I will deal breafly with technical specifications of brand new and highly anticipated Fujifilm Fuji X-Pro2, since you can easily find them on the web. I will focus instead on the first look and impressions that I got handling and shooting with this beautiful mirrorless.
As Wedding Photographer I am truly interested in assessing if and to what extent Fujifil Fuji X-Pro2 may be a valide and reliable working tool. In particular I want to understand which are X-Pro2’s advantages , opportunities but also limits if compared to well established reflex camera’s systems (as Canon or Nikon). This trial and experience will be subject to a separate blog post once I will be able to use the new Fuji in the real world of a real wedding (very soon..). So for the time being, let’s stick to “first impressions” review out of the box 🙂
When I used to shoot film I was a happy user of Leica M system and my whole photography approach has been heavily influenced by this camera conception. One may ask what’s the new Fuji has to do with Leica M… Maybe not so much, I would say. But there are few important details that remind me to the old Leica system. First of all it is a Rangefinder-type-of-camera , based on optical Viewfinder; then the overall design and the very discreet operation mode is pretty similar to Leica.
The viewfinder is one of the main feature of the camera. It is equipped with an Advanced Hybrid Multi viewfinder, with optical and electronic displays (switchable very easily) plus the Electronic Rangefinder feature. The latter overlays a small version of the electronic finder in the corner of the optical one, which gives the user a better idea of exposure and white balance (and focus control if operating in manual focus) when not using the electronic finder.
Why choosing a Mirrorless?
I have always had the idea and the need of a silent, compact, yet reliable and professional camera. Wedding season is very long and tough. Shooting for 10-12 hrs , holding 2 cameras with lenses and with very few breaks along the day is something not really relaxing . Especially when in hot season I do 3-4 weddings per week. Photographers – and wedding photographers mostly – are always looking for the right compromise between quality, weight, dimensions and reliability of their gear.
Naturally, I compared my current working tool Canon Eos 5D markIII with 24-70mm zoom (used in pair whit Canon Eos 6D + 100mm f/2 or 135mm f/2), with the Fuji X-Pro2 with prime lens XF 23mm f/1.4 (35mm equivalent). The comparison is not fair enough, since the prime lens is by definition smaller and lighter than the Canon zoom. But leaving aside the lens, the difference of volume and dimensions between the 2 systems is quite embarrassing.
Technical Specification Fuji X-Pro2
- 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (APS-C)
- 273 Autofocus points (169 of which PDAF)
- 2.36M-dot OLED/Optical hybrid viewfinder with pop-up picture-in-picture tab
- ISO 200-12800, expandable to 100-51200 with Raw shooting at all settings
- 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed (1/3200 sec with electronic shutter) and 1/250 sec flash sync
- Film simulation
- Grain Effect option for JPEG
- Dual SD Card Slots
- 1080/60p movies
I really appreciate the dual card slot introduction, with the possibility to have a in-camera backup, the Advanced Multi Hybrid Viewfinder and the improved AF module (with 77 phase detect points) which make the camera really fast and sharp in focusing.
The Camera is very well designed and manufactured. It has a magnesium alloy body, rock solid but at the same time very light. When handling the first time I really had the feeling to have a little gem in my hands. It is not the smallest mirrorless ever. It is “rightly” big and solid without being really heavy. But what I mostly appreciated is the feeling of handling a real camera and not a small computer that takes also pictures..
The retro/vintage design chosen by Fuji for this camera is shouting in every detail, especially in the very “analogic”shutter dial, in the exposure compensation dial and in the ISO setting coaxial dial.
Operation & Controls
Let me start from what I consider the limits of this camera.
I do not find the ISO setting dial very comfortable, although I understand the choice is coherent with the retro/vintage concept. When light is poor is really difficult to see (and be sure of) the actual ISO value you are selecting, unless you keep the eye in the viewfinder or at the display where you can actually check the ISO value changing. For my way of shooting I do not use display, so I find it a bit uneasy but for those who normally use it probably this is not a big issue. What I would have liked to see is the possibility to set (as alternative) the ISO values “digitally” through a dedicated menù or button. The only ISO related operation that can be assigned to one of the six function buttons is the choice amongst 3 different ISO auto settings (which I do not find really useful for my way of shooting).
