New Instax camera, new instax frames

Some new Fujifilm Instax.

The boring:

Instax Mini 40 is just another Instax Mini camera. A look reminding us of the Instax Mini 90 more than the other Instax Mini, but with little settings (4). For CAD$130 it’s on the higher end price range. Still, nothing in sight for more serious photographers ; I see no reason to get one while I have a Mini 90.

The thing I can get behind:

Fujifilm also announced a new frame design for Instax Mini film. Frames are the novelty part of Instax Mini where you have frames around the picture that are not white. Black borders have been around, as well as other novelty for which I might not be their target demographics. This new contact sheet frame brings contact sheet film-like border, something the various “effect” phone apps have had. No sprocket holes, but the film name and a frame number printed in yellow. For once I can really get behind this novelty.

The latter come bundled with the former in a CAD$140 bundle.

To be released April 21st 2021

Fujfilm X-Pro3

Without much surprise, Fujifilm announced the X-Pro3 in late October.
It is an evolution of the X-Pro2. The main distinguishable feature is the LCD screen: by default it is hidden, with a smaller visible screen limited to show settings, and a picture of the currently used film emulation. The screen then flip out to be viewed and make the viewfinder harder to use. It is a bit like the Leica M-D: taking a photography approach where one doesn’t chimp on the screen after taking the picture.

I haven’t had my hands on it, so I can’t really tell whether I’d like it or not.

Fujifilm X-T3 firmware 3.00 update

Firmware 3.00 for the Fujifilm X-T3 has been released.

Here are the changes according to Fujifilm:

1. Strengthened the accuracy of face / eye detection AF performance
The AF algorithm has been improved along with the accuracy of face / eye detection AF. The ability to detect faces in the distance has been enhanced by approximately 30% and AF tracking is now more stable, even when an obstacle appears in the way. The improvements in AF are applicable to both still photos and video recording.
2.New Face Select function
The Face Select function has been introduced to provide priority auto-focus, tracking and exposure on a selected subject when multiple faces have been detected. The priority face can be selected by using the touch screen or focus lever.
3.Faster AF speed for subjects at a distance
A Double Tap Setting and Touch Function has been added to the touch screen settings*. The two settings must be set to OFF to provide a better touch screen response. These new settings allow a more intuitive touch operation when shooting, AF and focus area select.
4.Intuitive operation of touch screen
A Double Tap Setting and Touch Function has been added to the touch screen settings(*1). The two settings must be set to OFF to provide a better touch screen response. These new settings allow a more intuitive touch operation when shooting, AF and focus area select.
*1:By default, Touch Screen Setting, Double Tap Setting and Touch Function are set to all OFF. Touch Screen Setting must be set to ON to use the touch screen function.
5.Focus frame when EYE DETECTION SETTING
When using EYE DETECTION SETTING, only focus frame on eye is displayed.
6.Improvement of AF/AE area tracking when using EVF
When using the EVF, tracking function for AF/AE area movement by touch screen is improved.
7.Push function of the Focus stick when INTERVAL TIMER SHOOTING
The push function is disabled when INTERVAL TIMER SHOOTING.
8.FLICKER REDUCTION function
The options are changed from ON/OFF to ALL FRAMES/FIRST FRAME/OFF. And when choosing FIRST FRAME, the speed of CH countinuous shooting is imroved.
9.Message when IMAGE TRANSFER ORDER
If there is no image of TRANSFER ORDER when turing on a camera, no message appears.
10.Fix of slight defects.

There is a documentation update (PDF file, English) for the new features.

I haven’t installed it yet.

Previously

Fuji X-T30

Fujifilm just announced the Fujifilm X-T30, the less expensive version of the X-T3. A few notable differences are for example 4K video being limited to 30fps (60 on the X-T3), the rear screen that just tilt up and down. For USD 900, it looks like a very good alternative if you don’t have the budget for the X-T3.

They also announced the XF 16mm f/2.8 WR. At USD 400, it is a much more affordable and compact wide angle than the 16m f/1.4. Dpreview has a sample gallery. To be available in March 2019.

