TALKING IMAGES 28 – THE FUJIFILM X-T2: REVIEW, LIKES, DISLIKES

 

 

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 LEVELS288
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 Image credit: Amateur Photographer

X-T1, X-T2

I’ve been using Fuji’s excellent X-T1 compact system camera (CSC) for about 8 months now, and enjoying it very much.  It has I think slightly changed my photography for the better, making it more creative, and those changes have spilled over to my use of my Nikon cameras (D700, D800) too.  But good as the X-T1 is, its certainly lacking in autofocus speed – but then the Nikons are eminently capable in that sphere so that’s fine.

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Fuji have listened to photographers’ views about the X-T1, and incorporated many of their suggestions into the new X-T2.  I have been reading Amateur Photographer’s in-depth reviews of the X-T2, and its pretty clear that autofocus capabilities have been greatly improved.  Whether the X-T2 will equal the Nikons’ excellent autofocus is something else: time will tell – trying it out with birds in flight should give some idea.

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Rather than me going through the the X-T2’s many, many capabilities in detail, here is the link to Amateur Photographer’s main, in-depth review of the camera.  Here, I just want to list a few of this camera’s pro’s and con’s, as I see them.  Cons?  No, the X-T2 is not perfect but then, what camera is?

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Before getting into that, I’d want to say how impressed I am with Fujifilm as a company, and especially with regard to the X-T1 and X-T2.  I read somewhere that they are making cameras with photographers in mind, and that’s very true.  They are taking on board what photographers are saying, and building those suggestions into their products.  To me this is reminiscent of Olympus’s production of the OM series all those years ago, and that is a compliment indeed.

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The X-T1 and X-T2 cameras use APS-C format sensors which are smaller than my full-frame Nikons, and I do miss the larger image sizes sometimes – as for example when cropping severely, and when displaying such crops in Blurb photobooks.  But by and large the APS-C images are working well for me, and the X-T2 is now up to 24Mp – I don’t think I’d want anything bigger than that – although the D800’s 36Mp does of course leave 24Mp standing!  I’m not getting rid of my Nikon gear, at least for the moment: big and bulky it may be, but it really does the business.  But I do think that both Nikon and Canon should keep an eye on what Fujifilm is doing, they have absolutely no reason to be complacent.

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So, a few thoughts on the X-T2.

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 Image credit: Amateur Photographer

 

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PEOPLE254

 

THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE X-T2

  1. Compared to my fill-frame Nikons, the X-T2 and its lenses are smaller, more compact and – I do get the feeling – less intimidating to people they are pointed at.

  2. I love the images that these two camera’s sensors give.  The X-T1’s images are wonderful, and the whole new sensor and processor in the X-T2 do even better.  Amateur Photographer magazine (AP) talks of Fujifilm’s “industry-leading colour modes” and connects these with the fact that, of today’s major camera producers, only Fuji has a background in colour film production – as witness the colour transparency films that I standardised on not that long ago.  AP talks of “stunning image quality” and I go right along with that – including at high ISO sensitivities, which I use quite often.

  3. The autofocus is fast though how good it will be close in to frenetic action, such as birds exploding into flight, I can’t yet tell.

  4. The large electronic viewfinder (EVF) is excellent to use, and the shooting information it displays can be customised.  I have 17 useful items of information – including a horizontal level, and a live histogram – displayed.  And the simple push of a button changes the viewfinder from its standard layout, which has a black border, to a full-screen version – which is very quick and useful.

  5. Depth of focus (DoF) can be previewed on the Nikons via a button that sits very handily on the camera’s front below my right forefinger.  The X-T2 has a function button in this position that can be used for DoF, and this works very well.

  6. There is a center-weighted exposure metering mode which, although I’ve yet to use it, is good to have.  The multi-zone metering is good and accurate too.

  7. I only ever shoot Raw files, and the X-T2 will let me use this format right up to its greatest sensitivity – 51,200 ISO.  The X-T1 only manages 6,400 ISO.

