Fujifilm X-Pro2: My 6 Month Field Review
Let me be honest. I’m not a rangefinder guy. I grew up shooting medium format and SLRs, both film and digital. I’ve barely used a Leica, and only held a Fujifilm X-Pro1 in my hands once without even taking a picture with it. That’s why I thought it would be a great idea to share my thoughts with you on the Fujifilm X-Pro2! Don’t you agree…?! Well come on in and read more about it.
By the way, if you would like to see even more images shot with the X-pro2 and other cameras, plus some behind the scenes stuff from different photoshoots, feel free to follow me on Instagram.
Most of the X-Pro2 reviews I’ve read, have been written by great street photographers and photo journalists, and I don’t shoot any of those genres professionally. I’m actually pretty sure even Fujifilm doesn’t see me as an X-Pro2 user. Now some of you will probably start to freak out and scream “My god, he hasn’t used the X-Pro1. He’s not even a street photographer or photo journalist, and now he’s got opinions on the X-Pro2! Booh! Burn him! Crucify him!” So, can a non-rangefinder guy appreciate the X-Pro2…?! Well keep on reading.
The Fujifilm X-T1 actually changed several things about how I work, and it’s a camera I love. And after 2.5 years of heavy use with the X-T1, and close to 6 months of nearly daily use with the X-Pro2, now is the perfect time for telling you how I feel about it. And I’m going to be brutally honest. Please remember that these are my personal opinions. Some of you may agree with me, and a lot probably won’t. Some may think that I’m a bit harsh on the X-Pro2. But the main reason for that, is because Fujifilm themselves have spoilt me with the wonderful X-T1.
I’ve tried to go through every aspect of the camera that is important for me, and give you my comments, pluses and minuses. So this is basically my list of all the good stuff, the bad stuff, and also the stuff I really would like to see on a camera like this. You’ll also find a bunch of images shot with the X-Pro2 and various lenses. Both commercial images and from personal projects. For me, cameras are tools for transforming my visual ideas into images, so this won’t be very nerdy and techy. You can find plenty of other places on the web that cover speeds and specs and the techstuff.
There are loads of things I love about X-Pro2, and there are a few things I don’t love at all for the kind of work I do. Being a rangefinder, it’s quite different compared to the more DSLR’ish style of the X-T1 & X-T2. The X-T1 has kept both me and many of my clients happy for the last 2.5 years, and so have the X-Pro2 for the last 6 months. I’ll try to cover every area of the camera that is important to me as a working photographer, and this post is about how the X-Pro2 behaves and feels for me as a tool for making pictures.
Design and grip
Plus: I really do like the looks of the X-Pro2, even though I’m not into rangefinders. It simply is a beautiful camera that gets a lot of attention from others.
Minus: The X-Pro2 grip feels ok in my hand, but not for longer periods of time like on a long photoshoot, or walking around the town. My hand gets tired after holding it for a while, and it’s not because it’s heavy. It’s just boxier and not as comfy to hold for longer periods of time like the X-T1 is.
Don’t tell Fujifilm, but on one occasion the X-Pro2 actually slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground and hit the tarmac. Ouch… Even on a busy and noisy city street, the fall made enough sound for several bypassers to turn around and look. The good thing is that it didn’t even get a scratch, nor did the lens. So if Fujifilm asks, I’m just going to say that it was a controlled field test of their equipment to see how solid and well-built it is. And the X-Pro2 is a small tank. Thank god! But I have been shooting professionally for more than 20 years now, and I have never had any camera slip out of my hand like that, so the grip just doesn’t agree with my hand like the X-T1 does.
Plus: The X-Pro2 (like the new X-T2) has a joystick for moving the autofocus point around, and it’s great! And the definite click you get when pressing it is just how it should be. Precise and tactile. I just looove this joystick, and it makes my infamous X-T1 Sugru project superfluous.
Plus: You have a lot of focus points, with very good coverage across the whole image, and I love that.
Minus: One thing I don’t like, is the “endless scrolling” when changing the size of the focus point. On the X-T1 the size stops at the smallest or the largest even if you continue turning the dial. On the X-Pro2 it loops, and I have to be careful to stop where I want. Not ideal in hectic working situations. Please Fujifilm, make this user configurable!
Front & back wheels/dials
Minus: The wheels turn quite easily, and are a bit too loose for my taste. I would like them a bit stiffer and with more pronounced positions when turning them. They’re also pushable, but they feel a bit mushy and sticky. Almost like they keep hanging in there for a few milliseconds before bouncing back. These scroll wheels should have the same immediate click-feeling as the AF joystick.
Shutter & ISO wheel
Plus: This wheel is cleverly built, and quite an impressive bit of engineering. It’s definitely got a little wow factor.
Minus: But for me, it’s actually a little bit too clever. I often tweak the exposure with the ISO wheel when I don’t want to change the aperture or shutter speed. Having to lift up the shutter wheel before turning it is just too cumbersome and fiddly for my style of shooting, and I just find it a bit fiddly. I love the seperate wheels for ISO and shutter speed like on the X-T1.
