Monday, July 9, 2007

Fauxtokina 2007: Fuji speculation and predictions

Fuji DSLRs

  • The S5 was formally announced at Photokina 2006 while the S3 at PMA 2004. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure nothing new is expected
  • However, given the S3 UV IR (uvir), I would not be surprised that if in late 2007 or early 2008 there was a Fuji S5 UVIR.
  • I do not expect Fuji to attempt to enter the sub-$1000 market this year

    Fuji non-DSLRs
  • Since Fuji is not going to enter the entry-level DSLR market anytime soon, they are a good bet to continue to offer advanced non-DSLRs.
  • Will this be the time they add either image stabilization to their lenses or sensor-shift stabilization? It would certainly make their cameras more appealing and competitive.
  • Embracing SD My Photokina 2006 speculation post heavily encouraged Fuji to consider SD support. I'm glad they did! Now let's hope Fuji uses the dual xD/SD slots in every new model they announce.
  • "Magic Sensor": 6mp sensors are falling behind in the wild megapixel race from a marketing perspective. Yet this sensor is the one that has the best low noise performance among sensors under 1/1.6". How can Fuji compromise these two and continu to introduce cameras using this sensor?
  • 1/1.6" S-series The S9000 (aka S9500) was announced in July 2005, while the S9100 (aka S9600) was announced in August 2006. This makes fall fo 2007 a reasonable time frame for a follow-up. Some questions: will Fuji use a similar sensor or jump in megapixels (eg 12mp?). Will they offer a dual xD/SD slot? Also will they add image stabilization given that all other major manufacturers offer some sort of stabilization either in-lens or by shifting the sensor.
  • IS-series Ths naming of the IS-1 may be an indicator of Fuji's plans for Image Stabilization. Because IS stands for Infrared Sensitivity in this case. Fuji has also made a sensitive version of the S3 Pro DSLR. Both of them came months after the original release. The IS-1 was announced in January 2007, about five months after the release of the original S9100 (aka (S9600). So I would not expect a follow-up to this series in 2007 if Fuji follows this pattern. Of course they could always decide to introduce the follow-up in parallel with a new S9xxx camera. But given that this is a very specific application camera, I would expect Fuji to follow the previous pattern.
  • mid-range S-series The S6000fd (aka S6500fd) came out in July 2006 in the slot typically reserved for the S5xxx series of Fuji. It features the critically acclaimed low-noise 6mp sensor. So what will Fuji do with this one? Ideally they should re-issue this camera by adding the dual SD/xD memory card slot. This will certainly increase the appeal of this camera, expecially to people with SD cards! Apart from that, what else? Will they add the 9mp sensor of the S9xxx series in it? Well, they already have a two-tier system with the S9000/S9100 there. Will they use the 8mp SuperCCD sensor perhaps? I would hope they re-issue this camera with an SD/xD card slot!
  • 1/2.5" S-series The budget-priced but featured packed S5700 (aka S700) was announced at PMA 2007 (Febr). It's pre-decessor, the S5200 (aka S5600) was introduced in July 2005, and its predecessor, the S5100 in July 2004, which came after the S5000 in July 2003. What got the S5700 out of sync was Fuji's decision to introduce a camera in-between, the S6000fd using the "magic 6mp" sensor in July 2006, essentially taking the July slot from the S5700. Given all that, I would not expect an update to the S5700 this year, but look for one at/by PMA 2008.
  • E-series The E900 was announced in July 2005, following the debut the E-series in July 2004 with the E500, E510 and E550. The E900 picked up in popularity after its price went down from MSRP... Ideally I would have liked to see a version of the E900 with the 6mp magic sensor and with the dual xD/SD slot. Or perhaps using the S9100 sensor or whichever future sensor Fuji will be using in their new cameras... The 9mp SuperCCD has already found its way to the A900.
  • F-series The revolution started at PMA 2005 with the F10, and continued with the F11 (Sept 2005), and then the F30 (PMA 2006) and the budgety F20 (July 2006). Fuji added some manual control (eg Av/Tv). The F31fd got face detection (Photokina 2006) and changed the cycle because of that. After that the F40fd was announced in Jan 2007, albeit without Tv/Av and with an 8mp 1/1.6" sensor (instead of the "magic" 6mp 1/1.7"). But it was the first F-series to support the dual xD/SD card which was big especially for this noisely-acclaimed series. But Fuji did not stop there. They re-issued the F40fd as the F45fd for the Argos chain in the UK, by putting it in a "beautiful ocean-blue metal body shell" (Fuji's words, not mine). The 9mp 1/1.6" sensor found its way in the F47fd (available in some markets eg UK). Still no Tv/Av however. So what's up with the F-series babylon? For one thing the F47fd could be made available to other markets as well. After all they put a 9mp SuperCCD sensor in the A900 which sells for under $200 right now. So why not? So what about the future? Where do we go from here? More megapixels? Bigger sensors? More efficient sensor and enging instead of more megapixels? How about some Tv/Av or even full manual control? We are talking about a 1/1.6" sensor here, not 1/3.2"!
  • The non-SuperCCD F-series. This general purpose series using "standard" sensors saw its last few models in early 2006 (F650, F470). Judging from the time-frame, Fuji may have put them on hold. The F650 as the name suggests was a 1/2.5" 6mp 5x optical LiIon, while the F470 had the same sensor but a 3x lens. We could see the F650 come up with a 1/2.5" SuperCCD sensor perhaps, but the SuperCCD advantages is more pronounced at 1/1.7" and beyond.
  • Z-series The Z5fd was announced in November 2006 with the face detection feature and a new 6mp 1/2.5" SuperCCD sensor. While megapixels are not everything, from a marketing perspective Fuji is going up against the 8mp and 7mp 1/2.5" Sony sensors and 7mp 1/2.5" sensors from Panasonic. Nevertheless, this is a SuperCCD sensor not a "traditional" sensor... One possibility is a follow-up version with a bigger LCD screen regardless of a new sensor being not introduced or not. Fuji does seem to introduce new ones every 8 months or so. So expect a Z6fd with either a SuperCCD or a traditional sensor (or perhaps both?).
  • A-series Fuji used to introduce new A-series cameras in PMA of each year. But the A700 came out at Photokina of 2006, while the next wave of A-series (A900, A820, A800, A610) came out in Jan/Feb 2007. The A900 is using the 9mp 1/1.6" sensor even. The A825 was a limited availability model (eg UK market for Comet). This is quite possibly the most serious attempt at a challenge to the long running Canon A-series. The Fuji A-series went from a 3x to a 4x lens, and they jumped to 1/1.6" sensors. But the Canon A-series did not stay put, as they jumped ahead with IS and 6x lenses. Nevertheless this is something to watch for in the future.
  • V-series The one and only V-series camera came out in January 2006, the V10. Nothing else in this line-up since. But I wouldn't be surprised if they revived it - depending on how well the V10 did based on their expectations. If nothing else, to include the xD/SD dual drive.

    What to expect from Fuji in the rest of 2007? (pure speculation!)
  • Another Z-series camera, the next generation F-series,
  • Predicted names of speculated models: S5 UVIR, Z6fd, Z7fd?, E600, S6100fd (aka S6600fd), IS-2, F50fd, F480, F750, S9200fd (aka S9700fd)

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