Fujifilm XT2 - Reporting from Yellowknife - July 7th, 2016

I am proud to to announce that I was one of five Canadian and 100 Fuji X-Photographers worldwide chosen to review and test what is Fujifilm’s new flagship camera: the XT2. This is the camera that is intended to sway professional dSLR camera users over to Fujifilm. It will be the camera you can take to work or not.

So here we are July 7th, 2016 and Fujifilm has just announced the XT2 and I can now reveal what I’ve been doing with it for the past couple of months. We were sworn to secrecy and had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Fujifilm Japan. A pre-production unit arrived in Yellowknife, NWT in a nondescript black x camera box with my name on it. Getting it to Yellowknife, NWT was no small feat in itself. It arrived about 10 days after my colleagues got their cameras. The camera logo was covered up in black tape so no one would really know what I was shooting with. My job would be to take photographs, primarily landscape and wildlife shots and provide feedback. Billy the Fuji Guy tells us that “This will be a game changer! It will be a complete professional system with all the advantages of a DSLR without the disadvantages” and after a couple of months with Taurus - XT2 I believe him.

This is not a technical review with stats, charts and comparisons as I’m not really technically inclined and quickly get bored of numbers. I think its better to leave that up to those folks who are really good at it. Also, this isn’t a lengthy review. Being the eldest daughter of a Navy Captain I was raised to keep things brief and I believe a review should be about the kinds of pictures the camera can take. Anyway, you can get all the specs from Fujifilm here but I would like to however share my first impressions and some sample images that I’ve taken over the past two months. Please note that all photos in my report are taken with a pre-production unit and so are only offered here in low-resolution.

FEATURES AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Essentially this is an XPRO2 sensor and software placed into a slightly revised XT2 body and more. It shares the same new 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III image sensor, a 4x more powerful processor, 1/8000 sec focal plane shutter, focus joystick, faster synch speed at 1/250th sec up from 1/180th sec on the XT1 and the LCD screen now tilts 3-ways making it easier to shoot vertically.

It is a substantial camera and a little bit heavier than the XT1 but not by much. They increased the size slightly to accommodate the dual SD card slot. I love that they heightened and put a locking mechanism on the ISO and shutter speed dial. I think I might even be able to operate those dials with mitts on during the winter. The torque on both the Metering and Drive dials have been tightened which is great because they always used to slide around a bit on the XT1. They have extended the Phase detection and the tracking of moving subjects is much better. You can even customize the tracking depending on how erratic your subject is moving. The Across B&W film simulation has been added as well they did something with the On/Off switch to make it easier to turn on. When it is -30C below and you have to take your mitts off to turn the camera on, that is an important detail. And like the XT1 it is weather and dust resistant.

I love the feel of this camera and I love its ability to be almost anything you want it to be. If you pop the new XF35F2 on it or even the pancake 27mm lens you can probably carry it with you in your pocket. It wouldn't be much bigger than the X100S. Alternatively if you need to show up at a clients fully equipped you can add the Vertical battery grip which does a whole host of things including boosting the performance of the camera, increase the time you can take a video and I think makes a better platform for the larger lenses i.e. the XF50-140, XF16-55 and the new XF100-400. And speaking of video it has 4K video and an F Log coming soon giving me something else to learn. I think the way the market is going for photographers, acquiring video skill is hugely important.

IMAGE QUALITY

Fujifilm really has something special going on with image quality. I thought the image quality of the XT1 was fabulous with its 16mp sensor. But my goodness, there is just so much more detail now visible with these files. And the EVF is stunning (Magnification ratio 0.77x, Shutter time lag 0.005 sec, 100fps live-view). and is now my preferred place for framing my shots. Essentially the XT2 is everything I loved about the XT1 only better.

WILDLIFE WITH THE XF100-400

Shortly after receiving my Taurus camera Eddie and I set out to Edmonton and Jasper. At this point I’ll admit the camera was very quirky and not stable to put it mildly. I had Billy the Fuji Guy helping me sort out something to get it going again literally just a few minutes before we encountered these mountain goats. I was ecstatic that it worked to capture these beauties. They seemed to be saying “No way, is that a Fuji XT2 you got there!?” Actually, I learned that there was a wild cat lurking behind me at the time.

JASPER NATIONAL PARK

I normally like to use the Camera Pro Negative High film simulation. 

THE NORTH

A camera should help you tell your story. The story I like to tell is primarily about Canada… it’s land, people and culture. I feel that the XT2 camera system has everything you need to tell your story. Unlike the Rangefinder XPRO2 which seems more geared for the street or documentary photographer with more discreet prime lenses, the XT2 is geared toward the portrait, nature, wildlife and sports shooter and now the photographer who wants to shoot video as well.

I might add that with each firmware update the camera is very near its potential and at this point I hardly want to shoot with anything else.

TRACKING WITH THE XT2

Other than in the local park with my dog running alongside a tourist kid from Texas, I admit that I didn’t really have the opportunity or confidence to try out the AF-C Tracking much.  

It was just with the last few firmware updates where I felt the camera was stable enough to even try. It wasn’t until the Yellowknife Airshow where I was able to really give it a workout. 

VIDEO

I was able to track former Snowbird pilot Brent Handy's performance in a Pitts Special.  I really appreciate that they've added the vide to the drive dial.  It makes it so much easier to switch back and forth from shooting video to photography.  I do need to learn more about editing video but this gives you an idea of what an amateur can do with this camera. 

 And finally good night... or good morning wherever you are. 

A Yellowknife Sunset 10:45 pm  XF50-140 F2.8 ISO200 140mm F14 F1/125

A Yellowknife Sunset 10:45 pm  XF50-140 F2.8 ISO200 140mm F14 F1/125