So, we've all had some fun with the new 4.0 firmware update on the X-T1 now, time for me to throw some thought about it in your general direction!
For all of us who were hoping for DSLR-like autofocus, the update's been a bit of a disappointment, naturally. I do feel a difference with the lenses I have, but I wouldn't say it's enormous. It is noticeable though, a little less hunting here and there. It is a step in the right direction, as always with Fujis updates, and I have to say I love how the camera, at the end of the day, just feels a bit more reliable and responsive.
I will admit that I'm not too interested in the newly added focus tracking modes. I tried them out a bit and I like how they feel. I do have the feeling though that I'm not going to need them very often with my style of photography or my type of clients. Besides that, the X-T1 is not really the camera any vocational sports or wildlife photographer would choose at the moment. I'm guessing that this may be going to change with the next hardware update in the X-T range though. For me, tracking modes are a nice addition, but nothing that will help me get way more shots. Similar thing with the new face and eye detection AF: sounds fun but honestly, in my opinion it's more of a gimmick than a serious tool in my bag.
They also added the tracking capabilities to the video mode. If you read my thoughts on the X-T1, the problem with video on the X series cameras hasn't really changed and it still won't until Fujifilm actually use a new sensor in their bodies. The quality, lots of moiré, compression, no zebras, no preview before pushing the record button, a 2.5mm audio jack. Tracking AF being the last problem anyone would have mentioned when talking about using Fuji X cameras for video, I appreciate their effort to try and do something here but in the end, it isn't something that will change any videographer's mind about the Fujis.
Next one's a goodie: no more macro mode, finally! That was something I was actually hoping for. Especially with the zoom lenses, I was never quite sure when I was in the right distance to switch over to Macro, so that sometimes the camera didn't focus as good as it could have done, had it been in the right mode. This wasn't something I as the photographer wanted to be forced to think about! It is in my opinion the camera's job to figure out how to get focus when I put it in AF mode, simple as that. The "A" stands for "Auto" for a reason. I'm absolutely not someone who wants to give all the controls to the camera, but getting critical focus in the right moment is something a good camera can achieve way better than humans can, it's not a subjective thing as are shutter speed, aperture or ISO. Focusing should just work. So getting rid of the necessity to choose macro mode actually makes quite a difference and helps me work faster and not miss the moment.
In the 3.0 update, the folks over at Fujifilm came up with the idea of the possibility to use manual focus in conjunction with the autofocus. This meant that you could fine-tune the focus in AF mode with the focus ring after half-pressing the shutter button and letting the camera have its first attempt at finding the subject. This would have been a great update for me but I sadly ended up never using it. The problem is that I love to use the AF-L button on the back of the camera to get focus but for some reason that I really would love to hear, AF+MF does not work together with the AF-L button! Now, imagine a speech during an event. If I'm standing in a good spot, I like to lock my focus on the speaker once, to then take several shots with the AF-L button pressed, since I know the person isn't going to move all that much. If I could use the focus ring in that situation to readjust in-between shots, I could actually really benefit from the AF-MF function. If I tried to use it like it works now in that same situation, I would have to grab focus anew with the shutter button after every single shot, then fine-tune. That's not really helping. I was hoping to see that added in 4.0.
The last big change they implemented is in my opinion the most important, although it may not sound like much. When the shutter speed dial is set to T, you are now able to use the front dial on the camera to set the shutter speed to anything from 30 seconds down to a 4000th, or with the electronic shutter enabled to a 32000th of a second. Yay? Hell yes yay, because this makes the camera way quicker to use! This was actually one of my main gripes with the X-T1 as a professional camera. Before the update you actually had to take the camera down from your eye to adjust the shutter speed. Well you could have tried to awkwardly hold the camera up with your left hand and fiddle around on top with your right one but that's honestly not an option. Also, as I sadly can't see in the dark, it's not that easy to know what you're doing up there without checking your settings in the viewfinder, as you probably turn of the screen when you're shooting in a dark situation. Now the controls have effectively been changed so that the camera becomes more intuitive, when you get used to the new control scheme. I have no problems with the aperture being controlled on the lens itself, it's a rather natural layout that way, but the ISO dial is still a thorn in my side. But hey, there's still a dial on the camera that's practically useless with most XF lenses! Fuji, why don't you make it an option to use this as the ISO dial? Put the ISO dial to auto and then override it with the back dial of the camera to set it manually. Like that we'd have actual DSLR-like controls on the camera, the possibility to change and see all your settings without ever needing to look away from the viewfinder.
As I said before, I love that the controls of the X-T1 are the way they are. They are engaging in a way I haven't known from any other digital camera. In a professional context though, this can actually slow you down in some situations. Again, this update was a big step in the right direction, making the camera easier to control during hectic events and demanding moments, where you can't afford to take it down from your eye and play around with the dials. So in the end, we got a somewhat new camera which in itself is amazing, time and time again. Thanks for that, Fuji! But I still can't wait for the X-Pro2...
Let me know if you found my opinions interesting and what you think about the update! Also please like, share and subscribe to the mailing list. And if you like my photos, consider supporting me with the purchase of a print or two! Thanks a lot!