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Why doesn't fuji make lenses with actual linear focus instead of fly by wire?! And where's the WR 18mm?


michaelstrand
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I don't understand. Can you not have an autofocus lens that also has linear focus? It seems like 99% of manual focus shooters would prefer actual manual focus. What's the deal? 

PS - Why hasn't fuji created a WR 18mm yet? It's one of the best street photography focal lengths and they don't seem to be paying much attention to it...For a company catering to the street community it seems odd not to have come out with a WR mark ii after all this time. Thoughts? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

In virtually all 'modern' AF lenses the lens group determining the focus is steered by AF motors who are controlled electronically. As the focus is determined by the sensor (in mirrorless cameras), the lens needs the processor in the camera to determine when the image is in focus. Even when you control the focus manually ("fly by wire"). To have a mechanical manual focus it would require a costly mechanism in the lens but still the connection to the sensor and processor to show you the actual focus. It would make lenses much more expensive (think factor 2 or so).

Linear focus is something different. Normally the AF operates non-linear meaning that the faster you turn the focus ring, the bigger the adjustment. Even when the rotation is exactly the same degrees. That way you can make big MF changes by quickly turning the MF ring and finer adjustments by turning in slowly. In some Fuji cameras (like the X-H1) you can set MF to linear. In that setting it doesn't matter whether you quickly or slowly turn the MF ring because the rotation in degrees determines the focus travel. Linear is often used for video when you want to make controlled focus-pulls (moving focus from background to foreground or v.v.). If you use non-linear in that case, the focus pull will be influenced by how quickly or slow you turn the MF ring.

You can use linear also for stills. However, the downside is that Fuji makes lenses with huge focus strokes. Sometimes (in MF) you have to turn the focus ring 3 full rounds to get from shortest focus to infinity. Non-linear prevents that. It allows you to turn the MF ring quickly with a short stroke to go from one end to the other.

Overall, Fuji has still some way to go to tweak their manual focus-by-wire to the level of some other manufacturers. In my personal experience Leica has a degree of perfection (even in 'fly-by-wire') that is unsurpassed. I've used their SL2 and I own the Q2 Monochrome. But also Nikon and Sony are in my experience more refined when it comes to MF in mirrorless cameras (and AF by the way too).

There's one exception though: Fuji has a few lenses with a focus clutch (the 14/2.8, the 16/1.4 and the 23/1.4). There lenses (though also fly-by-wire) have an MF ring that you can pull-back and use it in MF-mode with hard stops from closest to furthest focus distance. Unfortunately, they stopped using that mechanism on newer lenses. Probably cost concerns.

PS. I only use the X-Pro2 for personal work now, but I'd love to see a very good 18/2 MkII as well that's up to the standards of the 35/2 (and not that of the mediocre 23/2 or 16/2.8). For some reason Fuji has a very erratic roadmap when it comes to wide-angle lenses. Their remake of the excellent 10-24/4 is painful. You leave the IQ unchanged (which is good), add WR (not really needed, but OK) and then you mess-up the OIS...?

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5 hours ago, Herco said:

In virtually all 'modern' AF lenses the lens group determining the focus is steered by AF motors who are controlled electronically. As the focus is determined by the sensor (in mirrorless cameras), the lens needs the processor in the camera to determine when the image is in focus. Even when you control the focus manually ("fly by wire"). To have a mechanical manual focus it would require a costly mechanism in the lens but still the connection to the sensor and processor to show you the actual focus. It would make lenses much more expensive (think factor 2 or so).

Linear focus is something different. Normally the AF operates non-linear meaning that the faster you turn the focus ring, the bigger the adjustment. Even when the rotation is exactly the same degrees. That way you can make big MF changes by quickly turning the MF ring and finer adjustments by turning in slowly. In some Fuji cameras (like the X-H1) you can set MF to linear. In that setting it doesn't matter whether you quickly or slowly turn the MF ring because the rotation in degrees determines the focus travel. Linear is often used for video when you want to make controlled focus-pulls (moving focus from background to foreground or v.v.). If you use non-linear in that case, the focus pull will be influenced by how quickly or slow you turn the MF ring.

You can use linear also for stills. However, the downside is that Fuji makes lenses with huge focus strokes. Sometimes (in MF) you have to turn the focus ring 3 full rounds to get from shortest focus to infinity. Non-linear prevents that. It allows you to turn the MF ring quickly with a short stroke to go from one end to the other.

