Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The FujiFilm X-T2 PRO? My 1st Impressions


What's in a name? Everything. Toyota knew they had to create the Lexus brand to compete with Mercedes and BMW. Honda created Acura, Nissan created Infinity. In Japan they didn't change the name, but for the export market the name was everything. It's no different with cameras. Slap the name 'Pro' or designate the number '1' (Canon EOS 1 has always been the flagship AF model, the Canon F1 was the flagship pre-AF model) and everyone expects it to be the best. Since the release of the original Fujifilm X-Pro1, the consumer has always looked to the hybrid viewfinder mirrorless body as the embodiment of Fuji's top technology and features. The problem occurred when the X-T1 was released 2 years later with a completely different form factor with better performance and features. The X-T1 became the unofficial flagship, but that's a problem. You can't have conflicting nomenclature within a product line-up. It's confusing. When the X-Pro2 was announced in January 2016, it was very clear that the X-Pro series was back on top. New sensor, new processor, top functions and features. Yes the new X-Pro2 deserved the PRO designation. Now comes the new Fujifilm X-T2... same problem as before? Yup. Although the X-Pro2 and X-T2 share the exact same sensor and processor, again the X-T2 trumps the X-Pro2 on many features and functions. The difference isn't as bad as the previous battle between the X-Pro1 and X-T1, but the differences are great enough to question the naming of the new X-T2. I have absolutely no issues with either the X-Pro2 or the new X-T2. Both are great cameras and this will be the year for Fujifilm. Not only will they have the film and Leica crowd scrambling to buy the X-Pro2 (and upcoming X200), but now they've targeted Canon and Nikon's DSLR market with the X-T2. I'm just wondering, shouldn't they have named it the X-T2 PRO? Let's find out:

The biggest difference between the X-Pro2 and X-T2 is the form factor. One isn't better than the other, it's just different. The X-Pro2 is a rangefinder styled mirrorless camera, and the X-T2 is a DSLR styled mirrorless camera. If you love having an optical viewfinder and love the look and feel of an old film rangefinder camera, the X-Pro2 is the easy choice. If you currently shoot with a DSLR or the previous X-T1 or X-T10, if you shoot sports, wildlife, weddings, etc. you'll want the X-T2. Can you shoot wildlife with the X-Pro2 or shoot street photography with the X-T2? Of course, no problem. But what are the key differences other than form factor between these two 'PRO' mirrorless bodies?


The big one is video capability. If you want to shoot video, go for the X-T2. Yes the X-T2 is 4K capable, but that's not the biggest reason to go with the X-T2 over the X-Pro2. The X-Pro2 is 4K video capable (remember, same sensor, same processor) but Fujifilm decided to disable the feature due to overheating issues. This isn't something they can't work out in future updates. The biggest advantages of shooting video on the X-T2 are:

  • having a dedicated 3.5mm (1/8") microphone input
  • the ability to video stream output via HDMI to an external device
  • double SD UHS-II card slots for fast video recording
  • the ability to use the articulating screen while shooting (many video guys shoot down low)
  • having a dedicated video mode. Via the DRIVE dial below the ISO dial, go into video mode. Now press the shutter button to start/stop the video. Yes, no more tiny, recessed, red video button

It's very clear that Fujifilm is going after the top-of-the-line cropped sensor (APS-C) DSLR market with these video features. However, to convince top video photographers to switch over to Fujifilm, the X-T2 will need a LOG recording format (possible with firmware updates), headphone monitoring (possible with HDMI adapter and firmware), better video-centric lenses, and improved OIS and focus tracking. However, if you're currently a Fujifilm photographer and longed for a decent video camera, the X-T2 is it. The X-Pro2 does decent video, but my money is with the X-T2.

Another key feature on the X-T2 is autofocus. It has more user selectable focus points, a wider focus area, multiple continuous focus modes to choose from, and better button placement for quicker adjustments while shooting sports or any fast moving subject. When you hold the X-T2 in your hand, it just feels more serious than the X-Pro2. The grip is more pronounced, the shutter button has a nicer angle and feel, and the well placed dials are quick and easy to adjust and lock. Once your camera is set, there's almost no reason to dig into the menus to make any major adjustments on the X-T2.



