Eternal Improvement: Arigato Fujifilm!
Earlier today Fujifilm announced a bucket load of new products, including a long awaited X camera, several lenses as well as firmware and software updates. This news is so exciting that I figured they deserved a commentary of sorts.
The successor to the X-E2 was eagerly expected and, in my opinion, Fujifilm didn’t disappoint. The X-E2 was my first “serious” X-system camera which I used professionally for quite some time, and I totally like how they chose to implement its next version. I find the design, with lack of d-pad and touch interface, simply marvelous. Being a smaller camera, but retaining the joystick of the pro models also makes it distinguished and practical. I believe the X-E3 shall be another success story for Fujifilm and can’t wait to get my hands on a production version.
As far as new lenses are concerned, Fujifilm confirmed their roadmap with immediate availability for a couple of them. One is the long awaited 80mm f2.8 macro for the X-System. A true 1:1 macro (which can effectively be turned into a 1.4:1 or 2:1 by use of the teleconverter adapters) was a standing demand by many users. The only autofocus 1:1 choice was the Zeiss Touit, but, being 50mm it was rather “short” for APS-C. I’m sure a lot of Fuji-X shooters shall find the 80mm irresistible, either for its macro capabilities or its potential for portrait work; and being weather sealed closes the deal.
The 8-16mm f2.8 “Pro” wide-angle and 200mm f2 will serve to close the gap to other systems, in terms of complete focal range coverage with high-level WR lenses (the 8-16mm) and fast aperture telephoto performance (the 200mm f2, which can also, naturally, work with the teleconverters too).
The GF system also gets a 45mm f2.8 (i.e. a 35mm equivalent in FF terms) and a 250mm telephoto and 1.4X teleconverter are coming too. It’s hard to imagine that the GF system is only about one year old at this point, and already starting to cover all the main focal lengths for professional work.
In my opinion, though, the most important news was not hardware, but rather software related. A new firmware update is coming in November and it’s nothing short of amazing.
At last! The X-Pro2 gets 4K video recording! This was something I was asking for from the very first days. Now that the overheating and battery issues have long been fixed, there is no reason for the X-Pro2 to be the poor relative for video. It can be used as a primary camera for the occasional 4K recording or as a perfect b-roll camera for X-T2 users.
The X-Pro2 also gets tethering and, along with the X-T2, there are improvements in C-AF performance which Fujifilm calls “twice as fast” for moving and –particularly- small targets. Considering the X-T2 already beats the best of professional APS-C DSLRs in this department (the D500), I can only try to imagine what this improvement will be. Sports and wildlife shooters should probably be ecstatic.
But there are two other developments which I think are huge and should really make the X-cameras even more unique in the near future.
One is the capability of the Acquire software to save the camera settings externally. This is absolutely marvelous for everyone working in diverse professional environments through their daily routine. You can store a different configuration for portrait and commercial work, for example, and a second one for action and low light photography. Not to mention the safety element provided.
The second one is X-RAW Studio software. This application shall be able to use the internal camera processing engine –via USB- for RAW to JPEG conversions, either one-by-one or batch. I personally know a few dozen photographers who would kill for this. Being able to select and batch process large number of photos, with the high fidelity provided by in-camera conversion and the ease of use of a PC or Mac, is a godsend for many of us wedding, event, concert, etc, photographers, in short anyone having to work with large numbers of material constantly.
In a nutshell: Fujifilm does it again. New and exciting hardware, but, even more importantly, by displaying practical and tangible respect for its existing customer base, Fujifilm solidifies its position as both a technological and ethical leader in the marketplace.