Fujifilm X-T2: Hands on Review

 

This year was a good year for me. I was approached by Fujifilm Middle East to become an official Fuji-X-Photographer. Obviously I said “Hell to the yes!!!”. My first project was to test out and review the X-T2. I had read those early rumors online about full frame possibilities and different batteries and of course, having accumulated a ton of lenses and batteries I was a little worried.

Battery
Sitting down at the Fujifilm Middle East office, the team presented the camera to me and as I unboxed it the two batteries greeted me first. YES!!! Same size batteries!!! But wait, it gets better. The new battery actually packs more heat than the old one. I don’t have any numbers to back this up but from a general feeling it last about twice as long as the old battery when using the X-T2. So yes, you can still use the old batteries but if you’re buying extra then I recommend dishing out a few extra bucks and getting the new ones, just because the X-T2 uses up more power than its predecessor.

Size
When I held it it my hands I felt it was a little bigger and heavier than the X-T1, just 50 grams heavier. Not enough to bother me though. After a few days I forgot about the size difference and focused on all the new stuff it has to offer. Here are a few side by side photos to get the discussions started.

X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right
X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right

Joystick
From the photos above you’ll notice that the front layout is almost identical, but the back layout isn’t. The X-T2 now has the joystick that controls focus point like the X-Pro2, a very welcome upgrade you can now free up the custom functions on the pad for other uses.

Shutter release
Just to get this part out of the way, the shutter release has a new design. I know a lot of people didn’t like the old design on the X-T1 saying it was sticky or not soft or something. I didn’t quite get it and it never bothered me, but anyway, here’s a photo of the new one.

Dials
They’ve got this new mechanism where you click to lock or unlock. At first I was a little annoyed because it makes changing the ISO or shutter speed a 3 step process (unlock, twist, lock) rather than the two step process it used to be (twist while holding down, release). After using it for sometime I got used to it and forgot about it. So I guess it’s just a preference but not really a big deal.

X-T2 Top | X-T1 Bottom
X-T2 Top | X-T1 Bottom

Card slots
The new card slot is bigger than the X-T1’s. It’s nice and rigid with a mechanical lock mechanism and no chance of slipping off like the X-T1. Oh yeah, dual card slots with same options as the X-Pro2, but we knew that was coming right?

X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right
X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right

Door Cover
If you’ve owned an X-T1 before then you’ll know how annoying that door cover is. About a couple of months into using it it starts to bow out, and the leather around it starts to come off. Well, they’ve fixed that on the X-T2; that door is now pretty solid and the leather is significantly harder and doesn’t feel like its going anywhere.

Vertical tilt screen
Surprise!!! Well, I was surprised. You probably aren’t because some @$$hole leaked a pic of it and it’s now all over the Internet. The discussions online say that it looks flimsy and stupid and complicated to operate. That’s true… If you’re retarded. The mechanism is pretty intuitive and helpful when trying to shooting in portrait orientation from a low angle. I have a herniated disc (L5-S1, thanks for asking) so to me this feature is heaven sent, no more breaking my back to get a low shot.

I will confess something. I was retarded. I managed to drop the camera one day. The lens attached (56mm) broke from the back end attached to the camera (not the glass) but nothing happened to the camera body. And yes the screen was flipped open. However, although it didn’t physically break the screen stopped working and Fujifilm Middle East are working on fixing it for me. Conclusion, it’s a pretty sturdy screen.

X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right
X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right
X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right
X-T2 Left | X-T1 Right

Autofocus
Round of applause guys, actually, standing ovation. This new autofocus system is PHE-NO-MI-NAL. Throw anything at it, low light, backlit or move subjects, it won’t even flinch. With my X-T I used to shoot slower in challenging situations. I would half press the shutter making sure that my focus point is on a area of high contrast and hope that it focuses. However, with the X-T2 I now comfortably have the focus point on exactly what I want to focus on and fully press the shutter. We also now have different options for continuous focus just like your Canons and Nikons where you can choose the behaviour based on the situation. (accelerating/decelerating subject, sporadic movement, ignore obstacles, etc…). A very welcome bonus.

Continuous Shooting
The continuous shooting mode also got an upgrade. We now have something called “Boost Mode” where you can shoot up to 14fps. With a fast enough memory card the camera doesn’t flinch. You can keep shooting until that card is full. They should call it “Beast Mode”!!!

EVF
The EVF is more beautiful than ever. A little too beautiful for my taste if I’m honest. That thing makes photos look so good that you’re actually disappointed when you load them up on your computer and view them on a screen (because they’re just not as good on the screen as they are in the EVF). Its a little misleading. So I know have 2 settings for my EVF. The first is at the regular “auto” brightness when I’m shooting for a client, I then ask them to look in the viewfinder to get some great reactions out them. The second is when I’m shooting for myself or my client isn’t around from me to show them what the photos look like in the camera. I turn the brightness down to -2 so that my brain isn’t fascinated by the photo just because its super bright and crisp and sharp, that way I can leave room in my brain to asses composition, lighting and mood.

Battery Grip
Sorry people, I did not test out the new battery grip. As soon as I put it on the camera got way too heavy and lost its charm. So I took it off and decided that I’ll carry more batteries and spend 4.2 seconds to change them out everytime I need to.

Diopter
I’ve got a little pet peeve. On the X-Pro2 the diopter had a little line that marked the “zero” setting. I loved that and expected the X-T2 to have it. Its not really a big deal but its just that I don’t trust myself to judge if the image is super sharp or if its the diopter setting. Fujifilm, why did you choose to leave that out? I really wanted that. Anyway, now i just count the clicks, there’s 12 in total from one end to the other so if you go to one end, then count 6 clicks that should be your “zero” mark.

