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. 🙂

Links

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.

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Fujifilm MHG-X100 Hand Grip for X100T, X100S and X100 Digital Cameras – B&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
  • 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
  • Peak Design Anchor Connectors for Peak Design Straps (4-Pack)B&H
  • Peak Design AL-3 Anchor LinksB&H
  • Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist StrapB&H
  • Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Hand-StrapB&H
  • Peak Design Leash Camera StrapB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • 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
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FujiLove: The Fujifilm X100F Revisited: Why I Hate to Love It, by Take Kayo – with COMMENTARY

https://fujilove.com/the-fujifilm-x100f-revisited-why-i-hate-to-love-it/

“… This camera has stuck to its roots and continues the tradition.  If you already own a Fujifilm camera and you love everything about it (image quality, colours, styling, etc.), then consider the X100F as your everything camera. You can pretty much use it as your primary digital camera within the limits of its design and feature set, including shooting decent 1080p 60fps video. I used it as a professional tool, as a video camera, and as an everyday shooter….”

Commentary

Take Kayo is correct in his assessment of the Fujifilm X100F hybrid optical viewfinder rangefinder camera though I cannot agree with the love-hate underdog thing he has going.

The X100 changed everything for the better for me when I was relying on but uncomfortable with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR that my beloved late Uncle Brian bought for me for stills and video just before he died.

Like all Fujifilm cameras, the X100 needs a hand grip for best grip due to its small size and slippery synthetic surface, especially when used with the wide-angle and telephoto lens convertors.

Deep gratitude sprinkled with worthy sentiment keeps the 5D in my storage closet along with my yet-to-be-repaired Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit lens notorious for its prone-to-failure internal circuitry but wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Fujifilm had been making its mirrorless cameras at the time?

I was raised on non-SLR analog cameras, especially rangefinder cameras of all sizes and descriptions, and the X100 was such a pleasant surprise when one suddenly appeared in one of our many now deceased local camera stores.

The long wait for my very own X100 proved more than well worth it and I still have mine after relying on it for all sorts of professional and personal stills photography projects for some years.

The Fujifilm X100F is in dire need of a Fujifilm hand grip based on the MHG-X100 Hand Grip made for the X100, X100S and X100T cameras. Quite why Fujifilm has not already done so is beyond comprehension.
The Fujifilm X100F is in dire need of a Fujifilm hand grip based on the MHG-X100 Hand Grip made for the X100, X100S and X100T cameras. Quite why Fujifilm has not already done so is beyond comprehension.

The X100F is a worthy successor with sensor and processor matching or approaching those of its top-end Fujifilm siblings the X-Pro2, X-T2 and X-E3.

Fujifilm luckily makes a hand grip for the X-E3.

Until the X-E3, the X100F held mid-position on my stills photography wishlist, kept there only by its ageing optics and Fujifilm’s failure to update its excellent, now discontinued, Hand Grip MHG-X100 for the X100F.

All Fujifilm cameras need hand grips fitted especially when using the larger, longer, heavier Fujinon lenses and battery grips are even better options.

Really Right Stuff has released its base plates, l-plates and grips for the X100F but they lack two of Fujifilm’s own hand grips’ prime virtues, a small textured synthetic grip and easy attachment of Peak Design’s Clutch and Cuff camera straps via the simple, elegant solution of a rectangular notch in exactly the right place.

Until the appearance of the X-E3, I was seriously considering bumping the X100F plus WCL and TCL lens convertors to the top of my stills hardware wishlist as the camera kit to go with me everywhere via Cosyspeed Streetomatic+ or Think Tank Photo Spectral 8.

I have yet to see and try the X-E3 as our local camera stores keep vanishing and few remaining stores keep good inventories, it appears, so I am in some degree of uncertainty as to whether it is the right solution for my needs.

Despite its lack of the X100 series’ wonderful hybrid optical viewfinder, the X-E3’s small size and Fujifilm-made hand grip appeals to me as does the long-rumoured, much-demanded Fujinon XF18mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lens that still has yet to turn up on the Fujifilm lens roadmap.

