A couple of days before the The FIA World Endurance Championship got underway at Silverstone, AP caught up with professional sports photographer Jeff Carter to find out a little more about what the new firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 mean to him. In our interview Jeff talked about some of the well-received updates in more detail, explained how they came about and what it means for other Fujifilm users.
Interview conducted on the 12th April 2017 (11:00am).
AP: How pleased were you to hear that Fujifilm would be announcing major firmware updates for the X-Pro2 and X-T2?
JC: I’m always happy to receive firmware updates and I regularly feed my findings back to the engineers in Japan. Sometimes I come across things that maybe the average user wouldn’t find, but it’s always nice to receive updates. The simple fact is that 99% of the time the updates are to increase the performance of the cameras not to solve issues. The good thing about Fujifilm is that they seem dedicated to improving the performance of their cameras.
AP: How many bodies have you updated with the new firmware recently?
JC: I’ve updated two X-T2’s and I’ve done my X-Pro2 as well. I use my X-Pro2 for sport as well and some of the improvements are nicely received and I’m really pleased with some of the new additions on this camera.
AP: Have any of the firmware updates answered any problems or issues that you picked up on when using the X-T2 and X-Pro2?
JC: I use both the X-T2 and X-Pro2 for sport. I must admit when I was switching between the two I was finding the customized autofocus settings on the X-T2 very beneficial. When I was shooting rugby I would set it to ignore obstacles so I as allowing the camera maybe to hover a little bit longer on the ball where there may be a player running in-between. Now they’ve introduced the customized settings on the X-Pro2, it’s brilliant for my way of working.
AP: If you could pick out a couple of the most important updates for you and your style of work what would they be?
JC: Two of the things I’ve been talking to a lot of professional sports photographers about and was something I raised to the engineers in Japan last October was voice tagging and copyright information. When you’re processing image really quickly and you’re working under pressure at a sporting event it’s great to be able to voice tag so you can remember who the player was or what was happening at a precise time. It really is very helpful in speeding up your workflow speed. As for embedding copyright info, that’s a given. When you’re working professionally, if your images are automatically embedding your copyright it saves a shed load of work in post processing software and it’s great knowing it’s being done at the source. It’s what professionals have been calling out for and it’s now great to see these included.
AP: What does it mean to you as a professional photographer to have control of the ISO directly from the front dial?
JC: I was shooting only at the weekend and suddenly remembered this update. Normally when I’m photographing I’m shooting wide open and the shutter speed is set to around 1/1000sec. To be able to adjust the ISO from the front dial means I don’t have to take my eye away from the viewfinder. Of all the things you get with the firmware, it’s the most welcome improvement I’d say. I always shoot with the shutter speed dial set to its ‘T’ setting so I’m always controlling the shutter speed from the back dial. Having the ability to adjust the ISO and the shutter speed independently from the front and back dials when the aperture is set wide open is a really important benefit.
AP: How important would you say it is for Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 users to take advantage of the new firmware updates that have been made available?
JC: There are lots of firmware updates and there’s a lot that comes with this latest release. Some of them I’ve used, some of them I’ve used without even knowing it. I always stress the importance of going for the latest firmware update. Even if you don’t think you’re going to use what they’re offering, it’s better to have the latest firmware on board. There’s nothing wrong with leaving the firmware on the previous version, but it’s always better to have the camera bang up to date.
AP: Is there anything in the second wave of firmware (expected to arrive in May) that you’re looking forward to having on your X-T2 and X-Pro2 models?
JC: There’s nothing on the camera now that I would really like to see added. For me, it does exactly what I want it to do. It’s quick, it’s efficient, and has just been made even better with the added ISO functions. To be honest, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re going to come up with next. Any improvements in autofocus would be welcome. Though it’s really very good, it’s still not Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II standard. When people ask me if the X-T2 is as good as a D5 or EOS 1DX Mark II I say I suspect it’s not quite as quick, but then again I can’t offer a comparison because I haven’t used either of these full frame cameras. Most importantly, I can do my job with the X-T2 and it’s very efficient at doing that job. I used to shoot with Nikon D800’s, D3’s and D300s and the X-T2 is as good, if not better than those cameras. Ok, they’re previous generation Nikon DSLRs, but I can get the shots that I need with the X-T2 and that’s all that matters to me as a professional photographer.
AP: It has been known for people criticize manufacturers for releasing new firmware and say they should have got it right at the time the product was released. What would you say to these people?
JC: There’s two ways of looking at this. The first thing I will say is Fujifilm firmware updates are invariably released to improve the performance of the camera not to fix faults or bugs. All the firmware updates as far as I’m aware are to improve the camera. When you invest a lot of money into a camera, do you really want to have to wait for the next camera to come along to get those updates or would you prefer the Fujifilm way of doing things which is to constantly improve and update current and existing cameras to make them better. For me, I feel the Fujifilm approach is amazing and there were a couple of instances before I started using Fujifilm cameras full time that really stand out. I had one of the original X100’s and then they brought out the X100S and they provided a firmware update which brought a lot of the things that were added to the X100S to existing users of the X100. It’s a similar story with the X-T1 when the X-T1 graphite came out. They’re making sure existing customers get the benefits of the newer camera. Fujifilm carefully listen to professional X-Series users, other professionals and amateur photographers before going away and come up with solutions. For me as a customer of Fujifilm, I think they should be applauded and everyone else should be adapting this model. With many manufacturers, if you want serious improvements you’re expected to buy the next camera in the series. I forsee the X-T2 being my current camera for the next two years and I know that it’ll get the updates that it requires. It is limited in some respects by the hardware – a newer camera might have an improved processor or better onboard systems and older cameras can’t cope with that, but that’s progress. It’s great to have the updates for existing cameras being made available and essentially it’s great customer service too.
Interview ends (11:20am)
Jeff Carter Biography
With over 20 years of photographic experience in several fields, including sport, travel, automotive, landscape and photo-journalism, Jeff Carter runs MacLean Photographic in Dunbar on Scotland’s east coast. He travels the world as the Media Delegate for the FIA World Endurance Championship, which in 2017 will stage races in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, USA, Japan, China and Bahrain as well as the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
As well as providing photographic services to commercial clients, MacLean Photographic run a number of Photographic Workshops and Tours for individual or small groups of photographers of all abilities. He has been an official Fujifilm X Photographer since 2015.
AP outlines five of the latest firmware updates: