DPReview: CP+ 2019: Fujifilm interview – ‘We want to show photographers the future’

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/8410636142/cp-2019-fujifilm-interview-we-want-to-show-photographers-the-future

“At the CP+ show earlier this month in Yokohama Japan, we sat down with senior executives from Fujifilm. During our conversation we covered everything from the upcoming GFX 100, to plans for APS-C and why the X100 still occupies such an important position in the company’s lineup.

Our interview was conducted with three senior executives in Fujifilm’s Electronic Imaging Products Division:

  • Toshi Iida, General Manager.
  • Makoto Oishi, Product Planning Manager.
  • Shin Udono, Senior Manager of the Sales and Marketing Group.…”

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Fujifilm, Damn It, Get a Grip!

One thing my partner learned from ten years working in Canon’s research and development division is that even photographic market leaders have hardware and firmware blindspots, and in that instance they were legion and persistent, and remain so to this day. 

Fujifilm has its own persistent camera and lens hardware and firmware idiosyncrasies, which I have covered in other articles on this site, with one of its most recent hardware blindspots being the failure to issue a hand grip for the camera most in need of one, the Fujifilm X100F. 

Fujifilm Finepix X100 camera with Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip and Peak Design original Cuff and CL-2 Clutch camera straps. I am waiting for Peak Design AL-3 Anchor Links to appear locally so I can replace the original AL and current AL-2 Anchor Links illustrated as they are too thick to permit easily opening the camera’s battery and card door.

When I managed to see an X100, I was impressed by Fujifilm’s achievement but dismayed by its minimal built-in grip and the slipperiness of its tiny body.

I ordered one and it arrived just before a trip to San Francisco where I carried it everywhere every day.

It helped me produce some terrific photographs but my ability to hold it comfortably and safely at all times was compromised by the lack of a hand grip, despite finding a reasonable wrist strap to attach the camera.

I eventually came across Fujifilm’s MHG-X100 hand grip and snapped it up, attaching it to the camera along with Peak Design’s Clutch and Cuff camera straps.

I was impressed by how Fujifilm had thought of everything, by designing a rectangular notch into the side of the hand grip to allow attaching camera straps like the first one I bought for it, from San Francisco’s DSPTCH travel company.

Gallery of X100 images, before and after hand grip

The top three photographs were made when I did not have a hand grip for my X100, and the three photographs below were made after I bought a Fujifilm hand grip.

The safer former grip afforded by the hand grip gave me far more confidence and allowed me to be far more gestural in my approach, working faster and getting close in to the action.

I use my X100 with hand grip for documentary projects to this day.

No Fujifilm hand grip for the X100F!

I was shocked to learn that Fujifilm had failed to produce an updated version of its MHG-X100 hand grip for the X100F, when I was kindly loaned an X100F.

Like the X100 and its two successors, the X100S and X100T, the X100F’s body is small and slippery, and its taller built-in slippery grip bump does little or nothing to aid in ensuring a good hand-hold of the camera.

I attached my usual Peak Design Clutch and Cuff via Peak Design’s Arca-Swiss compatible camera plate, as in the photographs above, but it was a compromise compared to my hand-grip-plus-camera-straps solution for the X100.

Compromise, too is the word I would apply to each third party camera grip design I have seen online so far, linked to in my list of links blow.

None of them appeal to me and I am wondering whether even Really Right Stuff’s L-Plate Set and Grip might be worth the investment given its size, weight and slippery CNC surface, despite the potential usefulness of its optional L-Component for tripod-mounting in portrait orientation via an Arca-Swiss tripod head.

Really Right Stuff’s X100F solution has one really big downside besides slipperiness, size, expense and weight, and that is its lack of provision for attaching my two Peak Design camera straps.

Instead the company offers its Magpul Gen 2 MS4 Dual QD Sling for carrying the plated and gripped-up X100F rather than my smaller, safer, lighter and more elegant Clutch plus Cuff solution.

