Will Fujifilm Update Its X-E Rangefinder-Style Camera Line With X-E4 in First Quarter, 2021?

The answer would appear to be yes, if Fuji Rumors’ ever-dependable sources prove correct in stating that an X-E4 announcement will be coming sometime in January to March 2021. 

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Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/1.4 R OIS WR on Fujifilm X-T4. This new version gains an aperture ring and weather resistance though optics remain the same. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

That announcement may well be coupled with one for the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R Mark II 40mm equivalent prime lens with an aperture ring that was missing from the current XF 27mm f/2.8, potentially making Mark II more suitable for video production.

With ongoing improvements in its cameras’ video support, Fujifilm needs to produce new lenses and updated older ones so they better support video production, and aperture rings are one of those much-needed video capabilities.

It remains to be seen whether the new XF 27mm f/2.8 will be a pancake design like its predecessor, a Fujicron-style lens like the XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR, 23mm f/2.0 R WR, 35mm f/2.0 R WR and 50mm f/2.0 R WR primes or a Fujilux-style lens like the coming XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR and its older siblings the 14mm f/2.8 R and 16mm f/1.4 R WR.

I was fortunate enough to be loaned a Fujifilm X-E3 along with three Fujicron lenses by Fujifilm Australia in March 2018, and it was an excellent introduction into the brand’s digital rangefinder-style cameras, as opposed to its digital rangefinder cameras in the X-Pro series.

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The legendary Contax AX 35mm analog film single lens reflex camera of 1996, made by Kyocera.

Both styles of cameras appear to be less popular amongst most Western Fujifilm camera buyers than the company’s DSLR-style X-mount mirrorless cameras in the X-T and X-H series with their Contax SLR-like form factors and the lingering influence of the heavy marketing during the 1980s and 1990s of SLR analog cameras as the standard for enthusiasts looking to upgrade from rangefinder compact cameras.

Being a bucker of trends by nature, I used mostly rangefinder cameras for film formats from 35mm through to 4″x5″ though I retained a couple of reflex cameras for when the job demanded it.

My experience with the Fujifilm X-E3

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Fujifilm’s “Fujicron” fast, compact prime lens collection as of February 2019 comprising the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR, Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR, Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR and Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR lenses. Images courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

I had briefly picked up an X-E3 at a Fujifilm Australia People With Cameras event several months before and had questions about the camera’s electronic viewfinder aka EVF, its round-corner styling, slightly slippery black body covering and reduced size compared to its X-E1, X-E2 and X-E2S predecessors.

When the kind offer to borrow one came along I accepted immediately and the three “Fujicron” lenses were a surprise bonus.

I had used a Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR to make the photographs in A Walk Around Chatswood in Sydney on November 5, 2016 and the XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR during my tryout of the X-Pro2 that resulted in investing in my own along with an XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

The 50mm “Fujicron” had fascinated me since its announcement so I appreciate being able to give it a good tryout in the field and compare its performance against the older, slower-to-use XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

While the 56mm has its virtues as a portrait lens, it can be challenging for fast-moving documentary photography whether used in autofocus or manual focusing modes.

I tend to gravitate to wide-angles for documentary work but good storytelling benefits from narrower lenses when close-up details can counterpoint  the broad sweep of wider scenes.

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Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 WR R “Fujicron” prime lens, equivalent to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

The 50mm’s autofocus works quickly and reliably, though I used it more in manual mode with back button focus as I was unfamiliar with the lens’ depth of focus at various apertures and wanted at least one plane of focus dead sharp.

Even wide open at f/2.0 or stopped down a little, the 50mm f/2.0 R WR rendered the main figures in the image impressively sharply and the background subjects with just enough detail to provide context via similarities and differences from the prime subject.

I prefer primes to zoom lenses though I have several zooms in another camera system when needing close-ups and long shots.

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Fujifilm X-E3. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Mixing and matching shots made with different camera systems can be challenging given my preferred raw processing software, DxO PhotoLab and its plug-ins DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, does not support Fujifilm’s X-Trans raw files so I have been looking for more Fujifilm lenses and adapted lenses to add to my kit to enable processing all my files from any project in the one raw processor.

Years of relying on rangefinder cameras in fast-moving situations where I often needed to be next-to invisible trained me into visualizing a frame around my subject, stepping up to the best vantage point, raising the camera to confirm the accuracy of my framing then during the shutter, all in a matter of micro-seconds.

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Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand Grip, highly recommended for secure grip of the Fujifilm X-E3 camera. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Little to no lingering over the scene through my viewfinder before making a decision much less an exposure, even when making portraits.

