Fuji got to design a new system from the ground up, un-hampered by legacy formats, lens lines, camera types, or customer expectations. That is one great big advantage right there. The last time something like that happened was probably when Canon switched to the EOS lensmount way back in the '90s, and the advantage eventually propelled the company into first place for the first time. No, the last time was when Leica invented the S system from scratch, and did such a beautiful job. It's a risk, but also a huge advantage when a company gets to start over.
[UPDATE: the 4/3 system in 2003 was another, although it and Micro 4/3 are special cases. Thanks to Scott for the reminder. —Ed.]
And Fuji stuck to one format for ILCs, with different bodies. (As J Wilson said in the comments last week: "For me, the real genius [of the Fuji X system] is that you can use the same set of lenses with a DSLR-like body (the XT's), a rangefinder-ish body (the XP's), and the various digital-brick shapes, led off by the XE's.")
Now consider that Fuji is well known to be thinking about jumping into medium-format digital.
Imagine...Fuji has one complete, well-designed system in APS-C. Add one similarly thoughtful and well-designed complementary system in medium format, leapfrogging all the FF offerings and with only very high-priced alternatives as competition. Wouldn't that be about the perfect market placement? Fuji could conceivably continue to storm the ramparts. Maybe it's not Sony that will end up leading the assault on the Canikon duopoly at all....
Just thinkin' out loud.
Would you buy a medium-format camera if it was affordable and part of a well-designed system, to complement what you already have? It would make me pause to think, I'll say that much.
(Thanks to J Wilson)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
MikeR: "Bigger sensor = bigger files = bigger drives = faster and multiple processor = major upgrade = $$$$$ = NO!!"
Herman: "I already have a medium-format camera."
[By the bye, I think friend-o'-TOP Herman might be our oldest reader. Can anyone beat a birthday of Oct. 10th, 1926? He's a heck of a photographer, too. —Ed.]
Luca: "Re 'Would you buy a medium-format camera if it was affordable and part of a well-designed system, to complement what you already have?' Give me 16 bit and a 4:5 or 1:1 sensor, without the need to sell a kidney, and that system will replace (not just complement) all my current ones, with the exception of Micro 4/3 just because of the size of the lenses. And please note that I haven't talked about megapixels: at medium format sizes and 16 bit, everything from 24 MP and over (hell, possibly even 16 MP) will be more than enough for me."
Will: "Re 'Imagine...Fuji has one complete, well-designed system in APS-C. Add one similarly thoughtful and well-designed complementary system in medium format, leapfrogging all the FF offerings and with only very high-priced alternatives as competition. Wouldn't that be about the perfect market placement?'
"About a decade ago, before the 645D was a certainty, I thought the same about Pentax. They were the only DSLR manufacturer that had really come to peace with APS-C and started making a useful lineup of lenses for the format. They had a great legacy system to build the 645 off of. It seemed to me that the last thing they needed to do was pursue 'full frame.' I still think APS-C and Medium format make for an excellent compliment, and I hope Fuji nails it. They've been nailing everything else, I'd say.
"Regarding the J Wilson comment, I've always thought mirrorless camera makers should get more experimental with camera design. I think someone should do a camera with a huge LCD on top and ergonomics resembling old waistlevel viewing cameras. I think systems need to jettison their commitment to a single aspect ratio. I'd be much more interested in an OM-D with a 3:2 aspect sensor (same diagonal, so wider but less tall), for example. Or a square sensor from any manufacturer. The way cameras work these days, any shape is possible. How about a 5:4 sensor in portrait orientation?
"Finally, one of my favorite things about the Fuji system is that they develop a sensor until they are happy with it, then they stick with it for a long time. I have three Fuji cameras that all have the same sensor, and as a result, I can shoot all three bodies at once and process the resulting images as a batch without ever making any workflow adjustments. Sure, you could do this by having more than one of the same camera, but that doesn't give the flexibility that adding an X100s gave me, for example. This new 24-MP sensor seems wonderful, but I won't want to upgrade until I'm able to update an X100 and an interchangeable lens camera simultaneously so that I can keep shooting in this way."