Fujifilm GF Lens Roadmap
Posted in News
20/06/2022

Fujifilm’s Plan and What It Means for Their Future

A few weeks ago, Fujifilm held its first (of two) X-Summits of 2022. Livestreamed from Omiya Japan, this event was long awaited by Fujifilm users for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the hope of getting new details about Fuji’s upcoming stacked-sensor camera. Now that the X-Summit is over and done, I’d like to step back and talk about what the recently announced products mean for Fuji’s future.

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Overview of Announcements from the X-Summit

Speed, Power, and Mobility was the theme of this X-Summit, and to that end Fujifilm certainly delivered. In total, Fuji announced or teased about a dozen new products.

Coming this summer/fall:

  • Fujifilm X-H2s camera with a stacked sensor (the X-Trans CMOS 5 HS)
  • The brand new X Processor 5
  • XF 150-600 5.6-8 LM OIS WR
  • 18-120mm f/4 LM PZ WR
  • Accessories for H2s: Cooling fan, vertical grip, file transfer grip

Under Development (future release dates pending):

  • XF 56mm 1.2 v2
  • XF 30mm 2.8 macro
  • XF 8mm 3.5
  • X-H2 (with 40mp sensor) to be announced at the September X-Summit

I was surprised to see no mention of the GFX series, but since the GFX did get 2 new cameras in 2022 (the GFX 100s and the GFX 50s II) I suppose it was time to focus on the X-series.

Let’s dive into each of these products in more detail and what they mean for Fujifilm’s future.

Fujifilm X-H2s Camera (and accessories)

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The announcement of the X-H2s was of course the highlight of the May 2022 X-Summit. Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the X-Series system, Fuji chose to launch the 5th generation of the X series with the X-H2s.

The 26 megapixel X-Trans CMOS 5 HS sensor is 4 times faster than its predecessor. It shows that Fuji is not content for its X-Series to be the “street and travel photography” camera and wants to attract sports and wildlife photographers, too.

A bit under the radar in Fuji’s announcements, but almost as important as the camera itself, is the release of Fuji’s new X Processor 5. It’s twice as powerful as the previous generation and 30 times faster than the original X Processor. This speed, plus the stacked sensor, is why the X-H2s has such a fast burst (up to 40 frames per second), top video specs (6K 30p, 4K 120p) and faster autofocus.

We may also be entering an era where Fujifilm is not afraid to set full-frame level prices on its best APS-C cameras. At $2499, the X-H2s isn’t cheap – in fact, it’s the most expensive camera in the X-series lineup. Compared to flagship stacked-sensor mirrorless cameras from other companies, it still comes in at a much lower price point. Of course, the others are full-frame. We’ll have to wait and see if it gets enough sales to convince Fuji that the high price point is worthwhile.

Briefly, along with the camera, Fuji announced some specific accessories for the X-H2s. There is a $199 cooling fan, which helps you shoot video without the camera overheating. There’s also a vertical battery grip ($399) and a file transfer grip ($999) that has LAN wired connectivity and high speed wireless, plus remote recording and control of up to 4 X-H2s cameras.

These are all advanced accessories, especially the fan and file transfer grip, that strike me as reassuring for pros considering Fuji instead of one of the more “traditional” big camera companies.

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XF 150-600mm f/5.6-8 LM OIS WR

The longest lens in the X-mount lens lineup is Fuji’s new $1999 XF 150-600mm f/5.6-8. It’s another indication of Fuji’s increased efforts toward sports and wildlife photographers. The 600mm focal length is equivalent to over 900mm on full-frame, and weighs a relatively light 3.5 pounds (1.6 kilos).

The reason for the light weight is that the maximum aperture of f/8 at the long end is not very bright. That’s particularly true given that the lens will be used on an APS-C camera. Since equivalence also includes aperture, a full-frame equivalent lens is approximately 230-925mm f/8.6-12.3. It’s usable but hardly a light-gathering monster like Fuji’s 200mm f/2.

Of course, the tradeoff is between maximum aperture and weight. In all other ways, this is an advanced lens that continues Fuji’s push to attract pros. It’s weather resistant, has 5 stops of image stabilization, has an internal zoom system, and has a large number of physical controls.

150-600

The internal zoom in particular is nice for photographers and videographers who are working with a gimbal. I often use a monopod gimbal when shooting with Fuji’s 200mm f/2, and I’m thrilled that this will also be an option with this lens, since it is not an option with the 100-400.

I find it interesting that the 150-600mm 5.6-8 lens, in focal length an aperture, is very similar to the 100-400 f/4-5.6 with the 1.4 teleconverter attached. I have used this combination in the past and enjoyed it. Due to the long focal length, there is no issue getting subject-background separation.

Interestingly, the 150-600 will be compatible with the existing 1.5 and 2x teleconverters, making it possible to achieve a 35mm equivalent focal length of more than 1800mm. Of course with the 2x teleconverter attached, the already narrow maximum aperture becomes even dimmer, so I’m not sure how it’s going to work our practically. Still, I look forward to testing it when the lens is released in July.

18-120mm f/4 LM PZ WR

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One product that shows where Fuji is headed is their 18-120mm f/4. They call it their “all-in-one, all-around zoom lens,” and they’re not only referring to photographers. This really strikes me as a lens designed for video. The constant maximum aperture makes zooming easy without darkening or brightening the video. It also has a close minimum focus distance and a versatile zoom range (about 27-180mm equivalent).

But probably the biggest indication that this is a video lens is the internal zoom. Unlike almost all wide-to-telephoto zooms, this one stays the same size at both 18mm and 120mm. So, the weight distribution is ideal for gimbal usage. Fuji also notes that it’s a parfocal lens, meaning that it doesn’t change focus point when zoomed, and has no focus breathing.