Those rapid-fire skills came in handy with the X-E3 as I found its small, 90%-coverage electronic viewfinder aka EVF more challenging than I would have liked.

I dislike cropping, preferring tight image design unless shooting for a layout, and it helps to see everything the sensor records.

Another challenge came in holding the X-E3 securely and tightly due to its slick-feeling black body covering, rounded corners and minimalist built-in handgrip.

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Fujifilm X-E1, X-E2 and X-E3. Image courtesy of Compact Camera Meter.

The X-E series’ cameras have shrunk over the years but surely it could afford to grow a little back towards the size of its predecessors if needed.

I always like to have two cameras of any system I own in case one goes down on the job or more likely when I need to use it in my customary two-camera, two-lenses mode.

Both cameras don’t need to be the same model but to work in similar ways, and so after investing in my X-Pro2, I wondered whether the X-E series might present a suitable companion camera.

In-shop tryouts of the X-E2 and X-E2S revealed problems with their EVFs so I would love to see that feature improve in the X-E4 as well as other features listed below.

Shot with Fujifilm X-E3 and Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR

The full photo gallery of images mostly shot with the X-E3 and XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR with some made with two other “Fujicron” lenses is available at Walking Around Sydney CBD During Several Days in March, 2018.

What do I want to see in the Fujifilm X-E4?

  • In-body image stabilisation (IBIS).
  • Closer to 100% EVF coverage rather than 90+%.
  • Deeper rubber eyecup for easier shooting in brilliant sunlight.
  • Better built-in grip.
  • Optional metal hand grip.
  • Weather resistance (WR).
  • X100V-style tilt-screen.
  • Metal rather than plastic body.
  • Less shiny body covering.

Most likely the X-E4 will have a subset of those but we can live in hope!

In conclusion…

Despite the Fujifilm X-E3 lacking those features above, I thoroughly enjoyed using it over the course of several days in the city, and the three Fujicron lenses suited it well.

Camera and lenses fit my smallest Think Tank Photo camera bag perfectly and I barely noticed their combined weight despite having ongoing problems while wearing shoulder bags of all sizes and weights.

That ease of carrying ensured I got into the zone quickly each day and that visual and psychological high lasted for hours each time, resulting in the large set of images published in this site’s Photo Galleries page.

The Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR was particularly pleasurable to use and I could easily have used it only had I not wanted to give the X-E3 a thorough tryout in a range of circumstances.

If I had to reduce that kit of three lenses down to just two for typical outdoor documentary projects, I would make it the 50mm f/2.0 along with the 18mm f/2.0 R but I am looking forward to seeing what Fujifilm comes up with when it reveals the XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR next year which, if it follows the Fujilux design style, may well be a great option for video as well as stills.

I would have loved it, though, if the current 18mm f/2.0 lens were to be updated in the Fujicron design style, making it eminently suitable for use on Fujifilm’s smaller as well as digital rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras with the coming 18mm f/1.4 better suited to the larger X-T and X-H DSLR-style camera bodies with or without vertical battery grips.

Links

Will Fujifilm Release Its Long-Awaited X-E3 Rangefinder-Style EVF Camera Later in 2017?

Rumour site Fuji Rumors is one of the more interesting sites of its type on the Web alongside sister rumour sites 4/3 Rumors, SonyAlpha Rumors, Canon Watch and Mirrorless Rumors. Of the five, I read 4/3 Rumors and Fuji Rumors the most, on a daily basis, and a recent scan of the latter reminded me of how much both mirrorless camera systems I use have in common. 

The article that got me thinking is a rumour about Fujifilm’s X-E3 being announced if not released later in 2017. 

Fuji Rumors recently published an article about the APS-C rangefinder-style EVF camera the Fujifilm X-E3 being announced later in 2017.

Fujifilm’s X-En – with n standing for a number – rangefinder-style camera series is not one that I have seriously considered until recently. I have yet to look at one in a camera store much less try one out with the prime reason being the X-E2 and X-E2S’ sensors remaining at 16.3 million pixels when the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are at 24.3 million pixels.

Although pixel counts as such can be overrated, as the previous decade’s pixel wars proved, the 50% pixel jump from 16MP to 24MP comes in handy when producing images for gallery shows, an indulgence in which I engaged during the analog era and may well revive in digital form sometime soon.

Anything over 20 million pixels

Anything over 20 million pixels is a serious moderately large exhibition print contender in my book and now the GFX 50S and its successors have really captured the mega-high millions pixel end of the market.

Then there is the X-En series’ current lack of a joystick, a feature essential to speedy use of contemporary digital cameras that Panasonic has now adopted for the GH5 and no doubt all its future high-end cameras. The X-Pro2 and X-T2’s joysticks have been a joy to use.

