Fujifilm… I’m Cross Over Your Aversion to Zebras

While awaiting Fujifilm’s next firmware update for the X-Pro2, version 4.0.0, the one that will finally bring the 4K video mode staffers believed would arrive soon after the release of the X-T2, one’s mind turns to other necessary video features unmentioned in Fujifilm’s press release on the subject. 

A confession: I have shot far less video on the X-Pro2 than I had anticipated when I placed the order for mine.

The X-Pro2’s pre-4K 1080p HD video certainly has its uses – I suspect that more documentaries are being shot in 1080p than 4K at the moment – and I have no problem with the idea of clicking my X-Pro2’s video-programmed Fn button should a video-worthy moment arise.

Photographing for SOOC JPEGs with Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 is not unlike using colour reversal aka transparency films during the analog era. You need to get your exposure dead accurate as there is only so much you can do to refine it in post. The X-Pro2’s EVF is one of the most inaccurate in showing how the final shot will look of all my current cameras so there is a long, trial and error learning process. The histogram is only so useful. Exposure zebras would be a far better option but Fujifilm is deaf and blind to the necessity of adding them to all its cameras’ firmware. Why?

But the more I explore SOOC (straight out of camera) JPEGs using custom settings shared online, the less attractive is X-Pro2 video shot using its current firmware.

Try it for yourself if you have an X-Pro2.

Go to Thomas Fitzgerald’s article How I shoot with my X-Pro 2 and input the lovely customized Provia look that he shares there.

Allocate video to a function button if you have not already done so – I chose Fn for its proximity to the X-Pro2’s release button.

Find something nice to stand in front of, shoot a JPEG then some video footage, and compare.

Some difference.

While it is possible to improve the footage in your nonlinear editing to colour grading software, the disappointment lingers and there is no excuse in this day and age why the X-Pro2’s video functionality did not receive the same customizability options as JPEGs from the camera’s inception way back when.

The other big disappointment of video on the X-Pro2 and Fujifilm’s other cameras is their lack of exposure zebras.

Firmware update after update comes and goes with none receiving one of the most essential core shooting functionalities for cinematography and stills photography, zebras.

Five months ago Fujifilm released a video on photographer-turned-cinematographer Richard Blanshard who related that he had shared a list of videocentric improvements some of which may find their way into future firmware upgrades.

I cannot imagine that Mr Blanshard’s list did not include exposure zebras.

Another item I hope was in that list is the ability to record F-Log in-camera.

I have been relying on Panasonic cameras for video for some time now and their exposure zebras functionality has proven vital when shooting movies and photographs.

Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is an outstanding stills and video camera and Fujifilm can learn more than a few lessons from their Super 16/Micro Four Thirds mirrorless rival.

Besides their Super 35/APS-C sensors, Fujifilm’s cameras have another advantage Panasonic will never possess, Fujifilm’s 80-year history and deep knowledge of analog film stocks and digital film emulation.

Imagine if Fujifilm properly implemented that on the X-Pro2 then combined it with finally getting exposure right via zebras.

I am enjoying the pleasures and challenges of simulating some of the greatest analog film stocks on my X-Pro2 with Mr Fitzgerald’s Provia-based custom setting but the experience is sullied by having to rely on the X-Pro2’s tiny histogram and judging correct exposure on its less-than-stellar electronic viewfinder (EVF).

The star of the X-Pro2 concept is its advanced hybrid multi viewfinder (HMVF) especially when using its electronic rangefinder (ERF) located at lower right of its optical viewfinder (OVF) that shows exactly what the camera’s lens is seeing.

Imagine getting exposure perfect for raw and JPEG photographs or video via zebras in the ERF window, or the EVF or LCD monitor.

Now that would be stellar and tempt me over to shooting Super 35 4K video with beautiful film simulations or F-Log on my Fujifilm X-Pro2.

Fingers crossed that Fujifilm gets it right in late December’s firmware version 4.0.0 for the X-Pro, as well as in firmware version 3.0.0 for the X-T2 late November.


Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Post-Processing Expert Thomas Fitzgerald Publishes Fujifilm X-Trans Raw Processor Software Comparisons

Dublin-based photographer and photographic post-processing expert Thomas Fitzgerald recently published the results of processing one Fujifilm X-Pro2 X-Trans raw image with seven different raw convertors or image editors with raw conversion capability. 

Tests like this are useful when considering whether to try out an unfamiliar item of software or go straight to purchase though they are seldom definitive. Processing raw files is something of a moving target and all of them are updated regularly with improvements and new features.

Likewise various raw processors’ support for Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor raw files, another moving target given that some major raw processors do not support X-Trans raw at all yet, and one that apparently never will. So it is good to know what does, currently.

Also good to read Mr Fitzgerald’s well-qualified opinions on the state of each item of software. He rates two of them as not ready for prime time at the moment. Let’s hope their makers have improvements on the way.

The raw processors or raw-capable image editors that Mr Fitzgerald tested are:

One surprise for Mr Fitzgerald is each product’s variations in default cropping, with further variation in edge detail. Oftentimes I will crop a raw file in a raw processor I have been using less lately to be taken by surprise at how much I have lost at the edge, causing me to rethink the image as I had visualized it before pressing the shutter button.

Thomas Fitzgerald is a writer as well as fine art photographer and has published a series of ebooks on processing Fujifilm X-Trans raw images in three raw processors and one on processing Sony A6000 files in Lightroom. I bought the three on X-Trans processing and recommend them.

Mr Fitzgerald also sells a number of Lightroom presets collections and a Photoshop texture pack. His blog is insightful and well worth reading.