by their “boutique” market position, a Leica with a lower price tag, but anecdotally by some close to the company, their market position and sales are far below Sony or Olympus – hence I suspect their clever playing of the market.
Having invested heavily in glass with the Nikon mount, I’ll be pissed off to tears with them if they ever change that. Who the hell would have any interest in all those lenses, under those conditions? I can’t imagine them doing it anyway, because it’d apply to all of their own lenses, too. If they ever went bankrupt, I think I’d have to stockpile spare Nikon camera bodies to work my way around the problems that would cause, before the camera shops ran out of stock.
Canon in my view services the small cam market better than Nik – with Olympus out there, I can’t fathom why Nik produced so many of those pocket cams instead of a slightly bigger one with a half decent sensor – practically everyone else did, and then Nik came out with something which was “neither fish nor fowl”, trumpeting all over the place and leaving me wondering who the hell would buy it – a one & 2/3rds sensor, when everyone else was pushing 1 inch or 4/3rds? – with 16MP when everyone else had gone to 20 & beyond? And so clunky you couldn’t possibly shove it in a pocket, but it still wasn’t anything vaguely as good as a half frame?
Things I miss are:
(1) a fully articulated screen – yes I know it can get wrecked, if you are careless with it, but I was staring at a photo opportunity only this afternoon that I frankly can’t do, without one – at 75, I’m no longer sufficiently agile to crawl around upside down, to get at shots where the cam has to be at an inconvenient level to look through the viewfinder)
(2) a split image focus screen – all these electronic whiz bangs are all very fine, but they hop all over the place and drive me nuts, trying to focus exactly – and exactly where I want to do it. Since I mostly use manual focus anyway, I could do what I want with a split screen, but it’s effing hard with the electronic focus systems. Focus lock and all the other bright ideas, notwithstanding. Although I do admit to using live view in my macro work, and for stuff I can lock away on a tripod.
While it’s not my concern if they up the specifications in these toys, with something for everyone, and features dripping all over the carpet, most of that is of no relevance or assistance to me. Gawd – some of my happiest shoots were done with pre-World War II folding cams! And I even had fun with a monster folding cam made circa 1910, shooting postcard size B&W negatives! Not that gear like that would suit what I’m doing now – and I do appreciate some of their ideas, but shudder at some of the others.
And while they are busily creating this stuff, I simply don’t understand why they think it’s necessary to have SO MANY different camera bodies, all competing with each other, all costing heaps (no doubt) to develop and manufacture, and to keep up to date with market changes. Since the launch of Nik’s D800, they’ve come out with several different versions and they’re about to deliver another – and to a large extent, these cams simply go head to head with other cams Nik produces in their pro range. This MUST be bad for the bottom line in their profit & loss account, and their balance sheet – but like all the others, they keep doing things like this.
Lenses is another issue. I did try – but in the end I all but gave up on Nik’s, because I simply wasn’t getting the quality I was after. Sigma’s ART lenses trample all over them. So do Zeiss’s Otus lenses and, I think, their Milvus lenses. Price is an issue, but not a huge one – you can’t scream about the price of a Sigma ART lens, to put on a 3 or 4 thousand dollar camera body, when the Nikon equivalent really isn’t all that much less expensive anyway. And besides, it’s a rather peculiar person who spends that kind of money on a camera body but not on decent glass. So again, I see their strategies damaging them in the market place. Why? Why keep doing things that hurt the company?
Your first comment sums up why the big 2 haven’t announced serious mirrorless cameras yet – they are terrified of alienating existing customers. It’s why I’m convinced they will either take the mirror out of their SLRs, or make the equivalent of a Sony E mount camera with one of those Canon EF autofocus adapters with really good AF performance, so as not to scare the horses.
I am still shocked Nikon announced their DL range of 1″ compacts and then a year later scrap them before they even got made as reportedly uneconomic – this in a market segment where a tiny compact camera costs as much ad a mid range SLR! Canon have a better presence but some of their offerings have had serious flaws such as focusing performance.
I think to an extent Sony have played a clever game by having multiple bodies but with specialism, so the same camera gets reused as different things to different buyers (A7r vs A7s). Perhaps what you describe accounts for some of Nikons quality woes?