  8. Raw files can now be saved in Lossless Compressed format, as on the Nikons, which saves space on both memory cards and PC’s.  A Sandisk 16Gb card will store 314 uncompressed Raw X-T2 files, but this figure doubles to 628 for Lossless files, with no loss of quality – so using Lossless is a no-brainer.

  9. And there are now slots for two memory cards, so storage is large – which is a reflection of this camera’s very fast motordive speeds, up to 14fps when using the (optional) grip, which I’m not thinking of getting.

  10. The very fiddly lock on the X-T1’s ISO dial is now a toggle so that the dial can (oh … mercifully! …) now be left unlocked – BUT changing ISO could still be streamlined more (see below).

  11. The front dial can be used to adjust exposure compensation and this works extremely well – except that, unlike using the large exposure compensation dial on the camera’s top plate, I can’t see how much compensation is set without either looking at the LCD screen or through the viewfinder.

  12. Since a live histogram (which measures  jpeg data) is visible in the viewfinder, this makes for very efficient use of the “exposing to the right” technique, for maximum tonal values – you can find out more about exposing to the right here.

  13. There is now a My Menu option for your most frequently used menu commands, but it doesn’t encompass as many commands as the Nikons’ versions do.

  14. The same batteries and charger as the X-T1 can be used, a very welcome touch, and something not possible for my two Nikons.

  15. The camera has a very useful joystick, perhaps all of 2mm tall (and seen below the Q button in the image below) that sits under my right thumb when the camera is to my eye, and which marvellously facilitates movements of the active autofocus / spot metering spot – and this joystick has a marvellously simple and effective locking feature too, to prevent accidental movements during shooting.  And the selector buttons around the Menu OK button also have a very easily applied locking feature, for this same purpose.  I have both the joystick and the selector buttons locked, performing the few menu adjustments I do via My Menu.

  16. There are excellent and creative facilities for reviewing images, including giving them different Film Simulations (looks) and crops, and then being able to save the results as jpegs while keeping the original Raw images intact.

Image credit: Amateur Photographer

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LEVELS289

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THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT THE X-T2

  1. In its high performance, Boost mode, the X-T2 uses up batteries quickly.  I keep my X-T1 in high performance mode all the time and battery usage is ok, but this is not so with the X-T2.  Fuji have produced a high capacity “S” battery for the X-T2, but it can also use the ordinary X-T1 batteries which, as I say, is a nice touch.  In an attempt to solve these problems, Fuji has produced a grip containing two further batteries (and this grip brings other advantages too), but I’d rather keep my X-T2 lighter and more compact and so the grip’s not for me.

  2. So, to conserve battery life, I keep the X-T2 in Normal performance mode most of the time.  And, since situations where Boost mode is (desperately!) needed may arise very suddenly and without warning, I’ve programmed the function (Fn) button on the top plate directly behind the shutter button to get me into Boost mode with a single press.  This works very well – and the viewfinder tells me which of these two performance modes I’m in.

  3. Also to conserve battery life, I use the camera with the LCD screen switched off (its still possible to review images when the screen is off), and with the viewfinder only switched on when I put my eye to it.

  4. Although changing ISO is easier now that the dial doesn’t have to be unlocked every time – something which is a truly glaring design fault on the X-T1 – its still not as easy as it might be.  Having something that can easily be used (probably with the right hand) when the camera is up to the eye is sorely needed.

  5. The problems with changing ISO in a hurry might be solved by the X-T2’s Auto ISO feature, which automatically adjusts ISO when shutter speed falls to a specified minimum.  This feature looks good, but its not possible to see what speeds the camera is setting so that, in dark conditions, there comes the risk of shutter speeds that are too slow – and so to unwanted blur.  I don’t use it.

  6. Although there are two high ISOs – 25,600 and 51,200 – available, the ISO dial only has a place for one of them – so that the other one must be delved for in the menus.

