Hands-On Review: New FUJIFILM X-T5 and XF 30mm Macro Lens11/02/2022
The last few months have been a whirlwind for FUJIFILM's mirrorless division, with the company unveiling a suite of new sensor technologies inside the successors to a line of cameras that not everyone was sure would ever return. While the X-H2 and X-H2S are very exciting cameras and deserving of their flagship status, they aren't necessarily what most people think of when they think of FUJIFILM cameras: that would be the X-T line, and many have been waiting to see what these announcements would mean for the X-T5. We here at B&H have had some time with a pre-production model, and I'll tell you what: it was a good time, indeed.
40MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 5 HR BSI Sensor
4K 60p, 6.2K 30p, FHD 240p 10-Bit Video
7-Stop In-Body Image Stabilization
425-Point Intelligent Hybrid AF System
3.69m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
3" 1.84m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
20 fps E. Shutter, 15 fps Mech. Shutter
160MP Pixel Shift Multi-Shot
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connectivity
ProRes & Blackmagic RAW via HDMI
Over the course of its first four iterations, FUJIFILM's X-T line of APS-C mirrorless cameras has become a best-in-class option for those of us who like taking videos as much as photos. The company's wonderful image processing and built-in Film Simulations are complemented by its dial-heavy retro handling. The X-T4, in particular, remains a top-tier choice for hybrid shooters since it took the rock-solid foundation and added excellent in-body image stabilization and that all-important flip-out screen for self-shooters.
But this best-of-both-worlds option created a problem for FUJIFILM. You see, it had the fledgling X-H1 that was trying to push forward its video offerings, but the camera was overly large as a result of its first-generation IBIS tech and was ultimately outclassed by the X-T4 in stills and video. FUJIFILM designers realized that, so they shifted focus: while the X-H2 and X-H2S can shoot excellent stills, and the X-T5 takes fantastic video, these capabilities have been deemphasized in favor of clearer market segmentation. And frankly, you can see the difference just by looking at them.
Whereas the X-H-series cameras look more like FUJIFILM's medium-format GFX cameras, with their lack of exposure dials and addition of a top-mounted OLED display, the X-T5 retains that retro vibe we know and love―it's slightly deeper and a bit more angular than its predecessor, but in ways you'll only really notice if you're looking at them side by side. Most changes are incredibly minor and largely inconsequential: the "Disp/Back" button now has a Bluetooth logo on it to reflect the company's more serious effort at wireless connectivity, the USB-C and Micro-HDMI ports have switched places, the Mic port is moved a bit to the left, and the EVF's diopter adjustment dial juts out a bit more.
All of this is fine, but there are two and a half changes that I really noticed in my week of use. The first is a more robust grip: rather than the gradual slope of the XT-4, the hand rests along a steep wall that may not be much deeper than its predecessor but feels more secure in the hand. It was the first thing I noticed when I picked the camera up, and it's felt good every time since.
The other change is one I'm personally more conflicted about, but it's also something others will undoubtedly celebrate: the removal of the flip-out vari-angle screen. That particular feature is now the exclusive domain of the X-H series, where the functional benefit for video types (like me) will be universally worth the usability downgrade for photo types (like me). I was content to make that trade-off with the X-T4, but I know many resented it, and those folks will be quite happy with FUJIFILM's return to the 3-way tilt mechanism of the X-T3. This means that you can get your high- and low-angle photography without affecting the camera's rotational center of gravity: you don't need to compensate for the additional weight sticking out the left side, and you do feel that in your day to day. Additionally, that third "tilt," where the screen completely detaches on one side from the main mechanism, gives additional flexibility while shooting off-angle portraiture.
On the note of portraiture, though, is that "and-a-half" change: on the bottom of the camera, there is only the battery door and the 1/4"-20 tripod thread. Prior X-T cameras all had a second covering, which revealed the electronics that linked up to the battery grip for those who wanted longer shooting sessions and the side-mounted shutter button. The X-T5 has removed that entirely and will be the first in the lineup's history not to have a battery grip available. I think most customers won't mind too much: the NP-W235 battery made the battery part of the grip a whole lot less necessary: have a spare or two with you if you go out for a day of shooting, but you may not even need them. On my first big testing day, I took nearly 500 photos and a handful of short videos without even hitting the 50% mark. Impressive stuff!
