X-Series

Great New Firmware From Fujifilm, But The X-Pro2 Ain't Feelin' The Love

Fujifilm has released new firmware for the X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX and even (unexpectedly) the X100F. Unfortunately the X-Pro2 got a little short changed this time around and it ain't feeling the love! But hopefully the great peeps at Fuji will put this right soon. You can find the latest firmware and a full list of what's new from HERE. But here are a few of my favourites.

FRONT COMMAND DIAL ISO:

One great feature that's been added to the X-T2 is the ability to control ISO from the front dial. This one appeared first on the X100F and is really handy when you want to lock in aperture and shutter speed and use the ISO to make adjustments to exposure. I do a lot of jazz concert photography and I tend to have to shoot wide open and with the shutter speed at 1/125th (my preferred minimum SS). The ISO dial on the top of the X-T2 is great, but it means taking my left hand of the camera to make adjustments. The front command dial is easy to access and let's me keep both hands on the camera. This feature was not added to the X-Pro2.

REAR COMMAND DIAL BACK BUTTON FOCUS:

Another great one from the X100F that's been added to the X-T2 is the ability to press the rear command dial for back button focus. You can actually assign a variety of functions to the rear command dial switch. I find the AF/L button on the X-T2 a bit too far to the right, but I can't switch it with the AE/L button because I poke my thumb into my eye with that one (I'm a left eye shooter). So pressing the rear command dial to back button focus is a great option. Sadly though, this feature was not added to the X-Pro2.

OPTION OF 'ALL' ADDED TO AF MODE

This one was unexpected and a really welcome feature. By selecting 'All' in the AF Mode you can use any of the command dials to choose any of the AF Modes. We do this in the exact same way as we change the size of the focus point. Press the Focus Selector Lever (the joystick) to turn the focus point green. Now rotate either the front or rear command dial to increase the size of the focus point, which cycles like this:

  • 6 different sizes of single point
  • 3 different sizes of Zone
  • Wide Tracking (it then loops back to the smallest single point)

I have my AF Mode assigned to the bottom button of the D-Pad, but by using this new method, I could leave it AF Mode set to 'All' and free up that Fn button for something else. It's unexpected gems like this that make Fujifil so great, but guess what - this feature is not on the latest firmware for the X-Pro2.

CONCLUSION 

As far as I know, no other camera manufactures virtually give away new cameras through frequent firmware updates. That might seem like an exaggeration, but quite often it really does feel like a new camera. I'm looking forward to the X-Pro2 firmware engineer getting back from his holiday at Skegness and bringing all the latest features to the other flagship X-Series camera - the X-Pro2. 

One firmware request I do have for another camera in the lineup (even though it might be discontinued), is to fix a bug in the X70 firmware. When using the WCL, the manual focus scale disappears from the LCD, which is a problem when zone focusing.

Fujifilm X100F Review : Beauty And A Beast

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Based On A Pre-Production FUJI X100F

This review is based on a pre-production camera after two months of using it, but the production model probably won't be much different. I'm an official Fujifilm X-Photographer and I have owned each version of the X100, plus almost all of the other X-Series cameras. I shoot exclusively with the X-Series cameras and haven't used a DSLR is years. This review is based on that. The pictures of the camera on this post were shot by me (they are not the official promo shots). I used my X-Pro2 with the brilliant 35mm f2 lens and a single overhead umbrella. For the close shots, I used the smallest of the Fuji Macro Tubes (11).

DESIGN AND LAYOUT

Your opinion may differ from mine, but I think the X100F is the most beautiful camera I have seen in my entire life! It keeps the look of the original X100, but the lines are cleaner, sharper and the top plate now slopes from the upper to the lower level. This, more than any other camera, has that thing where you just want to pick it up and hold it in your hands.

The X100F now has a front command dial, A front fn button (on the OVF/EVF selector lever) and the focus assist light has been moved up to sit alongside the flash on the front of the top plate. My first thought when I unboxed it back in November was that it felt a little chunkier in my hands than my X100T, which is a good thing in my book.

The rear of the X100F has a similar button layout to the X-Pro2 so it's been so easy to shoot with both these cameras together without having to think too much. I do wish Fuji had put three buttons next to the viewfinder instead of two (the X-Pro2 has three). It would also be nice to use the Delete key as an Fn button while in playback mode (like on the X70) and even be able to use the Q button as an Fn button and have Q assignable to any of the Fn buttons. The best new feature on the back of the the F is the joystick. I'm so used to this now that I find it awkward when I use any of my older X-Series cameras. It's also great that this frees the D Pad up to be used as 4 fn buttons now (Drive + 3 more).

