Walking through the diversity of Singapore’s nature areas with Fujifilm (part 4) – Is Fujifilm capable of photographing wildlife?

This is Part 4 of 4 of this series. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here. 

In this final part, I’m narrowing my focus from sharing about the variety of wildlife that we can photograph (I think I quite shared enough on that) to one very simple question.

Is the Fujifilm system ready for shooting wildlife? 

The Fujifilm X-mount system is about 6 years old (the X-Pro1 was announced in Jan 1 2012), and for a coming to 6 year old system I can attest to that it’s never being easy being the new kid on the block with much more established players of the likes of Nikon, Canon (to me now fading away), Sony and on.

And yes, I tried the X-Pro1, and of course probably a simple phrase to describe the AF performance of the 1st generation ver 1.00 firmware was: screwed-up

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Pictured: X-Pro1 with the XF16mm F1.4.

P.S: I’m focusing only the the interchangeable lens system as the discussion here centers on wildlife. My very 1st Fujifilm camera was actually the X20. Fujifilm X20
If you are wondering what the hell is a X20, well the older ver is actually the X10.

Back then during the pre 2015 era, ask a Fujifilm X-mount user about using it to shoot wildlife and you would prob end up with a sad stare through your very soul. (the X-T1 held reign in the Fujifilm family during the 2014-2015 era and was hardly able to keep up in the AF-tracking department)

Olive-backed Sunbird
2015. X-T1, XF55-200mm. This was my one and only keeper from the X-T1 coming to wildlife and I trashed way more than I should. 

WHY wildlife? Because shooting wildlife with its erratic and unpredictable, candid and true unposed moments can put a system’s performance to the test, and to me a mark of a system’s maturity.

Then in 2016 onwards Fujifilm family started to mature at a surprisingly faster rate and  in a three pronged approach through

1. firmware through its Kaizen spirit , read here about Kaizen which is one of Fujifilm’s philosophy towards providing value through innovation to its users. 
2. hardware through its X-Trans I to now X-Trans III sensors and the introduction of
3 great glass like the XF100-400mm and the XF50-140mm with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

The turning point came with the appearance of the X-T2 with its 3rd generation X-Trans sensor, and with it came greatly improved focusing RELIABILITY. 

(Fast focusing speed is a good to have, but no point without reliability)

I learnt to start training myself to use the system for wildlife, placing more faith in it.

Pacific Swallow
This was in March 2016, X-Pro2, XF100-400mm. Keeper shots were hard to come by.

Little Heron
Of course, there were days where luck played a large part.
March 2016, X-Pro2, XF100-400.

oh, this was what I shot using the X-Pro2 sometimes 🤣 Snail
June 2016, X-Pro2, XF18mm F2.

DSCF0336 Then came June 2016. X-T2, XF55-200mm. Faster and smaller birds started to come into the frame. 

in 2016, using the X-T2 at AFC-Tracking with high continuous probably gave me good shots 40% of the time. Aka, I was spraying and praying quite a lot to just get one good shot of wildlife. Remember, 40% means I was trashing 6 out of 10 shots.

Then the spirit of Kaizen took over, with firmware updates to the X-T2 and X-Pro2 levelling up and literally overhauling their AF systems to not just AF-Single but now to AF-Zone, AF-Wide, AF-Single and a whole site dedicated to how to use these powerful modes effectively.

Really…. I am not bullshitting you. See it here.

AF Special Site

No joke, AF reliability improved significantly after this huge firmware update across the whole Fujifilm system.

Dec 2016. Brown Lemur, X-T2, XF90mm F2

Dec 2016, X-T2, XF90mm F2. (ok, technically they aren’t fast but I just wanted to share this shot)

And the kaizen spirit marched us users forward, with ver 3.00 firmware for the X-T2 appearing in 2017 with this in its update notes.

“New AF tracking algorithm for moving subject
Thanks to the newly developed image recognition algorithm, the update enhances AF-C to track moving subjects twice as fast as previous firmware. In addition, the update also enhances tracking to be able to capture up to 50% smaller moving subjects than before”.

And the shots prove it.

Xylocopa Confusa Female 07 Dec 2017, X-T2, XF100-400mm

Common_Scarlet_rocothemis Servilia (猩紅蜻蜓)_DSCF6016
Dec 2017, X-T2, XF100-400mm

Pacific Swallow 02
Dec 2017, X-T2, XF100-400mm

Striated heron_DSCF5953
Dec 2017, X-T2, XF100-400mm

Have you realised that I have not posted bird in flight shots until now? It is because until ver 3.00, capturing birds in flight were near close to pure luck on the Fujifilm system.

and yes, this is now possible.

Dec 2017, X-T2, XF100-400mm

Yes, there is still room for improvement as always. But I am glad I kept my faith (mostly 😅) with Fujifilm in these 5 years.

Will 2018 bring higher leagues of performance in the Fujifilm family. My answer is an unequivocal yes, and my hint will be on Valentine’s Day 2018.

Scarlet-backed flowerpecker_DSCF5997

Thank you for reading.

and have faith.

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