The battery life is also a limit. On average, a completely charged battery last for 350 pictures. Of course if you use the camera in energy saving mode you can do better than this. The other day I shot for 3 hours with medium energy setting on and using only the OVF (no EVF, no display) and I shot 450 pictures.
The camera features 7 customizable shooting settings that can be easily recalled through the Quick Menu (Q button on the up right of the back of the camera) . Functions that can be selected and assigned to the shooting menus mainly refer to the Image Quality (as you can see below).
Besides, one can assign the most common functions to 6 Fn buttons which are very well placed in the camera controls. You can select each of them very easily with the right hand without moving your eye from the viewfinder. This is cool and allows a really good operational speed.
The Fuji X-Pro2 is responsive, especially if “high performance” mode is ON. This actually prevent the camera to go to stand-by or sleep mode. Shutter lag is really astonishing (<0,05secs) , it is better than many DSLRs’ and – if I am not wrong- the best amongst mirrorless cameras. Really a point of reference in the market.
My first impressions on autofocus are also good. The AF mode is responsive and fast. Of course in darker situations High-End DSLRs perform surely better (especially latest Nikon DLSRs), but in general the AF is good and sharp. The little joystick at the back of the camera is another point of strength . It allows you to select the desired focus point quickly.
I was also very impressed by the reliability and precision of AF-C (continuos autofocus). I shoot a burst at 8fps on a subject rapidly moving towards the camera and each of the 10 or so pictures were perfectly sharp in focus (at f/1.4).
Fujifilm Fuji X-Pro2 produces excellent files (in sharpness and color) in standard lighting conditions up to ISO 3200, thanks also to the quality of Fujinon sXF lenses.
It does not seem Adobe Lightroom CC handle Fuji RAW files (.RAF) at the best.. so I am waiting to test CaptureOne as soon as they deliver the proper software update.
Jpegs from camera are simply awesome. This is one of the best point in favor of the X-Pro2. Jpegs are so good that I admit I started thinking using them in my normal workflow..
Here are some sample images . They all are Jpeg from camera (with no post correction) coming from a recent shooting I had in Rome. They are my first photos with the X-Pro2 ever (Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens).
I have tested the X-Pro2 with much harder lighting conditions than the previous.
The following shot has been taken with very low and bad quality light at ISO 6400. As you can appreciate, here the sensor produces quite an amount of noise. The EXR Processor III handles this noise with a noise reduction filter that in my opinion is excessive (even setting the NR=0). The final effect is a sort of “painting” effect .
High ISO and Dynamic Range
Being the X-Pro2 an APS-C, camera, my biggest curiosity is about Image Quality that can be obtained with high ISO settings and with bad lighting conditions.
In the following samples, you can see jpeg files (converted from raw with no intervention) of shots at ISO 3200, 6400 and 12800.
Besides the high ISO performance, what I would like to assess is the dynamic range of the file produced by Fuji Sensor.
Today on the full frame market there are cameras that can produce high quality files even in the worst lighting conditions thanks to the wonderful dynamic range their sensors have. This is true both for DSLRs (most recent Nikon cameras) and Mirrorless (Sony A7RII) . The very point is : can an APS-C camera produce comparable results ? here is how the Fuji X-Pro2 behaves.
I have tested the files dynamic at high ISO (3200 an 6400 ISO) underexposing ( -1 and -2 stop) the shots. This is just to have a quick view on the dynamic range of the X-Pro2. I will follow soon with more in-depth tests on this pushing the camera further in underexposure and in the worst lighting conditions.
What I like
- design, weight, look&feel
- operational responsive
- silent and discreet
- Autofocus is sharp
- handling , camera controls are placed in the right place
- Jpegs. I adore Classich Chrome and Acros BW
What I do not like and would like to be fixed
- battery life, too short
- ISO dial: it is uneasy, especially in the dark..no way to assign ISO setting at Fn button
- Quick and Custom Menus may be personalized mainly with parameters related to Image Quality and not with other important operation control
- Excessive Noise Reduction filter on Jpegs, unpleasant “painting” effect at high ISO values.
Of course these are only first impressions that I had using the camera for limited time (less than a week, only 1 outdoor shooting). X-Pro2 is very fun and inspiring though. My intention is to dedicate a full review post in the next days to the use of the X-Pro2 in a real life wedding shooting experience.
So stay tuned … : )