Nick Thomas: A Memento of Life | A Fujifilm X-T3 Short Film

A MEMENTO OF LIFE | A FUJIFILM X-T3 SHORT FILM from Nick Thomas on Vimeo.

Commentary

When I was trying out Fujifilm’s X-T3 as a video camera, shooting footage at DCI 4K 10-bit 4:2:0 F-Log All-Intra 400 mbps and recording internally rather than onto an external monitor/recorder such as the Atomos Ninja V, I was gobsmacked at the quality of the images even though it was just a little short of the 10-bit 4:2:2 footage that external recording makes possible.

Although cameras that shoot raw or ProRes footage such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and the like are traditionally termed, well, cinema cameras, the X-T3’s footage is clearly more than good enough for many projects that independent documentary and feature moviemakers are likely to create.

It certainly is for me, and it certainly appears to be a step up from the reportedly excellent 10-bit 4:2:2 the Super 16-like Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S camera is cable of recording internally and that is apparently a step-up from the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s 10-bit 4:2:2 footage, also recorded internally.

We appear to now be living in the realm of ‘degrees of excellence’ and so image quality may no longer be the number one deciding factor when choosing how one may shoot a project.

Other factors such as colour science, camera size, shape, handholding ability, available lenses, rigging and more will become the deciding factors and that is no bad thing.

It is great to see what the Fujifilm X-T3 is capable of when shooting short features with it and Nick Thomas and his team have my thanks for kindly sharing their work here.

Bravo!

Links

  • Help support ‘Untitled’

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    The Atomos Ninja V 5-inch HDMI monitor/recorder, perfect for recording 10-bit 4:2:2 F-Log video footage from the Fujifilm X-T3.

    Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

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The X-T3 is Fujifilm’s Finest Camera for APS-C Photography and Super 35 Video Right Now

Moments after I unpacked the X-T3 it became clear that Fujifilm had created something very special with this, the latest in its APS-C sized line of DSLR-style hybrid stills and video cameras.

No time for contemplation  though so I placed it in my shoulder bag and dashed off down the road to where the venue for an historical commemoration was being prepared for the following day, and my first few minutes documenting the action with the X-T3 proved my initial impressions were absolutely spot on. 

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens, the combination I have been trying out for this article.

Gallery: the Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm’s X-T3 hits the mark

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Until Fujifilm released the X-T3, Samsung’s NX1 was the undisputed innovation leader in APS-C hybrid cameras capable of professional-quality 4K video as well as excellent stills. Now the X-T3 is the one to aim for and to beat.

With the X-T3, Fujifilm has really hit the mark and is now fulfilling the promise of affordable, high-quality hybrid stills photography and cinematic video that other makers had dangled back way in 2008 with the 35mm and APS-C DSLRs of the day.

I’ll go even further. With the X-T3, Fujifilm has delivered on the promise of a camera little-known when new and now almost completely forgotten, a revolutionary camera which vanished almost almost as rapidly as it had first appeared, the Samsung NX1.

The Fujifilm X-T3 not only picks up where the NX1 took us back in 2014 but signals a bright future for other top-end Fujifilm APS-C/Super 35 cameras that are hopefully coming soon, specifically the X-Pro3 and the X-H2.

The Fujifilm X-T 3 for stills photography

Amazing feature film-quality video is anything but the whole story for the X-T3 – it is also an amazing stills photography camera.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for documentary photography and photojournalism

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Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and Fujifilm X-T3: a perfect two-camera two-lens documentary photography and photojournalism combination?

I come from a newspaper and documentary photography background, having worked for newspapers, magazines and corporate clients from a ridiculously early age.

I did that work with a range of camera types and sizes, ranging from a Pentax Spotmatic SLR through Nikon SLRs, to sheet film view cameras handheld and on tripods, to Leica’s M-System masterpiece rangefinder cameras and then to a number of medium format roll film cameras in twin-lens reflex, single-lens reflex and rangefinder configurations.

I most found myself at home with rangefinder cameras, small, medium and large, the reason why I was so besotted with the Fujifilm X100 when it was launched in 2010.

As a result I immediately bought an X-Pro2 when it appeared and have loved it ever since.

There is more to documentary photography than the 18mm to 56mm focal length lenses that the X-Pro2’s amazing Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder can handle, though, and I have been hoping for an improved X-Pro3 or some other suitable companion camera that makes the most of lenses longer and wider than 56mm and 18mm.

I certainly hope that the X-Pro3 is on its way, but those other focal lengths continue to beckon.

Having tried the X-T1 and X-T2 and having appreciated them without loving them, I know now that the X-T3 is a big evolutionary jump beyond both older cameras and makes a great companion for my X-Pro2.

