Takeaways from Fujifilm’s X-Summit in NYC

Tips & Techniques

Last week, Fujifilm treated us to another X-Summit with another round of product announcements, this time live from New York City. Fuji spent more time fulfilling existing promises than previewing new technology, but like always, they had a few surprises for us. Let’s take a closer look at what’s new, and see if we can read between the lines and make some predictions as to what might be next for Fujifilm.

Table of Contents

Introduction of the Fujifilm X-H2

Xh2

By far the biggest announcement this X-Summit (and for many photographers, the most anticipated) was the arrival of the Fujifilm X-H2. Yes, Fuji already released one X-H series camera earlier this year, the X-H2s. But this X-H2 is an entirely different beast, with an entirely different sensor. While the processor and the body design remain the same as the previously released X-H2s, the sensor is drastically different. The X-H2 features a brand new X-Trans 40mp sensor that Fujifilm is calling the X-Trans CMOS 5 HR – with HR standing for “high resolution.” Meanwhile, the earlier X-H2s’s sensor is the 26 MP X-Trans CMOS 5 HS, standing for “high speed.”

The new 40mp sensor in the Fujifilm X-H2 makes it the highest resolution APS-C camera on the market. If 40mp isn’t enough, the pixel-shift feature, which was previously only available on Fujifilm GFX cameras in Fuji’s lineup, uses the IBIS to shift the pixels. The images can be combined in post-processing software to multiply the resolution 4x (160 megapixels). Fuji also reduced the base ISO of the X-H2 down to 125 (from 160) in previous models a change many Fuji photographers have been waiting for. Both of these changes should improve the camera’s image quality capabilities.

Fujifilm has marketed the X-H2 as “the power” in their new “speed and power” slogan for the 5th generation of X-series. This feels like a slight misnomer; my intuition would have associated “power” with the camera’s processor, and these two cameras (and presumably the rest of the 5th generation X-series cameras) will have the same X-Processor 5. But there is no doubt that this new X-H2 is a very powerful camera, and I can say from experience that the speed moniker for the X-H2s is well deserved.

When the rumors started that Fuji would be releasing not one but two X-H2 cameras – a rumor that was confirmed at the last X-Summit in May of 2022 – the assumption was that one camera would be video-focused and one would be designed for still photographers. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in practice. Even though only the X-H2 can shoot 8K video, the X-H2s has better slow-motion capabilities with 4K 120p, and less risk of rolling shutter (about 1/180 vs 1/90 second readout speeds). There isn’t an obvious choice between the two cameras either for video – nor for stills. It all depends on what you shoot.

Row 1 Row 2 Row 3
Sensor APS-C X-Trans CMOS 5 HS with primary color filter APS-C X-Trans CMOS 5 HR with primary color filter
Effective Pixels 26.16 million 40.2 million
Processing Engine X-Processor 5 X-Processor 5
Shutter Speed Up to 1/8000 mechanical or 1/32000 electronic 1/8000 mechanical or 180000 electronic
Digital Teleconverter None 1.4x, 2.0x
ISO 160-1280 (80-51200 Extended) 125-1280 (64-51200 Extended)
Continuous Shooting 40 fps Electronic shutter, 15 fps mechanical shutter 20fps (1.3x crop) electronic shutter, 15fps mechanical shutter
Autofocus Intelligent Hybrid
Contrast: -4.0EV
Phase Detection: -7.0EV (XF50mmF1.0 attached)
Intelligent Hybrid
Contrast: -4.0EV
Phase Detection: -7.0EV (XF50mmF1.0 attached)
Face Detection Yes Yes
View Finder EVF: 0.5 inch OLED Color Viewfinder, Approx. 5.76 million dots
Coverage of Viewing Area vs. Capturing Area: Approx. 100%
EVF: 0.5 inch OLED Color Viewfinder, Approx. 5.76 million dots
Coverage of Viewing Area vs. Capturing Area: Approx. 100%
LCD 3.0 inch vari-angle Touch Screen Color LCD Monitor
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Dots: Approx. 1.62 million dots
3.0 inch vari-angle Touch Screen Color LCD Monitor
Aspect Ratio: 3:2
Dots: Approx. 1.62 million dots
Max Video Resolution 6240×4160 (6k), 4096×2160 (4k) 7680×4320 (8k), 6240×3510 (6k), 4096×2160 (4k)
Max Framerate 4k at 120fps, 6k at 30fps 6k and 8k at 30fps, 4k at 60fps
Movie Recording Formats Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 LT, H.265, H.265, Mov, MP4 Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 LT, H.265, H.265, Mov, MP4
Storage Formats SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I/UHS-II, CF Express Type B SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I/UHS-II, CF Express Type B
Battery NP-W235, 580 Frames (normal mode) NP-W235, 540 Frames (normal mode)/td>
Dimensions Width: 136.3mm
Height: 92.9mm
Depth: 84.6mm
(Minimum Depth) 42.8mm
Width: 136.3mm
Height: 92.9mm
Depth: 84.6mm
(Minimum Depth) 42.8mm
Weight 660g (With battery and memory cards) 660g (With battery and memory cards)
Price $2499 $1999

The X-H2s with its stacked sensor may be designed for speed, but this doesn’t mean that X-H2 is going to be slow. It is getting many of the autofocus updates that Fujifilm rolled out in the X-H2s, including its new improved autofocus algorithm and AI-powered subject detection. As a result of both these improvements, and the increased number of phase detection pixels on new 40mp sensor, the X-H2 should have meaningfully better autofocus capabilities than the 4th generation X-series cameras.

I have been using the X-H2s for the last few months, and the subject tracking autofocus improvements are substantial. While I haven’t the AF implementation on the X-H2 yet, it should be almost as good, according to Fujifilm’s (admittedly vague) comparison chart:

afComparison

Since they didn’t release actual benchmark numbers and data, we are left to guess at exactly what the practical difference is between “good” and “very good.” But the bottom line is that the X-H2s is still likely the better choice if you primarily photograph moving subjects, whereas you can’t go wrong with the 40 megapixel X-H2 for still subjects.

The Fujifilm X-H2 start shipping at the end of September with a list price of $1999.

X-Trans CMOS 5 HR, X-Trans CMOS 5 HS and Future X-Series Cameras

The release of a second sensor within the same generation of cameras marks a drastic change for Fujifilm. In all previous generations, the X-series cameras have featured only one sensor, which was included in every camera of that generation. There were some advantages to the one-sensor system – the most notable being that you could choose your camera body based on ergonomics, features, and price, while the image quality remained the same between models.

But the new two-sensor generation has its own advantages, and the addition of the faster, stacked sensor to the lineup may give Fuji the opportunity to entice wildlife and action photographers to the system. The introduction of longer zoom lenses the last two years (the 70-300mm in 2021 and the 150-600mm earlier this year) helped fill out the lens lineup on the telephoto side, as Fuji attempts to break into that new potential user base.

Many photographers were originally attracted to Fujifilm for the traditional dials and film-like camera bodies, and the X-H2 cameras are a pretty big departure from this aesthetic. The X-H2/H2s were not the first Fujifilm cameras to adopt the more modern, even DSLR-like ergonomics, but it’s an interesting change. This doesn’t mean that Fuji is leaving their original styling, and I expect that other Fuji cameras of this generation will retain the more retro look.

We can expect the sensors, processor, and many of the features from these flagship cameras to trickle down to the rest of the models over the next few years. We have yet to see any hints about the next 5th-generation Fuji cameras – neither in terms of sensor nor body design. I hoped that Fujifilm would have used the X-Summit to preview the next 5th generation camera, but they decided not to offer any information this time around. Notably, Fuji Rumors has reported that the 26/40 megapixel split is unlikely to continue in the X-T5, which is expected to be 40 MP only.

