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How Fuji Survived To Prosper When Its Rival Went Bankrupt & Where They Are Going

By Kishore Sawh on February 20th 2017

There are groups of fans in the world of sports that are generally regarded as the greatest, fiercest, most loyal, and most vocally supportive. These fanatics also seem to transcend generations, keeping the love and defense up even when, perhaps, it’s not warranted. In baseball it’s the Chicago Red Sox, in football there’s ManU, in hockey the Toronto Maple Leafs, and in Formula One it’s the famous heaving red sea of ‘tifosi’ for Ferrari. In the camera world there are certainly brand loyalists, but for the past few years, and particularly the past year, it’s gotta be Fuji.

Fuji fans are the ones these days we photographers who are also in the publishing and reviewing world approach with some trepidation, because at anything other a kind word (even when deserved) the pitch forks come out and you can find yourself on the receiving end furious people burning holes in their keyboards to drag your credibility through the mud. But in a sense, it’s kind of nice, and it’s absolutely amazing.

Fuji has managed to come back from the brink of plausible demise to become an absolutely adored brand, and for good reason. The road they took, however, is probably not well known even among it’s most adoring fans. Channel News Asia has a series it runs called ‘Inside the Storm’, and the latest segment is on Fuji‘s inspiring comeback as a company in the face of demanding adversity.

[RELATED: Iridient Brings Its Powerful RAW Processing For Fuji to Windows With the X-Transformer]

The short two and a half minute clip chronicles the major steps Fuji took from its fading film days at the turn of the century to where they are today. It begins really with Fujifilm at a crossroads and the company’s lowest point, where they then appointed Shigetaka Komori as CEO, who swiftly cut $500million in costs, shut down manufacturing plants, and sacrificed 5,000 jobs, all as necessary evils. But then we see the company under Komori’s lead take their film expertise and apply it in cosmetics for high-end skincare – healthcare and cosmetics are now Fuji‘s most profitable divisions with their film division representing less than 1% of profits.

The company is now looking ahead, beyond the cameras we all have come to love, to pharmaceuticals, but rest assured they don’t seem to have any plans on letting the division of their heritage remain idle in the history books.

[RELATED: Want A Fuji Monochrome? | Now You Can Have A Fuji Camera Dedicated To Black & White]

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Marvin Fullante

    Fuji color science was far superior among camera maker even now I still use fuji s5 pro the color was superb don’t need to shoot Raw sometimes

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  2. Korey Napier

    I switched completely to Fujifilm early last year. I had shot with the Canon 5D Mark II for several years and even shot with the Nikon D750 for a bit (that is my favorite DSLR I’ve ever used). I was drawn to Fujifilm for a plethora of reasons. I loved how small the system was compared to my DSLR’s. I loved the the functionality of their cameras (shutter speed dial, ISO dial, aperture ring on the lenses, etc.). People raved about the image quality and sharpness of the X-Trans sensor and their excellent lineup of prime lenses is what ultimately sold me on diving into the system. 

    There are so many other reasons I love being apart of the Fuji ecosystem. Frequent firmware updates to not just fix bugs, but actually IMPROVE their cameras is amazing. The styling of their cameras actually inspires me. 

    The fact that they’ve carved out a niche in a saturated market is pretty incredible. However, with the release of the X-T2, X-Pro2 and GFX, I think they are certainly becoming a stronger player in the market as a whole as opposed to the original niche market they carved with the original X100 and X-Pro 1. Their camera’s are incredible, but the fact that they have such incredible glass to compliment their cameras is where Fuji really hit the nail on the head. I haven’t even mentioned the genius move of including their popular films as in-camera simulations. They are the first camera manufacture that made people want to shoot jpeg specifically because of how legitimate the “filters” or “simulations” look. While I am a self proclaimed Fuji fanboy, I know the system isn’t perfect (as with any system) and I have a healthy appreciation for pretty much all camera brands (I love what Olympus is doing with their MFT cameras).   

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    • Kishore Sawh

      There’s a lot to love about Fuji, and I fell in love with the X-E2 years ago, but as a casual travel camera. There’s not much not to love, with the size, ease of use, nice glass. I do wish they’d build the cameras out of better material all ’round (I’d pay for it), and i had found Fuji photos to be, admittedly, a bit flat. That is, until the X-Pro2 and X-T2. The moment they put that sensor in something like an X-E2(3) I’m there. But again, just as a fun shooter. 

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    • Korey Napier

      Kishore Sawh, I had the X-E1 and I agree about the build quality. It did seem as though that line was built a bit more cheap than the other lines. It seems like the X-T series is a bit more well built though. 

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  3. Thadd Grant

    I’m glad you clarified the “Chicago Red Sox” part, cuz as a Sox fan, you did get the Irish up!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Haha. Couldn’t resist a chance to upset the ‘Nation’. I remember as a kid, going to SkyDome in Toronto as a faithful Jays fan (am to this day), and the only time a team would come to town and have fans to rival our cheering section (I’m talking Jays circa ’92 ’93) it was the Sox. Just bus-loads of fans. Gotta respect that. Cheers Thadd

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  4. John Hanna

    Chicago Red Sox? No such thing.  There’s the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox 

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I’m aware John. Was a dig to get their Irish up. ;-)

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    • Eloise Speight

      And you know no one really supports Manchester United either… at least not when they stop winning they won’t.  In (English) football the team people support through thick and thin is Liverpool!

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