Another round in the X100 match

Well, yesterday, Fujifilm released the new firmware for the X100, version 1.20.

From Fuji’s web site here are the “improvements”:

  • 1. Some functions, which can be set to “Fn” button and shown as “Fn BUTTON” in SET-UP menu, can be also set to RAW button. After pressing the command dial to right in the SET-UP menu of “Fn BUTTON”, “Fn” and “RAW” are displayed and each of selectable them,
    Also, by holding down RAW button for more than 3 seconds, same type of selection menu for RAW button is displayed, just as short-cut procedure.
  • 2. By selecting in “ISO” menu in the shooting menu, either ISO sensitivity value or “ISO AUTO CONTROL” can be selected.
  • 3. When AF MODE is set to “AREA” in Single AF (AF-S) mode, active focus point is zoomed in (magnified to approx 5x) by pressing center of the command control.
  • 4. When “ND FILTER” is set to “Fn” button or “RAW” button, setting between ON (“ND” is displayed) or OFF (“ND” is NOT displayed) can be changeable by pressing “Fn” button or “RAW” button, which is set for “ND FILTER”.
  • 5. When the image is shot with vertical angle of the camera and played back the shot in the LCD, the image is displayed with whole area of LCD even after pressing “playback zoom in” button.
  • 6. When the human face is shot, the detected face is displayed during the playing back, and pressing the command dial to down, detected face is magnified during displaying.
  • 7. AE control system and AF performance including AF speed has been improved for movie recording mode.

Unfortunately, while it appears that Fujifilm did listen to some user complaints, again, in reality Fuji is taking two steps forward and one step backwards. Here is an explanation.

1. While it appears that Fuji has improved the response of the autofocus mechanism when the camera is set to AF-S mode, a lot of users are complaining about problems with the camera set at MF mode. I still didn’t had time to shoot any tests of my own, but I am sure all those complaining about these issues are NOT crazy.

2. While the ability to have some function assigned to the RAW button, at the rear of the camera was something every X100 user has been asking for, since the day the camera was launched, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Say for example you set the RAW button to activate/deactivate the ND filter the camera has. This will be next to useless for one simple reason. The RAW button (and its assigned function) gets locked, when you lock the control wheel at the rear of the camera. The control wheel is used for things like turning on the flash, changing the white balance, entering the lens macro mode, or changing the shooting mode (from pictures to video for example). All these are not changed very often, when you are out shooting pictures. The ND filter though needs to be switched on for one picture and off for the next one. That button shouldn’t get locked, when you lock the control wheel.

3. It is reported by some users that the turns required to manually focus the lens from infinity to its closest focusing distance has been reduced from ten plus, to two. If this is possible, then why not reduce the number of turns to 3/4 of a full turn? I have never seen a lens that needs two full turns to go from infinity to 30 cm. Why not reduce it even further?

Again, Fuji firmware programmers seem to be a totally disorganized team, with no central guidance or with guidance by someone who has never used any camera to take pictures. Who decides how new features are implemented and why? Who gives photographers a very useful feature (for example the ability to activate/deactivate the ND filter at the press of a switch) and then negates it, by allowing that button to be locked when the control wheel is locked? Who authorizes the reduction of turns required to focus the lens from ten to two and doesn’t understand that two full turns are way too much for a 35mm lens?!?!?

Fuji, wake up. You have in your hands a camera that has become a cult object among photographers. It has the capability to become the Leica M3 of the digital era, the revolutionary camera of our times. Assign a photographer as the head of your firmware team, someone who can understand what photographers want and need. Someone who understands how a camera is used by photographers. Fix the bloody camera and I am sure all X100 users will love you. Keep doing the same mistakes and I can see a flood of X100 being sold in Ebay.

X100 issues (continued)

I’ve been puzzled with this camera. On one hand I love the pictures I take with it, and on the other, I hate the way it works so much, I feel like selling it and forget about it.

Last issue I discovered has to do with the way the camera handles its external flash.

I already have two Nikon SB-800 flashes, but the X100 uses a special, dedicated flash (well, Fujifilm offers two dedicated flashes, the EF-20 and the EF-40, I got the EF-20) so I got one, in order to have a complete X100 system.

After trying out the flash though, it looks as if the programmers who wrote X100 firmware, have never taken a single picture with a digital camera. Let me explain to you what I mean.

With my Nikons (they both have a build-in flash, like the X100), if you mount an external flash on the camera, it is immediately ready to be used. If you switch the flash on, it will fire. If you remove the external flash and open the internal one, then the internal flash will fire. Not so on the Fujifilm. After you mount the flash on the camera and switch it on, the flash will stay there and will not fire, until you turn it on, by pressing the right arrow on the camera’s turn-wheel controller and select the “Always fire” from the menu that will appear. OK, let’s accept that, it’s one more step but you can live with it, right? Well, yes, you can, until you remove the external flash from the camera. Next time you fire the camera, the internal flash will fire!!! Ah? I do not want that, I can hear you say. And right you are, you do not want the internal flash to fire, you set the “Always fire” mode for the external flash, right? Well, not according to Fuji programmers.

Oh wait, there is another menu setting, called “Set external flash” and you can set it to “Off”, “On” or “On (Commander)”. OK, you set it to “On” and everything seems to work as it should, except that …. if the external flash is not mounted on the camera, the internal flash can NOT be used. Ah? Come again? Why the setting for the external flash affects the operation of the internal one?!?!?

No, seriously, the people who wrote the X100 firmware, have they ever shot one picture with a camera? Have they ever been sent out to take some pictures? Have they ever tried a camera from a competitor and compare it with the X100? I can’t believe that these people have written this firmware with those stupid flaws in it.

What is even worst, is that it appears that Fujifilm is very happy with the number of X100s they have sold so far, and they do not plan to come up with a firmware upgrade any time soon. They are too busy with their new camera, the interchangeable lenses X-Pro1, to worry about the X100 issues. I sincerely hope this is not true. If it is, then I believe that the X100 purchase was the worst decision I’ve made in my photographer’s life. Even worst than my decision to buy the Leica M6.