Fujifilm Reviews

Fujifilm X-T2 Hands-On Preview

Fujifilm X-T2
Fujifilm X-T2

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a much anticipated upgrade of the popular X-T1, and it does not disappoint. Though externally, it retains the much-loved design and form factor of the X-T1, it has incorporated the upgrades introduced into the X-Pro2 (except for those upgrades pertaining to the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro2, which the X-T2 does not have) and added a few of its own — enough significant improvements to make it well worth upgrading from the X-T1. We attended a presentation of the X-T2, spent a couple of hours playing with it with different lenses — and came away quite impressed that it is now a much more capable camera for enthusiasts and professional photographers. In this hands-on preview (with a pre-production X-T2), we look at the most significant improvements and share our first impressions.

New 24.3MP Sensor
As expected, the Fujifilm X-T2 uses the latest generation 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor first introduced in the X-Pro2 (the X-T1 uses a 16.3MP sensor). It does not have an AA (Anti-Aliasing)/optical low-pass filter in front so that the X-T2 can maximize the capture of details. It has sensitivity of ISO 200 to 6400, extended ISO 100, 12800, 25600 and 51200.

Because we shot with a pre-production camera, we cannot understandably comment definitively on the image quality, but since this is the same sensor as on the X-Pro2, we expect the same excellent performance. Besides, there were large printed image samples shot by X-Photographers on display that effectively brought out the colors, details, dynamic range and low noise capabilities of the camera.

4K Video
The X-T2 goes one better than the X-Pro2 by supporting 10 min. of 4K video recording 3840 x 2160 pixels at 30P/25P/24P, 100Mbps bit rate, the “F-Log” log-gamma option to record a wider dynamic range, and its popular Film Simulation modes (including the new monochrome ACROS) can also be applied to 4K video. You can set aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation while recording video.

Video can be output via HDMI during recording, allowing you to simultaneously check footage on the camera’s LCD monitor and an external monitor. The data can be recorded onto an external recorder as you film in the uncompressed format. In fact, a user recorded the presentation with an X-T2 accessorized with the Vertical Power Booster Grip; in addition, an external Atomos field monitor was attached to it and the presentation recorded by a Tascam video recorder.

There’s a 3.5mm mic jack in the body but unfortunately to plug in a headphone, you’d have to purchase the Vertical Power Booster Grip.

Improved AF-C
The sensor features hybrid AF with 325 focusing points, 91 of which are phase detection focusing points which now cover approximately 40% of the centre and have 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. Contrast detection focusing points cover approximately 65% of the imaging area and can focus in dim conditions, locking focus in light levels as low as -3EV.

The X-T2 gains the handy Focus Lever (“AF-point selection joystick”) that was introduced on the X-Pro2. Though we are great fans of Touch AF, the Focus Lever on the X-T2 (and the X-Pro2) works so well that we did not miss a touch panel LCD for still photography. On the other hand, when shooting video, Touch AF makes rack focus (aka focus pull) child’s play and Fujifilm should add it in their next iteration.

To further improve its continuous AF (AF-C) tracking capabilities, the X-T2 introduces five AF-C presets to allow you to help the camera in its predictive AF (how the camera should react when focus-tracking a moving subject).

Depending on how your subject is moving (Tracking Sensitivity: how long the AF waits before switching focus to another subject), how fast it is moving (Speed Tracking Sensitivity: is your subject moving at a constant speed or moving erratically around) and where it is most likely to stay in the frame (Zone Area Switching: do you want the AF to follow your subject around (auto), lock on a subject at the centre, or immediately lock on a subject that gets to the front), you can choose individual settings, select one of five presets or customize specific settings for these three elements.

Read more on how the Fujifilm X-T2 AF-C Custom Settings work.

Boost Mode EVF
The large 2.36-million-dot high-resolution organic EL electronic viewfinder (EVF) is the same as that on the X-T1 (with a magnification ratio of 0.77x and the display time lag of 0.005 seconds), but now is 2 times brighter than the previous model and features an automatic brightness adjustment function to make it easier to see in all conditions, including in intense backlighting.

As standard, the EVF refreshes at a rate of 60 fps, but a 100fps Boost mode is provided which makes it much easier to continuously follow a fast-moving subject. This performance boost is, of course, at the expense of battery life.

A carry-over feature we like very much is when you hold the camera vertically (for a portrait mode), the information display automatically rotates so it’s still easily readable.

Three-Direction Tilting LCD
Photoxels OriGenial AwardThe 3″ 1.04M-dot LCD to tilt in three directions: the standard up and down tilting when shooting in landscape, and a new 45° upward tilt (or downward tilt, depending on how you vertically hold the camera) when shooting in portrait.

