Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

By Kevin Mullins

Of course, we all know that’s not strictly true, but I do believe, indirectly, that using Fujifilm X Series cameras do empower us to be better at our craft……read on and I’ll explain. Continue reading Fujifilm X Series WILL make you a better photographer…

El Camino with the Fujifilm X100S

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The Camino de Santiago (also commonly known as ’The Way of St James’, or ‘El Camino’ in Spanish) is the name given to the pilgrimage routes that start all over Europe, but all lead to the same destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain).


By Danny Fernandez

Since moving to Spain in 2011, I had heard many people talking about doing ‘El Camino’, and each of them saying how incredible the experience is (life changing for many). For the past few years, it has been on my ‘to do’ list, and this August, I decided to combine three of my passions (travel, cycling and photography) and see what all the fuss is about!

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The first choice I had to make (although it wasn’t really much of a difficult one) was whether I should walk, or cycle. As a keen cyclist, the choice was simple; I would do a cycle tour. By cycling, it also meant that I could see much more of the coast in a shorter time, and also easily take detours if I wanted to explore the area.

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The second choice that I had to make was which camino to do. It was a toss up between the most popular, but easier and better facilitated route; the Camino Frances, or the more difficult and less crowded Camino del Norte. I decided to do the ‘Camino del Norte’. This is the route which follows the northern coast on Spain. I chose to do this route as I had heard it is the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult routes due to all of the mountains! I decided to start in the beautiful coastal town of Castro Urdiales (50km west of Bilbao), and had approx 17 days to cycle the 780km to Santiago de Compostela.

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The third choice that I had to make was where I would stay. Typically walkers (commonly known as Pilgrims during the camino) stay in Albergues (which is like a simple hostel, solely for pilgrims). However, cyclists get the last priority of beds in Albergues (walkers first / those on horses – yes, horses – second / cyclists third). As I had no guarantee of a bed, I decided to bring a tent and camp where possible.

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My Way

There seem to be as many reasons for doing the camino, as there are pilgrims. I met people from all walks of life, including entire families, married couples, adventurers, grandparents and even one guy who had walked out of his front door – in the Netherlands – 11 months ago, and is still walking now!

At the start of my camino, I overheard people saying things like “The Way gives you what you need”. I rolled my eyes and blew this off as some hippy thing, but after 17 days of cycling, I agreed with this.

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I think that the nature of any repetitive action (in this case ‘wake up/eat/cycle/sleep/repeat’), gives you a lot of – almost meditative – headspace, and can teach you all sorts of things about yourself. I had a lot of time to ponder on things (I was, after all, cycling by myself for on average 5 – 8 hours a day).

I also feel that the challenges taught me a lot about myself, and man, there were challenges! It was way more difficult than I could imagine. Some days I would battle a constant uphill mountain for more than 2 hours without escape. On average, I was ascending and descending between 800 – 1000 metres of altitude a day. And when it’s 32 degrees, and your loaded bike weights 30kgs, you feel every meter.

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Before starting, I expected to have many highs, and many lows (such is the beauty and the curse of solo travel), and the camino gave me both of these. I had extreme highs after making it through hours of rainy mountains to be rewarded with parted clouds over the most breathtaking views. And I had extreme lows when I questioned my reasons for this ‘stupid idea’ and was 90% sure that I was going to quit and just hang out on a beach for the remainder of my trip.

Each persons experience of the Camino is unique and I feel that if you listen, you can learn a lot about yourself during this journey.

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Why I chose the X100s

I’m not sure if other photographers are like me, but I spend so much time in a constant debate over which camera equipment to bring before any trip.

Since selling my Canon gear 3 years ago and slowly building a collection of Fuji (X100s / X-T1 / X-T10 / XF16mm / XF35mm / XF56mm) I was fortunate enough to have the choice of what to bring for this trip.

x100sI had narrowed it down to the X100s, or the X-T10 + XF16 and XF35 lenses. After changing my mind on a near daily basis, I eventually decided to simplify EVERYTHING on this trip, therefore I would only bring my X100s. I had previously spent 3 months backpacking around India with this camera and think it’s an incredible travel camera.