A long, long time ago… even the Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL and Minolta CLE had a hand grip

My first thought on first seeing preview images of the Fujifilm Finepix X100 online some years ago was that it might be the closest digital equivalent to a Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL or a Minolta CLE.

The Leitz camera company, now Leica Camera AG, reportedly killed off the Leica CL as sales were eating into those of the far more expensive Leica M5, and having seen and tried an M5 I can see why.

According to Ken Rockwell, “the CLE is a joy to carry, and a joy to shoot” and that it “could be photography’s messiah: the smallest, lightest possible solution for a complete advanced camera system” but as none of its versions appeared in my part of the world at the time I have never had the pleasure of using one.

It is remarkable how popular the Minolta CLE remains amongst those in the know to this day, including Take Kayo of Big Head Taco who reportedly has two of them.

Three lenses were created specially for these three cameras – the Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle, the M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0 “perfect normal” and the M-Rokkor 90mm f/4.0 medium telephoto.

But I digress..

The Fujfilm X100F achieves a similar result with its 35mm-equivalent 23mm fixed lens and its optional TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion and WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion lenses providing the equivalent to the 28mm and 50mm focal lengths in 35mm sensor terms, making it close to a credible digital “complete advanced camera system” able to fit in a small waist bag or shoulder bag.

Now if only Fujifilm could release its own hand grip for the X100F to make it a complete camera system, then we would be much happier. 🙂

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Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris. Hero image of the Fujifilm X100 with hand grip photographed as 5-bracket HDR on Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Panasonic Lumix 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens then processed with Skylum Aurora HDR 2018 and Luminar 2018.

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  • Fujifilm MHG-X100 Hand Grip for X100T, X100S and X100 Digital Cameras – B&H
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  • Fujifilm TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion LensB&H
  • Fujifilm WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion LensB&H
  • Match Technical EP-2F Thumbs Up Grip for Fujifilm X100FB&H
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  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate and Grip for Fujifilm X100F – B&H
  • Really Right StuffL-Component for BX100F Base Plate – B&H
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set and Grip for Fujifilm X100F B&H

Fujifilm-X.com: Capturing Moments in Shibuya with the X100 Series

http://fujifilm-x.com/x-stories/capturing-moments-in-shibuya-with-the-x100-series/

“I was shooting street photography before I encountered X100, but ever since I held one in my hand, I simply have not been able to let it go.

The perfect fit in my hand, quick response, high image quality, and independent dials for shutter speed and aperture…. the list goes on and on. The camera is compact and has all the features I need to capture moments with quickness and ease.

The 35mm equivalent angle of view is exactly what I need for my street photography. I do not need any additional cameras….”

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Fujifilm Announces Two Massive X-Pro2 and X-T2 Firmware Updates Due Late March and Late May

Fujifilm has a well-deserved reputation for its Kaizen – continuous improvement – firmware updates, a practice I first encountered with my first Fujifilm digital camera, the classic rangefinder-style Finepix X100S. The X100’s updates turned a revolutionary camera into one that remains fun to use and usable for documentary photography assignments to this day. And now, Fujifilm is set to outdo itself with a massive list of firmware improvements to its two flagship cameras, the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 and the DSLR-style X-T2. Happy days.

The coming X-Pro2 and X-T2 firmware updates will further differentiate the two flagship Fujifilm APS-C cameras, with more video features for the latter and operational speed and efficiency gains for the former. I still want to see better video support in the X-Pro2 even if it remains at 1080p instead of 4K.
The X-T2 has the potential to fill the Super 35 4K gap left by Samsung killing off the revolutionary Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras, but Fujifilm’s imminent firmware update does not include DCI 4K and zebras for fast, accurate judgement of correct exposure. Will these crucial features be coming in a third update later this year?

The full firmware list contains a record-breaking 33 new and improved items of which 27 will appear in late March and the final 6 in late May. Some are for both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, some are for the X-T2 only and some are for the X-Pro in a catchup with the X-T2’s current feature set.

