ICONIC TECNOLOGY | Luca Bracali
The history of Fujifilm is rich in research, innovation, development, and transformation, every since its founding in 1934. Initially involved with manufacturing photographic film, it gradually diversified the business, becoming an international giant and leader in numerous fields. Its journey was studded with success, like the record-breaking disposable camera – the Fujicolor QuickSnap introduced in 1986, the launch of the S series, and the Fujifilm 3D Real Image System otherwise known as the world’s first ever system able to shoot and produce a three-dimensional photo in real time. In 2011, the X100 high-class compact arrived, followed by the X10 at the end of the same year. In 2012, Fujifilm presented the innovative mirrorless X-PRO1 with interchangeable lenses, captivating the market. Its climb was unstoppable, from Fujinon lenses used for filming Star Wars: Episode III to the immortalized high-definition images of space launches.
I like to say that I am a manager lent to this world and that I’ve gotten here through a series of coincidences. My career started long ago when I started working as a sub-agent in the glorious Termozeta (…) From there, I moved to Philips Consumer Electronics, a company that had such a vast product catalog that it required major effort to even just show it to clients. Following that, I was at Sharp for nine years, another electronics giant that allowed me to directly manage relations with large-scale retailers. The next step was entry into the digital division of then-fledgling Fujifilm Italy – it was 2003 – as head of the multimedia channel until 2009, when it was completely reorganized starting with the head company. Business divisions were created, and I became head of the imaging sector, therefore of our beloved cameras and optical devices,” Guglielmo Allogisi, GM Fuji says this and more in the following interview.
How has the photography market changed and in what direction has it moved with the arrival of digital technology?
After the advent of digital, the market was completely revolutionized for the umpteenth time. In particular, the smartphone totally turned the world of photography upside down. In 2008/2009, from point and shoot amateurs to professionals, we counted about three and a half million units. The invention of the smartphone and the ability to share every moment directly on social networks has attracted a group of consumers who no longer think cameras necessary. In fact, in five years we have gone down to 6,700 units. But I can guarantee that it was the best thing, because now we address only the true enthusiasts. As a result, we have evolved into a niche market made up of an aware, exacting public that rewards quality. It has been a Copernican revolution, we have gone from quantity to quality, and personally, it has been an incomparable success. Even though the mobile phone uses photos to push the sale of smartphones, true photography lovers can never separate themselves from cameras. Two worlds that will travel parallel, but will never combine, thanks above all to our expertise.
Personally, I have defined SLR as nostalgic objects for years. Why did Fujifilm embrace mirrorless technology? What are the advantages over the old DSLR?
Mirrorless are booming, they weigh a quarter that of a digital SLR, and they have the same characteristics of an SLR, perfect resolution. The medium-format mirrorless are the most versatile available on the market today. It is user-friendly, with reduced dimensions and a light body, able to meet every need. The top mirrorless model for medium format photography – the Fujifilm GFX 50s – was presented at Photokina 2016, and it immediately became successful with professional photographers and enthusiasts. This is the starting point for us, the goal is to make it usable as a common APS-C, parallel with the X series, now more than six years on the market. The main difference with our competitors is that we present a solution: cutting- edge camera bodies that satisfy every need, from the advanced amateur photographer to the professional, with an optical stock capable of covering 8mm to 400mm.
I know very well that this is a very common question, one that everyone would like an honest answer to. Why didn’t Fujifilm get in the race with other competitors and pull a rabbit out of the hat by introducing mirrorless full-frame?
For technical and strategic reasons we skipped the full-frame and that’s part of a project that includes medium format sensors with focus development and a smaller body. I stand by the two tracks, APS-C on one side and medium format on the other. 2009 was a crucial year when we decided the future of the company: we could have entered the world of reflex, but we would have jumped on the bandwagon a bit too late…
or opt for another choice, rather create our own way, so we created the x100, then the APS-C with interchangeable lens, generating our own system. It was a move aimed at a challenge, so even today compared to the full-frame we have made our own path, even when there are great competitors with precise skills. Our DNA for facing challenges comes back…and outlines alternatives. A few years ago, I confronted Mr. Makoto Oish, Project Development Manager, and I asked him why not do a full-frame? And he answered, ‘but if I gave you a larger sensor?’ I was taken aback, then I understood… it was just the project’s starting point, and 2019 would be the year of attack for us.
What developmental step does the new H1 represent for Fujifilm?
The latest jewel, Fujifilm X-H1, uses a third-generation APS-C size X-Trans CMOS sensor (24.30 million pixels, without low-pass filter) together with high-speed image processing engine X-Processor Pro. The real innovation is seen in the videos, and in the body structure which now has an improved design for a much more stable and resistant grip. This is a historic improvement for Fuji mirrorless X series: a camera that is perfect for videos too. Creating a camera that covers the sports photography sector integrated with professional videographer technology, suitable for filmmakers, this washowH1wasborn. IfIhadtoscoreit,Iwouldgiveitan8on video quality and 9/10 on photographs.