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Date: 04/04/2014 | By: Mathieu

What if Fujifilm were to go full frame?

NIKON D60, 1/25, f/ 28/5, ISO 400

What if Fujifilm were to go full frame?

It doesn’t matter how many arguments we can conjure up in favour of smaller sensors like MFT or APS-C, when photographers hear the name “full frame”, their collective hearts skip a beat. It attracts them, it seduces them. It’s like walking on the streets and suddenly seeing a beautiful woman with an elegant red dress crossing your path for an instant. (For those who saw the movie, think of The Matrix sequence). You look at her, think she is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, but as soon as she disappears from sight, you snap back to reality and continue on your way (and unlike Keanu Reeves, you probably won’t find an agent with a gun pointed at you).


Now if I try to turn this into a photography metaphor, that woman might currently be a Leica M, something beautiful that many of us can only dream of.

But what if another beautiful woman should step up to compete with her? The proverbial Snow White ready to take the place of the beautiful queen? Yes, we’re talking about the possibility of Fujifilm X full-frame camera.

There have been different rumours about a possible FF camera in the X lineup. The most probable one seemed to be a fixed prime lens camera like the X100s. Then the other day Fujirumors published an interesting rumour about the X-Pro1 successor being full frame and not APS-C. While we certainly cannot trust rumours entirely, it is also true that these websites are rarely wrong these days.

So, what would a full frame camera mean? Of course it would mean new lenses, as the current X lenses only cover the APS-C size area. For this reason, we would likely see a new 2.0 X camera line-up with the X-Pro full-frame forming the starting point like the X-Pro1 two years ago.

I imagine you would still be able to use the APS-C lenses in crop mode (although this solution doesn’t really make sense) and a Leica M mount adapter would also be a strong possibility. Fuji launched one with the X-Pro1, and it would make even more sense to launch one with the X-Pro2 full frame as well.

X-Pro1, 1/30, f/ 1/1, ISO 640
X-Pro1, 1/30, f/ 4, ISO 640 with the Leica Summicron 35mm

Of course many users are questioning what would become of the APS-C line since Fuji has invested a lot of money into it up until now. Well, as several photographers have pointed out, there are many systems that have both APS-C and full frame line-ups, so it wouldn’t really be anything new. Would it make sense? Well, it depends on the point of view from which you analyse the move.

The current Fuji X line is certainly a great example of high quality found in compact and light gear. Not as much as the MFT system but wherever the MFT system has some advantages, Fuji has others. The most recent products to come out and the current lens road map clearly show that Fujifilm is building a complete APS-C system that can easily satisfy most of our needs as photographers (both amateur and professional). So why start over with a new system? Isn’t APS-C the best compromise in terms of keeping cameras and lenses small enough without risking a loss in image quality? Isn’t it also the best way to keep costs reasonable?

E-M5, 1/200, f/ 28/10, ISO 200
The Fujifilm X-Pro1

These are indeed good questions and my answer is that the current APS-C X series is more than enough for most photographers. But if you analyse Fujifilm’s marketing strategies throughout the production of its entire X series lineup, there is an important thing to note.

Fujifilm has always cared for photographers and most importantly they care for their hidden desires, not only from an image quality point of view, but also from a gear acquisition addiction point of view.

Think about it: we’ve got a beautiful vintage/old-fashioned camera design to which photographers have taken the time to add the best leather cases, straps and other things just to make them look even better. We’ve got high quality lenses, often with fast apertures: 1.4, 1.2 – the kind of numbers that photographers love. We’ve got several other improvements and most significantly, many photographers have rediscovered their enthusiasm for going out and shooting thanks to these cameras. In the end, there is really only one thing left that the enthusiast photographer desires, and that’s full frame. If Fuji is really set on caring for our emotional needs and harnessing our hidden desires, then a full-frame camera would actually make a lot of marketing sense.

I have no doubt that Fujifilm can do it from a technological point of view. I don’t ask myself if the company has the money to do it because I am not its accountant. I trust that Fuji knows how to analyse the market, change accordingly and build business plans. That’s their task and their responsibility.

Me, I analyse what other photographers desire and give my two cents. I’d say a full frame Fuji is possible, may actually make a lot of sense, and will no doubt make a lot of photographers happy.

What is important is that Fuji create an original camera that is both surprising and a true evolution in sensor technology. And it must be a camera that won’t end up in direct competition with its own APS-C line. After all, it would make little marketing sense to duplicate the original Fuji X line-up with the only change being the sensor size, as doing so would further decrease the market value of the existing APS-C models.

Organic, full frame, mirrorless: oh yes, it would certainly be the most beautiful woman in red we’ve ever come across.


Photo credit: Red dress by David Monroy on Flickr (Creative Common License CC BY-SA 2.0

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Barry Kootchin

    The need for more detail and higher resolution is the reason to go for a full frame sensor. The need to be able to use a camera that acts and feels like a camera is the reason for Fuji to make the X-Pro 2. There are already hundreds of lenses out there that can be used with it.
    If the X-Pro 2 had a full frame 36 mp sensor designed by Fuji what else would you need?

  • Roger

    The X200 made a lot of sense to me, both from a user point of view and from a strategic offering. It would be a product that doesn’t detract from the very broad DX offer, continue to appeal to the enthusiast/specialist and the guru who is looking for the maximum sensor performance in the smallest possible offering.


  • Mathieu

    I still think that a full frame X200 would be the most interesting start for a full frame X system. A bit like Sony did with the RX1. Hopefully with a more competitive price :)

  • Mathieu

    If the announced organic sensor is full frame, it will certainly be a substantial improvement concerning IQ. That would be a good way to differentiate the two systems for example.