At this point, you may begin wondering, other than form factor, why on earth would anyone buy the X-Pro2? Easy, because of the awesome hybrid viewfinder. If you come from Leica M or any film rangefinder camera, you totally get it. There's a certain romance shooting and not knowing exactly what the sensor sees. No you don't get exact framing, but many styles of photography exact framing is not necessary. How many Magnum photos were taken on a Leica M rangefinder camera? How many of them were shot with film? These photographers manually focused, no auto ISO, no focus peaking, no nothing, and arguably took some of the greatest photos of the 20th century. Sometimes technology can get in the way, and with the hybrid viewfinder the photographer has a choice. For myself, the optical viewfinder with the mini EVF is the best mode. You can check for focus, white balance and exposure using the mini EVF, and use the optical viewfinder to see outside your frame as people enter or leave your frame. The biggest advantage of an OVF over an EVF? There's no screen blank out at the exact moment of exposure. You see, the most beautiful moment of an image is the moment you capture it. Unfortunately with an EVF or a SLR, that moment goes dark. You don't actually see the moment, thus the need to chimp and see what you got. With an optical viewfinder, you know what you got. No need to second guess the shot. Plus in low light there is no EVF lag, no need to change white balance or auto brighten. You see what your eye sees. 

However, if you don't care about the hybrid viewfinder and you don't care about the form factor, the X-T2 is the easy choice over the X-Pro2. The X-T2 will have an optional control grip with extra battery power. The bigger lenses will balance better with the X-T2. The articulating screen is great for studio/tripod/low angle photography. The EVF on the X-T2 has the quickest refresh rate (100fps) on any camera at this time (the human eye sees at approximately 120fps) in bright daylight. Yes the X-T2 is a very powerful and capable camera. Now back to my original argument. Because the new X-T2 seems to have many performance and functional advantages over the X-Pro2, why isn't it called the X-T2 Pro? The fact that the new processor is now called the 'X Processor PRO' in both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, it points to a future lower performing EXR III processor to be installed in the future X-E3 and X-T20 (or maybe X-T10S?). Since the X-T2 gets the 'pro' processor, Fujifilm is placing it right next to the X-Pro2 as a flagship camera. Can Fujifilm have two official flagships? Why not. 

Shot on X-T2 with XF35mm f/2 at ISO 400 1/1250sec f/5.6. Acros Green profile added in post
I'm not seriously complaining. By the way this camera is being marketed and placed next to the X-Pro2 and not below it, Fujifilm is unofficially proclaiming the X-T2 equal but different to the X-Pro2. The X-Pro series will continue to be the flagship model with the rangefinder form factor and the hybrid viewfinder. The X-Tx series will continue to be the DSLR form factor camera with an optional power grip, articulating screen, top of the line EVF, AF and 4K video recording capabilities. Which one you choose will be based more on function instead of image quality. Both cameras will be capable of creating amazing images. In fact, the new 24MP sensor and processor will equal many full-frame cameras in terms of resolution and dynamic range. I've compared it directly with Leica's current 24MP full-frame sensor and processor. In optimal light, the Fujifilm is just as good as the Leica, and in low light and high ISO, the Fujifilm actually outperforms the Leica sensor and processor. Yup. Who needs full-frame right? At least the majority of us don't. Can the X-T2 and X-Pro2 compete with the top Sony A7R II or Canon 5DS? Nope. That's not why you buy into the Fujifilm system. You get into mirrorless because of the balance of size, weight and price. Fujifilm has evolved their X series ecosystem to make it the most desirable mirrorless system on the market today. The new Fujifilm X-T2 is the final piece of the puzzle to complete the X series camera bodies, and a great option for DSLR shooters who wish to jump onto the mirrorless bandwagon with a fully matured ecosystem of bodies, lenses and accessories. Fuji has made it very clear they are not interested in creating a full-frame camera. Why? Because they're planning to jump straight from APS-C to medium format! Now that is something to get excited about. For now, all we want from Fujifilm are more WR lenses, more primes, and a serious professional flash system. We're tired of using our old Nikon and Canon Speedlights/Speedlites!! 

Check out my UNBOXING video of the Fujifilm X-T2:




Check out my 1st Impressions conversation of the X-T2 w/ John Lehmann:




Here's my ghetto vlogging style 4K video test with the X-T2:




Check out my companion article of the X-T2 at FujiLove Magazine HERE


This is the Official Press Release from Fujifilm North America announcing the new X-T2, the VPB-XT2 power grip, and the EF-X500 flash unit:




Valhalla, N.Y., July 7, 2016 As a leader in advanced digital camera technology and outstanding image quality, FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced the new FUJIFILM X-T2, a splash-resistant premium interchangeable lens camera with a large OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF). The X-T2 houses the latest generation 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III with an APS-C sensor with no low-pass filter, boasting the highest performance in the history of X Series. The new X-T2 produces crisp image resolution comparable to that of cameras equipped with larger sensors and higher pixel counts, all in a more compact and classically-designed body. 

And for the first time, the new FUJIFILM X-T2 now supports 4K video recording that can use each available Film Simulation mode, including ACROS, to easily produce premium-quality footage that is as unique as the photographer behind the viewfinder.

Dramatic improvement to auto focus system

The FUJIFILM X-T2 receives a dramatically improved auto focus system (AF) that increases the overall single AF points to 325, and the number of Zone focusing points to 91 (expanded from 49 in previous models). Approximately 40% of the imaging area (center area containing 49 focusing points) is covered with phase detection auto focus pixels to form a fast and precise phase detection auto focus area that can be used in a variety of scenes. 

With the high-speed X-Processor Pro and the use of improved algorithms, the X-T2 now refocuses more frequently, enabling predictive AF of advanced accuracy. 
The X-T2 also has an enhanced ability to autofocus on small points of light, low-contrast objects and subjects with fine and delicate textures such as bird feathers and animal fur.

The X-T2’s performance of contrast detection AF, enabled for approximately 65% of the imaging area, has also been improved. The data read speed has been doubled compared to previous models to achieve AF performance of higher speed and precision. Photographers will enjoy accurate focusing is all shooting situations, even in low light with a -3EV.

Another area of improvement is the AF-C algorithm that has been significantly enhanced for even higher accuracy when focus-tracking moving subjects in the AF-C mode. According to the type of movement, users can choose individual settings for Subject Retention Characteristic, Acceleration / Deceleration Tracking Characteristic and Focus Zone Characteristic, or select one of five presets or customize specific settings for these three elements.

Image Quality

Fujifilm’s commitment to superior image quality remains a guiding principle, and the FUJIFILM X-T2 is the latest effort to deliver outstanding picture resolution, all from a compact and sophisticated body that is both weather-sealed and easy to travel with in any location. With 
Fujifilm’s proprietary image design technology, produced through the development of photographic films, the X-T2 reproduces warm skin tones, bright blue skies and rich green foliage in beautiful colors, just as you remember seeing in real life. The X-T2 includes the ACROS Film Simulation for smooth gradation, deep blacks and beautiful textures to create monochrome images that far outperform even the most demanding expectations. 

The X-T2 also has the Grain Effect function for reproducing distinctive graininess seen in photographs taken with film cameras. The function is available in Strong and Weak options, and can be combined with any of the Film Simulation modes. You can easily obtain the effect of film-based photos, notable especially when the image is printed out.

Speedy throughout

Basic response specifications, such as startup time, shooting interval and shutter release time lag, have all been improved to the extreme in pursuit of a camera that operates exactly as the photographer demands. The high-speed processing power and the use of improved algorithms have significantly improved the basic autofocus performance, and X-T2 now gives users AF-C Custom Settings for even higher accuracy in focus-tracking moving subjects. 

