Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FUJIFILM – Firmware upgrades for the X-E2

The premium X-E2 has new firmware today, and it brings X-T1 performance to the viewfinder and an array of nice improvements to an already great camera. I wish all manufacturers paid this much attention to their older models (are you listening, Panasonic?)

Here is the official text from Fujifilm Canada



Firmware v.2.00 brings even more value to the premium X-E2 with

performance gains and new functions

Mississauga ON, April 30, 2014 – As a leader in advanced digital camera technology and outstanding image resolution, Fujifilm Canada today announced a significant new firmware update for the FUJIFILM X-E2 that gives customers improved performance, added functions and outstanding value.

With the release of the new firmware, the X-E2’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) is further improved and now has a lag time of just 0.005 seconds, considered by many to be close to a “Real Time Viewfinder.” The firmware also enhances the frame rate of the viewfinder and the highest frame rate is maintained even in low light conditions or nighttime photography, providing smooth live view images through the lens.

In addition to the performance improvements, the new firmware adds:

Selectable colours in Focus Peak Highlight

Users can now select Blue or Red in addition to the original White, to highlight areas of strong contrast. The strength of the colour display can be also adjusted between High and Low according to the type of your subject or personal preference.

Added options for Fn (Function) buttons and customizable AE/AF buttons

Users can now assign the "Face Detection" and "EVF/LCD Setting" selection options to two function buttons and two customizable AE/AF buttons in shooting mode. When set to "EVF/LCD Setting," the button is used to switch between four modes, including "Eye Sensor Mode" (automatically switches the EVF and LCD displays when the user's eye comes close to the viewfinder), "EVF Only," "LCD Only" and "EVF Only + Eye Sensor."

Suppressed Flash option

Once the firmware is updated, a Suppressed Flash mode (where the flash does not fire even when the subject is poorly lit) can be selected from the flash menu.

With the addition of the new firmware, the FUJIFILM X-E2 continues on its promise to deliver picture quality that rivals full-frame cameras with high definition image capture, Fujifilm’s legendary colour reproduction and category-leading speed.

The new X-E2 firmware is available now and can be downloaded at

About Fujifilm
FUJIFILM North America Corporation, a marketing subsidiary of FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation consists of four operating divisions and one subsidiary company. The Imaging Division provides consumer and commercial photographic products and services, including: photographic paper; digital printing equipment, along with service and support; personalized photo products; film; and one-time-use cameras; and also markets motion picture archival film and on-set color management solutions to the motion picture, broadcast and production industries. The Electronic Imaging Division markets consumer digital cameras, and the Graphic Systems Division supplies products and services to the graphic printing industry. The Optical Devices Division provides optical lenses for the broadcast, cinematography, closed circuit television, videography and industrial markets, and also markets binoculars. FUJIFILM Canada Inc. sells and markets a range of Fujifilm products and services in Canada. For more information, please visit, go to to follow Fujifilm on Twitter, or go to to Like Fujifilm on Facebook. To receive news and information direct from Fujifilm via RSS, subscribe at

FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, digital printing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was among the top 10 companies around the world granted U.S. patents in 2012, and in the year ended March 31, 2013, had global revenues of $26.7 billion*. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship. For more information, please visit

* At an exchange rate of 83 yen to the dollar.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Why does my camera have so many features?

Quick answer: Because everyone does things differently.

I have seen this with photographers and I have seen this at the corporate level. I work for a company that builds (among many other things) software to help others build software. And what always amazes me is the variability with which each developer / team / division / corporation approaches software development. The saying goes that “there is more than one way to skin a cat” and this does not manage to capture the staggering amount of variation in the way people think and act.

So … now imagine 4 people that buy the same camera. The camera has 200 features … and each person uses a dozen of those at most. So why 200 features?


That simplistic Venn diagram shows you the overlap in the way these 4 imaginary people use their imaginary cameras. The numbers represent features that each person uses that none of the others use. For example, I never use exposure bracketing in practical photography. Ever. So that means that others will have at least a “1” in that “used by me” section of the diagram when I am on it.

So now imagine this extrapolated to the human race.

