The Fuji X-T1 3.0 firmware update - A new camera or just a few tweaks?

There is a somewhat strange reaction to this firmware update. Something along the lines of how wonderful a company Fuji are for giving us almost a new camera for FREE!! And how this is some kind of wonderful refreshing attitude to people who buy their cameras, that Fuji offer all these 'new' features even though a camera has been out for a while.

However, it's worth pointing out that NOTHING in this update is new technology that has suddenly appeared since the X-T1 was initially released. ALL of it could have been included when the camera first appeared. And we have the right to ask Fuji, why wasn't it in the camera in the first place? And how come we have had to wait so long for these options?

There is also lots of criticism of other companies who don't do this wonderfully warm hearted and generous thing that Fuji do. But of course other companies cameras were released with features like electronic shutters and a decent choice of video frame rates in the first place.

Fuji are like politicians who pretend to listen to their electorate and say we are now going to spend money on this, when in fact they have already funded it anyway and were just waiting for the opportunity to make political capital from it. And yes, if you think I'm accusing Fuji of being vaguely dishonest and at best acting in a manner that should attract criticism rather than praise, then you are right.

People thanking a company for bringing out features that could / should? have been present from the start is a bit like someone buying a car and thanking the dealer profusely for sending the steering wheel and tyres six months later. 

So what does this update actually include?

ELECTRONIC SHUTTER

For me the major benefit of firmware vers. 3.0 is (finally) getting an electronic shutter. The one now available on the X-T1 is quick, quiet and vibrates the camera much less. A great improvement and something I think all mirrorless cameras should offer as an option.

VIDEO OPTIONS

I was hoping that with the added fps. options that Fuji have included would be accompanied by an increase in the bitrate and make the video more usable. They do, after all, promote the X-T1 as a camera with professional pretensions. Unfortunately it seems it's the same old video offer with a few more speed options. Disappointing.

CLASSIC CHROME

Not very classic as far as I'm concerned. Below are jpgs. straight out of the camera shot with it.

Somewhat underwhelming for me. Neither classic nor chrome (Whatever that is? Fujichrome? Kodachrome? Ektachrome? Because it's nothing like any of those) But if you like a cyan slate grey cast to your images then it's perfect for you. 

NATURAL LIVE VIEW FUNCTION

It works well, but just how useful is it? It does give a natural looking image in the EVF and it's VERY close to an optical viewfinder (in good light), but then the image captured is of course different. The main advantage seems to be that it gives a cleaner image in low light. Nice idea, but will I use it? Or is it more important for me to see how the image will actually look?

There are lots of other tweaks, customisation options and added functionality, which are good if you use them (and understand them!!). Things like AF + MF which I'm not sure I see the point of, but they are there now if you, unlike me, feel the benefit. But as far as I'm concerned a lot of this is just another example of how Fuji are one of the guilty parties who overcomplicate their menus and controls. I looked at the list of what I can now do and rapidly came to the conclusion that I would use very little of the new 'functionality'. It just slows me down, I don't need it and while I'm fiddling about with altering peripheral stuff like this, I'm not doing what's important, which is taking pictures.  

And to a large extent, though the tweaks may be useful for some, I don't really see this as an X-T1 MK II. More what the original X-T1 should have been in the first place. And there are other more important things that needed improving and still do. I've already briefly mentioned the video, which is poor. The bitrate is a fraction of what Panasonic offer and the video quality is still ordinary at best. Which is a shame because the Fuji lenses mean that sharp detailed footage should be possible. Fuji are seriously lagging behind their Sony and Panasonic competition in this regard. The fact that more manual options are available in video mode (allegedly) are somewhat irrelevant if the footage created is still below par. 

Also why is the 'add-on' ISO 100 option still jpg. only? The ISO 50, 64 and 8O options on my Sony FE cameras allow me to create raw files as does my Olympus OM-D E-M10 with it's ISO 100 option and I use those settings all the time. And it has to be said that again, compared to the opposition, the X-T1 is a somewhat sluggish camera. It's not slow, by any means, it's just that my Sony's and Panasonic are faster. And yes it still has poor battery life and no proper battery metering.

Some of the menu 'improvements' (bug fixes?) strike me as just hair splitting and added to make it look like this is a major update, which as I've made clear, in my opinion it isn't. There are STILL fundamental issues with the X-T1 that need addressing, such as the video and of course battery life, which of course a firmware update can't address. But why can't we have an accurate meter to show how much power is left? How difficult is that? And this all needs to be addressed before the X-T1 or any subsequent Fuji camera can be considered even close to 'professional' or even 'professional aspirant' grade.

When I was deciding on my Camera of the Year, I actually never even considered the X-T1, because of the issues above. The over complication of menu's, dials and controls does not make a great camera, far from it, and the usefulness of some of these firmware additions strikes me as marginal at best. Yes the electronic shutter is a great addition, but Panasonic have had these for some time. In my book the Panasonic FZ1000 is a far superior camera in what it offers because of the options and genuine innovations it offers, such as 4K video, stills from 4K video (in several formats), spot focus, speed of AF, fully tiltable screen and video EX TELE mode. These are all very useful tools and expand what I can do with a camera, whereas the Fuji firmware update is, in my opinion, to a large extent cosmetic.

It's a real shame, because I had great hopes for this update bringing the X-T1 in line with many of my other cameras and I've been waiting on this to decide on the future of the X-T1 and my Fuji X system including the lenses. Much as I like using what they make, there are still shortcomings in many of the basics that Fuji offer me.

While I'm now (very) happy with the raw X files processing that Iridient Developer offers me, it does of course offer the same for all my other cameras. The fact that I think the FZ1000 is a better 'fit' for what I do, speaks volumes about my love / hate relationship with Fuji. And this (mostly) non-event firmware update may have tipped the balance towards the latter.

And I'm afraid this outpouring of gratitude for adding functionality to the camera when it should have been there in the first place just confirms to me that it may well be the time to conclude my relationship with Fuji. This update was seriously hyped, but aside from the electronic shutter, I've seen little to get enthusiastic about.

It really isn't a virtue that Fuji drip feed these 'extras' to us, because they shouldn't be 'extras' at all. And they have been doing this with other cameras, including the X100 which was their initial re-entry back into the serious camera world. How many more times are they going to upgrade a camera some months after they have released it? And how many more times are people going to worship them for doing that?

Now either they do this on purpose (like the aforementioned deceitful politician) or they really are pretty inept at getting a camera right when it's released. Neither of these are virtues, far from it and in fact completely the opposite. And for people to continually heap praise on a company that is either inefficient or cheapskate (or both) is frankly, somewhat embarrassing.