Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Two: Low light autofocus and high ISO performance

DSCF0526(Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm, Acros film simulation, f/2.2 at 1/200th at ISO 2500)

Note:  This is part two of a five part review series on the soon to be released Fuji X-Pro2:

The day after I received my review copy of the Fuji X-Pro2 I was off to photograph one of Vancouver’s best local bands at a country cabaret.  The combination of low light, changing light, and moving subjects always presents a great challenge to photographers, and I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to test the  autofocus and high ISO performance of this new camera.

It should be noted that Fuji has made significant strides in their autofocus system over the last few years.  For comparison purposes, here is a really bad photo of the 49 contrast detection autofocus points in the original X-Pro1, released 4 years ago:

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.44.30 PM

Now, here is a quick iPhone shot of the autofocus points on the new Fuji X-Pro2:

IMG_6851-2

273 autofocus points in total, with 77 being phase detect.  A huge improvement.  I hesitate to type this because it sounds too Pollyanna, but while I was shooting this gig I did not miss focus once due to the autofocus system… despite the low light of the cabaret.   I was impressed with this, as I had not been so successful with previous cameras.

In regard to the ISO performance…

Fuji cameras have been known for their high ISO performance.  When the new 24.3mp X-Trans CMOS III sensor was announced there were some discussions about the increased megapixel count, and whether it would negatively impact the high ISO performance.   This is subjective of course, but I find the image quality very good, even at ISO 6400.

Enough talk, let’s look at some images.  When I am shooting in a venue like this I will often bring a flash with me, but I purposely didn’t for this gig to test the new X-Pro2.  I decided to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode, and used Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/200th and an ISO ceiling of 6400.   The images were saved as compressed RAW, and were written to both card slots at the same time.  I brought 4 lenses with me:  The 16mm, the 35mm f/1.4, the 56mm, and the 90mm.

Let’s start by taking another look at the image from the top of this post:

DSCF0526(Fuji X-Pro2, 90mm, Acros film simulation, f/2.2 at 1/200th at ISO 2500)

That is the new Acros film simulation.  I love it.  To my eyes ISO 2500 looks very clean too.

Here are some more, with most shot at ISO 6400:

DSCF0447(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, f/2.8 at 1/200th at ISO 6400)

DSCF0543(Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm, f/2.2 at 1/200th at ISO 5000)

DSCF0486(Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm, Acros film simulation, f/2 at 1/140th at ISO 6400)

DSCF0579(Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm, f/2.8 at 1/80th at ISO 6400)

DSCF0641(Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm, f/2.5 at 1/40th at ISO 6400)

DSCF0678(Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm, Acros film simulation, f/2 at 1/200th at ISO 1250)

DSCF0631(Fuji X-Pro2, 56mm, f/2 at 1/110th at ISO 6400)

DSCF0461(Fuji X-Pro2, 35mm, Acros film simulation, f/2.8 at 1/40th at ISO 6400)

I am very pleased with these images, and with the performance of the X-Pro2 in a difficult lighting situation.  I’ve known some of the members of this band for a long time, so I had carte blanche to shoot from anywhere:  The dance floor, behind the stage, above the stage, on the stage, etc.   The camera performed beautifully throughout the night, and I was free to focus on creating images without worrying about the technical side of photography.  It felt great.

For part three of this review series we’ll be changing gears and hitting the streets of Vancouver for some cityscapes, long exposures, and of course some street photography!

Cheers,

Ian

37 thoughts on “Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Two: Low light autofocus and high ISO performance

  1. Jlouis Carli says:

    Hi, thanks a lot for this different steps through your testing !
    Could I ask something more ? The AF tonight, how fast was he ? How confident or snappy did he behave ? In fact, I’m just asking you to develop more about it as I was very waiting for this second part more for this precise topic than High Iso.. If you could take a few minutes I would be very grateful. Yes, i’ll stay behind my computer and smile, more or less.. 🙂
    Take care !

      • Gokhan Cukurova says:

        Photos look great, as a former Xpro 1 owner I feel good about the AF performance but 6400 iso is NOT high ISO in today’s standards. Although I really enjoyed this blog post, I would have loved to see the performance at 50.000 iso and above.
        Then we are talking high ISO.

      • Ian says:

        I’m definitely not your guy for that, I can’t begin to fathom what I’d need ISO 50,000 for!

