Should Fujifilm Make One Body with Multiple Sensors?

Fujirumors suggested that Fujifilm is making a mistake by using the same sensor in multiple bodies, instead of what Sony does and offer multiple sensor options in one body. For example, Sony has the A7, A7S, A7R, which have nearly identical bodies, but each with a different sensor inside. Fujifilm does the opposite, and includes the same sensor inside a bunch of different bodies. For Sony, the differences between camera models is closely tied with the sensors inside, while the differences between Fujifilm models are largely external.

I think the reason this topic came up is that there are supposedly going to be two different X-H2 cameras coming out next year. It’s possible that it will be the same exact body for both, but two different sensors inside. Could Fujifilm be taking a similar approach to Sony? Nobody (outside of Fujifilm) knows.

If Fujifilm does this, I think it would make sense to have three options: a high resolution 40-megapixel sensor capable of 8K video, a 26 to 30-megapixel sensor that is the “all-around” option, and a lower resolution 16 to 20-megapixel sensor that maximizes high-ISO, dynamic range, and speed. Honestly, though, I hope that Fujifilm doesn’t do this, although admittedly I do like the idea of a lower resolution option to maximize high-ISO, dynamic range, and speed.

What I do appreciate about Fujifilm’s current approach is that, no matter the camera you have, if it has the same sensor, it will have the same image quality. You can have an X-T1, X100T, and X-T10, and the image quality will be identical between these models. You can have an X-Pro3, X-S10, and X-E4, and the image quality will be identical. The advantage of this uniformity cannot be understated! This is ideal for those wanting consistency across their kit.

On Sony models, image quality is certainly similar between the three nearly identical options, but definitely different. If you have an A7R IV and an A7S III and captured the same scene with identical settings, you’d be able to tell that two different cameras captured the pictures, if you compared them closely. If you did that same experiment with an X-T3 and X-T30, the pictures would look identical.

I’m sure that Fujifilm watches closely what Sony is doing, looking at both what is working and what isn’t. They’d be wise to find lessons that can be applied to their own products. With that said, Fujifilm should not lose sight of what makes their brand special, and why their current customers chose them. They can learn a lot from themselves. I can’t tell Fujifilm what to do, and I’m certainly not an expert at camera marketing, but I think they’d do better to differentiate themselves from the competition, and not copy what Sony is doing. Sony is Sony, and Fujifilm is Fujifilm. If someone wants a Sony camera, they’re not going to buy a Fujifilm camera. If someone wants a Fujifilm camera, they’re not going to buy a Sony. Fujifilm should do more to convince potential customers that they should want a Fujifilm camera, which means highlighting what makes them unique, and why that uniqueness might be better for one’s photography. This blog does a pretty good job of doing that on Fujifilm’s behalf—not because I’m paid to (I’m not), but because of how I feel about their products, and what their cameras mean to my photography. I hope that Fujifilm doesn’t lose sight of their uniqueness, and doesn’t try to copy what other brands are doing—that just doesn’t seem like the right move to me.

16 comments

  1. Earl Rogers,Jr. · September 19

    No. I like Fuji just the way they are And I’m very glad that they are not the same as Sony and I wish everyone who keep want to make the comparison would just switch to Sony and we would not have to keep reading about Sony Fuji discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MICHAEL MAZOR · September 19

    Personally, I would a monochromatic X Pro or x100 model….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shuttersoundtr · September 19

    It’s a bad idea for a variety of cameras, but with a quality body, different sensor options seem reasonable. Of course, the most important issue is the price. Fujifilm is rapidly changing company policy.I hope this will not upset their customers. I don’t like Sony. Fujifilm produces affordable and quality lens bodies. At least in my country Sony and Fujifilm prices are very different. So don’t lose yourself Fuji!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 20

      Fujifilm tends to be more affordable than Sony, I think, but Sony does offer some “cheaper” (and very uninspiring) bodies.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jazz110 · September 19

    I think this article does have a interesting take on Fuji vs. other brands regarding available sensors. I guess I’ve always been too fixated on Fujifilm’s film simulations, film camera like controls, and design to be concerned with the one sensor across the board approach Fuji has taken. I do however appreciate the article’s point.

    Over many years I’ve gone from Nikon>Panasonic>Canon>Sony>Fujifilm. Please note that has been mostly digital cameras. The list would be longer if I accounted for film cameras 😉

    I think Fujifilm has a camera lineup that is “a sum greater than its (individual) parts”. I do not think I say this out of blind loyalty.

    My current XH-1 and XPro3 just speak to me like no other digital brand has. Once I start shooting I just hit that picture taking groove. I also felt that way about my previous Fujifilm cameras. I would be surprised if I changed brands in the future. I do suppose that is up to Fujifilm. As long as they do not totally evolve into something I no longer recognize.

    Please note I consider myself amateur after over almost 50 years of photography. Those making a living from photography will of course have broader needs and concerns.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 20

      I appreciate the thoughtful comment! I agree! I think there are photographers (who use other brands) that don’t quite realize how great Fujifilm is due to their “sum greater than its (individual) parts” as you so well put it. Fujifilm should not only embrace this, but do a better job of selling it, and definitely not abandon it. Thanks for the input!

      Like

  5. theBitterFig · September 21

    Fuji kind of already does this with the GFX 100s and GFX 50s. I think it makes sense there, since there’s enough of a difference between the sensors, enough reason for both cameras to exist. It’d be nice to have a new 50mp sensor with better video and AF capacities, but still.