Overall, Fuji has still some way to go to tweak their manual focus-by-wire to the level of some other manufacturers. In my personal experience Leica has a degree of perfection (even in 'fly-by-wire') that is unsurpassed. I've used their SL2 and I own the Q2 Monochrome. But also Nikon and Sony are in my experience more refined when it comes to MF in mirrorless cameras (and AF by the way too).

There's one exception though: Fuji has a few lenses with a focus clutch (the 14/2.8, the 16/1.4 and the 23/1.4). There lenses (though also fly-by-wire) have an MF ring that you can pull-back and use it in MF-mode with hard stops from closest to furthest focus distance. Unfortunately, they stopped using that mechanism on newer lenses. Probably cost concerns.

PS. I only use the X-Pro2 for personal work now, but I'd love to see a very good 18/2 MkII as well that's up to the standards of the 35/2 (and not that of the mediocre 23/2 or 16/2.8). For some reason Fuji has a very erratic roadmap when it comes to wide-angle lenses. Their remake of the excellent 10-24/4 is painful. You leave the IQ unchanged (which is good), add WR (not really needed, but OK) and then you mess-up the OIS...?

Thanks for the explanation. I figured there had to be some reason I was missing. Very interesting what you said about there being an option with the X-H1 to set it to linear manual focus.. why isn't this an option with their other cameras? Why just that one?

The 3 full rounds to get from shortest focus to infinity surprised me. 

I also own a Sony and yes.. af is pretty incredible with that system. 

I dream of trying the MF on a Leica...

I'll have to check out that focus clutch you mentioned (thanks for stating which lenses have it) and see if I like using it. Sounds interesting. 

I agree that Fuji's roadmap is very head-scratching. 

 

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11 hours ago, michaelstrand said:

Thanks for the explanation. I figured there had to be some reason I was missing. Very interesting what you said about there being an option with the X-H1 to set it to linear manual focus.. why isn't this an option with their other cameras? Why just that one?

The 3 full rounds to get from shortest focus to infinity surprised me. 

I also own a Sony and yes.. af is pretty incredible with that system. 

I dream of trying the MF on a Leica...

I'll have to check out that focus clutch you mentioned (thanks for stating which lenses have it) and see if I like using it. Sounds interesting. 

I agree that Fuji's roadmap is very head-scratching. 

 

The X-H1 was launched as a specific hybrid camera (equally well suited for video and stills). Esp. when shooting video linear MF makes sense. The X-Pro3, X-T3 and the X-T4 also have the option to set linear MF in the Setup menu, under Button/Dial setting there's an option to set the focus ring operation. It's unfortunately not on the X-Pro2. Don't know about the other cameras in the 26MP generation.

I've used the Sony A7RIV for a while last year together with two Zeiss Loxia lenses (the 21 and the 50). These are MF-only lenses, but in terms of MF this is as good as it gets. In terms of image quality as well by the way...

What bugs me is that Fuji spends a lot of time in 'halo-products' like the 50/1 and the 8-16/2.8 (both not even very good lenses compared to the competition) and forgets to update their bread-and-butter lenses like the 14/2.8, the 23/1.4, the 35/1.4 and the 56/1.2. These lenses should be the sweet spot: relatively compact, fast, good IQ at a decent price. I now hear that their plan is to launch an 18/1.4 instead of updating the 18/2. What are they thinking...? We already have an '18/1.4' which is called the 16/1.4 and it excellent.   

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On 2/5/2021 at 11:25 AM, Herco said:

The X-H1 was launched as a specific hybrid camera (equally well suited for video and stills). Esp. when shooting video linear MF makes sense. The X-Pro3, X-T3 and the X-T4 also have the option to set linear MF in the Setup menu, under Button/Dial setting there's an option to set the focus ring operation. It's unfortunately not on the X-Pro2. Don't know about the other cameras in the 26MP generation.

I've used the Sony A7RIV for a while last year together with two Zeiss Loxia lenses (the 21 and the 50). These are MF-only lenses, but in terms of MF this is as good as it gets. In terms of image quality as well by the way...

What bugs me is that Fuji spends a lot of time in 'halo-products' like the 50/1 and the 8-16/2.8 (both not even very good lenses compared to the competition) and forgets to update their bread-and-butter lenses like the 14/2.8, the 23/1.4, the 35/1.4 and the 56/1.2. These lenses should be the sweet spot: relatively compact, fast, good IQ at a decent price. I now hear that their plan is to launch an 18/1.4 instead of updating the 18/2. What are they thinking...? We already have an '18/1.4' which is called the 16/1.4 and it excellent.   

Yeah I'm extremely puzzled why its been this long and they haven't updated the 18f2, 23f1.4, 35f1.4, and 56. 

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