I can’t speak about other possible issues with the X-E2s and X-E2 due to my inexperience with both but the X-En series possesses some clear advantages, most especially its rangefinder-style form factor ensuring easy sighting through its viewfinder with the right eye while keeping the left eye open to observe the wider scene ready for the moment approaching objects, or people, are about to hit their marks.

In this the Fujifilm X-E2S matches the Panasonic Lumix GX8 with its similarly rangefinder-style design, a camera I bought as a more affordable backup for my GH4 than a second GH4, primarily for shooting video.

I quickly discovered that the GX8 is also a terrific stills photography camera with its 20MP sensor, exposure zebras and most especially its brilliant tilting EVF.

Panasonic’s rangefinder-style Micro Four Thirds stills and video camera the Lumix GX8 is one of my favourite cameras for both uses and is unique amongst digital cameras for its tilting EVF.

Zebras, PLEASE!

Every camera, including those made by Fujifilm whether for shooting stills, video or both, must be equipped with zebras for achieving perfect exposure under the ETTR – expose to the right – principle amply explained by Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming at his Leeming LUT One website.

Quite why Fujifilm has not added accurate ETTR capability to its X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagship cameras via exposure zebras remains beyond comprehension.

Zebras-based ETTR on my Panasonic Lumix cameras continues to get me out of sticky stills and video lighting situations where high values burn-out is a very real risk.

I quickly grew to love my Lumix GX8 and when I add a GH5 to my Super 16 documentary moviemaking kit, the GX8 will double as a third 4K camera for three-camera interview set-ups while remaining one of my prime Micro Four Thirds stills cameras.

Panasonic’s MFT cameras should not be underestimated as small, portable, responsive documentary and photojournalism cameras. For me, they are our digital equivalent to analog’s small 35mm hand cameras while delivering image quality equivalent to or surpassing the 120 format in its 6×4.5cm frame size.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagships are, in my estimation, our digital answer to 120 format in the 6x9cm frame size with the GFX 50S matching or surpassing 4″x5″ fine grain sheet film in its image quality.

X-E3, the natural stills companion camera for the X-Pro2?

When production of Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success is well underway I will be in need of a second APS-C documentary stills camera and it will, of course be made by Fujifilm. But which one?

The X-T2 is an excellent EVF companion for the X-Pro2, but both remain without exposure zebras even after the latest firmware updates. While the Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder-equipped rangefinder-style X-Pro2 is unique and has a permanent place in my heart due to that, the X-T2 is something of a curate’s egg, mostly very good but a little annoying too, promising but the risk it may not fully deliver on that promise, as outlined by Paul Leeming in his letter to Fujifilm.

Will the rumoured coming Fujifilm X-Tn “super camera” be the DSLR-style Super 35 video/stills technical camera hybrid I would have loved the X-T2 to be? Might the X-E3 be a more affordable wider and longer prime and zoom lens companion for the X-Pro2 which works best with prime lenses in the 18mm to 56mm focal length range?

If Fujifilm grants it some essential professional features then it may well be. At time of writing, the black Fujifilm X-E2S is priced at around AUD739.00/USD699.00 and the black Fujifilm X-T2 at around AUD2199.00/USD1599.00.

An X-E3 with a feature set attractive to professionals and priced in similar ratio to the X-T2 would make it extremely tempting as a back-up or companion rangefinder-style EVF camera.

My Fujifilm X-E3 features wishlist

  • AFC-C custom setting presets – same as the X-Pro2.
  • Hand grip – an essential for all Fujifilm cameras in my experience, and a mystery as to why Fujifilm has not produced one for the X100F.
  • Dials and buttons – situated wholly on the right for consistency with the X-Pro2.
  • ISO/shutter speed dial.
  • Joystick – a must for all future cameras of any brand.
  • Rangefinder style – a given, especially as my default camera design preference is exactly that and not DSLR style. If DSLR-style then such cameras must have fully-articulated monitors while a rangefinder-style camera can do without, though I do like the GX8’s fully articulated rangefinder for video.
  • X-Trans 24.3MP sensor – essential in order to match the X-Pro2’s image quality.
  • Same viewfinder options as the X-T2 – dual, full, normal and vertical, with dual my favourite of them all.
  • Small and light – compared to the X-Pro2, just like the GX8 in relation to the GH4.

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Image Credits

Header image created in Macphun Luminar and Affinity Photo using a Fujifilm press photograph while the two in-body photographs were created in Luminar.

