Coming Home – The new Fujifilm X100f

Fuji X100f Review

On October 27th I received a message from my friends at Fujifilm Canada, asking me if I would like to be one of fifty Official Fuji X Photographers worldwide that would participate in project Aquarius… the successor to the Fuji X100T.

Hell.  Yes.

I have said many times before that the X100 series was a catalyst of change in my life, and I was excited (and humbled) to be included in the amazing group of artists who would be the first to work with the new X100F.  Even though I was fortunate to be involved with both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 launches, the successor to the X100T is the camera that I have been waiting for.

On November 16th we had a conference call to discuss the project and shortly thereafter a plain white box arrived on my doorstep via courier.  Seconds later I was holding one of the first X100F cameras ever to be released into the world.   It was time to get started.

Since that day I have spent a lot of time with the X100F:  shooting on the street, working on several documentary projects, and of course using it on my travels.  As of this writing, I have put over 3,000 frames through this camera, and I am excited to finally have the opportunity to share some thoughts on it outside of the Aquarius team.  It feels a little like Christmas, just a month late and with the one present I really wanted under the tree.

Make yourself comfortable, as this is going to be a long post.  Get a beverage.  And food.  Maybe take a nap first too.  We’re going to talk about expectations leading up to the launch of this camera, see which of those came to fruition (and which didn’t), take a look at the camera’s new features and ergonomics, look at a lot of sample photos, and discuss some final thoughts.  To give a more balanced description of the Fuji X100F, I’m also going to share links to reviews by some of the other Official Fuji X Photographers on the Aquarius team.  The truth is that over the last few months a lot of people have put in time with pre-production models of these cameras.  We’ve gone through several firmware updates as we provided feedback and it is so exciting to finally see the X100F officially launched.

Let’s get started…

X100f Review

Expectations and Realities 

A year ago I wrote a blog post entitled:

“What’s next for the Fuji X100t?”

That post has been viewed over 28,000 times.  Clearly people have been excited for this new camera.  In that post I hoped that the successor to the X100T would include:

  1. The new X-Trans CMOS III Sensor found in the X-Pro2 and X-T2
  2. The Focus Lever (the joystick) found on the X-Pro2 and X-T2
  3. Dual card slots
  4. Additional film simulations (specifically Acros)
  5. Weather resistance
  6. Improved autofocus
  7. Faster minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO
  8. Improved exposure bracketing options
  9. More options for saving custom settings
  10. Enhanced battery life

For the record, I was not expecting to see:

  1. An articulating LCD screen.  I know this is something that a lot of people would like to see in this camera, but it isn’t something I usually use.  On a less personal note though, I think Fuji has a clear pattern of design with their products.  There have been 8 cameras in the Fuji X series with a rangefinder styled design (X-E1, XE2, X-E2s, X-Pro1, X-Pro2, X100, X100S, X100T), and none of them have had articulating screens.  If this is something that you desire the X-T2 /  X-T20 line definitely has what you are looking for.
  2. In body image stabilization (IBIS).   I have never seen or heard anything from Fuji regarding this, but it occasionally comes up online.  The focal length of this camera’s lens, combined with its leaf shutter, make it incredibly easy to handhold the camera at slow shutter speeds already.

So, what was the reality?  How does my preproduction X100F compare to this list?  I’m happy to say that 8 of the 10 items on my wish list are present in the new Fuji X100F, but that is not all.  The new Fuji X100F also now has (in no particular order):

  1. An option to assign AF-L to the rear command wheel.  This button is perfectly positioned for this use (and for my hands), and it feels great on the X100F.  Fuji, PLEASE bring this to the X-Pro2!
  2. The addition of a front command dial, and the ability to configure the camera to control ISO from this dial instead of using the integrated ISO dial on the top of the camera.  More on this later.
  3. A digital tele-converter.  The new X100F has the same digital tele-conversion technology found in the X70, allowing for 35mm (the native FOV), but also upscaled 50mm and 70mm options.  This is a nice feature to have, but there is definitely slight image degradation when it is used.
  4. A new standard ISO ceiling of 12,800, up from 6,400 in the X100T.  There also appears to be visible improvements in the high ISO noise reduction algorithms.
  5. +/- 5 stops of Exposure Compensation like the X-Pro2 and X-T2, as compared to the 3 stop adjustments in the X100T.
  6. The addition of center weighted metering in the Photometry options.
  7. The option to save files as Lossless RAW.
  8. A new grain simulation option for those who like to set up their jpegs.
  9. An enhanced burst mode, with a max of 8 frames per second as compared to 6 frames per second in the X100T.
  10. A greatly expanded array of auto focus points, now up to 325.  AF speed is also more responsive, and there are now additional AF modes (Single, Zone, Wide).
  11. There is a new control ring.
  12. Pixel mapping.

