I seldom write opinion pieces as people do get really opinionated nowadays (pun intended) and my preference has always been to share my thoughts after handling the equipment in question sufficiently. (Mathematics majors are pretty logical people and holding it to press a few buttons during a photo walk does NOT count as getting to know the equipment sufficiently well)
& thus the focus here is not on real-world experiences of how these equipment perform, instead the focus is on my views on X-mount moving forward after the 2022 X-Summit.
*my review of the X-H2S and XF150-600mm will probably come a few weeks later in June.
31st May’s X-Summit was nicely concluded, and very soon I was asked: “Should I consider the X-H2S, XF150-600mm?”
That question asked X times actually started me thinking about the X-mount system, in its 10th year, and what it means for me as a user when I tried to take a glimpse forward.
X-Trans 5, X-Processor 5, and the stacked sensor
Featuring the next-generation X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor and X-Processor 5, the X-H2S is to pave the way forward for Fujifilm’s future together with its second-generation lenses which they have dutifully built for a while. (My reviews are them are: XF23mm f1.4 WR, XF33mm f1.4, XF18mm f1.4)
Of course, there have been many superlatives bundled as typical of a new camera release, and to list a few, we finally got a clearer idea that the H in X-H2S means ‘Heavy-duty’ and the S likely refers to ‘Speed’. (you can read about all this at Fujifilm’s official site here)
For me, this was a great moment for those invested within Fujifilm’s eco-system and of course, I am sure, good news too for those on the outside. Fujifilm finally seems to have touched on one of the key issues to work on since the beginning which was auto-focusing reliability and speed.
I am glad to see X-Trans sensors still around too, especially since there were rumors that Fujifilm might give them up. Fujifilm’s rendition of colors and its mastery of film simulations is one of its backbone pillars in keeping it relevant and I hope X-Trans is here to stay.
pre X-H2S it was simply common for us to take 2, 3 extra shots of the same scene in case we had a miss. I hope X-Trans V can make this habit a relic of the past.
Frankly a stacked sensor is not new tech, Sony debuted it in the Alpha 9 since 2017. Grips with data-transfer capabilities have been always around, using artifical intelligence in subject recognition appeared in Olympus’s MFT E-M1X in 2019 and the list goes on. Black-out-less EVFs was debuted by other brands for a while, the one on Nikon’s Z9 is so good some don’t even know they are shooting unless they actually activate an in-menu item to show a blinker of sorts around the corners.
But hey, even so, the point is that now Fujifilm has caught up and as a Fujifilm user, these technologies are available to you.
I have seen comparisons. For example, someone exclaims a Fujifilm’s auto-focus performance outperforms a Canon R6’s. I do wonder did the reviewer review Canon’s catalog to see that above the R6, there is the R5, the R3 and we might see an R1 in 2023, all a step further ahead in capabilities. These comparisons are not that useful actually.
For people already invested in Fujifilm, they will be happy to see further potential in their hands. For people who are not invested, it does not really matter until the day say, Fujifilm is able to create something is unique and extremely attractive, for example, say an APSC-sized stacked sensor camera with a global shutter.
Tidying up the camera body hierarchy
X-Trans IV saw easily more than 10 camera bodies equipped with it (I think it was 13 but I may have lost count), with varying types of processors and of course, varying levels of performance, film simulation support, etc and I am glad to see that Fujifilm seems to have made it very clear than the X-H2S will be the top-league hybrid camera for imaging and video professionals, the do-it-all like the Sony Alpha 1.
Seeing that the 40 megapixels X-Trans V sensor will go to the X-T5, maybe Fujifilm is finally trying to clean up the overlapping areas between the X-T (single, double, triple-digit), X-Pro, X-E, X-H, X-A series (I think that should be all) and this is something I really look forward to seeing Fujifilm doing. (I used to have an X-M1 too until Fujifilm killed it).
For example, it would be nice to see the X-H series being the overall do-it-all model with the best Fujifilm can offer (stacked sensor, 0.8x blackout less OLED EVF, 7 Stops IBIS), the X-T being the high-resolution model and the X-Pro being the still ‘innovative’ Fujifilm model for the street photographer. And while at it, please do not go from single to triple digits, just stop at double.
Kaizen, is it still alive?