For the X-T2 only, 😦

The X-T2-only updates indicate that Fujifilm has chosen to increase its differentiation between both cameras’ video capabilities. The X-T2 is about to gain:

  • #14. Activation of the Eye Sensor in video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #15. Change of ISO sensitivity during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #17. Display live histogram during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #18. Optimization of external microphone’s input level (X-T2 only).

Other X-T2-only updates indicate other differentiations by Fujifilm between its flagship cameras, in tethering and for portraiture and other genres often requiring vertical orientation of the camera:

  • #22. Automatic vertical GUI for LCD (X-T2 only).
  • #28. Support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi (X-T2 only).

Tethering, the ability to connect cameras to computers by wire or Wi-Fi, has been an accepted, often client-demanded, tool in commercial photography for some time now and has been well supported by medium format and DSLR camera makers, and some raw processing software. USB tethering recently came to the X-T2 via standalone software and plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom.

Many of the new and improved firmware items for both cameras are welcome indeed, speeding up their accuracy and operability. Some may have limited usefulness while one glaring omission from the firmware of both camera remains AWOL – zebras.

AWOL, an immigrant from video world

Zebras for ensuring accurate exposure are welcome immigrants from the world of video camcorders and high-end stills/video hybrid cameras like Panasonic’s Super 16/Micro Four Thirds GH4, GX8 and the new GH5.

Zebras have rapidly proven themselves just as useful for stills as for video, helping combat the all-too-prevalent problem of overexposure that pushes high values over the shoulder into unrecoverable burn-out territory.

High value or highlight burn-out is as problematic in stills as it is in video, whether one is shooting raw or JPEG files. Although extreme high values can be recovered to some degree in raw files with recovery function sliders – going under names like “whites” or ‘highlight” in raw processing software – doing so in video or for JPEGs results in muddy high values that can become an eye trap for viewers.

Eye traps are areas in the frame that draw viewers’ attention at the expense of the most meaningful objects in the image, weakening its message and damaging effective storytelling. Hard-edged burnt-out bright patches are particular eye-trap culprits even when their values are lowered in post-processing.

Avoiding burn-out and needless processing

Far better to avoid the burn-out eye-trap problem and fruitless correction work in post-production altogether by getting exposure right in the first place, and that is where zebras excel compared with histograms.

International Womens' Day March, Sydney, 2017

Above: Photographing in high dynamic range environments like this can be challenging when trying to achieve correct exposure without burning out the high values. Here I used exposure zebras on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 to ensure the best exposure of sky and footpath then raised the middle and low values in a raw processor. 

Histograms have their uses in assessing your scene or subject’s dynamic range and determining whether to add a light or accept low value details that can be raised in grading or raw processing.

Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have histograms that could be improved by enlargement and better delineating their right and left edges. Judging then setting accurate exposure via histogram can be a slow process unsuited to the speed and stresses of documentary photography or video.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming demonstrates in his tutorial on ETTR – expose to the right – zebras are a fast and accurate exposure method that can benefit photographers and videographers using Fujifilm cameras, should Fujifilm see fit to add it to firmware. Zebras are not included in late March and late May’s firmware.

Useful updates for both cameras

There are plenty of impressive improvements for both cameras, many of which photographers have been requesting for some time now, most notably the following:

  • #3. Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minutes.
  • #6. “AUTO” setting added for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting.
  • #7. Faster “Face Detection AF”.
  • #8. Improved in-focus indication in the AF-C mode.
  • #9. Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF.
  • #13. Change of focus frame position while enlarging it.
  • #19. Addition of “Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display” in the View Mode.
  • #23. Name Custom Settings.
  • #24. Copyright information in EXIF data.
  • #25. Voice Memo function.
  • #26. Extended AE Bracketing.
  • #27. Addition of “Shoot Without Card” mode.
  • #31. Addition of “-6” and “-7” to EVF’s brightness setting.
  • #33. Function assignment to the Rear Command Dial.

Having tried shooting HDR with the X-Pro2 and X-T2’s three-bracket-only functionality, I have badly missed the larger bracket range available on many other cameras including my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8.

