Why Fujifilm in the first place?
If you want to skip the introduction, you can click here
In 2010 I decided to invest in a DSLR. I love walking and biking in the nature (Denmark doesn’t have much wilderness, but a lot of flat, beatifull nature). So weather resistance was the most important feature to me. I ended up buying a Canon7D mk1. I expected to shoot a lot of wild life and action, but ended up enjoying landscape photography. The EF-S 10-22mm lens became my most used outdoor lense. The Canon7D is a great camera in many ways – and tough. You can play succer / rugby with it all day till sunset, then pick it up and shoot the landscape. But despite its versatility and outstanding AF-performance, I ended up spending hours in Lightroom to compensate for its mediocre ISO-performance and color noise in the shadows.
In stead of upgrading to 5D, I decided to look for a less costly alternative to Canon and full frame lenses. A good friend and semi-pro had aquired the X-T1, and I was hooked from the moment I had it in my hands. So after checking the (mostly positive) reviews on the World Wide Wisdom, I ordered the Fujifilm X-T1 with the 18-135mm “kit lense”. Soon the XF10-24mm lense followed.
The EVF, film simulation and good ISO-performance combined with low noise level and dynamics in the shadow made it a good friend from day one. Gone was the days spending hours to repair
crappy noisy images. At daytime, set the exposure for the sky and of you go! At night, use the preview in the EVF or LCD screen before you take the picture. Wow!
I had a fantastic slingbag for my Canon and used tripods for the landscape photography, so the commonly appraised weight difference wasn’t a big deal to me. And with a prime lense the Canon were as sharp as the Fuji X-T1. But the color rendering and film simulations in the X-T1 have saved me hours in Lightroom – especially when I occasionally shoot portraits.
Aside: My Canon-gear just collected dust in the shelves after I got the X-T1. After a year, where I only had used it once as a backup camera, I sold the camera and all the lenses. For the money, I bought the XF50-140mm lens. There must have been some bad Carma attached to these money, because now this lense collects dust in the shelf…
Fuji Rumors is an expensive friend
The Fujifilm community resembles the iOS-community in many ways. Once hooked, we tend to oversee the flaws of the Fujifilm gear, and fiercefully defend the cameras capabilities and we hype the subtle Fuji-magic. The Fujifilm X-site and X-magazines also adds to the coolness factor. Becomming a Fujifilm X-shooter or even ambassador suddently seems to be within reach, just by looking at the magazines and the X-website. A good deal of the community is exposed on the Fuji rumor website.
Nevertheless, I regulary read the fujirumor website, and in July the much awaited Fujifilm X-T2 was announced. From the rumors, the sensor upgrade, increase in fps and AF-improvements were the main reasons for upgrading. As a landscape photographer, only the 24Mp and hopefully improved ISO-performance were of particular interest. And getting new gear of course! After the announcement, it was possible to preorder the camera. In Denmark, preordering on the web gives you the possibility to opt out. So I decided to preorder the X-T2 and while waiting, read all the reviews I could find by basically checking the fuji rumors-site. And there were many reviews from July to September… A few weeks before the release date, I was contacted by the camera shop. They wanted to know if I wanted savings on the grip or a lense. So I had to decide, and especially the two batteries and boost-enhancement in the grip was highly appraised in the reviews. So I decided to go for the X-T2 – and the grip.
Long story short; in the start of September, I had a brand new X-T2.
The first impressions were good. As an owner of an X-T1, picking up the X-T2 is like meeting the unknown twin of a good friend. Great similarities but some minor differences…The few extra mm on the body and dials are notable.
Gone is the flimsy card-slot, and the battery can be changed without unmounting the tripod plate (at least for my arcaswiss and manfrotto plates).
The EVF is also improved, and the AF joystick frees up the four Fn-buttons for other purposes (like actually having functions attached to them). The AF-joystick (focus stick according to the manual) was a good deja vu from my Canon 7D.
