New firmware for Fuji X-E1 will enable focus peaking

I just read on DPReview this morning that new firmware is coming for the Fuji X-Pro 1 and Fuji X-E1 cameras that will enable focus peaking during manual focus!  Combined with the new ability to choose the focusing point (and thus, where the 100% view of the frame will be targeted for finer manual focus via focus peaking) this should be a tremendous boost to the cameras’ functionality!  Glad to see this coming out soon.  Downloads for the cameras will begin next week.

Fuji X-E1 Firmware 1.06 improves handling!

Fuji X-E1 rear button layout after firmware 1.06
Fuji X-E1 rear button layout after firmware 1.06

One thing that has been very nice to see from  Fujifilm is that the company seems responsive to user’s wants and observations.  The Fuji X-E1 shipped with essentially the same button layout as the X-Pro 1.  This places the AF point selection button on the extreme lower left of the camera.  To me, this is incredibly awkward both when holding the camera to my eye and when holding the camera out and using the rear screen to compose.  My approach has been to keep the camera in manual focus mode, and use the AF-Lock button to activate the central AF point as needed, and then recompose.  Up to this point, this has been an acceptable, although not terrific solution.

By comparison, the newer X-100S, which cannot accept interchangeable lenses (but does have a leaf shutter!) has a much improved location for the AF point selection button: the “up” arrow button of the four-way controller.  On the X-E1, this button controls macro focusing on some lenses.  But the “down” arrow wasn’t doing anything, other than scrolling in menus, of course.

So, with the release of firmware 1.06, available at, Fuji gave the “down” button something to do: it can call up the AF point selection.  This makes the ergonomics of actually selecting a focusing point something that is comfortable to do!  Thank you, Fuji, for transforming an annoyance into something that is simply a “quirk.”  Now, if the dedicated AF button on the lower-left was also made user-programmable in the process, I would have been able to eat cake and have it, too.  Maybe on the next go-round!

Oh, and if interested, the screen protector I am using on my X-E1 is the Giottos SP-8300, the strap is from UpStrap, and the plate on the bottom of the camera is from Really Right Stuff.  More about that after next week, where I’ll be in Asheville and running up and down the Blue Ridge Highway once again…with the X-E1 in addition to my standard Canon kit!

5D Mk II Firmware 2.0.3 Released!

Change has come to the 5D II

The firmware that I referred to earlier this month that finally provides manual audio level control, as well as some other important features for video recording with Canon’s 5D Mark II camera body, was released the day after the Ides of March.

In addition to manual audio control (negating the need for something like BeachTek’s adapter unless one really needs XLR inputs), video is finally scaled back to 29.97 frames-per-second instead of 30 fps, meaning that it will be much easier to work with the 5D II in conjunction with traditional video cameras in the editing phase as the timecodes will match.

Also, 24 fps becomes an option, just as it was introduced on the 7D.

The New

Canon’s comprehensive list of changes is as follows:

  1. Adds or changes the following movie frame rates:
    • NTSC: 1920×1080 : 30 fps (changed – actual 29.97 fps)
    • NTSC: 1920×1080 : 24 fps (added – actual 23.976 fps)
    • NTSC: 640×480 : 30 fps (changed – actual 29.97 fps)
    • PAL: 1920×1080 : 25 fps (added – actual 25.0 fps)
    • PAL: 1920×1080 : 24 fps (added – actual 23.976 fps)
    • PAL: 640×480 : 25 fps (added – actual 25.0 fps)
  2. Adds a function for manually adjusting the sound recording level (64 levels).
  3. Adds a histogram display (brightness or RGB) for shooting movies in manual exposure.
  4. Adds shutter-priority AE mode (Tv) and aperture-priority AE (Av) mode to the exposure modes for shooting movies.
  5. Changes the audio sampling frequency from 44.1 KHz to 48 KHz.
  6. Fixes a phenomenon where communication between the camera and the attached lens is sometimes interrupted after manual sensor cleaning. (This phenomenon only affects units with Firmware Version 1.2.4.)


The new firmware can be downloaded from Canon’s Web site here:

Note also that a new copy of the instruction manual, as a PDF, is also available from Canon, and includes how one uses the new features of the latest firmware, including setting the audio levels.  The chapter on video recording begins on page 125 of the PDF file.

Parting Thoughts:

While the experience of working with the 5D Mark II for video production is markedly improved with this update, and exceeds the practical functionality introduced with the 7D, one thing is still missing from the equation: the ability to monitor the audio being captured by the camera.  Plugging in a set of earphones into the AV/Out jack simply leads to obnoxious buzzing.  The function of this port needs to be changed to allow for the photographer-cum-videographer to have total control over the situation.  Being able to set the levels is a great step in this direction, but it’s hard to know where to set the levels exactly when you can’t hear what’s being recorded until playback.

Oh, and Canon, please make a similar firmware update for the 7D with the audio control.  Right now, the 5D II will have to be my A-Roll camera, with the 7D as B-Roll, as it does not have the audio control that the 5D now sports.  But in the meantime, thanks for listening to our complaints suggestions.

Update 3/18/10:

Canon has acknowledged that there is a slight bug in the new firmware 2.0.3 that makes audio capture impossible if using one of the three custom (“C1,” C2,” C3″) modes on the mode dial.  From Canon:

Recently we have discovered a malfunction that occurs with Firmware Version 2.0.3, in which the manual recording levels for C1/C2/C3 are changed and the camera becomes unable to record audio if the power is turned off (or if Auto power off takes effect) after registering “Sound Recording: Manual” in the camera user settings.
We apologize very sincerely for the inconvenience, but we are going to stop making this firmware available for download. For customers who have already updated to the new firmware, when using the camera with the mode dial set to C1/C2/C3, please either set the sound recording settings to Auto.
We are currently preparing firmware that will correct this malfunction. As soon as those preparations have been completed, we will let you know on this Web site. In the meantime, we apologize for the inconvenience this represents, but please wait until the fixed firmware is ready.

It’s about bloody time….

Canon has finally announced firmware to address the total lack of manual control (save white balance and exposure compensation) that one has for video recording on the 5D Mark II. Still missing in action is manual audio level control…….maybe they don’t want to kill the sales of the new BeachTek adapter? I wouldn’t mind, though–it’s $380 that I don’t want to spend!

The firmware will not be available for download until 2 June, but at least it’s coming!