Monday, 11 April 2016

My first thoughts about the X-Pro2 (part 1)

This is not meant as a review. There will be no pixel peeping or dynamic range and resolution tests and comparisons. This article reflects the experience in had with this camera in the field (not in the lab). There are great resources out there that squeeze every tiny detail out of this camera (if you need that). This article is more about the feelings I had by using the tool and how it helps me getting good resulting images.

This is the first of a series of articles about this new camera. You discover new things every time you go shooting and not on one weekend so there are new things to write about from time to time. It is more a kind of a long term real life review I am doing, because I bought the camera for my personal enjoyment and I am not a (sponsored) reviewer who makes money from creating such content. So there is no marketing buzz behind this article.

All photos in this article are in raw format developed in Lightroom. I think that the final results are more important than looking at untouched photographs in comparison. We all know what modern cameras can do, but this series of articles is more focused on the process of taking photos surrounded by the final images. You will agree with me when I say that Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, Leica and all the other major brands are doing excellent cameras. There is no need to talk about sensors and dynamic range for me.

Switch it on

I had the chance to test my newest addition to the rack in the Hafencity district in Hamburg on a warm sunny afternoon. I put the camera in to auto-ISO mode and used only two lenses: the classic 18mm f2.0 and 35mm f1.4 to keep it simple. The first thing you will notice about this camera is that it is a hell of a fast camera. You switch it on and it is instantly ready to snap a shot. When you look through the viewfinder you will discover a bright, fast and lag-free EVF. The visual elements in this EVF are a bit to tiny for my eyes. The exposure compensation overlay on the left for example is too small (like far away) for my taste. The older models did it better. But this is nothing that real bothers me. The OVF is now on steroids and in conjunction with the new fast auto-focus system it is more reliable and not a kind of a roulette game like it was before with the X-Pro1. You can also use a new picture in picture mode to see a live image directly from the sensor in the lower right. This could be interesting if you use a manual lens in conjunction with the OVF. I don't need that because I find it a bit distracting and it leads my eyes away from what's really happening in the center.

Buttons and size

If you come from a X-Pro1 you won't notice any change in build quality, the camera feels quite the same in my hands as before. The grip is a bit bigger now, but I had no problems even with the predecessor because of my small hands. The new button placement is not a real problem for me. The location of the Q and the AE/L button is a bit weird (on the right grip) but there is no perfect camera and this won't stop you from taking great photos. The ISO dial is also not a big problem for me. Better than digging deep into menus. Now you can configure three profiles for auto ISO and switch between them. You can dedicate a function key to choose it but why is there no way to attach the ISO profile to the front wheel (because I don't have any use for it right now). It would be great to switch the ISO-profiles by pressing and rotating. Maybe Fuji is reading this blog (because I am famous!) ;-)

Real life experience

How will this camera perform when you are walking down the streets and it rests on your hip or chest ready for some action? "Really good", is my simple answer. Just raise the camera to your eye (switching it on at the same time) and it is instantly ready to take an image. I prefer the OVF in most situations because it gives you more freedom of composition and it always free of lag (more about the that topic here). With this new Fuji flagship the auto-focus system is now spot-on in nearly every situation and that is a real step forward if you come from DSLR photography like I did. The X100s and the X-Pro1 are sluggish like hell compared to the newest models. Even the X100t is not as fast as it should be to be on the same height as the competition.

If you are using this camera for street photography you are able to work with zone focusing to avoid problems in getting everything into focus which is the best way to work in the streets, but I am not only a StreetTog. I also love to do nearly all kinds of photography without limits and it is good to have a camera with fast auto-focus that works well in nearly all conditions. I hope that Fuji will incorporate this up-to-date technology into the whole product line to end the focus hunting forever.

Not only the auto-focus is fast. The new dual card slot is capable of writing on high speed UHS-II SD cards. You won't notice any delay when you take a photo. A pure joy because all these retarding aspects of technology are stepping more and more into the background and the camera feels like back in the days where a photo was made after you released the shutter. And the shutter is also a reason to be happy with this tool. The newly designed mechanical shutter can now take photos up to 1/8000 sec without being loud and bold. Fuji did some great engineering behind that. You need to listen to this smooth sound by yourself to believe it. Update: Kevin Mullins did on SoundCloud!

Overall feeling? 

I haven't found a real quirk yet that was stopping me from taking photos since I own this cam so my first impression is an excellent one. The camera worked well and felt like a real Fuji camera. The processing of the images in Lightroom is also the same as before. The colors feel right and and the overall sharpness is as great as from the predecessors. The extra megapixels are good for larger prints and the good quality glass from Fuji can deliver excellent results.

The price tag seems a bit high for this camera but bear in mind that there is no other brand doing a model with such a hybrid viewfinder system that is also weather resistant. If you don't need that than go for the X-T1 or X-T2 (when it's released) and be happy with it. I think that Fuji is well armed for the market with his lineup of cameras starting with the X70 and ending with the X-Pro2. Every serious photographer should find a camera in that portfolio to take great photos with.

To be continued...

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If you have some questions regarding this camera than write a comment below or contact me via twitter or instagram.



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