Don’t Expect Full-Frame from Fujifilm (They Don’t Think You Need It)

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to the news from Fujifilm – but reading the comments during the live broadcast of the X-Summit shows that 10 years after the launch of the X-Series, this is still a question in many people’s mind.

While Fuji didn’t take this question directly during the Q&A portion of the summit, they made it clear that they believe APS-C is enough (and if its not, that is what they say the GFX is for). To prove the capabilities of the new X-Trans CMOS 5 HR sensor, Fujifilm shared an 8 meter x 6 meter print taken with the X-H2. They used this print to show off the detail and capabilities of the new 40mp sensor, but the point was made: APS-C is fully capable of very large, high quality prints. And if you need to go larger than that, there is the medium format GFX.

While there are many situations in which full-frame has an advantage, I interpreted that print demo as Fujifilm’s statement that they believe that their new APS-C sensor is capable of more quality and resolution than most photographers will ever need. Fujifilm is not going full frame, and it wouldn’t make any sense given their extensive APS-C and medium format lens lineups. They are clearly committed to the APS-C/medium format duality.

New Lenses for GFX (but No New GFX Camera Announcements)

20-35

Speaking of medium format, I mentioned that the GFX system was markedly absent from the last X-Summit, so I was excited to see some information on new GFX lenses this time around.

Specifically, Fuji officially announced the GF 20-35mm f/4 R WR. This lens has been on the roadmap for about a year now, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it is a very welcome addition to the landscape photographer’s bag. This is the widest GFX lens to date, the next closest being the 23mm f/4 R LM WR. It has a full frame equivalent focal length of approximately 16-28mm.

While the GFX lenses are quite a bit larger and heavier than their XF counterparts, the GF 20-35 is remarkably small and light for a medium format lens at 725 g (which is even lighter than the 23mm f/4, an 845 g lens). The 20-35 will begin shipping in late September and is available for pre-order at a purchase price of $2499 – not cheap but not much more than a full-frame 14-24mm f/2.8 or 16-35mm f/2.8, which fulfill a similar role.

The 20-35mm was the only GFX lens officially released at this X-Summit, but at the very end, Fujifilm showed off two new tilt-shift lenses for the GFX system. A GFX tilt-shift lens is not a surprise, since a wide-angle tilt-shift was added to the lens roadmap at the X-Summit last fall. However, Fuji surprised us with the announcement that we can expect a 110mm f/5.6 tilt-shift in addition to the previously-expected 30mm tilt shift. Both lenses will be f/5.6, likely to keep the size/weight in a reasonable range. They showed prototypes of these two lenses, and while Fujifilm has still not updated the lens roadmap to include the surprise 110mm tilt-shift, I expect that we will see them both sometime next year.

We did not see (or even get a hint at) and new GFX cameras, which is not entirely unsurprising since we saw two updated bodies in 2021 (the GFX 100s and the GFX 50ii). My guess is that the GFX system is not going to be on as fast of a refresh cycle as many of the X-series bodies, although I do wonder if we will see an updated 50mp GFX sensor sometime in the next year, since that sensor is now more than 5 years old. I am also hoping that Fuji is able to bring the stacked sensor technology come to the GFX system in the future. The possibility of combining medium format quality with DSLR-like speed could be amazing and pretty unique.

In addition to the new tilt-shift lenses, Fuji still has a 55mm 1.7 G-mount lens on the roadmap for 2023, so next year should bring us even more GFX gear.

X-Mount Lenses for a High-Resolution Sensor

The Fuji 56mm f/1.2 R lens was originally released way back in 2014, and it is extremely popular with X-series photographers. It’s small, fast, and sharp. Most of all, it’s roughly equivalent to that classic 85mm lens on full-frame, making it an excellent little portrait lens.

But as popular as this lens is, it is clearly time for an upgrade. The new lens should resolve more details on the 40 MP of the X-H2. Fuji also added weather sealing and reduced the minimum focusing distance to only 50 cm. It’s available at the end of September for $999 (which I was happy to see is the same price as the original 56mm f/1.2).

