An Open Letter to Fujifilm on Firmware Updates

An Open Letter to Fujifilm on Firmware Updates

The Fujifilm X community of photographers are a loyal bunch, sometimes to a fault. It’s understandable, though, as Fujifilm provides consistent updates, even for cameras of previous generations. But recently, this seems to have become a crutch, and the X-T3 has inspired me to write this open letter.

Dear Fujifilm, 

You’ve been a wonderful partner over the years. With each and every camera release, we’ve enjoyed not only incremental improvements to usability, but huge improvements in hardware that make each generation of the X Series worth the upgrade. On top of that, you have provided your customers with what they have come to know as “new cameras” through your excellent Kaizen firmware program. 

Then, the X-H1 came along. Not only was it a camera we weren't expecting in the X series lineup, but it simply wasn’t finished. On release, it would lock up, reset itself, and at times, not write data to the memory cards before doing so. For the first month, our new cameras were simply glorified paperweights. Once the kinks were ironed out, the X-H1 proved to be an incredible camera, and it's been my staple for both video and stills for the past six months.

Now comes the X-T3, the latest update to your other flagship. The huge improvements in autofocus and overall operational speed sold me again. I picked up my X-T3 on release day. You can imagine my surprise when it suffered from the same issue as the X-H1. Around halfway through my shoot that night, the camera locked up and the images on the buffer vanished into the ether. Not once, but twice.

I can understand that your technology develops and your software engineers find new ways to do things with the current processing power. These are wonderful and welcome additions to the firmware. I also understand small bugs that arise in very specific use cases need to be fixed. But a camera that doesn’t reliably write the photographs to the memory card? This is the camera’s basic function. It shouldn't happen. And that on not one flagship, but two in a row. That is the point when I start questioning whether I made the right choice in switching to Fujifilm's system.

So, Fujifilm, I’ve never picked up a camera so often or made so many photographs. Your cameras make me a better photographer by making me want to leave the house and make photographs. But, if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to keep those photographs as well. Again, this should not be an issue that we face with a flagship model.

Oh, and please update your own raw processing software with the release of the camera. I still can't open my raw files.

Sincerely,

Dylan

Let's not take this beyond the scope of what it is supposed to be. We're taking a look at how firmware is used as a crutch when releasing unfinished cameras. Aside from this, the X-T3 has been an excellent update and my full review will come after I've been able to use it for some time and as Adobe Camera Raw supports the files from the camera. Look out for that!

NOTE: Since writing this article, I have spoken with Fujifilm Korea and there is a firmware update on the way for the X-T3 to fix this issue. 

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40 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

Wait 6 months before buying a new camera. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Jordan Russell's picture

Don't blame the user (though if you're a wedding photographer that would be sage advice). Perhaps Fuji should wait six months and not release a broken camera?

Arianna Domínguez's picture

Thank you for the article, and for letting me know that they're already taking care of this issue. I pre-ordered the camera, usually I don't but I didn't want to see my self waiting for a restock.

M D's picture

Agree with this sentiment. Firmware "upgrades" should be for features, not fixes.

I have learned two things. Rarely to I NEED a camera when it's announced and I'm always happier when I wait 6 months after a camera is released to purchase. In that time I get to read about all the bugs and I sometimes realize I should keep my credit card in my pocket.

JetCity Ninja's picture

how did you get an X-T3 on release day when such day has yet to happen? it's still not Sept 20th yet. (edit: i just learned the camera was released earlier in some countries, like South Korea, for example.)

and who uses something untested to perform a mission critical job?

Nadeem Ayoob's picture

Dangit! I was hoping I'd be the first to build a working time machine. Seems he beat me to it!

Jerry Suppan's picture

Exactly! My thoughts too. Just how does Dylan Goldby get a camera on a future tense release date that has yet to come?! And then to complain about a camera that is officially not on the market yet? Sheesh! (head slap)

Dylan Goldby's picture

Release date is September 14th here. http://fujifilm-korea.co.kr/fujifilm-web/main/index

This is also far from a complaint. This is an observation of Fujifilm's two past releases. Two cameras in a row that freeze on release. While the community praises Fujifilm constantly for their firmware updates, I am merely suggesting that perhaps they rely on them two heavily.

Jordan Russell's picture

It is a complaint, but you have every right to.

JetCity Ninja's picture

i just discovered the camera was released earlier in some countries, like South Korea, for example.

Penny Fan's picture

Release day is 16th in South Korea.
Another proof that the new back illuminated sensors are made by Samsung.

Jordan Russell's picture

Who said it was 'mission-critical'?

Bryan Minear's picture

I already hate my new iPhone XS: An open letter to Apple...

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

My X-T1 froze once in a while. Then I upgraded to X-T2 and freezes became more frequent and annoyed me big time. Each firmware update, I always hoped for a fix, but no luck. I don´t have my X-T2 anymore, but I asume that they still freeze. My GFX has the occational hiccup that causes me to restart it, but nothing like X-T2.
There is DEFINITELY some work to be done for Fuji in this area.
(As a comparison, my six Canon bodies I had before I went with Fuji, never ever froze. Not Once.)

