Fujifilm X Series Firmware Requests Ver.03.2017

I have a bit of an affinity for Fuji cameras. I don’t think I could have chosen a better system to switch to. Nothing is perfect though, and there are a few items on the firmware level I’d really like to see tweaked, adjusted, or have options provided for.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are probably a couple things that have slipped my memory even with this batch, but these are the ones that came to mind in my recent X-T2 testing and comparing.

The Q Menu Is (Partially) Backwards

I’ve been using Fuji cameras since the days when finding an X100S in stock was miraculous. Over half a dozen cameras later, I still struggle with Q Menu selection. For me, the way some1 of the items cycle during selection is just plain backwards.

We typically make selections of things from left (-) to right (+).2 Sliders in our digital lives and “IRL” slide right (or up) to increase. In the Q Menu, settings like Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Colour, Sharpness, and Noise Reduction are reversed. Turning a dial left (as you are looking at the camera) results in a positive amount or increase, and right, a negative amount or decrease.

It could be argued that you are spinning the dial in a clockwise rotation as you look at the top of the camera to increase which makes sense for things like volume knobs, but I intuitively want to flick my thumb from left to right to input an increase.

It could also be argued for Highlight and Shadow Tone that you are adding or increasing detail in those areas by turning the dial right, but it strikes me as more intuitive to add contrast as you would add saturation, sharpness, and noise reduction. And no, I don’t think the notion of adding noise is acceptable. We are adjusting the degree in which the noise reduction algorithms are affecting our images.

The real kicker is the Custom Settings banks and Dynamic Range in the Q Menu count up as the dial is turned right. Even Film Simulation Mode selection cycles in from the default PROVIA through the other simulations in the order Fuji presents them by turning the dial right.

This is a source of daily frustration for me. It’s like reversing the direction of handles on a faucet. I actually find myself avoiding the Q Menu in favour of honing my Function button setup. I think if I had a single usability request of Fuji, it would be to optionally reverse how these Q Menu items are selected. It will be difficult though as the inconsistency means it’s not a global setting.

Front Dial For Q Menu Selection

While we’re on the Q Menu, it drives me a little bonkers that we could use the front dial for Q Menu selection on the X-T1, but can’t on the X-Pro2 or X-T2. I assume this is because the front dial is used to adjust exposure compensation beyond ±3EV, but I can’t see how those two would conflict with one another. It’s a step backwards I’m still hoping gets addressed.

Command Dial Menu Access

This is one area that has improved immensely, but there’s one thing missing. As I recently tweeted, the rear command dial functions as OK when in menus, but the front dial does not function as BACK,3 forcing my thumb to travel all the way down to the actual BACK button. This isn’t a huge deal—you can also exit the menu with a quick tap of the shutter release—but it would save having to cycle through each of the tabs in “I.Q.” and “AF/MF,” as well as avoid lighting up the AF Illuminator if you have it on.

Press and Hold Functions

On my Nikons, I could set the front Function button to switch the camera to spot metering when held. This made a huge difference in quickly adjusting my exposure to a specific part of my frame. Having dedicated Exposure Compensation dials is great, but not as fast as pressing a button your finger is always poised over.

Flash Sync Shutter Speed Changes

On the X-T1, if you set your X-T1’s shutter speed to 180×, the camera’s max flash sync speed, turning Command Dials will not change your shutter speed. From a UX perspective, this is how it should be, at least by default.

On the X-T2, this is not the case. I recently lost a pretty big chunk of testing work because I accidentally turned the rear (default) dial which resulted in the shutter speed on my X-T2 being changed to 1/320 of a second, leaving a dark gradient across the bottom of my images. The X-T1 has this right, and Fuji should really fix this or add an option to disable shutter speed changes via the Command Dials. I personally never use them.

Rotating LCD UI

After the X-T1 was released, I was sure it wouldn’t be long before a firmware upgrade would make add the same UI rotation seen in the EVF to the LCD. A bunch of cameras and even more firmware upgrades later, the LCD’s UI stays fixed in landscape.

What’s Your Burning Feature Request?

