The Fujifilm X Series Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras have gained a dedicated, almost cult-like following over the last few years for their colors, ergonomics, image quality, and firmware updates. However, getting into the Fuji world, especially from a DSLR user's standpoint, can be a daunting experience. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most from your Fujifilm X Series system.
Seven Tips to Improve Your Fujifilm X Photographic Experience
Fujifilm has become almost famous for their dedication to their customers. "If they can, they will" has become the norm for Fujifilm firmware updates. Known in the community as the "Kaizen" (continuous development) updates, these firmwares have all but given users a completely new camera time and time again. The initial release of a camera doesn't represent its finished form in the Fujifilm world. This should be immediately apparent from the updates that were continuously released for the X-Pro1 over the four years of its lifetime. These weren't merely bugfixes like we're used to from CaNikon, but completely new feature sets as seen in the Firmware 4 updates for the X-T1. Considering the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are already formidable competitors to the DSLR world, one wonders what might be possible in the next couple of firmware releases. Not only the bodies get this treatment, though. Every time a new body is released or the autofocus system gets an update, lenses all get the same treatment as well. Keep your firmware updated is the cardinal rule in the Fuji world.
As with all modern cameras, the menus on the Fujifilm X system are extensive and feature filled. Chances are, however, you won't need all those options all the time. To get you to your most frequently used options in a more visual way, Fuji has the Quick Menu. You can place a decent amount of the camera's settings into this menu and get to them very quickly. This makes it a breeze to select focus modes, white balance, shutter type, or custom settings on the fly. This is especially true if you don't want to take your eye away from the viewfinder. The larger, more graphic, display of the Q menu means that it is easily viewable, even in the smaller Fuji EVFs. Personally, I have shutter type on the first tile, and white balance, film simulation, and focus area one tile away from that. These are my most frequently changed options, and I rarely need to take my eye away from the viewfinder.
I love the electronic shutter, I really do. But the fact remains that you cannot use it all the time. It's not available when shooting flash and doesn't work well with artificial lighting that functions on AC current. It's also not great for super fast action, as the sequential read of the sensor often results in the skewing of quickly moving objects. Although this is also a possible outcome of using the mechanical shutter, it seems to be more pronounced when using the electronic shutter. It can also be a problem when shooting portraits, as your subject cannot hear the (already quiet) shutter. In any of these situations, I will switch to the mechanical shutter.
However, if I'm shooting street or something where I need to be discrete, I'll switch to the electronic shutter. Not only am I enabling complete silence on the camera, but also saving shutter actuations on the mechanical shutter, giving it a longer life.
EVFs are a polarizing feature of mirrorless cameras: they're both loved and hated in the photography community. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get style of shooting. It allows me to preview right away if I'll be blowing highlights or crushing shadows without even taking a shot. There are a few things to get used to with this style of shooting however, and if you're just starting out, you might be extremely frustrated with your EVF.
One of the most common things I see people struggle with is shooting in manual mode (especially when using flash). The photographer in question will set their ambient exposure to two or three stops under the 'correct' exposure in order to add flash, and then curse at the EVF for being too dark or automatically exposing itself to the surrounding environment, causing the photographer to get confused and have to chimp as much as they did when shooting on a DSLR.
The solution to both of these is setting your EVF correctly for the situation you're shooting in. If you're aiming to completely black out the background and use artificial light (as in a studio setting), you'll probably want your EVF preview set to off. If you're looking to get a preview of the ambient exposure and add flash to that, you'll likely want turn all the previews back on. These can be found in the menu under Screen Settings.
The Fuji X system, unlike many others, allows you to customize most of the buttons on the body. For those who like all their functions exactly where they want them, this is a great boon. Honestly, I hadn't customized any of the functions until recently, as I found Fuji's default layout to be just fine for my purposes. Then, I sat down for a libation or two with my good friend, Etienne Bossot, and he showed me his layout. I took one amazing tip from this. He had assigned the playback function to the DOF preview button on his X-T2. This allows you to quickly preview, when you want to, the last shot photograph in the viewfinder without taking your eye away from it. Little things like this are what make the Fuji X system special.
This should be a given, but not everyone requires the performance boost. Most of the Fuji X models have the ability to switch between Standard and High Performance mode, and newer models have three settings. These basically give your autofocus and overall operation speed a boost at the expense of battery life. With newer models, your EVF will also gain a refresh rate boost.
The 16-megapixel X-Trans II series of bodies gain a significant boost in overall speed through using the performance mode. In addition, the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have seen a further boost, taking them into DSLR territory in overall operation speed. This is amazing in these tiny bodies and has meant that I'll use them for nearly all of my professional work now.
While the newer 24-megapixel X-Trans III sensor and X-Processor Pro Engine have enabled significantly faster autofocus in X Series cameras, the older 16-megapixel sensor cameras still have wonderful image quality and a place in your bag. If you find that single focus is taking too long for you, you can enable Pre-AF in the autofocus menu. This mode, although taking more battery power, forces the camera to continuously focus at the focus area you have selected, even when the shutter is not halfpressed. This means that when you do half-press the shutter, the camera will be closer to the focus you require and less hunting will be necessary. If you have a pocket full of batteries and are willing to watch the camera constantly hunting through the viewfinder, this can really give you a boost in focus speeds.
These are my tips for getting the most out of your Fuji X system bodies. If you have some of your own performance or usability tips, we'd love to see them in the comments below!