Last Updated on 08/03/2023 by Chris Gampat
Wi-fi connected cameras have opened several new possibilities, yet the complimentary camera apps are often fraught with connectivity issues. The Fujifilm Cam Remote was no exception, requiring me at one time to re-add my camera every time I wanted to connect. But Fujifilm is replacing the Cam Remote with the new Fujifilm XApp.
At first glance, the XApp has an exciting list of features that the previous Fujifilm app didn’t offer. There’s an option to save and restore your favorite settings. The option to geotag images. And the app will even tell you how many photos you’ve taken and what your most-used lenses and film simulations are.
But, the new Fujifilm XApp requires location services to be set to “always on” to use the app. While digging into this odd requirement eased some of my fears rather than adding fuel to the privacy fire, some photographers will undoubtedly be turned off by the constant location sharing — either for privacy or battery life reasons. I explored the new features on the Fujifilm XApp to find the new app’s ins and outs.
Table of Contents
The Big Picture
I have a love-hate relationship with the new Fujfilm XApp. I love the simpler interface, hate the “always on” location requirement. I love that I can easily sync two bodies, hate that sharing photos with Google is an opt-out setting.
Compared to the older Cam Remote app, I experienced fewer connectivity issues — actually, no connectivity issues once my firmware was up to date. The app has a lovely clean design that’s easy to navigate. Getting my camera connected and remotely shooting with the app was simpler and faster. The option to save your settings is a great feature for photographers who shoot with two of the same camera bodies. And while perhaps frivolous, the statistics on the way that you shoot are a fun feature.
The downside is that the app requires location sharing to be on to use the app. Photos don’t have to be geotagged with the proper settings, but that location sharing must be on before using the app. Yes, you can turn the location sharing off in the smartphone settings, then turn it back on when you want to use the app. But this is annoying, considering the old Cam Remote app allowed for the “Only While Using” location setting. While the user agreement and Fujifilm say that data isn’t shared with third parties, some will still be wary of this level of sharing. Besides the privacy concerns, leaving location sharing on will drain a smartphone battery faster. My phone showed a 5 percent battery loss to the XApp, which isn’t a lot but can be a concern when traveling and unable to recharge easily.
Am I still going to use the XApp? Yes. But I’m probably going to go and toggle off the location settings. I’m giving the Fujifilm XApp three out of five stars.
- Beautiful, simple user interface
- Easy to connect to the camera
- Sync camera settings to two different bodies, including the timestamp (must be the same model)
- Track the number of photos you’ve taken, including the number shot on each lens and with what film simulation.
- Data isn’t shared with third parties, according to the user agreement as well as the Google Play store.
- Two different ways to remotely trigger the camera
- Requires location permissions to be set to “always on,” without the option to choose “only while using.”
- Those location permissions will drain some of the smartphone’s battery even when not using the app.
- Sharing photos with Google is an opt-out rather than an opt-in.
- I really wish the live view shooting offered eye AF.
I used the new Fujifilm XApp with the Fujifilm X-T4 and an iPhone 11 Pro. All gear used is my own.
Fujifilm already had an app — Cam Remote — so what’s new about the Fujifilm XApp? First of all, going to completely new app allowed for an entirely new user experience design. The XApp has a clean, minimalist black-and-white design. Features are easily organized into tabs at a menu at the bottom. Overall the result is an app that’s cleaner and easier to navigate than the Cam Remote.
The basic functions of the Cam Remote are still intact in the new app — photographers can transfer selected images, set up the auto transfer, download firmware, or use the app to remotely trigger the camera. But the XApp comes with several new features. Here are the biggest new additions to the XApp:
- The app can use the smartphone’s location to geotag images.
- Camera settings can be backed up to the smartphone to restore in the event of any glitches or to save preferences to another camera (it must be the same model).
- Activity Record is a new feature that shares insight on how many photos you took that day.
Ease of Use
I’ve never been terribly impressed with the original Cam Remote app. Yes, it does allow me to remotely transfer images and use my phone as a remote. But I often run into connectivity issues, and I’ve had to delete and reconnect the pairing to my cameras on multiple occasions. More recently, the Cam Remote has performed with fewer issues, so those connectivity woes have likely been improved already through firmware.
Connecting to the new XApp, however, is a simple process. Most camera bodies will need a firmware update to work with the app first. Then, pressing the BACK/DISP brings up the Bluetooth pairing — click on that while the XApp is open, accept the pop-up on the phone to connect, and you’re done. The connection process is much smoother than the previous app.
The new XApp has two ways to tackle remote photography: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The first Bluetooth-only method is a simple switch that you swipe up to take photos. This operates more like the traditional remote that you would plug in the camera but doesn’t offer a glimpse of the viewfinder or a way to change the camera settings.
For full functionality, connecting to the camera via Wi-Fi is required. Under the “image acquisition photography mode,” photographers can see what the camera sees and adjust the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, white balance, and film simulation without touching the camera. The view is also very similar to the camera’s viewfinder because it also displays the number of images that can fit on the remaining card space, battery life, and all the critical camera settings.
The simple interface yet familiar design makes the new XApp really nice to use as a remote trigger. There are a lot of settings that can be changed without touching the camera and focusing and shooting from the app is simple.
