Firmware Update: X-H1 Firmware update, Version: 2.11

If you are wondering what might have happened to Fujifilm’s famous kaizen firmware updates for its now discontinued X-H1 flagship camera, wonder no more. 

As stated by Fujifilm, this may be a minor bug fix but the X-H1 was built around a previous generation sensor and processor combination and the company may well have squeezed every last drop of updatability out of it by now. 

Detail of the firmware update

Ver.2.11

The firmware update Ver.2.11 from Ver.2.10 incorporates the following issue:

Fix of a minor bug during shooting

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 200mm f/2 OIS WR telephoto lens and Fujifilm Fujinon XF 1.4x TC F2 WR Teleconverter on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip.

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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.

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Philip Bloom: Can you TRUST the FUJI X-T4 video AUTOFOCUS? – Commentary

“This isn’t a review of the excellent Fujifilm X-T4 but a detailed look at whether the improved autofocus abilities over the X-T3 get close to the superb AF of the Sony and Canon mirrorless cameras.”

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Fujifilm X-T4 with Fujifilm VG-XT4 Vertical Battery grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens. The battery grip is essential if you need a headphone port for monitoring audio while shooting. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Commentary

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The “best camera ever made” according to Philip Bloom. ALPA XO Exoskeleton aka cage for Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera with ALPA Switar 140mm cinema prime lens. Image courtesy of ALPA.

I came across this video by Philip Bloom while researching recently-released Super 35 video-capable cameras.

Autofocus capabilities of current affordable Super 35 hybrid cameras are a constant subject of discussion online, with different manufacturers achieving various degrees of success with it.

Theoretically all makers of such cameras should be able to achieve near-parity in autofocusing given time and R&D dollars, but there is a question of when and whether all current makers will stay in business until they do.

Having grown up as a photographer and videographer during the analog era before autofocusing cameras and lenses even existed, I have always seen autofocus as something of a luxury and fall back on manual focus and back-button focusing anyway.

Philip Bloom has an obsession with autofocus in video and speaks about it well and in detail.

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More substantial grip and better hardware design. Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Meanwhile I believe it is a good idea to keep an eye on developments in affordable manual-focus Super 35 prime and zoom lenses that are native to Fujifilm X-mount or that can be adapted.

Keep an eye also on the coming Fujifilm X-H2 professional hybrid camera, successor to the under-rated X-H1, though its arrival may be some time off.

I found the X-H1 much easier to use handheld all day long than the X-T3 and its more hand-friendly design ranks alongside the X-Pro2 for ease of use and of carrying.

As for autofocus on Fujifilm cameras, perhaps the X-H2 may see it come to fruition and match if not beat that in Sony and Canon’s mirrorless cameras, along with new and redesigned Fujinon prime and zoom lenses made for video as much as stills photography.

We can only live in hope.

A “phenomenal” manual focus lens and adapter combo for Fujifilm video

Links

Firmware Update: Free firmware update for FUJINON XF50mmF1.0 R WR Lens

https://fujifilm-x.com/global/global-news/2020/0917_3724073/

“September 17, 2020
FUJIFILM Corporation

To our customers:

FUJIFILM Corporation is due to release a free firmware update for FUJINON XF50mmF1.0 R WR on September 17, 2020.

This latest update enhances the lens’ AF speed and enables Color Shading Correction to mitigate subtle color casts when images are made at the lens’ maximum F1.0 aperture. Please note that the lens must be connected to a supported X Series camera body for the firmware enhancements to take effect.

Links

Imaging Resource: Fujifilm Q&A: COVID impact, GFX strategy, shrinking IBIS, secrets of a 300,000-cycle shutter and more

https://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2020/09/04/fujifilm-interview-covid-gfx-strategy-shrinking-ibis-300K-cycle-shutter

“… Shin Udono: We continue to investigate future X-H cameras. The X-T4 is not a replacement for X-H1, so we keep our minds open about future X-H models.

Dave Etchells: Ah, OK. So you can’t say specifically, but it’s not your intent for the X-T4 to replace the X-H1. You see a separate market.