56mm

When the X-series first launched with the 16mp Fujifilm X-Pro 1, a 40 MP camera seemed a long way off. As a result, the resolving power on the original X-mount lenses does not take full advantage of the new sensor.

At the X-summit, we were informed that Fujifilm has been preparing for this launch since 2021, with the 18mm f/1.4, the 23mm f/1.4, the 33mm f/1.4, and the brand new 56mm f/1.2 all designed to take advantage of the 5th generation HR sensor. (They also mentioned that the new 18-120mm and 150-600mm were designed to bring out the speed on the 5th generation HS sensor.)

However, the 4 lenses they listed are not the only lenses capable of resolving well on the X-H2. Fuji released a list of the 20 lenses that will benefit the most from the new 40 MP sensor:

lensCompatability

It’s important to note that this sensor does not immediately render all other X-mount lenses obsolete, as they will still work just fine on the X-H2 (and still resolve more details than they would on a 16 MP or 26 MP camera). This is just Fuji’s way of indicating the sharpest lenses for photographers who get an X-H2 with the goal of maximizing their level of detail.

Of course, the reverse is also true: These 20 lenses are compatible with the rest of the X-series as well, and they will still out-perform alternative lenses even on those lower-res cameras.

What We’re Still Waiting For

Of all the questions I still have after this X-Summit, the one I am really waiting for (rather impatiently) is which X-series models will receive which of the two new sensors. Personally, I am looking forward to the 40 megapixel HR (high resolution) sensor the most – but the H-model is my least favorite X-series camera body, and I am trying to hold out for an X-T5 or an X-Pro 4 with the new sensor. I would love to hear which X-Series camera you are hoping to see updated, and with which of the two sensors. Please share in the comments!

Also, Fuji is almost up to date on its X-mount lens roadmap, with the 30mm macro still on the map for this year and the 8mm listed as a 2023 release. Since the 30mm is listed for release this year, I was expecting an update at this X-summit. I’m hoping the lack of mention means there are still more Fuji releases to come in 2022, rather than a hint that this lens will be pushed back to next year. As it stands, though, with both roadmaps almost up to date now, I am expecting some lens updates at the next X-summit, and I can’t wait to see where Fuji goes with the rest of its 5th generation cameras.

Dates, Prices, and Pre-Orders

releaseDates

Fujifilm began the X-Summit by acknowledging that many photographers are still waiting for their X-H2s or lenses announced at the summit earlier this year. They are increasing production, so hopefully they can make a dent in the backlog before the end of September, when the new camera and lenses begin shipping out.

That said, if you are interested in any of the new Fuji gear, your best bet is really to pre-order. If you are looking for gear that is already shipping, you will probably need to order from your preferred camera store and wait for them to fill the backorder.

Fuji seems caught in this endless cycle where the vast majority of cameras and lenses they are shipping are fulfillments of existing orders, so some items never appear in stock. But you can still get your hands on them if you go order and wait (although wait times will vary). The exercise in futility at the moment seems to be waiting for the camera or lens you want to come into stock before purchasing, at least with Fuji’s most popular products.

  • Fujifilm X-H2s (shipping now): B&H / Amazon
  • Fujifilm X-H2 (end of September) B&H
  • Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 II (end of September) B&H
  • Fujifilm G 20-35mm f/4 (end of September) B&H
  • Vertical Battery Grip (shipping now) B&H
  • File Transfer Grip (end of October) B&H

In his announcement post for the X-H2, Spencer already talked about the file transfer and vertical grip for the X-H2/H2s so I won’t repeat that here. Just note that because the two cameras use the same body they also use the same grips.

All of the new equipment released at this X-summit is due to start shipping at the end of September. The only exception to that is the File Transfer grip for the X-H2 and X-H2s which was announced last X-summit but should finally start shipping at the end of October.

That does it for my takeaways from this year’s second X-summit! Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about the direction that Fuji is taking. Even though they didn’t reveal as many details during the summit as I had hoped, I’m definitely excited about Fuji’s direction these days and the prospect of their new 26/40 MP sensors.

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