I really like the fact that the LCD is positioned on the optical axis of the lens, making it easier to follow your subject instead of pointing the lens one direction and peering into the LCD offset 3″ to the left (one reason I don’t like a certain unnamed DSLR brand or a LCD that opens up to the side). There is a catch that you need to slide to tilt the LCD vertically.

We have not done this for a while, but this LCD design is such an original and ingenious one that we think it deserves our “OriGenial” award.

Other Design Changes

  • The X-T2 is about 67 g heavier than the X-T1 and adds about 2 to 4 mm to the width, height and depth.
  • The ISO dial and Shutter Speed dial are just a tad higher. making them easier to rotate.
  • You now do not have to depress and hold the Dial Lock Release on the Shutter Speed dial and ISO dial anymore; they now toggle lock on and lock off with each press.
  • The Exposure Compensation dial feels stiffer and has been moved inward a few mm, a welcomed change to prevent inadvertent change to the exp. comp.
  • The dedicated Movie button is gone (the button is removed completely) and Movie recording is now an option on the Drive dial (under the ISO dial).
  • The buttons on the Selector dial (around the Menu/OK) have been slightly raised, making them more tactile.
  • There are dual SD card slots, both UHS-II compatible (the X-Pro2 has only one which is UHS-II compatible). The door is now spring-loaded and is released by a small switch.
  • The eyecup is bigger.
  • Shutter Release button is now threaded for a cable remote release.
  • Tripod socket is centered to lens axis.

Vertical Power Booster Grip
Recognizing that the relatively short battery life of mirrorless cameras continues to be one area that cannot be positively compared to the battery life in a DSLR, Fujifilm has added a vertical grip that not only functions as a more substantial grip (horizontal or vertical) with a 3.5mm headphone jack, duplicated shutter release button, etc. but also adds two extra batteries that increase the maximum number of frames that can be taken to approximately 1,000 shots and extending the duration of 4K video recording to about 30 min.

Yes, it adds some bulk and weight to the camera, but that might be welcomed if you have large hands, shoot a lot in portrait mode and/or use long (and heavier) telephoto lenses.

In addition, there is also a boost mode on the grip that get all three batteries working at the same time to increase camera performance in continuous shooting (from 8fps to 11fps), shooting interval, shutter release time lag and blackout time.

An AC adapter is supplied that lets you plug in the grip to fully charge the two batteries at the same time in about two hours.

EF-X500 Flash
If you want your camera to be used by pros, you need to provide them features, lenses and accessories that they need to properly do their job. One such accessory is an external flash that can remotely fire other flash units placed around your subject and also allow you to shoot with a high flash sync speed (to allow the use of a fast shutter speed and large aperture for shallow depth of field in daytime outdoors portrait shooting).

The dust-resistant and water-resistant EF-X500 is such a flash that is now available for the X-T2 (and later, for the X-Pro2 with a firmware update). The EF-X500 uses infrared to communicate with the remote flash units, so line of sight is required. It includes a built-in LED lamp for video filming (and that can also be used as AF assist light and catchlight).

Improvement Suggestions from Attendees
The presentation we went to is quite useful because, besides hearing about what’s in the pipeline and getting hands-on with the camera, it also brings users of the X-series cameras together to share experiences, ideas and improvement suggestions.

One improvement suggestion had to do with expanding the exposure compensation bracketing from 3 to 5 or even 7 shots to make taking shots with wide dynamic range easier; that should be easy enough to add in a firmware update.

Another user suggested using radio instead of infrared trigger on the flash so line of sight is not required. Maybe in the next flash?

Another user suggested the use of a small built-in flat battery (like the one used in smart phones and the iPad) to power the LCD while letting the standard battery power the actual picture taking. This may solve the relative short battery life of mirrorless cameras.

The overall sense in the room is that the improvements in the X-T2 are significant enough to warrant an X-T1 user to upgrade. Not only does the X-T2 gain increased sensor resolution, a much improved AF-C, 4K video, 3-direction tilting LCD, and a 100fps refresh rate EVF — the availability of the Vertical Power Booster Grip and EF-X500 flash solve previous roadblocks for those who needed longer battery life and/or the ability to shoot at a high sync speed.

If you own an X-T1, let us know if you plan to upgrade to the X-T2. If you own a DSLR, will you switch to an X-T2 — or, at least, are you tempted to switch but feel there are still a few roadblocks? Fujifilm is well-known to listen to and respond to its users (and potential users), so let them know your views.

Related Links:
Fujifilm X-T2 Press Release
Fujifilm X-T2 Review
Fujifilm X-T2 QuickFact Sheet
Fujifilm X-T2 Special Site
Fujifilm X-T2 Specifications
Fujifilm X-T2 Sample Images
Fujifilm X-T2 Manuals and Download

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