The History of FUJINON: the heritage of XF Lenses

We get a lot of love for our Fujinon XF lenses and it’s hardly a surprise; we’ve been making them for a long time! We’ve created a short series of videos to help you understand the history of Fujinon and the heritage of our XF lenses,

Episode 1 – The history of FUJINON

Shigamitsu Mort, Ex-President of the Fujifilm Optics Mito factory, talks about our lens polishing technology across our wide range of lenses and describes the long time spent designing and perfecting the Fujinon-Z 43-75mm f/3.5-4.5.

Kazunori Oono, Ex-Senior Manager of the Optical Device Division talks about the testing and evaluation that went into the EBC X-Fujifilm 50mm f/1.2 back in 1979

Episode 2 – Professional vs Professional

Takashi Suzuki, Optical Design Division Senior Manager talks about how Fujifilm, professionals in the photography field, responded to professional photographer’s requirements to launch the GX680 Professional large format system in 1986. The lenses for the system had to be high enough in resolution in order to maximise the benefit of large format film.

Takao Araki, Optical Design Division Software Manager talks about Fujifilm’s amazing and unique approach to improve the calculation process that goes into each lens design. In 1956, they built one of Japan’s very first computers!

Episode 3 – The heritage of XF lenses

Taiga Noda and Hiroki Saito, both of the Optical Design Division in Tokyo talk about how without the heritage of Fujinon, many of the new XF lenses would not have been possible.

The result? The craftsmanship of FUJINON

See all of the steps that go into making each and every hand-made XF lens in our factory in Japan.

Interview with Mr Soga – the man responsible for the XF lens roadmap

Mr Soga
Mr Soga holding an X-Pro1 with XF16-55mmF2.8

The best thing about the CP+ show last month was getting access to people I wouldn’t normally have access to. One individual I was particularly excited about meeting and interviewing was Mr Soga – the man behind arguably the best part of the Fujifilm X system – the lenses.

We spoke about the new XF16-55mmF2.8 lens, as well as the roadmap update that was announced on the 10th February 2015. Here’s how the interview went:

Could you tell us what your job covers generally?

I am in charge of the lens product brand.

Ok, so are you responsible for the lens roadmap in general and final signoff to which lenses are added?

Yes, I am.

Starting with the newest lens to hit the streets, what was the overall goal when creating the XF16-55mm lens?

Our goal was simply to achieve the best image quality possible.

The cross section of the XF16-55mmF2.8
The cross section of the XF16-55mmF2.8

And what sort of photographer would you see using this lens?

The main images we expect to see shot with this lens are landscapes, portraits and fashion images.

Is there a specific reason why the lens does not have optical image stabilisation (OIS)?

Yes, there is a trade off relationship between OIS and image quality.

Lens shift caused by OIS can sometimes be seen in this focal length, 24mm-84mm (35mm equiv.). Since we aimed to develop our best flapship zoom, we have prioritised image quality and decided not to employ OIS for this lens.

Edit: added more information

OIS needs to move the lens inside to compensate for camera shake and as a result can cause loss of resolution in the edges of the image.

In long zoom lens such as the XF50-140mmF2.8, the angle of view is narrow enough to not show this negative effect of OIS in the edges.

However, the angle of view of the XF16-55mm, when set to the widest setting, is large enough for OIS to affect resolution at the edge of the image.

Considering this trade-off, because we wanted this zoom lens to start wide at 16mm and F2.8, and we wanted to best edge-to-edge quality throughout the entire zoom range, we decided to not employ OIS.

A question I’ve been asked a lot: was there a reason for the focal length overlap between the XF16-55mm and the XF50-140mm lenses?

We planned this product to be very useful lens for both landscape shooting and portrait shooting. 24mm (35mm equiv.) is good for landscape shooting. 84mm (35mm equiv.) is good for portrait shooting. We consider to include both focal length when developed.

Moving on to the products in the recent roadmap update, this new XF35mm F2 is a very interesting product. Is it aimed as a step up lens for an XC zoom user or would this be for the high-end Street & Reportage photographers?

This lens is aimed towards the professional or serious amateur photographer that wants to increase the mobility and speed of their photography. With the original XF35mm f1.4 lens, its speed was not as efficient due to its many lens elements moving together.

So this new lens would have increased focusing speed?

Yes that’s correct. We wanted to make a lens that could be the next step for a photographer who already knows and loves the quality of the XF lenses. We think of this lens as a mobility lens due to its clever design.

X1000024
The new XF35mmF2 will be smaller and lighter than the XF35mmF1.4. It will also have faster auto focus due to there being fewer moving lens elements inside

I understand that the newly announced XF1.4x tele-converter is not compatible with all of the existing lenses. Is there a reason for this?

Due the ergonomics of the converter, it physically will not allow other lenses to attach.

The design of the XF1.4 X TC means that it will only fit  on lenses that have enough space between the camera and the rear elements
The design of the XF1.4 X TC means that it will only fit on lenses that have enough space between the converter and the rear lens elements

Are there plans to create other sizes? For example a 1.6x or 2x?

