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.
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?
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.