Fuji investigates full-frame system camera sensor (update Tuesday)

Fujifilm technicians are seriously investigating the possible launch of a full-frame compact system camera (CSC) and are focusing on the sensor and processor that would be required.

 

[Update 25 September includes Fuji clarification on the compatibility of current XF lenses]

Hiroshi Kawahara, operations manager at Fuji's product planning unit, said engineers are looking into the viability of a camera with a 35mm-size imaging sensor.

‘But, we are just focusing on the sensor and processor,' he said during a meeting with Amateur Photographer (AP) at photokina 2012 in Cologne, Germany.

‘A product model I have no idea [about] just now.'

Following comments made in an interview last Thursday, Fuji has asked AP to point out that the current XF lens range is not compatible with a full-frame sensor.

Speaking on 25 September, Kawahara said: 'None of the lenses are compatible with a full-frame format because the covering circle would not be large enough.'

Non-compatibility with existing lenses risks alienating current users, according to Fuji.

So, if Fuji introduces a full-frame sensor it would have to remake the lens mount.

‘I have no idea if it would be good or bad for our Fujifilm business and customers - the X-Pro user would be opposed to a full-frame body because their lenses would not be [compatible],' added Kawahara.

This seems key to whether Fuji will commit to full-frame.

Officials say they have not set a time-frame on when they will make a corporate decision on a full-frame model.

However, it is clear that Fuji sees a demand for full-frame.

The company says it is considering all options for its future cameras, not just interchangeble-lens models.

Giving initial reaction to the recently announced Sony RX1 full-frame, fixed lens, compact, Fuji's X-series designer, Masazumi Imai, told AP: ‘I think many customers want a bigger sensor with first-rate design.

‘Sony's answer is the RX1. Of course, I like that kind of camera but it is completely different to our series because the design is too modern.'

Size matters
A large CSC body would fit in with Fuji's acceptance that smaller and smaller cameras are not necessarily where demand lies, particularly in countries such as the United States where sales are low compared to Japan and the UK, for example.

‘In Japan especially, everybody wants a small [CSC],' said Makoto Ooishi, a colleague of Kawahara at Fuji's Tokyo-based planning division.

‘Some people say the XF1 [fixed-lens compact] is too big, especially in Japan.'

Fuji says the company has to strike a global balance on size, as it is not feasible to make different-sized cameras to suit customers in different countries.

Bosses agree that the size of CSCs works against the popularity of the product in the USA, for example.

Meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview, Fujifilm did not rule out the possibility of developing a camera featuring a sensor larger than 35mm.

However, Kawahara questioned who would buy such a camera, given the high price Fuji would need to charge for a model that also lacks mass-market appeal.

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