Welcome to “Fujikina” – Fujifilm X Series’ 5th Anniversary celebration

What better way to celebrate 5 years of Fujifilm X series than by hosting our own event at our head office in Tokyo?! I was lucky enough to be here so I’m sharing the experience with you.


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Counting down to the start of the event

The event started at 13:30 local time, while most (but not all) of you were probably tucked up fast asleep. We had a countdown that had been running on our X-Pro1 website for the last ten days.

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Mr Nakajima explaining our company’s strategy since the decline of film sales

At 13:30 sharp [3m 9s], Fujifilm President Shigehiro Nakajima gave an introduction speech about how our company has evolved in recent years. Film sales peaked in the year 2000 and since then has quickly declined. We took our core competencies and technologies and the diversified our business to ensure survival of the company. At the heart of our company is, and always will be, photography. This is why the X series is so important to us.

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Mr Takahashi makes a great case for using a smaller, lighter system

Afterwards, the top man in the whole Optical Division, Mr Takahashi, [13m 21s] took to the stage to explain in more detail about the last 5 years of X series. He explained the key benefits of using our APS-C system, including image quality, operability, and portability. He thanked all of the Fujifilm X users across the world, with a special nod to the Official X-Photographers, for not only using our products, but for helping us design future products. It has been the constant feedback that has enabled us to make these products we all love so much.

Next up, Toshi Iida, General Manager for our Electronic Imaging Division [40m 19s] (that’s Digital Cameras and CSC Lenses to you or I), took to the stage to talk about 5 exciting new products coming in 2016.

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And the new 2016 products are….

The products are the X-Pro2, the X-E2S, the X70, the XF100-400 and the EF-X500 flash. Click any of those links for more information about them.

X-Pro2 – Hybrid Viewfinder [41m 53s]

Toshi explained and demonstrated the advantages of the Hybrid Viewfinder. We all know that an EVF is great because it shows you the image you are going to get, including your exposure settings and any other Film Simulation or White Balance options you have changed. But in a world where EVF refresh rates and LCD resolution seem to make Optical Viewfinders redundant, why on earth would an OVF be required anymore? Toshi explained how having a Rangefinder style OVF allows you to see what is going on outside the frame. This is something that cannot be done on a D-SLR, nor by using an EVF.

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 – the first and only Interchangeable Cameras with both OVF and EVF

Also, two ‘problems’ still exist with using an OVF: “Parallax”, where the angle of the Viewfinder is slightly different from that of the lens making it hard to know precisely where the edge of the frame will be, and Manual Focus is virtually impossible because changing the focus ring doesn’t affect the OVF on a rangefinder. The X-Pro2 has overcome both of these problems by displaying a small LCD panel in the bottom of the frame. This can be used to either show the entire frame in a miniature form, or it can be used to zoom in to the focus point to allow manual focus while in OVF mode.

"Mr Iida talks up X-Pro2's advanced hybrid multi viewfinder. The only one of its kind in the world" - Wex Photographic
Using the ERF to manual focus while using the OVF to frame the shot (image by Wex Photographic)

X-Pro2 Image Quality [45m 53s]

The X-Pro2 contains the new X-Trans CMOS III – the third generation sensor, which at 24-megapixels, has 50% more resolution that our current. It contains technology that allows faster transfer allowing lower noise at higher ISO.

Fujifilm Colour [50m 50s]

80 years of film development gives us the expertise to recreate skin tones and other colours with exceptional realism. Toshi also talked about the new Acros film simulation monochrome mode that features smoother gradation, deep blacks and beautiful textures

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Acros tone curve, as demonstrated by X-Photographer Patrick La Roque’s son

X-Pro2 Magnum Photographer David Alan Harvey [57m 12s]

Next up, Toshi invited Magnum and National Geographic photographer David Alan Harvey onto the stage to talk about how he has found the X-Pro2 since using a prototype for the last few months. Here is the short movie that was played just before he joined Toshi on stage

David’s approach to photography is nothing short of inspiring. David likes simplicity. He wants his camera to be as simple to use as possible, while achieving the quality he needs to do his work. He used the camera in full-auto mode most of the time, wanting to spend more time worrying about the content of the image than what shutter speed to use. This attitude towards photography is exactly what we are trying to get to when we made this camera. We want people to enjoy photography and in order to do this you need to not think about the camera, and instead think about your art.