The X-T2’s electronic viewfinder, which is used to continuously track a moving subject, is capable of displaying up to 100 frames per second, while also maintaining the magnification ratio of 0.77x and the display time lag of 0.005 seconds. The duration of the viewfinder blackout, in which the evf  blacks out temporarily while the camera reads picture data, has been reduced by more than half, enabling continuous shooting to ensure tracking subject movements.

Body and grip offer ultimate stability

The X-T2’s body is fully made of magnesium alloy making it not only compact and lightweight, but also solid and highly durable. The X-T2 body has weather-proofing at 63 points to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture, and coupled with its ability to operate in temperatures down to 14°F, is ready for full-fledged field photography. Similar ruggedness is applied to the new Vertical Power Booster Grip.

The Vertical Power Booster Grip (optional VPB-XT2) is a dust-resistant grip, rugged and capable of operating at temperatures as low as 14°F that maximizes the performance of the X-T2 beyond expectations. It fits two batteries, bringing the total number of batteries the X-T2 can use to three, including the one in-camera, to increase the maximum number of frames that can be taken per charge to approximately 1,000 (Normal mode). In the Boost mode, multiple batteries can operate at the same time to give a boost to camera performance in continuous shooting, shooting interval, shutter release time lag and blackout time, while also extending the duration of 4K video recording to approximately 30 minutes. 

The Vertical Power Booster Grip also features a shutter release button, focus thumbstick, AE-L button, AF-L button, command dials, Q button and Fn button and headphone jack to enable audio monitoring during video recording to provide the same level of excellent operability in vertical shooting as you get in horizontal operation. The grip itself has battery-charging functionality where by using the AC adapter supplied (AC-9VS), users can fully charge two batteries at the same time in about two hours.



FUJIFILM EF-X500 Flash

The new high-end multi-function external FUJIFILM EF-X500 Flash is now official for the lineup of accessories for the X Series of digital cameras. The EF-X500 is a hot-shoe mount flash with a maximum guide number of approximately 50, and includes support for the FP mode (high-speed flash sync) so that the flash can be fired at any shutter speed. Photographers can now concentrate on shooting when a faster shutter speed is required, for example, in order to use a near-maximum aperture to produce beautiful bokeh. 

The EF-X500 also supports multi-flash lighting. Users can set up multiple flashes to freely control light on a subject and background for a creative result. Through-the-lens (TTL) lighting control is available with single flash and also in the multi-flash setup, so that users can start shooting without having to make cumbersome adjustments to light output.

EF-X500 Flash key features:
  • Maximum guide number of approximately 50 (ISO100m) / 164 (ISO100·ft)
  • Zooming the illumination angle for the focal lengths of 24mm - 105mm, and covering the illumination angle of approximately 20mm when the wide panel is used 
  • Flash head that can be tilted up by 90° degrees, down by 10° degrees, to the left by 135° degrees and to the right by 180° degrees for bouncing light
  • Equipped with LED video light that can also be used as AF assist light and catch light
  • Registers up to ten combinations of various setting to suit specific shooting conditions in advance for quick activation when needed

