The Quest for TikTok's Camera Refresh: A Closer Look at the Demand

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

I suppose you could call myself a photography nerd. I did, after all, place my preorder for the brand-new Fufjifilm X100VI fixed-lens camera eight minutes after it was announced on February 20. Unfortunately, it didn't happen quickly enough to guarantee entry to the highly sought-after initial camera rounds, which were distributed late last week.

Presumably the most preordered digital camera in history, the Fujifilm X100VI allegedly had over 650,000 preorders placed in China alone.

Reddit users are compiling order data for X100VI.

Reddit users have created a massive Google Sheet where fellow Fujifilm aficionados can contribute information about when, from whom, and what their current order status is in order to follow the status of orders. Not unexpectedly, the great majority had the status "back-ordered" on them.

Despite the fact that trolls are always around, this data ultimately shows a camera firm that is completely unable to handle the massive—yet not particularly surprising—demand for a new product.

According to the Reddit page, you would have needed to place your purchase within the first three minutes of the camera's introduction if you wanted to get one of the initial batch of cameras from B&H. I've been a digital camera nerd for years, but I've never seen anything like this.

What makes the X100VI so well-liked?

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

What's the deal, then? Why are people obsessing about a camera without even a zoom lens?

Hardcore photographers have long been fans of the X100 series. The UI, controls, and style of the camera are all reminiscent of a film camera. The integrated lens provides a quick and precise 35mm equivalent that is ideal for travel, street, and even portrait photography.

Furthermore, it has a sensor that is noticeably bigger than anything seen in the majority of today's best smartphones, and it is quite light and small. Because of this, it's a fantastic option for photographing in low light.

Given that Fujifilm's renowned analog "film simulations" are included, it's understandable why so many people adore this little camera. It was readily available and stayed popular for years. After the fifth iteration, that was altered.

Launched in February 2020, the X100V. And for the first several years of its life cycle, it was easy to find a new one.

The TikTokers followed.

The X100V started to trend on TikTok at some point in 2023; Gen Z seemed to have found the camera overnight. And they were obsessed, to the point where the X100V stayed out of stock and unobtainable everywhere for the better part of 2023 and early 2024, with secondhand copies regularly fetching more on eBay than MSRP.

Customers and retailers are being left in the dark by Fujifilm.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

In contrast to smartphone computational photography, I'm all for younger generations learning about and appreciating classical photography. The X100V's sudden success and the X100VI's growing popularity make me very happy. I find it annoying that Fujifilm failed to adequately predict demand.

Nevertheless, in an effort to boost exports, the venerable Japanese company relocated the camera's manufacturing to China. Nevertheless, a recent Nikkei story estimates monthly production at about 15,000 units. We may have a million or more preorders worldwide, so it's likely that people—including myself—will have to wait months instead of weeks for our cameras to arrive.

Has Fujifilm made any camera preparations prior to the launch? Which markets are most likely to be the recipients of the initial batch or batches? We're not sure.

What I do know is that there's a lot of irritation since Fujifilm isn't doing a great job of informing businesses or consumers about delivery estimates. The volume of preorders and queries is overwhelming both small and major camera retailers.

When I inquired about the potential wait period for an order placed on March 1, my local shop informed me that it may take up to eight months. Hopefully, the projections are low. However, it seems like those who haven't placed an order for an X100 VI might not be able to do so for a very long time.

Fujifilm X100VI: still waiting

In the end, I don't mind waiting since being apart strengthens the heart. Furthermore, the X-E4, one of Fujifilm's earlier versions, which provides almost identical film simulations, is already in my possession. I will thus be contentedly clicking away until Fujifilm irons out its less-than-ideal camera launch.

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