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Fujifilm has released firmware version 2 for the X-Pro1 mirrorless camera, that it promised before Photokina. The update improves aspects of the camera's operation that we criticised in our review, most notably focusing, both auto and manual. Firmware updates for each of the lenses are also required, and downloadable from Fujifilm's website. We've quickly tested the firmware and seen substantial improvements in both manual focus operation and autofocus speed - indeed we'd recommend all X-Pro1 owners install it. Click through for more details.
According to Fujifilm, Firmware 2.0 includes the following improvements:
We've tested autofocus speed under controlled conditions using the same camera and lens, first with FW 1.2 then after updating to FW 2.0. We've used the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro - the slowest-focusing of the three lenses - under low-level artificial light, with a relatively low-contrast target and the lens initially set to infinity focus. These are the conditions under which the camera struggled most with FW 1.x, and should therefore show the most-obvious improvement. Note that under most conditions the camera will focus much faster than this.
The videos below illustrate the improvement in speed. Focusing is initiated shortly after the start of the video - the green lamp starts blinking when the shutter is half-pressed. The improvement of autofocus speed with Firmware 2 is plain to see.
Fujifilm has made two important changes to manual focus operation that transform its usefulness. Firstly, the 'feel' of the manual focus has been radically improved - the focus ring no longer requires multiple turns to drive the lens from infinity to closest focus, so now feels much more responsive. The 'dead spot' past infinity, where the camera would fail to register turns of the focus ring in either direction, also appears to have been eliminated (this was a particular problem with the 35mm F1.4 lens). The result is that it's now much quicker to set the focus distance, and the 'focus-by-wire' mechanism responds much more like a traditional mechanically-coupled lens.
Secondly - and just as importantly - the camera now always sets the aperture wide open for manual focus, allowing critically-accurate focus in all lighting conditions. The addition of a 3x magnification mode (alongside the existing 10x) also aids focusing by reducing the visibility of camera shake, particularly with the 60mm F2.4 macro lens. The results is that focusing using magnified live view works very much better than before.
Fujifilm says file write times have been improved, and our tests bear this out. A full burst of 11 JPEG+RAW files previously took 55sec to write to card - that time has now been cut in half, to about 26sec with the same UHS-I SDHC card. The time taken to enter playback after shooting a single image is also much shorter than before; however you still have to wait 5 or 6 seconds if you take 2 shots quickly in a row.
Auto ISO has an extra option, Auto(6400), that gives access to ISO 6400 in Auto mode. But there's still no way to influence the minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode, and the camera still chooses shutter speeds that are too slow to reliably eliminate camera shake. There's also no option to set exposure compensation to influence image brightness when using Auto ISO in manual mode. So while this change is welcome, its usefulness is limited.
We've been impressed by the way Fujifilm has embraced the idea of using firmware updates to improve its X-series cameras after release, fixing bugs and adding new features. With Firmware 2 for the X-Pro1, it's substantially improved the camera's focusing, which we considered to be its Achilles' Heel in our review. Autofocus speeds have undoubtedly been improved (although we've not yet had enough time to properly assess the impact on real-world shooting), and the previously-dysfunctional manual focus has essentially been fixed, and is now far more usable than it was before.
The upshot is that an X-Pro1 running firmware v2.0 is a much better camera than it was with v1.x. Fujifilm says the new X-E1 has exactly the same improvements, which means that the outlook for that model looks very positive. Huge credit must go to Fujifilm here - not only has it shown it's prepared to make innovative new products, it's also genuinely listening to criticism of its products and fixing their flaws. This can only be applauded.