NEW FUNCTIONS

The X100F has been brought up to spec with the two flagship Fuji cameras, the X-Pro2 and the X-T2, which is pretty impressive in this much smaller camera. It has the same 24 megapixel sensor and processor, which seems to be the new standard in X-Series cameras and one I hope will find its way into the next version of the X70.

THE ISO DIAL

The ISO dial has been brough over from the X-Pro2, which some will like and some won't. I like it, but it could have benefited from having a shutter speed lock button (like on the X-Pro2) because it is easy to move the shutter speed dial by accident if you don't pull the dial up far enough. I didn't find this to be too much of a problem though. But thanks to the next feature, you don't even need to use the ISO Dial if you don't want to.

ISO COMMAND MODE

This is a big one that has been brought over from the X-T10. You can still use Auto ISO in the usual way, but if set to Command in the Buttons & Dials setup menu and the ISO Dial on the top plate is set to A, the front command dial becomes the ISO dial. This is ideal if you want to lock your aperture and shutter speed and have ISO as the only variable. We Need this feature in the X-Pro2 and X-T2. It would be nice to be able to lock this by pressing the front Command Dial switch.

C = 5 STOPS OF EV COMPENSATION

Like on the X-Pro2 and X-T2, the X100F has the letter C on the Exposure Compensation Dial which extends EV Comp to 5 stops. Simply select C and then use the front Command Dial to scroll through 5 stops in either direction.

So what happens if both ISO and EV Comp are set to be controlled by the front command dial? In this instance the front command dial switch is used to toggle between ISO and EV Comp.

DIGITAL ZOOM AND CONVERSION LENSES

Both of the currently available conversion lenses, the WCL-100 (28mm) and the TCL-X100 (50mm) work with the X100F, but at the time of writing this review there is a second version of both lenses on the horizon. I have no idea how they differ from the ones I have, because both of the original conversion lenses perform brilliantly.

These lenses have apertures of f2 wide open (just like the fixed lens) and there's no loss of light like you would get with a teleconverter. But if you don't want to carry extra lenses (having a single fixed lens is after all the beauty of this camera), the X100F inherits the Digital Zoom function from the X70. By twisting the focus ring (in auto focus mode) you have the option of 50mm, 70mm and the cameras standard 35mm field of view. This is not an optical zoom, but there is some sort of magical upscaling going on that keeps the quality high. I'd still rather use one of the conversion lenses, but the Digital Zoom can be really handy sometimes. The viewfinder displays either 50 or 70 in a small box at the upper side, which changes when you have the camera set to Tele Converter Lens (72mm & 100mm using the digital zoom) or Wide Converter Lens (41mm & 58mm).

It's worth mentioning here that the Digital Zoom feature won't work in RAW, so you have to set the camera to JPEG only or the focus ring does nothing. Another point would be that when the camera is set to Manual Focus Mode, the focus ring obviously won't be used for Digital Zoom. The feature will still work, but you will need to with to AF adjust Digital Zoom with the focus ring and then switch back to MF.

There are 4 Control Ring Settings (focus ring). STD or Standard (changes the default option according to the shooting mode), White Balance, Film Simulation and Digital Zoom. Standard and Digital Zoom pretty much do the latter, but it would be nice to have a fifth option of OFF. A workaround for this is obviously to shoot in RAW+JPEG so that the control ring does nothing.

BATTERY

The NP-95 battery from the previous three X100 models has been replaced by the same NP-W126 that the X-Pro, X-T and X-E series uses, which is a great thing if, like me, you tend to cary more than one X-Series camera with you. I haven't noticed much difference in the amount of shots I get out of a single battery, but I have been using the F on high performance. Check Fuji's specs for more info on battery life.

CONCLUSION

I hate to state the obvious, but the X100F is the best X100 camera so far. The X100F,  X-Pro2 and X-T2 have jumped so far ahead of all the other X-Series cameras that I'm now in the process of selling both my X-T1's and probably my X-E2, in favour of the X100F, X-Pro2 and X-T2. I'm not sure what the fate of my X100T will be yet.

If you own any of the X100 cameras, from the original to the S and the T, it is a no brainier. Buy the X100F (if you can afford to) and you will not be disappointed. F is for Fourth, but it could just as well be for Fast or even another F word :o)

I think the X100F is of close to perfection. Obviously we all have our own preferences to how we setup our cameras and Fuji have made their cameras super customisable, from the Q Menu to My Menu and lots of Fn Buttons. But if Fuji are reading this post, I would be doing them a miss service if I didn't mention a few firmware updates for the future that would make this camera out of this world.

