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The Fujifilm X System: A Brief Overview

Introduction

Fujifilm began their range of enthusiast-oriented mirrorless cameras in 2010 with the release of the original X100. That camera, though, had a fixed lens, and it would be another 2 years before the company would release the X-Pro 1, bringing the same film-style control system, innovative sensor design, and niche features to an interchangeable lens system.

This new X system has since expanded into one of the most popular mirrorless systems for photography and videography as well as given us some fantastic Fujinon lenses. Nico and Nuno give you a brief overview of the system and its pros and cons. Keep scrolling for the text version.

History

As mentioned above, the X mount began in 2012 with the release of the X-Pro 1. This pro-grade model brought the dual optical/electronic viewfinder popularized by the earlier X100 to a more versatile system. It also introduced Fujifilm’s proprietary X Trans sensor technology, which we’ll cover a bit later.

Over the next year or so, Fuji fleshed out their lineup with the pro-sumer and entry level options, like the rangefinder-style XE series and the XA series. The entry level options generally go without the X Trans sensor or the physical controls that define Fuji’s professional offerings.

In 2014, they introduced the X-T1, a professional body with similar features to the X-Pro 1, just without the dual optical/electronic viewfinder. This quickly became one of Fuji’s most popular cameras, and a flagship of their lineup.

Later in that year, Fuji released the X-T10, which was basically a slightly slimmer version of the X-T1 with some features removed. With this, now Fujifilm had professional and pro-sumer options in both rangefinder (X-Pro & XE series) and SLR (X-Tx & X-Txx series) styles.

All this time, Fuji was steadily increasing their lens lineup as well. By focusing exclusively on APS-C cameras and not worrying about full-frame, Fuji could design their lenses very specifically and deliberately. They have full suites of prime lenses as well a series of compact, weather-sealed f2 primes that only serve to accentuate the already-compact bodies.

In the next few years, it was mostly iterative for Fujifilm. They added new sensors and faster processors to existing bodies while trying to fit more features in as well. The success of Sony and Panasonic in videography inspired Fuji to put more effort into this area as well.

In 2018, Fuji released the weather-sealed, video-focused X-H1. This camera had a substantial grip and Fuji’s first in-body image stabilization system. 

The next few cameras to come out featured a heavy emphasis on video features, and Fuji was able to bring some high-end features to entry-level cameras.

The exception to this video-centric lineup was the X-Pro 3, which was released in 2019 with very few high-end video features seen on other models. The screen itself faced the inside of the camera.

The X-T4 had become the flagship of the X-series, and thus needed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This gave the X-Pro the freedom to embrace its niche of street photographers and purists. The inward facing screen discouraged chimping, and the camera’s extremely rugged design was made with everyday carry in mind.

In 2020, Fujifilm has announced their fastest autofocus lens ever, a 50mm f1.0, for Fuji X cameras. This lens is compact and cheap compared to other ultrafast lenses, and is the first autofocus lens with this aperture since Canon released one in 1989.

X Trans

One defining feature of most Fujifilm X cameras is the X Trans sensor. This is proprietary Fujifilm sensor technology that eliminates the need for a low-pass filter, thus increasing effective resolution.

Most digital sensors use a Bayer pattern of red, green, and blue color receptors. This pattern is standardized, and repeated across the entire sensor. Generally, this leads to consistent results, but in some situations causes a distinct “digital grain” due to interference. 

Fujifilm’s sensors, on the other hand, have a more randomized color pattern. According to the manufacturer, this produces more accurate colors due to the constant presence of all three colors in any given row or column of receptors. Bayer filters do not have this.

Fujifilm also claims increased resolution because their sensors do not need a low-pass filter. These filters are used in Bayer sensors to smooth over complex, high-contrast patterns that may otherwise overwhelm the sensor.

For all of these reasons, Fujifilm believes their X Trans sensors give better performance than same-sized Bayer sensors, and even claim equivalent performance with some full-frame models.

Lenses

Fujifilm’s lenses can be broken down into two main divisions, XF and XC. The XF lenses represent the top-of-the-line, with metal construction, weather sealing, and faster apertures. XC lenses, by contrast, are cheaper, with plastic construction and fewer features. Most XF lenses also have an aperture ring, further differentiating Fujifilm from other manufacturers.

Many Fujifilm lenses will have weather sealing and in-lens stabilization as well, as Fuji chose a primarily lens-based stabilization system. If you have a Fuji body with in-body stabilization, these two systems will work together.

Bodies

As mentioned before, Fuji’s X series bodies are generally of high build quality. They also normally feature some type of physical dials with dedicated controls instead of programmable ones. Features like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture are normally assigned to unmarked dials and buttons.

Fujifilm went with a traditional approach, putting physical dials on their cameras like older SLRs. Newer models will have programmable buttons and control dials as well though, to allow for increased speed and customization.

Adapting

Most mirrorless systems can freely adapt vintage lenses, and Fuji X is no exception. A full suite of adapters for almost every vintage system is available for Fuji X. From M42 to Leica M to Canon EF, almost all lenses will work due to the X system’s short flange distance. Check out our guide to adapting lenses for more information and tips!

Conclusions

Although still a newcomer to the scene, Fujifilm’s X mount has made a name for itself as the premier mirrorless APS-C mount. The mount combines some ingenious innovations by Fujifilm with a clever, simple, timeless aesthetic that echoes back to SLRs of old.

Because of this fusion of old and new, these cameras are generally appealing to most segments, particularly those deeply invested in the intricacies of photography, cameras, and history. 

This system should continue into the future for a while, as Fuji has refused to enter the full frame market. Instead, they’ve introduced a line of medium format mirrorless cameras at low prices to compete with the full frame market.

Technical/Educational

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