I have been working with a pre-production model of the new Fuji X-T2 for the last couple of weeks, and I am excited to finally be able to share my initial thoughts on it.
First, a little historical perspective…
The X-T1, originally announced on January 28th, 2014, was a breakthrough camera for Fujifilm. It had more of a DLSR style to the body, it was weather sealed, it had an articulating screen, and its electronic viewfinder was large and beautiful to use. Over the last two and a half years since its release it has also had multiple firmware updates, bringing a host of new features to it.
Since the announcement of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 this past January many people have been eagerly anticipating the successor to the X-T1: A new camera that not only incorporates the technology found in the X-Pro2, but also the many suggestions for improvements made by X-T1 users over the years. Readers of this site know that I love using my X100t and X-Pro2, but after using a pre-production model of the X-T2 for a couple of weeks I have to say that those of you who have been waiting for this camera are going to be very happy.
In this “first look” we will examine the camera’s exterior and ergonomic design, take a look at what’s under the hood, look at some sample images, and we will discuss the new grip briefly. I’d also like to comment on the inevitable “X-Pro2 versus X-T2” debate. Please note that this review is based on a pre-production model that does not have the final firmware installed on it, so some things may change by the time the product is actively shipping.
I think it is also worth saying that I review gear from the perspective of an end user. For example, it is not particularly important to me if a camera’s startup time is 0.001 seconds. What I want to know is if I am holding the camera in my hand turned off and I see something I want to photograph, is it ready to go by the time it is pulled up to my eye. Real world usage. Having said that, my friends at Fuji Vs. Fuij and BigHeadTaco are excellent resources for those who are hardcore into the specifications. I highly recommend you also check out their reviews.
With that said, let’s get started!
Exterior Design and Ergonomics:
You can see from the photo above that the front of the camera looks very familiar to users of the X-T1. The grip is slightly larger, and I think it feels excellent in the hand. The overall size of the body is actually slightly larger, to accommodate a heat sink for the new 4K video capability.
Let’s move around to the side:The new compartment door feels robust. When opened, you can see that the X-T2 now features a 3.5mm microphone input, a USB 3.0 port (which will allow for in body charging), a micro HDMI port, and a 2.5mm remote terminal.
On the back we can see quite a few changes:
First off, the focus lever from the X-Pro2 has come to the X-T2. The focus lever. The joystick. Call it what you want, I love this thing. It makes life so simple for me as a user who is often adjusting my focus point and, after using it for 5 months since I first reviewed the X-Pro2, I find myself reaching for it all the time on cameras that don’t have it. I am happy to see it becoming a trend in the X series.
You will also notice the focus assist button from the X-T1 has been removed (to accomodate space for the focus lever I would imagine). The rear command dial is now a button, which will allow you to zoom in and check focus when in playback mode.
The rear eye cup is larger. Your eye seals easily against it, allowing you to view the electronic viewfinder with more ease.
A common concern heard with the original X-T1 was that the D pad buttons were too shallow and “mushy”. I find the buttons on the X-T2 a little more prominent, and I had no problems using them in day to day usage.
The read LCD screen (3.0″ in size, and 1040K) still articulates as before:
But it also has a new feature that provides for 3 way articulation, allowing for use when the camera is held in portrait orientation:
Another common comment heard from users of the X-T1 was that it was sometimes difficult to turn the ISO dial without accidentally adjusting the drive mode, or to turn the shutter speed dial without accidentally changing the photometry mode.
There have been two slight, but ergonomically significant, changes to the ISO and shutter speed dials and to the drive mode and photometry dials:
The ISO and shutter speed dials are now taller, allowing for better grip to adjust them without accidently bumping the lower dials. Truth be told I didn’t notice this until it was pointed out to me, but looking back I also didn’t accidentally bump the drive mode or photometry to something I didn’t want, which seems to speak to the effectiveness of this change. This is an example of the small, but effective, changes you will find from the X-T1 to the X-T2.
The drive mode and photometry dials are now stiffer, again to prevent accidentally bumping them out of the desired mode.
Finally for our quick look at the back, you will also notice a 4th photometry mode has been added to the X-T2: Centre weighted metering. This was introduced on the X-Pro2, and is now found here on the X-T2.
Even more importantly: DUAL CARD SLOTS! This has been a much requested feature, was originally brought to the Fuifilm X series in the X-Pro2, and now can also be found in the new X-T2. For professionals who shoot once in a lifetime moments (i.e. weddings, sports, concerts, etc) this is a welcome addition that many felt was lacking in the previous generation of this camera. You now have the option of capturing duplicate copies of all images, capturing RAW on one card and jpeg on the other, or setting it to overflow so you don’t have to change cards. UHS-II is supported in both card slots.
Finally, let’s take a look at the top of the camera:
From a practical usage perspective the biggest change here from the X-T1 is the centre locking pins on the ISO and shutter speed dials. These work differently from those found on the original X-T1. Pushing them now unlocks the dial to allow for a setting change, and pushing them again locks the dial to prevent accidently bumping the dial and changing a setting. Simple and effective. I find that these new locking pins, plus the enhanced height of the dials, makes them very easy to use.
Also of note, the ISO dial now goes up to 12,800, and the shutter speed dial now goes to 1/8000th. This is consistent with the new technology found in the X-Pro2.
