Announcements galore and a fix of Classic Chrome

We knew firmware updates to our Fuji cameras were coming in December and we also knew most of the details… But today Fujifilm revealed the extent of what we can expect on the — now official — December 18th release date. If you havent yet seen the press release, I suggest you read the whole thing; there’s quite a lot of goodies to digest. Here’s a quick list:

  1. AF (Auto Focus) Area direct selection – Users can select the focus area with the 4-way controller, without pressing the Fn Button.
  2. Function replacement for the AE-L/AF-L buttons – The currently locked AE-L/AF-L button function will now be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.
  3. Focus Area size variability during MF (Manual Focus) – Users will be able to change the focus area in Manual mode during One Push AF with the AF-L button.
  4. Macro Mode direct selection – Users will be able to directly turn ON or OFF the Macro function in Auto Focus mode to expand the distance measurement range to the short-distance range. This will be possible without accessing the pop-up menu screen.
  5. Q Menu customization – The update will render the items and layout of the Q Menu, used for quick access of frequently-used items, changeable to the user’s preference.
  6. Video frame rate selection – In addition to the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps and 25fps, as well as a 24fps selection will become available to users. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL region, such as Europe and elsewhere, without converting the frame rate. The 24fps will offer movie-like video capture and play back.
  7. Video manual shooting – Users will be able to select ISO sensitivity prior to shooting videos, as well as adjusting the aperture and shutter speed during video shooting.
  8. Phase Detection AF support for One Push AF – With One Push AF, operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF with quicker focusing speeds.
  9. Metering area focus area interlocking – The update will enable users to interlock the AF area position with the metering area when spot metering is selected.
  10. Expansion of the Program Shift setting area – The update will enable the current Program Shift, in which the low-speed side is 1/4 second, to be shifted to a maximum of 4 seconds.
  11. Electronic Shutter – Adds electronic shutter function to original X-T1 Black bodies with a maximum shutter speed of 1/32000 second.
  12. New “Classic Chrome” Film Simulation – Film simulation that delivers muted tones and deep color reproduction.
  13. Support for INSTAX Share Printer – Photos can be sent directly to the INSTAX Share Printer for instant prints.
  14. Lock Function – Users can lock the camera to prevent unexpected dial and button operations.
  15. AF+MF Setting – Users can half press the shutter to autofocus, and then make fine adjustments using the manual focus ring.
  16. Three Custom White Balance options – Expands number of white balance users can store.
  17. Expanded EVF/LCD display types in Manual Exposure Mode – Users can now customize the way the image is displayed on the EVF or LCD.
  18. LCD Brightness and EVF/LCD Adjustment Control – Users can customize display brightness based on environment.
  19. Flash Compensation in Fn Button Setting – Users can now add Flash Compensation to any of the six custom function buttons.

That’s just for the X-T1. Other cameras are also getting improvements as well — less extensive but still. And although there are major features listed here, some of the smaller stuff like AF+MF or three custom white balance presets has me extremely excited. A lot of these are going to be game changers in terms of how we use our gear day in and day out. So yay, a thousand times yay. Except... 

I have one HUMONGOUS gripe: tethering. Yes, good and honest tethered shooting is finally coming to our cameras. How? Why with the upcoming HS-V5 for Windows® Ver. 1.0 that’s how. Yup, let’s just party like it’s 1995 guys. Honestly I can’t remember seeing any sort of software I needed being Windows-only in ten years and I can only hope a Mac solution is seriously in the works as we speak. I knew the beta was PC-only because it’s what we used at Photokina back in September (question answered for those who were there… I’m looking at you René) but I never imagined it would be released as such.

The software is scheduled for next January. That’s 2015 for those of us who are counting… Cross-platform should be par for the course. Fingers crossed.

CHROME, meet LR 5.7

The other feature I’ve been itching to get my hands on might seem almost silly to some: Classic Chrome. I should finally be getting to shoot the X100T next week and I’ll most likely be using that film simulation pretty much exclusively. I’ll talk more about film simulations in general in that review but for the time being, if you’re interested in using this today and you’re a raw shooter… Get Lightroom 5.7. I downloaded the update yesterday and I’m at long last getting my fix of Chrome.

A few updates ago Adobe introduced Fujifilm Camera Calibration profiles that emulate the film simulations available in-camera. I first reviewed these here. I’m still not entirely sold on how LR5 decodes raf files but I do think they’re doing a great job on this particular feature. With yesterday’s update, they’ve added Classic Chrome to cameras that support it — in my case, the X-T1. I can’t wait to use the in-camera engine but in the meantime I can already predict this is going to become my default preset on raw files.

When these profiles were added I immediately created some base presets for each film simulation. All these do is apply the individual simulation and add a very slight tone curve to the image. I use them as starting points when I begin working on an image (unless I choose one of my VSCO-based presets). Obviously these can only work on raw files since Camera Calibration is disabled on anything else, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the difference between Provia and the new Classic Chrome on a couple of images from last summer. 

In each case I adjusted images for contrast and exposure at exactly the same values, so the only difference here is the profile being applied. The most important takeaway in my opinion, when looking at these side by side, is the difference in blue, green and magenta. Blues are rendered very differently and greens are much less saturated, making Classic Chrome immediately feel more natural to my eye. Of course it's subtle and it can easily be achieved in post, but we’re talking one click here: one click that gets me pretty much exactly where I want to be. Multiply this by x-amount of images and it becomes a big deal as far as I’m concerned. 

It’ll be interesting to compare this to “the real thing” on the X100T jpeg files and even more so when the December 18th X-T1 update finally comes around. But this addition to Lightroom is both an interesting first look and a great new tool in our arsenal.

Now repeat after me: Tethering. OS X. Tethering. OS X….