Fujifilm X-Pro2 Review
The X-Pro2 is one of the most anticipated new cameras in 2016, and for the fans of the X-Series, this means they can finally stop reading all the online rumours and speculations over morning coffee, it is now time to hit the internet for reviews, first impressions, and final thoughts. Yep, I've been there and done that. Its predecessor, X-Pro1, came out 4 years ago, since then Fujifilm has more or less completed the entire lens range, and the company had just celebrated the 5th anniversary of the X Series line. In other words, Fujifilm had a lot of time to improve on the X-Pro1 and to make a truly matured product. On paper, the X-Pro2 seems to check all the right boxes, but does it deliver on its promises and meet the high expectations?
My Fuji X journey started 3 years ago when I switched from DSLRs to the X100S, which is the best decision I ever made as a photographer. As great as the X100S was, there's one thing it didn't allow me to do. I couldn't utilize Fuji's interchangeable lenses, especially those remarkable primes like the 35mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2. So I had to scratch that itch by adding the X-T1, I felt right at home with the X-T1 immediately as it was aimed at DSLR users. In fact, I was so impressed with the X-T1, I picked up a X-E1 for my wife, so we could share the same interchangeable lens system.
As much as I love my X-T1 and X100S, I still suffer from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) occasionally as I'm sure most photographers do. From time to time, I am tempted by the latest and greatest offerings from Sony, Olympus, and even Leica ( yes one can dream). The truth is, all of the top camera companies make quality products with similar specs, the technology has levelled the playing field, and for the type of photography that I do, an APS-C sensor is more than adequate. What Fuji does better than others is offering unparalleled user experience, and that is important to me. The more sensible thing to do is build and fill out your lens collection, and then upgrade the body every 2 to 3 years, at least that's what I convince myself to do. So now that I'm heavily invested in the Fujinon lenses, the question becomes whether or not I should upgrade to the X-Pro2 from X-T1.
I was jumping for joy when Fujifilm Canada sent me a review unit of the X-Pro2 a couple of weeks ago. I never had any hands-on experience with the X-Pro1, so I was curious to see what the user experience would be like. Here are some of the highlighted new features.
- 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMO III Sensor
- Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
- Intelligent Hybrid Phase detection AF with 273 selectable AF points
- One combined dial for both ISO and shutter speed
- Weather resistant structure
- Film Simulation "ACROS"
- Grain effect on JPEGs
- Dual SD card Slots
- A joystick to move the focus around and to select menu options
Now let's get to the good part. After unboxing the camera, I held it in my hands for a good 5 minutes, it feels incredibly solid and well-made. It's bigger and heavier than the X-T1, but I don't mind the size increase, it feels just right in my hands.
In terms of operation, the menu layout has been improved and simplified compared to the X-T1. The ISO/Shutter speed dial is sturdy and easy to use. The joystick...oh man that joystick, before this I've never used a camera that has this feature, if I had, I would've considered it a must-have on all cameras. It moves the focus point around effortlessly and you can also scroll up and down the menu with it, and when you press it down, it confirms the selection.
The X-Pro2 uses the same battery as the X-T1 and the X-E series, this is definitely a big plus in my book. Furthermore, it now has a much better and more accurate battery life indicator. The battery life seems to be about the same as the X-T1, I always carry two spare ones, so it's never been an issue for me.
I love using the OVF (Optical Viewfinder) on the X-Pro2, it just offers a more organic shooting experience. I always leave the "AF corrected frame" function on so that I can account for the parallax error, and if I need to do close-ups, I can always switch to EVF (Electronic Viewfinder). With the OVF, there's no blackouts between frames, and I get to see what is entering the frame. I don't really care for the hybrid viewfinder mode, which essentially is OVF with a small EVF in the corner of the frame, I find it too distracting, it has too much going on.
I'm not a pixel peeper, there are plenty of reviews that do that, but in terms of image quality, the dynamic range looks to be improved to me, and i'm sure the increase in megapixels will make a difference in print size and print quality. There is also noticeable improvement in high ISO performance, images taken at ISO 800 are practically noise free.
My favourite thing about the X-Pro2 just might be the ACROS film simulation mode. It produces more contrasty images with deeper blacks and smooth tones. The out of camera JPEG files look very good to my eyes, but I'm too much of a control freak, so I always shoot RAW and edit it in Lightroom. I updated my Lightroom to version 6.4 so that I can apply the ACROS film simulation to the RAW files. After that, I just need to adjust the highlight, shadow, and the black sliders. It significantly shortens my workflow for editing monochrome images. In fact, I like ACROS so much that I ended up with shooting mostly in this mode as you can see in this review.
I shot with the XF14mm, XF35mm f/1.4, and XF56mm f/1.2 APD, the auto focus is fast and accurate, especially for 14mm and 35mm. The 35mm in particular feels very natural on this camera, it also helps that the OVF frameline almost covers the entire viewfinder when you are using this lens. The 14mm and 56mm are not really suitable for OVF, with the 14mm, you will capture more than what you see in the viewfinder, and with the 56mm, the frameline only covers a small area in the viewfinder. So the EVF is necessary in these situations.
One minor complaint I have is about the menu display, I like to turn LCD screen off and use viewfinder only, but that means when you need to access the menu, it only shows up in the viewfinder, it is a pain to look at the menu through the viewfinder. It makes sense to always display the menu on the LCD screen regardless of your view mode. Also, on a few occasions, I did wish it had X-T1's tilting LCD screen for some extreme low angle shots, but it is by no means a deal breaker.
In conclusion, the X-Pro2 is more of a evolution than a revolution. Its predecessor was more revolutionary at the time. The X-Pro2 doesn't need to be a game changer though, all Fujifilm had to do with this camera is build on the existing foundation, improve upon the winning formula, and give the photographers what they want. And with the X-Pro2, they have done just that, the X-series has now come of age, and their new flagship is another winner. The answer to my own question is a resounding yes, the X-Pro2 is worth upgrading to.
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Hi-Res full size images with EXIF info can be found in this flickr album