Actually, this is a really interesting question. My friend and photo buddy Bob is a post Minolta Sony addict. But for a few years he also owned a Fuji system and loved it. The reason he gave up the Fuji wasn’t so much the bigger Sony sensor, but the vast difference in the operating systems was getting too confusing to manage. I dumped my Canon gear, after 27 years because it was getting too heavy for my aging back and the Fuji X-T1 was only the second camera I’ve ever held that fitted my hand PERFECTLY; plus I’m an old film shooter – shutter speed, aperture, focus and exp-comp … everything else is just window dressing. Plus, I convert the majority of my stuff to BW and Fuji has the best BW conversion, period. What Fuji managed to do was hit a sweet spot in the market by creating a film camera with a sensor in it. Everything you need for general photography is out in the open where you can see it and get at it instantly. The tricky shit is out of sight but accessible when you want it.
A few weeks ago Bob and I were having one of our frequent discussions about the various brands. His comment was that Canon is the Toyota of the camera business. Nikon is the Nissan. Sony is the Mazda … zoom, zoom. But he couldn’t figure out who the Fuji analogue was; I said Honda … not the best at anything, but very, very good at everything. And yes, I drive a Honda to go with my Fuji X-T1.
Parting shot – there’s a story about an interview with an executive from Canon who was asked who Canon feared most Nikon or Sony. His answer was Fuji.
Fuji would be Mitsuoka, a small Japanese car manufacturer who buy running gear from the mainstream car makers and use them to create pastiche retro cars that appeal to small numbers of buyers who want something different.
Many Fuji owners that I know of seem to have switched from Canon – perhaps that’s what was meant by the interview. In fairness, Fuji are very much at the “boutique” end of the market and their sales reportedly trail the other mirrorless makers by some margin. In Asia, some of their smaller more consumer oriented X cameras are quite popular, apparently because of their slightly retro looks and small size.
“The only constant is change”? I don’t know that I am fussed about what’s going to happen in 5-10 years time – age cures all problems, that one too! – and I just turned 75, so asking me to believe in 2027 is a bit of a stretch. 🙂
Panalympus? Tried Pan’s version, didn’t like their small format, ditched it – I’ve tried several others since (Canikon and Olympus) and they’re ALL better than Pan was. Pan’s been trying to get into bed with Leica – if Leica is sold (and it’s on the auction block), who knows what’ll happen there, next.
Olympus had a VERY rough patch a while back. However both before and after that, they’ve made very good (small) stuff. I could be tempted – but then I’m happy with the gear I’ve got, and for me, there’s a wild card in the pack. I am still curious about the Sigma Quattro and their Foveon sensor.
My impression is that Sony rides the crest of the wave of its own creation because it not only makes the vast majority of all the sensors, but it has developed very high end processing systems running off their sensors, in their cams. The Foveon is a quite different beast – and it intrigues me. Which is enough to keep me interested – because I came to digital late, and I am trying to learn what I can about digital, to catch up.
As for Canikon, I am at a loss to understand how they imagine they will stay profitable, with such a vast range of different bits and pieces. Does anyone know how many different models of camera they both make? – and how many different lenses? “Weird” would be an apt description of that aspect of their strategy. It’s nice of them to cater for every taste – but rather wasteful to do it with so many alternatives of much the same thing. If it bites them in the bum, financially, they will have nobody else to blame for it.
Innovation is wonderful. Nobody suffering from GAS should be expected to live without it. The photographic press would have to do some innovating of their own, if the camera industry slowed down their innovations. I sometimes wonder what it’s all for, though.
I’m not saying “stop the bus, I want to get off”. But I think there’s a case for a more sensible approach to innovation and changing the models that the manufacturers keep bringing out.
There are ‘togs out there, right now, claiming they can’t track the photos they’re taking, because their cams don’t have GPS – excuse an ancient relic of a bygone era of photography from spluttering at that one, but photography started circa 1826 or 1827 (tee hee – the photographer was Niépce, and he was French, of course!) whereas the first GPS receiver didn’t materialise until 1989. Am I supposed to believe that there was nobody out there who could maintain a sensible record of the photos he or she had taken, during the intervening 160 years? I don’t think I am that naive.
