Many Fujifilm users have been waiting for this day, the launch-day of the X-T2. Some already did an upgrade earlier this year when the X-Pro2 was available, others wanted to wait for the X-T2 because they like the form factor of the X-T series. Many rumors were spread in the last months. Photographers speculated and leaked images were investigated. As of today, speculate no more. The X-T2 is officially announced and I can finally talk about it!
Early in April Fujifilm asked me if I was interested to team-up and test the upcoming X-T2. A couple of days later a secret black "X" box without any marks or branding arrived ... a brand new, factory smelling, pre-production X-T2 was inside. After carefully reading the non-disclosure that Fujifilm had sent me I felt like a secret agent with a mission, one thing was very clear: I couldn't talk about this camera to anyone. Keeping this a secret from everyone was sometimes hard, especially when attendees in my workshops were talking about the features of the new X-T2. At that time I had the camera in my camera bag, I knew the specs, I used the camera daily at the moment when others were speculating.
Being part of a group that tests a pre-production kit is fabulous, but also a bit stressful. The most difficult part was to work with beta firmware versions, especially when the camera suddenly decided to shutdown or freeze for no reason, I even lost some images in the process due to write failures. Some menu functions weren't available, others were missing and there was no RAW processing possible. Gradually the camera became more stable by each new firmware version I installed and although it was sometimes frustrating to shoot with a pre-production camera the effort was worth it! Today I have a top performing X-T2 in my hands, no more hiccups, no weird signs on the display. I don't know if my current installed firmware is final but to me it seems final.
I don't have a long history in using Fujifilm cameras, in 2015 I've made the switch to the Fujifilm X-T1 after shooting Nikon for over 10 years. Switching to an APS-C camera had various reasons but the main one was the quality the X-T1 produced at a fraction of the weight and cost of my Nikon kit. After some real-world testing I compared the X-T1 results versus the RAW files my Nikon D4 produced and although the Nikon D4 is a high end professional body I couldn't see a worth to mention difference in my line of work between a full-frame sensor and the "smaller" Fujifilm APS-C sensor. During my workshops, I often get the question why I switched. My advice is that every photographer should decide for their own if the switch from a larger DSLR is something that would fit their shooting needs. I can honestly say that the Fujifilm camera system works for me, in the beginning I had some problems adjusting to the button & dial positions but trust me after you get over this it's a great system to work with. In my line of work (children's fashion) I need to deliver files to my clients that are as color correct as possible, with the X-series cameras I found no problems to deliver the quality my clients demand. I never had a client complaining about image quality or colors since I switched to Fujifilm. I'm a happy Fujifilm shooter :)
But hey, this blogpost is not about how, when or why I switched to Fujifilm, it's about my opinion on the X-T2. Keep in mind, this will not be an in depth - pixel peeping - technical review. Spec sheets don't tell me much, I used the camera in real-world situations and what follows are entirely my own impressions based on shooting a pre-production X-T2 since April 2016.
I don't know how to describe this but when I work with a camera there must be a certain "chemistry" between me and the camera. This chemistry starts with handling the camera, it must feel good in my hands. The second part of that chemistry is the placement of the buttons and dials, the X-T1 failed a bit here. I didn't like the "D-pad" on the back of the X-T1, I assigned all 4 D-pad buttons to switch between focusing points but due to the recessed buttons it was hard to find the D-pad whilst looking trough the viewfinder. Fujifilm has solved this problem for me by adding the same "joystick" from the X-Pro2 to the X-T2, hallelujah!
The camera body feels sturdy and is slightly bigger than his predecessor which adds to the overall ergonomic feel in my opinion. The vertical grip, which I will be talking about later, is the perfect companion to make this camera feel robust. After shooting a couple of months with the X-Pro2 I got used to it's features and speed, switching between the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 has been a no-brainer for me lately. Although there's a difference between the physical shape and lay-out, both camera's found their spot in my current workflow. The biggest difference for me between the X-Pro2 and the X-T2 is the viewfinder. The X-T2 has no OVF, I don't miss that feature because I never used the OVF on my X-Pro2. The EVF on the X-T2 has the same 0.77x magnification ratio like the X-T1 but the brightness on the X-T2 has doubled, which is a great upgrade.
