Monday 8 February 2021

The Last Frame, Revisited


Fujifilm X-T2, Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 AI

About 18 months ago I posted The Last Frame, my goodbye to my first X-T1 and a short summary of what I thought Fuji needed to do.

I noted 3 issues in their lens line.

1. The XC 50-230 is too expensive - Still true today, and more so now with the space getting more aggressive. Fuji needs to drop the price, the XF70-300 will result in a flood of used XF55-200's which will make the XC50-230's pricing even more difficult to sell at.

2. Consumer UWA. I said the 10-24 needed a WR update, which arrived last fall, and they needed a cheap UWA option. With used original 10-24's coming down and a plethora of cheap 3rd party options around 12-14mm, I think this is much less critical although I still want an XC10-xx zoom for ~400USD

3. No consumer Fast prime. The XC35/2 solve that a year ago. Fuji too the other option from what I suggested, cloning the XF35/2 into a cheap barrel rather than doing a slower 35/1.4

In addition I noted they needed a 80-300, a 135 and 300/4 prime and a 200-600. We got the XF70-300 and a 150-600 is now a strong rumour, which will cover the zoom side of things. I still think they need the telephoto primes as well. 

In addition we got 2 lenses that I happen to think were a complete waste of time and effort.

The XF50/1.0, which has not been well received. It's clearly a good lens, but it's not exceptional and the price is, and Fuji dropped the ball badly when they decided to change track from a needed XF33/1.0 to an unneeded XF50/1.0. They'd have been much better off doing a WR/AF update of the well loved XF56. 

The XF27 updates a lens which is beloved and ignored. The original lens was optically excellent and quite liked by a small but vocal group of users. The rest thought it too expensive for a lens without an aperture ring (it is the only XF lens like that), too large for a f2.8 APS-C pancake and/or too slow for a large APS-C pancake. Fuji's updated added WR and an aperture ring, but didn't solve the fundamental issue with the lens for many, it's too big for its speed, or too slow for its size. I'd rather have seen it either become a 27/2 on the same size budget or be tiny and an XC27/2.8.

The 10-24 and 27 updates now set the expectation that Fuji will be updating or replacing their older XF lenses. And I agree they should. But not all of them.

1. The primes - all should get WR and AF drive updates. The 23/1.4 probably should get a full redesign. I'd like to see the 35/1.4 keep its optical design and Fuji should launch a XF 35/1.2 WR to deliver that fast modern lens. Note we already know that a XF18/1.4 is coming that will replace the XF18/2

As noted above, I want to see a 135 and 300, I think Fuji needs a 70/1.8 or 70/2.8 and a 180-200/2.8 as well on the long end (a 500/5.6 PF would be amazing). They also need some work on the wide end, a 8-10mm prime would bring some real love in an area Fuji has mostly ignored for years.

2. The zooms need some work too. As I noted above, I think Fuji needs to get a consumer UWA out. The 150-600 is even more important as telephotos remain Fuji's weakest area system-wise.

What else I'd like to see:

XF18-55 and XF55-200 need either an update or a price drop. The XF16-80 and XF70-300 functionally replace them for the higher-end user, but the older 2 lenses are still smaller, faster at the wide end and cheaper, but they aren't cheaper enough for non-WR lenses.

I'd like to see an XC100-400 as well, say f4.5-7.1 or 5.6-7.1 and compact. This is a 'nice to have' as for many the XF70-300+TC14 will cover this need. But if they can get this really small, it will sell.

I'd also like to see an XC18-135, essentially the same idea as the XC35, stick the current good optics into a cheaper barrel.

The idea here is largely building the right lens options for the X-S10 user. 

On the Body side, Fuji has 3 issues that I see.

1. No consistent UI. There are 5 current X bodies, the X-T4, X-T30, X-Pro3, X-E4 and X-S10. There are 5 current UI variants in that line. You cannot buy 2 different model bodies and have consistent UI unless you buy a body and its predecessor. Fuji only has bad choices here, but I can't help thinking that it's going to settle out with the X-Pro series + the X-S series. As much as I love the UI on the X-Tx series, when I look at how I use the cameras I'd get much more use of a camera laid out like the X-S10 or GFX100s and having real Custom Settings banks. And I'm probably about as close as you can get to someone for whom the X-Tx is perfect for in terms of UI. 

2. No WR bodies to match the lower-end WR XF lenses. It's interesting as Olympus has the exact opposite problem, no WR lenses to match their mid-level WR bodies. One of the X-S10, X-T30 and X-E4 replacements needs to be WR. The X-T40 is the obvious one, as the X-T30 has really lost its relevance in the current lineup, it's not small like the X-E4 but it's not got the ergonomics or IBIS of the X-S10. 

3. The $850-999 model jumble. This was bad enough when it was just the X-T30 and X-T200, now it's 3 bodies targeting the same pricepoint. That really should be one consumer body or two wider spaced models. Killing the X-T30 would largely solve this, as there's enough price and capability gap between the X-S10 and X-E4 to make them make more sense. The big issue is that the X-T30 competes against both the X-E4 and the X-S10, while those two bodies are so different that they only sort-of compete on price.

I can't help but think that Fuji needs to get back to the two line split. I'd like to see one of two model lines:

X-S1, X-S10, X-S100, X-Pro3

or X-S1, X-S10, X-Pro3, X-E4

I don't see Fuji going back into the low end of the market now that the X-T200 and X-A7 are done and Fuji has dropped their relationship with the 3rd party that was doing those bodies for them. So the second line makes more sense. 

I would be sad to see the X-T line die, but as much as I love those bodies, the X-S UI style would let Fuji grow their system. I think that Fuji would have introduced custom setting banks

I'd like to see it play out like this. X-T30 is quietly discontinued. X-S1 or X-H2 is released with an updated sensor, improved processing and GFX100s-derived ergonomics, but with a flip/twist screen for the hybrid shooters. X-T4 soldiers on until sales dry up or relative sales vs the X-S1/X-H2 show the market doesn't like the change.

Fuji could then either treat the X-Tx line like the X-Pro line and make it a specialty body (a X-T5 that's reverted back to a pure stills-oriented body at a premium cost and with the double-tilt screen returning could work alright, as  long as it is a niche body like the X-Pro3)

No comments:

Post a Comment