I got this new camera from Fujifilm; it’s outstanding, but has a really irritating software problem. Fuji could fix that on the double-quick and at the same time turn the problem into a marketing weapon. How? Two words: Open source.

[Update: It turns out the problem is you can’t WiFi RAW pix off the cam, just jpegs. This would be a problem for RAW shooters except for you can do the R-to-j conversion on the cam with just a couple of clicks. No, this isn’t documented or anything, I just poked around and figured it out. The argument for open-sourcing is not weakened.]

The camera is the X-T1, which has been reviewed to death, for example here and here and here, and is in short-supply, back-ordered at Amazon and everywhere else.

Fujifilm X-T1

Photo credit: Nexus 5.

The problem · I’ll probably write more about the camera, but today I want to focus on its wireless features, of which there are three:

  1. You can remote-control the camera from a mobile device.

  2. You can pull photos from the camera onto a mobile.

  3. You can upload photos from the camera to your computer.

I tried them with my Nexus 5 and Mac; the setup is kind of klunky. #1 worked fine. #2 sort of tries to work, and after a few attempts I managed to move one photo to my Nexus. I’ve never got #3 to work, but who cares? It’s immensely faster to jam the SD card in your computer and upload that way anyhow.

But #2 not working is irritating; when I’m out in the field and get a snazzy photo, it’d be cool to shoot it over to the phone and share it with the world.

However, I hear that it works OK on iOS, so this is an Android problem.

The solution · Publish the damn Android app source on Github already! This is one of the hottest cameras in the universe, and the probability is very high that someone talented would leap at the chance to clean up the app. My guess is, chances are good you’d have an app that actually worked within a couple of weeks

Plus you’d sell a bunch of X-T1s to geeks just because they’d jump at a chance to wrangle their own mobile apps for it Which is a pretty desirable demographic to have carrying your camera around; well-paid, and the kind of people who get asked for tech advice by all their friends and relations.

Could it happen? · Even a few year ago, this idea would have been egregiously silly. First, the chances of breaking through to anyone at Fujifilm who even understood what you were saying would be more or less zero. Second, if you did, the reaction would be along the lines of “What kind of hippie foolishness is this?”

But today, it doesn’t feel impossible. First, companies are more permeable than they used to be. Second, even the most nontechnical management types are dimly aware that they’re probably basing parts of their business on that hippie-foolishness stuff. Third, Fujifilm seems unusually savvy about software, doing things like releasing substantive, useful firmware updates even for discontinued models.

So... does anyone reading this know anyone who knows anyone at Fujifilm? Pass the word!

Open-source and Free too · If I were in Fujifilm management and we were going to go the open-source route, I’d seriously consider GPLing the sucker. Seems like a no-brainer from a business point of view, right?


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: James (Apr 14 2014, at 14:17)

Better yet, why not publish the protocol so that anyone could create an app? It would be cool to be able to send images from the camera to a ChromeCast connected to a TV or a monitor of some sort. If it's 4k so much the better.


From: John Cowan (Apr 14 2014, at 14:28)

While the open source movement and the free software movement have different ideologies, the amount of software that is open source but not free (or vice versa) is basically nil. BSD-licensed or Apacahe-licensed software, for example, is just as much free software as GPL-licensed software is.


From: John Wilson (Apr 15 2014, at 09:09)

Lovely camera isn't it? I've used it to shoot drama rehearsals and it's almost ideal,. Small, quiet, negligible shutter lag, excellent in full manual and great low light performance

Depends how robust the camera end of the protocol is. People have reversed engineered Canon's USB control protocol and you have to be very careful when using it. The camera doesn't check the sanity of all the parameters so you have to be careful you don't brick the DSLR. If the same was true with the Fuji then it might not be a great idea to hack on the app.

If Fuji would commit to fully defining and supporting the protocol that would be great and it's not beyond the bounds of probability that they would do that. They seem a very responsive company.


From: Marco (Apr 18 2014, at 03:17)

Hi, my X-T1 is my first "serious" camera and it's so good and powerful that my learning courve will still be steep for some time (which makes the overall experience even better)... I've only spent few minutes using the "Camera Remote" app (on iPad) and my first feeling is somehow contradictory: camera command seems to be very powerful since all options I could think about seem to be available from the iPad; on the other hand I expected the possibility to easilly scroll through the pictures in order to pull best shots into my iPad and this seems to be impossible: for some reason it seems that you can only push single shots from the camera to the iPad, one at a time. Moreover switching between "command" and "receive" functions requires re-connection to the camera wifi (through the camera and the iPad system preferences) which is quite boring. I guess there're technical reasons which lead to this weird behavior... or maybe I just misssed some basic configuration steps and should read the manual more carefully!!! :-)


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April 14, 2014
· Technology (90 fragments)
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