What’s next for the Fuji X100t?

DSCF6217-Edit

Note:  This article, originally published on January 27th, 2016, continues to be one of the most popular pages on this site.  I think this speaks volumes as to the popularity of the X100 series, and I continue to update it as Fujifilm publishes new information or when new  suggestions or ideas arise from discussions with other Fujifilm users.  I should add that even though I am an Official Fujifilm X Photographer, none of the information here comes from any discussions I have had with Fujifilm.  The reality is simply that I am a huge fan of the X100 series.  I love my X-Pro2s, I loved working with a pre-release of the new X-T2, but the one I am really waiting for is the successor to the X100t as it is truly the perfect camera for me.   Now, on to the latest update of this article…

At the beginning of 2016 Fujifilm held a celebration for the 5th anniversary of the Fuji X system.    This camera series has been a huge part of my day to day life for so long now that it is remarkable to think that it has only been with us for 5 years.

The camera that started it all was the Fujifilm FinePix X100, originally shown to us in September, 2010 and introduced in February, 2011.  This little camera changed everything about photography for so many people.  It felt like a classic rangefinder, so comfortable and elegant in the hand.  It had manual controls, an aperture ring on the lens, and easily accessible dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation.  There was even an optical viewfinder to go along with its electronic one.  For those who have been shooting a long time there was something romantic about it…. like coming home to an old friend.

Under the hood the X100  had a large APS-C sensor… no small chip sensor here.  As with most first generation products, however, it wasn’t without its quirks.  The focusing in particular, both auto and manual, was very fussy.

Fujifilm didn’t rest on their laurels though:  They listened, they took notes, they paid attention, and much to everyone’s delight they updated the camera with free firmware upgrades to make it better and better.  In January, 2013 Fujifilm released the second version of this camera, the X100s, followed in September, 2014 by the X100t.

I have been shooting with the current X100t since the day it came out (upgraded from the X100s).  Like you would expect from a third generation product it is a dream to use.  It is fast, responsive, has a sensor that delivers beautiful images, has modern technology we have come to expect like wifi, yet it still retains the classic elegance and handling of the original X100 series camera.

(You can read more about my journey with these cameras HERE)

With the recent launch of the new Fuji X-Pro2 and the X-T2 I’ve been thinking a lot about what may be next for this little camera that I love so much.  This constant companion, that has traveled the world with me and rekindled my love of photography.

Here are some thoughts…

DSCF6667

Possible updates via firmware upgrades

Fuji has aggressively updated the firmware of many of their cameras, but have been surprisingly light on firmware updates for the X100s and its successor, the current X100t.  While the X100t is a dream to use, there are a few things that I believe could be tweaked via firmware that would significantly enhance the usability.

I would add that, not being an engineer, these may be things Fuji has already considered and rejected for appropriate reasons.  Still, as an avid user and member of the Fuji community it never hurts to dream, does it?

With that said here goes:

Faster minimum shutter speed in AUTO ISO

When I am out and about shooting street photography I tend to leave my camera in Aperture Priority, usually around f/5.6 – f/11 depending on lighting conditions.  I set my Auto ISO for a minimum shutter speed of 1/125th, and to allow the ISO to rise to 3200 to maintain that shutter speed as needed.  I am 100% confident in the high ISO performance of these cameras, so 3200 is fine with me.

The downfall to this is capturing people moving… 1/125th is often not fast enough.  On my X-T1 I can set my Auto ISO to maintain a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th!

Now, I don’t know if this is a limitation of the X100t’s leaf shutter versus the focal plane shutter in the X-T1 (not an engineer).  If it is possible though, I would LOVE a faster minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO.  This would actually be my number one request.

can we bracket just a little bit more?

As an avid landscape and cityscape shooter there are times when I find myself without filters, and shoot multiple bracketed exposures to ensure I capture the entire dynamic range in the photo I am making.

Currently, the X100t only allows bracketing to 1 stop +/- EV, while the new X-Pro2 and X-T2 allow bracketed exposures to 2 stops +/- EV.   It would seem to me (again, not an engineer) that it would be possible to allow for a wider range of bracketed exposures to provide more flexibility in post production.

more options in saved custom settings

This is one that most people probably don’t care about, and even for me it would be a rarely used thing.  But, daring to dream…

I occasionally enjoy playing with the advanced filters, especially the toy camera filter with a square crop.  It reminds me of old Holga photographs and is a fun way to “Think Different”.