Is the "chemistry" here? Yes Sir, it sure is!
Never thought that a tilting screen would be so handy when you want to shoot from a low perspective. When I was shooting with my Nikon D4 I frequently found myself laying down on the ground to create a shot, since my X-T1 things became a lot simpler. When creating a low angle shot I just flip up the screen, lower the camera, and make the shot. This only works fine in landscape shots, the screen on the X-T1 tilts in an upward or downward position and is not sideways tiltable if you want to shoot at a low angle. Fujifilm fixed this flaw, the X-T2 has a 3-way tilting screen, besides up & down it also tilts sideways. As you can see in the image below it's now possible to use the tilting screen in a comfortable position when shooting vertical portraits, a great new feature!
When the first "leaked" images of the new tilting screen were spread on rumor sites, some photographers made comments about the durability of this 3-way tilting system. In my opinion there will be no problem with durability, I used the tilting screen a lot and it's a very sturdy mechanism. You just need to get the hang of it because there's an extra slide on the side of the screen that unlocks the 3rd tilting feature. Once you understand the technique of unlocking the screen it works like a charm. Shooting in a vertical position from a higher perspective is "not possible" because the screen only tilts sideways to the camera right. You can always "McGyver" the camera upside-down and rotate the image 180° in post-production if you really want to shoot from a higher perspective, but that would look a bit odd :)
To be honest, I didn't use the vertical grip on my X-T1 a lot because the camera felt better in my hands without the grip. When I received the X-T2 a new vertical grip was included in my test-kit, so I attached it on the camera body and used it from day one. I immediately noticed that the vertical grip has a better feeling than the X-T1 version. The X-T2 grip has an extra attachment that slides over the front of the camera, this makes the front grip a bit bigger and more ergonomic. I know for sure that the vertical grip will be permanently attached to my X-T2 in the future.
The grip has some interesting new features like a dual battery compartment, the integration of the "joystick", a function button and a "normal / boost" switch. My personal top feature is that the "joystick" or "focus stick" is now easily accessible in portrait mode. When holding the camera in portrait position my thumb rests perfectly on the joystick. This makes switching between focusing points fast and easy. The dual battery compartment is a great feature for photographers who don't like or don't have the time to go into their bag and grab a new battery, I'm sure that wedding / sports photographers will love this. The Q-menu is now accessible from the grip. The batteries can also be charged by a new AC-9v socket mounted in the grip, which is good if you are shooting tethered all day. The weight for the X-T2 with vertical grip and 3 batteries (1 in the body and 2 in the grip) is 860grams. The maximum number of frames is rated at 910 frames.
Click on the thumbnails below to see how good the new grip looks when attached to the X-T2. For me, with the vertical grip mounted, the ergonomic circle is complete. Especially if you often use Fujifilms larger zoom lenses like the XF 50-140mm and the XF 100-400mm.
I've mentioned it before, I won't be reviewing the X-T2 by in-depth by specifications. There will be a lot of other websites that will post these in-depth reviews and will show you all of the specifications, facts and figures.
Fujifilm stayed true with the original X-T1 concept, that's positive. The main difference between the X-T1 and X-T2 is that Fujifilm fixed some drawbacks that the X-T1 had in my humble opinion. After switching from the X-T1 to the X-Pro2 I felt more comfortable shooting with the X-Pro2, with the release of the X-T2 Fujifilm combined the best features of the X-T1's form factor and lay-out with the X-Pro2's technical specifications. The X-T2 is a big upgrade from the X-T1, not that the X-T1 suddenly is a "bad" camera for me but the technology Fujifilm has put into the X-T2 is amazing and another step in the right direction to please every photographer wanting to switch from a bigger DSLR. I know that every photographer has a bucket-list of features they want to see in a new camera and I'm happy to say that my bucket-list is almost complete with the release of the X-T2.
Here's my personal list of new top features compared to the X-T1:
Other new interesting features:
Full list of technical specifications can be found on Fujifilm website.
Click on the thumbnails below to see a side-by-side size comparison between the X-T1 (left) and the X-T2 (right).