That’s just a sample – selected at random, from the squawks going the rounds to suggest to Nikon what features it should/must include in its forthcoming D850. But my point is simple – I am getting amazingly good photos with my existing gear, and I don’t use most of the functions on my various cams. Anyone who can’t take a decent photo without a camera that makes a delicious cup of espresso while he’s waiting for the shutter to fire should take photography course at a nearby tech school.
What I deplore is the race to the bottom – trying to wring more out of highly expensive cellphones, by demanding that they have features which are frankly verging on the absurd, now – and giving up on “printing” photos.
Maybe it’s a sign of my ignorance about the laws of physics, but I don’t believe it’s possible to build a lens into a contraption that’s 6 mm thick which can provide a satisfactory substitute for telephoto lenses, or which can give satisfactory bokeh – because it’s absurd to miniaturise focal lengths to that degree and expect the same result.
And as for printing, two things.
Until you yourself print your photos, you CANNOT really appraise them properly. OK – so pros get someone else to do it – but they miss out on that section of the process, and they pay a price for that, in terms of improving their output. Maybe the pros develop fantastic skills that the amateurs out there can’t aspire to, and it’s a compromise they must make in order to get the work done – but I still believe they miss out on something by doing it.
And all this rot about digital storage . . . As the wise men have been telling us for a hundred years or more, the only lesson to be learned from history is that nobody learns the lessons of history. If they did, nobody would entrust the storage of their precious photos to a digital system – because the only constant is change (did I mention that before?). Retrieval from obsolete computer systems is difficult or impossible – people DON’T move all their data, as systems change – storage on the Cloud is fraught with danger, as at least one Cloud based system demonstrated when it went into Chapter 11 in the US and lost everyone’s data. Some digital storage systems deteriorate simply by time or use, and a similar result ensues – when you go to retrieve a file, you don’t actually get all of it, because some of the thingummies no longer work properly. Use a disc drive and heads can crash – go to solid state, but there are warnings out there that SSDs start failing by about 6 years. Ask Hollywood what its archivists think of this kind of issue – they have hell on earth dealing with fading movies, and they probably think photographers are all completely insane taking such risks with their creations.
Why do it? – when with modern inks and printers, and decent paper, we can reasonably expect our photos to have a lifetime in excess of a hundred years?
Foveon is an interesting technology, and some samples I’ve seen looked stunning. However, there seem to be 2 main issues with the technology. Firstly, the cameras and raw development software is very slow, and I don’t know if its just Sigmas ability at electronic engineering or an inherent challenge of the technology – seems great for studio or landscape work but maybe not so good for more reactive environments. The other issue is the stacked sensor design (it generates colour by light pasing through 3 layers of the sensor) creates a high level of noise, so ISO 800 seems to be the sensible upper limit. I appreciate tha again for studio and landscape work this doesn’t matter, but again for other types of hand held work, maybe not so good. I’ve looked at them several times, but every time the conclusion is that I would need to travel with 2 camera systems instead of 1 to cover everything, and the disadvantages of that outweigh the convenience of a single unified system. For others, Fovean may offer an interesting / good solution.
I think that is more than one can of worms.
The Sony vs Fujifilm being similar in strategy argument is odd given that Sony lurched and stumbled from SLR to SLT to mirorless whilst Fuji grew from large sensor fixed lens compact.
In addition, why would these brands be any more at risk from phone cameras , arguably the two large SLR brands have more to fear because their lower models are more recognized as consumer items outside of photography circles.
Another thing to consider is phone cameras are now potentially at or near the end of their inovation potential, so in 5 years time could be where compact cameras are now in market outlook.
The shared, yet independent brilliance of Sony/Fuji is that they’ve each crafted a range of cameras that people are happy to engage with and overlook flaws and annoyances (I mean independently, so if you love Sony/hate Fuji or vice versa, then this is not a call to arms for people to write in saying how much better one is over the other)
The irony being that no one has polished features and APSC/FF lens choices covered better than Canikon, yet they’re just not seemingly able capture user engagement
Or quite possibly many Canikon owners are out there taking pictures, shooting their cameras with firmware v0.01 and aren’t busy on the internet demanding new features and focal lengths!