This is very much a possibility, we may create a 2x converter in the future although this has not been confirmed.

Do you know what the aperture options are for the XF100-400mm?

This is still under consideration.

XF100-400 zoom lens
XF100-400 zoom lens

Related links

Fujifilm XF Lens roadmap – updated 10th February

Fujifilm at the CP+ Camera Show – Yokohama, Japan

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The Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) is holding the CP+2014 Camera & Photo Imaging Show from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th Feb in Yokohama, Japan. CP+ is a comprehensive camera and photo imaging show covering a wide range of aspects of the photographic industry.

Like most years, Fujifilm is in attendance and has a great stand demonstrating our wide range of products including X series cameras, Instax instant cameras and prints.

Unlike most years, Fujifilm decided to invite some active professional photographers from Europe to come out to the show to talk to visitors about their photographic experiences and in particular explain why they shoot with X series cameras.

This is also the first major show that is open to the public where the brand new X-T1  will be on display for users to try out and talk to our staff about.

X-T1 buzz

The show opened for VIPs and Press at 10:00 Japan-time today – the general public has to wait until high noon for their stand-off.

Despite the fact that the show wasn’t officially open, it was pretty clear from the start what product was catching most attention.

Many customers got their hands on the X-T1
Many customers got their hands on the X-T1

We had a wander around the show and checked out many other great products. From portable stabilisation systems, high quality cases and straps to small and relatively-inexpensive helicopter-like drones to allow you to shoot from the air, there was a lot to see.

But besides a small queue of people on the Sigma stand who wanted to check out their recently announced DP2 Quattro, the only camera with any sort of demand to see was the Fujifilm X-T1.

It’s hardly surprising. The anticipation for this camera has been high since it’s announcement (and even before that!) but it was still flattering for us to see that camera is very interesting to so many people.

The average wait time to try out the X-T1 was 50 minutes
The approx wait time to try out the X-T1 was up to 50 minutes at some points

To learn more about the X-T1, please visit our website. People in the UK will be able to get their hands on the X-T1 at The Photography Show at the NEC next month.

X-Photographers

Fujifilm would be nothing without the photographers using their products. This was reflected with a great gallery of images from photographers all over the world plus a stage where in total there will be 20 talks from X-Photographers over the course of the 4 days. Additionally there are some interviews with the R&D team and the Design team. We will publish all of these as videos soon (the interviews are in Japanese but with English subtitles)

X-Photographers Gallery
X-Photographers Gallery

Day 1 saw British Photographer Jim Marks and Italian photographer Gianluca Colli take to the stage to share their experiences with the audience.

Jim Marks

Jim’s talk started with an introduction to him as a photographer. His needs and requirements, his shooting style, and how important it is to be in the right place with the right kit if you ever want to record that “killer” photo.

Jim Marks talking about the X-T1's weather resistance
Jim Marks talking about the X-T1’s weather resistance

He showed some example shots he has taken using the X-Pro1 on various assignments including a great set of images with Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean that simply wasn’t possible to shoot on a standard D-SLR camera because it was drawing too much attention from passers-by.

Lots of people were very interested in what Jim had to say
Lots of people were very interested in what Jim had to say

He then went on to talk about how he believes that Fujifilm’s kaizen (改善) philosophy of continuous improvement is the main reason why he has stayed using Fujifilm products from the original X100, right up to the brand new X-T1 before then sharing his own views on the X-T1 camera he has been using for the last few weeks and why he thinks it will completely supersede the X-Pro1 he has been using for his professional work over the last 2 years.
During the Q&A sessions at the end, someone asked him what his favourite Fujifilm camera was and why. He replied with
“The X-T1 and for three reasons:
1. The viewfinder is almost comparable to an OVF but with the added benefit of allowing additional information such as Digital Split Image MF assist
2. The ISO dial. The X-Pro1 controls are instinctive and easy to use, and the X-T1 takes that base and adds even more
3. The vertical grip. It gives you double battery life and makes it is perfectly easy to hold and control in either orientation.”

Gianluca Colla

Gianluca similarly kicked off by talking about his style of photography and how he believes that his equipment should by compact and easy to control so he can forget all about the tool he is using, and focus entirely on creating images.

Gianluca explains how this shot was taken
Gianluca explains how this shot was taken

He started his relationship with Fujifilm with the X100, using it alongside his normal D-SLR. In many situations his clients were unable to notice any difference between shots taken on his D-SLR and those taken on the X100 and following the launch of the X-Pro1, plus continued development of the XF lens range, he has slowly become less and less reliant on D-SLR up to the point where he virtually never uses it anymore unless he is shooting something that has a specific requirement for it.

He stated his dislike for EVFs on digital cameras and says he only ever uses his X100 or X-Pro1 in OVF mode. He was never interested in trying an X-E1 or X-E2 for this very reason, however he says that the Real Time Viewfinder on the X-T1 is an altogether difference beast.

He finished with these wise words:
“We will not be remembered for our gear but by pictures we take. / But Fujifilm gear allows you to take great pictures”

Once the videos are ready, we will post them online so you can listen to everything they had to say.