Are the Days of the Old Fujifilm Firmware Updates Gone?

I have owned the X-T4 for over two years now and have been looking at Fujifilm firmware updates. Our last gifted firmware merely added compatibility with their newest lenses (i.e – XF 150-600mm f5.6-8 R LM OIS WR). It is no secret that most of us were expecting to see a watered-down version of the new autofocus make its way here. We were not expecting car detection or bird tracking, but any sort of improvement in accuracy would have gone a long way, just like Canon did with the original R and the Canon EOS R5/R6, and Nikon did with its second generation of Z cameras.

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Debates on whether Kaizen’s philosophy is still alive at Fujifilm have been rampant for the last three years. Gone are the days when they would add video features like 4k to the X-Pro 2 or 120 fps to the X-T2. Looking at X-T4 firmware history since release, I have to say I am not impressed. We have had one for improved compatibility with SDXC memory card format, one to fix Bluetooth pairing bugs, and one to add an “AUTO POWER OFF TEMP.” option in the “POWER MANAGEMENT” menu. It looks a lot more like fixing issues that should not have been there to begin with than giving anything extra to the user. A case can be made that those bodies already give us a lot for our money, but autofocus has been Fujifilm Achille’s heel for far too long, especially if compared to other offerings.

Let’s look at the X-Pro 3 that, until last month, was still the most expensive camera in the line-up. We have had a white balance shift issue corrected, the same SDXC memory card format compatibility, a few autofocus tweaks, and that’s it. The Nostalgic Negative film simulation introduced with the GFX 100S was never added.

Giving credit where credit is due, Fujifilm is the one that brought the Kaizen philosophy to the camera industry. In the DSLR days, nothing extra was sent your way after release, and intentionally weakening a line to protect another was the norm. If you wanted more, you had to get the new thing. Fujifilm firmware updates helped the brand gain traction and a faithful community of users who are now trusting a reputation the brand has not lived up to in a while. Now the competition is pushing more firmware than Fujifilm does, like the R3 features brought to the R5 and R6 within a month of its release. We have already shared how we felt about the X-T30 II. We have been told that hardware limitations were making older bodies impossible to improve, and I guess we are to believe that a merely two-year-old processor that can push 4k 60p will suddenly burst into flames if we load an additional film simulation.

Now the X-H2s is out and it appears Fujifilm is finally catching up. Some of the older lenses we were blaming for inaccuracy are even finding their second iterations. So the same old question is coming back in our community: are we going to see some features trickle down to the previous bodies via Fujifilm firmware updates?

Fujifilm has a unique opportunity here to address its community and confirm that it is still the brand we loved. Keeping the X-T4 and X-Pro 3 as they are will simply confirm that the Fujifilm firmware updates we knew and loved are dead, and we should make peace with that. The company has changed its strategy. They are protecting a line and gunning for our wallets: exactly what we used to blame Canon for.

However, bringing this to older bodies will spark new interest in the brand and give a boost to customer loyalty. Besides, with the manufacturing issues all companies are facing nowadays, there is no need for Fujifilm to push towards an X-T5. The X-T4 is still a feature-rich camera by 2022’s standards and, if they can improve the autofocus, that camera can remain a top seller for another couple of years. They can even get away with charging new units an extra $100 for their trouble. The truth of the matter is most Fuji loyalists have already dismissed the X-H2s as we don’t want to swallow such a high price tag for things we don’t need like 6k features or 40 frames per second. Ergonomics alone are a no-go for most current users. If the X-H2s is about getting new users in; what about keeping old ones from leaving? Fujifilm firmware updates need to get back to where they once were.

A lot has changed in the 10 years the X mount has been out. With everyone else moving to mirrorless, Fujifilm has already lost its size and weight advantage to full-frame. We want the brand to succeed. We want Fujifilm to be strong enough to bring meaningful tools that help materialize our creativity into the real world. If Kaizen is gone, one can wonder if they are still bringing enough to the table to entice people to jump in rather than out.

Alex-Michel Ngningha

Alex-Michel is a Wedding photographer based in Paris. He is a compulsive traveler and can often be found chasing the milky way in the desert or documenting fishermen off the beaten track.