September 7, 2012

Fuji Unveils the Beautifully Retro X-E1, Could This Be the Foundation for a Digital Cinema Camera?

While I don't normally show off cameras that will be mainly used as a tool for photography (though it does have 1080p 24fps), the stuff that is coming out of Fuji is incredibly interesting. The new X-E1 joins a family of cameras from Fujifilm that harken back to a simpler time in photography. With that philosophy in mind, the cameras are designed first and foremost to take great images without an overly complicated design (sounds a bit like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Digital Bolex, wouldn't you say?). Looking at this new camera however, definitely makes me wonder if Fuji would ever make their own digital cinema camera. If they did make a real video camera, would it share this same design philosophy?

First, here's a little bit more on the new X-E1:

  • 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor
  • FUJIFILM X-mount
  • 2.36 Million Dot OLED Viewfinder
  • 2.8" LCD 460K Dot Resolution
  • Full HD 1080p 24fps Video with Stereo Sound
  • Focal Plane Shutter
  • 100-25600 ISO Range
  • Magnesium Alloy Body
  • $1,000 Body Only, $1,400 with 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS Lens
  • November Availability

According to Fuji, this camera should have the same image quality as the $1,700 X-Pro 1 (since they share the same sensor and don't have an optical low-pass filter). What's really interesting about this camera though is that it is a product line with a clear design philosophy that not only favors a certain look, but also image quality as a top priority. The samples of the video from the X-Pro 1 are not great -- this camera could certainly become interesting for video with a hack -- but it's made to be a stills camera even more than the Canon DSLRs.

Here is a sample video from the X-Pro 1 -- quality from the X-E1 should be basically the same. The codec is definitely hurting overall image quality, but I personally like the colors the sensor is producing:

It's clear that Fuji is investing a lot of money into lens (especially professional PL lenses) and sensor design. They are building an entirely new mirrorless camera line from the ground up just like Sony has done. The major benefit, at least for Sony, is that since the distance of the back of the lens to the sensor is so short, almost any old lenses can be made to work with simple adapters be extending out. Rather than force people to buy into Sony E-Mount lenses, they can use almost any lens they want, including PL.

This is where my speculation comes in. Motion picture film will not last forever, and judging by the way Kodak's business is going and the fact that Fuji's prices have risen, film is on its last legs. If Fuji is paying attention, then they definitely see the writing on the wall. Of course, they could just get into sensor development and sell those sensors to other companies -- very similar to what they have done in the photography realm. Here's what I am proposing though -- what if Fuji developed their own Sony FS100 X-Mount camera? Certainly they could start with a very high-end model, but that space is largely dominated by Arri, RED, and Sony. The lower end space still doesn't have a "perfect" camera -- but either way we're now getting to a point where people will be choosing their digital cameras much like they used to choose their film stocks: for a specific look.

I would be very excited to see a retro designed APS-C Fuji video camera in the $3,000-$6,000 range that featured the X-mount. If Fuji put some sort of RAW or compressed RAW inside the camera (unlikely, but I can dream) as well as a handy compressed format, and it could resolve a relatively clean 1080p, it would be an immediate hit (or so I think). Of course, there isn't any sign that a camera like this is on the horizon, but they are definitely developing the infrastructure to be able to pull off something like that.

I know I may not be in the majority with my design philosophies, but would any of you buy the camera I'm describing (assuming image quality was there)?

You can pre-order the camera from the links below and also check out some more photos at the bottom.

Links:

[via The Verge]

Your Comment

16 Comments

May I comment?

September 7, 2012

-3
Reply
Rami Ramz

Yes?

September 7, 2012

1
Reply
avatar
Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I love the classic layout: Shutter speed on top, aperture on the lens,. no need for exposure compensator. Who shoots Ap / Tv / P ?
They have great lenses too.

September 7, 2012

0
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tttulio

Who shoots Aperture Priority? Almost every street photographer in the world.

Anyway, this X-E1 is the camera I'm excited about most for my photography as a backup for my D800, or as a lighter, street shooter. And actually, as an X100 owner, I was expecting the X-Pro1 video quality to be extremely poor. But at times it looks quite good. If they could just get rid of the aliasing it would be extremely interesting.

September 13, 2012

2
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Markus

Have used the XPro's as replacement for Canon DSLR's for stills without issue, the sensor gives a lovely image
and the whole kit weighs nothing in comparison, and you are bang on, they would be mad not to produce a video optimised body and lense set..fingers crossed

September 7, 2012

-2
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Jim

Yes, the X-Pro is quite a nice camera, I prefer its look (even shooting in Raw) to Canon for stills.

September 7, 2012

-1
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What gets me most excited about Fuji potentially getting in the video market is that the picture styles they use are based on actual film stock!

September 7, 2012

0
Reply

Indeed! Very interesting

September 7, 2012

0
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The sensor is the hardest part of the system to produce. They've got that - now just make wise decisions about what to do with that data. Fuji don't have any high-end cinema cameras to protect right? I always did like the look of Fuji film over Kodak.

September 7, 2012

0
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Stu Mannion

Fuji indeed, awful colors, haha :P

September 7, 2012

0
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Hampus

If Chinese were able to make a copy of Alexia, then maybe Fuji will make something similar next year. Today there are so many cameras.... I hope we are going to see more good movies soon... somebody needs to start shooting and make good movies... of we will be just reviewing all these new upcoming raw cameras for $3000 :)

September 7, 2012

1
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Peter

I really like the design of the camera, very classy and the overall video quality is too bad, just needs to be a little cleaner in my opinion.

September 7, 2012

3
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Daniel Austin

In addition to making 35mm movie film, Fuji makes great high end professional lenses, so I wish they would make a line of $3000-$7000 cinema cameras for the independent film makers. It should have variable frame rates from 1FPS to at least 60FPS and have their signature classic retro design. A metal EVF should be mountable on the side, top, back or bottom, and also a removable habd grip. It should have RAW output capability but also save to CF cards. Something about the size of the Canon EOS 1DC...

September 7, 2012

0
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Rob

What about Samyang? They seem to be making those nice inexpensive cinema lenses. Where are their digital cinema cameras?

September 7, 2012

1
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Rob

When you say Retro, what do you mean?? Pro Motion Picture cameras like the Eclair ACL or Arri SR (good ergonomics)?? The Amatuer Bolex camera (horrible ergonomics)?? Or just another Leica rip-off??

September 7, 2012

-1
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c.d.embrey

The sensor on the X-Pro1 had terrible Rolling Shutter artefacts. Since this is using the same sensor, though with a new firmware, chances are slim for a faster sensor reading procedure. I'll keep my fingers crossed though.. because for stills, this is _the_ camera.

September 27, 2012

1
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