Dave Etchells from Imaging Resource met five Japanese Fujifilm managers: Yujiro Igarashi, Makoto Oishi, Jun Watanabe, Kuniko Åo and Shu Amano.
And when 5 managers are needed to answer the questions of 1 single person, you know it’s going to be a very in depth and technical talk.
In fact, it ends up in a 8,000 words interview that I have summed up down below in 1,470 words.
Some notes and considerations ahead of it:
- Fujifilm says they are working on updating the camera remote App, especially to make it work better with older cameras. They did NOT say they are working on an all new App. But FujiRumors has already shared a rumor that there will be an all new App!
- Fujifilm aimed to make the GFX system smaller, and the GFX50R served that purpose. Now the GFX100S is perceived as small enough, and so they see “less need for something even more compact“. But they also add “we always look at the market to see if there’s a need to introduce something“. My impression based on this interview is that they currently have no plans for a GFX100R, but they don’t entirely want to rule out this possibility. And in fact, given how well the GFX100S is selling, Fujifilm has no hurry at all to take decisions right now.
These are just two personal notes on what you’ll read below. But there is really a lot more interesting stuff… like how Fujifilm did work to train the new AF and much more.
- number of sold cameras is decreasing, price is increasing, so the overall value is going up
- In the last year, Fujifilm saw double-digit growth over the year before, and they’re seeing the same thing this year as well [which is impressive given the current market situation]
- supply chain issue was supposed to get better this year, but then the Shanghai lockdowns started again
- for now Shanghai lockdowns are over again, and Fujifilm is catching up fast
- Fujifilm’s main factory is in China
- despite inflation, currently Fujifilm still sees fairly strong demand in the mirrorless industry, probably because of many new product launches
- Fujifilm things that thanks to new sensor and processor they can provide new value also for existing users as well as new users
New Autofocus AIAF
- the new autofocus relies on the powerful new processor, so Fujifilm can’t implement it to older models
- the increased readout speed of the stacked sensor can increase the calculation speed of the AF algorithms, for example up to 120 times in one second
- The number of photos used in the training set [to train the new AF algorithm] was more than 10,000 photos [another manager jumps in and corrects by saying the images were “tens of thousands”]
- The process of AI development is that first we separated the different parts of each image, for example the eyes, the face, the head and so on. The second part is to use different sizes of the images and different angles, so it can detect the subject more accurately. Then the last thing was that we did field tests, to see if there were any subjects that were hard to detect, and we’d do more training for those subjects.
- Fujifilm started the development of the AIAF just after the development of the last processor [launched in September 2018]
- To train the algorithm, for the initial field testing, Fujifilm used the PC, then as they get to the final stage, they use prototypes of the actual chips to do fine tuning
- IR says that Bird AF works for frogs, butterflies, etc too, and was that the plan. Fujifilm answers “Happy accident, coincidence.”
IBIS and PSAM
- In general, the IS performance won’t affect AF performance, unless there’s some shaking happening that the human eye can’t detect.
- there were no complaints when Fujifilm introduced PSAM on the GFX
- we’re not moving everything away from the dials, no need to worry about that
- technology used in cameras with PSAM dials can be used in models without PSAM dial
- users don’t need to be concerned about our direction just based on one or two products [admin note: FujiRumors already analyzed the situation and has shown you that the majority of Fujifilm cameras will not use a PSAM dial in future]
- This is the first stacked sensor for Fujifilm, and for APS-C and Fujfilm X-Trans. By maximizing the sensor, we realized 4x readout speed vs previous models. By combining the new sensor with the new processor, we achieved 40 frames per second burst shooting with 120 frames/second AF calculation and 120 fps blackout-free EVF refresh, and 4K 120p video for slow motion, as well as lower rolling shutter
- Our sensor doesn’t have any buffer memory. So it just maximizes the A/D converters (there are 4x more) and also the transfer circuits [readout channels to the processor]. That is why we can read faster than with previous ones
- Fujifilm designs the sensor, then has the foundry make them, just like the older ones, so Fujifilm can choose whatever they want to have on the stacked chip
- it turns out that the sensor customer can have the fab stack any kind of chip they want behind the sensor. In Fujifilm’s case, they just use the second chip for A/D and data-transfer circuitry, but there could conceivably be logic and/or memory elements there as well.
- The X-H2S does a full readout of the entire sensor array 120 times/second. Once the data is inside the processor chip, there are two entirely separate image-processing chains, with the output of one driving the EVF, and the output of the other used for image capture.
