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Sunday, 05 September 2021

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Why introducing new XF lenses when Fuji still can not deliver the Fujifilm XF 70-300mm F/4.0-5.6 R LM OIS WR introduced more than six months ago?

I'm hardly what I'd call a serious photographer, but photography is important to me as an avocation and hobby. And I appreciate having a place where I can regularly keep us with it and spend some time on it other than by making photographs.

TOP is the only place I've found that consistently reflects my sensibilities about this. I'm fairly certain that I could run into any TOP reader anywhere and find enough rapport with them to have at least a bit of fun or enjoyment, centered on photography or probably many other topics.


So I greatly appreciate what you do here and hope you keep it up, for awhile at least. And FWIW I haven't noticed any decline in TOP this past year, which has been difficult for all. It's a good thing you do and you do it well.

In that top illustration of the Fuji GFX 50S II, it's set for remarkably bright light!

"The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Plus one to Terry's thanks. I love this blog. I have the 70-300 Henk and I can tell you that it's worth the wait.

I can't see much point in the 50mp Fujis when you can get a "full frame" (I hate that phrase) 63mp Sony A7R IV camera that has a much wider range of lenses available, for less money.

Henk asks, "Why introducing new XF lenses when Fuji still can not deliver..."

I too was thinking this. It is one thing to announce a product but it means nothing if customers can actually buy them.

I preordered the newly updated 27mm f/2.8 the day it showed up on Amazon, waited months after the official release to receive it and now watch those that waited to only dream of getting one.

I'm guessing that those wanting the new 33mm and/or 23mm will be lucky if the have them to take holiday pictures. Glad I'm satisfied with my 35mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 earlier generation lenses.

Okay...where to start? From the perspective of someone who spent their career in scientific/engineering-based product development (not cameras, but hey, functionality is functionality. At the end of the day, it's nothing more than a set of transfer functions), here's some thoughts for consideration:

1) I agree that Fujifilm is better than the other camera manufacturers at having a balanced product portfolio that meets the needs of the customers in the key market segments they compete in: amateur, enthusiast, and professional. They've read Blue Ocean Strategy (which I also recommend reading, Mike) and have stayed out of the red ocean of "full-frame" where the water is red from the blood of the Canon/Nikon/Sony/Panasonic/Leica all locked in a feeding frenzy for an ever-declining market. instead they've very intelligently stayed in the "blue Ocean" of APS-C (which lest, we forget, STILL sells more units than any other segment) and Medium Format. They've done this so effectively that it's safe to say they have become the "dominant incumbent" in the mirrorless APS-C and MF cameras & lens segments. By doing so, they should be able to remain profitable, even in a market where total unit sales is decreasing.

2) Camera companies don't compete in "target niches", they compete in market segments. The key distinction here is that a market segment has a large enough share of customers to be able to return a profit on the considerable cost of new product research, development, and last but certainly not least, transfer to Operations that they can keep in statistical control (if you think this is easy for high-tech products built to a very high endgineering specification such as...lenses, well, think again).

3) Customers:
Honestly, I don't think customer needs (which then lead to to customer requirements>product requirements>engineering specifications) have changed that much. Basicially, the vast majority of hobbyist/enthusiast customers just need their photos to be 1) in focus and 2) well-exposed. They don't need 30 FPS frame rates, or eye-control focus, or 8K/120P video. A lot of the "spec-chasing" that YouTube talking heads or forum geeks obssess about is frou-frou and just a lot of silliness, and does not map to actual customer needs in the REAL WORLD.

Professionals need AF that is "fit-for-purpose" (not less AF peformance than needed, but not more, either), reliable shutter mechanisms, and durable bodies that can take a pounding day in/day out and not break, and last but certainly not least, an excellent service, support, and repair infrastructure (this one gets forgotten about all the time). CPS still does this better than anyone, BTW.

As for the new GF5OS II...it reflects a predictable development in terms of features and functionalty. It takes time (years) to develop a completely new line of cameras and...most significantly, lenses. Fuji took all the profits from the original GFX50S, and plowed it back into developing a range of cameras that perform their requisite functions and provide their features more effectively (doing the right thing) and efficiently (doing things right). Features and functions increase, and costs go down, which in the end, means more VALUE given the equation: VALUE=QUALITY/PRICE.

They are very effective at their product development process and they continue to provide more VALUE for their customers. So good on Fujifilm for gettin' it right.

[Ah, thank you, I couldn't remember the term "segment" when I was writing that. --Mike]

Regarding the XF 70-300 lens...

Guys, let's not second-guess why this lens has been delayed with respect to shipping. If I were to hazard a guess, it's due to the significant impact the pandemic has had on manufacturing. Folks that are not in this sector don't really understand: the COVID pandemic had a major, and I mean, MAJOR, impact on new product manufacturing, with impacts ranging from the availabiity and costs of raw materials, "chips", supply chain and logistics, just to name a few, being significantly impacted. The cost of steel, for example is up...220%. I write for a high-end audio magazine, and the manufacturs of high-end audio gear tell me that the pandemic has significantly impacted thier Manufacturing Operations. Logistics and supply chain has been a nightmare for all engineering-based product manufacturers, regardless of industry, with both with respect to cost and availability of raw materials and...finished goods sitting in Customs for indefinite periods of time, just to name a few of the problems. Even manufacturing and buying copper for wire and conductors has been significantly impacted because of the impact of the pandemic on metals foundries.

So..consider cutting Fujifilm a break here, they're doing the best they can in considerably challenging times.

@Stephen Scharf: I know Corona may be the reason of delayed deliveries, my point is why introducing new lenses when you obviously have a delivery problem (like your competitors have too)? Why not just wait until you have solved this?

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