My reasons for bringing just the X100s was that I wanted simplicity. This was very much my philosophy behind the entire trip – to get away from every day life of choices and go back to basics (this was also the basis for my terrible decision of bringing only 2 pairs of socks for a 17 day cycle trip). I was clear that this was not a photography trip; it was all about the experience of the camino, and the X100s was always at hand to document it.

And if I had to choose only one reason why this is still my favourite travel camera, it’s because it doesn’t interrupt your experiences; but instead is there to complement them. Photography has taught me how to see, and when a camera fits in so seamlessly with your life, it can help deepen your appreciation of that moment.

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Help! I don’t know whether to buy and X100T or an X70.

By Kevin Mullins

KevinMullins-Headshot-200x200When I first received the Fujifilm X70 I looked at it and thought…….hmmmm.  Then I scratched my head and glanced sideways at my X100T which was looking back at me with suspicion and concern.

I have to admit that I also had suspicion and concern when I first picked up the X70.  It’s teeny.  In terms of length and width it’s almost a third smaller than my mobile phone.

My X100T, on the other hand, is larger.

So I challenged myself to see if size really does matter and, more importantly, does the X70 live up to its big brother X100T when it comes down to image making.

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Brief Differences and Similarities between the X70 and X100T

This isn’t a review of either camera but it makes sense for me to point out the fundamental differences, and similarities between the two cameras.

Both cameras share the same 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II sensor but that, possibly, is where the similarities end.

We already know about the size difference, but really the biggest differences are the interface to shooting and the lens and so I will concentrate on these during this post.


“Beat the fear of Street photography by allowing people to come to you, instead of you to them.
Then just… Click.
No pressure.


The Lenses

The X100T has an excellent 23mm F2.0 lens.  Way back when I was shooting DSLR, my preferred focal length was 35mm (full frame equivalent), and actually it still is.

I LOVE the lens on the X100T and this is one of the critical changes because if you also LOVE the lens on the X100T, you need to know that the lens on the X70 is different.

The lens on the X70 is a slower F2.8 but wider 18.5 mm focal length or 28mm (35mm equivalent).

So straight away, we can see that the X100T is going to be better at low light shooting, albeit marginally.

However, the size and weight of the X70 means we can shoot at slower shutter speeds to mitigate this to a certain extent (depending on the subject matter of course).

For me, I love that 35mm FF focal length and I’m getting used to the slightly wider view from the X70.

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Taking Pictures

I instinctively lifted the X70 to my eye when I first got it out of the box.  Big mistake as there is no viewfinder in the camera (you can purchase an external viewfinder attachment that slots into the hotshoe).

For me, the reason I never really gelled with the Fujifilm X-M1 was because of the lack of viewfinder.  But then the X-M1 was bigger…..and didn’t have the X-Trans II Sensor.

I’ll give it a try I thought.

And you know what, I have learnt to really like the LCD shooting experience of the X70.  I’m not a hundred percent convinced I wouldn’t prefer a viewfinder as at least an option, but obviously one of the reasons this camera is so small is because of the removal of the viewfinder.

Instead of the traditional way of shooting, in the X70, you have a remarkably versatile tilting screen, which even tilts vertically above the camera to allow you to take “selfies”.

When shooting with the X100T I have to use the viewfinder, or shoot from the hip using a zone focus technique.

I can still use zone focusing with the X70 of course, but the benefit of the flip down screen is plain to see.  Additionally, the X70 implements some neat touch screen features where you can use your finger to very quickly touch, focus & shoot.

That’s a great advantage when out on the street shooting.


“I adore elderly people holding hands and I strive to look for pictures like that.
Pretty much, I just want to be like that with my wife when I’m elderly too.”


Which camera would I use?

This is the question I’ve been asking myself a lot.  When would I use one over the other?  And I actually sat down and came up with a list of scenarios where I would use either the X100T or the X70.

In really low light I’m going to need the X100T.  I don’t use flash, and I find that I use the Optical Viewfinder on the X100T a lot when shooting in low light.

For that reason, and also because of the build and form factor, the X100T will remain one of my primary cameras as a wedding photographer.

However, the X70 really comes into its own when I pick up a camera to go and shoot street photography.

In fact, for me, its superseded all other cameras in the range when it comes to shooting on the street.