Some of my favourites for X-Pro2 and X-T2

Number 26, Extended AE Bracketing is particularly welcome. Extreme dynamic range scenes demand five, seven or even nine AE brackets to give a wide enough range for HDR processing in products like Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017, causing me to rely on other cameras than Fujifilm’s for interior and some exterior HDR work.

I bought my X-Pro2 for the benefits of Fujifilm’s legendary colour rendering and its APS-C sensor as opposed to my other cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors, and new feature 26 gives me added incentive to add an X-T2 as a companion to my X-Pro2.

Numbers 24 and 25, Copyright information in EXIF data and Voice Memo function, are invaluable when shooting documentary projects, portraits and similar assignments. Every photograph, not just those shot commercially, needs to have copyright data embedded in its EXIF data from the moment of exposure.

Voice memo functionality is crucial when covering an event or shooting a series of portraits, especially without an assistant. Ever tried making a photograph then whipping out a notebook to jot down your subject’s name and other details? Voice memo features in other brands of cameras name audio files similarly to the photographs they relate to, making them easy to find and transcribe back at home base.

Number 23, Name Custom Settings, is a great improvement over the nuisance of having to remember what subject matter or customized look relates to a cryptically-named custom setting.

Numbers 2 and 3, Extended ISO 125 and 160 selectable and Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minute, are functions that may come in handy for some low light and night scene cityscape projects coming my way soon.

Although I generally stick to ISO 200 or 400 for daylight documentary work, habit and years of successful analog practice means I prefer the lowest ISOs I can get for tripod-mounted small aperture photography. Conversely, Fujifilm’s excellent wide aperture lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2 R and XF 23mm f1/4 R and their incredible bokeh tempts me to shoot wide open with low ISOs.

Cable releases and remote releases are increasingly becoming things of the past for long-exposure photography as well as all-to—easily forgotten or lose on location so I suspect programmable long exposures will be lifesavers.

Number 9, Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF, brings the X-T2 and X-Pro2’s focus point size choice to six with pinpoint focussing, crucial when shooting with long lenses on the X-Pro2 and even longer lenses on the X-T2 when picking out the most essential object in a field of them.

I am going to love this one for shooting portraits with the X-Pro2 and the XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens with aperture wide open for razor-sharp highlights in one eye.

Just for the X-Pro2

Several of the 33 items are for the X-Pro2 only, adding features already in the X-T2’s current firmware:

  • #10. Addition of “AF Point Display” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #11. Addition of “AF-C Custom Setting” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #20. Shorter EVF display time-lag (X-Pro2 only – already in X-T2).

Number 11, AF-C Custom Setting, adds action-photography autofocus settings that have well-proven themselves on the X-T2 and that I would have loved on the X-Pro2 for covering intense, fast-moving events like demonstrations. Pine no more.

Likewise, number 10, AF Point Display, will bring more surety when covering those same kind of situations as well as fast-moving portrait subjects flitting in and out of inner city crowds.

Number 20, Shorter EVF display time-lag, will be useful in the same circumstances when shooting with the X-Pro2’s EVF. I default to the OVF or ERF-in-OVF most of the time but switch to the EVF when shooting with a monochrome film simulation or my subjects are moving through mixed bright sun and deep shadow.

Times like that you need a sharp eye on your prime subject in order to hit the shutter at exactly the right moment and the less EVF lag the better.

Plenty of gains, some losses

Thirty-three feature additions and updates for two closely-related cameras sharing sensors, processors and more is quite some feat and Fujifilm deserves heaps of praise and kudos for that.

I suspect that most photographers will be very happy indeed with this list, and some have already described it as “awesome!”. Until the firmware appears, and it is clear exactly how each new item or improvement works in practice, we can only guess as to their implementation and usability but, fingers crossed!

The X-T2 wins some great new video features that I have long wanted on the X-Pro2 and that it will not be getting any time soon if at all, it seems. I will be buying an X-T2 soon enough, as a companion to my X-Pro2 instead of the second X-Pro2 I was originally planning on, but right now my next video-centric choice will be Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 due to its full, mature feature set and sheer usability.