The X-T3 side-by-side with the X-Pro2 and all on its own

I loved the X-Pro2 as soon as I picked it up not only for its rangefinder-style optical viewfinder but also for its looks and its feel in the hand, in the way it leaps into my hands every time I get it out of my camera bag.

The day of the X-T3’s arrival I placed it in the bag alongside my X-Pro2, carrying three lenses that day, the Fujinon XF 18-55mmm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom, my Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R prime lenses.

I had chosen those two fast primes after reading wedding documentary photographer Kevin Mullins’ blog at F16.click and seeing the results he was getting in the usual ill-lit churches and wedding venues.

I had worked as a wedding photographer to supplement my income as a kid, relying on flash units and medium format roll film cameras, so appreciated the speed and ease with which Mr Mullins creates his images.

I covered the commemoration event with the X-T3 and X-Pro2 draped around my neck via two Peak Design SlideLite camera straps, relying more on the X-Pro2 at the start then quickly switching to the X-T3 after discovering how beautifully it handled the venue’s available light, or more accurately its available darkness.

I usually rely on Fujifilm cameras’ Auto ISO feature, with aperture priority auto exposure, choose reasonably high ISOs and shoot with fairly wide open apertures in those circumstances and found I was getting better results from the X-T3.

It proved easier and faster to use, faster to autofocus especially when using eye autofocus, produced less noisey images, and most pleasantly of all, it felt just as good in the hand as my X-Pro2, with the result that I began to rely solely on the X-T3 for the rest of the loan period, and loved it.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for monochrome documentary photography

Most of my photography in monochrome, or black-and-white as its more commonly known, is reserved for documentary photography in poor lighting or when the colours of my subjects and their environments carry little to no meaning.

These commemorative event photographs are typical in that the lighting in parts of the venue was low, of mixed sources with some continuous and others prone to flickering, where colour played little to no part in conveying information about the event and its participants, and where I was prepared to shoot in at high ISOs with resulting grain-like digital noise.

The X-T3, frankly, amazed me with its low noise at high ISO to the point where I could easily have shot at ISOs greater than 3200 which I usually set as my upper limit only to be used in emergencies.

Chalk at least some of that up to the X-T3’s new X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4.

The Fujifilm X-T3 for colour photography

Fujifilm cameras are rightly celebrated for their colour science and the richness and veracity of their film simulations for JPEGs and video footage, but I tend to rely on raw files that I process in a number of different applications and plug-ins depending on whether I am after realism or pictorialism, or whether I wish to emulate analog films or go entirely digital in my effects via high dynamic range imaging by merging 5 or 7 exposure brackets in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019.

Since buying my X-Pro2 I have tried out a number of custom picture styles for JPEGs by following the recipes shared by photographers like Kevin Mullins, Thomas Fitzgerald and others.

They have proven to be great reminders of how I visualized the final rendering of my raw files but rarely if ever have I used my JPEGs for final reproduction.

If I were working for a fast-moving client with tight deadlines that deny me time enough in the digital darkroom then I would take my JPEGs more seriously, but those days may well be long over for me now.

And then Fujifilm put Colour Chrome Effect in the X-T3 and what a difference it makes!

Colour Chrome Effect was the crucial step needed to persuade me to finally take JPEGs seriously.

For me, shooting JPEGs for reproduction is akin to shooting colour transparency film while shooting raw is not unlike shooting colour negative film then fussing and mussing it in the colour laboratory.

With an X-T3, my JPEGs to raw files keeper percentages would be more even than they are now when I often chuck out my JPEGs or use them as a quick reference and reminder and not as final art.

The Fujifilm X-T 3 for video

With Fujifilm positioning its X-H1 as the most videocentric DSLR-style camera in its range, as well as the highest performance camera of the whole X Series, the X-T3’s pro-quality video features came as a complete surprise.

In the run-up to Fujifilm’s X-T3 announcement, rumour websites had placed more emphasis on it as a stills photography camera than for video, and I was left wondering whether there would ever be an APS-C hybrid camera that approached or even surpassed the revolutionary Samsung NX1.

Samsung’s NX1 foreshadowed the video capabilities of Fujifilm’s X-T3

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Until Fujifilm released the X-T3, Samsung’s NX1 was the undisputed innovation leader in APS-C hybrid cameras capable of professional-quality 4K video as well as excellent stills. Now the X-T3 is the one to aim for and to beat.

The Samsung NX1 had taken everyone by surprise with a slew of video features nobody could have foreseen at the time it was announced back in 2014.

Those features included its 28.9 megapixel backside illuminated sensor (BSI), autofocus phase detection points covering almost all the sensor’s frame, subject tracking that was incredibly effective for its day, great 4K video, 8-bit 4:2:2 4K video out, a dynamic range and low light capability that was outstanding, high-speed burst stills, touch screen, fast and intuitive menu system, built-in Wi-Fi, an almost lag-free OLED viewfinder and, looking to the future, its H.265 video codec.