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Toshi held up a print of one of David’s photographs to demonstrate the quality [1h 8m 41s]. As many of us at the back couldn’t see it very well, he unveiled an enormous print. This photo below really doesn’t do it justice. To me, the photo looked like it was layered or something. It looked 3D, especially when compared to the screens either side of it.

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Now THAT is a print!
Photo by @zarias
Photo by @zarias

X-E2S [1h 10m 43s]

Next up, Toshi introduced the new X-E2S camera. It’s basically a rangefinder brother for the X-T10. All of the technical features that made the DSLR-style X-T10 a more attractive camera have been matched, leaving the user to choose between the style of camera rather than the specifications.

If you want to be able to shoot with your right eye leaving your face fully exposed to engage with your subject, or you want the classic retro look of a rangefinder of days passed, the X-E2S will be for you. If you prefer the more modern look of a D-SLR, plus the advantage of having a tilting screen for shooting high or low angles more comfortably, the X-T10 will probably be your preference.

Either way, you now get to choose your camera based on who you are, rather than which one was better on paper. Current X-E2 users can also rejoice in the fact that the software enhancements in the X-E2S will be coming to the X-E2 via a FREE firmware update in the very near future.

XF100-400 [1h 12m 17s]

"This new 100-400mm lens looks like it was worth waiting for" - DPReview
“This new 100-400mm lens looks like it was worth waiting for” – DPReview

Toshi showed a series of images [1h 13m 20s] that were all shot on the same camera + tripod. They were of a lighthouse and the showed the view at 10mm, and varying focal lengths right up to the final one showing the XF100-400 lens at its maximum zoom, with the XF1.4X converter on it. This did a great job of demonstrating just house varied our lens line up has become in the 4 years since the introduction of the X-Pro1. He then explained which of Fujifilm’s core technologies [1h 14m 0s] went into the creation of our new “Super Telephoto” lens, the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.

Toshi then demonstrated the OIS [1h 15m 36s] by comparing a video shot at 400mm with no OIS to a video shot at 400mm with OIS on.

After that he invited the photographer that took the shots, UK X-Photographer Jeff Carter, to join him on stage [1h 17m 28s] to talk about how he uses the extremely versatile Fujifilm X system..

Jeff Carter, talking about his switch from D-SLR to Fujifilm X
Jeff Carter, talking about his switch from D-SLR to Fujifilm X

Jeff has been a professional photographer for many years and he switched to Fujifilm on a recommendation of a peer. His chosen subjects to shoot vary massively from shooting at The 24 Hours of Le Mans race, to shooting landscapes near his home in Scotland. He’s been fully converted to the X system since 2014 and has most of the lenses in our lineup and finds a use for all of them. They went through a number of Jeff’s shots and discussed the lens lineup and direction and also his reasons for making his final switch and going full-Fujifilm X.

Once again, Toshi proved the power of the camera[1h 24m 18s] by unveiling another print the size of the one by David Alan Harvey. The crowd was suitably impressed.

Toshi ended his interview with Jeff by talking about a product meeting Jeff had attended a few months ago. (You may or may not know that Fujifilm REALLY listen to their users for product feedback). He asked him if he remembered a particular request that Jeff had. This particular request was for a flashgun that could fire continuously and would also be weatherproof to suit his X-T1. Jeff confirmed that he remembered the request, to which Toshi then presented the next product…

Photo by @zarias
Photo by @zarias

EF-X500 [1h 25m 00s]

The only product not due to be released in February is the EF-X500 flash. Similar to our lens roadmap updates, we wanted our users to know that we listen to their feedback and we are working on a hotshoe mount flashgun to compliment the X series.

It’ll have a low-profile design that is perfectly suited to X-Series cameras, and will support high-speed sync up to 1/8000 sec. (the same speed as the shutter in the new X-Pro2). It will also be weather and dust resistant, just like the X-T1 and X-Pro2 cameras.

X70 [1h 26m 28s]

The final product that was presented was the X70,. This camera is essentially an X100T + WCL-X100, in a tiny body. It doesn’t have a viewfinder, which is the reason it can afford to be so small, but it does have a tilting LCD screen to compose your shot with.