  2. ibarionex Perello says:

    Excellent job putting the camera through a real-world situation and pulling off such great results. I’ve been thinking of upgrading my x100s to the x100T to get the benefit of connecting my phone to the camera, but despite the increase cost that seems appealing, especially if the AF is as good as its being promoted to be. As much as I love the x100s, the AF can be frustrating.

    • Ian says:

      Good afternoon Ibarionex,

      There is definitely a subtle, but very real jump from the X100s to the X100t. I noticed it immediately. I will say though that I still zone focus often when shooting street photography.

      The X-Pro2 is a generational leap though, and it really has me thinking about what the successor to the X100t will bring us. I think this new sensor in that body would be my dream camera.

      And wifi / smartphone integration? Couldn’t live without it now.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  3. Peter Fauland says:

    As the native ISO range of the X-Trans III sensor goes from 200 to 12.800, it would have been very nice to see also the “new” higher ISO values 🙂 Maybe you find another concert soon and can add a few more shots … ?

  4. Howard Pepper says:

    Good write-up Ian, and the photos are excellent. I can see some noise at ISO 6400, in the shadows, but the photos look extremely good, and the Acros simulation is outstanding. I can hardly wait for my X-Pro2 to arrive!

    • Ian says:

      Thanks Howard. I don’t mind noise at all, as long as it is pleasing if that makes sense. I’m pretty impressed with the new sensor.

      • Andrew says:

        I DO mind noise if there are other cameras out there for close to the same price point that have less noise at the same settings. I am concerned that there is not a huge improvement from the XT-1. I guess a touch of noise reduction could clean it up nice without losing much detail. Skin tones and texture are for sure more pleasing than the XT-1

      • Ian says:

        Hey Andrew!

        It is a totally subjective thing for each of us for sure. For me, I like grain if it is pleasing to the eye… I often add it to black and white photos as a matter of fact.

        The important thing is to find gear that makes you happy, and get out shooting with it. There is so much great stuff out there these days that our choices are virtually endless. What a great problem to have! 🙂

        Cheers,

        Ian

  5. Markus says:

    Thank you very much for showing the X-Pro 2 in a concert environment! The images look real nice (thanks to the camera and photographer), I would have like to see some ISO 12800 shots as well, though.
    Currently undecided between upgrading to a D750 as I have some Nikon 2.8 zooms, or switching to Fuji with X-Pro 2. For everyday use, I would enjoy the Fuji more, but still unsure if it’s the right choice for concerts and events.

    • Ian says:

      Hey Markus!

      If you are already heavily invested in Nikkor lenses that makes it tougher to leave the Nikon ecosystem for sure. Having said that, I left a few years ago and one of the things I found was that I did very well during the sale of my Nikon gear. It held its value well, and because mirrorless tends to be a bit more inexpensive than DSLR gear I was able to purchase a nice Fuji system right away.

      In regard to gear, I’d say this X-Pro2 is easily able to play in the DLSR world. I had zero problems with the concert, and many people are shooting weddings now with Fuji gear alone.

      I’m sure the rental shops will get the X-Pro2 in the next few months. I’d highly recommend renting it with some glass and giving it a try!

      Cheers,

      Ian

      • Markus says:

        Hello Ian,

        Thanks for the reply!
        Yeah, I’m not too worried about the resale value of the Nikon gear. I bought most of it used, and will be able to sell most of it without losing much money. A nice Fuji system is what I’d want then, too. The 2.8 zooms and a nice prime or two.
        Well, I think I’ll just have to wait and see until I can get my hands on the camera :D. Shouldn’t take too long. The local camera store has an event on Feb. 16th where I can try it out.

        All the best,
        Markus

  6. Lukas Gisbert says:

    Fuji known for their beautiful high ISO performance, you must be kidding. I have 2 XT1 which I only use for professional work like weddings and anything over ISO 3200 in bad lighting condition looks horrible. Some of your shot at 6400 don’t look better, I think the new sensor has the same problem as the old one, it can’t handle high ISO like DSLR can.