DPReview’s Pros and Cons lists for the NX1 included the same item in two places, the NX1’s H.265 video codec in the Pros list due to the small size of H.265 HEVC video files and in the Cons list because many computers of the tine were just too underpowered to handle it well.

The X-T3’s H.265 HEVC video codec and contemporary computers

Those relatively underpowered computers of the day when the Samsung NX1 was new are no longer as much of a concern now, something I proved by putting the X-T3’s H.265 video files to the test in an Apple Store on a range of current computers from an entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro through an entry-level 27-inch iMac up to a mid-range iMac Pro maxed out with RAM.

The two entry-level machines were low in memory for their CPU but they had enough video RAM and graphics processing power to easily handle my H.265 files whether in playback or editing in Final Cut Pro X.

Internal and external graphics processing units like Blackmagic Design’s  Blackmagic eGPU are the key to the big video files that cinema-quality cameras like the X-T3 and NX1 produce, especially when maxing out on resolution, bitrate, compression and aspect ratio.

I carried the Fujifilm X-T3 in this Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear Exposure 15 adventure shoulder camera bag throughout heavy downpours and the occasional sunnier days. Until this bag with its innovative gel shoulder strap, I was unable to carry larger shoulder bags due to longtime spinal injuries but now I can carry two cameras and several lenses as well as a host of other items large and small with impunity.

I initially tested the X-T3’s ability to shoot great video with settings I would apply to making records of family and friends, choosing from Fujifilm’s legendary film simulations for instant television playback via HDMI.

However I shot most of my test video with the cinematic combination of F-log, the cinematic 17:9 aspect ratio of DCI 4K, shooting at 24p and 400Mbps, chose the H.265 (HEVC) codec for 10-bit 4:2:0 on the SD card which would have been 10-bit 4:2:2 if I’d had an Atomos Ninja  V monitor/recorder handy, and ALL-I movie compression instead of Long GOP.

Fair warning: if you choose to shoot whole projects at those settings, make sure you have plenty of internal hard drive space and plenty more fast external hard drives to store on and edit from.

Transcode to ProRes when editing on older computers

I was pushing it on my ageing 27-inch iMac Retina 5K, with video playback stuttering whichever software I used, including the ever-reliable Kyno media management application.

For older machines like mine, be prepared to transcode your H.265 footage to ProRes using your choice of Kyno, EditReady, Compressor or any other capable transcoding software so your computer playback goes smoothly and your editing goes even smoother.

And be prepared to investigate how to use external GPUs on likewise ageing computers, and to invest in a workable solution.

The external GPU community website eGPU.io is a great place to start your research into adding extra graphics processing power to older computers.

Alternatively, choose the older H.264 codec, Long GOP compression and 1080p if you don’t need to future-proof your footage by shooting and editing in 4K.

“Simples!”

Fujfilm X-T3 lightly rigged for video

It is still early days for camera cages and accessories makers coming up with designs for the X-T3 and I do not currently have access to gimbals and other stabilization devices so used it handheld.

Equipped with an optically stabilized zoom lens, however, the Fujifilm X-T3 makes for a very good run-and-gun video camera and its great balance and weight easily accommodates popular video mics from makers like Australia’s very own Røde Microphones as well as headphones or earphones for a little more on-location discretion.

The X-T3 benefits from larger, faster SDXC memory cards especially when shooting video for the high road, and I have some suggestions in the list at the borrow of this page.

You will also need neutral density filters especially when shooting in available light outdoors as the X-T3 has a base ISO of 640 in F-Log and 160 in Rec. 709.

Documentary cinematographers often rely on variable neutral density filters aka VNDs while feature filmmakers choose sets of fixed value ND filters in circular screw-on frames, or square or rectangular filters for sliding into matte boxes or filter holders.

I use both, depending on the project and its circumstances, and there are some recommendations in the list at the bottom of the page.

I also recommend rigging your handheld X-T3  up with ample camera strapping for safety and better grip, and I equip every camera I use with Peak Design’s Clutch, Cuff and SlideLite.

Still frames from DCI 4K video shot in F-Log then minimally graded with Fujifilm’s free LUTs

The video still frames above were shot at DCI 4K then downsized to 1080p to keep file sizes down but they give a good idea of the video image quality delivered by the X-T3 at high road video and in-between settings.

The X-T3’s Super 35 4K footage is eminently gradable, looks beautiful whether shot with F-Log or Fujifilm’s Eterna Rec. 709 film simulation, and I am looking forward to seeing what it does with Fujifilm’s Hybrid Log-Gamma aka HLG profile when it is released via a firmware update sometime later this year.

With the arrival of HLG on Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras the Lumix DC-GH5 and DC-GH5S last year and this, many documentary and feature moviemakers have adopted it as their go-to profile and the same may very well occur with X-T3 users.

