Fujifilm just released a new App, called XApp, for some Fujifilm X and GFX cameras, which is an alternative to the much maligned Cam Remote App. This new App has been long-rumored and highly-anticipated. It’s available right now in the app store!
Firstly, it’s disappointing that the new app is only for X-Trans IV and V cameras, plus the GFX100S and GFX50S II. If you have any other model, you’re stuck using the old Cam Remote App. I have both newer and older models, and it would be nice if I could use just one app instead of two, so I might just stick with the old Cam Remote App, since recently I’ve been able to get it to work for me most of the time; I’ll have to play with the new XApp more before I decide for certain, but on Day One, that’s the direction I’m leaning.
The new XApp does require your Fujifilm camera to be up-to-date on the firmware. I don’t update the firmware on my cameras each time a new one is released. I look at what’s in the update, see if any of it would seemingly impact me, and if so I’ll update the firmware—usually, I will wait a few days after the initial release. I do all this for three reasons: 1) if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, 2) it can be a hassle sometimes to update the firmware, and 3), on a very rare occasion (but it has happened), the new firmware update will be buggy and cause all sorts of havoc, usually followed by Fujifilm re-releasing the old firmware or releasing a quick update to fix the one they just put out.
I love Fujifilm Kaizen firmware updates, and I think they should recommit to that philosophy, but I don’t make it a habit to always update the firmware; however, because of this, I discovered that none of my current cameras could use the XApp without updating the firmware first. It wasn’t immediately obvious to me that this was a requirement (if I had watched the X Summit first, I suppose I would have known), and there were a few minutes of frustration before I figured it out; hopefully, being aware that your firmware needs to be up-to-date will help you have a smoother process than I did.
My initial impressions after briefly using XApp are that the UI is definitely improved, connecting the camera to the app is much easier and quicker, and there’s a little more that the app can do compared to the old Cam Remote app. While it’s absolutely better than Cam Remote, it’s still pretty much the same functionality (for example, you still cannot transfer RAW files), so I think it’s important to keep expectations in check.
Interestingly, with XApp you can import global backups of camera settings, and restore those settings later. I haven’t played around with it much yet, but I think you could in theory have several different backups saved with different Film Simulation Recipes in each, and remotely restore whichever ones you need for various situations. Maybe a summer set, a winter set, a travel set, etc.. It would take some work to set up, but it has some interesting potential I think.
The app can also keep track of some data, specifically the number of frames captured, which film simulations (not Recipes, just the film sims) you used, the cameras, the lenses, and videos clips. If you want to dive into how you’re using your cameras slightly deeper, this might be a useful feature.
XApp is definitely an improvement. I’m disappointed that it is only for newer cameras, and you cannot use the app with older models. I’m not certain yet if I’ll keep both apps, and use XApp for my compatible models and Cam Remote for my non-compatible cameras, or if I’ll just stick with Cam Remote, since I can use it with all of my Fujifilm X bodies. I am glad, though, that Fujifilm finally addressed their less-than-stellar Cam Remote app by releasing an alternative. I’m sure many of you will find XApp to be a better experience overall than the old app.
Also announced today by Fujifilm are the X-S20 vlogger/travel camera (as Fujifilm put it) and Fujinon 8mm f/3.5, a tempting lens for architecture, real estate, and landscape photographers needing an ultra-wide option.
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