Fujifilm Gear AF Frustration at Times … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Fujifilm Gear AF Frustration at Times ...


We totally lucked out with the Snow Monkeys on our first afternoon; can you say snow? And best of all, more snow is in the forecast for today. I will likely have good internet access every day while I am in Japan. I get home late on 28 FEB.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 456

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 456 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

This image was created near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL with the hand held the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens, the Fujifilm XF 1.4x TC WR teleconverter, and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera equipped with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/7.4 in Manual mode. AWB.

Shutter Button Continuous Autofocus. Additional AF information is unavailable.

Sandhill Crane on hill 🙂

Fujifilm Gear AF Frustration at Times …

I went down to the lake near my home and the morning of 2 FEB with my Fujifilm gear. I had several good opportunities. The best was with a group of cranes on a small hill in early morning light. For a while, everything worked well. Then, for no reason at all, the system would not focus. I’d have the active AF sensor (just one selected) right on the bird and and pretty much nothing. The box would light up green but only for a fraction of a second and then go back to grey. When I pressed the shutter button the camera would not fire. I do have it set not to fire unless the image is accurately focused. The problem was that it simply would not hold focus. A minute later all would be fine again.

Most days it works just fine. One day about two weeks ago it would go for minutes without focusing — the green AF box did not light up at all. The next day it was fine. When photographing the pelicans in San Diego there were times when the camera would not focus when I had one of the outer sensors selected. If I moved the AF box in toward the sensor, the system worked fine. At times I am left wondering if I am doing something wrong or if I have a wrong setting. Then everything starts working fine again … In general when the system acquires focus it holds beautifully and always produces sharp images.

Several times on the morning in question one bird would start to dance or two birds would begin to squabble. I’d reframe and attempt to focus but the chances of the system focusing fast enough were between slim and none. Thus, getting a sharp image with the Fujifilm AF system with the 1.4X TC in place was pretty much a hopeless endeavor. Perhaps if I had not had the TC on or perhaps if I were more familiar with the AF system I would have done better. But my gut feeling is that photographing birds in action and birds and flight with the Fujifilm gear will be a huge challenge. I have made a few decent flight images with the Fujifilm gear.

Please Note

For static subject the rig featured in today’s blog post is quite good. At some point in the not-too-distant future I will do a full evaluation of the a href=”https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1210897-REG/fujifilm_16501109_xf_100_400mm_f_4_5_5_6_r.html/BI/6633/KBID/7226/kw/FU10040045/DFF/d10-v2-t1-xFU10040045″ target=”_blank”>Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens, the Fujifilm XF 1.4x TC WR teleconverter, and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera equipped with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip for bird photography along with a point by point comparison to the Canon 1D Mark IV and the 100-400 II.

At present there is no software that I know of that can show you the selected AF point.

Your Experience

If you are currently using the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera I would love to hear of your experience with the AF system. Please be sure to let us know what lens you are using with and whether or not you are using it with a TC. Many tanks.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of April 22, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

17 comments to Fujifilm Gear AF Frustration at Times …

  • Hello Arthur – I have been looking for discussion on the X-T2 focus issues particularly on BIF. I recently acquired one with the vertical power booster after using the X-T1 (and loving it) for a couple of years. I shoot a lot of coastal birds in SW Florida and was looking to improve BIF performance by moving up. The custom AF options seemed oriented for it. However, performance has been very iffy for me. Focus acquisition is only good at very wide open apertures, a real limitation. Consider this poor design for the advanced AF claims – should not stop down during aquisition. That limitation applies even more so when the 1.4TC is on – very poor acquisition. In general, focus for me, even singles, has been LESS reliable than with the X-T1. I am confused at least, and beginning to be concerned about hardware or firmware flaw. When you say “manual” in your shooting data, what do you mean? Beautiful work. Thank you.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Manual refers to manual exposure mode. I did not notice additional problems shooting flight stopped down because I rarely stop down more than 1/3 stop, one click on the aperture.


      ps: our conclusions are quite similar 🙂 🙁

  • avatar Jim Amato

    Sometimes my camera, Nikon, will not focus clearly.
    I have learned that when I recharge the battery or insert a fully charged battery, full focus is available.
    Worth a try.

