Is Fuji’s Kaizen philosophy only a marketing gag?

Fujifilm x100s in spring

Fujifilm x100s in spring

One reason to switch from Nikon to Fuji was Fuji’s Kaizen philosophy (Kai=change Zen=good).
This means, that Fuji will improve their cameras by firmware updates. And this even after months or years after the release. And even after the release of the successor. So the X100 got an autofocus improvement after the release of the X100s.

You might say, that that a good camera should be ready at release and don’t need an improvement. I think, both is true. Some of the „improvements“ Fuji should have at the release. Especially because the cameras are quite expensive. But some things you will recognize after some usage.

Now fujirumors say, there will be no more improvements for the X100s. That’s very pity for me, because I love this camera.
Yes, I could buy the successor, the X100T. But for a camera with a fixed lens it is a lot of money. And when Kaizen is only a marketing gag, I don’t know, if I want to spend so much money for another Fuji camera.

So Fuji, I hope this is only a rumor, and not the truth. And if you don’t have ideas, how to improve the X100s, I’m pretty sure, the users can deliver. And I believe, most of them won’t be costly (I know, how it works, I’m a software developer).
Here are some ideas:

– customizable Q-menu
– iso shifting by exposure compensation in manual mode (I need this so bad)
– classic chrome (I don’t need this really, but I know, many owners wants it) (and I know David Hobby had a X100s prototype with this film simulation)
– more slots for custom settings
– I want to name the custom settings
– show the exposure time all the time in aperture priority mode (not only, when I half press the release botton)
– focus should stay at the same point when I turn the camera off an then on
– better battery indicator

Is Fuji’s Kaizen philosophy only a marketing gag? We’ll see. Fuji, it’s up to you to prove me wrong.

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11 Gedanken zu “Is Fuji’s Kaizen philosophy only a marketing gag?

    • Don’t forget about us X Pro 1 users also. We could have a few bones thrown our way also !
      KAIZEN please come to XPro1 !!

  1. Totally agree with this, I own an X-M1, which many consider entry level and therefor, it seems to be OK not to update it; when I bought it, I considered the fact that it has an X sensor and a tiltable screen, which was useful for what I wanted to do.

    I’ve been very disapointed to see that it’s the model with the least updates… Last update of X-M1 is 1.20, last update of X-E2 is 3.0. I would have liked to see the chrome simulation, some advances in the menus…

  2. What I do not find fair with all these „Kaizen is dead“ blog posts is that you all fail to recognize that Fuji NEVER offocially committed to make changes to each and every one existing bodies. The X100s had at least 3 firmware updates since launch with bug fixes and new features. Granted not spectacular, but it received some love. Which is much more than Nikon ever did; Other bodies received a lot of love (X-T1, X100T). Fuji never directly or indirectly said „you should bet on our Kaizen Philosophy ad vitam aeternam“ they said „This is what we try to do, when technically and humanly possible, and each new model incorporates already what you’ve asked for in the previous iteration“

  3. Gembajo,
    No, it’s not a marketing gimmick. A statement like this shows a lack of business understanding of the effort, resources and costs that takes to design, manufacture and distribute products, even something that appears to be a simple as a „kaizen firmware“ update. How can it be viewed as a gimmick when it adds SIGNIFICANT functionality and enhancement to a product?

    And actually, that is not what every company tries to do. The „public nature“ of how Fuji manages „kaizen“ is a visible and transparent means that demonstrates their commitment to the customer. It’s important to try understand things from their perspective; they are continually trying to make their products better. Like any company, though, they do not have infinite time, money and resources to do this across the board for all products, for all time, for forever; that’s simply not realistic, or even sensible, from a business that needs to be *profitable*. They have to prioritize where they spend their time, money and resources. These firmware updates costs them money. We get them for free, but they aren’t free for Fuji to develop and distribute. There is a cost (which is much larger than you think it is factoring in the cost of headcount, SG&A, overhead, marketing, product management, etc., etc.) for virtually everything a company does.

    There is a large installed base of X-T1 users, so this is where they would naturally prioritize (as well as developing new lenses, bodies, etc. etc.). If you look at it from Fuji’s perspective, even when they are doing the right thing for their customers, they get flak because they put out free kaizen firmware updates, AND they get flak because they don’t put out kaizen firmware updates. From their perspective, they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    • I think, you didn’t understeand my critique. I know, that this all costs money, and that fuji has to make profit.
      But fujis products are not cheap in comparison to other manufacturer. If they advertise their products with kaizen, and then stop it because of no profit, this is only a marketing gag for me. In fact they do nothing different, then other manufacturer.

  4. The Fujifilm X system is one of the most recent IL-systems in the market. On top of it – it’s a very complex, fully firmware controlled system, everything – incl. the lens dials – are fly by wire. Since the release of the first X – the X-Pro1 – it has taken Fuji a very long time to iron out critical design issues, and stabilize the firmware to an extend the system was really solid enough to cope with advanced & pro-user expectations. The early X-Pro1 adopters have been suffering tremendously from a mind-killing series of bugs and issues and around me, I’ve really seen experienced photographers that couldn’t live with the shortcomings and (AF-)performance, left Fuji in the very first stage because of this. They switched to competition or even went back to the traditional DSLRs – I’ve several times been very close to that decision too…but the X-T1 changed my mind. I still see Fujifilm’s kaizen-strategy as a clever kind of charm initiative to deal with the initial problems of such a major development – ‘wrap the revised software in a set of interesting, new features and people will perceive it as a very positive approach’. A fair bit of additional hyping – as found on every fan- and rumorsite – did help even more. Fujifilm also mobilized a crowd of X-photographers expressing they had finally seen true light now with the Fujifilm X-system and the ‘unique’ kaizen strategy to keep on updating cameras with new features – and a lot of people will start seeing this philosophy as kind of new religion. It remains an enthusiast system after all, a bit countering the well implemented solid players with deviating, fresh new ideas. But the more Fujifilm will get in a ‘business as usual’ mode with a solid, stable range of cameras and lenses, the less kaizen we’ll see. We already feel that happened to the X100S, after the X-E2, X-E1 and even the X-Pro1, which no longer seem to have access to the recent improvements. The margin is seriously under pressure @ any manufacturer in 2015 and overall, in a market of overproduction & offering the sales and technology war with the competitors is sharper than ever. I don’t expect miracles – one day Fujifilm updating firmware as many times as anyone else in the market does. After all in general, there are days I believe in the way Fujifilm’s embraces this niche segment, whether it’s really true or not, I don’t know, but it feels indeed as they are aiming for a very close relationship with their X-series user base, but as everyone I also notice what competition is doing – and with less ‚kaizen‘, that is not without danger!

  5. I feel similarly about my X-E1. With the release of the X-E2, it seems largely forgotten (there was one firmware update for the X-E1 after the X-E2 came out). Don’t get me wrong — I still love the X-E1, but I would certainly have liked at least one more update worth of love from Fuji (I know the sensor/processor in the X-E1 can do Classic Chrome, and handle the choice of color for the focus peaking, as other models with the same combination do).

    As for the comment that Fuji remains an „enthusiast“ system, there are a number of serious professionals who have left other makers to use Fuji exclusively — and stayed with Fuji. This means that it is not simply the realm of the amateur.

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