London from helicopter with Fuji X-T2 and X-Pro2
Time has come to upgrade my old trusty pair of X-T1s so what better place is to test new X-T2 than a doors off helicopter (link at the end of this blog) ride over London?
After some thinking and web searching I opted for the X-T2 (with battery grip) and 50-140mm f2.8 lens combo, and X-Pro2 with 35mm f1.4 as a second camera, as I wanted to test a fast prime and was not sure how much light we would get at the end of the flight.
The flight was planned for just after 3pm and the idea was that we would fly over the Tower Bridge about half an hour before sunset. With luck we would have good light and great scenery. In fact we (three photographers sharing the flight) were very lucky and the dull grey sky broke into clouds and gave us what we were hoping for.
To get the best quality shots and relative freedom of view one needs to take doors off. This requires a proper secure harness with several attachments points to the helicopter, plus safety belt, plus both camera straps having to be secured by carabins too.
Despite all that, being strapped to a chair 1600 ft in the air still makes you being rather cautious when you lean out to take a shot. Having dual cards slots in both cameras and extra batteries in X-T2 comes handy as changing anything during the flight is not allowed, as no one wants anything to fly out of the cabin and hit the blades… for the same reason the lens hoods were removed too.
Once in the air you get very strong vibrations, noise and wind so my cameras were set at 1/1000s shutter speed, auto ISO from 200 to 800 and I would only change aperture depending on the shot I was taking.
Saying that, and you can see from the shot info I attached to each image, most of the shots were made with large apertures. I stopped down both lenses ocassionaly and only once used f8 when light was hitting me too hard – EVFs on both cameras are great to see what you get, that is if you can hold camera to your face in that vibration.
Post-editing was done in Lightroom 6 using Fujifilm Classic Chrome profile with some further adjustments. Click on any image to adjust it to your screen size.
I found myself using both X-Pro2 with 35mm f1.4 and X-T2 (with vertical grip) and 50-140mm f2.8 lens pretty much equally. I did not note any difference in quality of shots as both cameras (and lenses) did a superb job.
Using joysticks for choosing focusing points was very easy, especially in a heavy vibration situation and both cameras were very comfortable to use. The only thing I would have liked differently is a tighter aperture ring on 35mm f1.4 – it is too soft, so it is too easy to move under helicopter flight conditions.
And yes, here comes a small rant, