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Thursday, 20 September 2012


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Way to trigger the Osborne Effect, idiot (the Fuji fellow, not you, Mike).

I am sure that Fuji could come up with a full-frame X-camera, but I would strongly advise them to first fix the issues of the existing cameras and then spend their resources on a new one. Too many X-100, X-Pro1 unhappy users out there, who are not throwing their cameras in the garbage, only because the love the images they produce. However, they hate the user interface, and that's something Fuji has to fix.

Hi Mike
Good news BUT...
I love my X100 and also the x10 but I hope they can get quality assurance right, the first X100 had a white spot behind the front element and the X10 is at Fuji for exactly the same problem plus the well known sensor problem.


Isn't "admits" a word pregnant with meaning in this context? Meaning undeserved?

AP had a Photokina interview with a manager from the product planning group and with the designer of the X line of cameras.

In the course of such an interview - of Fujifilm or any major player in the compact system camera market - what are the odds of at least one question on sensor tech and the future being lobbed over the transom?

Yes, that's right, 100%.

So AP lobbed the question, got the only logical answer Fujifilm could give after being surprised by Sony's RX1 development, and suddenly now the interweeb is aflutter with praise and expectations that Fujifilm is going to match Sony's gambit.

Of course the interview reveals no such thing. A prudent course of action when surprised by a competitor is to see what your sensor and CPU pairings might be able to offer in response, *if there is a decision to respond*.

That's all Fujifilm is doing.

Will they respond with a full frame X series? Who knows, but we can surmise that such a thing wasn't on their drawing board before Photokina, and we can't assume it will be afterwards.

That high-pitched sound that you can barely hear is a hundred thousand camera nerds going "squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

...and being suddenly silenced. (When they realize what it will cost.)

As for me - well, I'd love to have a 35mm f/1.4 on a small, un-intimidating camera, perhaps with an articulating screen. It would be like using my Yashica TLR all over again! So far, I hold out the greatest hope that Fuji will get it right.*

*there's no reason Sony couldn't do it, especially given the RX, but I have a hunch that a full-frame NEX would end up with the same size fast lenses as current full frame DSLRs. So; big, heavy, expensive, pick any three :)

It make sense. For full frame, small one only get M. VG300 is large even for full frame E mount. What else?

The argument that some lens cannot be used in full frame (but can be in crop mode as all vendors did) is not an argument.

Go ahead ...

But possibly I am not buying Fuji as this is not the mount I opt ...

Cannot buy back D600 ...

Honey, I shrunk the 690!!

Here is an article from the NYT about the Leica as celebrity fashion/status item: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/fashion/leica-cameras-favored-by-celebrities.html Not exactly pertinent to your post, or maybe it is. I'll keep my thoughts to myself.

I'm pretty amused at the success Fuji has "found" selling 50 year old designs with digital innards. Visit any blog or web forum of the last decade and you'll find they're lousy with cries for a camera with the operational and design simplicity of yesteryear. Building a camera that people like to hold and use is not rocket science. I'm looking forward to seeing how the talented Johnathon Ive is going to improve on the magnificent design of the Leica M9.

This is a very sensitive issue because I sold all my Canon equipment to purchase the new system of Fuji X pro 1. If Fuji have plans to make a full frame camera of that kind, would be ethic to put clear what lenses will be useful with the full frame system, the natural upgrade for the consumer. I am waiting for the equivalent of the 35 1.4 (23 1.4) and the 84 (56 1.4) but I need to know before my investment if the 23 would be useful in a future FF upgrade. The same with the 84. Is a pity if the actual 50 mm equivalent (35 1.4) will not work with a full frame Fuji X. The very important decision to bet about this new kind of cameras is not only the quality of the image, is the system, the value to resell or exchange lenses or accessories. They need to think all as a whole.

Any logical analysis would seem to indicate that only a new design with a new mount would really offer the quality required, whereas developing a new sensor for a limited market would be very expensive.

For me Xpro1 and even more the Xe1 hit a perfect balance of convenience and quality, especially for "western hands". The price of bodies and lenses is already high compared to what most consumers would pay, but just low enough to make the camera and sensor economically viable.

I expect Fuji to wait it out and see what Sony does. If someone else can create some momentum in the market, then it's less of a risk.

With Fuji's background I would love to see an MF version, but I think this would be an even bigger risk.

From what I've seen over the years, given the same subject area and distance, a larger imaging area (film or sensor) produces a significantly different effect. (Whether you like it or not, of course). Small sensors generally produce flat looking images, large sensors / film sizes tend to produce images with more natural depth. Lenses notwithstanding, of course..

