Fujifilm seemed to really kick off the trend for pretty major firmware updates to their existing models, regularly breathing new life into old bodies ever year or two. But while just about every other manufacturer seems to have jumped on the trend with major functional updates, Fujifilm has remained oddly silent, having not really released anything all that major since the X-Pro 2 gained 4K video in 2017.
This video from DPReview explores some of the reasons why we might not have heard from Fujifilm for a while. Although, given recent rumours, I wonder if they’re holding off so their old gear doesn’t compete with the new stuff expected to be announced soon?
I’m conflicted about this new firmware trend. I like that manufacturers are starting to breathe new life into their existing cameras, prolonging their life, but I also find it a little frustrating. It used to be that camera manufacturers released a camera, here are the specs, and there you go. You knew what you were getting into from day one. Now, you’ve really no idea what you’re going to end up with. Why can’t manufacturers just put these features in from the start?
Sure, that means that ultimately the camera is going to end up even better than it was when you bought it, but when upgrade time comes along or you need something to fill a specific role, especially if you’re eyeing up a model from a brand you wouldn’t normally, it does make things more difficult. You hear a rumour that this camera’s going to get that feature, or whatever, and you don’t know whether to just buy or hold off.
I would’ve bought a Panasonic G9 a long time ago, for example, if I found it out that it was eventually going to be almost as good as the GH5 for video (at least for my needs), but at a much lower price point. I don’t need the G9 or the GH5 anymore and went a different route altogether, so, Panasonic lost my money. Are manufacturers potentially harming their sales by going to this model of releasing a camera and then adding new features after the fact? Or are they relying on people just buying the more expensive camera to begin with that already has these features?
That’s what leads me back to my thought that the reason we might not have seen any new updates from Fujifilm for a while is that they’re getting ready to announce new stuff. Stuff that they’ve been working on for a while. And they don’t want to cut into the sales of that new gear if the older cameras can mostly keep up with just a firmware update.
Perhaps Fujifilm is ending the whole concept now. Maybe they’re starting to realise that when people don’t really know what they’re buying vs what else is available on the market, they may just go with somebody else. But if all the manufacturers are doing it…
It’s that whole “done is better than perfect” thing that’s often said to photographers and other creatives just to get them out there and making stuff, but applied to the tools they use instead.
On the flip-side, though, it does mean that manufacturers can concentrate on getting the features to work exactly the way their customers demand. Throw out a body into the wild, see what the response is like and what users need, and then design those major feature enhancements to fit exactly what they’re being asked for. It would be a lot less work for them than developing a feature, and then having to completely change it to work a different way.
What do you think? Do you like this concept of releasing what are essentially unfinished bodies that receive upgrades as you go? Or would you rather pay more and have the camera’s entire capability available to you from the start?