Four days and 20 shots with the Fuji XT2
By Steve Huff
Happy Friday everyone! End of the week and what a day to post a nice, sweet, to the point quick look at my last few days with the Fuji XT2. Yep, this camera has been out for a bit now but I figured it would be better late than never to share my thoughts, even if they are short and sweet and to the point! Some of you may know that I have not reviewed every single Fuji camera myself, as I have not been a 100% solid fan (Maybe 85%) of Fuji for a while. While I have been applauding what they are doing, I just never fell in love with the previous X Trans sensor models that have been released. Something about the cameras like the XPro 2, and others that just never grabbed me fully. While being a fan of the X100 series and the original Xt1 (which I almost bought back then) I was looking forward to trying out the new XT2.
To me, the XT2 is the model I would choose if I were to buy a Fuji body. It’s controls are top-notch and placed perfectly, the EVF is nice and large, the speed is great and it feels and looks like a real camera, not a computer or modern-day gadget. It has something about it, and the colors it can produce (all Fuji’s can) that have a very appealing draw to it. The Fuji’s blues have always been something I admired, even as far back as the Fuji S5 Pro which is a dog slow camera but one I loved back in the day. Ahhhh, those colors….
Fuji XT2 with 16-55 at f/2.8
It’s all about that feel..
To me the XT2 feels the best in the hand of all of the Fuji Models, and to me, it is the most responsive and rewarding to shoot with. Some may prefer the longer more square X-Pro series but give me a nice thin and squat design that feels solid, and give me a nice EVF and response with fast AF and some nice IQ and I will be one happy shooter. With this XT2 I sadly only had four days with the camera and ONLY the 16-55 Lens. This means that I was limited as I did not get to test it with the nice primes or other Fuji lenses so take this post as only my thoughts over four days of use with one lens and one lens only, the 18-55 f/2.8 (which is a very nice lens for this camera/system). But I have extensive experience with all cameras, and today my favorite three cameras are my Sony A7RII, Olympus PEN-F (do not have the EM1 II yet), and the Leica SL. I love my Sony for its “do anything” ability. While not the quickest in AF or tech specs by todays standards, that camera has always performed for me but I will admit…the Sony can not create the look of Fuji, or Leica, or Olympus. Each brand, each camera has its own MoJo going on, and it is up to the consumer, the professional or the amateur shooter to decided what pulls at their heart-strings.
I will say that after just a few days I can see the beauty in this Fuji XT2. It strikes a balance somewhere between the new OMD EM1 II and the Sony full frame A7 series but with that unique Fuji style and look.
Xt2 – 16-55 f/2.8
After just carrying the XT2 around with me for the past few days it has shown me that it is a very nice, very powerful camera when it comes to what it is made to do, TAKE PICTURES and MAKE MEMORIES. To me, what is so powerful about a camera, no matter the brand or make, is the ability it gives us to create a memory, to slice out a moment in time, in life..that we would never ever get back. It’s as close as we will ever be to a true time machine. What other tool or device allows us to go back in time to when we were kids, to when our kids were little, or to happier or even tougher times of our life. Sure, video can..but it has been photographs that have always been our way of remembering the past.
If a camera can be fast enough to keep up with our minds, our eyes and our vision for the shot then it makes for a wonderful shooting experience, and without frustration. To me, this is truly all I need in a camera. While I love extreme build, and super geeky tech specs (like the Leica SL EVF and build and controls) I also love the basics, and the ability to CONTROL what I want. In this regard the Fuji’s have always been fantastic. I have many great friends who shoot and LOVE Fuji and as I said, I was never a HUGE fan of the recent cameras but this one and the previous XT1 did indeed float my boat. It’s lovely. But why did not enjoy some previous Fuji models?
In the past, Fuji cameras have either been too slow for me, missed AF too often, felt hollow and cheap or just did not give me the all out IQ I liked due to the XTrans sensor and its uniqueness. But that was in the past my friends, and again, my opinions of those past cameras. Fuji has been forging on, listening to input of the shooters and their customers and each release gets better and better. Just a few days with this camera has made me realize how good Fuji is rocking it these days. The color is still there, and Fuji color..there is no other color like it in digital imaging even today. Some choose Fuji JUST FOR THE COLOR!
Fuji color can be bold but beautiful
ABOUT THE XT2 (Specs From B&H Photo)
Equipped with a 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III image sensor and the X-Processor Pro Engine, users will be able to capture finely detailed imagery quickly and with low noise at sensitivities up to ISO 51200. The powerful combination permits rapid image capture at up to 8 fps with full AF tracking or at up to 14 fps using the silent electronic shutter. In terms of AF, the X-T2 uses an Intelligent Hybrid system with 325 points that ensure accurate, fast tracking of subjects in all modes.
For video, the X-T2 offers internal UHD 4K video as well as an 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output. The internal recording offers 100 Mbps bitrate for capturing fine details with ease. Along with this an F-Log Gamma setting will be available for capturing a flat picture best used in serious grading applications. Fuji’s array of Film Simulations and Grain Effects can also be used here, for both photo and video shoots.
Improved handling is a key upgrade in the X-T2, incorporating a larger grip, locking dials, raised buttons, and more to make operation smoother. The weather-sealed body also sports a 0.5″ 0.77x 2.36m-dot OLED EVF with a larger eyecup for comfortable composition and a base refresh rate of 60 fps, which can be boosted to 100 fps. There is also a 3.0″ 1.04m-dot three-way tilting LCD screen for alternative viewing options. This screen has a unique tilt that permits shooting at odd angles, including in the portrait orientation. Additionally, it has a focus lever joystick that allows for rapidly adjusting and changing the selected AF point or area.
MY QUICK THOUGHTS: IN USE
While this will in no way be a technical review (plenty of reviews out there already that go over the tech specs) it will be more like a diary of my thoughts after using the camera, so let’s get to it and make this an easy and enjoyable read for all.
- BUILD: The XT2 is built well. It feels fantastic in the hand, and the dials and buttons and controls are pretty awesome. The grip for my smallish hands is just right. Best feeling Fuji in my opinion. Also weather sealed so no need to worry if you get caught in the rain.
- CONTROL: We get easy access to ISO with a fat ISO dial up top on the left. Under that we can choose our exposure metering, and we can dial in some EV comp or set our shutter speed. Manual dials are my fave and they remind me of the old school cameras..when cameras were made for serious shooters. So the XT2 gets a 9/10 from me in the control dept as the layout is fantastic. Being able to set just about any setting with a dial or button or knob is lovely.
- EVF: The EVF, in use, is nice. About equal to the new EM1 MKII, or Sony A7 RII. No complaints, no feeling of lag.
- LCD: Swivel up and down, instead of out to the left. So it is not a swing out LCD but rather a traditional swivel up LCD. Looks great.
- SPEED: While not as fast as the OLympus EM1 II or the PEN-F I have here, the AF is about on par with my Sony A7RII, maybe a tad faster. I was seeing quite a bit of AF hunt in lower light using the 16-55 but nothing that would be a deal breaker or bad…just slower than some of the competition.
- HIGH ISO: Not as good as I had thought it would be or hoped. See below for a comparison against the Sony A7RII and my PEN-F. With that said, all cameras today are as good as we need for high ISO. While some are better than others, all today can shoot with great results in low light. Some can go above and beyond with ISO up to 500k but when sticking with ISO’s up to 10,000…most APS-C cameras and Full Framers can do the job.
- IMAGE QUALITY: Fantastic. Lovely colors. Nice details. Best IQ from Fuji yet. This sensor is fantastic.
16-55 with the XT2 at ISO 6400 with no NR – 16mm
Today we have amazing cameras from many manufacturers. Fuji, Sony and Olympus to me, are the tops right now in the digital imaging game. With Nikon and Canon doing mostly “more of the same” with the 5D’s and the D5’s and the DXXX DSLR’s it is Mirrorless where some of the cool tech gains are being seen each year. This year seems to be the year of speed as most cameras in 2016 have the ability to shoot uber fast from 8-crazyhigh FPS. This XT2 can do 8FPS with full AF tracking. I am a one frame per second kind of guy, and before I shoot I calculate and know what shot I want. So I take one. For some though, they like to use these high frame rates to capture the shot, and with 8FPS and continued AF tracking one should be able to get the shot they need with this Fuji.
The Xt2 with 16-55 lens, for me, was a joy to use. While I did not get to dig in deep like I normally would, I used it enough to know that if I were to buy a Fuji, this would be it.
Easy Squeezy ISO test between the XT2, Sony A7RII and Olympus PEN-F. Just because I have them all here in front of me. Three formats, Micro 4/3. APS-C, and Full Frame. Click them to see the larger versions with a true 100% crop embedded.
CLICK THE IMAGES FOR LARGER AND CROP!