Currently I need to manually adjust to these settings, then manually re-adjust back to my “walk around” settings.  I would LOVE to be able to set up a custom setting as my “Holga” setting, that I can just drop into and out of as required.

digital tele-converter mode

I’m going to plead total ignorance on this one, but I am curious about the X70 digital teleconverter mode that allows for 28, 35, and 50mm fields of view when shooting in jpeg mode.   As the X100t currently shares the same sensor and processor as the X70 it would seem that would be something that could be done via a firmware update.

Improved autofocus

Many people have asked if it is possible for the Fuji X-T1’s firmware 4 autofocus system to be added to the X100t via firmware upgrades.  Our friends at Fuji Versus Fuji have written an article about this:

http://www.fujivsfuji.com/fuji-views/the-new-autofocus-system-and-the-x100t

For the most part the new Fuji X70 shares the same internals as the X100t, and the X70 has many of the elements of the firmware 4 autofocus system.  This says to me that it could be possible for it to come to the X100t via firmware update.

On the other hand, the new X-Trans CMOS III Sensor found in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 also have significant hardware upgrades that have made significant leaps forward in autofocusing.  I would expect these to come to the X100t successor, and this may preclude any autofocus updates coming to the X100t via firmware upgrades.

DSCF3760-Edit

The future – What will the next model bring?

There are of course some hardware upgrades that will only come to the X100 series through the launch of a new model.   On many people’s wish lists are:

The new X-Trans CMOS III Sensor

The launch of the new Fuji X-Pro2 also brought us Fuji’s new sensor, the X-Trans CMOS III.  This new sensors brings us:

  • A 24mp sensor
  • An expanded ISO sensitivity from ISO 100 to 51,200
  • Centre weighted exposure control
  • Expanded exposure compensation (-5 EV to +5 EV)
  • Mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/8,000
  • A flash sync of 1/250th (which is not a concern with the fabulous leaf shutter in the X100 series)
  • 273 focus points on the X-Pro2 with 77 being phase detection focus points (and up to 325 on the next X-T2).

This new sensor is a game changer for Fuji, and one that I believe will come to the next generation X100 series camera.

The joystick (focus lever)

If you haven’t used an X-Pro2 or X-T2 yet, there is a new feature on the back of the camera that is essentially a joystick to move around the AF point.  This is one of those “why didn’t they do this before?” things.  It seems so simple, but it is one of those day to day game changers.  On the X-Pro2 it sits right where my thumb rests.  Holding it down moves the focus point.  Double tapping it returns the focus point to centre.  So simple, so fast.  It also frees up the other function buttons for other tasks, providing you with more options for customizing your camera.

Dual card slots 

I have never had a memory card fail on me, but when I am shooting gigs like weddings I have always preferred having dual card slots and the peace of mind that I have multiple copies of images that capture once in a lifetime moments.  This feature is now in the X-Pro2 and X-T2, and  is another example of how the X line up is becoming a serious contender in the professional photography world.  I’m not sure how well dual card slots would fit in the X100 body size wise, but I’d love to see it if it was possible.

Film Simulations – “Thank you sir, may I have another?”

Fuji’s excellent film simulations are already well documented.  The X100t offers a wide range of selectable film simulations (either in camera, or in Lightroom when shooting RAW)  that offer beautiful image quality.  Already we have:

  • Provia / Standard
  • Velvia
  • Astia
  • Classic Chrome
  • PRO Neg. Hi
  • PRO Neg. Std
  • Monochrome
  • Monochrome + Yellow Filter
  • Monochrome + Red Filter
  • Monochrome + Green Filter
  • Sepia

With the launch of the X-Pro2 Fuji introduced a new black and white film simulation called “Acros”, modelled after Fuji’s Neopan Acros 100 film.  It is beautiful.

Fuji has said here:

http://fujifilm-x.com/en/x-stories/the-newest-film-simulation-acros/

That:

“The image design of “ACROS” is only achievable with the resolution of X-Trans CMOS II 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.  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.”