Evaluating the X-T2 after 4 months
The following are my personal view on the difference between the Fujifilm X-T1 and the X-T2. I do not dig into technical comparisons.
First the major annoying features before all the appraisals:
- The Drive Mode Wheel – The Drive mode dial is to thin. I do not have thick fingers, but the lack of plate thickness costs broken nails. When I dial the wheel to Panorama mode (yes, I occasionally do that), it is almost impossible to switch back, since the knob on the wheel is inaccessible on top of the body. Another annoying feature is, that struggling with the Drive Mode Wheel often results in a new ISO-setting. I often adjusts the ISO-setting, so I often forget to lock the ISO-wheel.
- Diopter adjustment screw – In several occasions, I have started wondering, if the autofocus was out of order. The EVF showed a tack sharp image, but the instant ‘replay’ in the EVF looked totally out of focus. After a lot of testing, I found that the diopter was out of adjustment. When I set my eye to the EVF, my eye was able to correct for the misadjustment, but the short ‘blanking’ of the EVF was enough to reset my eye, and it wasn’t able to refocus, before the replay-picture disappeared. The diopter adjustment screw is way to loose and cannot stand normal camera handling. I have to find some black duct tape to prevent misadjustments. But it won’t be pretty…
- The Focus Peeping locks – I think the
softwarefirmware in the camera has some bugs when it comes to focus peeping. In several occasions — I especially remembers a morning 5am at a windy beach before sunset — the focus peeping locks up. I can press the AF stick, switch drive mode and focus mode, but the preview is still locked in the 100% peeping. I can then choose to take a picture or power off the camera. Taking a picture is not always the best choice, when the camera is set for a 30 seconds exposure. On the other hand, all temporary setting are deleted when the camera is powered down. Hopefully this feature will gracefully disappear with coming firmware updates.
- The red array ghost in backlit scenes – Occasionally I have experienced ‘red arrays’ in my images. I expect some kind of lense flare, when I point my camera towards the sun, but sometimes a red pattern appears. Below is an example, but I rarely sees this phenomena. Slightly altering the lense angle makes it disappear.
The following features are not good or bad, just different
- 24Mp requires more attention to your body posture – The X-T1 is more forgiving than the X-T2 due to its lower pixel count. Before, taking pictures at a low shutter speed was not a big problem. After the switch, the images started to look a bit shaky when I was pixel peeping. I had to adjust the finger press and body posture to re-enable slow shutter speed shooting.
- Boost mode drains the battery – The boost mode is energy consuming. I have assigned the boost mode toggle to a fn-button, but when I forget to switch it of, the battery is drained at an ‘improved’ speed.
- Locking mechanism on ISO- and Shutter Speed-dials – I was getting used to the two locks on the X-T1. They kind of made sense to me; push to adjust ISO, push to leave Auto-mode on the shutter speed wheel. The new locking mechanism on the X-T2 is a ‘lock on/lock off’-push mechanism. I enjoy using both dials during my shots but forgets to lock them afterwards. Or I forget to lock the shutter dial, when I put my camera in Aparture-priority. Result: Stowing away the camera and getting it back again often leads to ‘creative’ settings. I dont think it’s the cameras fault. Just me having a bad habit from the X-T1.
- EVF – The improved refresh rate on the EVF is ok. But I don’t find the difference massive. Particularly the performance enhancement in boost mode (without the grip) comes with a price; low battery life time.
- Details in Lightroom – The work flow for sharpening images from the new XTrans-sensor 3 is a bit different in Lightroom. But there is many great articles on Word Wide Wisdom on how to make presets for the X-T2.
- Outdated filters – I have a slim Cokin ND-X filter for my XF 10-24mm lens. But on the X-T2, strange patterns started to show up. At certain positions, I had dark shadows resembling a swastika or the drawings of the Cynefin framework. I suspect the filter to have similar density as the grid of the sensor in the X-T2. So now I have to look for fixed density filters.
