I am a great fan of the Fujfilm X-system – quite obvious here, don’t you think?!
But there is something that even the most hardcore X-fan cannot deny: Fujifilm does not offer a good system for flash photography (yet!). Ok, there are 3 flash units for the X-system, but two of them are more or less just better fill flashes and the other is a bit more powerful. That’s “okay”, but today customers want something more sophisticated than “light on/off”. 😉
One keyword is wireless off-camera flash ; of course with an intelligent TTL-metering. Unfortunately not one of the remote units that are on the market these days supports the latter function for the Fuji X-system. Fuji themselves don’t offer a solution for that as well. For most photographers this is no problem since consistent results usually come in manual mode anyway. But if you have to act fast TTL-metering for flash comes in quite handy.
Most of us had a photography life before Fuji – me at least. From that past times I already sold everything but I kept my flash units. Canon & Nikon for example offer great systems for flash photography and usually I use them in manual mode anyway but I often asked myself how cool it would be to use my “old” flash system in TTL mode with my Fuji X cameras – wireless, of course.
It would be… Wow! The best of everything. Great flash system with a great camera. Won’t work? Well, it does.
Last year I really got interested in the topic again when I learned from Rico Pfirstinger that John of Sereneautomation was working on a wireless TTL system for Fuji X cameras. I contacted him and Voilà! – nearly one year and a lot of Q&A with the German tax and duty later there were two different versions of said system on my desk.
Sereneautomation offers two versions for Fujifilm X cameras – the simpler one (MX-12/RX-15) supports every Fujifilm-compatible TTL flash: at the time of writing this boils down to the 3 Fufjilm flash offerings and the Nissin i40. Buying this set you get a reliable kit for wireless TTL flash work for all X cameras.
The MX-20/RX-20 adds something more to the RX-15 package: There is an app for iOS and Android to trigger and control the flash units. Flash enthusiasts won’t miss a thing, zooming flash units, AE – lock, groups, timer, interval photography, camera remote control, different profiles – everything included. I admit that I couldn’t even try out every single function. I tried out as many things as I could sometimes just to try whether it works – and it does!
But for me the absolute best about the MX-20/RX-20 is that it supports TTL with a Fujifilm X-camera combined with the high-end Nikon flashes. YES! I tested the Nikon SB900 with the x-t1, x-pro1 and the x100T and latter one 1/2000s wasn’t a problem for camera, flash nor RoboSHOOT.
The only downside to that is that Canon flashes are not yet supported. I am still getting on John’s nerves to add Canon Support – I hope someday he will give in!
The Roboshoot units are made from high-end plastic. Both transmitters sport a hot shoe. So you don’t lose the hot shoe of the camera by mounting the transmitter. The transmitter features a metal foot for mounting securely.
Mounting the transmitter has to be done carefully – make sure you fit the contacts right to get optimal performance. When you know what to look for it works perfectly and fast.
In the beta version I got for testing, you had to keep a certain order for switching on the transmitters. First the receiver then the sender. The MX-20/RX-20 that I got are of a later generation and don’t need a special procedure any more.
There is something I don’t like too much about both versions: Several functions are assigned to the same button- you get to the different functions by different pressures. Nothing too bad, but I had liked a dedicated button a bit more.
Neither sender nor receiver feature a USB-port, but John explained to me that firmware updates will be installed by using the app. The simpler version MX15/RX-15 can be sent to your authorized reseller to get an update.
In the end I have a very positive experience with the RoboSHOOTs. Everybody who looks for wireless TTL flash for her Fuji X-system should have a close look at the MX/RX line. Whether you go for the simpler or more sophisticated version depends on your needs, of course.
Something to add: I don’t earn anything by writing reviews. For me off-camera flash is an important topic and incorporating that into the Fujfilm X-system is really good for me. To support a new innovative product by testing it and giving a review is my motivation for this little article.
The pictures below are taken by using the MX-20/RX-20
+++++ UDATE: John finally found a distributor within the EU. So for all you European guys good news! You can now get the Roboshoot without the waiting time at customs. You can get the RoboShoots at VDH Photo in Belgium. I do not have any experience with the dealer.+++++