FUJIFILM X-T2 key features: 
  • 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
  • Dust and moisture-resistant body with approximately 63 points of weather sealing; Freeze resistance to 14°F
  • X-Processor Pro
    • Fast AF of 0.06 seconds
    • Startup time of 0.3 seconds
    • Shutter time lag of 0.045 seconds
    • Shooting interval of 0.17 seconds
    • Phase detection AF and motion predictive AF for continuous shooting up to 8 frames per second (fps)
    • Up to 11fps using Booster Grip
  • High-precision 0.48-inch, 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder
    • Viewfinder magnification for digital cameras of 0.77x
    • Wide viewing angle (diagonal 38° and horizontal 31°)  
    • Ultra-fast Real Time Viewfinder with a lag-time of 0.005sec (less than 1/10 of existing models)
    • Automatic Brightness Adjustment function
    • EVF refreshes at a rate of 60fps, or as high as 100fps in the Boost mode
    • Continuous shooting of 5fps in Live View
  • Full 4K 3840x2160 30P/25P/24P shooting (Using a card with the UHS Speed Class 3 or higher)
    • Continuous recording: up to approximately 10 minutes
    • Full HD 1920x1080 60P/50P/30P/25P/24P, Continuous recording: up to approximately 15 minutes
    • HD 1280x720 60P/50P/30P/25P/24P, Continuous recording: up to approximately 29 minutes
  • Four different display modes: Full, Normal, Dual and Vertical
  • Full mode: Displays shooting information at the top and bottom of the screen to avoid obstruction of the view
  • Dual mode: Adds a small second screen for checking focus point with Focus Peak Highlight or Digital Split Image
  • Normal mode: Lets you concentrate on framing the shot in Auto Focus mode while keeping you aware of how the shooting conditions are changing, making it the perfect setting for sports and action photography
  • Portrait mode: When in Full or Normal modes, it rotates the shooting information interface when the camera is turned vertically
  • Tempered glass 1.04 million dot high-precision 3” tilting LCD monitor
  • Digital Split Image and Focus Highlight Peaking
  • Wi-Fi and remote camera operation
  • ISO200 - 6400, extended ISO 100, 12800, 25600, Auto(maximum ISO setting from ISO 400 – ISO6400 available) with High ISO 51200 setting
  • Lens Modulation Optimizer technology maximizes each lens’ performance
  • In-camera RAW converter
  • Die-cast magnesium body provides a sturdy and durable, while compact and lightweight design
  • Two command dials and six Function buttons for instant control and customization
  • Interval timer shooting for Time Lapse photography is available with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours and up to “∞”  frames
  • Advanced filters and Film Simulations, including ACROS 

FUJIFILM X-T2 Accessories:

  • Vertical Power Booster Grip (optional VPB-XT2) New
  • X-T2 Metal Hand Grip (MHG-XT2) New
  • X-T2 Bottom Leather Case (BLC-XT2) New
  • X-T2 Cover Kit (CVR-XT2) New
  • NP-W126S Rechargeable Battery New
  • Five dedicated flash models to choose from depending on requirements (EF-X500 New, EF-X8, EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
  • Battery Pack EF-BP1, compatible with EF-X500 New
  • Protective Filters (PRF-39, PRF-52, PRF-58, PRF-62 and PRF-72)
  • M Mount Adapter for additional lens compatibility
  • Remote Release (RR-90)
  • Stereo Microphone (MIC-ST1)

Availability and Pricing

The new FUJIFILM X-T2 (body only) will be available in September 2016 in the U.S. for USD $1,599.95. The X-T2 and XF18-55mm (27-84mm) kit will be available in September 2016 in the U.S. for USD $1,899.95. 


The FUJIFILM EF-X500 Flash will be available in September 2016 in the U.S. for USD $449.99. 

10 comments:

  1. Great write up! Always great to hear your thoughts :) What strap is that? I need it :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. goto @YBPUTRO on Instagram or type the hashtag #YBSTRAP. His straps are really cool.

      Delete
  2. Just a heads up Taco. The Sony A6300 is a 2.4m dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder with 120 fps refresh rate, a bit more than the 100fps from the XT2. So there are EVF's with higher refresh rates.


    Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. " Can the X-T2 and X-Pro2 compete with the top Sony A7R II or Canon 5DS? Nope."

    Not true anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great review! What hood use for the 35mm f2 lens?

    ReplyDelete
  5. great read .... where can i buy one of these straps, do you know of a store or retailer that sells the.m i contacted YB thru Facebook and he is out .... thx Michael ps. or the name or a strap make like it or maybe you would sell your, happy to pay :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YB custom makes these straps so unless you can convince him to make more, that's it. As for mine, ha ha, I don't think it's for sale, sorry :-)

      Delete
    2. YB custom makes these straps so unless you can convince him to make more, that's it. As for mine, ha ha, I don't think it's for sale, sorry :-)

      Delete
  6. Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.. Napa wedding photographer

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow great introducing of this camera, and can you tell me where I can buy the leather strap in the pictures? or the model ?

    ReplyDelete