Firmware Friday: Fujifilm XQ1 tweaked for better underwater photography


posted Friday, March 14, 2014 at 12:40 AM EDT


Our Firmware Friday roundup comes a little earlier than normal this week, with news editor Mike Tomkins filling in from his vacation in Hong Kong (and hence running 12 hours ahead of US Eastern time). This week, we have but one update to cover: the Fuji XQ1 compact camera

When Fujifilm announced the pocket-friendly, X-Trans sensor-shod XQ1 last October, the company also revealed a new underwater housing that would allow the camera to shoot as much as 131 feet (40 meters) beneath the surface. There was just one problem: Although the housing supported flash photography thanks to a clip-on flash diffuser and a fiberoptic cable socket that can be used to trigger external strobes, it was an all or nothing affair.

The reason for this was simple. The Fuji XQ1's flash is a manual popup type, and is enabled or disabled by raising and lowering the flash -- something you can't really do when it's in the middle of a sturdy housing and you're in full scuba regalia, exploring a shipwreck. You can change flash modes, but the only options are auto, on, or slow-sync, optionally with red-eye reduction. So you're stuck with whatever you selected back on the surface: flash up and potentially every shot has artificial illumination; flash down and none do. 

Underwater video and stills shot with the Fuji XQ1. After a firmware update, the camera now allows on-demand flash for underwater photography.

With firmware version 1.10 installed, the problem is fixed. The Fujifilm XQ1 now provides one additional flash mode: suppressed flash. Now, so long as you remember to raise the strobe before putting the camera in its housing, you can shoot with flash whenever you want, and disable it whenever you don't.

That's good news, because the XQ1 can shoot some pretty nice underwater stills and video, as shown in the video from Fuji above. Get the update from the Fujifilm website here.