Fujifilm Doesn’t Always Win on Spec, But Doesn’t Have to When It Slays Style

A person wearing a denim jacket has a Fujifilm XT20 camera hanging around their neck. The camera is silver and black with a lens attached, and it is secured by a brown strap. The background is blurred, focusing attention on the camera and the jacket.

Following in the wake of Fujifilm’s massive week of announcements, I’ve noticed a trend in the commentary online that basically boils down to this: “Why would I pay that much for an X-T5 lite?” These same people seem almost angry that the X-T50 appears to be selling well.

There is a big disconnect between the loud voices online and the folks who are buying certain Fujifilm cameras. I can draw a straight line between the folks complaining about the X-T50 and those who were quick to put down the X100VI: they look at cameras on paper, not in practice.

A person wearing a dark beanie, glasses, and a green jacket holds a camera while looking to the side. The background is an out-of-focus natural setting with what appears to be a lake and trees.

The argument is that the X-T50 is too expensive for what it is, coming in just $300 less than the “more capable” X-T5. I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment, but it only applies if you’re looking at the cameras side-by-side as a set of numbers. Fujifilm — and many of its biggest fans — aren’t doing that. They’re looking at these cameras as an experience, not a spec sheet, and that means how it looks and what it offers that benefits that perspective matter a lot more than what the traditional photography enthusiast core fans say matters.

The X-T50 is a gorgeous looking camera. There are some on PetaPixel‘s staff that argue it’s the nicest looking camera that Fujifilm has ever made, and while that is of course subjective, it’s easy to see where they’re coming from. The angles, the grip, and the overall aesthetic just ooze style. And if there is one thing Fujifilm gets, it’s style. In fact, it absolutely slays when it comes to encapsulating a vibe between pieces of plastic and metal.

‘You may not like it, but Fujifilm doesn’t have to compete on spec. It wins simply by making cameras that yearn to be coveted.’

No, the X-T50 doesn’t win on spec when you’re looking at what it can do compared to its cost. I saw more than a few takes online arguing about how much worse of a deal the X-T50 is versus a Sony a7 III or a7C. Clearly, nay, obviously, anyone who chooses the X-T50 is just wasting their money, they argue. “If you insist on Fujifilm, buy the X-T5!”

They’ll lament, “Sure it’s a little cheaper, but for $250 more you can get something much more capable!”

Two mirrorless camera listings are displayed side by side. On the left is the Sony a7C in black priced at $1,598.00, and on the right is the Fujifilm X-T50 in silver priced at $1,399.00. Both listings include product images, ratings, and details about availability and shipping options.
The a7C looks a lot better on paper, but those interested in the X-T50 aren’t getting one because of the capability alone.

These folks are missing the point — this is not a “waste.” The X-T50 is desirable not only because of its capability but also because of its aesthetic. Photography is, for many, about using a system that encourages them to be their most creative. For a great many people, that simply is not possible with a bland, featureless rectangle like the a7C. That new film simulation dial is as exciting for many photographers as it is distasteful to others, and it’s not even logical; how you feel rarely is. Musicians, poets, and writers have been trying to explain the concept of love for as long as there has been language.

The X100VI is popular not because of what it is, but because of what it allows the creator to feel. Fujifilm gets this — and they get another factor perhaps even more: you can’t put a price on good vibes. Or rather, maybe you can: a high one.

A person with long curly hair, wearing a plaid shirt over a white t-shirt, stands outdoors holding a camera. They appear thoughtful as they look to the side. The background shows a rusty fence and blurred buildings.

And none of this is to say Fujifilm cameras don’t take great photos. They do. They really do. Combine that with the experience that Fujifilm’s cameras give photographers and you’ve got a camera worth something. The X-T50 may be an entry-level camera but it is priced strategically. The company is experiencing some of the most impressive revenues we’ve ever seen out of a camera company and that’s not by mistake. Fujifilm knows its brand, it knows who is attracted to it, and it knows what they can afford.

Perhaps more infuriating to those who pore over camera capability is the knowledge that Fujifilm can, when it chooses to, win in the specification war. Its GFX series, for example, is far and away the most capable in the medium format space. Its X-H2 and X-H2S are also incredibly capable.

But that’s not always where “value” lies. When you look at its most popular products, Fujifilm does its best work when it decides to lean on the intangibles. There is likely nothing more it learned from the runaway success of Instax than this; folks don’t buy Instax for the quality of the photos, they buy Instax because they’re fun.

You may not like it, but Fujifilm doesn’t have to compete on spec. It wins simply by making cameras that yearn to be coveted.

Image credits: Fujifilm