I still see more entry to mid level Canikons sporting 18-55 kit lenses slung over the shoulders of tourists and locals than anything else… but increasingly Sony and Fuji are creepng in there
Cameras that we’re happy with and make us want to use them are super important in my view, and it’s Sonuji (or is it Fujony?) that seem to be offering that, and that’s fantastic, if the best camera “is the one you have on you” then the best camera is really the one you don’t want to leave the house without. No matter what name is written on the front of it
Adam, Canon and Nikon have both made successive generations of cameras that fail to include some “polished features” that users have come to expect. It’s 2017, and the £1600+ full frame Canon EOS 6D mark 2 cannot shoot 4K video; it’s predecessor had GPS that drained the battery even when the camera was turned off; after an initial trumpeting of video greatness with the early EOS 5D series, the mark 3 and mark 4 are often criticised for poor video quality, video cropping, softness and lack of progress and innovation; and the EOS M was a lame duck that was dead in the water. Nikon introduced their app to allow direct upload of pictures of a phone or tablet, but user reports were that is was unreliable and slow; they still don’t have a particularly compelling solution for performant AF with video or live view; successive cameras have splattered their sensor with oil from the shutter, the shutter has failed completely, or they have had light leaks; their 1 system mirrorless offering was technically excellent in many ways but marketed badly and never offered enthusiasts anything.
However, there are signs that things are changing. The latest EOS M cameras have suddenly become quite good (yet still lack features such as 4K video), and surprisingly it has propelled them to #2 in the Japanese mirrorless market, behind Olympus and ahead of Sony. Dual pixel AF shows the way forward for focusing without a mirror, and I am convinced that Canon will make an EF mount camera that has no mirror.
I think the mirorless camera market is to a large extent fashion led. For consumers, it can put a very small camera with a comparatively large sensor in their bag, with better image quality than their phone. For some enthusiasts, the short registration allows them to put almost any lens on some mirrorless cameras. For others, the smaller size of the cameras makes their systems more portable. I recently came across a Nikon D90 owner asking which Fuji camera to buy to reduce the size and weight of his system – my advice was to keep his kit zooms (which are no larger than mirrorless equivalents), and buy one of the smallest lightest Nikon SLR bodies, which are little heavier and much cheaper than a fancy mirrorless camera.
For enthusiasts, I’m starting to think that mirrorless offers modest benefits for function, system size etc. Where Sony have scored is by the initial excitement of a small full frame camera (original A7), short flange depth, and then a host of innovations and products that offer something unique – 120fps slow motion video, 10-20fps stills, 4K etc in various E-mount and RX bodies. Fuji play the retro game, appealing to many photographers who want the conceit of a “traditional” camera without the apparent complexity that digital imaging requires, and a good choice of lenses, with little innovation and generally being slow to market with the latest features and specification. Their strategies are very different – Sony has been described as an “enabler”, but offering new features that allow you to so new things, whilst Fuji appeal to those who want something traditional to do what they have always done before.
The power of brand puts many Canon and Nikon cameras in the hands of consumers. I’ve seen pro-grade SLRs being dragged around London complete with 70-200mm f2.8 zooms apparently being used in P mode to take snaps. Many consumers are not well informed and don’t want to look a fool, so they buy a brand they associate with “professional” and that the retailer recommends. Part of the problem is people being badly informed – I still see people rolling off the same mantra that Sony don’t have many lenses for example – and I think confusion and lack of understanding often drive people unthinkingly into the relative “safety” of the big 2 brands. There is also a tendency for people to often want to belong to those big systems because it somehow makes them feel comfortable, even though they have no need for 95% of the things that make up those systems.
Interestingly, I’ve been sitting on an article about shooting travel with Sony E mount where I argue that a dewy-eyed emotional bond isn’t important provided you have confidence that the camera (a tool) is capable of getting the job done – although actively disliking something is never going to get good results. Many photographers use their cameras for pleasure, and therefore feeling good is important.
LOL – have to agree with you there, Adam. Most of the time, that’s my little Canon PowerShot, because it’s easy. When I go on a “serious shoot”, it’s the opposite – that’s when I get the bazooka out. The difference is mostly only a factor because I take great care of the FF and the Otus lenses – anyway, unless I have a clear idea of what I’m shooting, there’s little point in taken the FF – the PowerShot takes quite good photos, they enlarge well to at least A4 (probably larger, although I’ve not tried).