Shutter and flash sync speed
Plus: Having 1/8000 as highest shutter speed without changing to Electronic Shutter is very welcome. And the same with 1/250 as a flash sync speed. Thanks for both Fujifilm!
Minus: However, there’s one very annoying thing about flash sync on the X-Pro2. The front wheel dial of the camera can ordinarily be used to adjust the shutter speed in 1/3 stops. But on the X-T1, when you set the shutter wheel to the 180X position, the front dial doesn’t affect the shutter speed. It’s locked as it should be. But on the X-Pro2, when you set the shutter speed wheel to 250X, you can still change the shutter speed in 1/3 stops with the front dial wheel. That’s very annoying, and when using flashes, I have often bumped my exposure during a shoot without noticing. It’s very frustrating to discover at the end of a shoot that you at some point accidentally nudged the shutter speed to 1/320 or 1/400, meaning all those images are ruined. This has to be fixed somehow. Especially since the X-Pro2 doesn’t have the ability to lock all or a selected set of functions like the X-T1 has.
The exposure compensation wheel
Plus: I love having more than 3 steps up or down, and 5 is really nice (with the C position)!
Minus: Sadly the wheel on the X-Pro2 sticks a bit out from the housing, and I keep rubbing it out of position all the time. And I really mean all the time!
The diopter adjustment wheel
Minus: I really, really, really hope Fujifilm are listening in on this: Please!!! Make the diopter wheels on ALL your future cameras lockable. Every time I pull my camera out of the bag the diopter wheel rubs out of position. Even holding my arm along the side of my body with camera in hand, makes the diopter dial rub against my leg and out of position again. I’m not kidding! On an ordinary shoot day I adjust the diopter wheel at least 15 times or more. Not fun…
The Q button and selector buttons
Plus: All of these buttons are great, with good tactile feedback when you push them. Great!
Minus: The Q button and the rightmost selector button (the four buttons around the OK button) sits right underneath the thick part of my thumb, and I keep pressing both of those buttons all the time while shooting. I have actually disabled the right selector function button just because of this.
Memory card slots
Plus: Having two SD card slots are great, whether you choose to use it for overflow or backup, so it’s a very welcome addition to the X-series. Thanks Fujifilm!
Minus: … or rather the lack of it. I know this question have been asked a millions times before, but I’m just wondering, why not? Even if this camera seems to be targeted (mainly) towards street photographers and photo journalist, I can’t really see one good argument why a tilt screen wouldn’t be fantastic tool for them too. I mean, all photographers of all genres have to shoot from strange and awkward angles more often than not, and a tilt screen is a great tool.
The viewfinder (EVF and OVF)
Plus: The higher refresh rate (frames pr second) of the EVF picture is awesome, so there’s hardly any picture lag at all, even in dark conditions.
Minus: The viewfinder and EVF is my biggest issues with the X-Pro2. First of all, I love big viewfinders, and this isn’t. Secondly, the image quality and color fidelity in the EVF isn’t fab at all compared to the X-T1. It has to be said that I misunderstood the whole concept from start, and actually thought there was something wrong with my X-Pro2 test sample. So I talked to other X-photographers, who said the EVF was great. I talked to salespeople in stores who said it was great. And I talked to Fujifilm, who said it should be great. But then one guy at the Scandinavian Photo camera store in Oslo (thanks Simen!) pointed me towards the explanation. You see, I compared the X-Pro2 to the X-T1, and for me that was a natural thing to do. On the X-T1, you look straight onto an LCD screen, so everything looks great. Color fidelity. Contrast. Sharpness. But on the X-Pro2, what you see in the EVF is actually a projected image. And when I heard that, I understood why the EVF looked like it did. A projected image like that is duller and with a lot less color fidelity. Especially in difficult lighting conditions like shooting into bright lights (I do that a lot), or in dark conditions (I do that a lot too).
On one of my first commercial shoots with the X-Pro2, I shot some corporate images for a brochure on location. In one of the situations I shot towards some spotlights to get a backlit effect, and in the EVF the people looked just bland and sickly green. I got quite shaky and thought the images would turn out awful. Few of my clients like having green skin… But even though everything in the EVF looked green’ish, the colors looked great when I saw the images on the LCD screen.
There are several reasons why I love shooting with the mirrorless X series from Fujifilm, and one of those reasons is the ability to see an image close to the captured file before I press the button. The X-T1 EVF gives me a picture of such quality that I feel I’m watching it on a big monitor. I trust what I see while I’m shooting, and can move on quickly. But on the X-Pro2 I have to stop and check the images on the LCD to judge the colors and contrasts of what I have captured. That’s the same way I have to do it on a DSLR, and then I feel I’m loosing out on one of the big benefits of shooting with a mirrorless camera.
And on top of that, the “viewfinder hole” in the camera body that you look into is quite small, and unless you keep your eye exactly in the middle of it, the edges of the hole start to peek into view and make the image a bit fuzzy and vignetted. If you wear glasses, that extra distance from the viewfinder will accentuate this issue even more. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe this issue could easily have been solved if only the hole in the camera was 1-2mm bigger in diameter. Now where’s that power drill….
