Electronic Shutter Distortion

You see reports of distortion when capturing photos of fast-moving subjects using the electronic shutter. Here’s an excellent example of what happens.

This image was captured with the XF 56mm F/1.2 wide open, ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/10500 on an X-T1. Thos balls were in fact spherical.

So the next time I want to shoot family members playing backyard picnic games with very shallow depth of field, I’ll definitely look into a neutral density filter.

“Photometry” Needs to Go

In referencing Fuji‘s excellent1 online manual for the X-T2 for my (extremely tardy) review, I noticed that while this page URL still says “Photometry,” the page content is exclusively about “Metering.”

I’d really like to see Fujifilm amend the language around Metering in the rest of their online documentation and camera UI, especially of cameras where metering isn’t changed exclusively via hardware.

Photometry or Metering?

While the word “Photometry” certainly makes some sense in this context, I always found it confusing, as I’m sure many people switching from other camera brands do.

There are basic usability issues at play here as well. When making adjustments to the “Display Custom Settings,” the X-T2 still says “Photometry,” which, when paired with the manual, must be awfully confusing for people who want to see their current “Metering” mode displayed. Consistency in the nomenclature would be helpful for everyone.

  1. Outside of Search being “Powering by Google (Ads).” ↩︎

Disassembling a Fuji XF Lens

Fascinating post at Lensrentals.com:

The overall construction is excellent. There was no place during this disassembly that either of us thought we saw a weak point that would be likely to cause problems. It’s not massively over engineered, but it’s very solidly constructed. [...] This looks like a lens that was designed by people who know how to make reliable lenses.

More on ACROS

Patrick La Roque on ACROS:

I noticed ISO 2000 seemed to be a sweet spot for this simulation, creating a visible grain that added personality without reducing sharpness or introducing anything remotely muddy into the mix (actually it scales well all the way up but 2000 felt like a good general compromise).

Nice of Patrick to get some of this work done for us. Auto ISO users might want to think about capping it around 2000.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Fujifilm’s commitment to bringing their film legacy to the X Series is an issue of pride. It’s where their identity can shine and how they can differentiate themselves further. I personally find the development of Acros, the research that went into its creation, very, very exciting. There’s a complexity at work here that goes way beyond slapping a curve on top of a monochrome file, and this shows a thirst for exploration that could yield serious results down the line.

I was thinking the same thing.

ACROS

There’s been a lot of speculation on if and when we’d see firmware updates for the X-T1, X100T, and, to a lesser degree, the X-E2(S)1 that would include Fuji’s latest Film Simulation Mode, “ACROS.” Currently, ACROS is exclusive to the X-Pro2. I heard suggestions on Twitter that this wouldn't happen because the new film simulation requires the X-Processor Pro, which is also exclusive to the X-Pro2. This didn’t sit right with me on its own. I couldn’t imagine a black and white conversion along with a new tone curve requiring that much more computational effort. We already have “Monochrome” and can tweak its tone curve via Shadow and Highlight Tone, so I figured we’d see ACROS in a future update, or there had to be more to it.

Well, Fuji has all but closed the door on ACROS coming to any other currently available camera, and has offered pretty strong hits as to why. It does have a lot to do with the X-Processor Pro, but there is more to it.

The image design of “ACROS” is only achievable with the resolution of X-Trans CMOS III2 and the processing power of X-Processor Pro.

The fine detail that ACROS achieves is only possible with the resolution power of 24MP. And the complex grain effect is only possible with the powerful X-Processor Pro engine.

So the processor is part of it, yes, but the sensor’s resolution also plays a role. Here’s what I think the important bits are:

To be specific, ACROS mode has a completely different noise reduction algorithm from other modes.

Fuji puts a ton of effort into their noise reduction algorithms, but to date, there hasn’t been any adjustment to noise reduction based on the photographer’s selected Film Simulation Mode that I’m aware of. A setting of -1 Noise Reduction at ISO 3200 behaves the same on Velvia as it does on Monochrome.3 Not so on ACROS.

