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New Firmware Features (1): Using AF+MF


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New Firmware Features (1): Using AF+MF

by Rico Pfirstinger

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This Thursday (18 DEC 2014), Fuji is releasing new firmware for the X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2 and X-T1. This is the first of three articles explaining the changes and enhancements brought to you by these updates. Let’s begin with the single new feature that affects all four X camera models: AF+MF.

What is AF+MF?

AF+MF allows you to autofocus in AF mode, then adjust the focus manually by turning the focus ring while holding the shutter button half-depressed.

In order to access this feature, the camera needs to be updated with the latest firmware (at least version 3.40 for the X-Pro1, 2.40 for the X-E1, 3.00 for the X-E2 and 3.00 for the X-T1). Then select SHOOTING MENU > AF+MF > ON to enable the new feature.

How to apply AF+MF

In order to use AF+MF, your X-T1 or X-E2 have to be in AF-S autofocus mode. Users of X-E1 and X-Pro1 cameras may also select AF-C using the focus mode selector switch that is located at the front of the camera.

Here’s how AF+MF works, step by step:

  1. Autofocus on your subject as usual (using either AF Area or Multi mode) by half-pressing the shutter button.
  2. Once autofocus has been confirmed (green rectangle) or not confirmed (red rectangle), keep the shutter button half-depressed and rotate the focus ring of your lens to manually adjust the focus distance until you are satisfied.
  3. When you are happy with your manual focus adjustment, fully depress the half-pressed shutter button to take the shot.
What’s AF+MF good for?

I have identified three main applications for AF+MF:

  1. Manual focus in situations when autofocus fails
    Instead of losing time by changing the focus mode from AF to MF, you can now immediately focus manually when the camera’s AF fails to acquire the subject. Simply adjust the focus manually using the focus ring. If Focus Peaking is enabled, it will automatically engage as soon as the focus ring is rotated and manual focus (MF) kicks in. Users of the X-E2 and X-T1 can also make use the Focus Check function (MAIN MENU > SCREEN SETUP > FOCUS CHECK > ON). In this case, the camera will automatically magnify the focus area as soon as AF+MF is engaged by turning the focus ring. To make it work, please make sure that AF-S is set to AREA (not to MULTI). For maximum manual focus control, you can combine Focus Check magnification with Focus Peaking edge enhancing.
  2. Correcting the camera’s autofocus
    There are cases when you might want to fine-tune the autofocus of your camera by adjusting it manually. Again, Focus Peaking is available to make things easier, and you can enable Focus Check on your X-E2 or X-T1 to automatically see a magnified view of the focus area when you turn the focus ring.
  3. Shifting the depth-of-field (DOF) zone or setting the hyperfocal distance
    AF+MF let’s you quickly shift the DOF zone towards or away from the camera by turning the focus ring after half-pressing the shutter button. The digital distance scale in the viewfinder (or on the LCD) can be quite helpful here. Initially, DOF partly extends to the front and to the back of the autofocus plane, but you can manually shift the DOF zone. For example, you can move the left tip of the DOF indicator bar to the originally displayed autofocus distance, thus setting a DOF zone that begins at the distance to your subject and extends all the way to the back from there. You can also move the right tip of the DOF bar to barely touch the infinity mark of the camera’s digital distance scale to set the hyperfocal distance. In order to use the digital distance scale, make sure that MF DISTANCE INDICATOR is checked in your DISPLAY CUSTOM SETTINGs and that you are in Custom display mode (press the DISP/BACK button to cycle through the various display modes provided by your camera model).

In the above example, I autofocused on the fountain by placing the AF frame right over it, using a small aperture of f/16. Since the part of the DOF zone that extends in front of the fountain towards the camera is useless in this case, I manually shifted the DOF zone away from the camera using AF+MF. The resulting DOF zone now begins at the fountain and extends all the way to the back.

What’s different?

At first glance, the MF component of AF+MF may look like your usual manual focus, but it’s not. While “genuine” MF is always performed at maximum (wide-open) aperture, the MF part of AF+MF is performed at the selected working aperture. That’s because the shutter button is half-pressed, so the camera is already primed to take the shot with minimal shutter lag.

This means that when you are manually focusing in AF+MF mode, the EVF/LCD will display a live view that shows the actual depth-of-field of the resulting image. It also means that Focus Peaking will show an increasingly large zone as “being in focus” when you stop down the lens. Obviously, this can make it more difficult to “nail” your manual focus adjustment.

If you shoot wide-open, there’s no difference between the MF component of AF+MF and normal MF.

AF+MF and “clutch lenses”

AF+MF even works with “clutch type” lenses like the XF 14mm or XF 23mm. These lenses feature a clutch mechanism to mechanically switch between manual focus (MF) and autofocus (AF) mode. Since the focus ring of these lenses can only be turned when the clutch is in the MF position, you need the following configuration to get AF+MF to work:

  • Enable AF+MF in the Shooting Menu of your camera.
  • Select AF-S on your camera (using the focus mode switch) and MF on the lens (by pulling the clutch mechanism towards the camera).
  • Use AF+MF as described above under How to apply AF+MF.

Here are a few tips regarding AF+MF and clutch lenses:

  • Make sure that the manual focus ring of the lens has sufficient play to the left and right so you can make the necessary MF adjustments.
  • The distance and DOF markings on your clutch lens have no meaning in AF+MF configuration. Instead, use the digital distance/DOF scale that’s displayed in the camera’s viewfinder or LCD.
  • In order to use clutch lenses in “genuine” manual focus mode when AF+MF is on, both the lens and the camera have to be set to MF.
What’s next?

In the second edition of this little “firmware trilogy”, I’ll have a look at the new wifi remote control feature of the X-E2. Of course, users of the X30, X100T and X-T1 might also benefit from this article, as those cameras feature the same wifi remote control functionality.

The third and final edition will explain the remaining goodies that are part of the comprehensive X-T1 firmware version 3.00 update, including an as of yet undocumented enhancement regarding the camera’s face detection feature.

For your convenience, here’s a TOC with links to my previous X-PERT CORNER articles:

Rico Pfirstinger studied communications and has been working as journalist, publicist, and photographer since the mid-80s. He has written a number of books on topics as diverse as Adobe PageMaker and sled dogs, and produced a beautiful book of photographs titled Huskies in Action (German version). He has spent time working as the head of a department with the German Burda-Publishing Company and served as chief editor for a winter sports website. After eight years as a freelance film critic and entertainment writer in Los Angeles, Rico now lives in Germany and devotes his time to digital photography and compact camera systems. His new ebook The Fujifilm X-E2: Beyond the Manual is available at Rocky Nook.