Even the lens’s ergonomics are designed with video in mind, with a power zoom that lets you customize the zoom speed (and focus speed) for smooth videography. In short, it ticks all the boxes for video shooters, aside from the lack of image stabilization (not a problem with Fuji cameras that have IBIS, of course).

It’s not that this is a bad lens for stills photographers, who also may appreciate features like the internal zoom (AKA better weather sealing) and parfocal design (no longer critical to re-focus after zooming in). At $899, it makes a good general purpose lens. But the huge emphasis on video shows where Fuji is going with their X-Series, especially combined with the video-heavy features of the X-H2s and accessories like the cooling fan.

Updates to the Fujifilm X-Mount Lens Roadmap

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The clearest indication of where a camera company is going is often their roadmap. In Fujifilm’s case, there are three new X-Mount lenses on the roadmap following the summit.

To be specific, the updated lens roadmap mentions a 30mm macro lens and an updated 56mm 1.2 lens some time this year, with an 8mm prime to follow in 2023. It is reasonable to expect that the two 2022 lenses will be announced at the September X-summit.

30mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Fujifilm currently offers 2 macro lenses, the 60mm 2.4 R macro lens and the 80mm 2.8 R LM OIS WR macro lens. The 60mm macro was one of the original X-mount lenses released back in 2012 with the launch of the Fuji X-Pro 1. Although the 60mm is not a true 1:1 macro, its compact size made it a popular choice for many photographers, and it was Fuji’s only macro offering until the 80mm macro in 2017. The 80mm macro is my current choice of a Fuji macro lens, with true 1:1 macro, optical image stabilization, and weather sealing.

However, the 80mm macro is not especially portable. I sometimes pack a smaller extension tube (MCEX-11 or MCEX-16) when traveling to make room in my bag. The 30mm f/2.8 makes sense to fill this gap, and Fuji does consider it part of their compact prime lens lineup.

This is more of a “classic Fujifilm” lens that’s light, small, and multi-purpose. Compared to most of their other announcements at the summit, it doesn’t have as much of a video or high-speed photography angle, although I’m sure that some videographers will use it.

56mm f/1.2 II Lens

Fuji’s 56mm 1.2 has long been a top pick among Fujifilm photographers. It’s a fast prime lens with beautiful bokeh and a fantastic portrait lens, essentially equivalent to an 85mm f/1.8 on full-frame in depth of field and composition. I haven’t parted with mine even after getting the Fuji 50mm f/1.0.

Still, lens technology has improved in the last 8 years, and with new higher resolution sensors coming, it’s possible that an update was necessary to bring the optics up to date. That may be especially true in terms of autofocus; the current 56mm f/1.2 is fine for portraits, but it doesn’t compare to the prime lenses that Fuji has released recently.

Fuji is considering this one of its fast prime lineup along with the 18mm 1.4, the 23mm 1.4 v2, and the 33 mm 1.4. All three of these lens offer lightning fast autofocus, with very quiet linear motors, and weather sealing. It’s a reasonable guess that the new 56mm will see most or all of these features as well, which opens the possibility for easier video use (thanks to the linear motor and faster focus).

The current lenses in this lineup range in price from $799-$999, but we will have to wait for the release of this lens later this year to see if it falls into that same price range.

8mm f/3.5

This little lens came as a surprise to me, and I’m excited to learn more. Rather than placing it into one of the existing lineup or prime lenses, Fujifilm simply stated that this lens will be “perfect prime lens for an introduction to the world of ultra-wide angle.”

I don’t know if that statement is hinting at a lower price point specifically, but since at the moment the only X-series lens offering a focal length that wide is the $2000 8-16mm 2.8 zoom lens, it’s safe to say that this lens should be a much less expensive way to get that ultra-wide angle view. We can expect more information on this lens at the September X-Summit, although the roadmap has it set for release in 2023.

40 MP X-Trans CMOS 5 HR Sensor in an H2 Body

In an intriguing departure from the way Fujifilm has operated in the past, they ended the X-Summit by announcing that we can expect another 5th-generation X-Trans sensor later this year. The new sensor will be a 40 megapixel non-stacked sensor. Fuji says the new sensor is coming to an H2 camera body later this year.

In the past, per generation, Fuji has only had one sensor shared among all the camera bodies. This allowed photographers to select their camera based on body style, feature set, and price, without having to make any compromises in image quality.

Compared to this impressive consistency in the past, this difference in the 5th generation opens up a lot of questions. Will the H-series be the only body to offer both sensors? Are more sensor options forthcoming? What sensor will Fuji’s “budget cameras” have this generation?

It’s curiosity more than complaints from me. I see the potential in having a higher-resolution camera finally enter Fuji’s APS-C lineup as a sort of “mini GFX 50s II,” but naturally that camera wouldn’t be right for everyone. Nevertheless, I hope that Fuji doesn’t take this moment to start differentiating their lower-end cameras with lower-quality or previous-generation sensors, like most companies do.

Conclusion: Looking to the September X-Summit for Answers

The one thing this X-Summit taught us is that Fujifilm hasn’t stopped evolving, and they’re determined to keep surprising us. They are pushing strongly for video users and sports/wildlife shooters, including pros, with almost all of these announcements. A videographer could use the 18-120mm f/4 and cooling fan for the X-H2s; a pro sports photographer could use the file transfer grip and 40 FPS shooting on the new camera.

I would have liked to see something new for the GFX line, but since the GF 20-35mm is still on the roadmap 2022, I expect we will hear more this fall. In any case, I’m encouraged overall by Fuji’s summit and look forward to see what they have in store for the years ahead.

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X100F @ 23mm, ISO 200, 1/100

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