I like to get in close and I like to observe and prepare to shoot.  Unless I need to use different lenses (for example, I may use a MF lens on the X-Pro2 or X-T10 for rapid zone focusing and shooting), the X70 is an ideal camera for shooting on the street.

The fact that you don’t even have to press the shutter button is a marvellous thing in itself and lends the camera perfectly to candid street shooting.

The X70 isn’t going to replace my X100T, but at the same time, my X100T will be a lot less active for my personal and street photography work.


“These images below were shot using Auto Focus, at F2.8 without the flip screen down.
Simply pointing and shooting from the hip.
One handed (as the other was occupied with Guinness at the time).”


To see more of Kevin’s inspirational images, click here.

 

 

Holiday Snaps – Freedom From Faff

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Holiday snaps – it’s just one of those things right? Even though you LOVE taking pictures, LOVE capturing beautiful scenes of beautiful places, sometimes you simply can’t be bothered to figure out the following:

  • Which lenses should I take?
  • What bag am I going to use to take all this stuff?
  • What ND filters should I take?
  • What about chargers, spare batteries, neck strap, lens cloth (which you have temporarily ‘misplaced’ but don’t want to admit you have lost to your Wife)
  • And what about my tripod, how will it fit in my luggage?
  • Sighs..

This Is Where The Fujifilm X70 Comes In..

If you’re like me and already have a Fujifilm X Series camera, you have become very accustomed to quality photographs and probably shudder at the thought of using anything substandard.

And this could be for many reasons – but for me, it is this simple:

“What if I see something amazing while I’m on holiday? It could be the next picture to go on my wall at home.”

Now I know that if I shot the image on a smartphone there is no way that I would want to print it due to the lower image quality, and so I would always want to have an X Series with me.

With this in mind I decided to take only the X70 on my recent holiday to Mallorca. Now I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about not taking all my camera gear with me. I think this is because it all becomes a bit of a comfort blanket, I would think to myself:

“I’ve got the 10-24mm for my wide shots, my 55-200mm for my tele…” etc.

So ‘only’ having the fixed focal length I thought this might limit me creatively a bit, but all I can say is WOW – it really doesn’t! 

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X70 – Old cobbled street in Mallorca – processed in LightroomDSCF6684-2

I was trying to put my finger on what it is that makes this camera stand out from the crowd, and I think it really comes down to these 3 reasons:

The Image Quality Is Superb

This little camera creates beautiful images. It has the same sensor as found in the X-T1 (X-Trans CMOS II) and can easily produce stunning A3 / A2 prints.

And I have even seen great images printed at 2 by 3 metres from this sensor!!

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It’s Really Easy To Use

Whether you understand shutter speed, aperture and all that jazz or not, it really doesn’t matter with the X70 because this camera will cater for your abilities.

If you’re still learning the basics of photography you don’t need to worry as the camera has a handy little AUTO switch you can use to keep things simple.

But if you are like me and LOVE playing with all the settings, adjusting your depth of field and all of that then the X70 will be a great choice for you as all of the useful features are either a switch or a dial at your fingertips.

Not only that but the camera itself will charge like a phone in that you can use a USB cable straight into the side of the camera, the battery will then charge internally. It’s a simple thing, but in reality it’s really handy, as every night I’d just plug it in and place it on the bedside table to keep the power topped up.

Another great feature I use all the time is the built-in WIFI. When on holiday or travelling, a lot of us like to share our images with friends through Facebook or similar. With the WIFI feature on the X70 you can transfer over your images from camera to smartphone, edit them in Snapseed or similar and then upload – simple.

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The Caves of Drach - Mallorca
The Caves of Drach – Mallorca – looking straight upwards for those wondering

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It Fits Into My Pocket

This is perhaps the simplest reason, and yet it is still one of the most important as to why I love this camera.

Unlike any other camera in our range the X70 actually fits into my pocket, which I find truly liberating.

It means that wherever I go, I have my camera with me without having to take a camera bag – which as I’m sure many men out there will agree – our ultimate aim is to carry everything of use within the pockets of our jeans.

My Wife beating me at pool...Again
My Wife beating me at pool…Again
Keeping things healthy at dinner time
Keeping things healthy at dinner time..

pic_04And The Super Technical BONUS Reason…

My Wife LOVES taking couple selfies, and it just so happens that this camera makes that really easy too as the screen flips up fully. 😉

To find out more about the Fujifilm X70 Click Here.

