Fuji announced a firmware update for four XF lenses to take advantage of the LMO and PDAF of the Fuji X-E2. This version 3.10 is outstanding as I’ll tell you about in just a moment. First, I always forget what those acronyms stand for. I guess that comes from shooting film and Leica rangefinders for so long where there is no autofocus. The Canon and Nikon folks probably know this intuitively. So, LMO is Lens Modulation Optimizer and PDAF is Phase Detection Auto Focus. So what, you ask? Well, the PDAF system uses photo-sites on the sensor to overlay images until they are in focus. PDAF is a very fast system, but requires hardware. This is why the new X-Trans II sensor is so important as the original sensors could not use PDAF. Note that the X-100s also has PDAF, but the built in lens means no firmware update is necessary. LMO, on the other hand, uses the processor to adjust the JPEG image for lens aberrations. Thus, each lens has its own characteristics and it’s own update for the processor.
Ok, back to the the 3.10 firmware update. The 35mm and 60mm macro lenses were some of the first XF lenses issued. The 35mm has not had a bad rap on focusing, but the 60mm has consistently been reported as a very slow focus model. So, I updated these two lenses and tried them out with the X-E2. Bottom line, I used to count (one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand) to see how long the focus would take from near to far. The 60mm is fast enough now that I can no longer count. I ran a test of focusing in low office light at f/2.4 between a coffee cup on my desk less than a foot away and a photo hanging down the hall from my office. The distance (roughly) was 20 feet. Consider focusing once on the coffee cup and then focusing on the photo as a ’round.’ After 30 ’rounds’, the X-E2 only reported faulty focus one time. This isn’t scientific and the result may be my finger on the shutter button, but I was pleased. The motor in the lens ran quickly and I couldn’t get ‘one-one-thousand’ really even started let alone finished before the lens focused. The key is that the lens didn’t hunt like it used to back and forth.
Macro is a different issue however. If you turn on the macro setting from the back of the X-E2, then the focus is very slow. Each time I focused close, the lens came all the way back to it’s closest focus setting and then slowly hunted forward until things were in focus. I am not concerned about the slow focus in macro, because presumably you have time to make sure everything is set the way you want. However, know that you need to check the macro setting on the camera if your 60mm is slow to focus.
The 35mm lens was instantaneous and only missed the focus one time, very close. Low light was not a problem. It was press button, pop, beep. Everything in focus. I did have some trouble focusing on the arm of a chair 5 feet or so in front of me. It tried to focus on the back once or twice, but the arm was very skinny. This is a function of the physics of focusing, in my opinion, rather than a fault of the camera and firmware.
There have been several articles recently on the quick focus of this 3.10 firmware update. I concur wholeheartedly. The focus appears as quick or better than the X100s on all of my lenses. I use prime lenses and do not own any XF zoom lenses, so I cannot comment here.
Next will be some photo results…