JetCity Ninja's picture

your anecdotal evidence contrasts distinctly to mine: i've owned my X-T2 for nearly a year, before that an X-T20 for 6 months, and hadn't suffered a single lockup in either one. maybe it's the SD cards, how I maintain them, or maybe the overall maintenance of my camera body and lenses (i'm a "neat freak" when it comes to physical condition and data integrity, keeping the electrical contacts clean, using only SanDisk and Sony G UHS-II cards and formatting them in-camera before first use, formatting in-camera whenever i need to recover space, copying files only and never moving or deleting individual files, via move or cut & paste commands, to transfer files onto my computer, never, ever write files to an SD card from a source other than the camera itself, use matched pairs of cards in brand, type, size and speed, only remove the cards to transfer images to my desktop, and only use my cards for one purpose: camera only, never used as "thumb drives," never put in another computer but my own iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad or iPhone, and never swapped between cameras). i'm also very deliberate with my firmware updates, using a single, specific SD card just for updating to avoid corrupting the data and file systems on my primary and secondary SD card pairs.

just an honest anecdote, no fanboyism.

i know my SD card routine is a bit tedious and excessive, but knowing how SD cards work compared to CF, CFast and XQD, which have their own controllers onboard, SD cards are far more susceptible to data corruption and loss than other formats, not to mention their fragile design. the worst thing you can do is take a full SD card out of your camera mid-shoot and stick it in a bag or pocket, with or without a plastic clamshell case. your SD card is safest when left in the camera whenever possible. other designs are vastly more rugged, durable and forgiving out in the elements. of all current memory formats used in cameras, SD card and Sony Memory Stick are by far the most susceptible to failure due in part to their internal design and physical deficiencies.

regarding fanboyism: i would be classified as a Fujifilm owner, but not a "fanboy" by any stretch, owning Canon in the 80's and 90's, while Sony Mavica FD-71 and Fujifilm FinePix MX700 were my first digital cameras. if i were fanatical of a brand, i'd say i'm a Nikon fanboy, having spent a decade with the D200 and irrationally defending the company's choices, though i'm rarely vocal about it as i prefer to be read by others as "unbiased" as possible in my anecdotes.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Very interesting. I have always used the Delete All, to clear my cards, since it is so fast to reach.
Anyway, it is really no secret, that Fuji cameras have suffered from lock-ups, regardless of what is the reason or who is to blame.
In my Canon days: No talk about it anywhere. It was simply a complete non-issue.
In my Fuji days: Lots of talk. Do a quick search, and you will see what I mean.
I LOVE my Fuji cameras, and my only reason for bringing up this issue is, that I want to support Fuji in becoming better at what they do.

Frederick Woods's picture

I’ve owned the X-T2 for nearly two years. Never had one lockup. Hard to know what to make of your comment other than you have terrible luck.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Well, a camera can be used in so many ways.
Fx: My X-T2 was prone to freezing, if I pressed the "Playback" button immidiately after a shot. So instead of the computer going "hold on, I will finish writing to the card, and then show you the picture" it went "Ok, I will try to show you the picture even if I am writing it to the card at the same time ...FREEZE".
This is quite obviously bad programming, but you will never encounter it, unless you press Playback right afte the shot.
Others have reported frequent freezes when in Continuous mode. But if one never uses that, one will not encounter the problem there.

Lars Daniel Terkelsen's picture

Oh, one more thing: Using a battery grip has also been a source of freezes for X-T1 and X-T2. So again, a user without the grip will not encounter those.

Frederick Woods's picture

Very sorry to hear! I use a battery grip, too. In fact, it rarely comes off my camera. Luckily I’ve had no problems thus far. Best of luck to you!

Ted Lee's picture

The X-T3 hasn’t been officially released yet. The actual release date is 9/20.

Penny Fan's picture

It's not. Search X-T3 on Youtube you will find a lot of Korean sources, their release date is 16th.

Dylan Goldby's picture

Actually the 14th. http://fujifilm-korea.co.kr/fujifilm-web/main/index

We have a very long national holiday week coming up so we got it a bit early.

Wonder Woman's picture

Ya but how many card slots does it have?

Dylan Goldby's picture

Three. It's revolutionary. ;)

Rob Mynard's picture

I wont shoot with anything less than 3 now

Dylan Goldby's picture

Why would you? It would make no sense. Now that you have tasted the sweetest elixir, why would you settle for water?

aaronbratkovics's picture

I love mine so much. I haven't had any issues with any of my fuji cameras yet lol.

An Open Letter to Strawberry Milkshakes......why must you contain so much fat. I wish I could have one every night until the day I die.

In and Out
Habit
McDonalds.

You're always there for me when I am depressed about my life.

Thank you for being better than my friends,
Aaron

Marcus Joyce's picture

So what your saying is that even though it has dual card slots it doesn't always write the image??

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