Video
Nothing to report yet I’m afraid, I still haven’t delved into this area, but hey, specs say 4K at 60fps. Impressive…

Sample images
I had the chance to shoot with this camera in a lot of situations. A lot concerts and events in my hometown of Abu Dhabi and the Dubai next door. I also took it to Paris and Iceland on a trip. My favorite photos are from a shoot with a women’s sports apparel company based in Saudi Arabia called “Tima Love Life” where I was inspired by Benjamin Von Wong to build a rain machine!!! Stay tuned for another blogpost with the full set of those photos and a behind the scenes video. All Jpegs and edited in Lightroom.

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Final note: Why I’m a Fujifilm advocate
If you’ve made it this far then I’ll share a little story with you. I first started flirting with Fujifilm when I looked through that EVF on the X-T1. I couldn’t believe that I could see the actual photo with all the simulations and the contrast before I hit the shutter. However, the path to a full on Fujifilm switch from Canon was a long process. I started off buying just the body and the adaptor to fit all my canon lenses. I slowly started to accumulate XF lenses when u realized I needed autofocus and the lenses were pretty premium quality. My Canon 5D Mark III then became back and stayed in the car just in case I felt I needed it. I sometimes used it when I felt like shooting with two cameras. One day I noticed two problems on the 5D. The shutter started getting stuck and the contacts didn read the lens sometimes. Both very normal issues for a camera that I’ve used quite extensively. It was around the time of Gulf Photo Plus 2016, the largest photography event and exhibition in the region where all the manufacturers have a stall and sales and service team. I dropped all my Fujifilm gear to the stall to get a free service and cleaning and then hopped over to the Canon stall to drop of my 5D to get the issues rectified. Here’s how the conversation went (I’m paraphrasing)
Me: “Hi, my shutter isn’t working properly, I’d like to get it replaced. Also, the lens contacts need to be aligned. It’s not under warranty so let me know how much it costs.”
Canon Rep: Tests the camera. Shutter fails a few times, lens contacts fail a few times. Then he says, “You’re right, but I can’t take it from you here. You need to go to our service centre for the technician to diagnose the problem then we will order the parts to fix it”
Me: “Dude, you’re right here, you represent canon, the is the canon stall, I diagnosed the problem, you diagnosed the problem, can’t you just take the camera right now and get started?”
We proceeded to argue at which point I got fed up and left. I later took the camera to the service center and gave it in for repair. I personally filled out the report with the rep but they still managed to overlook the lens contacts issue. The camera came back 8 weeks later and I sent it back and to get the lens contacts repaired and that took an extra 2 weeks.
During the my time without the safety of the 5D I realized I can do absolutely anything with the X-T1, and that was the point of no return for me. I then packed up all my canon gear, every single piece, and put it up for sale. Luckily I found a buyer that took the while lot for a great price.
Let me now tell you about the flip side. Remember how I mentioned that I dropped my X-T2 and broke the 56mm lens that was in it and damaged the screen? Well, that happened around 11pm on a Thursday night (that’s a Friday night equivalent to the rest of the world, we work Sunday to Thursday here). I emailed my contact at Fujifilm Middle East right away and explained what hand happened, and that I had a shoot the next night where I needed a 56mm for. I got a reply saying they’ll be in touch in the morning.
Next morning my contact called and agreed to meet me at his office at 9pm on Friday night. Let me say that again, 9pm FRIDAY NIGHT!!! (That’s a Saturday night equivalent to the rest of the world). When we met, he handed me a 56mm lens and said, “Bring it back when we fix yours.” And that was it.
Moral of the story, I’m a sucker for customer service. I don’t just fall in love with the product, but with the people and the culture of the company.
I hope this was helpful. Please let me know what you thought by leaving a comment.

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  • Thaís Tabosa

    Sincerest and most useful review I’ve seen out there. Thanks, Waleed!

  • Brendan Jack

    Thanks, Waleed. Yuta-San & Mohammed at Fujifilm Middle East are just so helpful….like, really, really, great. I’ve had nothing but terrific support from them in addressing the few minor issues that I have had with my XT-1 & lenses, working against tight timeframes. And let’s not forget the great people at GPP here in Dubai who have worked year in & year out to raise the brand awareness of the amazing Fuji cameras. They brought out photogs such as Zack Arias, Dave Hobby, Bobbi Lane & Dave Nightingale to the annual GPP events & they have all now become advocates for Fuji cameras and helped put the products on the map, from the original X100 onwards. Consequently, these photographers have worked directly with Fujifilm in Japan on the design of the latest cameras & their input has resulted in some of the great new features we have seen make the cut on the XP2 & XT2. All of this via the GPP connection. By the way, for anyone out there who gets the chance, add attending an annual GPP event here in Dubai to your bucket list. It is the 10 day photographic equivalent of Woodstock, Rosskilde & Glastonbury all rolled up into one, with some of the best photogs in the world, across all genres, running workshops & seminars & all together in one place & accessible to all. (And no, I don’t work for GPP or Fuji….just a happy camper who has had terrific experiences with them both.)
    Congratulations, Waleed on some outstanding pix, especially the bottom two & on becoming an official X Photog. Mabrook! I’m looking forward to picking up an XT-2 when they hit the store shelves sometime in September.
    Cheers
    Brendan
    Dubai

  • Greg

    I think it’s 4K @30 FPS?