Until next time, happy snapping

Dale 🙂

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My first ever tram ride.. It was brilliant!

This camera just might be brilliant

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Being a small camera, the Fujifilm X70 has been designed to be the everyday carry around for photographers who enjoy quality without the need for carrying heavy equipment. The general design of the camera follows X Series heritage, but with a few added bonuses that are sure to please the eager fans and it is these features that just might make this camera brilliant.

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Featuring a new touch screen users can now select whatever shooting mode suits them. Selecting from either touch ‘Shot’ or ‘Focus’ photographers can now engage directly with the back of the screen, bypassing the shutter button to either focus on a subject or to touch to take the shot. While this is a welcome option, if you prefer to be ‘touch free’ then turning off one of these functions is simple. All you have to do is touch the screen on the back until you see the ‘Off’ function.

The footprint of the X70 compared with the X100 series is somewhat smaller. With that said, the X70 still incorporates a generous grip for larger hands, while one hand operation is enhanced due to the ergonomic button layout of the back of the camera. Accessing the shutter speed dial is a breeze and if you find 1/4000 second isn’t going to be fast enough we would recommend you turn on the ‘MS+ES’ (Mechanical Shutter + Electronic Shutter) setting that will enable up to 1/32,000 second – perfect for shooting those direct sunlight shots at F2.8!

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Something many Fujifilm photographers rave about is the Fujifilm X Series Film Simulations that really provide a unique shooting experience. Selecting RAW+Jpeg will provide the best advantage when photographing in a film simulation. The film simulation can only be applied to a jpeg in camera, however when you shoot in RAW you can apply the film simulation when processing the photo in Adobe Lightroom. All you will need to do is navigate to the develop module and scroll down to find the ‘Camera Calibration’ and then ‘Profile’. It’s here that you would select the desired film simulation. You can see in the images below the difference it makes to a photo without having to compromise on quality.

It’s here that you would select the desired film simulation. You can see in the images below the difference it makes to a photo without having to compromise on quality.

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How to apply a Film Simulation in Adobe Lightroom

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In this example notice the colour difference when we applied the Velvia Film Simulation

The other setting that’s worth trying out on the X70 is the film simulation bracketing mode. Located within the DRIVE button this mode will capture three different images using a selection of three film simulations. You can program in whatever film simulation you want by accessing the menu – MENU/OK > FILM SIMULATION BKT. This setting is a great way to capture black and white images and colour at the same time – just note that this mode doesn’t support RAW capture. You should think about using this mode to give you an idea of what film simulation will look the best for the scene you want to photograph.

MENU/OK > FILM SIMULATION BKT.

This setting is a great way to capture black and white images and colour at the same time – just note that this mode doesn’t support RAW capture. You should think about using this mode to give you an idea of what film simulation will look the best for the scene you want to photograph.

So, if you are looking for a new premium camera or one that will become your everyday shooter, then the Fujifilm X70 is most likely it. Don’t feel you have to compensate by downgrading in quality or even features for that matter, because the X70 is unlike most mirrorless cameras around this price point. You still get a hot shoe for on-camera flash, an electronic shutter, excellent battery life and even an aperture ring around the lens for ultimate control. The only thing that’s missing is the viewfinder, but Fujifilm have you covered on that – there’s an optional VF-X21 external optical viewfinder that provides a bright frame for the 28mm and 21mm angles of view (35mm equivalent).

All that’s left is to get the camera in your hands to test out the full range of features for yourself, and if you’re not impressed, just turn the screen around and take a selfie!

Welcome to “Fujikina” – Fujifilm X Series’ 5th Anniversary celebration

What better way to celebrate 5 years of Fujifilm X series than by hosting our own event at our head office in Tokyo?! I was lucky enough to be here so I’m sharing the experience with you.


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Counting down to the start of the event

The event started at 13:30 local time, while most (but not all) of you were probably tucked up fast asleep. We had a countdown that had been running on our X-Pro1 website for the last ten days.

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Mr Nakajima explaining our company’s strategy since the decline of film sales

At 13:30 sharp [3m 9s], Fujifilm President Shigehiro Nakajima gave an introduction speech about how our company has evolved in recent years. Film sales peaked in the year 2000 and since then has quickly declined. We took our core competencies and technologies and the diversified our business to ensure survival of the company. At the heart of our company is, and always will be, photography. This is why the X series is so important to us.

