(news & commentary)
Fujifilm today announced a firmware update for the X-T1 that won’t be available until next month. Why there’s urgency to announce firmware that isn’t available, I’m not sure. Oh, wait, I am sure: marketing. The X-T10 will be introduced soon with these same new abilities, so you can’t have the lower end camera outperforming the high end, can you? Moreover, by first announcing the firmware, then the new camera, then the firmware again when it’s available, you get three press releases for the price of two.
What’s new in version 4.0 of the X-T1 firmware? A lot to do with autofocus. Indeed, it appears that the entire autofocus system has been revised. Performance is said to be significantly improved, and it was already very good. There are new zone and wide-tracking modes for moving subjects, eye detect autofocus, improvement of focus accuracy (especially in low light), an auto macro mode so you no longer have to press a button to initiate macro focusing, plus improvements in video focus, as well. In addition, four other small changes were included in the update, including exposure compensation in Manual exposure mode with Auto ISO active and finer lines when using the framing grid in the viewfinder so that subjects aren’t obscured. Silent Mode has been renamed to Sound & Flash Off to better indicate what it does.
You can see a video of the new focusing features in action on Fujifilm’s dedicated X-series site. A number of people watching that video wonder why certain lenses are suggested with certain video modes. You can actually see a bit of the reason why in the video: autofocus motor performance in the various Fujifilm lenses varies a bit. Some are more optimized for motion tracking speeds than others, while some are more “languish” in moving focus elements (e.g. the 60mm macro). I noted that Fujifilm was careful to show lenses that were optimized for the task they were showing. That’s not to say that you can’t do zone or wide-tracking with lenses that weren’t in the suggested lists of the video. Indeed, you can use any of the modes with any of the lenses. But some lenses will show off the new performance a bit better than others in certain situations.