ALL CAMERAS WERE SET EXACTLY THE SAME with ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. NOISE REDUCTION was OFF and all are from RAW.
What else can I say about this XT2 that popped out to me while using it?
It’s a solid, well made, good feeling, fast response fun to use camera that provides the Fuji color so many seek in spades. Without an AA filter the details are also there and while I did not get a chance to do a detail test in these short four days I do see that little extra sparkle from the extra detail that is being recorded here. I prefer a camera without an AA filter as I rarely ever have a problem with Moire and would much rather have that crisp output than something smudging up my details to avoid Moire.
When I look back to just a few years ago, it makes me realize just how far we have come with mirrorless digital cameras and how much the DSLR has stayed the same (of course with the speed and MP enhancements over the years). Today, the Canon and Nikon DSLR’s look mostly the same as they have for years. They are still fat, bulky and well..DSLR like. Mirrorless cameras and manufacturers who are putting time, money and resources into the design and function of these cameras, well it is starting to pay off as today, as we end 2016 our choice in cameras and lenses have NEVER been more plentiful or full of great options.
Today we can choose from Full Frame sensor mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 series or Leica or Pentax or whoever and have the most Dynamic Range, Best Low light Performance and richest files. We can choose an APS-C model, with a little bit smaller of a sensor to gain some speed, versatility and some larger DOF. Models like this XT2 or the new Sony A6500 would fit that bill well. Then we have Micro 4/3 and cameras like the new EM1 MKII or PEN-F or Panasonic GX8 or 85. These cameras offer smaller sensors still but more speed…the fastest speed IMO. They offer solid build and feel and crazy cool features but we will lose out on some shallow DOF and some high ISO noise (it will be greater). So whatever model, sensors size or brand we choose will depend on what we want out of a camera today.
If you want amazing IQ and color and good mix of high ISO and DOF check out Fuji
If you want the richest files and most DR and best low light, look at Sony
If you want the fastest speed and most versatility and best build look at the EM1 II, but you will lose out on some low light high ISO and DR and Shallow DOF
If you want some serious IQ and do not care about speed, versatility, usability or build check out the Sigma Quattro
I get asked almost daily one simple question: “What camera should I buy”..most ask me for an under $2000 choice. I can never answer this as the choice is yours, not mine. I can only tell you about my experiences and that is what these pages are for! I will say that this Fuji XT2 is fantastic, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone looking to get into a new mirrorless system.
What would I buy if starting new today? THAT IS HARD TO ANSWER!
For me personally I enjoy two types of cameras. On one hand I love a good solid manual camera which is why I always have a Leica M and at least one M lens on hand. Sometimes I get that itch for the rangefinder experience where I manually set up everything and take a shot. The Leica M delivers this experience like no other digital can. Other times I like an auto focus camera and when I shoot AF I like speed, response and no lag. My A7RII feels a little laggy today when next to these new breed of fast cameras. Today if I had to buy into a camera system it would most likely be Olympus or this Fuji for my non full frame choice, and a Leica M for those full frame manual moments.
I loved the Olympus EM 1 MKII and can not wait to get one back in my hands (still no review unit) as it was speedy, responsive, built like a mini tank and never gave me an OOF shot or issue. The lenses are smaller than APS-X and full frame equivalents and it’s a top quality camera all the way around.
For other reasons I am truly digging this XT2. The look, design, controls, build and feel and the image quality and mostly the color performance. It does not FEEL as solid or as well made as the Olympus but it is. It does not seem as fast as the Olympus, and it is not, but it is close enough. It may not deliver ISO performance like a Sony A7S can but it’s good enough for me and my shooting. The sensor in this Xt2 is nice, and today Adobe products can process these RAW files much better than in the past and without the mush of the past.
Fuji cameras are popular, and for good reason. While I pointed out the weak links in past Fuji cameras, I always give credit where it is due and it is due to them with this Fuji XT2. I just wish I had it for two weeks so I could have truly dug in, traveled more with it and had a chance to test the 4K video and features I missed.
If you own a Fuji now, and it is an older model I can highly recommend this XT2, it is a fabulous upgrade and addition to the Fuji lineup. As for the 16-55 lens, it is a fine pro level f/2.8 zoom and delivers on the color and sharpness and look that Fuji is known for. This camera is fast, it’s responsive, and it is mature. It offers up the best Fuji has to offer at the end of 2016.
Highly Recommended! Even with only four days of use!
WHERE TO BUY?
I recommend the following dealers for the Fuji XT2:
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