Shin Udono: But we will clearly differentiate from the X-T line.

Dave Etchells: So what is that differentiation? What separates X-T and X-H?

Shin Udono: Difficult to say now; we need some sort of the breakthrough, probably.

Jun Watanabe: But actually, after we announced X-T4, studios received a lot of customer’s requests that they want that H1 style.

Shin Udono: Bigger grip, and also…

Toshi Iida: …the command dial control.

Shin Udono: But just having the bigger grip with the X-T4 is not enough for the X-H2. I think that if future X-H models come to reality, we have to have something more revolutionary….”

Fujifilm X-H1 and X-T4

Commentary

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Fujifilm needs one of these for its cameras. Panasonic DMW-XLR1 Microphone Adapter for Panasonic Lumix G and S-Series cameras. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

Good to read that Fujifilm continues to work on the X-H2 professional APS-C/Super 35 hybrid camera and that the company is looking for further differentiation between it and the X-T4.

Here is what I want to see in the X-H2 at the very least, and there is plenty more on my wishlist:

  • Larger grip than the X-H1.
  • Command control dial for extra speed in applying exposure compensation.
  • XLR audio input device such as Panasonic and Sony make for their cameras.
  • Video features that match if not surpass those of Panasonic’s Lumix S and GH cameras, and especially no recording limits.
  • Fully-articulated monitor taking a lesson from the one on Panasonic’s Lumix DC-S1H.

Here is what I want to see in the X-Pro 4:

  • In-body image stabilization aka IBIS so the camera is more suitable for shooting in all sorts of light and especially available darkness.
  • Bright frame for 18mm in the optical viewfinder aka OVF.

Here is what I want to see in lenses for Fujifilm’s X-Series:

  • An upgraded 18mm lens, at least in a ‘Fujicron’ design for documentary and photojournalism work with X-Pro cameras but better yet a ‘Fujilux’ design with manual clutch focus and larger filter diameter as in the Fujinon XF 14mm, 16mm and 23mm lenses.
  • A 70mm lens for portraiture, in effect the Fujinon answer to Nikon’s justifiably legendary 105mm lenses.
  • Prime and zoom lenses better suited for video with radically improved autofocus and manual clutch focus: right now there are only three MCF primes and very few lenses that perform acceptably for video production, shocking given Fujifilm’s reputation for fine-quality cinema and broadcast lenses for other mounts.
  • A fast aperture, superwide-to-standard zoom lens for video production that learns lessons from Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom, Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens and the recently announced Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 8-25mm f/4.0 Pro.
  • A serious commitment to upgrading all the older Fujinon prime and zoom lenses to meet contemporary stills and video needs: lenses remain their largest weak point.

Here is what I want to see in Fujifilm’s GFX-Series cameras:

  • An affordable medium format camera for portraiture, documentary and photojournalism, and architectural photography.

Links

Considering the Fujifilm X-H1 Camera with Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and 18mm f/2.0 R Lenses

When the folks at Fujifilm Australia’s PR consultancy asked if I wanted to borrow a Fujifilm X-H1 and some lenses I leapt at the chance to put this intriguing camera through its paces and to see how well Fujifilm’s first effort at XF camera in-body image stabilization aka IBIS and increased dedication to video production had turned out. 

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The Fujifilm X-H1 APS-C/Super 35 mirrorless digital camera and accessories. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.
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Big lenses need balancing with big rigs. Fujifilm Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR wideangle zoom lens on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

The loan also provided an opportunity to compare two of Fujifilm’s smaller wide-angle lenses, the Fujicron-style Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and the semi pancake-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

Since experiencing the many joys of using vertical battery grips on DSLR-style mirrorless cameras with Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4, DC-GH5 and DC-G9, I have been in the habit of always requesting vertical battery grips with loaner cameras that have them.

Unfortunately, a Fujifilm VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip wasn’t available so I used the camera ungripped and found, despite that preference for adding hand or battery grips to all Fujifilm cameras, the X-H1 acquits itself well without one when used with smaller lenses.

On the other hand, I suspect a gripped X-H1 with larger, heavier Fujinon lenses attached such as the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR illustrated above would be easier to carry and operate all day long compared to the same lens on an X-T3 or X-T4, gripped or not.

It is, simply, a matter of balance.

Fujifilm X-H1, Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and XF 18mm f/2.0 R

By the time the loan opportunity arose, there were rumours the Fujifilm X-H1 was about to be listed as discontinued and that soon occurred with heavily discounted camera, vertical battery grip plus lens packages appearing in foreign camera retailer websites shortly followed by similar deals in Australia.

Now the X-H1 and its camera-specific accessories are no longer available on the retail websites that I checked this morning, and I am in two minds about that.

If I were offered longterm loan of an X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip, I most certainly would not say “no”!

Fujifilm X-H1

Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.

The X-H1 is an innovative camera but its release suffered from unfortunate timing, falling as it did between the X-T2 and the X-T3 and thus having the same sensor as the Fujifilm X-T2, the X-Trans CMOS III sensor as well as its own CPU, the X-Processor Pro.

At time of writing, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the X-T4 contain the latest generation sensor and processor, the X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4.

When I attended the Fujifilm X-Pro3 First Look Touch & Try Event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday November 6 last year, a staff member there was keen for me to share my experience of recent Fujifilm cameras with a female customer.

There are all too few female camera store staff members hereabouts and possibly not so many with my particular background so it is understandable male staffers might point her my way.

She ended up taking advantage of the end-of-production-run X-H1 special offer after I gave her the pros and cons of the X-H1 and X-T3, and I hope she is doing well with her purchase.

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The Fujifilm X-H1’s in-body image stabilization unit aka IBIS, the first iteration of it to appear in Fujifilm XF APS-C/Super 35 cameras. Has its design drawn from the larger IBIS unit of the Fujifilm GFX100? Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

She told me she already had a Fujifilm X-Pro2, loved it and relied on it for most of her work but there were occasions when she needed to photograph in low light and at night so was interested in the X-H1’s in-body image stabilization aka IBIS.

I related my experience with the camera’s IBIS and added that I could comfortably carry either the smaller X-Pro2 or the slightly larger X-H1 around in my hand all day long in a way that I found I could not with the X-T2’s and X-T3’s more minimalist and less sculpted body shapes.

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The Fujifilm X-H1’s “firm-hold design allowing the index finger to concentrate on shutter release actions”. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.
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I find that the exposure compensation dials on X-T and X-Pro cameras work faster than the X-H1’s alternative. Fujifilm X-T4 with Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

As above, Fujifilm describes the shutter release button and grip area of the X-H1 as a “firm-release design”, having the same configuration as other mirrorless and DSLR cameras which is more often described as a “trigger” or “pistol” grip by aficionados of the latter types of cameras.

My first digital camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, has the same configuration and, despite that camera’s bulk and weight with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L USM kit zoom lens attached, its “pistol grip” and soft-touch shutter release button made carrying and using it in the field on documentary projects easier than one might think.

It was, simply, a matter of balance. And then the kit zoom’s notoriously poor manufacturing quality control left me without a lens for it altogether until I adapted a couple of vintage manual focus M42-mount lenses via a Gobe M42 Lens Mount to Canon EF & EF-S Camera Mount adapter.

The X-H1’s shutter release button is more sensitive than that of previous cameras like the X-Pro2, X-T2 and the like, the increased sensitivity apparently being aimed at professional photographers needing minimal lag between hitting the button and making the image.

In practice I found this lag minimalization to be very effective for portraiture, photojournalism and urban documentary photography, ensuring a higher percentage of selects than usual, as well as reducing subtle camera shake at the start of clips when shooting video.

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The leaf spring switch of the Fujifilm X-H1’s feather-touch shutter button. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

Having now experienced both types of shutter release button, I much prefer the one on the X-H1 and hope to see it used in more Fujifilm cameras for its speed gains, boosted stability and lack of a threaded cable release hole that can attract dirt.

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Fujifilm X-T2 in black and graphite versions, with their prominent exposure compensation dials falling under the right hand’s thumb. Photograph by Jonas Rask, courtesy of Fujifilm.

In contrast, the lack of an exposure compensation dial on the X-H1 slowed down my shooting speed and efficiency somewhat compared to the ease and speed with which I can set exposure changes on X-Pro and X-T cameras.

Pros and cons where you gain speed in one aspect of the X-H1’s design yet lose speed in another.

The X-H1’s IBIS bestows two overlapping advantages, being able to shoot at shutter speeds slower than can usually be handheld, and having the confidence that one can resort to it if one must.

As anti-IBIS pundits are always keen to tell us, shooting moving objects while stabilized at shutter speeds too slow to handhold unstabilized will result in at least something being blurred through movement.

But the contrast between unblurred and blurred through movement can be a wonderful creative device to draw attention to the main and unmoving object in the picture.

Other advantages of the Fujifilm X-H1’s design and manufacture

Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.

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With the exception of the Fujifilm X-H1, all Fujifilm cameras need hand grips or vertical battery grips. Fujifilm Finepix X100 with hand grip. Photograph by Karin Gottschalk.

Four more features of the Fujifilm X-H1’s design stand out: the black 8H coating making it more scratch resistant than its predecessors, its magnesium body that is thicker than its predecessors and its stronger lens mount that takes the strain off the body when mounting large, weighty lenses such as the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR, XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR Lens with XF 1.4x TC F2 WR.

Although I have yet to experience any of them, I suspect that the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR and XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR professional red badge zoom lenses would also benefit from the X-H1’s strengthened lens mount as well as its stronger body and better balance achieved by attaching the VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip.

I have focused here on the X-H1’s design and manufacturing qualities because the DSLR style is not my first choice when it comes to cameras for documentary photography and yet many aspects of the X-H1’s body design work for me in a way I have not experienced with Fujifilm’s X-T series cameras.

I have used the X-H1 alongside my X-Pro2 on day-long documentary projects and not once have my hands been fatigued in the way I have experienced with the Fujifilm X-T1, X-T2 and X-T3 cameras whether equipped with vertical battery grips or not.

Fujifilm has got the design of the X-H1 body closer to perfect for me, at least, than that of the X-T series.

Fujifilm, please seek inspiration from Olympus for lens design

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Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric zoom lens. Photograph courtesy of Panasonic.

Which is not to say that Fujifilm does not have some way to go with its X-H, X-T and X-Pro series cameras.

The Fujifilm x100 camera radically improved digital photography for me but its poor video quality and that of subsequent cameras meant I had to look elsewhere for a while  and I settled (solely) on Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras for their great stills and video quality and (mostly) Olympus’ M. Zuiko Pro lenses for their manual clutch focus and excellent optical and mechanical qualities.

https://creativityinnovationsuccess.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric zoom lens. Photograph courtesy of Panasonic.

As good as they already are, the M.Zuiko Pro professional lenses for video and stills would be even better with the addition of an aperture ring that can be used clicked or declicked at the flick of a switch.

I chose the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro over the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Aspheric Power OIS kit zoom lens due to the former’s manual clutch focus mechanism, its all-black metal barrel and smoothly operating zoom and focus rings and its slightly longer focal range, forgoing the optical image stabilization of Panasonic’s standard zoom alternative.

The Lumix zoom’s OIS would have been useful for the IBIS-less Lumix DMC-GH4, but optical quality and excellent manual focusing comes first in my opinion.

Nowadays, I probably would have chosen the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro as my first Micro Four Thirds zoom lens for the non-IBIS cameras in my collection, or the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-45mm f/4.0 Pro plus the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro for my available darkness work with IBIS-equipped cameras.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical. Photograph courtesy of Olympus.

When Fujifilm released the X-Pro2 and I discovered I could use it due to its built-in diopter correction, I looked for the closest to my ideal lens design amongst then-current Fujinon lenses: manual clutch focus, all-black metal body and aperture ring.