ACROS also changes the output of graininess depending on the sensitivity setting. As the sensitivity gets higher, stronger grain effect becomes visible, just like the film

This on-the-fly grain effect does sound to me like it could require a beefier CPU in order to maintain performance that is equal to when other Film Simulation Modes are used. I would be interested to know for certain if the grain output of “Grain Effect” is also adjusted based on ISO. In addition, does “Grain Effect” stack with the grain rendering in ACROS? Sounds like I have some testing to do.

It may be possible that the same concept can be achieved without the two new devices, but can we say that to be “ACROS”? The answer is “No.” We would not release a quality that does not meet our standard.

This is the bottom line for me. Would you prefer Fuji compromise image quality, even slightly, or keep a Film Simulation Mode exclusive in favour of what they believe is optimal image quality? One of Fuji’s claims to fame is decades of film and colour experience, and it’s also one of the reasons many of us choose Fuji cameras, superior JPEG output. ACROS is a step in the direction of premium, compact photographic tools that deliver uncompromising image quality straight out of camera. Whether or not they’ve delivered on that is subjective, but I think so.

Could there be some marketing shenanigans afoot that keep ACROS exclusive? Perhaps. I would guess it’s as much, if not more a business decision vs. strictly marketing. With enough time and money, a 16MP version of ACROS is almost certainly possible. But the technical explanation behind why ACROS won’t be arriving on EXR Processor II cameras does satisfy me now.4

  1. Lesser simply due to the X-E2S just being released, and the X-E2 getting a major firmware update. ↩︎
  2. There’s a typo in Fuji’s post. ↩︎
  3. Another interesting tidbit from Fuji’s article, Monochrome uses Provia’s tone curves for it’s rendering. ↩︎
  4. I’m doubtful we’ll get one on Classic Chrome for the X100S. ↩︎

X-T1 Firmware Malfunction

Fujifilm issued an official notice for X-T1 owners today. A “malfunction” that can cause the camera to freeze when shooting in AF-C mode was found. If your camera is acting up, it can be remedied by way of Firmware Ver.4.21. A new version of the firmware that includes the new features in 4.20 will be posted in January.

Bummer, but nice to see Fuji taking quick ownership of this one.

Smartphone Downsizing and User Error

Incredibly, I’ve been taken to task on my piece about the potential for data loss with Fuji’s mobile apps by some readers who insist this comes down to user error, and we should all STFU and RTFM.

This is absolutely not user error. It’s using marquee features with dedicated buttons as advertised. Suggesting the onus is on regular people to read the manual about a standard, discoverable feature which comes with a penalty that is fairly well hidden from the user is a terrible response when discussing a consumer device or consumer behaviour.

Think back to when you got your first Fuji camera. Did you read the manual before connecting it via USB or slapping your SD card in your computer the to make sure your files wouldn’t be downsampled? I thought not.

Just For Good Measure

Let me throw a couple analogies at you:

  1. What if tethering behaved the same way? Captures are saved on the card, but are sent to the computer by default at a reduced size without the user knowing. The user formats their card thinking the images are already on a computer, and loses the original 16MP files. That would be crazy, right?
  2. What if Apple automatically reduced the bit rate of songs when copying to a mobile device without letting the user know for faster transfer speeds and so your device could hold more songs? It would be pretty difficult to actually lose your data entirely in that case, but it would still be less than optimal UI design. Good design, is to have a checkbox for that setting on the import screen, as they have done.

Something Like This

An obvious button here, or at in the Browse and Receive screens would be ideal. Trashing full resolutions photos after would then actually be user error.

An obvious button here, or at in the Browse and Receive screens would be ideal. Trashing full resolutions photos after would then actually be user error.

You might think using WiFi for image transfer is crazy, but the reality is there are a lot of people whose primary and/or only computer is a smartphone, and that number is growing. It won’t be long before waiting to plug a cable into something to transfer images will be considered quaint. Queue the #believeinwires tweets.

There are others, like Yours truly, going iOS-only for a considerable portion of their workflow. With mobile devices outpacing laptops in some benchmarks, destroying them in sales, and capturing images at 12+MP natively themselves, transferred images probably shouldn’t downsized by default, and they definitely shouldn’t be downsized without it being really clear to the photographer.