Before we get started, please keep the following in mind when working your way down the page,
And now with the formalities out of the way, lets get our feet wet and see what the new kid on the block has up its sleeve. I imagine that most of you who have read our Fujifilm reviews are sick and tired of us preaching about the awesome image quality, colour, ISO performance, dynamic range, lenses, and durable build of the X series gear. So instead of focusing on the further incremental improvements in these departments, we will focus our attention on the new and exciting features of the XT2. But before we gloss over too much, just keep in mind, the X series has been killing it since the XPRO1 and this was reason enough for us to use the system both professionally and personally for the last four years. Fujifilm has made a name for itself in the professional photography market and their tools are only limited by your imagination.
Shortly after the XPRO2 was announced we have had one in our bag. Although it is a fantastic camera sharing many qualities with the XT2, it just does not feel quite as flexible. The XT series cameras have additional dials which the XPRO series is missing, making key functions for the professional just a little slower to access. We have been running two XT1 bodies in parallel as our primary wedding photography cameras for the last two seasons and they have never let us down. Only introducing the XPRO2 earlier this year when the increased resolution was too tempting to pass up (the same resolution as the XT2).
The JPG files straight out of a fujifilm camera have always been astounding and the XT2 is no exception. In good light and when properly exposed, the JPG files can easily be used to satisfy even the most pedantic clients. We could not spot a difference in image quality between the XT2 and the XPRO2, and that is a very very good thing. The added resolution these two camera models have over the previous generation should be reason enough for anyone serious about their photography to upgrade. Especially if you are printing your work on a regular basis, or want just a little more headroom to crop your files.
Because this was a pre-production camera, and RAW file support has not yet been added to Capture One Pro9 (our editing suite of choice), we were forced to produce everything in JPG and the sample files are straight out of the camera with no heavy editing (only cropping in some instances).
The dual SD card slots are a blessing. The XPRO2 has them and they have given us confidence and redundancy against a potential memory card failure when covering crucial moments throughout a wedding. We have setup the memory cards to 'backup', hence the camera saves the same image file to both memory cards.
The new design for the tilting LCD screen is great, it allows you to place the camera in both the vertical and horizontal orientations really close to the ground without having to roll in the mud. This feature was particularly useful when making the image to the right of the lost sole in the Karangahake gorge tunnel.
With the XT2 you can lock the ISO and shutter speed dials. We have not missed any shots due to accidentally bumping these dials on earlier camera models, and if you are in a hurry and need to make a quick change I can see the locked out buttons being a nuisance and interrupting an otherwise seamless work flow. Unlocking the buttons is just an additional step (you could of course always leave the buttons unlocked, but they are easily engaged when the camera is bouncing by our side).
Focus speed has always been the Achilles heal of the Fujifilm X series. The XT2 has received some massive improvements over the XT1 and even the XPRO2. Based on the images we have already shown, you can probably tell we are not sport or wildlife photographers. Hence we are probably not the best to be testing the new auto focus implementation, but we did notice a few things worth noting,
- Low light focus - the camera had no issues focusing on the broken sole in the bottom of a very very dark tunnel lite only by some very dim artificial lights spaced generously along the ceiling.
- Backlight focus - This is an area all Fujifilm cameras struggle, especially when faced with a washed out, flared scene. The first two images of our review are great examples of such a scenario and the camera did occasionally struggled to lock focus. All round it did perform adequately and we did not miss anything while the light changed with the sinking sun.
- Focus speed - A massive lens (@400mm), a tiny subject (the fan-tail bird which refused to stay still for long) proved to be very challenging for the camera. The rapid changes in direction of the little angry eyebrow'ed bird left us with many images out of focus. But with the incredibly shallow depth of field, I imagine this would be a challenge for most photography systems. And it probably comes down to user error and experience to nail every shot. Unfortunately we did not have time to play with all the focus mode presets before the bird got bored and flew home.
And before you judge too critically, just keep in mind that this is a pre-production camera. I have since been informed that there will be another major firmware release before it hits shelves with minor tweaks and further improvements.
The frame rate of the camera in high speed burst is damn impressive. You get 14FPS with the battery grip on and setting the toggle switch for 'boost', driving this camera like a bat out of hell. Although this is not a feature we would be using on a daily basis, it is nice to know that the camera can keep up when every split second counts. Like, 'the first kiss' at a wedding. Sadly we are working our way through winter at the moment and I had no weddings lined up to really thrash the XT2. And since we could only get the camera for 4 days, it was challenging enough to get enough images together for a review in between the constant down pours and bitting winds.
Another great addition to the camera is the ability to load two batteries into the vertical grip (a total count of three with the one in the camera body). Sadly the batteries still have the same capacity as what was originally released with the XPRO1, of which we have had to build up quite a stock pile to ensure we do not run dry throughout a wedding (which has happened). At least now with one additional battery loaded into the camera, there is a smaller chance you will have to perform that dreaded battery change at a most inconvenient time.
Now that we have made it to the end of the review, I guess you will want to know if you too should add one of these to your kit. We hate over complicating things, so lets make it simple. There has never been a better Fujifilm camera than the XT2, and if you are into sports / action then it is the best camera for you. If you are slower and more methodical, and like the aesthetic of a rangefinder (like us), then the XPRO2 will serve you equally as reliably. The new cameras are miles ahead of the XT1/XPRO1/XE1&2, so we wont even bother making the comparison.
And to finish, floating past below are a couple of behind the scenes images of our time with the Fujifilm XT2.