I was hoping to find three lenses to cover my most immediate documentary stills and video needs, but compromises and cost narrowed my choice down to two, and I ended up with a Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

The first lens is manual clutch focusing and the second is focus-by-wire only.

My preferred extended focal length set for documentary work is:

  • 14mm = 21mm in 35mm
  • 18mm = 28mm in 35mm
  • 23mm = 35mm in 35mm
  • 27mm = 40mm in 35mm
  • 50mm = 75mm in 35mm
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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera that was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism. Photographs courtesy of Leica.
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Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art prime lens with L-mount. Fujifilm needs to make an APS-C equivalent to this lens for portrait photographers missing the 105mm-equivalent 70mm focal length. Photograph courtesy of Sigma.

My preferred focal length for portraiture is 70mm, equivalent to 105mm, but the closest XF prime lens is the longer and non-manual-clutch-focus XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, equivalent to 120mm in 35mm sensor format.

I prefer prime lenses but might have considered the red badge Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR had it been available at the time, though it is sadly not a manual clutch focus lens.

I would have added an XF 14mm f/2.8 R and an XF 23mm f/1.4 R  for available darkness work, making a set of three covering 14mm through to 82.5mm with two lenses having manual clutch focusing.

These three lenses have filter diameters of 58mm, 62mm and 77mm, allowing easy attachment of industry-standard 82mm circular neutral density filters via step-up rings.

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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. Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.

I understand some Fujifilm moviemakers use Fujicron-style lenses,  but

Fujicron lens filter diameters:

  • XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR = 49mm
  • XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR = 43mm
  • XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR = 43mm
  • XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR = 46mm

These lenses present a problem for moviemaking in that step-up rings for these smaller diameters are rare.

Stepping up to industry standard 82mm (or 77mm for that matter) neutral density filters demands stacking multiple step-up rings.

Knurled brass step-up rings are the best option, being stronger than aluminium and less prone to binding.

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Aurora Aperture PowerXND II VND: “The PowerXND-II 128 is a 1-7 stop variable ND filter while the PowerXND-II 2000 is a 5-11 stop variable ND filter. With both filters users can control light reduction from 1 to 11 stops, making them highly versatile tools for general photography and videography applications.” Photograph courtesy of Aurora Aperture, Inc.

Due to gaps in step-up ring sizing by all manufacturers, one ends up with a mixture of aluminium and brass, knurled and unknurled, mixing and matching brands and hoping for the best.

Brands I currently use include Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, Sensei and some no-name aluminium rings that came from who knows where, but I note that Polar Pro makes some great-looking knurled brass step-up rings as well as fixed and variable neutral density filters.

None of them supplies the full set of diameters needed to step the Fujicron lenses up to, say, 52mm, 58mm or 62mm.

Stepping up from 43mm to 82mm requires a stack of rings so one may be better investing in a set of smaller diameter fixed or variable NDs such as those made by Aurora Aperture, Inc. which lists 43mm, 46mm and 49mm diameter NDs as well as sizes down to 37mm and up to 105mm.

Then there is the question of attaching focus-pulling devices, gears and matte boxes.

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Matte boxes are also invaluable for video production. SmallRig Lightweight Matte Box (95mm, Clamp-on) VB2660, undergoing the co-design process at time of writing. Final design may vary. Photograph courtesy of SmallRig.

Fujicron lenses may be best suited for more casual video projects that demand discretion and that may be shot with the X-Pro3 or X-T4 as a B-camera.

A rumour is circulating that Fujifilm has finally taken onboard the reportedly constant barrage of requests for the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R to be updated but so far we don’t know whether that will take the form of the current lens’ semi-pancake design, that of the Fujicron lenses above or of the Fujilux manual clutch focus design of the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8, 16mm f/1.4 and 23mm f/1.4 lenses.

I vote for a Fujilux-style XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR as the best possible default documentary stills and video lens, though I suspect that an 18mm Fujicron may be appearing sometime soon instead.

Pity, but let’s see what comes down the turnpike soon.

