Fujifilm XF 18mm f/2, Fujifilm XF 60mm f/2.4 and Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 OIS Lens firmware updates

Just to start off with a whinge! Some time ago I wrote about buying an X-Pro 1 + 18mm lens for £999 because Fuji were offering a free 60mm f/2.5 Macro lens. A good deal I thought. I duly completed my claim form and sent it off with my receipt to Fuji UK. The form stated that the lens would be sent to me within 28 days. It arrived today, exactly 28 days from when they would have received the claim form. This is the opposite to what I have experienced with other companies doing the same kind of deal. Every other company I have dealt with sent out the kit very quickly. For example when I bought one of my Olympus OM-D's and a Panasonic GH3, they had an offer that the battery grip could be claimed free. Both sent me my grip almost by return of post. A very quick turnaround. But for some reason Fuji have dragged their heels on this. 

It's not as if processing my claim took time or there was a problem. I phoned two weeks ago to see how it was progressing and was told the claim had been validated and my lens would dispatch on 5/12/2013. I would also mention that the gentleman at the end of the phone was somewhat terse and sounded like he was thinking he was doing me a favour. We are all aware of course that Fuji offer these deals not out of the kindness of their heart but because they can't sell enough cameras and lenses. They have been promoting these deals for some time now here in the UK and in other countries also, so it's almost become their standard practice.

So despite them fulfilling the conditions of the deal and you might think I'm complaining unnecessarily, I think it's not the greatest PR to delay this until the last possible day. I can't really see why they would do it. Surely keeping the customer happy and then singing the praises of the company is a good idea. Particularly since Panasonic and Olympus, very much their competitors in the mirrorless market have proved their willingness to get these freebies to the customer ASAP. It almost seems that Fuji have sent me this somewhat begrudgingly and waited until the last possible moment. In a competitive marketplace perception is everything and, though you may think I'm being a bit (very) picky about this, my perception of Fuji UK is that they are somewhat behind Olympus UK and Panasonic UK in customer relations. Whinge over!

Back to the firmware. I've finally got round to updating my 55-200mm zoom and Fuji have finally got round to releasing new firmware for the 18mm. So doing that and also updating my newly arrived 60mm, I now have the latest firmware in all my Fuji bodies and lenses. I must say that the AF on my X-E2 plus these lenses is now super fast, even in poor light. The 60mm is still slow when using it as a macro lens, which isn't that unusual for lenses of this type, but used as medium telephoto it is now pretty quick. Likewise the 18mm. All the original three Fuji primes were somewhat slow when they were first released and it's good to see that Fuji have speeded the AF up considerably since then. However it's not all good news. 

Of the pictures above, all but the last two macro shots were taken a couple of days ago when I went out with my X-Pro 1 plus the updated 18mm and 55-200mm. That X-Pro 1 is running the latest firmware as well. Now I know another update is due for that camera soon and to be honest the camera still needs the AF improving, so hopefully that will be addressed. Compared to the X-E2 the X-Pro 1 is still sluggish. I'm prepared to concede that it is better than when I first used one 18 months ago, but the X-E2 is now so fast at focusing the difference really shows. In fact the X-E2 is almost instant 90% of the time and right up there with the fastest m4/3 cameras, whereas the older camera is still chugging away somewhat. 

Now it's not particularly a problem for me, but for others it might be. It's not really going to stop me using the X-Pro 1, which I've actually fallen for yet again, but the problem with new models being upgraded is that it does make the older ones less useful than they might be. I still, for example, see the X-Pro 1 as too slow to use as a street photography camera and certainly I'd be struggling to shoot sports or any kind of fast(ish) action with it. Whereas the X-E2 can now be considered a pretty good all-round camera, able to cope with pretty much everything, I would still think carefully about where and what I would use my X-Pro 1 for. The same applies to my X-E1. 

I should of course conclude by saying that despite my complaining about various things, I seem to be convinced enough by Fuji's virtues to have three camera bodies and four lenses sitting on the shelf, in addition to two Metabones adapters including a Speed Booster, for my Nikon lenses. And I do still love using them. The Sony A7r is a remarkable camera but I can see myself sticking with the Fuji's as well for some time. Particularly as there are so few FE lenses around and none that I'm currently enthusiastic about buying (as if I could!). The day I shot the majority of the pictures at the top of the page was a case in point. I just really wanted to use AF. I'm happy enough using MF on the Sony, but to be honest I couldn't face another day of focusing cold metallic lens barrels with cold fingers and I also really wanted to use the 55-200mm again. It really is a lovely lens. Big and heavy(ish) certainly, but I seem to have no real problem with it. Particularly since I paired it with the extremely light 18mm. 

Despite Fuji still being relatively 'small potatoes' in the camera world (Only 700,000 X cameras sold apparently which is very low compared to Nikon, Canon and Sony volumes) they do seem to be getting some good business press. See Fuji Rumors Link. Hopefully they will continue to work this specialised retro / old-school / enthusiast photographer / lookaleica niche that they have exploited so successfully. And it has to be said that they do create a serious internet 'buzz' considering the small amount of cameras they sell relative to the 'big boys'. Certainly the number of hits I get whenever I post about Fuji shows me that my X cameras seem to generate the most interest of all the gear I use. 

And as I constantly write, despite all sorts of reservations about them releasing products that aren't perfect and in many cases less than functioning to their optimal level on release, I do really seem to like using them. Now some of that is down to the fact that I'm a serious 'retro head' but it's not just that. I certainly can't afford my cameras to be toys, playthings or 'chest bling', they have to earn their living. As regular readers will be aware I'm pretty ruthless and unsentimental about dispatching gear via ebay if it doesn't do what I want it to do, which is provide me with high-quality images I can offer for sale. And Fuji certainly do that. Their cameras may have been relegated in my pecking order by the A7r, but they still have a unique magic that I don't seem to tire of. And if I could only run out of my burning house with just one camera, I suspect it wouldn't be the A7r, but one of my Fuji X's.

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