Note: I wrote this sometime ago (no snow) and just finished editing it and posting it now. I apologize to everyone for the very long delay in getting this online. Some how life, work and family have taken over all of my free time. I am however trying to spend a bit more time on the blog now so hopefully post will be a bit more timely.
I recently got to spend a few weeks shooting with a Fujifilm X-Pro2. Released in early 2016 the X-Pro2 was the first to use the new 24mp X-trans sensor. This is something a lot of people including myself had been waiting for. Many X-T1 shooter like me though were wondering if the form factor of the X-Pro2 would be right for them. We all knew an X-T2 was coming but didn’t know how long that wait would be. I’ve been a life long SLR and then X-T1 shooter but I’ve use the Fujifilm X100T and a Leica M9 at times so I knew what i was getting into here. So let’s take a look at the X-Pro2 and see what it has to offer.
Autofocus and Image Quality
I’ll start by saying that the auto focus is really fast. About 40% of the frame is covered by phase-detect AF points and even when you get out side of those you shouldn’t have any real problem. Even with the slower focusing 35mm F1.4 I never found that I was missing shots due to Autofocus performance. You can choose to display a grid of 77 or 273 AF points to pick from in single AF mode. I just left it at 77 as I found I never needed more precise control than that for my style of shooting.
One rather major edition to the X-Pro 2 over any previous Fujifilm camera is the new Focus Lever. It lets you use a small joy stick to move around and select your focus point. Not only did I find this much quicker than the old function button, but it’s one less button press and you get that assignable button back for something else. After shooting with the X-Pro 2 for three weeks and then going back to my X-T1 it’s a feature I’m really missing.
Among the many reasons people might want to upgrade to this camera from other Fujifilm bodies the big one is image quality. With this camera Fuji has finally made the jump to a new sensor and bumped the resolution to 24MP. That might not sound like a huge difference to some but it is almost 20% increase over 16MP. I could immediately see the difference compared to my X-T1 in fine detail. This increase will be most welcome to those who like to make large prints or those who tend to crop more often. I don’t make many large prints at the moment but having the extra quality available for those times that I do will be nice.
Many people including myself were hoping for improved high ISO performance with this new generation sensor. Sadly Fuji could not work magic, but it’s not all bad news either. We all know that an increase in resolution might have indeed made the ISO performance worse. Thankfully though I see no more noise at any given ISO than I do on the X-T1. So really it’s just more detail with the same noise as before. Another way of looking at it is I get to use one higher stop of ISO if I really need it.
From the moment you pick up the X-Pro 2 you will notice the solid build quality. Built with a magnesium alloy body the camera is strong but reasonably light. There is also weather sealing of course for those of you who like to go out and shoot in all kinds of weather. I went out and shoot a bit in some moderate rain with the 90m F2 and both the lens and camera held up wonderfully. This however is not something I personally do on a regular basis. All of the dials and knobs had a good solid feel to them as well. I feel like you could take this camera out into pretty much any situation and the build quality is not going to be an issue or slow you down in any way. An odd thing to note but the door for the flashcard slot is finally more solidly built and didn’t open once by mistake on me.
Handling and Viewfinder
The handling of this camera is going to be divisive. You’re ever going to love it or hate or learn to love it maybe. This is a rangefinder style camera with an optical hybrid viewfinder. It’s pretty similar to the X100T with the ability to have the viewfinder in optical or electronic or hybrid modes. To me the appeal of this camera is the optical viewfinder and that’s what I used the majority of the time I spent with the camera. Your preference is going to depend on what lenses you like use most and the type of subject matter you shoot. Optical viewfinders often are preferred for street photography because you can see around the edges of the frame a bit. This lets you see when things are going to enter the frame so you can’t get the right timing for your shot.
The frame lines and other information are projected into the optical viewfinder. What information is displayed is customizable and the bright frame lines are corrected for parallax in realtime as you focus. If you prefer the EVF it’s quite good as well. The EVF is 2.3 megapixels which is the same as the X-T1 but the magnification is less. That means appears to be smaller when looking at it. If I wasn’t used to the X-T1 I would not be disappoint by it. I mostly used this mode when shooting with a long lens like the 90mm F2. Otherwise in optical mode you only get tiny frame lines in the middle of the viewfinder. Another oddity of the optical viewfinder is that you can often see the lens cutting into the frame. This really bugged me for some reason.
I mostly didn’t use the hybrid mode but it’s just like the X100T where you see a small EVF in the bottom right corner of your OVF. This would be good for those who want to use manual focus but that’s not something I often do.
A final thing about the viewfinder. The diopter for it drove me a little crazy. I found it far too easy to knock so often I would look through the viewfinder and wonder why everything was out of focus.
There was much talk of the retro style ISO dial. It is a combination ISO and shutter speed dial really. You lift and turn to change the ISO which you see thought a window. You simple turn the dial to change you shutter speed. It’s neat and looks pretty so I can see why people like it. I’m so often in one of the Auto ISO modes that I didn’t end up changing it much.
There are now two SD card slots which I really appreciate. There are a few options of how you want files to save to the card. It’s super buried in a menu but it’s there. Finally I can save Jpegs to a separate card from my RAWs.
The screen on the Fujifilm X-pro 2 has a fairly standard 1.62 megapixel 3 inch screen. This a bit more resolution than the X-T1 which is nice of course. The main thing to know here is there is no tilt on the screen at all. Although I don’t need a tilt screen of course I’ve gotten so used to it now that going to another camera without is hard. I guess the theory is that most people are buying this camera for the optical viewfinder and will not be using live view. I guess this is true but it seems like an odd omission.
The menus on the X-Pro 2 are a newer style and nicely organized. This camera is very customizable which is kind of a requirement for a pro level camera. The only problem is that this means there are many nested menus with a ton of different options, the meaning of which is not always clear.
There are almost too many options. I know it’s a pro camera so you need to give users lot of choice. I had to dig though the manual a number of times to find out where a setting I wanted was located in the menus. I know this is kind of a universal problem with pro level digital cameras at this point but some clarity in name menu items would be nice.
Being able to customize the quick menu is really nice on the other hand and I found myself using it more often. There is also a custom MyMenu option where you can save menu items you most often use.
There are no two ways about it, this is a pro camera body through and though. Now that Fujifilm has their sensors up to 24mp and a reasonably large lens catalog built up I don’t see a lot of reasons not to do pro level work with this camera. Sure there will still be people who need a Dslr for some reason or another and that’s fine of course. For the vast majority of people though a mirrorless system will be the way to go. At a price of about $1850 Canadian (at the time of writing) I could complain about the price since this is not a full frame camera. I do think Fuji offers a lot here though in terms of unique features though to justify the price for the most part. Wether the features are worth it to you as a professional or advanced amateur is only something you can really decide for yourself of course.
I enjoyed my time working with this camera and I can see the appeal of a range finder system. Despite how good the viewfinder on the X-T1 is I still my the optical viewfinder of my dslr system from time to time. Maybe it would just take me more time to get use to it all but somehow using the ranger finder just didn’t feel right for me. It’s a very personal choice I think, like many things in photography For me having the image quality of the X-Pro 2 with a actuated screen and a viewfinder I enjoy seems like something I’ll enjoy. I hope this is true because I’ve now purchased an XT-2