“With mighty impressive image stabilisation, an ultra-sensitive shutter, super-fast burst mode, accomplished continuous autofocus and burst shooting, plus a viewfinder that’s unrivalled by any mirrorless model, the G9 really is the finest mirrorless camera that money can buy….
… The Panasonic Lumix G9 doesn’t only step up what mirrorless cameras can do – surpassing even the Fujifilm X-T2 in many areas – it successfully places itself in among the DSLR elite. It’s a very impressive bit of kit indeed….”
Of the three Fujifilm cameras in question, I am most familiar with the X-T2 having been lucky enough to have borrowed a review loaner, so will confine my comments here to that but readers interested in the X-T20 and GFX 50S may wish to read up on their firmware updates in my list of links below.
I am currently the proud owner of an X-Pro2 rangefinder camera and am looking forward to late December’s release of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 Version 4.00 firmware for 4K video mode, tethered shooting, new autofocus algorithm and support for Fujifilm Raw Studio and Fujifilm X Acquire.
Version 3.00 of the X-T2’s firmware does not include the much-requested exposure zebras persistent in shooting mode, one of the two most essential firmware features needed for professional-quality work, along with focus peaking which previous firmware did have.
Instead, Fujifilm has included “overexposed areas blink” aka “blinkies” which is activated by pressing “the function button to which Histogram has been assigned” as per Fujifilm’s X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00.
The Guide does not specify whether the RGB histogram and overexposure blinkies can be viewed and remain persistent while shooting photographs or video thus allowing exposure adjustment as the light changes.
Having both the blinkies and the RGB histogram on-screen while shooting as illustrated in the Guide would be distracting to say the least, and blinkies alone while shooting would have been preferable.
Fujifilm’s blindness to zebras persists
Percentage-adjustable exposure zebras as featured on numerous contemporary and recent digital cameras and camcorders would have been even better again, but Fujifilm seems to have a persistent blindness to zebras as I have mentioned in many articles on this website, most recently Fujifilm… I’m Cross Over Your Aversion to Zebras.
This zebra blindness is surprising given Fujifilm’s legendary willingness to listen to its user base as well as its famous Kaizen – “improvement” or “change for the better” – philosophy.
Is there something Fujifilm knows that thousands of professional and enthusiast moviemakers do not?
Is Fujifilm really serious about fully supporting professional-quality video functionality in its cameras?
Will exposure zebras and other essential pro video features like internal F-Log recording, on-camera headphone ports and many more hardware and firmware functions eventually find their way into a future, more video-worthy version of the X-T2 or one of its descendants?
Or is Fujifilm having a cunning laugh at video functionality while continuing to aim its cameras more at photographers than videographers?
I would love Fujifilm to take some hints out of Panasonic’s and Samsung’s books, and their cameras’ many cutting-edge video achievements, to produce a truly remarkable, market-leading Super 35/APS-C hybrid video/stills camera.
For immersive fly-on-the-wall documentary stills photography on the other hand, nothing beats a real digital rangefinder camera and Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 hits the spot in combination with Fujifilm’s Fujinon aperture-ring-equipped manual clutch focus prime lenses like the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, my current favourite documentary photography lens.
More power to Fujifilm’s advanced hybrid rangefinder and fast manual clutch focus prime lens arm, as it were, and I am looking forward to December’s firmware update for the X-Pro2.
I am relishing being able to shoot great 4K video on this wonderful rangefinder camera at long last.
FujiRumors has shared a video showing how focus peaking and overexposure blinkies flash when both are switched on.
I hope there is an option to at least turn the flashing off as I would find this irritating when shooting, just as I did when viewing this video.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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…“
“Remain inconspicuous while shooting with Think Tank’s new Spectral Shoulder Bag. A magnetic Fidlock clasp enables quiet, one-handed access your gear — then locks automatically when closing the flap. An additional zippered closure gives you piece of mind while traveling and can be tucked away when you’re actively shooting. Constructed with durable yet stylish materials, the Spectral Shoulder Bag offers Think Tank quality and ingenuity at a reasonable price.”
Think Tank Photo’s new 3-strong leather-free Spectral line of shoulder bags is a refreshing change from the leather-trimmed product revisions it has released in recent years.
Based on Think Tank Photo’s information about the Spectral 8, it may prove to be a useful one-camera, several-lenses option for slow and steady documentary photography or cinematography with, say, a Røde VideoMic Pro+ in place of the 50-140mm zoom lens.
Think Tank Photo Spectral 8 shoulder bag with Fujifilm camera and lenses.
Think Tank Photo Spectral 8 shoulder bag with Fujifilm camera and lenses.
Think Tank Photo Spectral 8 shoulder bag with 3 Legged Thing Albert travel tripod.
An Evolving Focus
The company’s marketing email and website product shots are increasingly featuring mirrorless cameras and lenses in addition to its tradition emphasis on DSLRs, with focus on Fujifilm APS-C and Sony digital 35mm mirrorless camera though Panasonic’s increasingly popular Lumix M43/Super 16 hybrid stills/video cameras have yet to make an appearance so far as I can tell.
Both moves are welcome and I would love to see Think Tank Photo add Panasonic’s GH5 and professional lenses for video and stills, for example, to its product shot scheduling.
I note that 3 Legged Thing’s also increasingly popular tripods are also starting to feature in TTP marketing material.
Seeing gear that one actually uses being featured in emails and web pages helps make better-informed purchasing decisions given many of us often do not live near a good bricks-and-mortar stockist where one can try-before-buy and so must rely on sight-unseen purchases at online retailers in other countries.
Not all mirrorless cameras and lenses have the same dimensions nor do they fit in the same bags, I have often discovered, so photographic evidence of good fit is incredibly useful and helps avoid purchases one soon comes to regret.
The Ever-growing Scourge of Mould
Leather, and certain plastics, are susceptible to the growing epidemics of mould infection popping up in places like Sydney with the onset of major climate change.
Although it has proven possible to chemically remove mould from the surface of leather and some synthetic materials, mould spores remain beneath the surface ready to spring into action should the weather change yet again.
As a result, we have had to throw out many leather and leather-trimmed products including camera bags to avoid the risk of mould and mould spores spreading to our photographic equipment.
We have been shocked to discover expensive bags made of synthetic fabrics infected with mould and mould spores too, though not all woven plastics are susceptible.
There are two other considerations in the use of leather in constructing and decoratively trimming camera bags, cruelty and environmental responsibility.
My Plea for Leather-Free
Industrial agriculture’s animal husbandry practices are inherently cruel, and contribute huge amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, apparently to a greater extent than emission from motor cars.
I wish to see camera bag and accessories makers take up the challenge to go 100% leather-free and pro-vegan from now onwards.