And yes, everyone on the planet has theoretical access to every camera marketed by the big manufacturers. So yes, they can justify putting 200+ features in a camera to try to appeal as broadly as possible.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Atkins Bars – Changes to my favorites, but still edible …

One of the many secrets to dieting is to find a “go to” food that is tasty, nutritious, and not all that caloric – all at the same time. It does not hurt if the go to food is capable to staunching a craving as well … for me, the chocolate craving is something I need to kill off every single day.

What I have found is that a small few of the Meal Advantage and Advantage series of bars from Atkins fill the bill very well. I recently bought about a half dozen of the series that showed the most promise – by promise I mean high amounts of protein and fiber – and after living with them for several weeks, I have decided to go back to the two that I have settled on for the last 6 months – Double Chocolate Caramel Crunch and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

The problem, though, is that Atkins recently revamped the whole lineup and now claims “More Chocolate Chips” and “New Great Taste” and ever since the demise of Coke Classic :-) we are all rather skeptical of such claims. Coke stomped on their own genitals with that moronic play and they very quickly rushed a version of the classic flavour back into the market in order to staunch the bleeding. New Coke just plain sucked. This, of course, shows the value of ignoring “focus groups” …

So, back on point … the new flavours are nice, but they are a small step down from the previous flavours – for me.

The Caramel Crunch bar has a bit of an after taste now – maybe that’s the caramel asserting itself more strongly – but it is still a pleasant enough bar. The texture has remained the same although there is a tad more bite (a bit harder, which is good.) The nutrition remains the same at 160 cals, 3g net carbs, 11g fiber and 9g protein. A very decent light meal.

The Cookie Dough bar changed much more significantly. The old one was 240 cals and had a very chewy texture. Pretty amazing and a treat that I found very hard to resist :-) … but the new one has dropped 20 cals (a good thing) and adopted the texture of actual cookie dough. I like it well enough, but it feels more like eating a chocolate chip cookie than a rich brownie, and that’s a bit of a bummer. Still, it remains my favourite bar. The nutrition has also changed dramatically, with a large increase in fiber, which is terrific. It comes in at 220 cals, 3g net carbs, 14g fiber (up from 11) and 14g protein (down from 15) … all in all and excellent and filling meal.

Now, both bars have fairly high fat at 9 and 10 grams respectively, but this is fine within the framework of an Atkins or South Beach diet. And note that I do not subscribe to eating unlimited amounts of fat and protein, as some people seem to believe is the Atkins diet. Just limiting net carbs and sugars is all that matters when trying to control carb intake.

So, just thought I might pass this along for those who are looking for decent “go to” foods to staunch the chocolate craving and to support a weight control program …

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fuji XQ1 versus Panasonic GM1 Low Light Video

These two are so similar in size that I am tempted to compare them a lot. Of course, the reality is that the 4/3” sensor in the GM1 is very competitive with the APS-C class of cameras while the XQ1 has a 2/3” sensor that is pretty tiny by comparison.

However, the Fuji is a great camera to wander about with, even at shows indoors. The camera is responsive and gets very nice looking images, so I certainly do not consider it weak.

Unfortunately, when I set up this candlelight + filtered daylight (very little of the latter) contest, the images I shot were at entirely different settings.

The XQ1 image is very clean and free of noise, but only because I set it to 100 ISO and had it on the tripod. You can see my finger on the shutter in the mirror here …

DSCF9645_XQ1_10.9 mm_ISO 100_1.1 sec at f - 3.8

The GM1 was set to auto, and it chose 6400 ISO, which tells you how dark it really was in the room. The shutter was of course much faster.


P1000391_DMC-GM1_20 mm_ISO 6400_1-25 sec at f - 4.6

At 100%, there is a lot more grain in the GM1 shot, but it is very fine and the GM1 retains extremely high detail. This quite something with these two cameras being 6 stops apart with ISO …

Ok … what I was really doing was setting up a video where I would be able to show you how each shoots in this low light. Sadly, I was not pleased with the abilities of the XQ1 in such light … it really suffers. I had to hammer it in post in order to make it seem dreamy to mask the color noise. On its own, the image was dark enough to be mostly unusable.

Judge for yourself …

So, the XQ1 is an excellent compact stills camera that fits in a shirt pocket. But don’t buy it for indoor video, else you will be very disappointed.

The GM1 is of course the best compact interchangeable on the market in my opinion. Superb stills and video in literally any light. What a joy it is to shoot.