PetaPixel

Fujifilm’s Frequent Firmware Updates and the Philosophy of Kaizen

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The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, literally “change good,” is at the heart of many a successful company. It represents a dedication to constant change for the better, and is famously used by Toyota on their assembly lines, where employees are encouraged to point out issues and suggest improvements.

But car companies aren’t the only ones that employ the idea of Kaizen; the philosophy may also be at the heart of Fujifilm’s habit of constantly improving its cameras with firmware updates.

Fuji X-Series Thoughts explains that Fujifilm seems to update their firmware more often than the other camera companies. Blogger “xseriesthinker” believes that camera companies tend to hold off on those updates because, in a way, frequent “fixes” would send the message that the product isn’t perfect as is.

Fuji’s frequent updates, on the other hand, point to another approach — that of Kaizen.

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The idea is that Fuji releases these updates so often because they strive for constant improvement in their cameras even after they’ve gotten them in your hands. Every company (well maybe not all of them…) strives to improve with each generation, but Fuji isn’t scared to improve in-between — “It was ‘right,’ now it’s ‘more right.’”

Kaizen is an overarching philosophy/approach, and confining its definition to a few paragraphs or the specific habit of updating firmware regularly may be a stretch. But Fujifilm’s determination to change their cameras for the better, rather than leaving it to others to discover hidden capabilities, is at the very least a quality of Fujifilm’s approach that its customers should greatly appreciate.

Fujifilm, X-Series firmware and the idea of Kaizen [Fujifilm X-Series Thoughts via Fuji Rumors]


Image credit: Photo illustration based on fujifilm by jmettraux


 
  • Andrew Gluck

    that’s why I love my Fuji x-e1

  • http://blog.jamiedepould.com Jamie De Pould

    While I can appreciate the philosophy, I strongly feel it needs to be balanced against the urge to ship unfinished or hastily finished products.

    (Disclaimer: I’m not saying Fuji is shipping unfinished or hastily finished products)

    If you look at Sony’s F5/F55 launch (and subsequent updates), I think it strikes the right balance. They worked out bugs for the features at launch, and shipped a solid product. They clearly communicate to their users where they’re going (this is more important at the pro/enterprise level). Compare that to say … RED, who don’t always ship on time, the product may not be ready for commercial use when it does ship, it may not resemble what they said they were going to make and the planned updates may or may not happen.

    Also compare to a lot of console games. With the advent of internet-connected consoles, many developers have taken to patching titles on day one. This is user-antagonistic, and should be discouraged.

  • alex

    the x100, while being an addictive camera, is clearly the unfinished product. corrected by the x100s. but i can’t help myself to think i was taken for a guinea pigs, aside from the sensor, there’s no new technology in the x100s which means they blatantly released a camera with features that are unusable.
    i’d like fuji to come clean and to produce the x100 firmware that will make the AF at least decent.
    i love this camera but i missing so many frames it’s very iiritating.

  • Sporkguy

    This is another reason why I adore shooting with my X-Pro1, and love it more and more each time they release an update for the firmware (to not only the body, but the lenses too).

    Fujifilm’s continued and ongoing support of its flagship products is something quite rare these days, and the reason I’ll be sticking with them while gradually phasing out my Canon gear.

    Long may ‘kaizen’ continue.

  • Sporkguy

    ‘First gen’ products often do display massive voids in performance and features, but such is the trend in the world of technology. Take Apple’s iPhone 1, it was a fantastic product at the time, but had so many missing features that iPhone 5 users take for granted today.

  • Stephenesque

    There were also ‘voids’ in some of the follow up cameras like the X10 and the X-E1. The difference is that they have had firmware updates to fill some of these gaps which the X100 hasn’t had.

    Whilst I have loved using my X100 for two years and will continue to do so, it is galling that Fuji has issued upgrades for the cheaper models, but hasn’t bothered to do the same for the X100, the success of which made the whole ‘X’ series possible.

  • WilzWorkz

    thanks Fujifilm for making my XE1 that much more desirable now! Awaiting the focus peaking firmware update!! Now my old L39, Nikon, Canon lenses can be used more efficiently!

    Too bad phase AF cannot be added if not it will be perfect!