Fuji and its customers would be better served devoting some solid attention towards re-engineering its control menus and slack auto-focus system. But that's not going to happen. These guys are some of the hardest heads in an industry renowned for timidity and granite skulls.

I think the appeal of FF still lies mainly in the fact that is gathers more light, and therefore usually has better IQ (lower noise, higher DR, etc.) at an image level.

I think it's as simple as that... to most people, bigger sensor = better.

"I think the appeal of FF still lies mainly in the fact that is gathers more light"

Not necessarily, in my experience. I've used five or six FF cameras and have owned two. The Nikon D700 had very good low light capabilities, but the Sony A900 has worse than average high-ISO performance, even compared to some APS-C cameras. Of course it has other advantages, like good exposure range* and gobs of detail and printability.


*Did I do good, Ctein?

To clarify Mike, I should say that I think the appeal of FF to the public lies in the assumption of better IQ... whether the IQ is actually better or not.

I.e. "it's full frame, therefore it must be better" seems to be the prevailing forum chatter that I've seen.

And you might be interested in this NEX-centric discussion of the RX1, and then full frame in general : http://www.naturescapes.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=57&t=222091

I'd have to disagree about that 'minor depth of field issue' with reduced size sensors like APS-C or micro 4/3rds. It's not minor at all if you like to control depth of field in your images. As sensor size decreases, the depth of field increases by a disproportionate amount, such that small fingernail size digicam sensors have essentially endless depth of field no matter what lens you put in front of them. The APS-C cameras I have used, even with a 50 mm f:1.4, 85 mm f:1.8 or 135 mm f:2 lens, still provide more depth of field wide open than I want for some images. Even allowing for the smaller lenses made possible by the smaller sensor, the APS-C equivalent of an 85 mm f:1.8 would be something absurdly expensive like a 50 mm f:1.0 to yield similar perceived depth of field. And the front element required would not be significantly smaller. Not to mention that said f:1.0 lens would not be usable for full-frame cameras.

I'm not so sure I agree with this statement: "And obviously #1 and #2 aren't pertinent to a mirrorles CSC that don't take legacy lenses." Well, the #2 part anyway. It seems to me that if any major manufacturer (other than perhaps Sony) makes a FF mirrorless camera, the potential buyers will often own a few legacy lenses. Given that, I'd think (hope?) that the manufacturer would provide a full function adapter for legacy lenses.

I personally prefer the size and weight of smaller mirrorless cameras, but I can envision some folks liking a full function, FF, mirrorless.


PS: for the worriers, I wonder which is more probable: mirror failure or electronics failure - probably the mirror goes first.

Ken said "Fuji and its customers would be better served devoting some solid attention towards re-engineering its control menus and slack auto-focus system. But that's not going to happen. These guys are some of the hardest heads in an industry renowned for timidity and granite skulls."

Ken, I don't understand where you are coming from at all.

Firstly FW 1.1 made some major improvements but the most recent (FW 2.0 from Sept 18th) has improved AF and MF speed and usability to the point that they are really a non-issue. The new zooms will be even faster with linear motors and smaller apertures. Faster write times and review have also been added.

Moreover, all primary controls are external and the Q menu gives rapid access to most of the main features so it's very easy and intuitive to use for 99% of normal situations. Even the main menu is exceptionally straight forward (compared to an Olympus for instance).

Not perfect, no. I have a shopping list of FW improvements around auto ISO and manual exposure control, and yes they could have made better use of the rear controller and control wheel. But none of these are major.

Fuji seem to have been very responsive to major criticism and instead of just releasing a new camera, they actually made the improvements available to the old one as well. I have only had it since March and it already feels like a new camera.

Seem to remember Sony had to do something very similar with early NEX firmware, and how many PEN versions came out before the AF became so snappy? As for my experience if local customer service, so far exemplary (unlike Nikon).

Matt said: "The minor depth-of-field loss can be compensated by making faster lenses, which is easier on a smaller sensor."

That's not true. If it were my S95 would have a suburb lens. In actuality the lens is the limiting factor on that camera not the sensor.

Lenses made for smaller sensors require shorter focal lengths to have the same "35mm equivalent focal length" that requires higher curvature lens surfaces which exacerbate all the aberrations. The lens surfaces need to be figured to a tighter tolerances (scaling as the crop factor) and they need to be assembled in mounts that keep them in the right place, centered and untilted. Those mounts have to have higher tolerances too.

Finally the sensor being smaller and having a smaller pitch for the same number of pixels will have a higher effective maximum lp/mm on the sensor so the smaller sensor lens has to perform at a higher lp/mm on the MTF curves than a larger sensors lens to give the equivalent result.

For any given set of design and manufacturing parameters a larger lens is easier to make good.

I think how well Olympus and Panasonic do has desensitized people to how much of an effort this is to do well.

