Fujifilm made multiple announcements today associated with their mirrorless product line.
First, two new products appeared: the MCEX-11 (11mm) and MCEX-16 (16mm, pictured above) extension tubes for macro photography work. These tubes will be available in mid-December, and give Fujifilm mirrorless users some additional close up capabilities with XF lenses. Both tubes have full electronic information passing, so autofocus and EXIF data is fully supported.
Curiously, the tubes still don’t get us to 1:1 with most lenses, even with the 60mm macro lens. The 16mm tube does net you 1:1 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 and 18mm f/2, though. No prices were announced.
Extension tubes are nice for close up work in that they don’t add additional optical elements to an existing lens, thus preserving the original lens’ abilities fully. Note that you lose infinity focus with a tube attached, though. I’m actually pleased that Fujifilm continues to build options such as these tubes that are photographically useful rather waiting for third parties to create them. They also address one aspect of the Fujifilm lenses that is a bit sub-optimal: very little close up ability other than the macro lens.
Another new product is HS-V5 (Windows only), which is Fujifilm’s tethered shooting solution for the X-T1. Unlike Olympus, it appears that Fujifilm will be charging for this program, though the price is currently not known. Tethering is done via USB cable only, and to get image viewing, analysis, and organization facilities, you’ll need Hyper-Utility3 installed. HS-V5 will be available in January 2015.
I’m not so thrilled about HS-V5 as I am about the tubes. First, there’s the Windows-only and Hyper-Utility3 requirements. That just rules out a huge subset of the potential users, and Hyper-Utility is amongst one of the most confused programs I’ve encountered over the years. Fujifilm has proven over and over that they’re not really a great software company. The fact that it only supports the X-T1 is another bit of strangeness. But the biggest problem really is the use of USB 2.0. Tethering is something you want performance from, and USB 2.0 is going to be sluggish given the large file sizes the X-T1 creates.
Finally, another “future” announcement: firmware updates. Ironically, the headline in the press release is “Firmware updates now available…” Now appears to be December 18th, so apparently I fell asleep for a few weeks. Sorry about that. I’ll go back and see if there’s anything I missed writing about…oh, wait, the headline is wrong about “now.”
The X-T1 3.0 update is substantive, and there are a lot of interesting additions that camera user is going to like:
- Silent shooting from 1 second to 1/32000 of a second via an all-electronic shutter mode.
- The addition of the Classic Chrome film simulation.
- Natural Live View allows you to deselect the real-time rendering in the EVF and see something more akin to what an optical viewfinder sees. Unfortunately, Fujifilm still hasn’t learned that this needs to be button-assignable.
- The hue settings for the Rear LCD and EVF are separately settable.
- Autofocus area selection can now be done directly from the Direction pad without having to first press the Fn button.
- The AE-L/AF-L button is programmable.
- The AF-L button changes focus area size during Manual focus.
- Macro mode can be turned on or off without menu diving.
- You can customize the Quick Access menu.
- Support for 50P/25P/24P frame rates is now enabled.
- Manual exposure control during video is supported.
- Instant AF now uses phase detection, which should make “instant” more “instant.”
- Spot metering can now follow focus area.
- Program shift now extends to 4 seconds (was 1/4 second max).
- Support for direct output to Fujifilm instax mini printers.
- Buttons and dials can be software locked.
- Custom white balance now supports as many as three user-created settings.
- A new AF+MF mode enables manual override of autofocus.
- Tethered shooting is possible (via HS-V5 software).
The X-E1 (3.0), X-E2 (3.4), and X-Pro1 (2.4) get simpler firmware updates, adding Classic Chrome simulation, Interval timer shooting, better WiFi functionality with the Fujifilm iOS/Android apps, and the AF+MF focus mode.