Looking Forward

It seems awkward to be typing this in an empty Beijing Capital Airport that used to be overwhelmed with people; so packed was this airport that the government built an enormous new one (Daxing Airport) about 50 minutes away to alleviate the pressure on the Capital Airport.

The topic is a bit awkward because I want to focus today’s post on upcoming cameras and gear, something that is certainly not an important topic to be covering at a time when our world is in chaos on so many fronts.

However, I’ve chosen to write about this topic for the very reason that our world is filled with negative news and uncertainty, and I hope this light and unimportant topic will offer some respite, even if for a brief moment, from all the problems we face.

You don’t come here to read about wars, pandemics and economic hardship, so please allow me to put aside those topics, and focus on some really interesting gear that’s coming down the pipe in the next few months. I’m most excited about the gear coming from Fujifilm, but also intrigued to see what Sony has up its sleeve.

Switching gears to another topic, we’re finally travelling again! I have a two week trip booked to Italy in late October, and I’m working on scheduling a weekend trip to Vietnam, along with a longer two week stay in Thailand around the year-end. I’m going to do my best to make up for the lost years due to COVID-19. 

Fujifilm X-T5

With the successful launches of the Fujifilm X-H2S and X-H2, the next camera on deck should be the Fujifilm X-T5. Being an owner of the X-T4, I’m really looking forward to this update for three reasons:

  1. Autofocus improvements.
  2. 40MP in the APSC sensor format!
  3. Reverting to the tilt screen setup from the X-T3.

Autofocus Improvements

We’ve been promised incredible autofocus (AF) improvements with each generation of Fujifilm cameras, and up to the X-T4, Fujifilm overpromised and underdelivered. With the X-H2S, Fujifilm seems to have made real progress in their AF algorithms and capabilities.

Fujifilm finally has subject detection and the reviews seem to indicate it’s very good, but still not up to Sony or Canon. Perhaps by the time the X-T5 launches, they’ll further refine it to at least match Sony’s or Canon’s current capabilities.

For me, I’m really looking forward to using my beloved Fujinon XF lenses with a camera that can detect my doggies’ eyes. While I could take the Sony out, I like the colour consistency of the film simulations between the GFX and the X series cameras. 

If Fujifilm is reading this post, I’d greatly appreciate Fujifilm bringing some of the AF improvements to the existing GFX lineup. Given that we’re still some ways away from a new GFX launching, it would be a great demonstration of how Fujifilm cares about their customers of their premium lineup.    

40MP in an X-T Body

It seems highly likely that we’ll see the 40MP sensor from the X-H2 in the new X-T5. I think that’s a given as it wouldn’t make much sense to reuse the 26MP one in the current X-T4. It also wouldn’t make sense to offer the super fast stacked sensor from the X-H2S in the more pedestrian model X-T series.

The reviews thus far from the X-H2 have been very impressive. People are seeing excellent gains in resolution without adding any incremental noise. This is quite an achievement as it’s been my experience that when resolution increases on a fixed sensor size, the noise typically increases at a pixel level as well. I saw this very clearly in the jump from the Sony A7R3 to A7R4.

It’s unclear how Fujifilm has achieved this. It could be by baking the RAW file with more noise reduction, or by some other mechanisms. Regardless, it doesn’t matter how it’s achieved as long as the resolution is what we’d expect of 40MP, and it appears that’s exactly what Fujifilm have delivered.

Tilt Screen

The X-T4 is pretty much a perfect camera with one exception, the horrible video oriented tilty-flippy screen. It feels fragile, even though it’s proven to be robust, and no matter how many times I use the camera, I can never seem to get accustomed to it. 

Even if the only change on the X-T5 was the screen reverting back to a traditional flip screen, I would pay the difference to banish this horrible screen mechanism to the annals of my memory. I really, truly hope that Fujifilm listened to their X-T customers and will give us the screen we want.

Fujinon GF20-35 F4 R WR

It’s hard to believe that we GFX fans have been without a wide angle zoom for so long, but the long wait is finally over. The Fujinon GF20-35 (GF20-35) has started to arrive in people’s hands as of September 29th. I picked mine up on October 3rd and posted some images taken on the way home from the camera shop. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces around Hong Kong and an upcoming trip to Italy. 

The GF20-35 slots in nicely below the GF32-64, but does make me wonder why Fujifilm developed the GF45-100 with the field of view that it did. With the GF45-100 being a new lens, I thought they would have designed a 20-45MM so that people could have a two lens solution like most full frame lens manufacturers have (16-24MM and 24-70MM).

Instead, we now have 20-35MM, 32-64MM and 45-100. Personally, I don’t mind the decision Fujifilm made given that the GF20-35 appears to be a relatively light and small lens. Perhaps they intended to design something with more range, but decided against it due to size and weight considerations. 

My travel kit will now include the GF20-35, GF32-64, GF80 and GF100-200. That will cover the full frame equivalent of 16MM to 158MM. If I add in the 1.4X teleconverter, I can squeeze the long end to 220MM. That’ll provide more than enough options for any kind of travel photography. The only thing missing is a super shallow depth of field wide lens, which should arrive in 2023 in the form of the 55MM F1.7.  

Fujinon XF56 F1.2 R WR 

Another lens that I’m very excited about is the new and significantly updated version of the 56MM F1.2. With the Fujinon XF56 F1.2 R WR (XF56 MK.2), Fujifilm has added weather resistance, closer minimum focusing distance, improved the bokeh and drastically improved focusing speed. I picked up the XF56 MK.2 along with the GF20-35 and have been shooting it for a day now.

I think the focusing speed is the most eagerly awaited upgrade for most people, so I won’t keep you waiting for the more fulsome review. Like the GF20-35, Fujifilm has decided not to use a linear motor for the new XF56 MK.2. While this doesn’t impact the GF20-35, I’ve noticed the XF56 MK.2 focuses slower than I had hoped, but still much faster than the old version.

There is also an irritating hunting that occurs on my X-T4 and this new lens. I’m hoping a firmware update can fix that as it tends to rack focus back and forth looking for contrast; in a Phase Detection Autofocus System (PDAF), this hunting should be minimal, so something strange is up there.

With so little time with the lens, I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet, so there’s much more testing to come for this exciting lens!

Sony A7R5

While I’m deeply entrenched in the Fujifilm and Leica worlds, my partner is deep into the Sony ecosystem as well. The rumours surrounding the Sony A7R5 are quite interesting. One camp says that it will retain the existing (and excellent) 61MP sensor, while focusing on improvements on AI Autofocus, improved menus and better ergonomics. The other camp believes that we’ll see a resolution increase.

I’m in the latter camp in that I believe Sony will introduce a higher resolution sensor. It seems only logical that they’ll use a similar pixel density sensor as the Fujifilm X-H2’s 40MP and scale it up to Full Frame and eventually Large Format (AKA Medium Format). This would result in an A7R5 with ~90MP and likely lead to a ~150MP GFX sensor in the future. 

APSC @ 23.5MM x 15.6MM
Width7728 px
Height5152 px

Full Frame @ 35.7MM x 23.8MM
Width11739 px
Height7860 px

Large Format (AKA Medium Format) @ 43.8MM x 32.9MM
Width14403 px
Height10819 px


While none of these material items will do anything to make our world more stable or peaceful, they at least provide a temporary diversion from all the pain, suffering and general gloominess. 

There’s a lot of interesting gear coming down the pipe, and I hope to have the chance to share how they perform with you over the coming months. Let’s also hope that the leaders of our world find a way to bring stability and pace back, so that we can focus on the fun things in life again.  

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