As you can see there is a lot going on under the hood of the new X100F.  What wasn’t included from my original list?  Two things:

Dual Card Slots:

This one is just kind of a “shrug” thing for me, as I knew space limitations would make it difficult.  I have never had an SD card fail, but I can say for important jobs I have come to enjoy the peace of mind that the dual card slots in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 offer.  When I asked about this I was told that the move to the WP-126 battery already took up a lot of additional space, and it would have been difficult to improve battery life AND add dual card slots.

Fair enough.

Weather Resistance:

I’ll be honest, I really wanted this.  Since the beginning the X100 series has been the perfect “always with me, documentary style” camera, and weather resistance would only add to that.  The truth is that I shoot a lot in inclement weather.  Hell, I live in the Pacific Northwest, rain is what we do.  I don’t baby my gear, have never had a problem, but the peace of mind that weather resistance brings is always a good thing.

I spoke to people who were at Photokina and discussed this with some of the Fujifilm staff, and apparently the lack of weather resistance came down to the lens design and the amount of bulk it would have added.

Again, fair enough.  I’m a photographer, not an engineer, so I’ll trust in their better judgment.

This is probably as good a spot as anywhere to say that there will never be a perfect camera.  Having said that, Fuji really ticked the boxes on this one (other than the weather resistance) and for me the X100F is pretty damn close.  Let’s jump in and take a closer look…

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Inspired by the Fujifilm X-Pro2?

I know the logical thing to do in this section would be to compare the X100F with its predecessor, the X100T.  I think a much better comparison however, which you will see in the images below, is with the flagship X-Pro2 model.

I should start this section by saying that for me a camera is not just about the images it creates.  The ergonomics, the act of using it, how the camera feels in my hand… this all means a lot to me.  For a long time I was a professional musician, and I felt the same way when I played certain guitars.  Yes, I can play the same song on a Fender Stratocaster that I can play on a Gibson Les Paul but the feel is totally different.  Cameras, like guitars, are just tools of the trade but I know I am better at my craft when my tools inspire me.

When I first held the X-Pro2 it fit into my hands perfectly.  More importantly, the ergonomics of it instantly felt natural and logical to me (except the position of the AF-L button).  With each new model over the years, Fuji has refined the design of its cameras and one can only assume the goal has been to eventually standardize a consistent physical design that spans across each product line.  This really hit home for me when I first held the X100F, which definitely takes its design inspiration from the Fuji X-Pro2.

Here is the front of the camera:

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We can see that there are minimal aesthetic changes from the X100T to the X100F, really just the removal of a model badge.  Functionally, however, we see the addition of a new function button in the viewfinder selector, and also a front command dial for the first time in the X100 series.

This front command dial brings with it a feature that many have asked for since the launch of the X-Pro2:  the ability to adjust ISO without fiddling with the top dial.  The front command dial can also control the Exposure Compensation to +/- 5 stops.  What is really cool is that if you have the camera configured to utilize the front command wheel it can actually adjust both ISO AND Exposure Compensation…. you simply click it to switch between the two.  This is an excellent addition to the X100F, and should make a lot of people happy that weren’t huge fans of the integrated ISO dial on the X-Pro2.

For comparison’s sake, here is the front of the X-Pro2, where you will see a lot of similarities:

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Here is the top of the new X100F:

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On the top we can see the X-Pro2 inspired integrated ISO dial, and also the Exposure Compensation dial with the increased ability to go to +/- 5 stops of EV.   Now, let’s compare this to the top of the X-Pro2:

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That’s pretty damn close.

And, here is the back:

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A lot of similarity to the X-Pro2 in regard to design and layout.  All buttons have been moved to the right side (which I love), and the focus lever (joystick) has been added.  This is very similar to the back of the Fuji X-Pro2:

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This consistency between the Fuji X-Pro2 and the new Fuji X100F is a great design choice in my opinion.  For me, as someone who uses multiple cameras on assignment, it is now effortless to switch between my two main cameras.  I have been able to set up my X-Pro2s and my X100F virtually identically, and I don’t have to think about the act of using whichever camera is in my hand… my fingers just land where they need to be.

