Review Date: May 24, 2016
Category: Advanced Amateur to Pro
Photoxels Editor’s Choice 2016 – Mirrorless
Wednesday, April 26, 2016 – Here’s what I receive in the box:
- No memory card [I used a 16GB SDHC II memory card for the review]
- Li-ion Battery NP-W126 7.2V 1260mAh 8.7Wh
- BC-W126 Battery Charger
- Shoulder Strap
- Body Cap
- Metal strap clips (2) with Protective covers (2) and a Clip attaching tool
- Documentation: Owner’s Manual
- FUJINON LENS XF35mmF1.4 R [53mm equiv.]
The Fujifilm X-Pro2 is not compact but I was pleasantly surprised that it feels lighter than its size might indicate. With the XF35mmF1.4 R lens attached, it’s a beautiful combination. I also asked Fujifilm for the FUJINON XF100-400mm Super Telephoto Lens to pair with the X-Pro2. I wanted to see if the combination was going to make my wrist, neck and back ache after a full day’s shooting in the field. And I didn’t want to carry a tripod with me. I had a hidden agenda: to see whether the mirrorless pro cameras and super tele lenses could replace the DSLR for super tele sports and wildlife shooting.
At first, when I read about it, I was not too excited with the new Focus Selector joystick. Past experience with joysticks do that to you. They’re good but not great. Give me Touch AF anytime. Or, so I thought. Bring the camera to your eyes (as you’ll probably shoot most of the time with the X-Pro2 hand-held) and your thumb naturally finds the Focus Selector. A slight flick of the thumb and the AF area is positioned where you want to lock focus and measure exposure. No need to take your eye off the viewfinder. Brillant! Though other cameras also have a similar joystick, it’s just superbly implemented on the X-Pro2.
The EVF is so good that I did not use the LCD even once to compose a shot, only to review pictures. However, when I wanted to shoot low, I really wished the LCD screen could tilt up.
I always thought strap lugs should be recessed so 1) they do not make noises (especially when filming a video) and 2) so they’re out of the way of my fingers and do not hurt my hand. However, I barely noticed those on the X-Pro2, even with the XF100-400mm attached.
The hand grip does its job well, especially with smaller and lighter lenses. But with the XF100-400mm attached, I wished the grip were deeper after a couple of hours handholding the camera. I ended up holding the lens instead (as you should anyway with any lens that is heavier than the camera).
If you are new to Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras and are wondering if the X-Pro2 is the right camera for you, there’s only one thing to do: go try one. This is a camera that works differently than a traditional DSLR. There is no MODE dial. When the MODE dial was introduced way back, it changed the way SLR cameras worked for a very long time — and the change was not necessarily for the better. The X-Pro2 has simply reverted back to using direct control dials for setting shutter speed and aperture.
On the X-Pro2, you basically select the shutter speed and aperture you want directly using the Shutter Speed dial and the Aperture Ring, or leave one or the other or both on “A”. If you want the camera to select both the shutter speed and aperture for you (“Programmed Auto”), leave both the Shutter Speed dial and Aperture Ring on “A”. If you want to select a particular shutter speed and let the camera automatically select the aperture (“Shutter-Priority”), rotate the Shutter Speed dial to the desired shutter speed (and leave the Aperture Ring on “A”). If you want to select an aperture and let the camera automatically select the shutter speed (“Aperture-Priority”), rotate the Aperture Ring to the desired aperture (and leave the Shutter Speed dial on “A”). If you want to select both the shutter speed and aperture (“Manual”), rotate the Shutter Speed dial to the desired shutter speed and the Aperture Ring to the desired aperture. In other words, you directly set the shutter speed and aperture without the need of a MODE dial and front/back command dials. Some photographers find this more intuitive.
Of course, the X-Pro2 is not a mechanical camera, the direct controls are simulated and it does have both a Front Command Dial as well as a Back Command Dial that allow you to Program Shift, set shutter speeds other than those printed on the Shutter Speed dial, select an exposure compensation other than those printed on the Exposure Compensation dial, to navigate the Menu and for other controls.
Photographers sometimes speak of a mysterious synergy between camera and photographer, and the X-Pro2 certainly seems to evoke that synergy. It all comes down to your style of shooting and the type of images you shoot. I envy photographers who have settled on the X-Pro2: they know what they like and they have found it. To them, the X-Pro2 has personality, passion, soul. When you have finished comparing technical specifications among different cameras, argued which controls are better, ranted about design miscues, bemoaned the lack of certain features… you pick up the X-Pro2, bring it to your eyes and start shooting. And everything fades into the background as you find yourself enjoying the shooting experience as much as the results the camera delivers. This is what the X-Pro2 is about.
As I mentioned, I also received the FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens and it is simply astounding, giving sharp images and pleasing bokeh. Super telephoto lenses have been a long time coming for all the mirrorless brands, but are a must if mirrorless manufacturers want to eventually see their cameras and lenses in the hands of pro photographers at sports events or shooting wildlife. There is also a XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter that extends the focal lengths from 152-609mm (equiv.) to 213-853mm (equiv.). And, thanks to the outstandingly effective 5.0-stop optical image stabilizer built into the lens, I handheld the camera/lens one afternoon at the Toronto Zoo and obtained shake-free results even at the maximum telephoto setting of 609mm (35mm format equivalent).
There are currently 19 XF lenses for the X-mount, and here’s what the XF Lens Roadmap looks like:
What I like about the X-Pro2:
- Excellent image quality at ISO 200. Very good image quality up to ISO 1600. Very usable images up to ISO 6400. Film grain-like noise.
- Very good build and design.
- Love the shutter speed dial and aperture ring.
- LCD/EVF gains up very well in low light.
- Built-in Hybrid viewfinder means no need for external viewfinder.
- Availability of excellent quality lenses.
No review is complete without a couple of improvement suggestions:
- Provide a tiltable and touchscreen LCD.
- Give the X-Pro2 a real deep (but beautifully designed) handgrip (I know, that will somewhat sully the rangefinder design look-and-feel but photographers will nevertheless thank you for it).
- And now that the X-Pro2 has a real handgrip, give it a real pro-level battery that will shoot thousands, not hundreds, of shots on a fresh charge.
- Default the “C” setting on the Exposure Compensation dial to either the +3 EV or -3EV setting, depending on how you rotated the Exposure Compensation dial to get to C.
- Improve the Wi-Fi connectivity (Buy the Samsung camera division already!).
In summary, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is well worth upgrading to if you currently own an X-Pro1. People seem to buy Fujifilm because of its JPEG image quality look, its compactness compared to a DSLR and the “it makes me go out and take more pictures” feeling. How much do I love this camera? Enough to give it our Editor’s Choice award. Highly Recommended.