Sigh.

I seriously hope that the 18mm “Fujicron” lens is not a myth.

If the X100F had a Fujifilm hand grip, I would have bought it and near-permanently attached the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens as my 18mm (28mm in 35mm sensor format terms) solution for event photography where the 23mm (35mm in 35mm sensor format terms) is too long and 16mm (24mm in 35mm sensor format terms) distorts perspective and especially human-shaped subjects near the edges and corners of the frame.

Will Fujifilm see sense by revamping the optical design of the X100F’s successor?

Will Fujifilm come up with a hand grip for the next camera in the X100 series?

Questions like that are on par with asking Fujifilm when it is going to add exposure zebras for stills and video to all its cameras’ firmware.

Camera and lens makers can be as resistant to good sense as anyone, but one should not stop pointing out the senselessness of being deaf and blind to necessary firmware and hardware functionality.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Fujifilm MHG-X100 Hand Grip for X100T, X100S and X100 Digital CamerasB&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
  • 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
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set and Grip for Fujifilm X100F  – B&H
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate and Grip for Fujifilm X100F  – B&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate for Fujifilm X100FB&H

Fujifilm Global: New firmware updates for FUJIFILM X-Pro2, X-T2 X100F, X-T20 coming soon

http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n170907_06.html

“Free upgrades will provide support for “FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO”, improve studio flash controller usability compatibility, introduce new AF tracking algorithm and include other functional and operational updates for the ever evolving X Series mirrorless camera range.

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Kenji Sukeno) will release free firmware updates for the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (“X-Pro2”), FUJIFILM X-T2 (“X-T2”), FUJIFILM X100F (“X100F”) and FUJIFILM X-T20 (“X-T20”) X Series mirrorless digital cameras. These updates will be released in November and December 2017 and are a result of requests for improving usability and adding new functions.

Installing these firmware updates will add new support for the “FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO” software which allows the user to connect the camera to a computer via USB cable for developing raw files in camera (X-Pro2, X-T2, X100F). The new firmware will improve third party studio flash controller usability (X-Pro2, X-T2, X100F) and will dramatically improve the AF-C tracking algorithm in zone and tracking AF mode (X-Pro2, X-T2), add 4K video support, computer tethering function (X-Pro2) and enhance the touch panel operation when using the EVF (X-T20).

Firmware Version -due late November : X-T2, X-T20
Firmware Version -due late December : X-Pro2, X100F…

 

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….”

Links:

FujiRumors: Major Fujifilm X-Pro2 Kaizen Firmware Update Will Add 4K Video and More – with COMMENTARY

http://www.fujirumors.com/major-fujifilm-x-pro2-kaizen-firmware-update-will-add-4k-video/

“… I hear from trusted sources, that Fujifilm is working on a major firmware update for the Fujifilm X-Pro2, which will, among the others, give X-Pro2 owners 4K video and more.

Here on FujiRumors, the community asked for 4K on X-Pro2 multiple times, in dedicated articles and comments, and finally also Fuji Guy Billy joined Fujirumors critics on February 2017, when he said here he is also “fighting with Japan” to implement 4K on X-Pro2.

Well… it seemed all this pressure helped ;)…”

Commentary:

News of a really big kaizen update coming for the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is welcome indeed and may turn around my current thoughts about purchasing a second X-Pro2 as a back-up for my current lone X-Pro2 for documentary photography and video projects.

I grew up on rangefinder analog cameras in all film formats and the unique rangefinder aka OVF (optical viewfinder) vision for stills photography. I used and still own analog OVF movie cameras and they also helped shape my cinematography. Applying a similar vision to still images and moving images was uniquely liberating.

The appearance of the groundbreaking Fujifilm Finepix X100 rangefinder camera liberated me in my use of digital photography after finding the DSLRS of the day stultifying by comparison, despite Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II being such a liberation when it came to HD video.

