Jul 7, 2016

The Fujifilm X-T2

Back a couple of years ago a box from Fujifilm Canada showed up at my door.  Inside was this little camera called the X-T1.  I remember sitting in my living room, opening the box, holding it in my hands and thought “oh boy, this is far too small for me”.  I added the battery grip and I started to feel a little better about the camera's size.  Then I lifted the camera to my eye and peered through the electronic viewfinder (EVF).  Wow!  I was floored by how large and clear it was!  This was my first experience with the Fujifilm X-T1 and I remember like it was yesterday.  It was a tipping point as far as my gear was concerned. 

At that time I had been working with a pair of Nikon D700’s, a D800 and a D7000.  For lenses I owned most of the fast primes and the f2.8 zooms.  And I was carrying way too much weight.  

I did own an X100s, a camera I reviewed here.  That little fixed lens camera was my introduction to the world of Fujifilm.  It opened doors for me in many ways.  It showed me that a large and heavy DSLR was not necessary to make beautiful, professional grade images.  Unfortunately my X100s met an untimely demise in a beautiful river while photographing a friend salmon fishing.  It really is a shame that camera couldn't swim.  I ordered an X100T in short order.  That X-T1 became my workhorse.  I was leaving my Nikon kit in the car while I making a living with Fujifilm cameras and lenses.

Two years later and it's now spring of 2016.  I've since replaced all of my Nikon gear with Fujifilm.  Most of my old lenses are gone and in their place are the Fujinon counterparts. 

I'm also lucky enough to be one of the Fujifilm Canada's X-Photographers.  One day I get a call asking if I would like to take part in an upcoming project which would involve shooting with a preproduction Fujifilm X-T2.  Hmmm.  Let me think about this for a minute...

The camera arrived just a day or two before leaving for Florida on a family vacation, hence the bird images taken with the XF100-400 and teleconverter that you'll find at the end.  The rest of the images were taken where I live on the west coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

On first glance it looks pretty well identical to the X-T1.  But in hand you will notice many subtle changes to the camera body. 








Looking down on the top plate reveals an improvement over it's predecessor; taller ISO and shutter speed dials that lock and unlock by pressing a button in the centre of the dial.  Underneath the dials the drive and metering switches have also been changed.  Movie mode has been added to the drive switch while a fourth metering mode, Centre Weighted is added to the metering switch.  Next is the addition of a threaded shutter release. I've added a soft release button and found it makes a positive difference to firing the shutter. The exposure comp dial now mimics the X-Pro2's with a + or - three stop range with a 'C' setting that allows the user to implement exposure compensation via the front control dial.








The rear also shows substantial changes.  The first thing you'll notice is a different eyecup.  Gone is the small and shallow eyecup from the X-T1.  The X-T2 comes with an eyecup that is more similar to the deep eyecup available as an accessory for the X-T1 and makes viewing the EVF in side light much easier.  The control buttons now have a more positive 'click'.  Such a small change made a huge difference in handling.



There is no longer a focus assist button.  Instead the rear command dial has two functions, the second focus magnification.  Either command dial and can be used to choose aperture on lenses without an aperture ring or choose one third stop shutter speeds.  Both dial settings are interchangeable.  You'll find the same joystick on the X-Pro2 which enables control of focus points.  While certainly a very welcome addition I do wish the Q button and the joystick were reversed as I'm prone to change focus points much more than using the quick menu.  In addition the thumb grip is more pronounced than the X-T1's.  Another subtle and welcome improvement!




The LCD now swings as well as tilts up and down.  By depressing a switch on the side of the LCD it will swing out to the right.  This means that when shooting on a tripod in portrait orientation you can actually see the LCD with relative ease.  






The right side of the camera reveals a newly designed memory card door.  This one has a closure system that automatically locks when the door is pushed closed.  To open it click the recessed lever and the door will spring open.  This is a huge improvement over the original.  Inside are the lovely dual slots we've seen in the X-Pro2, but unlike that camera both slots in the X-T2 are UHS-II, capable of very fast write times.  At 11 fps with a Toshiba 32GB Exceria Pro I card I netted more than 200 full size JPEGs before lifting my finger off the shutter still with no sign of buffering.  This thing writes info very fast! 