  • I’ve had an X-T2 for about a month after 2+ yrs w. an X-T1. Have the 100-400mm and 1.4 and 2X TCs also. However my BIF experience is very limited to date. With that disclaimer – my X-T2 AF experience so far is that it’s noticeably better than my X-T1 – but thats expected. AF for twitchy perched or on-ground smaller birds hasn’t been a problem for my X-T2 and 1.4tc to any noticeable degree.

    I do get more frequent FtF’s (Failures-to-Focus) with my X-T2 & 1.4 and 2x TCs in what little BIF work I’ve attempted with vultures and hawks at long distances – but that probably isn’t a good trial. I need to visit the local egret rookery to try X-T2 BIF on bigger, closer, slower birds.

    For my use the Fuji system size & weight savings and sharp & beautiful files are a reasonable trade-off for whatever ultimate BIF/action AF performance the Fuji’s may lack. I’ve not shot w. our Canon 5D/30D and “L” glass since getting the X-T1.

    Maybe this will help. This guy has BIF puffin images taken with the X-T2/100-400mm and 1.4tc: http://macleancomms.blogspot.com/2016/07/capturing-puffins-in-flight-with.html

    BTW – the X-T2 seems to display the focus point when viewing an image on the rear LCD when in “Info display” mode.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


        This is becoming a common theme: folks telling how great this or that is with the evidence being very poor images …


        • Arthur, as the author of the two articles posted above by Phil I am a little taken aback by your description of my work as ‘Very Poor Images’.

          Now photography is subjective and everyone is entitled to an opinion, but as someone who follows your work and finds it inspirational I would like to know why you dismissed my images so off handedly? I also need to ask did you actually read the articles to see the reasons why the images were shot the way they were, especially the ones on Bass Rock?

          As you are a leading bird photographer I have been watching your findings on the X-T2 and XF100-400mm with interest.

          Perhaps you would be interested in seeing the images I took during the visit to Bass Rock for the article I produced on the trip rather than the images I used for the specific tests – http://macleancomms.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/bass-rock-landing-2016.html

          If you still feel my images are ‘Very Poor’ then please let me know why you have come that conclusion as one professional to another.

          • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

            Hi Jeff,The Bass Rock images across the board were better, especially the wider photo-journalistic ones. The only ones I had to go by were those in the link that Phil Duff provided. Those were very poor as I stated. Why? Too small in the frame, off sun angle, poor subject-to-imaging sensor (and to light angle) orientation, detail-less WHITEs, distracting background birds, and poorly designed to name a few.

            So my concerns are that folks should NOT use poor images to show how “good” a product is; it just does not wash.


  • avatar Tony Botelho

    It looks like either you may not be doing something right, or this camera may not be the best for fast moving action. On the other hand this may be a great system for the landscape photographer because your images look very sharp. I had always been a Canon shooter for the last 40 years but about five years ago after some research I started using some Sigma lenses on my Canon bodies and found out they were as sharp (if not sharper) than my Canon L lenses, but at a lower price point. I’m a landscape photographer so do not know how they would be for fast action. I’m happy that you are trying out different options other than Canon, its always nice to have different choices.

    • avatar Bill Richardson

      You would love the Fuji for landscapes. It is just amazing to see the exposure adjustments in real time through the viewfinder. Balancing indoor light with flash to outside window light is a snap. Mirrorless is definitely the future. Landscape photographer Clyde Butcher has switched from his old and huge box camera to a mirror less one. Fuji makes a great camera but they have a few kinks including very poor manuals.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I like my Fuji XT2 but do not consider it a replacement for nature photography for my 1Dx2s. I have not had your issue but I have struggled to get through all the menus. Have you tried the different pre focus settings? Different focus modes? Are you shooting in S or C modes?–the camera operates differently in different modes. I have decided to stick to S mode. It is a very good camera but a very complicated one!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill. For birds you need to be in C all the time as far as I can figger.


      ps: and for long time Canon users, yes, very complicated.

      • avatar Bill Richardson

        I was told C only allows jpg. Cannot recall if that is for CL or just CH.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Unless we are not communicating you need a new source. I have been using C (continuous AF for moving subjects) and RAW capture since day one 🙂


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Without intending any disrespect to the author, I did not find that article worthwhile or helpful at all. See also my reply to Phil Duff above as they apply here as well.