Sample Images

It is time to nerd out on sample images.  Before we do, please consider the following:

  1. My copy of the camera is a pre-production model.  As always with pre-production testing, some of the initial firmware was buggy.   I was happy, however,  to see frequent and rapid firmware updates as we worked with our samples.  This sometimes changed the shooting experience as testing progressed.
  2. We usually cannot edit RAW images from preproduction cameras as none of the software we traditionally use (i.e. Lightroom) has been updated to read images from the new camera yet.  Yes, I could have used the in camera RAW converter, but every photo you see here was shot in jpeg.  This experience really reminded me of just how good Fuji’s jpegs are straight out of camera.
  3. I told myself I didn’t want this review to get too long (though I think that ship may have sailed), so I kept the number of sample images here down to 20.  Below each image I have included the capture data.
  4. I purposely included a diverse mix of street photography, cityscapes, long exposures, interior architecture, and snowy landscapes.  This is an incredibly capable little camera, and I hope these images show what can be produced with very little post production.  These are all in camera jpegs, with very slightly Lightroom adjustments where required (i.e. sharpening, slight exposure adjustments, etc).

Here are the images:

dscf2321(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/5000th, ISO 1250)

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(Velvia, f/8, 6 seconds, ISO 200)

dscf2252(Acros, f/5.6, 1/640th, ISO 200)

dscf0125(Monochrome, f/4.5, 30 seconds, ISO 200, Wide Angle Adapter)

dscf0860(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/1600th, ISO 200)

dscf0183(Monochrome, f/16, 27 seconds, ISO 200, Wide Angle Adapter)

dscf1542(Acros, f/2.8, 1/320th, ISO 1000)

dscf0052(Velvia, f/16, 6 seconds, ISO 200, Wide Angle Adapter)

dscf0702(Classic Chrome, f/11, 1/600th, ISO 200)

dscf0712(Acros, f/16, 1/1000th, ISO 400, AF-C)

dscf2532(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/950th, ISO 200)

dscf0257(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/90th, ISO 200)

dscf1010(Acros, f/5.6, 1/350th, ISO 200)

dscf0132(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/640th, ISO 200)

dscf0602(Classic Chrome, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 800)

dscf1843(Classic Chrome, f/4, 1/500th, ISO 500)

dscf0825(Velvia, f/8, 1/280th, ISO 200)

dscf1947(Classic Chrome, f/5.6, 1/500th, ISO 800)

dscf0013(Provia, f/4, 1/60th, ISO 250, Wide Angle Adapter)

dscf0839(Acros, f/5.6, 1/250th, ISO 640)

In Summary

I entitled this review “Coming Home” because I had moved away from using the X100T for much of 2016, a move away from the camera line that changed everything for me.  The X-Pro2 had become my workhorse, and I also spent time with the X-T2.  These new cameras perform beautifully, but I will admit I often looked at my X100T and looked forward to the day that Fuji’s latest technology was in the X100 series.  Having used the X100F for a few months now I can say with absolute certainty that it will be my main camera again, and the others will come out for jobs that require different focal lengths.  It just feels right to be shooting with this camera.  It feels like coming home.

A question that always comes up with these reviews is:

“Should I upgrade from the previous generation?”

If you love working with the X100 series, and can afford it, I would say absolutely yes.  This is not a knock on the X100T at all, which was a beautiful camera, but is an indicator of just how far this series has come.  Where the X100S to X100T was a smaller evolution in the series, the X100T to the X100F is much, much larger.  As a reminder, the X100F brings you:

  1. The same 24.3mp X-Trans CMOS III Sensor found in the X-Pro2 and X-T2.
  2. Improved autofocus, both in speed and in the number of AF points (325).
  3. The Focus Lever (the “joystick”).
  4. The larger WP126 battery pack, which also aligns with other X series cameras you may have.
  5. The addition of the Acros film simulation.
  6. Faster minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO (max of 1/500th now).
  7. Improved exposure bracketing options (+/- 2 stops).
  8.  Improved Exposure Compensation (+/- 5 stops).
  9. The ability to assign AF-L to the rear command dial (perfectly placed, in my opinion).
  10. The addition of a front command dial, as well as an additional function button on the front of the camera.
  11. The ability to assign ISO and/or Exposure Compensation to the front command dial.
  12. A digital tele-converter.  Good in a pinch, but does degrade image quality a little.
  13. The addition of center weighted metering to the Photometry options.
  14. The option to save files as Lossless RAW.
  15. A new grain simulation for those who like to configure their jpegs.
  16. Pixel mapping.