Fujifilm, please seek inspiration from Panasonic for camera design

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The Panasonic Lumix S1H’s “tilt free-angle touchscreen LCD” is possibly the most versatile LCD monitor I have seen so far, one step beyond the fully-articulated LCD monitors of other S-Series as well as Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the G9, GH5, GH5S and GX8. Photograph courtesy of Panasonic.
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Flipping the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S’ fully-articulated LCD monitor and rotating it is crucial when shooting in tight spaces. Photograph courtesy of Panasonic.

Despite a torrent of comments against fully-articulated LCD monitors like the one in the coming Fujifilm X-T4 by pundits opining that photographers would refuse to buy any camera so equipped, I love and enjoy the LCDs on my Panasonic cameras for stills photography and video.

Two-way, three-way and fixed LCD monitors, not so much.

Panasonic has gone one step beyond its usual fully-articulated LCD monitor with the “tilt free-angle touchscreen LCD” on its DSLR-style camera best suited for feature documentary production, the Lumix DC-S1H.

I tried out Panasonic’s Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R 35mm sensor cameras at touch-and-try events and was pleasantly surprised at how easy to handle they were despite their much larger size and weight than their smaller siblings, Panasonic’s G-Series Micro Four Thirds cameras.

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS standard zoom lens. Photograph courtesy of Panasonic.

I have ruled out considering the Lumix S-Series cameras and lenses for now as they would be a huge investment for not enough gain in stills quality and not a lot in video quality as I would be shooting Super 35 rather than so-called “full frame” video with them.

On the other hand, I already have a foot in Fujifilm’s Super 35/APS-C camera system and would rather see Fujifilm lift its video game well beyond what it has gained in the X-H1 into the realm of Panasonic’s many moviemaking achievements.

The other thing I really like about Panasonic’s S-Series and DC-G9 body designs are their big, hefty and easy-to-hold “pistol grips”.

I prefer fully-articulated over fixed, two-way or three-way LCD monitors

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Smallrig LCD Screen Protector Sunhood 1972 on fully-articulated aka vari-angle LCD monitor screen of Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5. Photograph courtesy of SmallRig.

One of the many advantages of fully-articulated or vary-angle LCD screens is that they can be used with detachable sun hoods like those made by Smallrig for cameras and monitor/recorders, as above.

Try staring at an LCD in bright light when shooting stills or video then compare that to using a shaded LCD.

Hoods are invaluable when needing to forgo heavily-rigged cameras for video production but wanting to use the camera away from one’s eyeball on tripods, monopods or gimbals.

I hope that Smallrig will make a hood for the Fujifilm X-T4 if the Smallrig LCD Screen Protector Sunhood 1972 does not fit.

Accordingly I hope that the Fujifilm X-H1 will have some form of fully-articulating or vari-angle LCD monitor screen suitable for mounting a sun hood.

The Fujifilm X-H1 for Super 35 moviemaking

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Fujifilm’s Super APS-C camera system is one of the most affordable Super 35 platforms for professional moviemaking including feature-quality documentaries and narrative feature films. The two MKX cinema zoom lenses are amongst the most affordable of their kind, though Fujifilm needs to upgrade its prime lenses for serious video production. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

Panasonic must be doing something right given its Lumix DC-S1H is the first and only DSLR-style stills/video hybrid camera to be approved by Netflix.

Many hybrid shooters have apparently been investing in the camera and its rather large and pricey L-System zoom and prime lenses.

Did Netflix approve it for its Super 35 video or for the fact that it also shoots 35mm video?

Super 35 has been a standard format for high-end feature-quality moviemaking for many years now but can Fujifilm offer a high-end Super 35 alternative?

Even one that will tickle Netflix’s fancy?

(Further commentary coming soon.)

Fujifilm cameras, photojournalists and World Press Photo 2020

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Fujifilm GFX100 medium format digital camera with Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR prime lens. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

I first spotted a Fujifilm X-H1 in use by an expatriate Australian photojournalist, Jack Picone, alongside an X-T2 when shooting in available darkness, and events like World Press Photo show that more and more photojournalists are relying on Fujifilm cameras for their daily work.