The most important issue is not missing out on something. I’m scarcely likely to take a backback with the D810 and several Zeiss lenses, every time I pop out the front door!
Interesting post. Just a minor correction: Fuji did something innovative, with the “X-trans” sensor. Being a Sony user, former Nikonian, I don’t know how much it matters. A friend of mine, very good photographer, moved to Fuji and liked it a lot. Funny enough, Sony and Fuji were the two final competitors for my conversion, which I made through a very accurate collection of features, prices, materialised into a spreadsheet that I fixed and studied for several months before making a final decision; well, at the time the lack of proper X-trans support by Lightroom was one of the minor reasons for which I picked Sony, even though the form factor was the primary one.
For what concern Fuji, I’d have appreciated more the general UI design – looking ad physical dials, etc; and I love the idea of using a ring in the lens for aperture control, like the old days of manual lenses. For what concerns the “menu and buttons” aspect of the UI, the NEX-6 was a disaster, the a6000 a serious improvement, and the a6300 a further improvement. But there are still stupid things, such as the fact that the feature to decouple the AF from the trigger can’t be part of presets. In the end, the most recent iteration (well, indeed I don’t know about the a6500) is not a bad UI.
For what concerns future, I don’t know. I don’t see Canon in troubles. I do see Nikon in troubles (an objective evidence is the total failure of their mirrorless approach). I do see the problem with smartphones. But there are so many unknown unknowns… also outside the world of photography. I fear that we’re on the verge of another big, generalised financial crisis, and it could have a more dramatic impact than the one started in 2008. Given that we’re talking of expensive gear… who knows what will happen?
I think Fuji as Honda is a good example John,
Like Honda, Fuji have years of experience, actually came from film so (like Honda) have ground up experience and just like Honda, Fuji have a product in virtually every active market segment
Also like Honda you can buy a Fuji in almost every city in the world, making it mainstream yet ever so slightly centre left!
Fuji are also keen to embrace their heritage and corporate DNA, much like how Honda make some motorbikes that have a tip of the hat to their past models, Fuji’s current X cameras often draw from Fujis own historical range
@ Philbert: thanks for your interesting article with nice photos.
@ Jean Pierre & all interested in a different view: very valid contribution, which ticks my box. I guess I turned about 253 years of age in 2017, just counting the last 5 or 6 generations (I was bad at math). As I always had an interest in photography from early childhood, this might have been inherited from other lives. Before my current SLR life with Minolta and DSLR with Canon, I must have been walking around with large format cameras – yes your guess is right – without GPS geotagging. I guess that I even walked back in some cases with a black & white print in hand (taken with some kind of a secret recipe emulsion) in order to colourise it with egg-white based colours and having the motive ‘live view’ in front of me.
My conclusions ?
1) Don’t worry about tech, just use durable stuff that pleases you – and KEEP it for long – see 3)
2) Don’t worry about age. Medical studies have proven that cell-systems basically have eternal life. If you put live cells into a glass vessel with some nourishing solution, they continue living/reproducing! That’s how skin is being reproduced to help people with serious burns etc. So why not keeping the body in good shape, avoid toxic substances (non organic stuff, alcohol and harming chemicals/habits) and continue with your current life ? Just to avoid opening another can of worms: alcohol-water-solutions are used in medicine to DESINFECT. They kill almost anything: viruses, fungus, bacteria and – CELLS, as their energy supplies are produced by mitochondries (up to 1500 per cell), which are a form of symbiotic bacteria living in our cells. In the past I enjoyed a glass of wine or whiskey, but nowadays prefer organic grape juice and the likes. Imagine if we could stop the inefficient reincarnation game – ‘reset to zero’, being born again, learning how to walk, how to speak, …. how to take a photo and how to develop spiritually ? Not only the photography would improve …
3) Worry about the creation. If destruction by mankind continues in its current pace, soon we won’t have much nice scenery left to take a photo of. Our personal responsibility plays a major role in the effort to save the planet. E.g. by fighting the GAS syndrome inevery field – not just camera equipment – and thus reducing the production of toxic waste which spoils mother earth and in the end might destroy mankind itself.
