Fujifilm's X-mount has suddenly become a credible option for video
When Fujifilm announced its new Fujinon MK 18-55mm T2.9 and MK 50-135mm T2.9 cinema lenses about a year ago it generated a lot of interest. Fujinon is a respected name in the cinema industry and getting these lenses—based on the company's much more expensive Cabrio line—for a price in the neighborhood of $4,000 was exciting to a lot of people.
Unfortunately, for users of Fujifilm's own X-mount mirrorless cameras, there was one catch: Fujifilm released the lenses in Sony E-mount.
E-mount? That seemed like a strange choice to people in the camera world.
It's not so strange when you consider the target market. Sony Super 35 cameras like the FS5 and FS7 are very popular among small production houses, budget filmmakers, and independent producers of various stripes, many of whom can't afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a single lens. As a result, there's a large addressable market of E-mount shooters who would be interested in this type of product.
X-mount? Not so much. Sure, the X-T2 could shoot 4K video, but came with some big caveats. Video probably wasn't the feature driving buyers to that camera, especially those serious enough to use cinema lenses for their work.
However, Fujifilm tossed a small easter egg into that announcement: it planned to release the lenses in X-mount (as 'MKX' models) by the end of 2017.
However, Fujifilm tossed a small easter egg into that announcement: it planned to release the lenses in X-mount...
While that was a nice bone to throw to its mirrorless customers, it made us wonder if Fujifilm was also giving us a hint of things to come.
Now we know. The new Fujifilm X-H1 is a camera that embraces video – and video shooters – more than any X camera before.
Fujifilm's cameras don't have a strong history when it comes to video performance. Early iterations of the company's video were far from best in class, and in some cases embarrassing.
|The Fujinon MK series of lenses were originally released for Sony E-mount (shown here on a Sony FS7 camera), but are now available to X-mount mirrorless camera shooters.|
Meanwhile, other companies, such as Panasonic and Sony, overtly courted videographers with cameras that delivered high quality footage and included deep video feature sets.
With the X-H1, Fujifilm now has a camera that's competitive with just about anything in the DSLR/mirrorless class when it comes to video. It may not MKX-class equipment targeted at working pros, but it holds its own against its peers, with the possible exception of the Panasonic GH5/S. But to be fair, nothing else in this class really holds up to the GH5/S either.
It's fair to say that Fujifilm shooters no longer need to feel left out in the cold when it comes to video.
It's fair to say that Fujifilm shooters no longer need to feel left out in the cold when it comes to video
I don't want to blow this out of proportion. I doubt Fujifilm would have developed the MKX lenses just for the X-H1. It wouldn't have been worth the sizable development cost, and the E-mount market for these lenses is much larger. The fact that the MK lenses now work on X-mount is a great side benefit, though.
With this set of products in the mix it's a great opportunity for Fujifilm to test the waters around video. Just a couple years ago, choosing a Fujifilm system for motion picture work was a non-starter. Today, all the pieces seem to be falling into place: high quality 4K/30p, 200Mbps codec, internal F-Log gamma profile, and even a couple high quality cinema lenses. That's an attractive combination, and I'm sure Fujifilm will be watching to see if it gets traction.
|We don't know whether the Fujinon's MKX lenses for X-mount signal greater ambitions for Fujifilm, but for the moment it means there's still a very impressive set of real cinema lenses for Fujifilm's mirrorless users.|
Fujifilm's decision to focus on the APS-C market may even be helping it here. There's no pressure to support full frame models, so the company can put its best technologies into flagship APS-C cameras, which will appeal to people wanting to shoot content in the popular Super 35 format. Throw in Fujifilm's Hollywood-renowned color science, and you have the ingredients for an interesting path forward.
The X-H1 shows that Fujifilm is serious about video. Whether those MKX lenses might signal greater ambitions on the camera side, or are just a pleasant side effect of having already developed them for E-mount remains to be seen.
Until recently, Fujifilm users who wanted to move into the world of video often assumed they would need to migrate to a different system to do so. No longer. Unless you really need the advanced features found in a pro-level video camera, it's a viable alternative to other DSLR and mirrorless options.
This is a great time to be a Fujifilm shooter, especially if motion pictures are on your brain.
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