In my Will there be a new Fujifilm X camera announced in September? article I mentioned that Fujifilm should include an XPan 65:24 aspect ratio as an option on the X-Pro4, whenever that camera comes out. GFX models already have this, but Fuji hasn’t given the XPan ratio to any X-series cameras. The X-Pro4 seems like a logical place to start, especially if it is given the 40-megapixel sensor, which has plenty of resolution to support the crop. But, should Fujifilm make a “real” XPan camera, and what would that look like?
XPan was a collaboration between Fujifilm and Hasselblad in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s. XPan cameras were 35mm interchangeable-lens rangefinders that produced panoramic pictures across two film frames—the pictures were twice as wide as normal 35mm images. The cameras were also capable of capturing regular 35mm frames, should the photographer not wish to create panoramic pictures. Two XPan cameras were made; Hasselblad called them XPan and XPan II while Fujifilm named them TX-1 and TX-2. The X100-series models have a striking resemblance to XPan cameras.
I don’t think it would be all that difficult for Fujifilm to make a true XPan camera. It would require two APS-C sensors placed side-by-side, or—probably more preferably—one chip cut to the same size as two. The lens would be the big issue, since X-Series lenses wouldn’t offer enough coverage. Either Fujifilm would make it a fixed-lens camera (like the X100V, but with a different lens that has coverage), or they’d need lenses that would cover the wide frame. If they decided on the interchangeable-lens concept, GF-mount lenses from the GFX series would have enough coverage, so it would make sense to use them. In other words, the XPan camera would technically be GFX, but in an X-series body and with an X-Trans sensor.
Even though the TX-1 and TX-2 looked more similar to the X100V, I think using an X-Pro body would be a good option to build it on. Call it the TX-Pro4 or X-Pan1 or something like that. The hybrid viewfinder would need to be modified to accommodate the wider frame, but otherwise the camera wouldn’t need a whole lot of changes.
There are three different sensors that Fujifilm is currently using in the X-Trans V generation of cameras: 40-megapixel (X-H2, X-T5), 26-megapixel stacked (X-H2s), and 26-megapixel X-Trans IV (X-S20). Which would they put into the XPan camera?
If they chose the 40-megapixel option, which would actually be 80-megapixel, that would be the most marketable, since megapixels sell. On the 100-megapixel GFX cameras, the XPan aspect ratio reduces the resolution to 50mp, while the 50-megapixel models reduces the resolution to 25mp; 80mp would be much more than either! The disadvantage would be the processing power required and heat dispersion necessary, which would be a huge challenge for Fujifilm, so I don’t think this is a likely option.
The other two are both 26-megapixel sensors, which would equal 52mp on an XPan model. This would be the same resolution as using the XPan aspect ratio on the 100mp GFX cameras. The new stacked sensor is great for speed but is much more expensive, while the older X-Trans IV sensor is still good yet affordable. Of the two, the stacked sensor is the most intriguing; however, it would likely raise the price of the camera by around $800-$1,000 over using the X-Trans IV option. As the X-S20 demonstrates, pairing the X-Trans IV sensor with the X-Trans V processor is a viable option, and probably what Fujifilm should choose.
Basically, I’m suggesting that Fujifilm modify the (eventual) upcoming X-Pro4 with two 26mp X-Trans IV sensors (instead of the presumably 40mp X-Trans V sensor that the regular X-Pro4 will have), utilizing X-Processor 5. This would give the camera 52mp of resolution when shooting the XPan aspect ratio, or 26mp when shooting in 3:2. The XPan camera would have over 2.5-times more resolution than shooting a 40mp sensor cropped to the XPan aspect ratio.
Who would buy this camera? Wouldn’t it be super niche? It would indeed be niche, but it would also be a “wow” product that a lot of people would talk about. Where I think it would get a lot of unexpected attention is with cinematographers, since some of the ultra-wide aspect ratios (think Ultra Panavision) could be shot in 4K, 6K, and possibly even 8K. Also, it would provide a bridge between the X-series and GFX, since those with GFX models could use their existing lenses on this camera, and those not in the GFX system could eventually jump in after buying a couple lenses for their XPan model.
Will Fujifilm make this camera? Probably not. I’d be pretty shocked. Should they? I think so. I believe it would sell well enough that it would be worthwhile for Fujifilm. I’d definitely buy one! Would you?