    Supposing Fuji eventually have a super-high-res APS-C sensor, why not use essentially the same body as the X-T4? Or if they did a lower-resolution one with extra fast readout speeds (higher burst rates, 60 or maybe even 120 FPS 4k video), that seems like a more video-focused body like the X-S10 would be more appropriate. The natural home for a Monochrome sensor would likely be one of the rangefinder style bodies, probably an X-Pro.

    I guess the question is whether or not specialist sensors (extra resolution, faster speeds, or monochrome for example) make sense. And that’s a trickier one. Only having one core sensor means that the processors in the cameras, the firmware, probably can overlap a lot more. At least with Monochrome, that’s probably the big hangup. Having to develop new processors to take the output from the mono sensor, new ways to implement film sims, that’s probably the aspect of the process where it’d require a lot more work. Sticking with one sensor at a time means they can share that development, and continue their practice of having a lot of ergonomics options for their cameras.

    But then you don’t have high MP, or high FPS, or Mono sensors.

    I can see benefits to each way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 22

      You are right: the GFX100S and GFX 50S II share the same body, but with different sensors inside. It will be interesting to see what they do with APS-C, if the approach will be similar or different.

      Like

  6. Brett · 21 Days Ago

    I was told by a Fujifilm Exec here in Tokyo at a Yodobashi Camera event last week to expect the X-H2 to become available in April 2022. He said that I will be very familiar with it’s layout because I have the GFX50S II. Also he mentioned I should get the f2.8 zooms versus f4 because I would need the added sharpness. So I can only assume a bigger sensor. I think their flagship cameras will share a unified design much the way the GFX50S resembles the X-H1. Now shopping for a used X-H1 for casual shooting because GF lens kit is just too much to handle outside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

      Wow, thanks for sharing! Sounds very interesting. The Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 is a great lens for video, but maybe it’s not the best option for the X-H2? I’m certainly intrigued, as this is an interesting mystery.

      Like

  7. JoJo Glodek · 20 Days Ago

    I think it’s unlikely Fujifilm will use multiple imaging sensors in their APS-C bodies (other than the “stock” 24 megapixel Bayer utilized in low end models). First reason being that 24-26 megapixels is a nice sweet spot in the APS-C format, and the praise they’ve received for their 26 megapixel X-Trans sensor shows it. The resolution is enough for many hobbyist and professional needs, doesn’t reduce noise quality too much like it can with M4/3, and sits a place optimized for diffraction limits of the format. Additionally, Fujifilm simply does not do the volume of Sony; nevermind that Sony makes their own sensors in full. Combining this with having to customize their sensors with the X-Trans technology plus the R&D to reconfigure Film Simulations for any changes to the chip adding sensors to the line would likely incur a significant cost they could really only make up for by increasing prices (I doubt they’ll eat it out of their profit margins).

    I see the rumors of 2 X-H2’s. At that point, maybe? The only real reason to have different sensors in that price point is video performance, and somewhat price point. The A7 is a great all around camera for the professional and hobbyist who needs reliable stills and video performance. It does have some limits to video, though, that will hold it back from working on an all video shoot. The A7r moves still imagery to the next level, but frankly is really only able to capture video in a pinch. The A7s foregoes the resolution most professionals want for stills, but can shoot 4K video all day and never miss a beat. Having said that, Fujifilm has already shown the 26mp X-Trans sensor can produce both amazing stills and video. I think the A7s just barely edges it out on the read rate across the sensor eliminating the rolling shutter seen in many other video/stills capable cameras in all but the most extreme conditions. The limits for the sensor for video are more closely tied to the camera design choices. Most of the Fujifilm bodies are just too small to adequately disperse heat for extended periods of time. They lack some of the firmware and interface options video pros need for everyday use. I can see the split being more along those lines- one body optimized as your everyday camera and one with some additional features and beefing up of cooling for video.

    Then again, Fujifilm likes to surprise everyone.

    Post: Talking about their medium format cameras it’s important to realize they evolved in a different way. At the outset 100megapixel sensors were not really affordable and were still facing a lot of issues with offboarding and processing that amount of information in a useful way. The market made some leaps and bounds and very quickly drove 100megapixel sensors into a useful place price and utility wise and BOOM! GF100. The 50 megapixel seems to just toil around because not everyone needs 100mp and they seem to sell well enough. They haven’t actually altered the sensor in the newest 50 model so it’s actually not bringing that much to the table except a body refresh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brett · 20 Days Ago

      “They haven’t actually altered the sensor in the newest 50 model so it’s actually not bringing that much to the table except a body refresh.”

      That’s the whole essence of the upgrades – getting the body technology sorted out as a more or less platform for multiple sensors. I upgraded immediately and it’s become a more friendly camera to carry although lenses are still awkward.

      X-H is considered their APS Professional level camera – no reason not to offer a 40+ mp version, which also adds requirements and demand for better lenses somewheres along the line. I think it’s folly to believe heat will be a problem in the X-H body size – they’ve clearly beat the heat with the revamp of the GFX100.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

        The X-H2 in a GFX100S/GFX 50S II-like body makes a lot of sense. The GFX 50-megapixel sensor, although “old”, produces stunning images. I appreciate the comment!

        Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

      I agree that 26-megapixels seems to be a sweet spot, give or take a few megapixels. I don’t think Fujifilm needs to go down a megapixel race, but focus on what makes their products special: soul. I appreciate the comment!

      Like

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