I have shot all but one of these in F-Log with the exception of one as Eterna, and have graded the F-Log footage with Fujifilm’s recently updated set of three LUTs for F-Log along with some creative looks LUTs from LookLabs’ SpeedLooks and DFS aka Digital Film Stocks collections.

The X-T3’s Eterna footage looks like it is more than usable ungraded and can take a modicum of grading as well.

The X-T3 takes video autofocus seriously and now, so do I

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A great opportunity to try out the Fujifilm X-T3’s video autofocus and tracking capabilities while panning on fast-moving subjects in dull light during a typical gloomy Sydney October day. Looks good enough for me. Lens used was the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom minus ND filter, at about 18mm and with aperture fairly wide open.

For years there has been no end of to and fro online about whether serious moviemakers use autofocus or not, with the implication that real professionals only focus manually.

My motto is ‘take nothing for granted’ so I put the X-T3’s video and eye detection autofocus to the test in some rather trying conditions and found they certainly work well enough for use when shooting run-and-gun style video and during fast-and-loose handheld camera movements.

The Fujifilm X-T3’s autofocus, and autoexposure capabilities for that matter, are well worth putting to the test under a range of conditions.

From the evidence of the still-frame above and others I would me more than happy to rely on the X-T3’s autofocusing in a pinch, especially for use in documentary projects.

My Fujifilm X-T3 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Slightly larger body, dials and buttons – better grip, more stability in the hand, easier to locate without looking, easier to click or turn.
  • Slightly larger built-in grip – though I would still add the metal hand grip or vertical battery grip for larger lenses and portrait photography.
  • Size, shape and silver colour – aids in being ignored when shooting side-by-side with Canon and Nikon DSLR users as I look like an amateur playing with a toy or an old analog era camera.
  • Linear or non-linear focussing with focus-by-wire lenses.
  • Faster and surer face/eye focus detection – in available light, available darkness and with the face turned sideways, defeated only by subjects wearing glasses.
  • Faster and more accurate autofocus – in stills and especially video.
  • Flicker reduction using mechanical shutter.
  • Locking diopter adjustment!!! – no more knocking off its settings and annoying resetting.
  • More megapixels at 26.1 MP – leading to less noise when shooting in available darkness at high ISOs.
  • Size, shape and silver colour – aids in being ignored when shooting side-by-side with Canon and Nikon DSLR users as I look like an amateur playing with a toy or an old analog era camera.
  • Minimal blackout of the electronic viewfinder.
  • Better video dynamic range than other APS-C and M43 cameras.
  • Beautiful stills and videos. 
  • Wide range of film simulation picture styles – augmented by Colour Chrome Effect, Eterna and F-Log.
  • Good low noise results at high ISOs. 
  • Built-in microphone and headphone ports – on-camera instead of only on battery grip.
  • Zebras – for accurate video exposure, with ability to set percentage.

Cons:

  • No in-body image stabilization – wait for the X-H2?
  • Three-way tilting LCD monitor instead of fully articulated LCD monitor – limits the operator’s range of positions relative to the camera, especially in tight spaces, and eliminates the possibility of mounting detachable hoods and loupes.
  • Small battery – while the NP-W126S delivers more sustained power than the NP-W126, shooting throughout the day requires carrying several of them and so I recommend the Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT3.
  • Blinkies only – for accurate stills exposure and not zebras and percentage settings as with video.

Conclusions

The Fujifilm X-T3 has been a revelation, the first contemporary DSLR-style APS-C/Super 35 format camera I have used that has impressed me as much as the revolutionary Samsung NX1 did, for photography and for video.

The Fujifilm X-T3 is the first APS-C DSLR-style camera that proved to be as comfortable, as at-home in my hands while covering an all-day event as my Fujifilm X-Pro2, and I would have no hesitation relying on it for plenty more of the same.

The Fujifilm X-T3 also proved to be just as usable and as comfortable in my hands in its role as a Super 35 movie camera shooting beautiful high-end DCI 4K cinematic footage with its video settings maxed out, and its straight-out-of-camera 1080p video shot using the Eterna and other film simulation picture profiles was a delight.

The X-T3 will be as at home shooting family videos with stabilized zoom lenses attached as it will be on the set of a commercial movie or television production, heavily rigged up with adapted cinema prime lenses or Fujifilm’s two geared parfocal X-Mount cinema zoom lenses, the Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and the Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9.

I have only touched on the surface of this amazing camera and its capabilities, but even so I was deeply impressed and excited about the future of Fujifilm’s X-Mount system for stills photography and moviemaking, and have no hesitation in recommending the X-T3 for users at all levels of expertise.

Links

This is an exhaustive list of hardware and software products that may be of interest to those using the Fujifilm X-T3 for stills photography or video production. I use or have at least tried out most of these products and can recommend them.

