There’s no doubt what the camera theme of 2022 has been – it’ll go down as the year of the crop-sensor comeback. After the arrival of full-frame beasts like the Nikon Z9 last year, smaller sensors have fought back – and none more fiercely than Fujifilm’s X-Series.
In the last four months, we’ve seen the launch of the Fujifilm X-H2S (a stacked sensor speedster built for sports and action) and, more recently, the Fujifilm X-H2, the world's first 40MP APS-C camera. These followed the arrival of the Canon EOS R7 and Canon EOS R10, which both show Canon's commitment to the format.
For the first time in a few years, full-frame is no longer the camera buzzword. Seven out of the nine major camera releases this year have been crop sensor models, and as a photographer who still prizes the benefits of APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras – along with a variety of choice in cameras – this makes me very happy indeed.
But despite this pleasing development, the crop sensor trend hasn’t been the win for affordability that you might have traditionally expected. The OM System OM-1 and Panasonic Lumix GH6, for example, are both flagships with asking prices north of $2,000 / £2,000.
And as much as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed testing both the Fujifilm X-H2S and X-H2 recently, both carry similarly weighty price tags. Which is why I’m particularly excited to see which elements from both make it into the now heavily-rumored Fujifilm X-T5.
For hobbyist shooters, the Fujifilm X-T5 could be the most exciting camera of the year. And yes, maybe this year – there are growing rumors, including from the usually reliable Fuji Rumors, that the mid-range mirrorless camera will arrive in 2022.
That would see it launch pretty close to the Fujifilm X-H2, a camera that won’t ship until the end of September. But it does look increasingly like that’ll be the case. The current Fujfilm X-T4, which we still rate as one of the best cameras you can buy, has now been discontinued in several major Japanese stores. And even Fujifilm product managers are already dropping hints about another launch “very soon”.
But having spent some quality time with the X-H2 (above) at Fujifilm’s X-Summit, the imminent launch of an X-T5 makes increasing sense to me, too. Like its X-H2S sibling, the X-H2 is a premium hybrid camera for stills and video. But it’s also one that’s distinguished by a particular shooting experience – namely, the PASM (Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual) control approach favored by most other manufacturers.
Fujifilm has made a big splash for professional shooters with the X-H2S and X-H2. Both have next-gen sensors and processors, alongside the deep grips and controls favored by most pro photographers. Now it’s time to bring some of that power to a more focused, retro-flavored camera: the X-T5. But what features will it inherit?
There are two possibilities for the X-T5. It could either inherit a similar 26MP BSI CMOS sensor to the current Fujifilm X-T4, and pair that with the new X-Processor 5 for Fuji’s new subject-tracking autofocus. Or it could instead become a more affordable X-H2, pairing the latter with Fuji’s new 40MP X-Trans 5 BSI sensor.
The latest rumors suggest the X-T5 will take the 40MP route, but with some significant twists to help differentiate it from the X-H2. Most obviously, it’ll likely retain the dedicated dials for settings like ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation that have seen Fujifilm cameras retain their cult following in contrast to their more functional rivals.
But it seems the X-T5 could also become more focused, and perhaps also more mid-range, compared to the X-T4 (above). Back when the X-T4 launched, the lack of a real flagship model in Fuji’s range saw it take on the ‘hybrid’ mantel for stills and video shooters. Now the X-H2S and X-H2 are here, the X-T5 is free to again become more of a photographer’s purist camera.
While no-one at the X Summit would talk about the X-T5 explicitly, my feeling from various briefings was that this would likely be Fuji’s approach for the rest of its camera range. With two impressive flagship models in place at the top of its tree for hybrid shooters, the next X-series bodies (an X-T5, but perhaps also an X-Pro4 and X-T40) could become the specialist models that Fuji’s built its reputation on.
As someone who leans more towards photography than video, I hope this means features like the return of the X-T3’s tilting screen, but also the inclusion of the X-H2’s ‘Pixel Shift Multi Shot’ mode. According to rumors, this differentiation from the X-H2 could also mean the absence of a battery grip option for the X-T5. Fuji says this grip is only used by a small minority of X-T shooters anyway, so it wouldn't be a huge deal even if it might irk some fans.
Whatever the minutiae of the X-T5’s spec sheet, it’s likely to be a big launch for what's known in marketing speak as the ‘enthusiast’ market. Before this year, I had concerns that the buzz around full-frame systems might (unfairly) squeeze their crop-sensor rivals too far into the margins for them to survive.
This year has shown those fears to be unfounded. The X-H2S and X-H2 are the creations of a confident system that knows who its audience is. And my time with the X-H2 in particular has got me excited for what could possibly be coming around the corner in the X-T5. It won't be as fast as the X-H2S, nor handle as well as the X-H2, but it could be the sweet spot for hobbyists.
Not that the X-H2 is overpriced for what it offers. In fact, at $1,999 / £1,899 / AU$3,399, it’s comparatively good value when you consider it’s possible to buy two of them for the price of a Canon EOS R5. But in these financially-trying times, it’s time to see some of this tech filter down into its non-professional bodies.
This pricing also leaves a gap for a Fujifilm X-T5 to drop into the lineup, Tetris-style, with a similar launch price to the X-T4 ($1,699 / £1,549 / AU$2,999). If it manages to do that while offering most of the X-H2’s photographic power, and does indeed launch later this year, the X-T5 could well find its way into many-a-Christmas stocking. And a new Fujifilm smartphone app would be the icing on the cake.