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Mr Takahashi makes a great case for using a smaller, lighter system

Afterwards, the top man in the whole Optical Division, Mr Takahashi, [13m 21s] took to the stage to explain in more detail about the last 5 years of X series. He explained the key benefits of using our APS-C system, including image quality, operability, and portability. He thanked all of the Fujifilm X users across the world, with a special nod to the Official X-Photographers, for not only using our products, but for helping us design future products. It has been the constant feedback that has enabled us to make these products we all love so much.

Next up, Toshi Iida, General Manager for our Electronic Imaging Division [40m 19s] (that’s Digital Cameras and CSC Lenses to you or I), took to the stage to talk about 5 exciting new products coming in 2016.

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And the new 2016 products are….

The products are the X-Pro2, the X-E2S, the X70, the XF100-400 and the EF-X500 flash. Click any of those links for more information about them.

X-Pro2 – Hybrid Viewfinder [41m 53s]

Toshi explained and demonstrated the advantages of the Hybrid Viewfinder. We all know that an EVF is great because it shows you the image you are going to get, including your exposure settings and any other Film Simulation or White Balance options you have changed. But in a world where EVF refresh rates and LCD resolution seem to make Optical Viewfinders redundant, why on earth would an OVF be required anymore? Toshi explained how having a Rangefinder style OVF allows you to see what is going on outside the frame. This is something that cannot be done on a D-SLR, nor by using an EVF.

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 – the first and only Interchangeable Cameras with both OVF and EVF

Also, two ‘problems’ still exist with using an OVF: “Parallax”, where the angle of the Viewfinder is slightly different from that of the lens making it hard to know precisely where the edge of the frame will be, and Manual Focus is virtually impossible because changing the focus ring doesn’t affect the OVF on a rangefinder. The X-Pro2 has overcome both of these problems by displaying a small LCD panel in the bottom of the frame. This can be used to either show the entire frame in a miniature form, or it can be used to zoom in to the focus point to allow manual focus while in OVF mode.

"Mr Iida talks up X-Pro2's advanced hybrid multi viewfinder. The only one of its kind in the world" - Wex Photographic
Using the ERF to manual focus while using the OVF to frame the shot (image by Wex Photographic)

X-Pro2 Image Quality [45m 53s]

The X-Pro2 contains the new X-Trans CMOS III – the third generation sensor, which at 24-megapixels, has 50% more resolution that our current. It contains technology that allows faster transfer allowing lower noise at higher ISO.

Fujifilm Colour [50m 50s]

80 years of film development gives us the expertise to recreate skin tones and other colours with exceptional realism. Toshi also talked about the new Acros film simulation monochrome mode that features smoother gradation, deep blacks and beautiful textures

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Acros tone curve, as demonstrated by X-Photographer Patrick La Roque’s son

X-Pro2 Magnum Photographer David Alan Harvey [57m 12s]

Next up, Toshi invited Magnum and National Geographic photographer David Alan Harvey onto the stage to talk about how he has found the X-Pro2 since using a prototype for the last few months. Here is the short movie that was played just before he joined Toshi on stage

David’s approach to photography is nothing short of inspiring. David likes simplicity. He wants his camera to be as simple to use as possible, while achieving the quality he needs to do his work. He used the camera in full-auto mode most of the time, wanting to spend more time worrying about the content of the image than what shutter speed to use. This attitude towards photography is exactly what we are trying to get to when we made this camera. We want people to enjoy photography and in order to do this you need to not think about the camera, and instead think about your art.

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Toshi held up a print of one of David’s photographs to demonstrate the quality [1h 8m 41s]. As many of us at the back couldn’t see it very well, he unveiled an enormous print. This photo below really doesn’t do it justice. To me, the photo looked like it was layered or something. It looked 3D, especially when compared to the screens either side of it.

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Now THAT is a print!
Photo by @zarias
Photo by @zarias

X-E2S [1h 10m 43s]

Next up, Toshi introduced the new X-E2S camera. It’s basically a rangefinder brother for the X-T10. All of the technical features that made the DSLR-style X-T10 a more attractive camera have been matched, leaving the user to choose between the style of camera rather than the specifications.

