Friday, September 2, 2016

First Look: Fujifilm X-T2

First Look: Fujifilm X-T2

SEPTEMBER 01, 2016

By Bob Rose

Several weeks ago, Fujifilm announced the X-T2, an SLR-ish mirrorless camera and the successor to the very competent but slightly aging X-T1 that was introduced over two and a half years ago.  That’s a long time in digital camera years and we really didn’t want to wait for September production, so Fujifim was kind enough to let us use a pre-production not-quite-ready-for-primetime model.  We always like the opportunity to get a sneak peek and play but with the caveat that camera performance and our observations are based on one early sample.

The most obvious change is the overall image quality improvement that the new 24.3-megapixel APS-C-sized X-Trans CMOS III sensor offers over the older 16-megapixel sensor. As you might expect, in four years Fujifilm made some dramatic improvements in image quality and image processing.  And while the JPG’s show great tonality, sharpness and dynamic range, Adobe’s latest Camera Raw 9.61 really opens the full capabilities of the DSF files.

At first glance the XT-2 is almost identical to the XT-1, but it’s all new inside and out, and weather-proofed.  Lots of incremental improvements, some of which are actually glaring if you’re trying to use the two different cameras at the same time, but Fujifilm is well known for providing new firmware and features to older cameras so maybe we can expect an upgrade for the XT-1 someday soon.

The list of changes actually is rather extensive but two of the most exciting features as far as we are concerned are the dramatic improvement to focus speed/tracking and the real surprise that the mediocre video we were expecting to stay in the 1K neighborhood actually got bumped up to 4K (29.97P, 25P, 24P and 23.98P).  In addition, to support video there’s a Mic input on the body and a headphone jack on the optional VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip.  Dual SD card slots, supporting UHS-2 are especially handy for both video and still.

Providing a convenient grip with vertical controls the VPB-XT2 gives extended run time holding two NP-W126S batteries internally in addition to one in the body.  What’s unique is the “Boost” setting that turbocharges the camera, speeding up focus and reducing shutter lag time.

What We Liked

Much faster operation and better image quality than its predecessor are definitely welcome improvements.  More extensive user options especially with respect to focus speed, focus tracking, and a cool little joystick to control focus point don't hurt either.

The articulating 3-inch LCD, more enhanced WiFi control, a built-in intervalometer and extremely competent 4K video round out some of the big plusses for the X-T2.

What We Didn't

Although a number of “weaknesses” we experienced no longer exist due to some firmware updates, the refresh rate of the viewfinder and predictive autofocus of very fast moving subjects did not seem to match our expectations.  We know there will be some more changes and improvements prior to product release but our sample camera had trouble following and focusing on high speed action (especially across the field of view, not so much approaching or leading away from camera position).

Bottom Line

Fujfilm continues to impress by building premium quality digital cameras while still maintaining classic analog designs.  The X-T2 is a worthwhile successor to the X-T1 and, with some limitations, a serious camera if you’re looking to lose the weight of a “full-frame” camera and invest in a new system. 

The X-T2 ships in September for $1,600 and is available for pre-order now. A kit with the XF18-55mm lens will sell for $1,900.

All images © Bob Rose. Straight from camera JPEG samples.

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Time Trap Photography is dedicated to freezing those special moments in life that can be revisited and admired for generations to come. - Shannon Bourque

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