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. ↩︎

Firmware and App Updates

X-T2

Fujifilm released a firmware update for the X-T2 a couple days ago. Here’s a plainer language version of the key fixes:

  1. Tethering support. There is a lot to parse here, and it sounds as though some of it preemptively addresses software that is yet to be released.
  2. Buttons and dials can now be locked during shooting.
  3. A fix for shutter speed info not displaying under specific settings.
  4. Overexposure when AF-C and Face Detection are selected.
  5. Fix for poor AF performance when using the XF8-135mm F3.5-5.6 WR at the telephoto end.
  6. This is a tough one. It sounds like the camera would freeze during menu selections for PC auto save.
  7. Fix for when using shoe-mounted flash and CH burst mode.
  8. Fix for Nissin i40 flash not firing.

iOS

An update to the Camera Remote app was released yesterday to address iOS 10 issues. The app was getting hammered in the reviews, last I checked. Hopefully this helps.

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.

Fuji X-E2 Firmware Update

fuji fujifilm x-e2 xe2 firmware ver4.jpg

The choice between a new X-T10 and the X-E2 has become a little more tricky. At least, it will be sometime soon-ish. Fujifilm has confirmed another firmware update for the X-E2. In my comparison, I posited that the X-E2 was probably end-of-life as far as firmware upgrades are concerned. Turns out I was wrong, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

My Versus piece saw a minor update to reflect the firmware news, and will be overhauled once the firmware’s feature set is at least officially announced. What’s of particular interest to me is how early days this is. All Fuji has said in any sort of on-the-record format is they’re planning an update, and will determine what is included in the update based on requests from users. I think it’s pretty safe to say the new AF features (multi-point, zone, wide/tracking, eye detection) will be included, but what about a UI update? Or a rotating EVF UI? Can Fuji please, for the love all that is good and pure, make the left and right function buttons customizable, and set playback to the LCD even when EVF-only has been chosen for composition?

Timing

While the early nature of this announcement pacifies X-E2 owners and gives them something to look forward to, it also leaves us with no sense of when this update will be available. Most of the internet seems to think Fuji will intentionally impose a long delay as they will not want to cannibalize sales of their new X-T10, but I think a bigger reason for the wait will come down to the engineering resources Fuji has to put on the project. Would Fuji really be disappointed if people buy one Fuji camera body over another? Hardly.

Pricing & Decisions

As of this writing, the X-T10→ is preorder only for $799 (USD), while the X-E2→ can be had for just $699 (USD). Either way, buyers today have a bit of a wait in front of them. The purchase decision will in part come down to format preference (rangefinder-style vs. DSLR-style), but also which immediate gratification is most enticing:

  1. Having an X-E2 today with an untold wait time for the latest features at $100 less.
  2. Having an X-T10 in a few weeks with the latest features, and a few additional hardware niceties (tilt screen, dials and buttons) for $100 more.

It’s nice to have these kinds of tough decisions.

Fuji X-T1 Firmware Update

With the announcement of the Graphite Silver X-T1 and its enhanced feature-set, Fuji has once again done the honourable thing by promising existing owners of the X-T1 a firmware update that will include all these new features. The nicest thing about this announcement is when I heard about the new features, I wasn’t the least bit concerned that my X-T1 was going to be out of date. I knew Fuji would take care of me. I can’t think of another camera company with customers who can feel more at ease.

The upgrade is going to be a big one, with a combination of user-requested features, and some other added niceties. Let’s do a quick rundown with some commentary. One of the features I’m most excited for hasn’t received a lot of press that I’ve seen.

Main Features

Electronic shutter, max speed of 1/32,000 second

This is a big one for me. It’s going to be really nice to not have to worry about neutral density filters in order to shoot my faster lenses wide open, even in broad daylight. I might be even more excited by the silent shutter. I’m occasionally conflicted about whether to bring the X-T1 or X100 with me exclusively because that silent leaf shutter on the X100 is so nice. Soon we’ll be able to take ultra covert pics of unsuspecting street subjects (don’t be creepy) without any concern that the shutter will be heard.

Classic Chrome Film Simulation mode

Some people don’t care about this feature. Others are gushing and hash-tagging about it like there’s no tomorrow. One thing’s for sure, I’m looking forward to testing it out for an extended period of time. I did have some time with it in the X30, but not enough to really gauge if it will become my go-to. I’m still finding new uses for the current Film Simulations, the latest being cranking the Shadow Tone to +2 with PRO Neg. Hi. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, it’s nice that Fuji are being so selective with these Film Simulations and not spamming users with endless presets. I guess it helps when your business model isn’t based on selling presets.

Natural Live View

This would have come in really handy just the other day. I was looking to preserve the highlights in my RAFs while shooting landscapes, but I also wanted to capture a Velvia JPEG. The LCD and resulting photo/histogram would show highlight clipping based on the Velvia Film Simulation, and that resulted in me being much to conservative and underexposing a few images. Natural Live View should give us a more accurate idea of how far we can push things when exposing to the right. Great feature.

“Further Improvements”

1. Direct selection of AF Area

“The update will let users select the focus area using the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn key.”

Lots of users will be excited for this feature. I would guess that RAF shooters in particular who need frequent fast access to their AF point will love this addition. I say RAF shooters because JPEG shooters likely need at least a couple more controls immediately accessible. This is what I was familiar with in my DSLR days, but after trying it out, I miss being able to use the D-pad for quick access to other features. Perhaps once I have more time with it, and I’m able to move the items I want access to into Q menu I’ll give it another try. For now, focus and recompose is fine for quickly grabbing a shot and when things are slower, I have time to tap the AF selection button.