My X-Pro2 is my only rangefinder camera at the moment though I also use and love EVF cameras constructed in rangefinder-style and DSLR-style configurations. I may well add a Fujifilm X100F rangefinder camera with the WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion and TCL-X100 II Teleconversion lenses should the need for a small, fast and discrete documentary stills camera arise.

I am holding out hopes that the 4K video functionality that some Fujifilm staff members were convinced would appear on the X-Pro2 after the arrival of the 4K-capable X-T2 will finally make its appearance even if it must be implemented via a similar line-skipping technology to the one found in Fujifilm’s X-T20.

There are distinct advantages to shooting and editing in 4K UHD and 4K DCI compared to the 1080p HD and 720p HD currently available on the X-Pro2, not least being better quality from downsizing to smaller release formats and the ability to apply software-based stabilization via firmware or NLE plug-ins like CoreMelt’s Lock & Load without losing too much of the frame.

There is more to useful video capability than 4K though, and Fujifilm needs to add other video-centric features to its X-Pro2 and X-T2. I might add that I am not the only video and stills shooter saying this.

Here is my current full-length X-Pro2 firmware wishlist, not in order of importance:

  • 4K video – even if it must be implemented via line-skipping as in the X-T20. Every camera I own must be capable of acceptable, professional-quality stills and video. You never know when a situation demands one or the other or both and I cannot always carry a stills kit and a video kit.
  • Highlight tone, shadow tone, color and noise reduction adjustments – all absolutely necessary for serious, professional video.
  • Ability to easily choose, set and lock 1/48th or 1/50th of a second for video.
  • Improved autofocus in low light aka available darkness – I bought the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 R lenses after seeing how documentary event photographer Kevin Mullins uses them so effectively in his work. The latter lens is much slower to manually focus than the former, and faster autofocus on both would help compensate for their optical configurations and slow focussing motors.
  • Changeable focus point for video – same as when shooting stills.
  • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) – has a distinct colour cast that changing the settings does not affect well enough. I understand that a great deal of the X-Pro2’s hardware development effort went into the Hybrid Multi-Viewfinder, an advanced OVF, but not all lenses work best in OVF mode. I wish to see the EVF improved as much as firmware permits.
  • Live exposure zebras – are crucial to obtaining and maintaining optimal exposure when shooting video and stills, especially when using ETTR – exposing to the right.
  • Tethering – I bought the X-Pro2 primarily as a handheld documentary stills and video camera, but I also use it for studio and on-location portraiture and increasingly still-life photography due to the X-Trans sensor’s remarkable colour rendition. Tethering would be an asset especially given the X-Pro2 lacks a fully-articulated or even partly-articulated LCD monitor.
  • Full range of ISO adjustments with a Command Dial – I often use the X-Pro2 in fast-moving documentary situations where fiddling about with its combined ISO/shutter speed dial is out of the question. Although I often rely on the camera’s AutoISO function in those situations, there are many others where quickly setting ISO manually is optimal.
  • Color Chrome – having briefly tried out the Fujifilm GFX 50S and later studying the results other photographers have obtained from that camera’s JPEGs with the Color Chrome setting, I would love to have it on the X-Pro2 and other Fujifilm cameras. I have been using custom JPEG settings more lately after some photographers published their own but there is something still lacking especially in the Velvia (Vivid) analog film simulation of one of my favourite films of all time.
  • HDMI port live view – crucial when using external monitors and recorders.
  • Focus points for portrait and landscape mode – just like the X-T2, especially invaluable when shooting portraits.
  • Panorama mode – brilliant when regular photographs will not do the job.
  • Improved face detection – especially when the subject is anything but full face frontal to the camera.
  • 4:3 aspect ratio – Fujifilm cameras currently offer three aspect ratio choices – 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. Panasonic adds 4:3 on its Lumix cameras which  have micro four thirds sensors and I use that aspect ratio a great deal, whether vertically as 3:4 or horizontally as 4:3. Either way, the 4:3 aspect ratio is excellent for portraiture of all types and is close to the 5:4 aspect ratio of the 4″x5″ sheet film, 6cm x 4.5cm and 6cm x 7cm 120 roll film analog cameras. I find 2:3 too narrow for vertical portraits. Granted, one can crop in post-processing but years of experience show it is better to design the image perfectly in-camera without leaning on later cropping for tightly-designed images. Also, magazine page aspect ratios are closer to 3:4 than 2:3.
  • 1:1 pixel-level image review – critical applications such as portraiture and product photography demand accurate viewing of shots in-camera at the pixel level, at a 1:1 magnification. I can check if eye highlights are razor sharp on my Panasonic Lumix cameras so why can I not do this on my Fujifilm cameras? This feature is even more crucial given the lack of tethering on the X-Pro2. We need all our mirrorless cameras to have a full set of professional features.