You can see that the flash sync speed is now 1/250th.
There is no longer a video button on the top of the camera like there was on the X-T1. Enabling video mode is now done via the drive dial.
We can see that the new exposure compensation dial found on the X-Pro2, which allows for up to 5 stops +/- EV, has come to the X-T2.
And finally for the top, there is now a threaded shutter release button. I love this, but I’m a geek for things like soft shutter releases and threaded shutter cables.
Inside the camera:
As one would expect, the Fujifilm X-T2 features the new 24.3MP X-Trans III sensor with the X-Processor Pro technology that Fujfilm announced back in January. This means the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 now share the same sensor and processor.
Lossless Compressed RAW is now available. I have not had a chance to work with the RAW files yet from my pre-production model of the X-T2, but this is all I shoot on my X-Pro2 when I am shooting RAW and I am glad to see it here in the X-T2.
The new 2.36M-Dot EVF (electronic viewfinder) can refresh up to 100fps when the camera is in high performance (boost) mode (60 fps when in normal mode). It is also two times brighter than the X-T1’s viewfinder. It feels seamless, and is definitely the best EVF I have looked through. When you recall the early days of electronic viewfinders, that often felt like you were looking through a little TV at your subject, you realize just how far this technology has come.
The autofocus system has improved yet again with the addition of more phase detection pixels. The X-Trans II sensor had approximately 40% horizontal and 40% vertical phase detection coverage. The new X-Trans III sensor has 50% horizontal and 75% vertical phase detection coverage. Additionally, the new sensor in the X-T2 has up to 325 autofocus points. Other improvements to the autofocus system include a much shortened “black out” time when shooting in CL and CH, which means the camera has more opportunities to acquire focus when tracking and shooting in burst mode. It also switches much faster between the phase detect and contrast detect autofocus points, reducing the “wobble” that was occasionally noticed during tracking. There are many other customizable features in the new autofocus system found on the X-T2, but I have not worked with them enough yet to review them fully.
The VPB-XT2 Battery Grip:
I am not a battery grip user myself, but the battery grip for the X-T2 is definitely a worthwhile investment for those who may benefit from it as it provides the following:
- Three batteries on board the camera. With an average of 350 shots per battery this could provide for a full day’s worth of shooting for most people (over 1,000 shots when fully loaded).
- A shutter release button, a focus lever, AE-L and AE-F buttons, command dials, a Q button and a function button all easily accessible when shooting in portrait orientation.
- Increased speed of shooting: The continuous high mode on the X-T2 is 8fps, but this increases to 11fps with the battery grip attached.
- For those excited about the new 4K video capabilities of the new Fui X-T2, the battery grip greatly extends your shooting time from 10 minutes per clip without the grip to to 30 minutes per clip with it.
Here are some images I shot over the last couple of weeks. I had 4 opportunities to head out with the X-T2, shooting at a local marina, during a hike, and to shoot some street photography. As the camera I was using was a pre-production model, without the final firmware installed, I am only going to show lower resolution jpeg images:
X-Pro2 Versus the X-T2:
A question that is bound to come up from some people will be:
“Which is better, the X-Pro2 or the X-T2?”
Neither is better. They are different.
Fujifilm has rapidly grown their product line in the last five years, and by doing so have given us choice. In 2016 two new and amazing camera bodies (the X-Pro2 and the X-T2) have joined the X series, both of which contain the latest and greatest in Fujifilm’s mirrorless technology. “Which is better” is not the right question to ask in my opinion… the question to be asking is “which is better for me?”
- Do you prefer a rangefinder styled body, with a beautiful hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder? Then the X-Pro2 is for you.
- Do you prefer more of a DSLR styled body, with an articulating screen and 4K video? Then the X-T2 is more for you.
Both camera bodies are weather resistant, share the same internals (i.e. sensor and image processor), share the new focus lever, have dual card slots, etc. Fujifilm has provided us with choice, and as I have said before that is an awesome thing.
This was probably the easiest “first impression” review that I have written. This is largely due to the following two things:
- Fujifilm listened to their end users and delivered on many of the improvements that had been requested by users since the X-T1 was released: An improved grip. Improved shutter speed and ISO dials (including the locking pins). Movie mode enhanced to 4K and moved to the drive dial. Better D pad buttons. An articulating screen that can be used in portrait orientation. A 3.5mm microphone input. The list goes on, and the way Fujifilm listens to their end users is one of the primary reasons their users are often so brand loyal.
- Additionally, Fujifilm brought all of the new technology that we saw in the X-Pro2 to the X-T2: The new 24.3MP X-Trans III sensor with the X-Processor Pro. An enhanced autofocus system. The new focus lever. The enhanced EVF. Dual card slots. 1/8000th mechanical shutter. Native ISO of 200 – 12,800. Etc.
Anyone who reads this site knows that the X100 series are my all time favourite cameras, and that the X-Pro2 stole my heart in January. I am incredibly happy with my gear pack with those two cameras, but I can say with little hesitation that I think the X-T2 will be Fujifilm’s best selling camera to date. It is a camera purpose built for professional use, and I look forward to working with a production model in the near future and putting the X-T2 through more rigorous testing.