A Confusing Week of Camera Intros

I’m talking about the new Canon R100 and the Fujifilm X-S20, the two new mirrorless cameras introduced this week. (We also got a ZV-1 Mark II and Leica Q3 launch, but I don’t classify those as mirrorless cameras).

Let’s start with the Fujifilm X-S20, the followup to the popular X-S10. The first thing to know is something I’ve been pointing out is a trend: the camera is going upmarket, and is now priced at US$1300. That’s a 30% price jump. So there must be a lot of new capability and technology in the camera, right?

Not exactly. Most of the changes from the original model are what I’d call subtle in actual value. For instance, the Rear LCD gets a modest dot-count upgrade, the SD slot is now UHS II compatible, and the image sensor has had a minor tweak. The primary noticeable changes come in two areas: the use of the X Processor 5 and the higher rated NP-W126 battery. These two things allow you to get Fujifilm’s new subject detection autofocus and more images per charge, basically. Video capabilities also now go to 4K/60 4:2:2 internal recording. 

In essence, the X-H2 and the X-S20 are basically equivalent in technology and capability now, other than the differences imposed by the 26mp image sensor compared to the 40mp one. Add in a few more modest things (headphone jack, VLOG setting on the Mode Dial, minor shape and control changes), and Fujifilm is telling you that this is all worth an extra US$300.

With the X-E line now gone, the X-S10 and X-T30II down to remaining stock, the X-S20 now becomes the “low end” of the X-mount lineup. Personally, I think that’s the right decision for Fujifilm. They can’t let themselves into a market share and pricing game at this point, and frankly, pointing to an X-S20 for someone coming from having just used a smartphone before has some strong rationale behind it, though after adding a competent lens, Fujifilm is now pushing the price of entry even higher. It’ll be a tough sell, but probably a justifiable one, unlike where I find this week’s other competitor.

At US$480, the new Canon R100 just dropped the price of state-of-the-art mirrorless entry to new, lower levels. Or did it? It’s basically the parts of an M50 Mark II in a simplified R50 body. No sensor stabilization, a single rear-curtain shutter, no rear joystick, none of the latest Canon AF goodies, no articulating or tilting Rear LCD, and a complete control simplification are the prescription for low price. Also the R100 has shortest press release for a new camera I’ve seen (basically one paragraph that an AI chatbot could have written from the query “describe in one paragraph a new mirrorless entry camera based upon the Canon M50"). 

I’m not convinced that US$500-800 is still a useful or justified product point. On the video side, smartphones jump over the 4K quality bar easier than the R100 does. Is old-tech 24mp still photo capability enough to get people to carry something in addition to their phone? Not in my book. 

So Fujifilm is aiming higher, Canon is aiming lower. Surely this will allow Canon to keep their ~50% market share, but that’s a lot of less profitable work that end up being discounted even more come holidays. At least Canon’s assembly robots aren’t suddenly out of a job. 

Summary: Canon and Fujifilm introduced the new end camera in their mirrorless lineup, only they’re over US$800 apart in price. 

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