The Fuji X100s and Why are some cameras 'internet hits' and yet sell very little?

It's interesting when I look at the stats of who is reading what blog posts. Some of it is pretty understandable. Sony and m4/3 posts are always very popular, but then these are camera makers that have models that pop up in best seller lists all the time. Leica, Sigma and Samsung (at least in my neck of the woods) are marginal brands and won't have a lot of potential purchasers. And smartphone photography is not something that many of the enthusiast / amateur gear centric photographic internet has a lot of interest in, due to the fact that it's probably what a lot of that audience wants to get away from anyway. 

The surprise is Fuji. Far from a high volume manufacturer, they actually sell very little compared with other companies. I saw some figures (admittedly before the release of the X-T1, which seems to have been very popular) that Nikon or Canon would expect to manufacture and eventually sell around 2,000,000 of just one of their 'budget' DSLR models, whereas Fuji hadn't even sold 1.000,000 of their entire X range of cameras. So in the scheme of things, a very small player. 

Thom Hogan wrote a piece a while ago (sorry can't remember where it is for a link) in which he thought Fuji got a lot of internet chatter about their retro styled cameras, that was somewhat disproportionate to the amount that they sold. Now if the sales figures for Fuji are correct and I see no reason to doubt them because they come from a variety of sources, then it does seem that Fuji do 'punch the buttons' of a higher proportion of the photographic internets 'chattering classes' than other brands. 

This is certainly reflected in my experience writing about the brand. Because I expect a lot of people to read anything I read on my experiences with the cameras and the lenses. More than I would expect given the actual number of people who buy the cameras. In a way I can understand it because of the way Fuji have successfully mined photographic heritage. You only have to look at all the attention given to the optical viewfinder with framelines of the X100 cameras. The fact is that in my experience, with the X100 and X100s, those framelines are so far out that using them is almost pointless. On the X100 there are cameras where the lines aren't even straight. (I had one) I've actually hardly used this feature on either my X100 or X100s, because I'm of the opinion that what I see in the viewfinder should bear some relationship to what camera is going to capture.

Then of course there is the issue of the soft(ish) jpgs. and of course the problems of raw file conversion in Adobe software. Something again Thom Hogan and I have written about extensively, often with an abusive reaction, as it seems many Fuji owners are in denial about the problems.

However, there is one redeeming feature that the X100s has. It's a great camera to go out and shoot pictures with. I've 'pimped' my X100s and it's now got a PhotoMadd grip, a PhotoMadd thumb rest and a PhotoMadd soft release shutter button. (PhotoMadd shop link here) And all of this makes it great to use. Plus like many of my cameras it's got character. It isn't some black polycarbonate box that looks like all the other black polycarbonate boxes. 

And I suspect that this is why Fuji have cameras that are popular with the photographic internet chatterboxes (of which I am of course a fully paid up member!!) because they look different (if you've never seen an old Leica) and they work differently. Yesterday I found myself in a suburb of my local big city, Birmingham, at dusk with 20 minutes to kill and my Fuji X100s in my hand. And I had a great time. Not the best images technically I can produce, but good enough and not particularly wonderful aesthetically either, but I like them.

Above all it was an exercise in taking pictures just because I wanted too. It wasn't a major shooting trip and the pictures may be useful for stock libraries, maybe not. I did enjoy myself for those few minutes however and the X100s was part of that. It is one of my favourite cameras and since I don't buy and use cameras because of some kind of Which magazine assessment of best value, a cameras value to me is do I want to pick it up and go out and shoot some pictures with it. If I do then it has value to me, despite the fact that it may not be my best option to achieve maximum image quality. 

And to be honest, currently that's causing a problem. Because when I look at my camera collection I want to take them all out!! And that's why the Fuji hasn't had a look in for a while. But yesterday I remedied that and remembered the pleasure I get from using it. And that's a pretty good reason to hang on it. 

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There is an interesting article on the BBC website HERE, which deals with many of the issues above.

Many Thanks

David Taylor-Hughes