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Fujifilm: Fujifilm sets its highest record with 14 products recognized in the internationally prestigious “iF Design Award” in recognition of their product design and performance in diverse fields

https://www.fujifilm.eu/uk/news/article/fujifilm-sets-its-highest-record-with-14-products-recognized-in-the-internationally-prestigious-if-design-award-in-recognition-of-their-product-design-and-performance-in-diverse-fields

“FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded the “iF Design Award 2017” for 14 of its main products including the medium-format mirrorless digital camera “FUJIFILM GFX 50S” and “instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2”. The award is organized by the iF International Forum Design in Hanover, Germany, an international organization for design promotion.
Winning recognition for as many as 14 products is the highest record for Fujifilm.

The iF Design Award is an international design award launched in 1953. It is one of the world’s three most prestigious design awards, alongside Germany’s “Red Dot Design Award” and the United States’ “IDEA.” The Fujifilm products, awarded this time, range from consumer products including digital cameras, printer and cosmetics, to industrial products such as a cinema camera lens. They were recognized not only for their exterior design but also for their advanced product performance and ease of use….”

Fujifilm Interviewed On Being Serious About Video, Possible GFX-Series Rangefinder, User Feedback and More

Good in-depth interviews with camera company decision-makers, product designers and engineers are all too rare and very welcome when they appear, especially when from those companies with histories of listening to professional customers expressing their needs. Fujifilm has a reputation for being one such good listener. 

The Fujifilm GFX 50S sensor. Might Fujifilm consider a GFX 50R housing this same sensor in a rangefinder-style camera body? Intriguing thought as Fujifilm has a long, impressive history of producing excellent analog medium format rangefinder cameras.

Three senior Fujifilm camera division figures such as Yuji Igarashi, GM of the Electronic Imaging Division, Makoto Oishi, Manager of Sales and Marketing Group and Billy Luong, Manager for Technical Marketing and Product Specialist Group were  interviewed on new directions and past achievements by Amazon.com publication DPReview shortly before Fujifilm’s recent announcement of its latest cameras and lenses, most notably the Fujifilm GFX 50S, X100F, X-T20 and the XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR.

The interview was also a reminder that there are Fujfilm cameras I currently don’t have hands-on experience with and that are worth further thought and investigation, the X-En series and the X-Tn0 series, n standing for product version number thus the recently announced X-T20, successor to the X-T10.

Fujifilm GFX 50S and its successors

fujifilm_gfx_50s_image05_square_1920pxFor whom is the GFX 50S medium format digital camera intended?

‘Fashion, commercial and landscape photographers are the main targets,’ says Oishi. …

‘The tonality and dynamic range also mean it’ll appeal to wedding photographers,’ adds Luong. ‘And architecture,’ says Oishi.

The GFX 50S’ 50MP sensor will also prove useful for fine art and portrait photographers many of whom produce large-format prints for exhibition and for clients. For example, British photographer Brian Griffin shows his fine art portrait medium format photographs as large full-colour prints to great effect.

Architectural photography was traditionally made with 4″x5″ sheet film cameras during the analog era using camera movements for perspective correction.

Tilt/shift lenses for 35mm DSLRs are expensive and similar lenses in medium format would be even more costly, so perspective correction is more often done in software using products like DxO ViewPoint or similar features built into raw processors and image editors.

Fujifilm has taken a different direction by providing adapters so GFX series cameras can be used as sensors attached to the rear of view cameras.

Fujifilm X100F and the X100 Series

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What place does Fujfilm have for the X100 series now represented by the X100F?

‘… the X100 is often photographers’ first foray into the Fujifilm system. The size, the weight, the image quality. A good proportion of our customers are saying the X100 brought back their passion for photography. That type of person is very much part of the equation,’ says Luong.

The Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a revolutionary camera bringing a precision digital rangefinder within reach of the masses. It was the digital stills camera I had been waiting for after finding DSLRs just as irritating for their mirror slap, shutter shake and lack of deep space window vision as analog SLRs had been.

I was immediately sold on Fujifilm digital cameras but they lost me temporarily when the X-Pro1 proved to be something of a promising dud, especially for spectacle-wearers and those of use needing high-speed focussing in fast-moving situations.

The X-Pro2 and X-T2 are a welcome return to cameras with traits reminiscent of Fujifilm’s analog glory days under the Fujica brand name, especially its big range of 120 roll film rangefinder masterpieces and the incredible GX680 series of technical studio cameras that combined medium format SLR technology with sheet film cameras’ tilt, swing and shift movements.

Might a medium format rangefinder camera be in the works?

‘It depends on demand and the market. The GFX 50S is one style: the ‘S’ means ‘SLR-style.’ Another way to do it would be a rangefinder style camera. Maybe an ‘R’ could be a rangefinder,’ says Oishi.