So, what does this mean?  It means that ACROS will not come to any of the cameras released before the Fuji X-Pro2 via firmware.  A shame, but understandable as the new hardware is a significant leap forward in the Fuji lineup.  I suspect it will come to the new X100 series camera of course.

resistance is not futile…

As an avid street and travel photographer I am outside in inclement weather often, and would love it if the next generation X100 series camera was weather proof.  Truth be told the X100t is incredibly resilient.  I shoot in the rain with it often now, but there would be piece of mind to know that the camera was indeed built for inclement weather.

Many expected this to come in the X100t.  I don’t know why it didn’t… perhaps it is a size or weight issue (say it with me now… not an engineer), but I will continue holding out hope for a weather proof X100 camera in the future!

tilting lcd screen

I am kind of…. “shrug”…. about this one.  Many people swear this is a deal breaking feature.  Others don’t care.  I find I used the tilting screen on my X-T1 about 2% of the time before I switched to dual X-Pro2s.  If Fujifilm can add it great, but if it meant increased bulk or weight I’d gladly carry on without it as I do with my two X-Pro2 bodies.

DSCF4680

in summary…

See that picture above?  I was in Las Vegas for a conference last year.  I was walking from one venue to another on an overpass.  I had a minute or two to shoot.  My X100t was in my pocket, and I grabbed that photo.  It is a one second exposure… handheld.  On a regular basis I have experiences like this that make me fall in love with the X100t all over again.

Please note, nothing in this article is a knock on the current Fuji X100t, nor on Fujifilm as a company. In 5 short years they have built a diverse and remarkable camera system, have supported their users through free firmware upgrades, and have (in my opinion) become the leaders of the mirrorless camera market.  The X-Pro2 and new X-T2 prove that Fujifilm isn’t resting on their laurels, and I think that bodes well for the next generation X100 series camera.

I easily echo many others when I say:

The Fuji X100t is one of the greatest digital cameras ever made.

It is always good to talk about how something amazing can become better though.  I doubt I will ever stop using an X100 series camera, and it is exciting to think of what the future may bring.

Until then, we will all just have to be satisfied with the current gear we have, which is already pretty awesome.  🙂

Cheers,

Ian

“Failure” is a necessary part of the creative process…

DSCF5654(Fuji X-T1 with the Fujinon 18-55mm lens)

I recently had a discussion with a photographer who said they felt like a “failure”.   They told me  about how they saw amazing photographs online, yet whenever they went out to shoot they rarely came home with anything they loved.

Welcome to being a creative.

I think it’s important to remember that when you look at someone’s work online you are really only seeing their highlight reel… you will never see their garbage.  This is why it is so important to edit your work with a critical eye and only keep your strongest work.  It teaches you what works, what doesn’t, and it strengthens the quality of your portfolio.

During the conversation I was reminded of this quote from Thomas Edison:

“I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

This is the way we need to look at being a creative.  We should embrace our “failures”… they are what make us better at our craft.  It’s kind of like this:

11083859_10152629066621266_5962543645877297089_n(Author unknown)

Some days we make images we love, other days not so much.  All photographers go through this.  Let me tell you about a recent experience I had shooting in Seattle…

Over the holiday season I spent 4 nights staying with my family just outside of Seattle.  I was very excited to have one of these days completely free for a day of photography in Seattle, a city I love very much.  I mean a full 10 hour day:  Getting up at 5am to be on deck for a sunrise, shooting street throughout the day, then being on deck for a fabulous sunset photograph.  My camera bag was packed with my beloved Fuji X100t and Fuji X-T1, my batteries were charged, and in the black of night I hit the road for the 90 minute drive to Seattle.

I shoot in Seattle often, but have never shot the quintessential view of the city skyline from Kerry Park so this was my planned starting point (see the photograph at the top of this post).

The first thing I noticed when I set up my tripod was the cold.  Bitter cold.  Like shaking in your bones cold.  A significant wind only made it worse.  No worries though, I’ve shot in much worse environments before I thought.  As the sun rose it became clear that the sky was bare, not a cloud in sight.  This was nice in the sense that you could clearly see the sunrise glow behind Mount Rainier, but it also meant there would be little colour in the sky as sunrise hit.  Sure enough, that was the case.