Many of them are available for purchase via my B&H Photo Video affiliate link account if you wish to help support may work in producing articles like this one, or you may wish to do so via the shorter list at the base of this page.

    • 1Styles.pro – maker of film simulations styles and presets for Capture One.
    • 8Sinn – maker of popular camera body-hugging camera cages and accessories, currently designing cages for the Fujifilm X-T3.
    • Alien Skin – maker of Exposure X4 raw photo editor and organizer.
    • Aurora-Aperture – excellent quality UV, neutral density and variable neutral density filters for photography and cinematography, including the PowerXND-II VND series featuring a range of 1 to 11 stops of light reduction.
    • Apple – Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter – … “a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new Thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port and macOS Sierra.”
    • Blackmagic DesignBlackmagic eGPU – external high performance graphics accelerator for photograph and video editing and grading, currently sold exclusively through Apple stores.
    • Blackmagic DesignBlackmagic Raw – “the world’s fastest RAW format with better quality and better features!” – imagine if this raw codec was implemented in all cameras, especially the X-T3!
    • Blackmagic DesignDaVinci Resolve – “DaVinci Resolve 15 is the world’s first solution that combines professional offline and online editing, color correction, audio post production and now visual effects all in one software tool!” – available in excellent free version as well as paid-for Studio version.
    • Breakthrough Photography – makers of some of the finest brass traction-framed and non-framed UV and fixed ND filters as well as the best brass traction-framed step-up rings though the company does not make every single size that may be needed. If the size you need is not available, consider the brass step-up rings made by Heliopan and Sensei, UV filters made by Chiaro and ND filters made by Formatt-Hitech and SLR Magic.
    • Chiaro – excellent high transmission UV protection filters in brass frames.
    • CoreMelt – Australian maker of plug-ins for Final Cut Pro X that are considered must-haves for all video editors, with its Chromatic plug-in especially essential for quality colour grading within FCPX.
    • divergent mediaEditReady 2 – affordable macOS-only application for transcoding video files.
    • DxO – maker of DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as well as the new owner of the Nik Collection Plug-ins. Sadly, DxO does not support Fujifilm X-Trans raw files in its applications but they can be applied as plug-ins.
    • eGPU.io – macOS user community website dedicated to external graphics processing unit solutions for current and older Mac computers including those that predate Thunderbolt 3.
    • F16.click – Fujifilm X-Photographer Kevin Mullins’ blog, where he shares his excellent SOOC JPEG custom settings amongst other things. Like me he is a rangefinder camera-using documentary photographer and I recommend his articles on the X-T3 from that point of view.
    • Formatt Hitech – makes Firecrest Ultra ND and Firecrest ND fixed value neutral density filters in framed and unframed versions, the “world’s first hyper-neutral ND”.
    • Fujifilm GlobalApplication Software – free software including Fujifilm X Raw Studio, Fujifilm X Acquire and Tethered Shooting Software HS-V5.
    • Fujifilm Global – Digital Camera Firmware : Interchangeable Camera Body / Lens – check that you have the latest camera and lens firmware here.
    • Fujifilm Global – Fujifilm launches new mirrorless digital camera “FUJIFILM X-T3” – press release.
    • Fujifilm GlobalFujifilm X-T3 – product pages.
    • Fujifilm Global – LUT for F-Log (Look Up Table) – set of three free LUTs for X-T3 video, an excellent starting point when grading F-Log and other video from the X-T3. I particularly like the F-Log to Eterna LUT.
    • Fujifilm Global – RAW FILE CONVERTER EX 3.0 powered by SILKYPIX – free raw file convertor.
    • Fujifilm X/GFX USA
    • Fujifilm X Series Official Site
    • Image Alchemist – maker of presets for Capture One.
    • iridient digital – maker of Iridient X-Transformer and transformer software for other cameras’ raw files as well as Iridient Developer for processing raw files; helping get the very best out of Fujifilm X-Trans raw files.
    • Leeming LUT Pro – Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming makes “the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec. 709 starting point for further creative colour grading.” and is working on a LUT for the Fujifilm X-T3.
    • Lesspain SoftwareKyno – unique application for macOS and Windows that is effectively a Swiss Army Knife media management toolset for moviemakers, that works in close conjunction with Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro.
    • LockCircle – run by Italian-Australian director/cinematographer Dante Cecchin, this Italian company makes some of the best camera cages and accessories for digital moviemaking.
    • LookLabs – makers of SpeedLooks and Digital Film Stocks aka DFS looks LUTs based on scans of film stocks and popular feature film grading looks.
    • On1, Inc. – maker of On1 Photo Raw 2018, soon to be upgraded to On1 Photo Raw 2019, raw image editor and organizer.
    • Phase OneCapture One Express Fujifilm, Capture One Pro Fujifilm, and Capture One Pro for all cameras – Express version is free, other two must be purchased, both offer tethered shooting on top-tier Fujifilm cameras, and all versions provide top-quality raw image processing of Fujifilm raw files with integrated Fujifilm film simulations coming soon.
    • Silkypix – maker of Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 9, Silkypix Developer Studio 8 and free raw developer software for Fujfilm cameras.
    • Skylum – maker of Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 2018 image editing and organizing software.
    • SLR Magic – makers of neutral density and related filters popular with professional documentary moviemakers, includingSLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops) and SLR Magic 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhancer Filter (4-Stop) as well as a range of fixed neutral density filters.
    • SmallRig – maker of cages and accessories for cameras including the X-T3, with two cages in Pre-Order at time of writing, SmallRig Cage for Fujifilm X-T3 Camera with Battery Grip 2229 and SmallRig Cage for Fujifilm X-T3 Camera 2228.
    • Thomas Fitzgerald Photography – blog by JPEG and raw file processing expert whose ‘Fuji Jpegs: Shooting and Processing Guide’ eBook contains some excellent advice and recipes for getting the best out of SOOC JPEG custom settings.