I haven’t answered comments up to now because none of them seems to argue against my post! But I would like to thank each one of those of you who commented, and especially those who had nice things to say about my pics…:-). My pride and vanity say “thank you kindly!
Thank you also for introducing me to the unexpected and wonderful world of Mitsuoka automobiles. Wow!
Then, there is the question of Fuji being some kind of “Honda of cameras”. I am not sure I go along with that. Honda have, in my opinion, always prided themselves in being original, innovative, and of pushing the envelope further than anyone, especially in engine performance. Not always successfully, but always courageously. I remember the very early Hondas to be exported, like the S800. 78 hp for 800cc – in 1965!-, redlined at 8500 rpm but able to spin at 10000 rpm. And the stratified charge engine. And the earliest hybrid car to be sold in Europe.
If I has to pick a car equivalent to Fuji, it would be Mazda. The MX5 is typically neo-retro, like a Fuji camera, design-wise. And Mazda’s philosophy of “jinba ittai” (being one with one’s car) also fits Fuji’s approach IMHO.
I am glad! Whereas the discussion has remained very civil so far, and informative, we now have a topic with which to revert to our status as 5-year olds fighting in a sandbox: cars! 🙂
I also didn’t think Honda was a good comparison with Fuji, but I didn’t want to say to for fear of being seen to be argumentative. Although a family run business who are quite conservative, they also a great tradition of innovation, such as their Clarity, the only commercially produced hydrogen powered car, and the Insight and Honda Jet. I think the comparison between Fuji and the Mazda MX-5 is an interesting one – and of course Mazda have always made their wacky wankel engine, a good comparison for Fuji’s foray into various wacky sensors.
I wasn’t being facetious with my comment about Mitsuoka. They are a boutique maker of cars that have thoroughly modern underpinnings, but are styled to offer something different and retro-inspired – they make faux retro versions of Rolls Royce, Morgan, Jaguar and Rover, for example. In that respect, I though they were a good parallel to Fuji – small boutique camera manufacturer with a range of products that have a retro appeal to buyers who want something different.
I do wonder if Nikon have become Nissan, who in the 1990s got themselves into terrible financial trouble making lots of different models of car that mostly never found a buyer. They were rescued by a merge with Renault, who sent Michel Gosset to run the company and who undertook a top-to-bottom review of their products and practices, getting them back onto a sound financial footing.
There are a few things that some don’t know about the Japanese motor industry; although Toyota is often credited with making the world’s best selling car (in any year – the Corolla), Suzuki have often vied with them for top export model too, often selling more than 1m of a single model; Daihatsu, a maker who largely go unnoticed in many export markets, actually sold the first Japanese car in the UK; and as is more commonly known, Honda made a business making small motors and then got into cars, their first model being a 1960s Japanese copy of small European sports cars fitted with a small motorbike derived engine, the S500.
Very interesting subject and ditto analysis!
My Fuji experience is limited to X-E1 and X-A1. Sony A6000, A7R and my current A7R2. My belief is that Fuji offerings attracts “artists” and Sony “technocrats”. Rumor sites displays users photographs every Sunday and the difference is pretty obvious.
Remembering my first X-E1 outing (Istanbul) and my thoughts on the plane home: “It will be nice to come home and get out with a real camera…..” The day after I took out my Nikon D800 (back pack required) and did very satisfying photos. However after going through all Instanbul photos I had to admit that images were beautiful! What was wrong with the X-E1 then? AF was not only horribly slow, it was also unreliable. Handling was not near as good as my D800.
As an engineer and remembering Fuji’s marketing ploy with “honeycomb” sensors some years ago, I had my doubts about the value of X-trans. (algorithms for read out from sensor) – Yes it could not picture grass or other foliage that is not near.
Tested the Bayer X-A1 and its IQ was a tad better than X-A1.
The criticism against A7xx concerning handling is justified. The menu system is dreadful. However you can set up the camera is a way you rarely need to dig deep into it. Bought the new “grip extension” and the handling is now great. I like the A7R2 better and better!
Fuji is for those who are more focused on image content/message than absolute technical IQ. Beautiful colors yes! Many just shoot jpg as it handles X-trans very well.
Sony is for those who see absolute IQ is essential for conveying the “message”. Many, like me, also see exposure made as just one step in the image creation process that is followed by a desirable post processing stage.