"Awesome little compact camera" - Fujifilm UK's Theo Georghiades
“Awesome little compact camera” – Fujifilm UK’s Theo Georghiades

The same sensor as the X100T, the same processor as the X100T and an amazingly high-quality lens made by Fujinon (like the X100T). Now you can have a camera in your pocket at all times that won’t sacrifice image quality at all. Coupled with a 180° tilting LCD that’s pretty handy for selfies, the X70 really is the ultimate travel camera for someone that really needs to travel light but wants great results still.

Thanks

On behalf of all of Fujifilm, I would like to extend a huge thanks to David Alan Harvey and Jeff Carter for their contribution to our #5YearsofXSeries event.

The man behind X-series design

As the head of design for the Fujifilm X-series we have a lot to thank Masasumi Imai for.

He’s overseen the design development of all models including the original X100, the X-E2 and, his own personal favourite, the X-T1. During the very busy photokina 2014 show we were able to grab 15 minutes with Imai-san to ask him about his inspiration, the current range and what we can hope to see in the future.

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On a day-to-day basis what does your job involve?
Every day I think about design. I am in charge of the exterior design team, comprising five product designers and three GUI designers.

When an X-series camera is designed, what comes first, the interior design or the exterior?
Normally, designers will start by sketching the design of a camera, but Fujifilm is completely different to other companies. All three teams will meet; the brand team, the design team and the development team and all aspects of the camera are discussed all the way through the process. All aspects of the camera complement each other.

How long before a model comes to market would you start talking about it?
That depends on the model, but typically one year. An upgrade will be quicker – from the X100 to the X100S, for example – but that’s only because a great deal of time was spent on the original concept.

Is the design of the X-series what is making it so popular?
I think so. Although I am the design manager, many people decided that we should go for this traditional design style. It has always been a team effort.

Where did your original inspiration come from?
My father had a film camera and he used to tell me not to touch it. He would say: ‘This is very important and very expensive.’ But I wanted to touch it and this helped me realise the importance of creating a camera that users wanted to pick up and use. When I discussed this with my colleagues, they confirmed similar experiences. This wasn’t purely my Japanese colleagues, but also those in the USA, the UK and many other countries. They all said the same thing. I thought this was a great reason to create a camera that evoked these feelings.

Where do you get your ideas now?
Everywhere! I love to listen to music, drive cars, drink, eat and go to the movies – all these things give me ideas that can be put into camera design.

Do you have a favourite X-series camera?
That is a difficult question, but I think I like the X-T1 Graphite Silver edition the most.

One of very few criticisms of the X-T1’s design was that the buttons on the rear quadrant were too recessed. How do you feel about those comments?
When the X-T1 was designed we were aware that, due to the small size of the camera body, it was possible to press the buttons accidentally, so we made them more convex to prevent this. This is the reason for them being more recessed into the body. We didn’t change the design on the Graphite Silver version, but we did improve the operability of the buttons, making them easier to press. We are always looking to optimise and improve our manufacturing processes in this way.

One thing that Fujifilm does very well is listen to customers. How does that process of listening and then implementing the ideas work?
We get lots of feedback from customers. We split all the opinions into different categories, such as operation, image quality and design so we can consider each set individually. It’s very important to do this as customers sometimes suggest changes that we have either dismissed or not considered. The grip we launched for the X100 series is a good example. We didn’t think it was needed, we initially felt it would make the camera too much like a digital SLR and not like a rangefinder. But many people asked for this so we went ahead and produced it.

How will X-series cameras develop in the future?
There are many possibilities. One option would be to modernise the existing camera styles, another would be to go for an even more traditional style. Internally, we are going to concentrate on our APS-C X-Trans sensor and make sure there are many lenses and accessories that complement it. There could be a full-frame model in the future, I don’t know, but we started as a film company and this means we’re used to working with different formats.
Viewfinder resolution will undoubtedly increase going forward, as well as the speed – the current scanning frame rate is 54 frames per scan, but we want it to be over 100. This will help it look even more like an optical viewfinder and, in fact, exceed it.
We do intend to keep producing models at the current rate, so there will be plenty more to come from Fujifilm – our teams are very busy!