If I could add one more thing to the XApp, it would be eye-AF functionality inside the remote photography. I use the XApp the most for self-portraits, but the last time I needed updated photos, it was a big pain to remotely focus on myself using the app. The XApp still doesn’t appear to have this functionality. It could be something that’s not yet possible on current mobile technology — I just know that eye AF would be a huge boost to the smartphone trigger.
One of the fun new features of the XApp is an activity log, which compiles statistics about your own camera use. The log will track how many images you’ve taken with each camera and lens, noting your favorite lenses. The app also highlights your most-used film simulation. (Astia is king!) I don’t think this feature is a game-changer, but it is pretty entertaining to look back at the number of photos you’ve taken and see your favorite lenses (if you didn’t already know which one you shoot with the most).
To use the activity log, you do have to enable the feature and toggle on all the data that you do want tracked. Then, when you want to look at the data, you do have to transfer it from the camera, which does take a few minutes (during which you can’t use the camera or power it off.) For accuracy, this would need to be done with every memory card — as I had some photos taken with the 50mm lens that didn’t pop up on the statistics, as I had removed the memory card without downloading the activity log.
Backup and restore
One of my favorite surprises in the new XApp is the backup and restore option. This, Fujifilm says, saves the settings from your camera so that you can use those same settings on another camera if it is the same model, or easily restore favorite settings for certain genres.
Now, the app description never lists exactly what is saved and restored. The shutter speed, aperture, and ISO weren’t saved. But the feature did restore my saved film simulation.
But my favorite part about this restore option is that it also updates the camera’s clock. I shoot weddings with two XT4 bodies to avoid lots of lens swaps. Inevitably, one of them will get the time code just off so that when I upload my photos for editing, they aren’t in perfect chronological order. Just to test this feature, I adjusted the time stamp on my camera so that it was incorrect. Then I restored the backup. Now, both my cameras have the same exact time stamp on them. This fixes one of my pet peeves that comes up often when shooting with two bodies, and I’m really glad the XApp appears to have a new solution. If you shoot with two different bodies, however, the feature isn’t compatible. Both cameras have to be the same model.
How to turn off location sharing on Fujifilm XApp
If there’s one thing that I don’t like about the new Fujifilm XApp, it’s the constant location sharing. While the old app allowed me to set location permission to only when using the app, the XApp won’t function unless you agree to let the app use your location 24/7. This is concerning for a number of different reasons, but the biggest one is that I don’t want the photos that I take inside my own home to have a geotag inside the metadata. Yes, I could strip the metadata later, but that defeats the point of using a Fujifilm, which is excellent image quality with minimal computer work.
Thankfully, there is a way to turn off the geotagging embeds. But, it’s an odd enough process that many photographers new to the app won’t realize that they can at least turn some of the location-sharing functionality off. Sharing photos with Google is also a feature that you have to opt out of — and I think it should be an opt-in process instead, so photographers aren’t unknowingly sharing this location with Google Maps.
Fujifilm says that the location functionality is essential for the camera to connect and the app to work. A Fujifilm representative told The Phoblographer:
“We understand some FUJIFILM XApp (XApp) users have concerns about the requirement for location to remain enabled while using the App. Location access is required for two reasons: first, for the applicable FUJIFILM X Series camera and the user’s Smartphone (or other mobile device) to communicate over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and second, to synchronize the user’s mobile device location information with the registered X Series camera. As a result, both Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth are critical to XApp’s proper functionality. Disabling either of them will also disable XApp.
While users can’t disable location sharing and still use the app, there is an option to turn to prevent that data from being embedded in the photographs. To turn off the geotagging that the app provides, go into the setup men (the wrench icon) on the camera, then connection setting and Bluetooth-Smartphone setting. Scroll down to “smartphone location sync” and turn it off. The location sync can also be turned off inside the XApp by going to the “…” menu for that specific camera and toggling off “smartphone location sync.”
In the settings menu of the app, there are two big settings for photographers to be aware of as well. The location synchronization interval settings allow you to change how often the app looks for your location. Adjusting this can help reduce the app’s effects on the smartphone’s battery life. This setting can be adjusted from 10 seconds to 480 seconds.
The other essential location setting to check before using the XApp is to head to settings > settings for activity records. Here, photographers can toggle off the option to share images with Google LLC for use on Google Maps. Again, this is something that I think should have been an opt-in, but it was automatically on when I downloaded the app.
Who Should Download It?
Download the Fujifilm XApp if you want a seamless, modern app for remotely triggering a Fujifilm camera. Don’t download the XApp if you don’t want to risk constantly sharing your location with the app, which, even outside of any privacy concerns, can drain your smartphone battery faster.
Tech Specs and Main Features
Fujifilm lists the following compatible cameras as of May 2023, many of which need a firmware update before using the XApp:
- FUJIFILM GFX100S
- FUJIFILM GFX50S II
- FUJIFILM X-H2S, X-H2
- FUJIFILM X-Pro3
- FUJIFILM X-T5, X-T4, X-T3
- FUJIFILM X-T30 II, X-T30
- FUJIFILM X-S20, X-S10
- FUJIFILM X-E4
- FUJIFILM X100V
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