Fujifilm first used former Leica aficionado National Geographic photographer David Alan Harvey to promote the X-Pro2 and he is now using the X-Pro3 in his magazine work.

I and others in the magazine and newspaper spheres have also relied on non-rangefinder-style cameras to supplement our rangefinder cameras over the years and it is interesting to note how many World Press Photo award-winners this year are Fujifilm users.

Yasuyoshi Chiba uses Fujifilm X-H1 and GFX100 in-body image stabilized cameras for his available light photojournalism work, testimony to the cameras’ capacity to handle challenging environments and poor available light.

Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R

What I want to see in the Fujifilm X-H2

(Commentary coming soon.)

Links

Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras, Darling Island Wharf, Sydney, September 7, 2019

I always try to attend Fujifilm’s annual People with Cameras in Sydney each year and was able to be there for much of this year’s event held at Doltone House on Darling Island Wharf in Pyrmont on Saturday the 7th September 2019. 

More female photographers seem to attend each year, a welcome trend given the low numbers of female photographers and moviemakers who manage to make it professionally in Australia in particular and globally in general. 

Those low numbers are not from want of talent but from systemic issues favouring male practitioners and thus the peculiarities of the male gaze and the male power structure, but I am hopeful that female representation in all aspects of photography and moviemaking will continue increasing to the point of parity, rapidly rather than slowly. 

Gentleman behind the Fujifilm Australia table, photographed with Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR telephoto zoom lens as raw file processed with Adobe Photoshop and Alien Skin Exposure X4 using a modified Polaroid Type 55 preset. I borrowed the lens to make this shot then returned it, but would love to try it out extensively before considering buying one.
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Attendee trying out Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format camera, photographed with Fujifilm X-T3 and Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR standard zoom lens.


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Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Red Badge professional zoom lens.

I carried a Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear BackLight 26L backpack containing my Fujifilm X-Pro2, a borrowed Fujifilm X-H1, a Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR and a Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens both of which were also borrowed, and my own Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lenses.

I managed to very briefly borrow a Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR and a pre-production model of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR standard zoom lens which is due for release later this year.

I ended up swapping between my 56mm lens and the borrowed 18mm lens for this event but wondered if I might have been better served by the 50-140mm zoom lens or the 50mm f/2.0 prime in conjunction with the 16mm lens or the reportedly excellent Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR.

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SLR Magic MicroPrime Cinema 18mm T2.8 Fujifilm X-Mount.

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  • FUJIFILM XF 16mm f/1.4 R WRB&H
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  • FUJIFILM XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR LensB&H
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  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
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zonefocus: How I Set Up My Fujifilm X-T2 for Zone Focusing, by Steve Dimitriadis

http://www.zonefocus.net/blog/2018/7/23/how-i-set-up-my-fujifilm-x-t2-for-zone-focusing

I have always set up my cameras to zone focus by simply going into manual focus mode, setting the focusing distance scale to my desired focusing distance and shooting away.  The problem with this approach is that it is difficult to keep the focusing distance consistent because more often than not I am accidentely bumping the focusing ring.  However using the settings I describe below I have been able to circumvent both of these issues and have a reliable zone focusing setup….”

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Fujifilm X-T2 Graphite with Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 R prime lens

Commentary

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Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-System cameras, the perfect medium-wide focal length for street photography given the effectiveness of zone focusing via setting hyperfocal distance with this lens. This lens is also wonderful for a two-camera, two-lens available light documentary set-up along with one of Leica’s 75mm lenses. For available darkness work, consider the Leica Summicron-M 28mm f/2.0 Aspheric or Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 Aspheric lens.

I made heavy use of zone focusing via setting hyperfocal distance during a years-long urban documentary project during the analog era when relying on a pair of Leica M-Series cameras and mostly 28mm and 35mm lenses.

Of the two my preference was the 28mm lens as its medium wide-angle focal length allowed me to be right in the middle of crowds and close-up to my human subjects while still revealing telling details of the environment in which they and I found ourselves.

