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Buy a camera for what it is, not what it could become

Fujifilm and other manufacturers have spoiled us with camera updates (firmware); however, their updating strategies have set unrealistic expectations.

Firmware updates for the end user are great. I mean, who doesn’t like having new features added to their camera long after a purchase was made? Fujifilm’s Kaizen camera updates changed the X-T1 (and a few other models) from mediocre cameras into powerhouses.

Firmware updates were part of the reason why so many photographers started switching to Fujifilm’s X mount system. Many other camera companies began to follow suit with firmware updates. They, too, found that end users loved the enhancements. Pretty soon, what was once seen as a bonus (an update with new features), became expected. This new standard for after-purchase care with firmware updates set new expectations. So, now, a perceived shift in strategy away from feature-adding camera updates is not sitting well with fans of Fujifilm or other manufacturers.

Camera updates are a bonus

camera updates

Soon after the revelation of Fujifilm’s Kaizen firmware push, entitled consumers quickly expected new features to be added to all of their cameras. Creators wanted their cameras to feel fresh and new after months and years of use. However, we’re now heading into a period where firmware updates with new features are not so frequent, and creators are noticing.

Look around the web; you’ll see articles and videos from people demanding that their cameras be updated with new features. The thing is, manufacturers are not obligated to send out firmware to add new features to the camera you purchased. However, manufacturers are obligated to fix glaring performance issues. Still, adding new features is not a requirement.

I think Fujifilm and Co. realized that they were hurting their business by updating their cameras so frequently. After all, why would a consumer buy a new camera if their old one receives new features regularly? This isn’t a sustainable business model. Consumers’ current mindset regarding cameras and firmware updates is wrong because the days of Kaizen and regular feature-adding updates are coming to an end.

Buy a camera for what it is now

The camera market is a tricky place to navigate. There are so many models on the market, and they’re all competing for your hard-earned dollars. How can you make sure to buy a camera that you’ll like long term? If there is one piece of advice I could give anyone looking for a camera, it’s to buy the camera for what it is now and not for what it could be in the future. Firmware updates are not guaranteed.

Ask the owners of the Fujifilm X Pro 3 who purchased the camera and accepted mediocre autofocus performance because they were sure that a firmware update would arrive to fix it. Guess what never came? That’s right, a firmware update to improve performance. If adopters of this camera had researched the camera before their purchase, perhaps even rented it before buying it, they would have known that autofocus performance was not great. Instead, consumers put trust in Kaizen updates and were burned.

camera updates

So, before you buy a camera, understand that the camera before you in the store is the finished product. The current feature set, the autofocus performance, the image profiles, the burst rates, the responsiveness and so on, that’s what you’re agreeing to buy.

Again, companies are under no obligation to update any camera with new features after you purchase it. So choose wisely. Hold the camera, use the camera make sure it fits your needs out of the box. Are you happy with the performance? Will it meet your needs in the state that it’s in now? If not, don’t buy it and pray for updates. You’ll end up disappointed and angry. Your only options are to pick another camera or wait and see if updates come down the line.

If you can’t get to the store to try a camera, or if you cannot rent the camera that interests you, come to trusted sites like ours and read our in-depth reviews so you can make an informed purchasing decision.

If you decide to buy a camera and are content with its performance out of the box, congrats. Enjoy your new camera. Still, I wouldn’t expect updates to improve it in any way, shape or form. If you go into a purchase with the mindset that this camera is great for me now, any camera updates that do come down the line with new features will delight you. Do your research, lower expectations surrounding camera updates, shoot happy and create great images.

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Rafael Jones

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