Then there is the possibility of a medium format digital rangefinder camera evolving from Fujifilm’s own many fixed lens medium format roll film cameras produced in formats from 6×4.5cm through 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm.

‘If mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is too big as a rangefinder style, a fixed lens camera could be smaller, like the GF670.’

Fujfilm X-T20 and the X-Tn0 Series

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Fujifilm’s smaller, more affordable spin-off DSLR-style camera series currently represented by the X-T20 is one with which I am entirely unfamiliar yet bears serious consideration as a second or backup camera to the flagship X-Tn series currently represented by the X-T2.

Luong explains: ‘The SLR style targets a wider audience. We find pro and enthusiast photographers gravitate towards the SLR-style camera. Back to the GFX camera, that’s why we went with the SLR style.’

Fujifilm X-E2S and the X-En Series

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Like the X-Tn0 series cameras, I have to try out the latest representative of the X-En series, the X-E2S. Now that the X-T20 has gained X-Pro2 and X-T2 traits like the 24.3MP X-Trans sensor and speedier autofocus, I can see why X-En series enthusiasts have been agitating for similarly updated features and functionalities.

Given a choice between the DSLR-style of the X-T20 and the non-OVF rangefinder-style of the X-E2S, I would tend towards the latter. Although I prefer optical viewfinder cameras for certain tasks, electronic viewfinder cameras (EVF) have many virtues and bring a different way of seeing and depicting into play.

Luckily, ‘XE is an important series for us,’ Oishi says: ‘There are so many XE1, 2 and 2S users in the world…. Obviously we can’t confirm anything at this point but we are aware there are many requests for this type of camera.’

Video

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Although Fujifilm’s two current flagship cameras have considerably improved video capabilities compared to their predecessors, there is still some way to go with the firmware in both.

In his letter to Fujifilm, published here as How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming, the Australian director/cinematographer responsible for Leeming LUT One as well as a number of feature films shot on RED Super 35 and Panasonic Lumix GH4 Super 16 cameras lays out a range of firmware and hardware improvements that would help Fujifilm “blow the industry wide open”.

As a GH4 owner myself, I can attest that this and related Lumix cameras like the GX8 and GX80/85 possess a videocentric feature list and ease-of-use that have yet to be beaten by any other current hybrid camera including the Fujifilm X-T2.

‘Video is a big growth area for us,’ acknowledges Luong: ‘Our latest cameras such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2 show there’s a lot we’ve learned.’

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Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4 remains the benchmark of usability in 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras. Will Fujifilm match its video feature set with the current or future X-Tn Super 35/APS-C hybrid camera? Moviemaker Brad Latta with GH4 and Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens. 

Excellent news, but as evidenced by Mr Leeming’s letter about the X-T2 and my own asking Fujifilm to improve the X-Pro2’s video firmware features at How to Make the X-Pro2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Request to Fujifilm by Karin Gottschalk, there is more for Fujifilm to learn and put into practice.

Paul Leeming and I both want to see Fujifilm bring its current and future flagship cameras’ video capabilities up to par or surpass those of the GH4 and the soon-to-be-released GH5 is that we will have excellent Super 35 alternatives to Panasonic’s Super 16 cameras.

Then there is the question of more video-capable Fujinon lenses, both primes and zooms.

‘We already have cinema lenses that are Super 35,’ Luong reminds us. ‘We’re continuing to develop video features, so we’ll continue to investigate.’

Listening to Customer Feedback

While there does not appear to be a direct channel into Fujifilm for user feedback, Fujifilm staff members are known to read certain online publications, and articles published here are passed on up the system hopefully to end up in front of Fujifilm staffers like Messers Yuji Igarashi, Makoto Oishi and Billy Luong.

‘Our X Photographers: professionals who use the camera day in, day out, that’s the first line of feedback,’ says Luong: ‘It’s quite a large group. With the GFX we had something like 50 photographers around the world using pre-production cameras.’

That figure of 5o GFX 50S pre-production camera users is impressive. I hope that Fujifilm will seek feedback like Mr Leeming’s from plenty of well-qualified video professionals and improve the firmware in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 as soon as possible while planning major video-centred hardware and firmware improvements in the X-T2’s and X-Pro2’s successors.

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs kindly supplied by Fujifilm.

Tech Notes:

Product photographs in the body of this article have been processed in Macphun Luminar using the Majestic Dreams preset from the premium Photo Essentials Pack. Portrait of Brad Latta made as 3-bracket HDR on Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 56mm f/1.2 lens then processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 and Luminar.