I continued shooting through the changing light, hoping maybe the sun would rise behind the buildings of Seattle’s downtown core and perhaps I could do something cool with the backlighting.  Sadly, the sun rose in a different position, and by the time it came out there were no lights in the buildings:

DSCF5747(Fuji X-T1 with the Fujinon 18-55mm lens)

Just… ok.

Next I had planned on shooting at Gasworks Park.  I’ve seen this park many times from across Lake Union, but have never shot at it.  I blasted the heat during the short drive from Kerry Park to Gasworks Park, but never warmed up.  Truth be told when I got out of the car I felt even colder than I had before the drive.

I walked around the park for a few minutes like I usually do before I start shooting:  Trying to find the best shooting angles, the best lines, watching where the light was falling, and looking for my composition.  I was disheartened to see fencing around the main structure in the park, the light contrasty and hard even though it was still early morning, and a pair of people that seemed to instinctually know where to stand to be in my frame:

DSCF5810(Fuji X-T1 with the Fujinon 10-24mm lens)

Sigh….

I decided to regroup and warm back up.  I drove downtown and went for breakfast.  I spent an hour having a delicious meal, reading a good book, and finally warming up.

Warming up, that is, until I went back outside.  🙂

How could it be getting colder as the sun rose overhead?  Shouldn’t it be getting warmer?

I started moving through the streets shooting street photography, but I could never find my groove.  I don’t think I was the only one freezing:  People were bundled up and seemed to be moving fast from point A to point B.    I eventually found one spot I liked, where the hard light breaking between the buildings backlit people walking down the street.  After a long (and cold) stay at an intersection I got this:

DSCF4980(Fuji X100t)

Finally, a frame I really liked.

But I was cold, I was miserable, it felt like everyone on the street was miserable, the sky was bare, and the light was harsh.

Years ago I would have persevered, tried to force something to work, and spent the day getting more and more frustrated with the lack of results.

This morning though I shrugged, realized it wasn’t my day, and got back in the car for a 90 minute drive back to my family.   That last photo was taken at 10:28am, on what was supposed to be a full day of shooting.  Instead, I called it quits 4 hours into the day.

And… I’m ok with that.

There was a time when I would have viewed this day as a failure.  I drove 3 hours roundtrip for a day I eventually abandoned, and only got 1 photo I would put in my portfolio (and maybe 2 or 3 others that were just “ok”).

You can’t look at it like that though.  Photography isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon.  Every time you go out there you will learn something, even if it is one of “10,000 ways that won’t work”.  You can’t force it.  There are environmental factors outside of your control when you are shooting landscapes and cityscapes, and mindset is huge when shooting street.

I am happy that I was able to grab one nice frame from this day.  If you only get one good picture from a day you should be happy too.  Eventually, if you keep going out, all of those “one good pictures” will add up to a nice portfolio.

I’m sure I am going to butcher this, but there is a Japanese phrase, “Ganbatte kudasai”, that roughly translates to “Do your best”.

And that just about sums it up.  As photographers we need to embrace our “failures”, learn from them, keep going, and “do our best”.  After time, even if it is just one photograph at a time, we  will become better at our craft and build portfolios we are proud of.

Cheers,

Ian

 

 

Photo Essay: A Winter’s Morning…

DSCF5900

Life moves incredibly fast, and sometimes you need to hit the pause button.  Last week I was driving home from a quick trip to Seattle (more on that in an upcoming blog post), and when I got back into town I was blown away by a beautiful sight:  Everything was covered in frost.  The ground, the trees, rooftops….  I arrived home to a winter wonderland.

I changed my plans so I could wake up early the next morning before sunrise, and headed down to one of the local rivers near my house.  I had a couple of hours completely by myself to walk, think, and shoot as the sun rose across the river.  This is important,  always remember to make time for yourself.   Make photographs for no other reason than it is what you love to do.

All photos in this post were taken with the Fuji X-T1 and either the 10-24mm, 18-55mm, or 55-200mm lens.  I hope you like them….

DSCF5915

DSCF5842-Edit

DSCF5829

DSCF5918

DSCF5826-Edit

DSCF5896

DSCF5946

DSCF5939

DSCF5922

There is a lot to talk about in the next few weeks:  New gear from Fuji, new interviews in the interview series, new photo essays, workshops… 2016 is shaping up to be a great year!

Until next time,

Ian