If you want to be able to shoot with your right eye leaving your face fully exposed to engage with your subject, or you want the classic retro look of a rangefinder of days passed, the X-E2S will be for you. If you prefer the more modern look of a D-SLR, plus the advantage of having a tilting screen for shooting high or low angles more comfortably, the X-T10 will probably be your preference.

Either way, you now get to choose your camera based on who you are, rather than which one was better on paper. Current X-E2 users can also rejoice in the fact that the software enhancements in the X-E2S will be coming to the X-E2 via a FREE firmware update in the very near future.

XF100-400 [1h 12m 17s]

"This new 100-400mm lens looks like it was worth waiting for" - DPReview
“This new 100-400mm lens looks like it was worth waiting for” – DPReview

Toshi showed a series of images [1h 13m 20s] that were all shot on the same camera + tripod. They were of a lighthouse and the showed the view at 10mm, and varying focal lengths right up to the final one showing the XF100-400 lens at its maximum zoom, with the XF1.4X converter on it. This did a great job of demonstrating just house varied our lens line up has become in the 4 years since the introduction of the X-Pro1. He then explained which of Fujifilm’s core technologies [1h 14m 0s] went into the creation of our new “Super Telephoto” lens, the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.

Toshi then demonstrated the OIS [1h 15m 36s] by comparing a video shot at 400mm with no OIS to a video shot at 400mm with OIS on.

After that he invited the photographer that took the shots, UK X-Photographer Jeff Carter, to join him on stage [1h 17m 28s] to talk about how he uses the extremely versatile Fujifilm X system..

Jeff Carter, talking about his switch from D-SLR to Fujifilm X
Jeff Carter, talking about his switch from D-SLR to Fujifilm X

Jeff has been a professional photographer for many years and he switched to Fujifilm on a recommendation of a peer. His chosen subjects to shoot vary massively from shooting at The 24 Hours of Le Mans race, to shooting landscapes near his home in Scotland. He’s been fully converted to the X system since 2014 and has most of the lenses in our lineup and finds a use for all of them. They went through a number of Jeff’s shots and discussed the lens lineup and direction and also his reasons for making his final switch and going full-Fujifilm X.

Once again, Toshi proved the power of the camera[1h 24m 18s] by unveiling another print the size of the one by David Alan Harvey. The crowd was suitably impressed.

Toshi ended his interview with Jeff by talking about a product meeting Jeff had attended a few months ago. (You may or may not know that Fujifilm REALLY listen to their users for product feedback). He asked him if he remembered a particular request that Jeff had. This particular request was for a flashgun that could fire continuously and would also be weatherproof to suit his X-T1. Jeff confirmed that he remembered the request, to which Toshi then presented the next product…

Photo by @zarias
Photo by @zarias

EF-X500 [1h 25m 00s]

The only product not due to be released in February is the EF-X500 flash. Similar to our lens roadmap updates, we wanted our users to know that we listen to their feedback and we are working on a hotshoe mount flashgun to compliment the X series.

It’ll have a low-profile design that is perfectly suited to X-Series cameras, and will support high-speed sync up to 1/8000 sec. (the same speed as the shutter in the new X-Pro2). It will also be weather and dust resistant, just like the X-T1 and X-Pro2 cameras.

X70 [1h 26m 28s]

The final product that was presented was the X70,. This camera is essentially an X100T + WCL-X100, in a tiny body. It doesn’t have a viewfinder, which is the reason it can afford to be so small, but it does have a tilting LCD screen to compose your shot with.

"Awesome little compact camera" - Fujifilm UK's Theo Georghiades
“Awesome little compact camera” – Fujifilm UK’s Theo Georghiades

The same sensor as the X100T, the same processor as the X100T and an amazingly high-quality lens made by Fujinon (like the X100T). Now you can have a camera in your pocket at all times that won’t sacrifice image quality at all. Coupled with a 180° tilting LCD that’s pretty handy for selfies, the X70 really is the ultimate travel camera for someone that really needs to travel light but wants great results still.

Thanks

On behalf of all of Fujifilm, I would like to extend a huge thanks to David Alan Harvey and Jeff Carter for their contribution to our #5YearsofXSeries event.