Curious COVID effect: demand for sub-$1,000 cameras goes down, but goes up for medium format

Fuji COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a curious shift in customer behavior when it comes to cameras, with less demand for products under $1,000 and more demand for expensive high-end and medium format cameras. 

That's according to Fujifilm, which noted that demand was down for its lower priced and entry level X-mount bodies but very much up for its more advanced APS-C cameras and particularly medium format cameras such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R (opens in new tab) and Fujifilm GFX 100 (opens in new tab)

• Read more: Best Fujifilm cameras (opens in new tab)

During the pandemic that has raged over the past year, many people have been actively trying not to spend money – particularly as so many were in the unfortunate position of having their hours cut, or losing their jobs or businesses entirely.

So it seems unusual that the demand actually increased for Fujifilm's more expensive products – but that is exactly what happened, according to the manufacturer itself in an interview with DP Review. 

"Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, obviously we didn’t know what was going to happen, but the impact was less than we expected," said Masato Yamamoto (opens in new tab), General Manager of the company's Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division. "However, at the same time, the pandemic created a shift in customer behavior. We saw less demand for products under $1,000, but greater demand for our high-end and GFX cameras.

"This trend has accelerated [during the pandemic]. So we’ve applied ourselves to monitoring these trends and listening to feedback from our customers, and we’re confident that our strategy is working. We’re focused on the high end, and we’ll continue listening to those customers."

In some ways, it makes sense. Without being able to go on vacation, or even out to dinner or to see a movie, many people will have had more disposable income but less to spend it on – so may have treated themselves to a more expensive camera than they would under normal circumstances. 

And of course, the GFX 50R was subject to some ridiculously good deals last year, which no doubt accounted for a lot of adoption. 

Still, given the doom and gloom of the past 12 months, there was some fear that high-priced products would fall out of favor with the economy in such poor shape. With Fujifilm doubling down on the GFX system, courtesy of the Fujifilm GFX 100S (opens in new tab), it seems that the manufacturer has backed the right horse in this particular race.

Read more: 

Fujifilm GFX 50R review (opens in new tab)
Fujifilm GFX 50S review (opens in new tab)
Fujifilm GFX 100 review
Hands on Fujifilm GFX 100S review (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.