Fujifilm Secret Development Story: XC, XF, and GF Lenses Discussed

Fujifilm released secret development stories 1 and 2 covering XC, XF, and GF design. Story 1 also includes industrial lens products, but I excluded them from the summary below because the Japanese to English translation is particularly bad. Still, there are some interesting things to be learned below like why Fujifilm is removing OIS switches from its lenses. Apparently, it’s better if your camera determines when OIS should be turned on or off.

Part 1

  • Computers dramatically speed up and improved optical designs
  • XF lenses are designed for a high level of performance for autofocus and OIS
  • XC lenses are compact and designed for casual users that emphasize cost performance
  • XC are good kit lenses
  • Fujifilm is different in that they do not compromise image quality for their entry-level XC lenses
  • If you compromise image quality then you can fail to impress
  • XC lenses are a little darker than normal XF lenses which makes it easier to reduce the diameter of the lens in addition to using less glass and making it easier to correct for various aberrations
  • ASPH glass lenses are very expensive but can be replaced with plastics
  • Using plastics helps to make XC lenses lightweight and helps reduce costs
  • Light weight lenses can also use cheaper stepping motors
  • XC lenses cost about $100 to make
  • GF lenses are designed to cover a surface area 1.7x the size of full-frame
  • If you double the surface area a lens covers then you have to double the size
  • Aspherical surfaces and ED elements help to reduce the size of GF lenses and allow the lens to be closer to the sensor
  • Without modern lens design GF lenses would be 4 to 8x bigger

Part 2

  • Red badge lenses are high-performance lenses with high-speed autofocus that are heat, dust, and water-resistant.
  • Red Badge lenses represent Fujifilm’s best technology at the time
  • The first XF lenses to get a red badge were f/2.8 zoom lenses
  • The f/2.8 zooms  were followed by the XF 100-400mm since Fujifilm decided that red badge didn’t have to be f/2.8
  • Red badge represents flagship products
  • Then came the XF200mm f/2 and it is an extraordinary lens that was designed to work very well with all forms of autofocus
  • The XF50mm f/1 was designed to provide smooth bokeh
  • The XF18,23,33 f/1.4 were then released and designed for high resolution
  • Fujifilm designs each lens with different characteristics to suite the purpose of the lens
  • Fujifilm’s lens labels are R for aperture ring, LM for linear motor, OIS for optical image stabilization, and WR for weather and dust resistant
  • Autofocus speed is getting faster and faster
  • Fujifilm also uses stepping motors, DC motors, etc…  in their lenses
  • There is a lot to think about when picking a motor because it can have to move a lot of glass and vibration can be an issue
  • Linear motors are great because you can remove gears from the process which reduces vibration and adds speed, but it is a more delicate motor that isn’t great for heavy glass
  • To work around chattering Fujifilm places the heaviest lens in the middle of their optical designs and then balances the motor or motors around the lens
  • Fujifilm removed the OIS on/off switches because the old understanding of turning OIS off when shooting on a tripod isn’t accurate and Fujifilm has designed its cameras to decide when to turn on and off OIS on its own

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