2. Unlocked AE-L/AF-L buttons

“The function of the AE-L/AF-L button is currently locked, but will be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.”

These aren’t buttons I use a whole lot so I can’t say I’m particularly excited about being able to switch them. I probably should have learned to use the AE-L button more given my gripes about how spot metering used to work (more on that below, they fixed it!), but using the AE-L button has always felt somewhat cumbersome for me, and I’m just as happy to go full manual.

When it comes to the AF-L button, Fuji now need to add an option to decouple autofocus from the shutter release so the AF-L button can be used exclusively for acquiring focus, the shutter release button exclusively to release the shutter, without the AF-L button being held. A lot of DSLR owners use their cameras this way, particularly for fast action shooting.

UPDATE: A Fuji vs. Fuji reader wrote in to point out that this can already (mostly) be done.

Menu > Tab #4 > AE/AF-LOCK MODE > set to "AE&AF ON/OFF SWITCH" (default is "ON WHEN PRESSING")

Clearly I need to spend some more time hunting around in the menus. More good, if old news for X-T1 owners, however it still isn’t quite the same as my DSLR days. The difference is in this mode, a second press of the AF-L button doesn’t reacquire focus, rather it merely unlocks the focus, and another press is needed to refocus. It’s debateable whether or not this way of doing it is actually better as I’ve had readers write in to say it is, and others to say it’s not. I’ll leave that for you to decide. For complete decoupling of autofocus from the shutter release, X-T1 owners need to switch to manual focus. More on that in #8.

3. Variable focus area during manual focus

“When working in manual focus mode, the update will enable changing the size of the focus area during Instant AF with the AF-L button.”

A nice addition for manual focus shooters looking to ensure ultra-precise focus on an isolated part of their composition. Again, I can’t say that I struggle with how things are now.

4. Direct selection of Macro mode

“In auto focus mode, the update will enable the Macro function to be turned on or off, without accessing the pop-up menu screen.”

This one is nice. Macro mode is accessible via two quick presses of the Macro button on X-E cameras and the X100(S), but with the advent of user-configurable buttons on the X-T1 and X100T, we lose that functionality. Soon we’ll be able to turn Macro mode on and off with just one button press. This could result in accidental changes to macro mode, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

5. Q Menu customization

“To make the Q Menu (used for quick access of frequently-used items) even more efficient, the update will allow its items and layout to be changed to the user’s preference.”

The level of customization offered in Fuji’s cameras now is really impressive. This is something I imagine I’ll leave at the defaults for the most part, and supplement with Function buttons. I don’t want my cameras to operate too differently, and I haven’t heard of these changes reaching back to the X-E2 or X100S yet.

What I was really hoping for, and I’m actually astounded we haven’t got yet, is reversible Q Menu operation. In Western countries, turning the dial to the right should increase the settings effect, whereas turning the dial left should decrease it. As it stands, I’m still constantly having to stop and think about which way to turn the dial to get the setting to change the way I want to. It’s probably the most frustrating part about shooting Fuji cameras for me, and it seems like it would be a fairly simple change.

6. New video frame rates:

“As well as the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps, 25fps and 24fps options will be available with the update. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL regions, such as Europe, without converting the frame rate. 24fps offers a cinema-like view.”

Videographers rejoice! Me? I don’t do video much. I rather configure the record button to behave like another Function button.

7. Manual shooting in Video mode:

“The update will enable ISO sensitivity selection prior to shooting videos, as well as the ability to adjust aperture and shutter speed during movie recording.”

Videographers rejoice! Me? I don’t do… wait. Seriously though, I can’t imagine even attempting to shoot much video without these features. It’s great they’ve been added.

8. Phase Detection AF support for Instant AF

“In Instant AF mode, which is operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF, providing faster focusing speeds.”

Even more reason for Fuji to add an option for the shutter release to not trigger autofocus, even without the AF-L button pressed.

UPDATE: See update to item #2, but I’m a little unsure about the whole user experience of this as when a lens with a manual focus collar is mounted, the AF-L button doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot. A complete DSLR-style decoupling of AF from the shutter release button while in autofocus would address this.

9. Interlocking of metering and Focus areas

“Users will be able to interlock the AF area position with the metering area when Spot Metering mode is selected.”

Outside of the lightning fast and silent electronic shutter, this is the feature I’m most looking forward too. This is how Nikon does it and how it should be, in my opinion. Having your AF point and spot metering point independent of each other makes absolutely no sense to me.

10. Expansion of shutter speed in Program Shift mode

“In the current Program Shift mode, the slowest-speed setting is 1/4sec, but this will increase to a maximum of 4secs.”

I haven’t shot in P mode in years, but this strikes me as an odd change. P mode is typically used by novices and is great for people who are just starting out in photography. I started there too. If you’re at the stage of capturing exposures that are 4 seconds in length, you’re likely not a novice any longer and should be fairly comfortable in aperture priority, shutter priority or full manual modes. In any event, if you’re the sort of photographer who likes to set everything but ISO to “A,” you’ll now be able to override the camera-chosen shutter speed to as slow as 4 seconds.

Conclusion

This is shaping up to be a nice upgrade. December is going to feel a little like getting a new camera, and for free. This isn’t a reason why I switched to Fujifilm in the first place—I had no idea they had this firmware strategy—but it’s a big reason why I recommend them. No other camera company adds this kind of functionality to a camera. Most expect you to just buy another camera. I wrote above that I pretty much expected we’d see improvements to the X-T1 like this; that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.

Thanks, Fuji.

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