I’m responsible for Fujifilm products where I work, so Fujifilm invited me to the European launch event for their new X-T2 camera!
Although I never got around to do a review/first impression of either X-T1, X-T10 (my preferred camera at the moment) or the X-Pro2, I feel I have to do one on the X-T2 because I got to do some extensive testing and have a lot of images (skip to the end for the gallery).
During my stay in Paris I got to spend a little over 12 hours with the brand new X-T2 at the Le Mans Classic car show. The cameras we used were, as far as I know, more or less complete with all features enabled. However, the firmware on our cameras was not the final version, so some things may yet change.
So, in case you’ve missed it the main features on this camera include the same processor and 24MP X-Trans sensor as the X-Pro2, new and improved autofocus, more frames per second, better EVF with higher frequency and shorter “blackout” between shots, tethered shooting, and 4K video.
Build and handling
The camera has a solid magnesium alloy weather sealed build. It’s not much bigger than the X-T1, got a good grip and handles well. If you’re already familiar with Fuji cameras you’ll know your way around the camera in a matter of minutes. Everything feels familiar, but improved. Like the selector buttons on the back, that were a nightmare on the X-T1, are now much better and the dials on top are a little higher for better grip and can also be locked. I was a little dissapointed to see that the X-T2 did not get the same ISO dial as the X-Pro2, but a regular one. I really like the one they have on the X-Pro2. There are a couple of new buttons on the back (some of which didn’t work, but I suspect the beta-firmware is to blame there), but most notably the joystick used for changing focus point. Very handy!
I used the camera most of the time with the vertical grip attached. The grip actually gives you improved and deeper grip in the horizontal position as well as improving handling in the vertical position of course. The grip has dedicated buttons in vertical position (like you would expect of a vertical grip…), and improved handling when used with big zooms like XF100-400mm or XF50-140mm. With the big lenses the set up became more balanced with the grip. On my Nikon D800 I would never use a grip as I felt it would be too big and bulky, but even with the grip the X-T2 is still not a big camera.
Another major update to the X-T2 is the EVF. It’s brighter, faster and better than before. It’s a joy to use and it’s 100fps means you’ll have no problem using it on fast moving subjects. I did experience some troubles with the eye sensor, it didn’t always activate properly, but again this could be a firmware issue.
The screen is mostly the same as before, but with the added tilt upwards when shooting in the vertical position. To me this is not a very big deal, but I do see the use for some, particularly when shooting portraits. However, a traditional sort of tilt screen would be more flexible, especially when it comes to video.
Autofocus have been dramatically improved on the X-T2. Both speed and accuracy, but also performance all over. There’s a reason they took us to Le Mans to test this… It’s fast. They also introduced a set of new AF modes that specifically lets you fine tune the AF to the situation. The idea is to make the camera predict the subjects motion to improve the AF. You can even make your own preset, specifically design for the situation you’re in. I tried a bunch of them to see if I noticed a difference. While the difference is there it’s may not always be obvious. The standard auto mode is actually pretty good for most uses, but it’s clear that they try to approach the demands of a professional sport/action photographer with this feature.
The X-T2 have the same image quality as the X-Pro2 and then some. Better firmware (which will be available for X-Pro2 as well) means better image rendering and quality. The 24MP X-Trans sensor delivers wonderful images! When combined with the high quality Fujinon XF lenses this camera delivers a stunning image quality and very rich details. If you’re used to high-resolution files from Nikon D800, this is not far behind.
I didn’t shoot on the far end of the ISO range, but I did some shots on ISO 8000 and 12800 and it delivers a very good result. There are much less noise and much more detail in the images shot on ISO8000 with the X-T2, than images shot on ISO6400 with the X-T10. I printed some of the ISO8000 shots in 30x45cm and they look great! There are of course noise, but it’s that nice Fuji-noise.
Combine the amazing image quality with the excellent film simulation Fujifilm offer and you get amazing looking images straight out of the camera. In fact most of the images shown in the gallery at the end are straight out of the camera. Not because Lightroom doesn’t support the camera yet, because it does, but because they look so darn good! I really like the new Acros simulation. That alone is a reason I’m seriously considering an upgrade from my X-T10!