FLog 2 and bit depth
- FLog 2 has more rolling shutter than normal FLog, because FLog2 needs more bit depth than other modes, and the A/D converters take longer to read out at that level of precision.
- The A/D converters in the X-H2S have 14 bits of resolution, meaning they can distinguish 16,384 different levels of brightness, and this is the bit depth used for recording still images. Video doesn’t usually need that level of fine-grained brightness discrimination, so most video modes read out 12-bit data, resulting in 4,096 levels of brightness that can be distinguished. To achieve its higher dynamic range though, FLog2 needs all 14 bits, which takes the A/D converters more time to produce than 12-bit data does. This means the array has to be scanned more slowly, resulting in increased rolling shutter.
- Some reviewers complaint that punch-in focus can give very unsharp results, hence making it useless to check the focus. Those reviewers didn’t contact Fujifilm to ask about it, otherwise they’d have learned that this is only a pre-production bug and that not a single X-H2S that shipped to customers has this issue
- IR is shocked that some reviewers did not bother to check with Fujifilm first before publishing it
Camera Remote App
- Fujifilm is aware of the complaints regarding the App and they are actively working on an update, but Fujifilm couldn’t commit to any ETA for when it might be released. Fujifilm especially needs to improve the performance with older camera models
The Cooling Fan
- Not everybody needs a cooling fan, that makes the body much bigger. The camera on its own is already able to shoot for a long time, probably enough for most people. That’s why we decided that the fan should be an option, just for those people who really need it to shoot for a very long time.
Fujifilm Camera Lines
- Currently, we believe that each product line has its own unique characteristics, so as long as that makes sense for us, we’ll continue with that line. […] Some of the products take longer to update, because it doesn’t make sense to update them every year.
100 Megapixel Fujifilm GFX50R Styled Body
- I think when we introduced the 50R, that was kind of the first small medium-format camera, so I think there was a value there. Now that we have a smaller body with the GFX100S, I think there’s maybe less need for something even more compact. Of course, we always look at the market to see if there’s a need to introduce something, but I think at the moment, probably because of the GFX 100S’s body size, there’s not as much demand for a smaller model as before.
XF 56mm f/1.2 MKII
- Coming 2022 (as noted in the roadmap)
- sharper (for 40MP X-H2) and even better image quality
XF150-600mmF8 and XF18-120mm f/4
- Other telephoto zooms in the market [with a] 600mm focal length weigh around 2kg
- Fujifilm targeted a 20% weight reduction
- New sensor and processor allow for accurate AF at f/8, and high ISO performance is also very good. So we chose f/8 to achieve good size and weight.
- How does the XF18-120mmF4 keeps focus while zooming? The camera recognizes the distance to the subject, and when the zoom is changed, the camera detects that and moves the focus element. But at the same time, the camera is always doing AF tracking. We can manage the pivot system, and the communication speed between the body and lens is roughly 10x faster, so we can achieve fast and precise changing of the position. And also for the tracking autofocus.
GF 20-35mm and Tilt shift
- Fujifilm does not want to disclose more details about the tilt shift lens [admin note: this surprises me, as they have even shown a mockup with all the details already]
- IR also asks about more details on GF20-35mm aperture, and Fujifilm refuses to answer [admin note: also here this comes surprising, as they have shown mockups of the lens unveiling the aperture already]
The Importance of X-H2S
- The X-H2S is such an important camera for us because it enhances our field of photography. I think that some people (such as our dealers) were concerned that they couldn’t recommend our X-Mount system to everyone, because there were certain limitations such as for wildlife photography or bird photography or sports photography. So there was maybe a tendency to think that Fujifilm cameras were most suited just for people who love color, high image quality and things like that. But starting with the X-H2S, I think we can say that everybody can appreciate X-Mount, whatever kind of photography they’re doing.
We warmly invite you to read it all over at imaging-resource here. It’s very worth it, as it is very complicated to sum up such a detailed and in depth interview and you will get lots more interesting tidbits by reading it all.
- Fujifilm X-H2S: BHphoto / AmazonUS / Adorama / Moment / Focuscamera
- Fujinon XF150-600mm f/5.6-8: BHphoto / AmazonUS / Adorama / Moment / Focuscamera
- Fujinon XF18-120mm f/4: BHphoto / AmazonUS / Adorama / Moment / Focuscamera
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