I may not be counted amongst “most photographers” given an equal dedication to still and video that seems to be rare in some parts of the world, but then the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are cameras that appeal to photographers whose work and needs are anything but the norm, well beyond what most photographers demand of their cameras and lenses.

Most photographers, from what I see in the streets of this fair city, are more than happy with the many limitations of DSLR cameras but Fujifilm flagship camera users are a very rare and demanding breed.

And that is, to a large degree, Fujifilm’s own fault. At a time when the independent photo and video landscape was dominated by model after model of DSLRs that barely looked any different from each other, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a radical breath of fresh air.

It promised so much, then delivered on it with a succession of great firmware updates that set the expectation of brilliant firmware kaizen for every Fujifilm camera coming after it.

The X-Pro2 3.00 and 3.10, and X-T2 2.00 and 2.10, firmware updates continue in that tradition of satisfying high expectations and have extended both cameras’ usability and capabilities.

Gaps do remain, though, and they are mostly on the X-Pro2 side. Not everyone with high expectations loves the DSLR-style form factor of the X-T2 and there are many of us who are digital refugees from Leica rangefinder days or who could never afford their digital M-System cameras and who can now satisfy their rangefinder-style needs with the X-Pro2.

Will the X-Pro3 one day gain what Fujifilm has left out of the X-Pro2?

Will the X-Pro series lag behind the X-T series’ feature set turning the former into stills-only camera and the latter into a stills-plus-video compromise?

Is the rumoured APS-C super camera the one to watch for high-end Super 35 video?

Does Fujifilm have a blind spot for the incredibly useful exposure zebras functionality on its cameras? And if so, why?

I know I will be getting an X-T2 sometime soon, for the subjects and lenses to which its DSLR-style form factor is well-suited.

I know I will continue to love the X-Pro2 for giving me back the rangefinder-style way of documentary photography I had thought had gone forever during the DSLR ascendancy.

I want another X-Pro2 in my documentary kit as a backup and for when Fujifilm comes out with a revamped XF 18mm f/2.0, as wide lens to the XF 50mm f/2.0’s narrower vision.

But like more than a few fellow X-Pro2 users out there, I want to see the X-Pro2 series flagship cameras remain on a near-equal feature-set footing with their X-T series sisters and that demands improving the video features on both.

Is Fujifilm already planning the next pair of firmware updates and are they listening just as intently to their ever-growing user base?

Links: 

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

fujifilm_x100f_front_black_square_1920px

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

fujifilm_x-t20_black_frontup_xf18mm_square_1920px

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

x-e2s_black_frontup_18-55mm_1920px

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

fujifilm_x-t2_video_rig_blue_1920px

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.’

dscf9440_hdr_blue_350px
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.

Fujifilm Comes Up Aces Yet Again with the X100F, Heiress to the Noble X100 Tradition

Fujifilm kicked off a global digital photography revolution when it released the X100 fixed prime lens rangefinder-style mirrorless camera in 2011 at a time when digital photography was dominated by big DSLRs made by the then two biggest camera manufacturers. 

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How things have changed, in some quarters at least. DSLRs still dominate the local newspaper industry but most photojournalists and documentary photographers of my acquaintance here and overseas left the DSLR world for the mirrorless realm some years ago.

Little wonder. Recently I showed a DSLR-dedicated friend one of my mirrorless cameras and he began wondering why he had put up with his DSLRs’ heaviness and old-world features for so long.

Mirrorless cameras are rarely seen here in Sydney during newsworthy events like the Women’s March on Washington, Sydney, starting from Hyde Park going to Martin Place on 21 January. Newspaper and other photographers covering the event did so rigged up with double DSLRs and two or three fast zoom lenses as below. I used an X-Pro2 and a couple of prime lenses.

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Longevity

With Fujifilm’s announcement of the X100 series’ fourth iteration, the longevity of the original X100’s concept is demonstrated yet again.