Narrower or wider than 28mm or 35mm does not cut it for that approach, as I have proven to myself many times before and since, and ultra-wideangle lenses like the otherwise excellent Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR with their 21mm and 24mm equivalent focal lengths impose a so-called “lensey” look on the image the perspective distortion of which draws undue attention to the lens and not to the subject matter when using it up-close and in-deep in the street.

Setting one of two hyperfocal distances for either closer or more distant action with the 18mm-equivalent 28mm Leica lens was a brilliant solution to the need for maximum speed and meant I could concentrate on seeing and getting into the zone, achieving maximum flow, achieving extraordinary outcomes that evaded a slower, more deliberate approach.

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens, regrettably much too slow to focus manually or via autofocus and its aperture ring too flakey and quirky for fast-paced professional work in stills and video, though some folks seem to like it for the quirkiness that made it intensely frustrating for me.

My term for this high-speed, highly-focused approach to urban documentary photography was “visual athletics” and it produced challenging, heavy-muscled images that upset the denizens of my then-local art and photography community and challenged them in accepting my work as art much less as being in any way creative.

More fool them, now that photography is understood as an art form in its own right and that so-called street photography has become an acceptable creative practice.

It can be a thankless task, though, to be something of a provincial pioneer in any art form.

Ah well, get out the world’s tiniest violin.

Meanwhile Sydney-based documentary and street photographer Steve Dimitriadis of zone focus has my gratitude for sharing his zone focusing methodology using his Fujifilm X-T2 camera and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R lens.

As I have written here a number of times, I am not a fan of Fujifilm’s ageing 18mm almost-pancake lens and have been waiting far too long for its modernized replacement.

A Fujicron-style Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R WR lens would be an acceptable upgrade especially for urban documentary photography but even better would be a far more versatile professional-style manual clutch focus lens in the manner of the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 RXF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R for stills and video.

Fujifilm, where is the Fujinon XF 18mm that Patrick of Fuji Rumors has been telling us is coming for ages now?

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro prime lens, the first set of Fujinon XF lenses released by Fujifilm in March 2012.

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  • Breakthrough Photography X4 Brass UV filtersB&H – I rely on this brand’s beautifully-made non-binding knurled traction frame UV filters to protect all my lenses with filter diameters from 39mm up to 105mm.
  • Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R Ultra Wide-Angle LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm LH-XF16 Lens HoodB&H
  • Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R LensB&H
  • Fujifilm LH-XF23 Lens Hood for XF 23mm f/1.4 RB&H – working close to your subjects in crowds demands protecting your cameras and lenses as much as you can, especially the front of your lens.
  • Vello LHF-XF23 Dedicated Lens HoodB&H – appears to be made in the same way as Panasonic’s pricier lens hood above.
  • Vello LHF-XF23II Dedicated Lens HoodB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2 R WR LensB&H
  • Fujifilm Lens Hood for XF23mmF2 and XF35mmF2 R WR LensesB&H
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  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 Lens (Graphite)B&H
  • Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Leica CL Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18mm Lens (Black)B&H – Leica’s APS-C sensor digital rangefinder-style camera with 28mm-equivalent f/2.8 interchangeable lens is one possible solution to Fujifilm’s lack of a decent 28mm-equivalent 18mm lens.
  • Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital CameraB&H – Leica’s 35mm sensor digital rangefinder-style camera with 28mm f/1.7 fixed lens is another possible solution to Fujifilm’s lack of a decent 28mm-equivalent 18mm lens.

Fujifilm Australia Red Badge Cash Back Promotion for X-H1 and Choice of Three Fujinon Red Badge Pro Zoom Lenses, 1st March to 30th April 2018

https://fujifilmcashback.com.au/?admin=click

“… Cash back via redemption. Australia residents only. Limit of 1 claim per eligible claimant. Promotion runs 1st March 2018 to 30th March 2018. Claims must be submitted by 27th May 2018….

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Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens.

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Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR professional zoom lens

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