Links:

Tony Phillips Photography: The Complete Guide to Fujifilm’s X100F

http://tonyphillips.org/product/x100f/?v=fdd13832cd81

“If you’re uncertain in any way about even one thing your X100F does, then save time and money and grab this book….

… Written for Fujifilm’s outstanding X100F street camera, this is EVERYTHING X100F explained in easy to understand language! It is the Manual on Steroids and much more… Make sure you read what others say about Tony’s books in the unsolicited comments below.

So if you’re uncertain about anything your X100F does, grab this book! It’s packed with clear tutorials and examples, with over 400 tips, tricks, and tweaks to help you master photography with your X100F.  And you can try it risk-free – read on for details!…”

FujiRumors: Firmware Updates for Fujifilm GFX 50S, X-Pro2, X-T2, X-T20 and X100F Available – with COMMENTARY

http://www.fujirumors.com/firmware-updates-fujifilm-gfx-50s-x-pro2-x-t2-x-t20-x100f-available/

“Fujifilm just released new firmware that fixes the following issues:

The phenomenon is fixed that in the MF mode, repeated halfway shutter pressing can shift the focus point under a specific exposure condition.

The phenomenon is fixed that in the AF-S mode, repeated halfway shutter pressing can shift the focus point with SHUTTER AF setting OFF….”

Commentary:

Whenever possible I wait until a number of reports are in from other users on new firmware updates before applying the update to my own cameras. Websites like FujiRumors and their social media channels are invaluable in that regard.

I have held off on applying the version 3.11 firmware update to my X-Pro2 until more user reports are in. So far there have been reports that, post-update, “the EVF is laggy, even in High Performance mode, and the image ‘sticks’ in the screen while shooting. Also the pop-up screen for the hybrid OVF sticks up while the EVF is active, and performance slows considerably.”

Another user has reported slower face detection and focus confirmation beeps even when the lens in not in focus after installing the firmware update on his X-Pro2 and X-T2.

Links:

The Phoblographer: 5 Compact Cameras That Can Get Most Likely Through the New TSA Regulations

http://www.thephoblographer.com/2017/07/31/5-cameras-that-can-get-most-likely-through-the-new-tsa-regulations/

“If you’re not wanting to inconvenience your life with taking your cameras, lenses, flashes and other necessary items out of your bag, then you should consider this list of cameras that will get through the TSA’s new regulations….”

Zack Arias: My Bag of Cameras

“In my last video I went through my bag of lights. For this video I walk you through my bag of cameras and lenses. I’ve spent a lot of time streamlining my gear to the essentials and it has really helped clear my head and make life easier for me. I was constantly moving from bag to bag and one set up to another depending on the job at hand. I wanted to simplify my photographic life to a bag of cameras and a bag of lights.

While I feel my bag of lights is complete, I’m not so sure yet about my bag of cameras. I’d really like to add the Fuji GFX to this kit to be a back up to the Phase One and to be my run-n-gun camera. I’m still trying to decide if that will be the best option for me and the work I do….”