It seems like only yesterday: the first hint that the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was on its way years ago now was the appearance online of an image made by a Magnum Photos photojournalist with that camera and the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R pancake-style prime lens.
I can’t remember who spotted the relevant camera and lens EXIF data in the JPEG but it made me feel that Fujifilm was paying special attention to the very specific needs of documentary photographers and photojournalists with a camera and lens combination that promised to become a default of those trades.
Eventually I managed to briefly try two of the three first Fujinon XF lenses on an X-Pr01 in the now long-gone Foto Riesel professional camera store in Sydney, and sadly set aside my desire to invest in the lens until Fujifilm fixed the camera’s diopter problem.
I was doing volunteer work for an unfunded human rights charity at the time, had a Fujifilm Finepix X100, but had needs that otherwise revolutionary camera couldn’t meet: video, and much wider and longer focal lengths.
I had to look further afield than the X-Pro1 and its first three lenses, but finally came back to the fold with the X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R after Fujifilm staff members promised that 4K video was on its way.
That didn’t happen, not in the way that I needed then, so I made a foray into Micro Four Thirds with Panasonic Lumix cameras and Olympus M. Zuiko Pro lenses specifically for video but stayed for M43’s depth-of-focus documentary photography sweet spot and Olympus’ legendary optics.
No camera and lens system meets all one’s needs
Running parallel camera and lens systems was not my intention, but I had to do the same during the analog era and the digital era has turned out in a similar way with an ever-growing variety of camera types, sensor sizes and lens ranges for stills and video.
The coming Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR and the rumoured XF 23mm f/1.4 Mark II, XF 56mm f/1.2 Mark II and XF 33mm f/1.4 high resolution prime lenses designed for professional photography and cinematography have validated my investment in Fujifilm hardware, as has the rumoured Fujifilm X-H2.
Those new and revised primes are a welcome addition to the Fujifilm XF lens collection, and validation for professional users investing in the system, but several more fast primes and updated primes are as necessary as the 18mm, 23mm, 33mm and 56mm “Fujilux” lenses above.
- XF 14mm f/2.8 Mark II – a wider maximum aperture might be nice but f/2.8 will fill the bill given Mark I’s full optical correction.
- XF 27mm f/1.4 – a contemporary alternative to the legendary “Hollywood 28” versatile “perfect normal” vintage lenses.
- XF 70mm f/1.4 – a portrait photography and video big close-up necessity.
I enjoyed the Fujifilm X-H1 loaner enormously and, despite its internals being outdated at time of release, its unlikely Fujifilm will make the same mistake twice especially with a flagship camera designed for top performance in stills and video.
I was reminded of how highly Fujifilm’s stills and cinema lenses are regarded in the movie industry at a screening last week, and the company will do well amongst professional users with a future-proofed flagship X-H2 for the most demanding stills photography and cinematography.
The Fujifilm X-Pro4
Fujifilm’s X-Pron digital rangefinder camera series will remain my default for documentary photography but the company needs to make good the most disappointing shortcoming of the X-Pro3, its lack of 18mm bright lines and enough OVF width to permit viewing outside them.
When the X-Pro4 rumours appeared, I had hoped the camera would be accompanied with a professional-quality 18mm lens given how 28mm equivalent focal lengths are the default for so many documentary photographers and photojournalists.
Some pundits believe that Fujifilm chose 23mm bright-lines as their maximum in the X-Pro3’s optical viewfinder due to the coming XF 18mm f/1.4’s filter diameter being 62mm and thus protruding into the lower right of the OVF.
Leica, however, did not see OVF protrusion as problem for some of its wider M-Series lenses and minimized it with vents in their lens hoods.
The company also provided optional external optical viewfinders to sit on camera hotshoes, as has Fujifilm itself with its VF-X21 with 21mm and 28mm equivalent lens bright lines, that is, for the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lenses.
Leica M-mount lens maker Cosina, under its Voigtlaender brand, has produced a number of hotshoe-mounted external OVFs as has Ricoh for its GXR system cameras, so there is clearly a user base for this optional view-finding solution and I have successfully used external OVFs on other cameras in the past.
Lens hoods and external optical viewfinders for Fujifilm and Leica digital rangefinder cameras
Another key improvement for the Fujifilm X-Pro4 needs to be in its LCD monitor.
I have yet to try the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and its unique monitor solution which was apparently designed on the basis that it is for “real” or “pure” photography.
I have engaged in “pure photography” in its documentary form for decades and have welcomed as many viewfinder, ground-glass and other image viewing possibilities as camera makers can provide.
Give me more, not fewer, ways of seeing the image so I can handle all the many ways circumstances and my subjects dictate.
Fujifilm, please rethink your current point-of-view on the X-Pro series’ LCDs with a mind to the needs of professionals in the field and not some ideological stance that shapes and limits what we can do and how we can do it.
Whether fully-articulated, fixed, two-way, three-way or something else again, please rethink the X-Pro4’s LCD monitor, Fujifilm.
Photographs by magazine photographer Stefan Finger with Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR prime lens
“For me, the FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR (a 35 mm equivalent of 27 mm) is an absolute gamechanger. For one thing, the autofocus and image quality of the lens are outstanding. For another, it brings me back to a focal length that I very much enjoy. Often my FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 (a 35 mm equivalent of 24 mm) has been too wide-angled for me. However, the FUJINON XF23mmF1.4 (a 35 mm equivalent of 35mm) didn’t provide a wide enough angle. The XF18mmF1.4 fits perfectly into this gap.” … Stefan Finger
Imagine photographs like these and better again being made by magazine photographers like Stefan Finger on a Fujifilm X-Pro4 with in-body image stabilization, more versatile LCD monitor and 18mm bright-lines in an OVF designed to maximize the usability of the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR.
Fujifilm, how about it?
- B&H Affiliate Link – FUJIFILM XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR Lens
- Compact Camera Meter
- DPReview – Fujifilm X-Pro1 in-depth review
- Fuji Rumors – Fujinon X Mount Roadmap 2021/2022 Updated with Latest Rumored Lenses – “XF33mm f/1.4 – most likely in 2021, XF150-600mm – most likely in 2022, XF23mm f/1.4 MKII – most likely in 2022, XF56mm f/1.2 MKII – most likely in 2022″
- Fuji Rumors – Fujifilm X-H2 with 8K DCI/UHD Video Coming 2022 – Many excellent video-oriented suggestions from reader Θεοδοσιος aka @Theodosios888.
- Fujifilm X – LENS STORIES: Knut Koivisto x XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR
- Fujifilm X – LENS STORIES: Stefan Finger x XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR
- Fujifilm X – X-Pro 2
- FUJIFILM X Series – LENS STORIES: Knut Koivisto x XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR/ FUJIFILM – video
- FUJIFILM X Series – LENS STORIES: Stefan Finger x XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR/ FUJIFILM – video
- Gordon Laing – Fujifilm XF 18mm f1.4 FIRST LOOKS review – video
- Unititled.Net – Sigma Fills the Gap with 28mm f/1.4 and 40mm f/1.4 Art Lenses, Two of the Most Currently Neglected Prime Lens Focal Lengths
- Unititled.Net – What Is The “Hollywood 28” Vintage Prime Lens & Why Is It Still So Highly Sought After?
- Unititled.Net – Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, Part 1
- Unititled.Net – Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, Part 2
- Unititled.Net – Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, Part 3
- Unititled.Net – Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, Part 4
- Unititled.Net – Cameras – Please use these B&H affiliate link lists here and below for researching and purchasing hardware and help keep Unititled.Net going.
- Unititled.Net – Camera Filters & Accessories
- Unititled.Net – Lenses