    Image Credits

    • Header image by Jonas Rask on commission from Fujifilm.
    • Press image product shots courtesy of Fujifilm.
    • Photograph of Fujifilm X-T3 and Samsung NX1 made on location at a local event as a 5-bracket HDR image with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens then processed in Aurora HDR 2019 and DxO Nik Collection plug-ins.
    • My own product shots made as 5-bracket HDR images with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens then processed in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019, Alien Skin Exposure X4 and DxO Nik Sharpener Pro as plug-ins.

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Fujifilm X-T3 First Impressions

I have been using the Fujifilm X-T3 since its release late last week and, in brief, it is the camera that I was hoping the X-T2 would be both in stills and video functionality. 

I like the X-T3 though I am not naturally an SLR-style camera user for stills photography, having spent my formative and magazine photography years relying on rangefinder cameras in a number of film formats from 35mm through 120 roll film to 4″x5″ sheet film. 

I have relied on DSLR-style cameras for video, however, specifically Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4 and GH5 though not, as yet, the GH5S. 

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.

I chose Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds mirrorless hybrid cameras for video due to Fujifilm’s APS-C hybrid cameras lack of professional-quality video capabilities for so long.

Until now, that is.

I will be putting the X-T3 to the test over the next few days and will then be better able to determine if the X-T3 is as ready for professional use in documentary photography and video production as its Panasonic Lumix counterparts.

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Fujifilm X-T3 alongside the legendary and sadly discontinued Samsung NX1, until now the most advanced APS-C/Super 35 DSLR-style mirrorless camera. Is the X-T3 the NX1 successor that I have been hoping for? Quite possibly, but further testing for stills and video are required before I can definitely answer that question.

Until then, my first impressions of the Fujifilm X-T3 are very favourable indeed, especially on the stills photography front as I took it straight into production documenting an all-day event on the day of arrival and all the following day too.

I will be more specific about how and why in coming articles soon, covering stills and video.

Meanwhile here are the general and stills photography features and improvements I have used and like so far:

  • Bigger, easier to grip body and more stability when handholding for video due to increased weight and better balance.
  • Bigger, easier to grip dials.
  • Bigger buttons, easier to locate unseen.
  • Choice of linear or non-linear focussing with focus-by-wire lenses.
  • Faster and surer face/eye focus detection in available light, available darkness and with the face turned sideways.
  • Larger built-in grip, though I would still add the metal hand grip or vertical battery grip for larger lenses and portrait photography.
  • Faster and more accurate autofocus.
  • Flicker reduction using mechanical shutter.
  • Locking diopter adjustment!!!
  • More megapixels at 26.1 MP, which appears to lead to much less noise when shooting in available darkness at high ISOs.
  • Size, shape and silver colour leads to being ignored when shooting side-by-side with Canon and Nikon DSLR users as I look like an amateur playing with a toy or an old analog era camera.

And finally and straight out of left field, here is a feature I would love to see on all DSLR-style cameras including those made by Fujifilm, that was again pioneered by Samsung but in its NX30 and not the NX1:

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The amazing tilting electronic viewfinder eyepiece on the Samsung NX30 with Samsung 18-55mm III f/3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens, making waist-level photography possible as Panasonic did on its Lumix DMC-GX8 professional flagship rangefinder-style M43 hybrid camera. Panasonic, where is the pro-quality successor to the GX8?

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Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.

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Fujifilm X-T3 Owner’s Manual in HTML and PDF, Firmware Update Version 1.01 Now Available for Download

I am awaiting delivery of a Fujifilm X-T3 review loaner and was alerted that a firmware update for the X-T3 would be released before the weekend. 