But it's in those photos where the X-T5 really differentiates itself from its predecessor, all thanks to the brand-new, 40-Megapixel X-Trans 5 image sensor.
More Pixels, Fewer Problems?
The biggest change to the XT-5 isn't visible: The X-Trans 5 looks just like its predecessor, but it is a milestone in APS-C engineering. The 40MP sensor means a massive 53% jump in pixel count, marking the largest increase the line has seen and may ever see. In fact, the X-Trans 5 sensor is the highest-resolution APS-C sensor on the market, period.
Interestingly, it's not the only new sensor that FUJIFILM has released this year. While the X-T5 and X-H2 share their innards, the X-H2S has a new sensor with the same 26.1MP count of the last-generation offering, but with a new "stacked" tech that massively improves readout and nearly eliminates rolling shutter artifacts in the process. This stacked tech is most beneficial for video, though, so it makes sense that FUJIFILM wouldn't split the fanbase for its photo-focused flagship, as well. The people who want this camera will get a lot more out of big pictures than they will faster ones.
I mean that literally because there's just a whole lot in these enormous images. The best thing I can say about them is also the most boring: photos from the X-T5 look just like photos from the X-T4, but bigger. But I, and many, many others love those photos. I'm not sure what we could ask for other than "That, but more please." There are several new photo-centric features, such as the ability to choose between JPEG and HEIF output, a new "Skin Smoothing" feature, and even a 160MP Pixel Shift Multi-Shot option, which takes four photos in rapid succession that you can then combine using software into one absurdly large and mindbogglingly detailed photo. But for most of us, 40 megapixels will be plenty.
And sure, pixel-peepers may notice that the IBIS needs to work a little harder at equivalent shutter speeds and that there is some increased noise resulting from the smaller pixels each capturing less light, but none of that is really noticeable in everyday use. If you've been content with FUJIFILM's APS-C offerings in the past, you're going to be content here: the sensor noise added up to ISO 3200 is genuinely pleasant and remains useable in situations upwards of 6400. (While the dial goes to 12,800, I wouldn't recommend it.)
The new pixel count is a clear win for filmmakers, as well. While the menu has been changed up in ways that hide key options like bit file format and bitrate control, there are some serious upgrades for serious cinematographers. One thing I was shocked to see was "Flickerless Shutter Speed," a new setting that allows for incredibly fine control of shutter speed―down to one decimal point―to resolve any flickering you may have from location lighting. That's not the sort of thing you expect to see in a camera like this and not something most people will ever need, but in the rare situation where you do? It's huge.
More obvious (and expected) are the new resolution options: a 6.2K shooting mode, as well as "Enhanced 4K" output, which downscaled internally from that 6.2K image. Importantly, both of these options are based on a 1.2x crop of the APS-C sensor, where the X-H2's 8K output and X-H2S's 6.2K maximum outputs each use their full sensors, but that doesn't stop the images the X-T5 produces from being wonderful. The fact that ProRes and Blackmagic Raw video output are supported over HDMI is huge, as well.
I will say that all this fancy video tech comes with the caveat that the camera doesn't support the FAN-001 cooling accessory that was released for the X-H2 line, so I would expect that these higher-fidelity options will result in heating issues under heavy use or in warmer conditions.
Still, it's hard to complain when all of this is ultimately just gravy on FUJIFILM's delicious, nutritious photo pie. I love my X-T4 the same way I loved my X-T3 before it and the X-T2 before that but, once again, FUJIFILM has come out with a camera that's made me take a long, hard look at the credit limit on my Payboo card. Darn it, I think they've got me again.
Before we finish today's news, it's worth sharing that FUJIFILM has also released a new lens—the XF 30mm f/2.8 R LM WR Macro. This compact, versatile, and close-focusing optic has a 45mm equivalent focal length along with 1:1 maximum magnification for life-size rendering of tiny subjects when shot at the minimum focusing distance of 3.9". It's packed with all the specialized glass you could want and has a linear AF motor that's a boon for both photo and video needs. Additionally, this lens has a rounded 11-blade diaphragm and is weather sealed. It's poised to be a great everyday lens that has the extra ability to focus in close for detail shots.
What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM's latest releases? Are you a fan of the X-T5 and its retro styling? Are you excited for this new compact 30mm f/2.8 macro lens? Let us know your thoughts, in the Comments section, below.