The left side adds another improvement.  The accessory door is deeper, thicker, more sturdy and seemingly would seal out the elements much better than the last camera.  Inside the port door you will find USB, HDMI, and now a separate mic and remote release jacks.




The bottom of the camera sees a centered tripod mount as well as an automatically locking door for the battery, similar to the memory card door.

The front of the camera has not been left alone either.  The grip is deeper than the predecessor and is skinned with a material that is more like the X100 series of cameras.  It feels great in hand.  The front command dial is slightly larger and if one looks close they will notice that the switches for Drive and Metering modes now have a different design in front which makes changing settings with just a fingertip quite easy.

The battery grip has seen a severe metamorphosis.  One of the VPB-XT2's most prominent features is the 'Normal:Boost' switch on the rear!  Click the switch to boost and the X-T2 is now capable of shooting 11 fps!  Three extra frames per second is an almost 38% increase in frame rate.  In boost mode there is also slightly less shutter lag and the EVF refresh rate climbs to 100 frames per second, 20 more than the already great EVF of the X-Pro2.  Shutter blackout time has also been slightly improved with the grip.






The 'boost' in performance is due to the camera being able to utilize three batteries at once to deliver more voltage to the processor; one in body and two in grip via a double removable tray.






The grip is slightly larger in overall dimension to accommodate the extra battery and there is an addition to the standard grip on the camera body which enlarges its size.  



  

The grip also harbours the same joystick to choose focus points as the camera body.  As with the body the Focus Assist button is gone and is now controlled by pressing in the rear control dial and the rear thumb grip is remoulded.  

There are anti-twist flanges on either side of the grip.  These may be cosmetic as I've never had the X-T1's grip twist, probably due to the little metal pins on each side of the grip.  The new grip still retains these small metal pins.


New buttons include a customizable Function button and also a second 'Q' button for easy access to the Quick menu.





One of the new features I'm happiest about is the Exposure Compensation dial as it can be set to 'C', like the X-Pro2.  Exposure compensation can then be controlled by first pressing in the front command dial, then rotating the dail.  On the X-T1 exposure compensation was controlled only via the dial on the main camera body making it a pain to change when shooting with the camera in vertical orientation.

The grip also offers a headphones jack, wonderful for the video shooter and a power jack just above the battery tray release.  The power jack can be used to recharge the dual batteries in the grip!  


And finally the grip has a new battery compartment closure system.  Lift the lever and twist to open the battery door compartment.  To reinsert the batteries push the battery tray into the grip and it automatically closes with a reassuring 'click'.  






The X-T2 sports the same excellent 24 MP sensor found in the X-Pro2.  It also sports the new processor that makes these cameras such a pleasure to use.  It speeds up so many aspects of operability.  

Besides the sensor and processor it has new autofocus tracking custom settings.  You are now able to select from one of 5 preset tracking modes that differ in tracking sensitivity, speed tracking sensitivity, and zone area switching.  There is also a 6th mode that you can customize to your own continuous shooting needs.

We also receive more focus points.  There are 91 compared to the X-Pro2's 77.  The difference is an extra line of contrast detect sensors on each side.  The points now extend all the way to the edge of the frame.

It is also capable of shooting 4K video.  The X-T2's slight increase in size is due to the heat sink built in to reduce heat generated while shooting 4K footage.

What I think is one of the best customization features of this camera is that you can program the shutter button to do as you desire.  Exposure lock and focus can be enabled or disabled as your discretion.  This mean the X-T2 can do back button focus like your Canikon!

As compared to the X-T1 this camera is faster, has better image quality, the AF system is leaps ahead, it handles better, the viewfinder is refined, 4K video, etc, etc.   

The X-T2 may not be revolutionary, but it's one heck of an evolution!

Here are some of the images I've made with a pre-production Fujifilm X-T2.  I can't offer high resolution images at this time as image quality was not finalized in my sample.











































Thanks so much for reading!

Check out what my fellow Canadian X-Photographers thought of the X-T2.