That is a whole lot of goodness right there, with weather resistance being the only thing missing that I would have loved to have seen in this camera.   I understand the reasons behind its absence, but it definitely would have been a nice “peace of mind” feature.   The bottom line though is this:  The Fuji X100F is an outstanding camera; as a matter of fact, my favourite Fuji X camera to date!

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A year ago, when I summarized my 5 part review series on the Fuji X-Pro2, I said that the X-Pro2 represented the maturation of the X series.  The X100F only confirms this:  it feels solid, fits well in the hand, is incredibly responsive, and is a pleasure to use.  In my opinion, the Fuji X series now has 3 flagship cameras:

  1. The Fujifilm X-Pro2
  2. The Fujifilm X-T2
  3. The Fujifilm X100F

Don’t just take my word for it though.  The Fuji community is a wonderful group of people and I would definitely take the time to read reviews from some of the other Official Fuji X Photographers that have been working with the X100F since November.

Specifically:

Patrick Laroque:  www.laroquephoto.com//blog/2017/1/10/x100f-dawning-of-the-age

Jonas Rask:  http://jonasraskphotography.com/2017/01/14/the-fujifilm-x100f-review-fantastic-fourth

Kevin Mullins:  http://f16.click/gear/fujifilm-x100f-review.html

Please consider this review as part one in a new series on the Fuji X100F, as I have several more blog posts coming soon that will focus on this new camera.  Between those posts I will also be sharing X100F content on my Instagram account, so be sure to follow me there too:

https://www.instagram.com/ianmacdonaldphotography/

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the X100F in the comments below, and if you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading!

Best wishes,

Ian

First impressions of the new Fuji X-T2

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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:

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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:USBSide-2The 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:

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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:

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But it also has a new feature that provides for 3 way articulation, allowing for use when the camera is held in portrait orientation:

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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:

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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.

Moving around to the other side, we see this:CardSlots-1First off, the memory card slot door is much more robust than the one on the X-T1 was, and it auto-locks when you close it.

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:

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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.

Sample Images:

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:

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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?”

My answer:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

Cheers,

Ian

Fuji X-Pro2 Review Part Five: A Month With the X-Pro2

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

The Fuji X-Pro2 is now shipping and I am loving the posts from people on social media who are receiving their new cameras and sharing their views and photos.  The anticipation leading up to the January X-Pro2 announcement was significant and having had the pleasure of using one for a month before its launch, I can say that it lives up to expectations in almost every way.

In this post I’ll summarize what I love about this new camera,  a few things some people may perceive to be downsides, and a few thoughts on the current and future direction of the X series cameras.

The Bottom Line, right up front…

I have written before about how the X100 series changed everything about my photography.  It brings me joy and makes me want to go out and take photos in ways that my Nikon cameras never did.  I gigged for years as a professional musician and found the same thing… certain guitars spoke to me and inspired me to play and write more than others.

The X100t is my go to camera, but my work often necessitates different focal lengths so I also use an X-T1 with the usual assortment of lenses.   The X-T1 is a great camera, which I have written about elsewhere on this site.  It is a camera that has benefited from multiple firmware updates, getting better and better with age.  I also reviewed the X-T10 last summer and thought it too was a  great camera…one that I have recommended to many, many people over the last year.  With these cameras I have shot weddings, portrait sessions, travel, landscapes, cityscapes, street photography, live gigs and personal work.  They have performed well and I trust them 100% to deliver.  Having said that, for me they have never had that special “something” that my X100t does.

In this review series I’ve talked a little about the technical aspects of the X-Pro2 , but the reason I am going to be upgrading my X-T1 to the X-Pro2 is not because of technical specifications.  It is because the camera inspires me.  There is something about rangefinder-esque camera bodies that I prefer and there is something about the way the X-Pro2 feels in my hand that I love.  It inspires me like my X100t does and that means so much more to me than talking about the technical specifications of the camera.

here’s What I love…

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The thought that keeps coming to my mind when I think about the X-Pro2 is that it represents a maturation of the X series.  Many of us spend so much time with these cameras that it is easy to forget that 5 years ago they didn’t exist.   The original X-Pro1 was announced in January 2012….only 4 years ago.   Over that time Fuji have made huge strides forward, have had a few stumbles, have listened to their end users and have continually upgraded their product line through firmware releases and new hardware releases.   When you step back and look at the current Fuji line up the growth in such a short period of time is remarkable, and the X-Pro2 represents another milestone for the X series.

So what do I love about the Fuji X-Pro2 the most?

