FUJIFILM X100VI – Is It the Most Pre-Ordered Camera Ever?

FUJIFILM X100VI - Is It the Most Pre-Ordered Camera Ever?

Talking to our retail partners about the X100VI, we hear that camera preorders are “by far the best they have seen in a long time”. Some will go so far as to say that “pre-orders have broken all-time records for digital cameras” within the respective time frame. While the latter claim seems dramatic, knowing the context surrounding FUJIFILM X100VI may prove it’s not far-fetched.

So how does such a prosumer-hobbyist camera, that costs $1,599, with a fixed focal length lens garner such hype? Well, if someone can tell you exactly how and why viral responses work, they’re either lying or millionaires by now. Quite some stars must align in various forms to get a premium product into the realm of a cult following. This rare alignment is the story of the FUJIFILM X100V, the predecessor of the X100VI.

FUJIFILM X100VI, silver and black.Image credit: FUJIFILM

X100VI hype – the origin story

FUJIFILM X100 series is probably the most prominent, long-lasting, and influential fixed-lens large-sensor compact line around. Respectable as this title may be, this segment is hardly a high-grossing field, as it is often too pricey and not flexible enough for hobbyists and prosumers, and never meets top-tier professional requirements. Traditionally, X100 cameras targeted photographers looking for a second compact camera, a vacation camera, or a vintage-esque shooting experience. Seldom meant as the main or exclusive tool, owning an X100 required additional justification compared to others. The price tag didn’t help either. I remember how happy I was when I first got my X100S, and even happier as I’ve managed to bring it along on some paid gigs. One time I even left my full-frame Canon kit at home, working with just the tiny FUJIFILM. And so, for four consecutive models, the X100 series was a respected niche product, known to many but owned by few. This all changed with the fifth model, the X100V.

Aligning stars

The X100V incorporated some major improvements to the fairly conservative X100 design, but its commercial surge doesn’t necessarily stem from its photographic quality. As mentioned above, viral market responses are tricky to decipher, as they combine an unknown number of variables. However, this won’t stop me from trying. I can point at two converging vectors that may have helped the X100V “explode”.

Smartphones and social media

In the ongoing democratization of visual agency, it often appears that everything is somehow connected to smartphones and social media these days. I suggest a rather direct connection. Smartphones have gradually decimated the compact camera segment. These cameras are all but gone today as advanced smartphones are recognized as “camera of the year” by respectable organizations. Recent offerings provide multiple lens choices, quality recording options, and advanced features, but there’s one stark shortcoming: They don’t feel like cameras.

iPhone 15 pro, Credit: CineD

The X100V and its successor, the X100VI, provide the user with an extraordinary shooting experience. The tactile, dial-based control and hybrid viewfinder can’t be replicated by a metal-encased glass slate. Furthermore – it looks cool. It looks vintage, but won’t burden you with any vintage hassles. Pair this with influencer-induced TikTok / Instagram / YouTube hype and there’s your perfect storm, shooting the X100V up into the stratosphere, paving the way to a much larger market segment.

Design and ergonomics of the X100 line

A camera for non-photographers

The X100V became the first X100 to smash the target-market boundaries. With the help of its unique looks and viral social media spread, the camera could appeal to an exponentially larger market segment – the non-photographers. This enormous crowd didn’t delve into pixel-peeping, and never obsessed about autofocus speed or dynamic range. But they did love the user experience and overall feel the FUJIFILM X100V provided. Once the X100V went viral, it was back-ordered worldwide. While some initially suspected this to be a marketing ploy by FUJIFILM, the company soon announced that it wouldn’t be able to process additional X100V orders until shortages were addressed. This sparked a frenzy in the used camera market, inflating used X100V prices to more than twice the retail price. As the X100VI was announced, the hype merely shifted. At this point, as this fence is breached, the X100VI numbers make much more sense. But there’s more than pure luck to the surprising success of this camera.

FUJIFILM X100V top panel. Image credit: FUJIFILM

Luck is the residue of design

This phrase (by English poet John Milton, famously used by Wesley Branch Rickey) precisely depicts the FUJIFILM X100VI position. Many cameras have had their 15 minutes of fame (or in terms of contemporary social media – 15 seconds). It’s FUJIFILM’s cameras that got traction. The FUJIFILM X100V delivered on this because it is well-designed and thought-out. The camera ticks all the right boxes. It looks and feels good, but it’s also an excellent performer that exceeds mainstream user’s expectations. Its vast collection of film simulations caters to various creative styles without the need to post-process the images. This line started with a solid design philosophy honed over time and models. FUJIFILM carefully listened to their users, updated the cameras with meaningful firmware updates, and gradually perfected the hardware from model to model. When luck knocked on the door, the X100V was there to open it.

X100VI lens, ND filter, and construction. Image credit: CineD

What’s next for the X100VI?

The exorbitant success of the X100V may have taken FUJIFILM by surprise. The company had a hard time fulfilling the overflowing demand as used prices soared. I guess some people have preordered the X100VI as an investment, opting for a sale at a higher price at the first sign of shortage. I would advise caution regarding this path, as FUJIFILM seems to have learned and adapted. The X100VI will be the first X100 produced in China. This should upscale production to secure sufficient stocks across the globe. I wouldn’t go as far as prophecizing, but I’ll take the risk of an educated guess – FUJIFILM will manage to produce sufficient quantities to generally mitigate worldwide demand, or avoid extreme shortages at the very least.

Price and availability

The FUJIFILM X100VI is available for pre-order at $1,599/€1,558.34 While slightly pricier than its predecessor’s retail price, the new camera adds some meaningful features. A limited edition will also be available. It will cost $1,999 and will include additional perks such as a soft release, unique strap, special boxing, etc.

Have you already placed your preorder? Do you think the camera is overhyped? Will you opt to buy it regardless, being the nice tool that it is? Let us know in the comments.


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