A little surprise was I did not hear anything about work being done to bring older but still relatively current models up to speed. This is a clear departure from what actually made Fujifilm a much-loved brand. While in all fairness, I can understand why X-T3 will never get Classic Neg. It is somewhat sad that as an X-Pro3 owner (we were all told it’s at the top of the hierarchy and well, it did cost enough to prove this but support has been pretty tepid), Fujifilm has not provided any performance updates since 2019 except bug-fixes.
Other brands have seen that Fujifilm has done extremely well in this aspect and caught up, I hope Fujifilm is still faithful to its Kaizen philosophy.
*telling consumers that the same X-Trans IV models cannot move to the same level of performance is not useful as well. It is not as if consumers are told which processors are bundled with their cameras.
Of course, users should not expect say, a 5-year-old camera still getting performance updates but then I do personally feel that Fujifilm has really fallen short in this aspect in the last 2-3 years.
That PASM dial
is a good decision, and not new to Fujifilm actually. Debuting in the X-S10 X-mount wise, the PASM dial actually makes it easier for people outside the Fujifilm ecosystem to move into the system. Fujifilm never said they were planning to remove their beautiful dials system from the X-Pro1 era and I actually expect to see Fujifilm making conscious decisions to give a particular camera a particular dial design/setup.
For example, I am pretty confident the X-Pro and X100 series will continue to be uniquely Fujifilm.
Optics for the professionals and enthusiasts.
This to me was actually the main highlight of the event. Fujifilm X-mount is 10 years old and has finally seemed to hear the professional’s requests in the form of the release of a high-quality super-telephoto XF150-600mm f5.6 to f8 and the XF18-120 f4 PZ lens.
Wildlife and aircraft photographers who have often griped about the insufficiencies of the XF100-400mm (actually the XF100-400mm is a lens I really love and have created beautiful pictures with) can now look forward to a lens that will give them the reach they desire.
a f11 equivalent in d.o.f at 914mm is actually still pretty all right
There is even lesser needed to say about the XF18-120mm f4 lens, it is a video-oriented lens and videographers will love it. I hope it is a true parfocal lens too. And more importantly, the other 3 lenses announced show that the planners are using their brains right too. While no doubt some will compare, for example, that a Canon FF RF800mm f11 costs around 2/3 of the price of the XF150-600mm, end of the day this goes beyond prices and the whole ecosystem plus one’s needs too.
Fujifilm is really moving towards not only completing a lens collection based on focal lengths, but actually working on improving existing versions.
I can be sure many existing users are looking forward to getting the XF56 mm f1.2 II, XF30mm f2.8 Macro (even if it may not give 1:1 reproduction and that is my guess), or the ultra-wide XF8mm f3.5 lens. Imagine that with the XF8-16mm f2.8 out of reach cost-wise, now users can look forward to an 8mm native lens much gentler on the pocket.
My last area of thought. Some balked at the USD2499 asking price for the X-H2S body alone (and that is not including the USD199 cooler fan and USD999 data-grip) which will probably end up costing around SGD5000 in my country.
My take is that this is actually still reasonable with a huge disclaimer. While encroaching easily into price levels of the Sony A7R IV (the X-H2S is actually more expensive than the A7 IV locally), the Canon R5, or even the Nikon Z7 II, you are paying for peak APSC performance, and for someone in the Fujifilm system IN NEED of this level of performance, this price is still possible to justify if I see it from the perspective of a user in the Fujifilm ecosystem. The EVF of the X-H2S alone is basically a big step forward within Fujifilm cameras.
Instead of looking at a number, rephrase it to “for a system that can deliver what you want, the cost is justifiable”.
The disclaimer is I hope to NOT see Fujifilm delivering another X-Trans V stacked sensor camera body say at USD1999 nine months down the road, that would be an issue for users who have placed enough faith in them to actually be early adopters.
Fujifilm as a brand and system has always held a special soft spot in my heart and I would love to see the brand grow and thrive. X-Summit 2022 has really shown a definite step ahead and I really would love to see Fujifilm avoid any missteps they have done before and grow stronger and do right by its supporters.
After all, while I grow old with Fujifilm, I do hope to see the next generation grow up with Fujifilm.
Thank you for reading.