The EU Import Duty isn’t The Reason The Fujifilm X-H1 is Limited to 30-minutes

There has been some speculation that the EU import duty, which was imposed on cameras in 2007 is the reason that the Fujifilm X-H1 has a limited record time, but this is highly unlikely. Many things in the EU are taxed and regulated in ways that we aren’t used to in the United States, but the EU import duties for devices that can record video, which varies between 4.9% and 12.5% is complicated.

I won’t get into the politics or an in-depth legal analysis because it is very dry but originally all cameras that could record video were going to have to pay this tax until a compromise was reached. The compromise was that cameras that record less than 30-minutes would avoid the duty, but once they recorded even one minute more at a specified quality or higher they would have to pay the minimum duty. Now a 4.9% duty isn’t bad, but what about 12.5%… Well, 12.5% was only if the device could record from a TV like a VCR, which then leads to some interesting legal arguments. I imagine most companies decided they weren’t worth making and just segmented their product lines as a result, which became more profitable.

Then… in 2016 the EU eliminated import duties on “Television cameras, and video cameras, and their component parts” (Meijburg Tax Law). Could a tax law firm in Europe have incorrect information on their site? I suppose they could, but it’s unlikely the EU is listed on the WTO: Information Technology Agreement. I’m not a lawyer in Europe so I wouldn’t know and have heard that the tax expires in 2018 (Max says 2019) which might be related to the WTO agreement. There have been a lot of free trade agreements over the years and if these companies wanted to get around the tax than they would find a way.

From an engineering and business perspective, it would not make sense to pay the tax if your camera could only record for 45 minutes or so because there would be little benefit to customers. You are better off increasing profits or passing along the savings to customers so you can undercut your competition. This is why I expect to see an unlimited record time in the future when Fujifilm is ready and able to deliver one. Beyond the Fujifilm X-H line of camera, many manufacturers use artificial limits to segment their cameras and the 30-minute limitation will likely remain a useful tool going forward thanks to the EU.

Also, it looks like the Fujiguys are vlogging now…

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X-H1 Camera: B&H Photo / Amazon / Adorama
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