Changing the game at Photokina 2016

Photokina 2016 kicked off with something rather special. We held a press conference to tell the world about a little project we’ve been working on for a few years now.

The world’s press gathered in the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany in eager anticipation to see what we were planning to bring to the world of photography.

Toru Takahashi, Senior Vice President of Fujifilm Corporation, was welcomed to the stage to talk about our long history of launching amazing products at Photokina.

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Although Photokina started in 1950, Fujifilm’s first appearance was in 1966 and has attended the show, which runs every two years, for every show since.

  • 1968 saw us launch the FUJICA 690 medium format rangefinder.
  • 1978 was the launch of the “FUJINON W Series” of large format lenses.
  • 1988 saw the world’s first digital camera, the DS-1P.
  • 2010 saw the announcement of the X100 – the launch that combined our analogue legacy expertise with our digital future.

We hope that 2016 will be another historical landmark in our Photokina announcement history, as this was the year that we announced our new format – GFX – which will be available from early 2017.

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The FUJIFILM X Series is focused on the perfect balance of size, mobility and image quality and has brought back the joy of photography to many people.

GFX, with its large sized sensor, will provide the ultimate image quality, whilst also inheriting a lot of “X DNA”.

These two systems will complement each other perfectly. They are the two answers from Fujifilm for this era of photographic creativity.

Once the video finished playing, Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing was welcomed up onto the stage to explain more about this new camera format.


G FORMAT

“G Format” – the name comes from Fujifilm’s heritage of Medium Format cameras – the G690, GS645, GX680 etc…

The sensor that will be in the first G Format camera will be a huge 43.8 x 32.9mm in size. It’s 1.7x bigger than a standard 35mm sensor and the first generation sensor will record 51.4 million pixels. This means that if you compare it to a 35mm sensor of the same pixel count, each pixel is 70% larger which allows them to capture a larger amount of light.

Toshi went on to explain that the sensor is completely brand new. It has been designed and customised for the G Format. It has specially shaped micro lenses that will collect light very effectively and the silicon process has also been optimised to maximise resolution and widen dynamic range.

This new sensor will sit behind a newly designed mount called the “G Mount”. This mount will have a 4mm thick plate to ensure it is strong and stiff, and will be equipped with a 12-pin terminal to supply power to support the AF speed.

There is no mirror in the G Format system. One reason for this is mirror shock which affects image quality. Additionally, the mirror constrains lens design. The typical flange-back distance on a Medium Format SLR is about 70mm. This will be approximately 26.7mm which will give us more flexibility to design high quality, small lenses.

The back focus can be as short as 10mm so there is less drop-off on the light’s final part of the journey onto the sensor’s surface.

Toshi then spoke about the shutter. The mount is equipped with a focal plane shutter so the maximum shutter speed will be 1/4000th to allow capture of fast moving subjects or shooting in bright scenes with wide aperture settings.


GF LENSES

Moving onto lenses, Toshi introduced our new range – “GF Lenses”. This large sensor is going to need high quality lenses as without excellent glass, there is no point having such a large sensor.

The lenses should last many decades after launch. To ensure they are future proof they have been designed to confidently operate with sensors of up to 100 megapixels in the future.

We set ourselves new standards that the lenses must meet. Normally, MTF of 35mm lenses is measured at 30 and 10 lines per mm. When converted to 33×44 sensor, this would be the equivalent of measuring at 20 and 7 lines per mm. However, the MTF of GF Lenses will be measured at 40 and 20 lines per mm. All GF Lenses will have to exceed this standard.

All lenses will be designed to be sharp regardless of the aperture setting and thanks to a large sized sensor, the image will hardly be affected by diffraction at all..

Our philosophy for lens design has always been to minimise correction of signal processing. Our XF Lenses for X Series are a good example. This philosophy will be applied to the GF Lenses.

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The system will ideally be launched with the following lenses available:

  • GF63mm F2.8 Prime Standard
  • GF32-64mm F4 Zoom Standard
  • GF120mm F4 Macro

And the following lenses will hopefully be available before the end of 2017:

  • GF45mm F2.8
  • GF23mm F4
  • GF110mm F2

GFX DESIGN

G – Fujifilm’s Medium Format heritage
F – Film-look image quality
X – Design and operability of X Series

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The first GFX camera body will be the GFX 50S. With the weight of around 800g, it’s incredibly small and light compared to existing Medium Format cameras and even lighter and smaller than most 35mm DSLR cameras. With it’s tilting LCD you will be able to shoot at waist level.

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You can attach the Electronic Viewfinder that is included with the camera to shoot in an SLR style.

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You can even add a tilting adaptor between the EVF and the camera and can shoot in any angle with your eye on the viewfinder which helps with low-angle shooting.

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To allow you to precisely control focusing you can also use an optional external screen.

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Toshi finished his presentation by saying that GFX is here to re-invent Medium Format.

“We will look back on Photokina 2016 in the future and I believe we will say it was a game changing event.” – Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing

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Photokina 2016 is on until 25th September 2016 and the GFX camera and GF lenses can be seen behind a glass show case on our booth in Hall 4.2.

Photokina 2016 Microsite
GFX Special Contents


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.