MY WISH LIST FOR FUTURE FIRMWARE

  • Q Button as an assignable Fn button.
  • Delete button as an Fn button in shooting mode (like the X70).
  • Pressing the front command dial to lock ISO in Command Mode.
  • Ability to toggle ISO Auto & Command Mode on any of the Fn buttons (not just in the menu).
  • Ability to put ISO Auto & Command Mode in My Menu
  • The ability to disengage the Control Ring function.
  • Be able t use the front Fn button to toggle between digital zoom settings with each press 50 -70 -35 -50...
  • More options for assigning things to the front command dial (on all Fuji cameras).
  • Swap the functions of pressing the rear command dial and the joystick (i.e. put Focus Check on the joystick).

LAST WORD FROM ME

The X-Pro2 and the X-T2 are the dual flagship models, but I personally see the X100F as a 3rd flagship. The flagship of the compacts.

LINKS TO OTHER X100F POSTS

 

Fujifilm X100F As A Studio Portrait Camera

All pictures taken with a pre-production Fuji X100F

Most people might not think of the X100 series cameras as portrait or studio tools. For a start, the 35mm field of view is not the best focal length for portraits (unless you're aiming for environmental portraits of course). The small size of the camera can also be deceiving and not something that would come to mind for studio work. But as you will see in this post, the X100F is very capable in a variety of styles in photography. 

For this shoot with my daughter Janel, I used the TCL-X100 teleconverter lens to switch the X100F from 35mm to 50mm, which takes it into a more suitable focal length for portraits. Don't forget to set the camera to TCL mode in the menu. I have assigned it to an Fn button, but My Menu is a good place for it too. It's worth pointing out that at the time of writing this post, there are version 2 of the conversion lenses on the horizon. I don't know yet what the differences are from the original ones, but it might be something to keep in mind if you're thinking of buying the TCL (50mm) or the WCL (28mm).

I used a single Bowens Streamlite 530 daylight balanced fluorescent light with the diffuser sock attached and a Lastolight background. Hair and makeup was handled by my wife Fe and after shooting the first few pictures, Janel grabbed Fe's hat and started to pose with it. We then took a peace of black velvet from my lighting bag and wrapped it around her for a darker look. Janel has been my model all her life, so she just moves and poses without having to think about it. She's a natural!

I also used a Color Checker Passport to set a custom white ballance, but I still felt it was a little too warm. I shot RAW + JPEG, but everything you see here are the JPEG's. I used Single Point Auto Focus for the full shoot, but aperture, shutter speed and ISO were all set manually. 

When the original X100 was released with the fixed 23mm lens (35mm FF), some people complained that it was a disadvantage. I never subscribed to this point of view and felt that it was an advantage in some situations and that shooting with a single focal length can make you a better photographer. But there's no denying the two conversion lenses (28mm and 50mm) opened the X100 series up into a system and three times more capable.

The X100F is a real joy to use for shooting portraits. The quality is on a par with the X-Pro2 and X-T2, which means it's as good as any DSLR. I'd like to end this post with a couple of screenshots from Lightroom. What you see below is every picture taken on this shoot. The 13 black and whites you see were shot in camera with the Acros film simulation. There were a couple of shots where Janel moved and I missed focus, but other than that, each shot was usable. I'm looking forward to a lot more portraiture with the X100F.

UPDATE 28th Nov 2017

Jeremy asked in the comments about using the TCL-X100 with the X100F's Digital Zoom feature, which would take the focal length up to 100mm and producing a more natural shape to the face. Thisis indeed true, but at the cost of losing shallow depth of field. This wouldn't matter when shooting against a plain background at f8, but it would if you were shooting at f2.8 to produce a nice bokeh. Here's an example.

I used my feed to make sure Janel's head was roughly the same size in the frame

I used my feed to make sure Janel's head was roughly the same size in the frame

The 53mm Interview

Five more members of The Kage Collective have taken over the 53mm website this month with a host of interviews on how we use our Fuji 35/1.4 and 35/2 lenses (53mm in full frame terms). Kevin Mullins had already completed the interview previously, but this month Patrick La Roque, Bert Stefani, Robert Catto, Vincent Baldensperger and myself have tackled Iain Palmer's list of questions and I hope you find our answers quite diverse.

So make yourself a coffee, stick on some background music and have a Kagefest on us at www.fiftythreemm.com.