Gimmick or useful feature?
To be honest, gimmick would have been my initial response, at least that was until this morning when I actually tried it out. I’ve shot RAW for many, many years and like having the maximum data available for later use if required. However, I’ve also started to use the SOOC JPEG files from the Fuji cameras recently, particularly for online use. Even if I do nothing else to the image though I still need to bring it into software to crop especially as I habitually shoot with a square crop in mind and sometimes a panoramic 16×9 format.
So, what I pondered if I shot in-camera at the required format (1×1 or 16×9) and didn’t need to take the JPEG into any software? As I’d finished what I’d set out to photograph and was walking back to the car with no time pressures I decided to have a play. It was just as well that there were no time pressures because I spent another 45 minutes trying it out!
Long story short, I found it so much easier to “see” the compositions with the camera already displaying the desired format in the EVF. I was also able to frame up accurately thus avoiding that sometimes painful choice back at the computer when you have to crop out something on the edge of the frame because you’d not quite composed properly in the field.
The final surprise came when I got home and found the RAW files had the full scene captured (see screen grab from ACR) thus meaning that any small mis-framing in the field can be tweaked back at base.
I did remember to put the camera back to the native 3×2 format before I put it back into my bag but I can see me using this feature quite a bit in future.
So, to answer my own question – it’s a very useful feature especially for those of us who usually shoot with a pre-determined image format in mind. The safety net of having the full-sized RAW file was an unexpected bonus (perhaps if I’d read the manual it wouldn’t have been a surprise, but I’m a man and how many men read manuals first?) and makes it an even more useful feature for the dedicated RAW shooter. In fact it might be said that this feature is reason enough to shoot RAW+JPEG on a permanent basis (something I do anyway given how cheap memory is these days).