The original X100 is a camera I use to this very day, especially when needing to be extra discrete, even more invisible than usual.

That original X100 has ably handled demonstrations, protests, festivals, conferences, travel and urban documentary projects.

Its autofocus is slow compared to the current generation of mirrorless cameras but not impossibly so, and its sensor is far from the biggest going, but the old adage holds true, that you only need 6 megapixels for a double-page spread or a single-page portrait.

Exhibition prints and 48-sheet posters are another thing altogether but Fujifilm now has those bases amply covered with its GFX 50S medium format masterpiece.

Moving up a notch

The X100F has moved up a notch to the same sensor as its X-Pro2 and X-T2 sisters, all 24.3 megapixels of it, and that is something of a minor miracle in such an affordable, professional-quality, small-bodied camera.

We are lucky to be living in the digital photography age, one no longer beset by golfball grain and beautiful though ultra-slow films – Kodachrome 25 and Panatomic-X anyone? – if the project demands sharpness and high resolution.

That a camera the size of the X100F can deliver image quality rivalling if not surpassing Fujifilm’s analog era mirrorless or SLR-based GX680 series 120-format cameras, especially when using faster films in them, is no small miracle.

I can see why photojournalism-style wedding photographer Kevin Mullins will be adopting an X100F alongside his two X-Pro2s equipped with XF 23mm f/1.4 and XF 56mm f/1.2 lenses as part of his core wedding photojournalism kit.

It’s all black for me

Mr Mullins’ style is based on almost-straight-out-of-camera (almost-SOOC) JPEGs with his JPEG settings dialled down for a gritty hardness perhaps partially inspired by great British photographer Bill Brandt, but Mr Mullins’ photographs are almost grain-, or in reality digital noise- free.

Like Mr Mullins, I would definitely choose a black X100F over the silver one for its contribution to a photographer’s anonymity and near-invisibility.

Like him also, I consider the X100F as a complement to the X-Pro2, a fixed lens camera with the advantages that fixed lenses can bestow such as leaf shutter, high-speed flash sync, built-in ND filter and small form factor.

X100F and X-Pro2 compared

Photographs are not to scale.

Accessories for the X100F

There are three Fujifilm-brand accessories I consider essentials for the X100F, the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens, the TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion Lens and an L-grip.

I would also add a Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera strap pair, the latter a wrist-strap and the former a hand-strap, both ensuring good grip and safety if the camera falls out of your hand.

I have yet to see a Fujifilm brand L-grip for the X100F, similar to the FUHGX100T grip for its three predecessors, make its appearance online but surely it is a matter of time. I have used the X100 with and without this hand grip and, given the camera’s tiny built-in grip and slippery surface, consider it a necessity. Otherwise a few third-party alternatives will doubtless be available soon.

Conclusions

As usual, the proof of the pudding is in the trying and I look forward to giving an X100F a good roadtest sometime in the near future. For those who enjoy specs charts, a specifications spreadsheet PDF is available further down this page.

Meanwhile, I wish to hail the Fujifilm X100F as the rightful heiress to the classic that the X100 was in its day, and that may itself be a future classic in the waiting.

My Fujifilm Finepix X100 is a treasured camera in my collection and I use it to this day, most especially when needing to blend in with the crowd and be as close to my subjects as possible. Despite not having an X-Trans sensor, it produces excellent colour and can be processed in a much wider range of raw processors than X-Trans raw files, in this case DxO OpticsPro Elite with DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as plug-ins.

Recommended Viewing:

Fujifilm’s global YouTube.com channel FUJIFILMGlobal appears not have received the memo about female gender equality in its product videos given that all fifteen of its video feature male photographers with not one woman photographer in sight.

On the other hand, the Fuji Guys Channel run by Fujifilm employees based in several different countries including Australia has featured two female photographers so far, both in the USA.

Let’s hope more videos featuring women appear very soon, with at least one of them being Australian.

Specifications:

Image Credits:

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