Is the Fuji X100 Really that Expensive?
If you’ve never heard of the Fujifilm X100, let me congratulate you for having just come out of a 6-month coma; I hope your health continues to improve! Check out my mega-article about the X100 with all the information you need to know about it. Now on to today’s article where I want to tackle the #1 criticism levied against this magnesium beauty, to wit, that it costs too damn much. Incidentally, the #2 criticism is that it has a fixed lens, while #3 is that it’s still not in stock.
Fuji took its sweet time until it gave out an MSRP for the X100; in the meantime we internet pundits (and we’re all pundits) amused ourselves throwing numbers around, ranging anywhere from $500 to $2,000 (or €£500 to €£2,000 if you’re on the other side of the Atlantic). My personal expectation was north of $1,500, so $1,200 came as a pleasant surprise. Yes, it’s still a lot of money, but it’s not ridiculous. Or is it?
Below I’ve compiled a list of mirrorless compact cameras with their lenses and accessory viewfinders, priced in descending order of price. I’ve used prices from the time the camera was released to make the comparison fair (e.g., the Panny G2 and Sammy NX10 can now be bought much cheaper having reached the end of their life cycle). For lenses I’ve tried to use the prime lens that more closely resembles the Fuji’s in field-of-view for the particular sensor size. As for viewfinders, I’ve used EVFs when they were available, or OVFs when not. Take a look:
1.44 mill. dot
1.44 mill. dot
|1.44 mill. dot
sold w/ body
|* This is actually 18mm f/2.5 but Ricoh labels GXR lenses with their 35mm-e focal length.
** Price included 18-55mm kit lens; never sold as body only.
Let’s ignore the stratospherically priced Leica X1 and look at the realistically priced options. Apart from the the dirt cheap Sony NEX-5 combo (which only has an optical viewfinder and few dials), the remaining options are at most $200 cheaper than the Fuji (and the Ricoh is $105 more expensive!). The Olympus E-P2 with EVF is only $35 cheaper! So I ask you: Is the Fuji X100 really that expensive? Bear in mind the X100 has a unique hybrid viewfinder, physical dials for aperture, shutter speed and EV comp, and external metal construction (including dials), which none of the others offer. And for those who care about these things, it sports a leaf shutter and 1/1000s sync speed.
Why All the Complaints?
Let me put on my psychologist hat and attempt to explain what complaining photographers are thinking: The X100 only has one lens, which means it is restricted in its use. Because I can’t fit any of my other 20 lenses on it I won’t be able to use it for everything I photograph, which means I need to buy another camera for all those other needs the X100 can’t fulfil. A camera that is not 100% useful to me must therefore be cheaper to make up for its lack of capability as a do-it-all camera.
A camera, and any product in general, isn’t priced according to how useful it is to everyone, but rather by how useful it is to its intended user. Furthermore, the bottom end of the possible price range (established even before the product is designed) is determined by the cost to produce it while making a minimal profit. You might think the X100 is restricted in its use, but despite that the cost of sourcing materials and putting them together (and paying those who designed the parts and those who put them together) stays the same. You can’t price a camera below its development cost unless you want to go out of business.
But let’s look at this from another point of view; let’s imagine you are the intended user of a camera such as this. If that were the case, you might own a DSLR and 2—3 lenses, but mostly just use one of them, the slightly wide one. You take care of your equipment and don’t replace it as soon as an upgrade is released. You like to keep your photography simple and direct. You spend more time taking pictures than posting on forums; more time leafing through photography books by Magnum photographers than the latest guide to using speedlights. You enjoy street photography and taking candid pictures of your family and friends; because of this you find your noisy and bulky DSLR annoying. You’ve tried out some micro-4/3 cameras at your local store but find them plasticky and lacking in quick-access controls; you also don’t enjoy the EVFs all that much and don’t want to attach optical viewfinders to the camera.
If you were such a photographer, the X100 would be perfect for you. It offers hardware dials, an all-metal external construction, a compact fast lens, near silent operation and very good IQ. You think about how much you paid for your DSLR and high-quality 24mm lens…around $2,000. By comparison the X100 costs only $1,200! You can sell your DSLR plus 2—3 lenses to buy the X100 with the proceeds and still have money left over. Not only that, but you even come out on top because you now have a better camera for your needs. Wow…what a great deal. Thanks Fuji!
This is the photographer that the Fuji X100 is aimed at, and there are many just like him/her. Proof of this is that shortly after offering the X100 for preorder, B&H, Adorama and Amazon US stopped taking preorders. This means they presold all the units they were expecting to receive in their first shipment. A few weeks later all but Amazon started taking preorders again, but those buyers will have to wait for a second shipment (unless Fuji has increased its production capacity to deliver larger first shipments). It seems there are plenty of people willing to put their money where their mouth is.
In closing, I think I’ve shown that the X100 is not the expensive proposition many are making it out to be. For the photographer who wants a well-built, relatively compact, externally simple digital camera with physical dials, and for whom a fast wideangle lens covers most of his/her needs, the X100 is almost cheap, especially if you consider this photographer will probably use the camera for many years before replacing it.
The first units will begin shipping within the next few weeks. By June we should have a good idea of what users think about the X100 and whether it will be a success for Fuji or not. It it is, then we can expect Fuji to come up with more goodies for photographers who appreciate lasting quality at a fair price.
UPDATE March 28th, 2011: It seems that a shortage of stock due to a cease in production after Japan’s recent earthquake has made prices on eBay soar for the available units left on the market. Check out the prices of the Fuji X100 on eBay. Some have sold for twice the MRSP!
Now that I’ve pontificated a bit, I’d like to get your opinions on the X100′s price, so I’ve got a poll here for you to fill out. Please forward it to your photographer friends; I’d like to get as many people responding as possible.
Would you buy a Fuji X100 camera?
- Yes! (69%, 568 Votes)
- Yes, if it cost $1,000 or less. (22%, 184 Votes)
- Yes, if it had a 30-35mm lens and cost $1,000 or less. (4%, 34 Votes)
- No, never! (4%, 31 Votes)
- Yes, if it had a 30-35mm lens. (1%, 10 Votes)
Total Voters: 827
If you replied yes!, you might consider making your purchase through one of our affiliate stores below. You pay the same price but EtL gets a small commission that helps us keep running the site:
- Fuji X100 at Amazon US
- Fuji X100 at Amazon UK
- Fuji X100 at B&H
- Fuji X100 at Adorama
- Fuji X100 at DigitalRev Australia
- Fuji X100 on eBay
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- Ian Wilkinson Reviews the Fuji X100, Part 2: Real World Use Shooting Children
- The Best Retirement Gift Ever: Julian Evans Reviews the Fuji X100
- Ian Wilkinson Reviews the Fuji X100: Real World Use Shooting a Wedding
- The Fujifilm X100 Spike: Or Why Everyone Is Interested in this Camera
Tags: APS-C, Digital Rangefinders, Fuji X100, Fujifilm X100, MILC, Photography