As part of their “Kaijin” philosophy, Fujifilm has announced version 4.0 of the X-T1/X-T1 GS Firmware which offers significant improvements to the X-T1’s AF system. I am sure Fujifilm is as excited about this as I am, as they’ve made the above video to take you through the improvements. This is the first time I’ve seen any camera maker do a video to introduce a firmware update!
According to the press release, the AF improvements are:-
1. A new auto focus system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects – The auto focus system complements the fast and accurate single-point auto focus system with new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes, which use 77 autofocus points across a wider area to substantially improve the camera’s ability to track and capture moving subjects.
The Zone mode allows users to choose a 3×3, 3×5 or 5×5 zone from the 77-point auto focus area. When combined with the AF-C continuous focusing mode, the camera continues tracking a subject in the selected zone. The 3×3 and 3×5 zones at the center, in particular, offer extra-fast focusing with the use of the built-in phase detection pixels.
In the Wide/Tracking mode, the camera displays the area in focus, identified automatically out of the 77-point auto focus area (Wide in the AF-S mode) and tracks the focus area’s subject across the entire 77-point AF area (Tracking in the AF-C mode). This makes it possible to maintain focus on a subject that moves vertically, horizontally, and back and forth.
2. Improved auto focus accuracy – Single-point auto focus now divides the focus area into smaller sections to more accurately determine the distance to the subject for even greater focusing accuracy. The built-in phase detection pixels have increased sensitivity from 2.5EV to 0.5EV. This improvement delivers phase detection auto focus performance that enables fast focusing in low-light conditions and on low-contrast subjects.
3. Eye detection auto focus – The new firmware update provides Fujifilm’s Eye Detection auto focus, which automatically detects and focuses on human eyes. The function allows you to easily focus on the eyes even in difficult conditions, e.g. when shooting a portrait wide open to obtain a beautiful bokeh background.
4. Auto Macro mode – The firmware update introduces an Auto Macro function that automatically switches the camera into the Macro mode while maintaining the conventional auto focus speed. You no longer have to press the Macro button to initiate a close-up shot. This update eliminates the Macro function assigned to the Macro Button, allowing you to assign a different function to the button.
5. Auto focus improvement in Movie mode – The optimized algorithm delivers a more natural and smoothauto focus action during movie recording.
There are also other., albeit less exciting, improvements to the camera:-
Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation – When the Shutter Speed Dial is set to T, you can use the command dial to set the full range of exposure times. This means you can change the shutter speeds across a broader range without having to change camera position. This is particularly useful when shooting in the portrait orientation with the Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT1 attached.
Exposure Compensation control in Manual mode – The Exposure Compensation dial can be used to make exposure adjustments while shooting in the Manual exposure mode with the ISO Auto setting.
Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility – The lines on the framing grid have been made finer making it easier to view the subject.
Fujifilm cameras were traditionally never known to have super-fast AF speeds unlike something like the Olympus OM-D series and the Nikon 1 series. The X-T1/X-T1 GS is no exception. The various firmware releases have more or less improved the AF speeds to something more usable. Nothing has been as significant as this release, however. I can’t wait to see how much more improvements it can bring to my X-T1.
Among the smaller improvements, the “Improved Shutter Speed Dial Operation” will most likely appeal to photographers who prefer the more modern method of using command dials to control exposure, as opposed to the more traditional shutter speed dial + aperture ring combo.