As I settle into the new Fujifilm X-T5 as my daily shooter, I’ve figured out the foremost advantage of having a 40MP sensor: cropping. I know many photographers only think about cropping as in ‘cropping into a photo’ while maintaining the same aspect ratio. Every video or article I’ve come across typically illustrates how you can crop one major focal length into the next one, like an 18mm image at 40MP into a 24mm image at 26MP. When the resolution difference is compared in this manner, the increase in megapixels doesn’t appear to be much of an advantage, does it? For myself, I rarely crop my images as a way to change my field of view. I enjoy the ‘width’ of my preferred 18mm focal length on my X Series lenses (75º angle of view). I’ve talked about this in many previous articles, but I use a variety of aspect ratios in my photography as a creative tool and the X-T5’s 40MP is a very useful feature to help me achieve this.
My problem with modern digital photography is that the sensor is a fixed size and dimension. In the old film days, one film type could be used for a variety of aspect ratios. The 120/220 medium format film would allow for 6×6, 6×4.5, 6×7, 6×8, 6×9, 6×10 and the infamous 6×17 photographs from the same film type. I don’t mind the current 3:2 aspect ratio sensors but I think digital photography should progress towards more cinematic aspect ratio sensors like 16:9, 2:1, 21:9 or wider. The previous TV format standard was a boxy 4:3 ratio until the early 2000s when it changed to a much wider 16:9 aspect ratio. For the most part, the digital sensor is still stuck at 3:2 and 4:3. For now, the only way we can do this optically is by using anamorphic lenses, which I’ve illustrated in a few articles here on Fujilove. As an example, by using the Sirui 24mm 1.33X Anamorphic lens with the Fujifilm X-T5, I can get an 18mm field of view image and de-squeeze to a 2:1 aspect ratio (10,278 x 5152px) 53MP photograph. This is a very cool workaround invented back in the film era to make movies wider as the vertical moving film had a fixed width and can still be used today to make digital sensors virtually wider as illustrated below.
However, there is another way we can create the illusion of a wider image by cropping it into a wider aspect ratio. This is the same way most digital cameras capture 16:9 aspect ratio videos, even though the sensor is actually 3:2 or 4:3 (most smartphones are 4:3). You lose resolution at the top and bottom of the sensor but 4K is measured in horizontal pixels and not vertical, so its no big loss when it comes to video cropping. However, for stills photography, cropping a 4:3 or 3:2 image to 16:9 or wider can be a huge loss of total megapixels. As an example, if you crop a 26MP (6240 x 4160px) 3:2 image to 16:9 (6240 x 3510px) image, you get a 22MP image. However, if you crop a 40MP (7728 x 5152px) 3:2 image to 16:9 (7728 x 4347px) image, you get a 33.6MP image. Below is a list of popular aspect ratios and the effective megapixels using the Fujifilm X-T5:
- 3:2 (7728 x 5152mp) = 40MP
- 16:9 (7728 x 4347px) = 34MP
- 21:9 (7728 x 3312px) = 26MP
- 65:24 (7728 x 2853px) = 22MP
- 2:3 (5152 x 3435px) = 18MP
For myself, I find the 16:9 aspect ratio the most natural to my eyes. After 20 years of viewing television and online videos in this aspect ratio, I tend to naturally want to frame, capture and crop to this aspect ratio, especially when I’m shooting with wider lenses. The wider the lens, the more unwanted sky and foreground creep into the photo. With the X-T5, my 16:9 cropped images are still 34MP (7728 x 4347px) versus 22MP on the X-T4. If I want to crop to the X-Pan/ TX-1’s double wide 35mm frame of 65:24 aspect ratio, I’m still getting a respectable 22MP image (7728 x 2853px). I hope Fujifilm considers adding the 65:24 JPEG option on the X-T5, X-H2 and any other 40MP camera moving forward for the X Series. Although my ultimate wish is that Fujifilm makes a 50MP double wide APS-C sensor camera (48mm x 16mm), for now, I will happily crop my 40MP images from the X-T5 to my favourite cinematic aspect ratios. In an upcoming article, I will compare the 40MP 3:2 aspect ratio images from the X-T5 and X-H2 vs the 50MP 4:3 aspect ratio images from the GFX series of cameras. Stay tuned. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!