  7. Zachery says:

    You’ve got some mixed numbers regarding autofocus points. It’s understandable confusion because on some of Fuji’s materials they have a mismatch between the screen they show and the numbers they use. Here’s the deal

    There are two AF point modes, one gives you 7 rows with 11 columns. In this mode, 49 are PDAF points. It’s 77 total points. There is no mode with 77 PDAF points. Then there is another mode with smaller AF points giving you 13 rows with 21 columns for a grand total of 273 AF points, out of which, 169 are PDAF points. Those sets all cover the same space, it’s just finer grain control over the AF area.

    So to sum up, between two modes you either have:

    77 AF points, 49 of which are PDAF

    -or-

    273 AF points, 169 of which are PDAF.

    In either case, it’s ~40% of the area covered by PDAF points.

  8. Michael says:

    What I am curious about and didn’t see anyone addressing it is HSS and flash sync. I know Fuji bumps it up to 250/s which is not earth-shaking but is welcoming news anyway.
    What I would like to know – will HSS work with Nissin i40? How about wirelessly?
    For someone who is coming from Nikon and it amazing CLS is a true limitation on Fuji part.
    Would love to find some answers.
    Thanks!
    Michael

    • Ian says:

      Good afternoon Michael,

      How are you?

      Flash has long been believed (by some) to be a weak spot in Fuji’s lineup. I too came from Nikon, but I shoot all of my lit work in manual mode so even when I was using Nikon I rarely used CLS. All I need is a decent light/modifier and a pocket wizard and I’m good to go.

      It is my understanding that there is a hack to allow you to use HSS in manual mode on the Nissin, but only the new flash coming out soon from Fuji will officially support it.

      Cheers,

      Ian

      • Michael says:

        I am also shooting in manual – I have separate case with 4 Nikon SB-900s and wireless triggers or SU-4 mode. However when I want to shoot wide open with 56mm/f1.2 or 90mm/f2 and add a little kiss of light – I am stuck in a broad daylight. Nikon did not even blink – it would simply switch to HSS if you had it enabled. Fuji is another story. I love Fuji glass and it camera controls but this is huge limitation for me as I like to use off camera flash (or two or three). The only one I am aware of is X100 series but that’s completely different topic.

        Nissin i40 makes speedlights for all sorts of camera protocols. All of them have HSS except Fuji. What some call it ‘hack’ is actually a feature that is built in Nissin speedlight and it just sitting and waiting for Fuji to come onboard and support HSS. I was wondering if you have these both and confirm whether X-Pro2 and Nissin i40 finally can utilize HSS. I am aware that new flash is in the works coming from Fuji but it is much bigger than nissin and from the pictures i saw looks ridiculous on X-Pro2.

        Either way – if you shoot portraits and you are in the ‘above’ 250/s shutter territory and want to shoot wide open with 56mm/f1.2 or 90mm/f2 – what do you do?

        Thanks,

        Michael

  9. Steve says:

    A quick question w regard locking focus in lower light. Other cameras tend to have a EV rating for low light focus lock. I can’t seem to find any info on this for the XP2. For example the sony A7S is measured at -4 EV. Canon 6D centre point is measure at -3 EV. Can you help clear this up for me please?

    • Ian says:

      Good morning Steve!

      I can’t provide technical numbers, but in a dim cabaret while shooting a live gig I had zero problem with autofocus. It was a noticeable difference from previous X series cameras.

      Cheers,

      Ian

  10. ailukewitsch says:

    Great review! Just bumped into your blog.

    Hi iso looks quite promising, have you compare the fuji with other cameras? I am interested in its results vs the A7ii, I have an A7ii, great image quality, but shooting experience is a bit to much like a computer, so the Xpro2 looks like a nice alternative, specially with those colors.

    Worries me a bit is the high iso, i am quite interested in knowing how it stands up to the sony, at high iso. Ex: Same speed and aperture, fuji at iso8400, sony at 6400, which will be about the same settings.

    Thanks!

    • Ian says:

      Good evening,

      Thanks for visiting the site! I haven’t compared the Fuji X series to another brand since my switch from Nikon almost 3 years ago. I have heard great things about the Sony mirrorless cameras, but the truth is 100% of my shooting needs are met with the X series and I see no need to look at other brands. This is the first time that has ever happened to me as a photographer… I was constantly looking over the fence at other brands when I shot Nikons. Now my only thought is what I am going to shoot next with my Fuji X series cameras… I am much more focused on the creative part of photography now and I love it!

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