  7. There is a useful My Menu function as with the Nikons, but I would like to see a much wider range of commands available to put onto it.

  8. The AE-L button can be changed to an AF-ON function with all AF functions taken away from the shutter button – this gives back-button focusing, something I always use on the Nikons – but for me the X-T2’s button is too small and pressing this with my right thumb while my index finger us on the trigger just doesn’t work.

  9. The dials for changing the drive and metering modes are not as easy to turn as they might be, but I can live with this.

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CONCLUSIONS AND … STRATEGY(!!!)

The X-T2 is a very accomplished camera and I feel privileged to own one – its as simple as that.  And it now emerges that, after reviewing the X-T2, some of the staff at Amateur Photographer have bought X-T2’s for themselves – can there be a better recommendation?  I can see that its going to be a very useful photographic tool, and something that I won’t hesitate to take into all sorts of photographic situations and environments.  What else is there to say?  I have traded in some of my Nikon gear to get the X-T2, and I’ll see how things progress from here.  It will be interesting to see how the X-T2 handles birds in flight.  If it really, really does the business over a range of genres, then the rest of the Nikon gear may go too – and by then, if Fuji maintains its current inventiveness and momentum, there may be an X-T3 too – this is, after all, a company that has just, out of the blue, come up with a (relatively!) inexpensive mirrorless medium format camera.  The way this company is going, nothing would surprise me – and Canon and Nikon need to keep their eyes very open indeed.

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So, lastly, strategy >>> I have a strategy???  Well, just two things to say here.  First, I’m thinking about which – if any – of Fujifilm’s excellent (if quite expensive) lens range I might acquire next.  I currently have the really very good 55-200 zoom, which I use a huge amount – probably because it roughly mirrors the focal lengths of the Nikon 70-300 zoom I’m married to – I “see” photographically so often at x6 magnification (= 300mm in full frame format).   And, feeling that I need some wide angle capability too, I’ve chosen the very wide 10-24, which gives 15mm-36mm in full frame terms.  What I’d like, and what Fujifilm currently don’t quite do, is a wide to tele, “go anywhere” lens.  I have such a (full frame) lens from Nikon, the image-stabilised, 24mm-120mm Nikkor, and its the lens (often the only lens) I carry with me when I’m not sure what I’ll be photographing, when I need a “Jack of all trades” optic.  Will Fuji come up with something like that?  At the moment, the telephoto end of the lenses they do is a little short or too long for me.

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And, secondly, I’ve kept my X-T1 and the plan (haha! yes, the plan!) is to carry both camera bodies on some trips.  The X-T1 will be ideal for the wide 10-24: its articulated screen is very handy for getting this very wide angle lens right down low near the ground,  and its slower autofocus will not be a problem at these focal lengths.  And the really very good 55-200 telezoom, my go-to lens, will be on the much faster X-T2 – the two work wonderfully together.

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Earlier posts in the X-T1 can be found here, here, here and here.

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STILL LIFE 85

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LEVELS287

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STILL LIFE 80

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

10 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 28 – THE FUJIFILM X-T2: REVIEW, LIKES, DISLIKES

  1. LensScaper says:

    Excellent review with loads of useful information, Adrian. I think the X-T2 must be top of the list for when I decide to make my next purchase. The only issue that I have to resolve in my head is whether I can find a way to live with the extra bulk compared with a Canon G10. Currently my G10 lives in the chest pocket of my Goretex jacket when I climb and ski. The Fuji wouldn’t fit.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      The X-T2 is pretty damned good – and no doubt an X-T3 is in the pipeline! I’m very impressed with the way Fujifilm are doing things, not least the fact that, unlike Nikon, Canon, etc, they make all of their cameras’ components. But I don’t think the X-T2 is a G10 replacement, its a little too large, even with a small, prime lens – its more like a DSLR replacement, for all but the most frenetic activity. A

      Like

  2. paula graham says:

    Excellent, in-depth article about this camera..she looks a little beauty.

    Like

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