Send it in, or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. And not all, which is actually worse. ↩︎
  2. I’m speaking for Westerners here, and am not accounting for cultural differences, if any. ↩︎
  3. It, in fact, does nothing. ↩︎

Inspiration (To Switch)

This post from Dave Fieldhouse popped up in my timeline a couple weeks ago. It hits incredibly close to home. I had the Nikon equivalent of his Canon DSLR and standard zoom combination, and a trip to the Lake District was the last I endured with DSLR weight on my back.

Not only is Dave’s work an excellent source of photographic inspiration, if there were any doubts about leaving the DSLR, this should help quash them.

Dave’s photography is lovely, and I’ll be keeping a close eye out for that well known spot outside of Ambleside next time I’m there.

The Fuji makes me want to take photos where I wouldn’t in the past.

So today I finally let it go. The Canon is heading off to pastures … for now and the immediate future I’m all in to Fuji. A second body and a bag full of prime lenses arrive next week so lets see what happens next…

I’m looking forward to it.

“Difficult… but it is possible.”

Nice interview with Fujifilm at CP+ from Amateur Photographer once you get past a couple warmup questions.

When asked about pass-through charging of the battery in the body of the X-T2, they got a bit of a cryptic answer:

It all comes down to the hardware structure. It’s difficult to incorporate, but it is possible.

I would have loved a follow up question, but it sounds like had the X-T2 and and grip been designed differently, it would have been possible, but it’s not with the current design. Bummer.

There’s also some idle chatter on how different f/2.0 and f/2.8 is on a lens at 200mm, but no official confirmation that the new Telephoto Prime will actually be 200mm, but signs are certainly pointing to somewhere around there.

Recommended Kits, Early 2017

My Early 2017 Recommended Kits have been posted.

Last year’s kit recommendations were awkwardly straddling two generations of sensors and processors. This year, just about the entire X-Series has caught up and is now on equal image quality footing.

A Note About Formats

What could be more awkward for kit recommendations than bodies with different sensors? A whole new format and system, natch, and that’s exactly what Fuji’s gone and done.

While I will be sure to compare the GFX with the X-Trans III sensor, it’s really not appropriate to consider medium format when building out an APS-C kit. Plus, those who need medium format know that they’re getting it already. So, apart from casual mention and perhaps an exclusive category or two, this kit building piece will focus mostly on X-Series.

A Note About Lenses

The breakneck pace at which Fuji has been releasing lenses seems to have finally levelled off a bit, but I still have a lot of catching up to do on my testing and review. Thus, a couple lenses are recommended based on preliminary testing, and have been noted as such. This page will likely see an update in the second half of this year.

My Kit

For the TL;DR folks out there, here is what I choose if I could only have a selection of 3 lenses:

DSCF8943.jpg

CP+ 2017 – Fujifilm Interview, DPReview

Nice interview with Fujifilm executives over at DPReview.

On GFX and Phase Detection:

… are the lenses designed to support this in the future?

Yes, definitely.

And on X-Trans:

How big is the extra processing requirement for X-Trans compared to bayer?

X-Trans is a 6x6 filter arrangement, not 4x4, it’s something like a 20-30% increase in processing requirement.

Lens Roadmap and GFX Delay

Good News

Fuji has updated their lens roadmap to include four news lenses. The first two are X Mount versions of their MK Series of Cinema lenses, specifically tailored to 4K video capture.

The MK 18-55mm T2.9 X Mount is due in March, with the MK 50-135mm T2.9 X Mount listed as still in production, but estimate for June according to the roadmap.

Still shooters will get some love in 2018 when a new ultra-wide zoom is due in January, and a telephoto prime in late September, early October.

These lenses will presumably fill two holes in Fuji’s lineup. I started groaning about the lack of weather sealing in the XF 10-24mm F4 two years ago. I would expect this new lens pretty much has to be WR, and I would wager somewhere in the neighbourhood of 8-16mm to compete with full frame DSLR offerings. I also expect it to be larger than the XF 10-24mm F4. I’m guessing XF 16-55mm F2.8 WR or so.

After I got back from my first Safari trip, I had a big desire for a telephoto prime. Judging by the icon on the roadmap, that thing is going to have one substantial front element. Maybe like Nikon’s 200mm f/2? Looking forward to that one, and nice to see Fuji stepping further into exotic territory.

Bad News

The GFX is seeing some delays in production thanks to “high interest.” We will be waiting until at least the end of March before manufacturing catches up with demand.