In an interview with DPreview, Iida Toshihisa mentions that Fujifilm has opened up their mount to third-party support, specifically mentioning the coming Tokina lenses.
“Do you plan on opening the X-mount up to third-party lens manufacturers?
Yes. Kenko Tokina actually already announced three lenses for X-mount, with autofocus. Many customers want more lenses, and we want to satisfy that need.”
You can read the full interview here: Dpreview
When I reported on Tokinas announcement of the new lenses for the X-Mount, I mentioned not knowing if these new Tokina lenses would officially support autofocus of if they would have to hack it. As you probably know, to develop and hacking autofocus technology from a certain company is technically illegal since that information is held protected by patents, but yet no company has sued a third party lens company that we know of.
Why This Is Extremely Good News
One of my biggest complaints about the Fujifilm system (and I think many others share this same complaint), is the lack of fast modern lenses. Fast meaning lenses that are like f1.2 or f1.4. Typically I think of fast lenses as anything under about f2 by full-frame standards, but that description is obviously open for debate.
But fast also means quick autofocus and autofocus tracking capabilities.
Currently, all the Fujifilm f1.4 lenses do not have modern microcomputers to maintain quick AF-C CDAF autofocus and struggle in some situations, nor are they weather sealed. The lenses are amazing in terms of character but are behind in terms of technology.
Compare that to the similarly priced Nikon Z f1.8 lenses which produce an f1.2 APS-C depth of field equivalency, have very little focus breathing, are weather-sealed with all internal focus elements that allow them to be significantly more versatile for today’s photographer that often requires good photo and video performance from their gear.
By allowing Viltrox or Tokina to make new f1.4 lenses, this takes some pressure off Fujifilm to fill in those gaps quickly so they can continue to expand their product lineup. This is very cool, and very smart.
This is actually legitimately one of the big reasons I jumped into the Nikon Z system. I wanted nice f1.8 lenses that were useful in any situation and Fujifilm only offered f2 good do-it-all lenses which would give you a bokeh equivalency of like an f3 or something, which still, isn’t bad for video, but I would like a lens that could do a little more than that for a do-it-all system especially since I shoot so much in low light.
Now these new Tokina lenses won’t be the holy grail, but they will be cool and Tokina is a very good brand and they make good stuff and have very good focus technology. I’ve heard they even make some lenses for Pentax, and while Pentax is sort of a meme at this point, their gear is some of the most rugged camera gear ever made.
Also, keep in mind that Viltrox and Tokina share similar optical formulas. I’m not sure where they got these formulas from if it’s a partnership or what, but these Tokina lenses will be of slightly higher quality based on materials and build quality. There is more to a lens than just optics, so be careful about seeing people say Tokina lenses are just rebadged Viltrox lenses. I’ve written about this before and it’s not really the case at all, but yes, they share the same optics and produce the same IQ.
So why the delay, what’s taking Fujifilm so long to update their old lenses?
I now have a theory!
Fujifilm Lens Resolution Limits
Fujifilm lenses likely have a resolution limit, and if they increase the megapixels in their next X-H2 so that it can do 8k video, they’ll likely have to bump the resolution capabilities of their fast lenses to match. Unless their current lenses can handle 34MP from an APS-C sensor. But I bet you, their current f1.4 lenses will see their limits tested at 34MP and I bet you, Fujifilm has been waiting for higher MP sensors before updating their older lenses so that they will be good to go for the next 10-15 years.
And by the way, I can almost bet you the X-H2 will do 8k. Which means at least a sensor around 38MP. Fujifilm has to do 8k video if they want to stay relevant with Japan broadcast moving to 8k this year, and with the Olympics delayed, they have an opportunity to deliver a camera that is 8k broadcast Olympic ready if they hustle.
So I bet you, the X-H2 will be ready for the Olympics so long as Covid-19 doesn’t gain function and destroy human civilization before then.