  • Mathieu

    What I mean is that rumors sites proved to be right many times, that’s why a news like this has to be taken into consideration. Of course it could be false. We will never know until the next camera releases 😉

  • Mathieu

    A woman in black is also fascinating;) I don’t think it will affect its APS-C line if Fuji manages to really differentiate both system, and I’m sure they will. If the rumor a true :)

  • Robert

    While this is a fascinating hypothetical discussion, I believe it will remain just that … at least for the time being.

    Why? Fuji, like Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and Ricoh/Pentax, is already losing a significant amount of money right now in its camera division (only Nikon, Canon and Leica are currently profitable). Introducing a whole new full frame X-Trans line of cameras means designing, engineering, and building a whole new lineup of lenses to go with it. I don’t believe Fuji is willing to endure any more corporate red ink … particularly not when the current APS-C X-Trans sensors already perform so well.

    Moreover, full frame lenses mean a significant increase in size and weight … which sort of runs contrary to Fuji’s current mirrorless design ethos.

    I think the future probably lies in all sensors getting better and better in quality, to the point where full frame largely replaces medium format for most large scale applications … while m4/3 and/or APS-C covers 95% of everything else for both pros AND amateurs, while still maintaining a distinct size and weight advantage. Once we pass the sufficiency threshold, more IQ becomes redundant for most applications.

  • Roger

    Interesting comments on a FF Fuji camera.

    Fuji has a way of dropping innovation on the current camera market. I like their approach. I still am finding my X100 a very productive camera. Their long term support of MD bodies (e.g. the X100) is to be commended.

    I believe their DX market provides near FF results. The advantage to the DX is great IQ in a smaller package. Their lens offerings make a great deal of sense to me. The DX line has many devotees to the Pro-1. There is some risk in abandoning that group. One reason is their excellent lenses that fit that unique Pro-1 body form factor. Those who enjoy “rangefinder-like” approach have an investment in those lenses and it’s an affordable approach to a great kind of photography.

    Reinventing the Pro-1 as a full frame (FF) X Pro-2 abandons the “compact” form factor, requires more engineering resources for lens development.

    I would think that a FF equivalent of the very popular 18-55mm zoom would be released with the camera. That’s a useful lens that is could be offered at a Fuji price point with full Fuji integration. One not likely to be hijacked from another vendor. For a rangefinder form factor, either a 35mm or 50mm FF lens would also be in demand. However a FF X-Pro 2 could be a natural platform for other manufacturer’s lenses, notable those from Leica. That would put negative sales pressure on the Fuji 35/50 sales. One question to be answered is if this is to be a platform for a full set of native Fuji FF lenses or will it become a companion to the Sony FF (economy Leitz) platform for the Leica, Voigtlander, Contax, Olympus, Zeiss and other classic FF lenses.

    Will Fuji keep this offering priced in the Fuji system or will it be a premium offering?

    When I first heard about a Fuji FF offering, the previous rumored X200 (a FF X100) came to mind. In that form factor with an integrated lens, Fuji could keep things as small as possible for a FF camera.

    Enough already. I like the current clear definition of the Fuji lineup. They have the engineering skill and marketing skill to introduce whatever they like. However, Nikon has proven that it is possible to confuse the consumer with multiple products with little differentiation. The FF will certainly be unique in the Fuji line, but the role and usage differentiation will start to be confusing.

    Can’t wait to see how this plays out.


  • david longstreath

    I waited a full year after the release of the X Pro 1 to see if it would really hold up before buying. I was and still am a Canon 5d mk2 user and compare the quality now and then between the two cameras. What has happened is the Fuji quality is excellent plus I can carry two bodies and three to four lenses ALL day without my back screaming out. I would like to think that techs smart enough to develop this great system would be smart enough to realize that the day of the dslr and all those heavy prime lenses is about to end. So why make a full frame camera that does what you all ready have.

  • JerryR

    “While we certainly cannot trust rumours entirely, it is also true that these websites are rarely wrong these days.”

    While I enjoyed your thoughts I think the above statement is a dangerously inaccurate. You remember the rumors that prove to be true but quickly forget the others. I believe that if you make any kind of quantitative assessment of the rumor sites you’ll find the vast majority of projections are inaccurate.

    A rumor with bits of truth is still largely false. Just two month ago the Xpro2 was going to be an organic APS-C size sensor and within the past couple of week Fuji had allegedly redesigned and was introducing new buttons on the X-T1.

    It may be very likely that Fuji introduce a FF system but that’s beside the point. Declaring that rumor sites are “rarely wrong” is a disservice to those who follow and enjoy your excellent blog.



  • olivier

    i’d rather have an apse and a medium format …
    full frame is just to big to carry around everywhere …

  • john

    Everyone is singing praises of RX1 and A7/A7r. But Sony has a lack of fast prime lenses. I hope Fujifilm can go full frame and fill the gap in market. It is an untapped market.

  • Kelvin

    Nice article Mathieu, thanks for sharing. Here’s my take, it will be a fantastic move for Fuji to release a FF X-Pro2 for many folks like me who use legacy FF lenses currently with my X-Pro1 and would like to utilize the full potential of these FF lenses on FF sensors in a form factor as the X-Pro. It should be released like the X-Pro1 with 3 new lenses.

    I honestly just don’t see how doing this would affect their current line of APSC sensor bodies as many have talked about which already produce superb IQ as we all know with a nice range of lenses to go. To me, it also boils down to choices, and there is nothing wrong with that, either upgrade to FF, stick with the excellent APSC or use both. I plan on using both if the rumor is true… It will be a beautiful woman in red indeed, perhaps all black in a jacket to protect her from the elements.


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