Mike, David Bostedo is (mostly) right about larger sensors.

The problem with extrapolating from experience is the cameras don't have the same sensor generations so you can't do direct comparisons easily. The D700 has a later generation sensor that had much lower read noise than the Sony A900. And at a pixel peeping level the D700 had fewer (12Mpx) so larger pixels.

Larger sensors gather more photos for a given exposure so they give better overall images (not a pixel peeping image) because the noise is lower.

You are confusing the two different noise contributions at low light (at higher ISO) or in the shadows. There are also two different noise regimes (OK, there are three regimes but PRNU isn't an issue for this comment): shadow tones and midtones.

In low light, especially at higher ISO, both the read noise (which modern sensor have down to 2 or 3 e per pixel or less) and the statistical noise from the variation in the number of photons in each pixel gathered by the sensor (the photon noise) contribute to the noise in the image. That second component is what Ctein was writing about this week.

In brighter light (i.e. at low ISO) and in the 18% gray mid-tones region the noise is dominated by photon count variation (and the read noise is not important) again a larger sensor (of a given technological generation) gives lower noise images for a given exposure.

As usual this being photography it's all about trade offs between connected parameters. For some people's photography the trade off falls on APS-C sensors, others FourThirds sensors and other need full frame. You just need to be aware of what you are trading off against what.

Sorry for the message bombardment, but I think you'll also find that the A900, at an image level (not at the pixel level) was better than any APS-C camera at the time according to something like DxOMark.

There's a lot of "all else equal" that needs to be assumed here, but cameras like the A900 or the D3X can have higher resolution and still attain better noise across an image because of the large sensor area. If you pixel peep, the pixels won't look as nice, but I bet a big print would (although you have infinitely more experience than I do there).

I guess what I'm saying is, to steal something from the car world... despite all the advances made so far in technology, there's no substituting for horsepower... (er.. sensor size... maybe that analogy doesn't work so well...)

They (Fuji) just have to make a square sensor.
50% more sensor area and no problem with current lens lineup.
And I will stop crop most of my photos...

@ Hugh Crawford -- 6x9

"The D700 has a later generation sensor that had much lower read noise than the Sony A900."

No, actually the D700 came out before the A900--just--Jul. 1 2008 vs. Sept. 9 2008. Of course they're very different sensors, with 12MP vs. 24MP.

(Thanks again to dpreview's Camera Timeline.)


@ Steve: I've not seen and XPro1 with the new firmware so Af may be much better. It sure was nearly unusable on the original model I tried, perhaps OK for scenic snappers. The manual focus system, the back-up for the slow AF, was even worse. Reports suggest that Fuji has bolstered this, too.

So my remarks may be dated.

Mirrorless is all about compromises. You want fast, small, good lenses but not-quite sensors? Micro 4/3. You want great IQ and lenses but not-quite small and not quite fast? Fuji. You want small, fast, great IQ but big lenses? NEX.

So now we'll have great sensor, great lens, but only one and no VF. RX1.

By the way, DXO is measuring the sensor in the D600 that presumably will be in the RX1 as about the best sensor around. 14+ EV, great color depth, and low light degradation beginning at a little under 3000ISO. Holy smokes, paired with an F2 lens? That takes 49mm filters? Are you kidding?

Bigger is always better. Full frame to me is 6x7 or 6x9, especially when talking about fuji. Bring it on!

Question (ever so slightly off topic):

If a camera company makes lenses for their smaller sensor cameras, why do they stick with legacy focal lengths at all? Why couldn't Olympus, for example, simply start calling the 12-24mm kit lens a 24-48mm? Is there a technical reason behind it, or is it a marketing thing?

As a response to Steve Jacob's comment above:

Fuji previous X-series cameras have serious user-interface issues, which Fuji hasn't fixed all this time. Take the X-100 for example:

1. AF is initiated with one button in AF-S and another button in MF (shutter release vs AF-L). AF-S offers size-adjustable focusing area, while MF does not. AF-S offers audible AF confirmation, while MF does not. These are huge failings for some of us.

2. The Auto ISO implementation leaves a lot to be desired. For example, why isn't Auto ISO accessible from the Fn button, while all other ISO settings are? Why is the camera bumping its ISO setting, if set to Auto ISO, when using an external flash (EF-20 for example, as soon as the camera senses the flash, it pushes the Auto ISO to the sky, 1600 when similar shots with a Nikon and the build-in flash keep the ISO at 200).

3. Why on earth the camera stops focusing in AF-C as soon as you half-press the shutter release?

4. Why on earth is Menu Lock, locking the RAW button at the rear of the camera? This (in the latest firmware) is supposed to be a function button, to which you can assign some shooting-related parameter (like perhaps the ND filter). If it gets locked when you lock the menus, it is useless.