The Ergonomics and Build Quality:

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When I first held the X-Pro2 in my hands it felt so much different than my X-T1.  It has a different shape.  It is a little bit bigger.  It is a little bit heavier.   I wasn’t an X-Pro1 user, so the fact that it felt so amazing in my hands came as a surprise to me.

Ergonomically, I love the layout of all the buttons along the right side and the layout of the dials…especially the new ISO dial:

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From a nostalgic point of view,  I love that the threaded shutter is back too.

The Joystick:

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This is one of those “why didn’t they do this before?” things.  It seems so simple, but it is one of those “day to day use” game changers.  It sits right where my thumb rests.  Holding it down rapidly moves the focus point.  Double tapping it returns the focus point to centre.  So simple, so fast.  It also frees up the other function buttons for other tasks, providing you with more options for customizing your camera.

Fuji’s new 24.3mp sensor, the X-Trans CMOS III:

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When the new 24.3mp sensor was announced, people instantly started talking about what the image quality would be like.  There is always a risk when you pack more pixels onto the same sized chip that  the high ISO performance could take a hit.

In my experience this did not happen.  In fact, I actually think it has improved.  The new sensor resolves beautifully;  I am quite comfortable shooting ISO 3200 to 6400 (I personally have no need to go higher) and I have more options for printing large or cropping.

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The X-Pro2 is also very responsive.  There is no detectable shutter lag and the write speed is very good.

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Dual Card Slots:

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Peace.  Of.  Mind.  That’s about it.

I have never had a memory card fail on me, but when I am shooting gigs like weddings I have always preferred having dual card slots and the peace of mind that I have multiple copies of images that capture once in a lifetime moments.  This is another example of how the X line up is becoming a serious contender in the professional photography world.

Acros Film Simulation:

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Confession time:

I have never shot film.  I entered the photography community in 2004, as digital started taking hold (I believe my first digital camera was a 3mp Fuji if I recall correctly).

With that said, I cannot comment on Acros other than to say it is a beautiful addition to Fuji’s film simulations.  Much like Classic Chrome changed colour photography for many Fuji shooters, Acros has done the same for black and white.  Fuji has written that Acros is only possible on the new sensor and it makes me a little sad that I won’t see it brought to my beloved X100t.

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are there any downsides to the X-Pro2?

There are 3 things that have come up in conversations with other people reviewing the X-Pro2:

Viewfinder Size and Eye Relief:

Let’s put it right on the table, the viewfinder in the X-T1 is gorgeous.  It’s huge and it’s bright.  When you look through it you feel like the image is right there.

On the X-Pro2 the viewfinder feels slightly smaller, and it feels set back a little bit.  It is gorgeous, the refresh rate is fast and of course it has the beautiful optical viewfinder too.  It definitely has a different feel to it than the X-T1 though.  Not worse, just different.

No Articulating Screen:

This one isn’t a “thing” for me, but some people have really come to love this feature.  If it is a deal breaker for you I’d say the X-T2, whenever it arrives, will be the camera for you.

The Position of the AF-L Button:

My friend Take, from Bigheadtaco, just wrote about this on Fujilove and I have to agree with him that the position is not optimal.  I back button focus often with my X100t, but I still haven’t gotten used to the placement of this button on the X-Pro2.

Final Thoughts:

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The most common question I have been asked over the last month is this:

“Should I get the X-Pro2, or wait for the not yet announced or released X-T2?”

I struggle with this question, because it implies that one model will be better than the other and I don’t think this will prove to be the case at all.

It is a safe bet that the new sensor, the Acros film simulation, possibly the joystick, possibly the dual card slots, etc will come to the X-T2 when it is released.  I think at that point it will simply be a matter of personal choice and ergonomic preference.   Do you want a rangefinder like experience?  Go with the X-Pro2.  Do you want a DSLR like experience with an articulating screen?  Go with the X-T2 when it arrives.

Bottom line:  Go with whatever gear inspires you to get out there and shoot.

This is exactly the maturation of the X series lineup that I mentioned earlier in this review.  As Fuji releases one high quality product after another, what we are really getting is choice and that is an awesome thing.

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For me, my bag will now hold the X-Pro2 and the X100t.  I have two camera bodies that inspire me and that is really what it is all about.  This year I have trips booked to Amsterdam, Seattle, and New York so far, and the X-Pro2 will be getting a lot of use.

One final note:  February was a crazy busy month on this site, with 65,000 views and hundreds of comments and emails.  I’d like to thank all of you for visiting the site, for your insightful comments and for your kind thoughts on my work.

Cheers,

Ian