Finally all the improvements and new features:
- AF performance – The AF performance is great. For single shot auto focus, it is excellent. And even in low light situations, I find it very usable. When it comes to continuous focus, it is not as good as high-end DSLR’s. But definitely better compared to the X-T1. The continuous focus features resembles the auto focus system in the Canon 7D, which is positive.
- The AF joystick – the joystick (focus stick according to the manual) gives a much better shooting experience. Fuji had enabled similar navigation on the cross-function buttons on the back of the X-T1, but the buttons were hard to operate and positioned way to low on the camera body.
- “Portrait mode” for the articulating screen – The LCD monitor on the back of the camera not only flips vertically (to 90 degrees up, and 45 degrees down), but also flips horizontal to 45 degrees. 45 degrees might not seem as much, but shooting in portrait mode from a low position is a lot easier now! The release button for the horisontal flipping is stylish incorporated on the left side of the LCD panel. The downside is, it makes it hard – almost impossible – to operate wearing gloves.
- Compressed RAW – Lightroom handles the compressed raw-files, so despite I now have a 24Mp images, my RAW-files are smaller than the 16Mb RAW-files from the X-T1. Many raw files are now 15 to 28 Mb compared to the constant 32 Mb raw files of the X-T1.
- 24 Mega pixels – Don’t get me wrong; I have made great A3-prints from my X-T1 images. I honestly dont think the improved pixel count gives better printing resolution up to A3-size prints. But the 24Mp gives me more ‘artistic freedom’ when it comes to cropping and composing my images in post production.
- Across film simulation – This film simulation adds a subtle grain pattern to the B&W-pictures, that I cannot reproduce with the normal Lightroom-settings. And it looks cool !
- Dual Card slots – I use two cards in my X-T2; one for RAW-files and one for the JPEG-files. While the RAW-files goes to Lightroom, I often use JPG’s on the go, importing them to my iPhone or iPad via the Fujifilm Cam Remote App. It is possible to configure the two slots to be continuous or backups. But separating the RAW- and JPG-files has the advantage, that Lightroom only imports the RAW-files from my SD-card. Previously I had to run a little script to remove the redundant JPG’s – and only the redundant JPG’s! That is history now.
- Improved Grip – Performance boost, two batteries and the 9V charger is a clear winner. The old grip for X-T1 only had one battery and no charging.
- Menus – Fujifilm made a major overhaul on the Menu system. There are still many menues, but the grouping and navigation is easier. Only drawback is the ‘Format card’-function is well hidden. Fortunately, there is a shortcut…
- Shorcuts – when the camera is put in replay, pressing the ‘Trash’-button for three second sends you directly to the format card-function. Pressing the ‘playback’ button for three seconds switches between playback from card slot 1 and 2. This is handy, when you transfers images via WIFI to the Cam Remote App; for som (good?) reason you cannot send RAW-files, only JPEGS. But if you generate several JPEG-versions of an image via raw conversion in the playback mode, the JPG’s are stored on the same card as the RAW-files…
Was it worth the upgrade?
Buying new gear is always fun. Unpacking the camera was like opening an iPhone for the first time. Today, the X-T2 is of course my new ‘To Go’-camera.
But… Despite the many new and improved features, I don’t think the update was ‘really’ necessary for my usage. Not, that I feel the money is wasted. The Fujifilm X-T2 is great, and I would recommend it to anyone who asks for my advice. But going from the X-T1 to the X-T2 wasn’t as big a change as going from my Canon 7D to the Fujifilm X-T1. So the much awaited ‘Wow’-effect from buying a new camera was a bit underplayed. More like drinking carbonized mineral water compared to champagne…
But now I am the lucky owner of two X-series cameras! I am looking forward to the special occasions, where two lenses are needed. For instance, a prime on the X-T1 for portraits and the allround 18-135mm for candids at the snappy X-T2. Or the 10-24mm in combination with the 18-135mm or the 50-140mm under tough weather-conditions, where shifting lenses is a no-go. It’s going to be fun!