Did Fuji blow it with the X-Pro 1, X-E1 to the rescue?
Just a short 9 months after Fujifilm introduced the X-Pro 1, they announced the X-E1, a slightly detuned camera with the same sensor and image quality. The original Fuji mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the X-Pro 1, costs a healthy $1700. The new one is rumored to be under $1000. Isn’t that quite a price drop for essentially the same camera? The X-Pro 1 has a highly polarized reputation. Some people love it because of its high quality sensor and great optics, others panned it for being quirky and not focusing well. I have to admit that I’m in the second camp. I played with the X-Pro 1 in Japan and was completely flummoxed. I could hardly get the thing to focus. And if it did, it would be so slow that whatever I was shooting would be long gone, unless I was shooting a still life.
I’ve had some passing interest in the Fujifilm X100 and the X10 but their interchangeable system holds no interest for me. Beyond the focusing issues, the camera never felt right to me. It was relatively big but felt too light. It didn’t have the right size to weight ratio. It didn’t have the density of a quality camera. All this and an expensive $1699 body only price. Add a lens and you are up to $2,300. As much as I wanted Fujifilm to succeed, I wasn’t interested at all in this system.
It’s evident to me that Fuji made a mistake with the X-Pro 1. How else would you explain the X-E1 coming so soon with a healthy price drop. They now talk about a fast focusing system and a firmware update for the X-Pro 1 that fixes its ills. But, has the damage already been done to the X-Pro 1? Can it repair its reputation and increase sales? Let’s hope so for Fuji’s sake. I’m left thinking though, why didn’t Fuji just wait to get the X-Pro right before releasing it in the first place?
The company was riding high and had a surprise hit with the X100. The X-Pro 1 was and is in a unique category without any competitors. Releasing the camera a half-year later after the quirks were fixed seems logical, at least to the outsider. Who knows, perhaps if they got the X-Pro 1 working well at introduction, it could have sustained its premium price. Now, unfortunately, Fujifilm is left in an unenviable position to do damage control. And the loyal Fuji customers that paid that $1700 for that first model, how do you think they feel now?