It’s clear Fuji is finally breaking into the video marked with this camera. The X-T2 got a new video mode. It’s selected on the same dial as you select continuous shooting and bracketing. In the menu, they’ve put in a new video shooting menu.
Unfortunately I did not get the chance to test the video properly. I’ve seen some 4K footage shot with the camera and it certainly looks very promising, as does the specs. The 4K uses a 1.8x oversampling and new features include 3.5mm jack input for microphone (they finally got rid of the useless 2.5mm…), you can adjust sound input levels during shooting, 4:2:2 8-bit F-log out the HDMI, 100 Mbps internal recording and of course 4K! They finally deliver som very interesting specs.
Another cool feature, dubbed “Quick 4K” by the Fuji-guys I talked to, is the possibility to use the film simulations on video! This means if you know what you want and have a proper set up with lights and stuff you can get really good-looking footage straight out of the camera. A cool feature for a lot of photographers out there starting to do video, but not wanting to do all the heavy post production.
Their video feature is still made up of some compromises, though. You really need the vertical grip to get a proper video setup. The grip will give you a 3.5mm headphone jack, increase the recording time from 10 to 30 minutes and give you an AC-adapter.
VPB-XT2: Vertical Power Boost Grip
I’ve said a bit about the grip already, but it’s worth to sum up what this grip actually is. It’s not just a grip it’s also a performance enhancement. On the grip you can actually flip a switch called “boost” to enhance a couple of features. This include 11 fps continuous shooting, 30 minutes of 4K shooting, faster AF, higher update frequency in the EVF as well as shorter blackout between shots and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In addition it is of course a vertical grip with better ergonomics and an extra set of buttons when shooting in the vertical position.
The grip can hold two batteries and you can have one in the camera, giving you a total of three batteries that improves battery life a lot. The official number is 1000 exposures with this setup, but during my day at Le Mans I shot almost double that and still had some power left at the end of the day. You also get a AC-adapter with the grip. Plug it into the grip and it can power the camera from an AC power source or it can use the grip as a dual battery charger and charge both the batteries in the grip simultaneous and in record time.
So should you get the grip? If you shoot video it’s a no brainer. Also if you shoot events or work long days and shoot a lot of pictures, then the extra power is nice. If you do wildlife, sport or action and need the extra speed and performance then you should definitely get it! However, if you do street, journalism, portraits or travel and want to keep the size to a minimum and don’t need the extra enhancement, then you can safely drop the grip and still have a very good camera.
Fujifilm X-T2 certainly is a very interesting camera. It was a bit of a disappointment handing it back in and going back to my X-T10. When I decided to get the X-T10 I also tested the X-T1 and build quality aside, the X-T10 does not lack anything. Until now. The X-T2 is a big step up in every way. The image quality is very good and the image quality when shooting on high ISO-values is vastly improved. As is the autofocus.
So worth an upgrade? Should you get it? Well, I’m seriously considering it myself. Now I’m not saying it can compete with a Nikon D5 or a Canon 1D X II. If you’re using one of those cameras you probably do a lot of low light, fast autofocus, high-speed stuff, like wildlife or sports. While the X-T2s performance is dramatically improved in all those three areas and can probably handle much of it very well it’s not quite there yet. However, if you’re upgrading from a Nikon D300 or D7xxx or even a D800 or a Canon 6D or 7D and looking for a smaller set up and a good all-round camera then the X-T2 is a serious contender. Street photography, journalism, portrait, weddings, events, landscapes and the occasional wildlife and sports, the X-T2 can handle it!
Check out the gallery below for images taken with the X-T2. Most of these are straight from the camera, no post-processing. I mostly used Acros and Classic Chrome film simulation.
Photo tip! Try panning fast moving subjects by slowing down the shutter speed and follow the subject in a panning motion as it moves by. It creates a nice blurry background.