The ever-reliable Fuji Rumors website has just informed its readers that the Version 1.01 firmware updater is now available with a lock-up fix included, and the Fujifilm X-T3 Owner’s Manual is also now available as a PDF and as a webpage

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.

I am downloading the X-T3 Owner’s Manual as a PDF right now and will be scouring it to find out more about the camera’s many new and improved features, especially exposure zebras.

A request to Fujifilm – choice of linear focusing with all focus-by-wire lenses, please!

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Focus Ring Operation choices for the Fujifilm X-H1 camera and now the X-T3. Every Fujifilm camera needs these options for use with the many Fujinon lenses that do not have manual clutch focus. I choose linear over nonlinear any day, especially when shooting video.

As I have often found in recent years, it always pays to at least skim through the owner’s manual of any new gear you buy in order to learn how to quickly get the best out of it.

A request to Fujifilm and all makers of APS-C and 35mm sensor cameras – 4:3/3:4 aspect ratio, please!

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The 3:4 aspect ratio of Micro Four Thirds is much better than the 2:3 aspect ratio of APS-C and 35mm sensors for vertical portraits and is close to the aspect ratio of magazine pages. We need 4:3/3:3 added to aspect ratio choices in all APS-C and 35mm sensor cameras via firmware. Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip.

Fujifilm, please add 4:3 in horizontal/landscape orientation and 3:4 in vertical/portrait orientation to your current aspect ratio choices of 3:2/2:3, 1:1 and 16:9 in your next firmware updates for all your cameras, especially those most likely to be used by professionals.

I, like many professionals working for advertising and editorial clients, find it far easier and more accurate to create a well-designed photograph within an aspect ratio as close as possible to those in which the image will be used.

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Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand Grip. Every Fujifilm camera, in my experience, benefits from attaching a metal hand grip or better yet a vertical battery grip.

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FUJIFILMglobal: Xtra Turbo X-T3 with Nicole Emanuel

“Australian photographer Nicole Emanual shoots horses on X-T3”

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.

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Fujifilm Grip Belt GB-001. I recommend using camera straps on all your cameras and especially Fujifilm cameras with metal hand grips or vertical battery grips. I have Peak Design camera straps on all my gear, often up to three of them, but this Fujifilm hand grip looks great for battery grip-equipped cameras.

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Is the Fujifilm X-T3 the Powerhouse Flagship APS-C/Super 35 DSLR-Style Mirrorless Hybrid Video and Stills Non-IBIS Camera We Have Been Waiting For?

Fujifilm has announced that it will launch the Fujifilm X-T3 “as the latest model in the X Series known for superior image quality with proprietary color reproduction technology. The camera will be launched on September 20, 2018” five days before photokina 2018 commences in Köln on September 25.  

The X-T3 has delivered more sophisticated new features and improvements than I expected when the camera was first rumoured and I am studying its specifications list, hands-on articles and videos with a great deal of interest right now. 

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.

Commentary

The Fujifilm X-T3 is the first Fujifilm DSLR-style camera I would consider using in serious video production given its top notch video features and now that it has exposure zebras! Exposure zebras… YAY!!!

For me, Fujifilm’s most archetypal professional flagship cameras remain the X-Pro digital rangefinders given their evolution of the groundbreaking fixed lens X100 into interchangeable lens territory, and my APS-C format work in photography will centre on X-Pro cameras so long as Fujifilm continues to make them.

I would hate to see Fujifilm follow Panasonic’s recent decision to de-professionalize its Lumix GX rangefinder-style camera range into enthusiast-level gear intended for street photographers as the latter has done with the disappointing Lumix DC-GX9.

Rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras in all sensor formats are the perfect fit for my way of seeing and photographing, both having evolved through many years of relying on rangefinder-equipped analog film cameras in all formats from 35mm roll film through to 4″x5″ sheet film.

SLR and DSLR cameras have always been secondary camera types for me, involving a very different way of seeing and photographing, one more akin to staring at a mirror into near-flat space rather then peering through a window at objects arrayed left to right, near to far and top to bottom of frame in deep space.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro line, most recently represented by the X-Pro2, is essentially three cameras in one – an optical viewfinder camera, an electronic viewfinder camera and a small view camera via its LCD monitor – and remain the most versatile and personally satisfying solution for documentary photography with focal lengths from 18mm through to 56mm.

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Contax S2 35mm single lens reflex camera which was fully mechanical, manually focused, manually-operated, had a spotmeter and used the Contax/Yashica bayonet mount in order to accept Carl Zeiss T* lenses. It was made by Kyocera, was introduced in 1992 and discontinued in 2000. I am always reminded of Contax SLRs when looking at Fujifilm’s X-T cameras. Image courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.

DSLR-style cameras, on the other hand, are the electronic viewfinder-equipped descendants of optical viewfinder-equipped SLR cameras – two cameras in one through the benefit of their view camera-like LCD monitors.