Instax hack: Wide/Square adapter

Keigo Moriyama on Emulsive explains How to shoot Instax Square in an Instax Wide camera:

One of the characteristics of these [instant film] cameras is that we can choose only one format for one camera.

[…]

The adapter design is a really simple one. Just a few rectangular shapes extruded here and there to fit in both wide and square format.

Keigo then demonstrate the prototype in a video:

It’s interesting to see all the hacks around Instax cameras.

The future is mirrorless

There, I said it. The future of interchangeable lens cameras is mirrorless.

Olympus E-P1 camera

Let’s see why.

The SLR design date back from the film days. A design that allow precise framing using through the lens viewfinder, but that has a somewhat complex mechanical design, increasing cost and size. Today, the film being replaced by an electronic sensor, an instant image can be obtained through the lens. An electronic viewfinder will also be through the lens, with all the advantage of the SLR design, and more. Without the need for that complex and bulky mirror box, the camera can be designed to be more compact.

There are a few reasons why DLSR exists and are still somewhat the de-facto design: trade offs.

The first trade off is that you have to change the lens mount to benefit from a more compact design. This made moving from the older film camera to the digital one is not as easy unless you threw away your investments in glass. This was a perfectly valid point in the last decade, and since the move has happened, the problem persists, even for those that started with a DSLR.

The second trade off is the performance of the autofocus system. DSLR use a phase detection system with sensor located in the mirror box. Something that appear to be problematic on a mirrorless camera, and phase detection AF is more performant than the contrast detection system commonly used by mirrorless cameras. Manufacturers have worked out technology to improve the situation a lot. A small category of users that needs it really needs it still, but we are getting there.

But it is time to make the jump.

The market

Currently only 4 vendors still offer DSLR. Canon, Nikon, Ricoh-Pentax and Leica. Sony hasn’t released a DSLR in a while and given their α lineup (mirrorless), I don’t think they will, Olympus has made the switch to M4/3 a while ago already, Panasonic has been mirrorless only as well also with the M4/3 system, Leica is mostly betting on mirrorless and Fujifilm has been kicking it with the X- series, improving at each generation and the GFX medium format.

In August Canon announced the EOS R, their full frame mirrorless system, while they have a EOS M series that feature an APS-C sensor. They just announced new lenses for that system, so it might stay for a little while. And it is much more affordable as well.

Weeks prior to that, Nikon had just announced the Nikon Z, their full frame mirrorless system, after discontinuing the Nikon 1 which wasn’t really a sensible proposal with its miniature sensor.

As for Ricoh-Pentax life is tough. The Pentax K 01 wasn’t really a success, nor was the Pentax Q that disappeared as quickly as it appeared. And now that it is Photokina, it doesn’t seem that Ricoh had anything to announce in that product line.

If anything, the growth on the market for Sony as proven that mirrorless full frame can be a viable option. Sony is clearly the market leader for full frame and Canon, Nikon and Panasonic wants to try to catch up.

Is full frame the future? I don’t think it will be the only but it will be dominant. Panasonic just announced a full frame mirrorless, sharing the lens mount with the Leica SL, while still continuing with the M4/3, and Sigma who barely has presence in the camera body market has announced they were developing a body for the L-mount. I’m confident that Fujifilm can continue with the X-series without moving away from APS-C, with a more compact system that nails the image quality including in low light, at a price lower than the current full frame lineup. Sony will probably keep some of their APS-C mirrorless until they can bring down the price of the α series down enough.

The medium format has a future too for demanding users, but the price is steep. For example, the Fujifilm GFX 50, a “medium” format sensor mirrorless starts at about US$5,000.

The future

I predict that within 5 years, neither Canon nor Nikon will be pushing DSLR, except maybe in a few niche segments like top of the line sports. The Leica S might survive as Leica just announced the S3 just 10 years after the previous iteration but this camera is already in a very niche segment given it’s price. And some of the manufacturers won’t be left unscathed.