Dear Fuji (What makes a Camera Profesional)

Dear Fujifilm,

As the adage goes it’s the photographer not the camera that makes an image. Yes, things like great ISO capabilities, incredible dynamic range, and high megapixels help, they only act as minor gains that don’t improve a photographer in the long run. With the constant movement from companies towards bigger and better cameras with increasingly incredible stats in all those areas one begins to wonder what truly makes a camera ready for “professional use”, and that is what I will be discussing now.

Two months ago, I realized that the work I was completing would be better served with a new camera. I had been shooting for three years prior on an Olympus OMD-EM5. Despite its shortcomings I was enamored by the camera. It was reliable, it always got the shot. The autofocus was good, and I was able to create what I still consider to be some of my favorite images with it.  It was after all the camera that landed me my first magazine jobs.

However, as I gained more credibility and my editors began wanting to print my images in larger format in two page spreads I began to realize how 16 megapixels truly wasn’t enough anymore. So I began the search for a new camera. After much deliberation, as well as guidance from my friends at Midwest Photo, I settled on a used X-Pro2, a 50mm f/2, and a 35 f/1.4. That day was filled shooting in amazement. Never had I seen colors so vivid and crisp. The images the X-Trans had a character to them I still cant place my finger on. I was enamored, and like a lustful teen in a summer romance I ignored any warning signs that may have showed. I proceeded to shoot with the camera for the next two months traveling to Hawaii with it as well as days of shooting in and around downtown Cleveland. However, the honeymoon period soon ended and now I find myself wondering if I may had made a grave mistake.

 

"Its easy to pinpoint the moment the honeymoon period ends. It’s the moment you look at someone and notice something you didn’t before that annoys the living hell out of you. Often times you work through it, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. My honeymoon period ended the day Profoto announced Olympus support."

 

As a dedicated Profoto user I was shocked and hurt by this. I was certain Fuji would have been next. With the release of the GFX to have a HSS TTL receiver for the Profoto ecosystem would have been a game changer. So how could Olympus have gotten it first? As I started reading I began to learn more and more about Fujifilm’s disinterest in revealing their TTL secrets to allow companies like Profoto to develop receivers. Some may say oh well just use manual mode flash triggering, and while that’s true if I wanted manual control I could have saved a couple grand and bought Einstein’s. A key justifier in purchasing the Profotos was their HSS technology. With Fuji I now wonder how long it will take for that to be a reality.

To further this no lenses, or sensor information has been released to Capture One, a hugely important raw converter and tethering manager. Add with this the omission of Tether support in the X-Pro2 and their lack of Professional services of any kind and I begin to deeply doubt the seriousness of Fuji in the professional market. Professionals need above all else  reliability from their equipment. If it fails we are out of work, something that is especially terrifying when your faced with the repair bills, and rental bills of your now broken camera. Canon, Nikon, Sony, and even Olympus all offer expedited service to verified professionals. Why Fuji still lacks this I cant begin to fathom.

So how dose all of this relate? In the beginning, I discussed that it’s the photographer not the camera that makes great images. If a professional camera is about all the latest gizmos and numbers than Fuji is killing it. However, the truth of professional equipment is it needs to never fail. It needs support structures ready for when your camera dies to quickly repair and dispatch it within days. It needs to work with the professional software, and it needs to play nice with the companies professionals use.

Now this isn’t to say that Fuji cameras aren’t good. Frankly I think Fuji is the future of cameras, and the very best camera value wise on the market.  That is why it is so painful to see simple errors like these exist.

I do believe Fuji makes one of the greatest cameras on the market, and that’s why I’m so pained that I may need to go to a lesser camera system for professional use because the truth is I can’t say Fuji is ready yet. I do believe by the next for years all of this will be ironed out and Fuji will be a king in the world of photography. However given the current situation I cannot say they will be there when I need them, and that is something no firmware update will fix.