DSLR-style cameras support my reliance on rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras through being better suited to wider focal lengths than 18mm and longer lengths than 56mm.

They are also excellent cameras for more technical work such as architectural photography and product photography.

And now, with Fujifilm’s announcement of the X-T3, professional video production too.

Fujifilm began slowly but surely working on improving its cameras’ video functionality since customer requests to do so started flowing in to the company since the release of the X100.

As a documentary storyteller, I must always be equipped to best handle whatever situation I may find myself in, whether it demands photographs or video footage.

As a shoulder bag or backpack equipped solo operator, I can only carry so much gear and carrying two different cameras systems, one best for video and one best for stills, can be a bridge too far.

One camera system that can do both well enough is the key and, sadly, despite a number of Fujifilm kaizen firmware updates for the X-Pro2, its support for video remains problematic due to its lack of the ability to allow customized video settings such as noise reduction, highlight tone, shadow tone, color and sharpness.

The X-Pro2’s electronic viewfinder is also something of a disappointment when compared to those in the X-T1, X-T2 and the two Panasonic M43 cameras I have for documentary video production.

I need a second Fujifilm camera for my customary two-camera, two-lens documentary photography methodology, and at least one of those must produce good quality video.

With no rumors about the X-Pro3 still, I hope that we are not to assume the worst about the continuation of the X-Pro flagship line.

I have been hoping that the X-Pro3 will correct what is lacking in the otherwise excellent X-Pro2, namely its video functionality and most especially its EVF, so have been wondering if I should pay attention to the larger X-H flagship range or the smaller, sexier X-T range instead.

First glance at the X-T3’s specifications makes me think that it may prove a good solution should I be unable to wait for the X-Pro3’s arrival or if I must eventually cope with a possible tragic demise of the X-Pro range some day.

DSLR-style cameras can never replace rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras due to their very different natures, but they can be excellent complements to each other.

Fujifilm X-T3 camera body, kit lens and vertical battery grip

Some accessories for the Fujifilm X-T3

Photographs of other Fujifilm and third party accessories for the X-T3 are currently unavailable, but we will place them here when they appear.

It appears that X-T3 review loaners may begin to make their appearance in Australia in October or November of this year.

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Fujifilm Wide Eyecup EC-XH W, a great choice when shooting video with the Fujifilm X-T3, especially when used in conjunction with a synthetic chamois eye cushion by Bluestar.

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FastRawViewer: Can you Evaluate Exposure Using the In-camera Histogram? (Part 1 of 3)

https://www.fastrawviewer.com/blog/in-camera-histogram-doesn%27t-represent-exposure

“They say that “a histogram is a graphical representation of the pixels exposed in your image” or “when judging exposure, the primary areas of the histogram to be concerned with are the right and left edges”,…

… Please keep in mind that the histograms your camera displays are from JPEGs, even when you are shooting RAW….

… It doesn’t look like examining the shadows of the histogram tells a whole lot to a RAW shooter….

… On the same note, a histogram is also not very useful for evaluating the highlights in RAW…”

Link

Fujifilm Releases Firmware Updates for X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S, Still No Live Zebras for Perfect Exposure when Shooting

Fujifilm has released its firmware updates for the X-T2, X-T20 and GFX 50S APS-C/Super 35 and medium format cameras, along with the new, free Fujifilm X Raw Studio raw convertor and Fujifilm X Acquire 1.7 for settings back-ups, restoration and tethered shooting on Mac or Windows computers, while firmware updates for the X-Pro2 and X100F remain on-course for late December 2017. 

Fujifilm’s support for Super 35 video in the X-T2 flagship DSLR-style mirrorless camera appears partially complete. Looks like we may need to wait for the Fujifilm X-H1 for the arrival of a full set of top-end professional video features some time in 2018.

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.

How to access RGB histograms and overexposed areas blinkies, from page 1 of the X-T2 New Features Guide Version 3.00. But is this the whole story?

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?

A cunning plan?

Does Fujifilm have a cunning plan?

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.

If FujiRumors’ report that the Fujifilm X-H1 will be Fuji’s [sic] first IBIS Camera (no longer X-T2S) is correct, and their rumour accuracy has proven to be high in the past, then will the X-H1 be the very first Fujifilm camera worthy of being attached to Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK Series X-Mount Ciné zoom lenses, currently only available with Sony E-Mounts as the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount) and
Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Sony E-Mount).

Leaning elsewhere for video, but…

Right now, I am not holding my breath but am leaning heavily towards Panasonic’s mature Super 16/Micro Four Thirds offerings now and in the very near future for video in combination with Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus prime and zoom lenses.

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.

Postscript

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.

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Image Credits

Image concept and quick hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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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.

Links

Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
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