5. Why on earth is exposure locked, when you lock focus?!?!

These and several others need to be fixed, as far as I am concerned, before spending time developing new cameras or what have you. Unfortunately, Fuji has got our money now, so they do not seem to particularly care about giving us what we need, what should have been in the camera to start with.

These are the major complaints people have from their beloved Fuji X-cameras.

regarding focal lengths: Because it wouldn't be true. The focal length of a lens is totally independent on the size of the sensing medium, whether film or electronic. What changes is the field of view. A 150mm lens on 4x5 is still 150mm, but the field of view is close to "normal" on 35mm.

@ Semilog: That's *exactly* what happened to my interest in the new X-E1 when I heard the FF rumor!

Mike: I was being unclear.

By generation I don't mean the date of releasing the cameras. I meant the sensors are from two different sesnor design generations. The Sony was a first generation full frame CMOS sensor for them but for Nikon it was their second generation CMOS sensor (their first generation CMOS sensor appeared in the D3).

The A900 and D700 sensors that are otherwise similar in their parameters (except for pixel size) differ significantly in quantum efficiency.

The D700 sensor has a better quantum efficiency** (38%) than the Sony A900 sensor (27%) i.e. the Nikon sensor is 40% (half a stop) more sensitive than the Sony sensor. That results in more photoelectrons and less photon count (poisson) noise.

The Sony made CMOS sensor in the D300 had similar QE of 29% and was the first APS-C Exmoor CMOS.

To really confuse the issue the Nikon D3X (released Dec 2008) with the same number of same sized pixels as the A900 is perhaps a more direct comparison. It is a 24Mpx sensor made by Sony but who designed it was unclear (probably both had design input). With a QE is 33%, improved read noise (better ADCs) and higher saturation it clearly beats the A900 on all sensor parameters. Nikon's third gen sensor? Sony's second gen? Both?

** The quantum efficiency (QE) of a sensor is the probability that a photon striking the sensor will be converted into a photoelectron that can be measured.

Thank you Earl! That makes sense.

@John Caradimas

I don't know when or why this thread became a laundry list of Fuji pitfalls and I'm sure Mike doesn't want a dialogue. DPReview has already done this to death (about every camera in existance in fact).

I already said "I have a shopping list of FW improvements around auto ISO and manual exposure control...

Difference is where you see "major failure" I see "niggle with workaround".

I choose a camera mainly based on whether it has a range of lenses I want (current or planned), produces excellent images under the range of conditions I shoot in and provides easy access to major controls. The Xpro1 does that for me.

Everything else is gravy. Sure, some stuff doesn't work the way I want but I don't let it spoil the party, I just work around it. I can work around all your issues very easily. In fact some of them make no sense to me.

I cannot work around issues like the tiny control buttons on the OMD (my hands are far too big to use this camera comfortably) or the lack of premium lenses for NEX (not even a roadmap). Clearly other people are not bothered, which is fine. For them.

Perhaps I am just the kind of person who would rather have a 3/4 pint of quality German beer than a pint of bland domestic stuff. Others just see missing beer.

Ah to the FFF's (Full Frame Fetishists) I would like to consider this....IQ of a 15 Mpixel OM-D of GH3 will outperform a good film on any given day except if you use lots of it like in a 4x5 and scan the living daylights out of it. The IQ of a FF is indeed marginally better but only if you make large prints as in bigger then 13 x 19 inch ass Ctein hase demonstrated using a 12 Mpixel Penn photo (if I recall correctly).....since IQ wise no problems there.

If you wanna go bigger....fuse, buy an old Nikon tele an micro 4/3 to Nikon adapter and a 100 dollar Panosaurus (as American build as well eh nothing springs to mind right now, sorry, maybe an M Class Mercedes but that is also build in Mexico partly I'm affraid) and PTGui or Autopano Pro....

And that bigger DOF has a positive side as well.....try shooting VR spheres.....

Greets, Ed.

Matt said, "The minor depth-of-field loss can be compensated by making faster lenses, which is easier on a smaller sensor."

They could make such lenses, but they don't.

I don't know of any mirrorless camera that can come close to the shallow DOF I can get with an SLR and a 50mm f/1.4 or even an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8.

Is there any sign that the manufacturers will ever make such a lens?

Seriously, that's the single major barrier to my picking up a compact. That and a decent optical viewfinder.

Fuji have clarified their position. It appears as usual that the interview was widely misinterpreted.


This does not of course mean they are not looking at options for the future, but I suspect any FF option would be an all new camera, though I'm sure an adapter could be made for X users.

What they call it though could be interesting. They already announced the XF1 :) Cute, mind.

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