On the X-T1 I also like to shoot with the deeper eye cup (EC-XT L) to keep out stray lighting. The small ring on the X-Pro2 is hardly an eye cup at all, and it keeps unscrewing and falling off too. Shooting outside in bright conditions, and especially into the light, makes it extremely difficult to get a good view of the image in the EVF. I often honestly can’t see if the subject is smiling or not. So I have to keep checking that LCD in playback, something that takes that extra little time.
And the optical viewfinder is not for me. I don’t like viewfinders where lenses peeks into my view. Many seem to get a real kick out of the fact that you get an electronic overlay, and a hovering square indicates the area the lens covers. It is fascinating and impressive that they get it to work, but it just doesn’t suit my way of working. With for instance the XF90 and the optical viewfinder, I have to frame my subject inside a tiny rectangle of an already quite small viewfinder windows.
The Sound of Music
Plus: And now for something completely irrational! I just love the shutter sound. Yes I know it has nothing to do with image quality or practical shooting, and many will find even mentioning it weird, but I just love it! It sounds both cool and reassuring in an absurd kind of way. So today’s words of wisdom to those who find this comment silly: Never underestimate the sound of a shutter. It can be music to your ears!
Plus: The menus on the X-T1 could be quite confusing with things spread around in not always logical ways. On the X-Pro2 they have redesigned the menus, and it works very well. Even though it looks a bit different from the X-T1, I immediately felt right at home with the new menus, so well done Fujifilm. You can also set up your own menu (My Menu), and that is a welcome addition.
The Q menu
Minus: On the X-T1 you make adjustment in the Q menu with the front dial wheel. But on the X-Pro2, you have to use the rear dial. Confusing if you swap between different X models, so please Fujifilm, make it possible to change this in a firmware update (or someone please let me know if I have missed something…)! I like consistency between the different X cameras.
Locking functions on the camera
Minus: On the X-T1 you can select from a range of 36 functions that can be locked (all or a selection) so you don’t accidentally change them. Great if you hand over the camera to someone else for taking pictures of you, or if you want to make sure no one fiddles with your camera on a shoot. I can’t find this function on the X-Pro2 at all, and I really miss it!! Please Fujifilm! New firmware!
Minus: … or rather the lack of it. I just have one comment: Why not??? I use tethering, I need tethering, and I want tethering. For those unfamiliar with tethering, it’s the ability to connect the camera to a Mac or PC with a USB cable while shooting, so the images immediately show up on the screen (you can do it with the X-T1) This is considered a pro camera, and a pro camera needs to have tethering. Period.
Image quality and ISO
Plus: The image quality is very good. It’s all the good stuff from the X-T1 plus more. Capture One (my favourite rawconverter) delivers wonderful results, and the JPGs straight out of camera are exceptionally good. Luckily they have managed to keep the look and feel of the X-Trans II sensor in the X-T1. The X-Pro2 goes one step higher on the ISO scale, up to 12.800 with raw, and the ISO performance is a bit cleaner and with less noise than the X-T1 from what I can see. I’ve never been afraid of high ISO on the X-T1, and I gladly shoot with ISO 6400 on both cameras. So far I haven’t tested anything higher on the X-Pro2.
The new Acros
Plus: Even though I usually end up using the raw files instead of the JPGs, I love using Fujifilms different film simulations. And they make the images look a bit more funky and interesting than a flat raw file when showing clients images on the back of the camera. And for my personal images, having a high quality JPG straight out of the camera, means that I don’t have to develop the raw if not necessary. And the new Acros simulation is cool. Very cool. So is the addition of in camera grain. Together they make for some very great looking black and white images straight out of the camera. Love it!
Battery level indicator
Plus: This now has more steps, and is more accurate. On the X-T1 I change the battery as soon as the indicator drops down 1 step, but the X-Pro2 seems to be much better.
So, let’s cut to the chase. is the X-Pro2 a good camera? No, it isn’t. It’s a great camera. Comparing it to the X-T1 & X-T2 form factor isn’t easy. They are two different tools, for two different kind of photographers. For me, the work I do and the way I like to shoot, the X-T1 & X-T2 form factor suits my shooting style better. So I would chose the X-T1 (or X-T2 when it finally hits the streets). But the X-Pro2 has plenty of positive sides (and a few negative ones) as well as tremendous image quality, so I use it a lot, and I enjoy it. So to sum up the most important stuff:
Wonderful image quality
Plenty of focus points covering a big area
Great build quality
Color and contrast accuracy of the EVF
Fiddly ISO dial when working fast
Lack of tilting screen
Disclaimer: Yes, I am an official Fujifilm ambassador, a so called X-Photographer. No, that doesn’t mean I’m paid and bought, or that I have sold my soul to Fujifilm. Yes, Fujifilm loaned me this camera to give it a thorough test, as they do with other equipment. No, Fujifilm doesn’t tell me what to write. Fujifilm want to make better products, and contrary to many other camera manufacturers, they do that by listening to their users, and loaning them equipment. No, I wasn’t paid to write that either. But I really wish they did, haha…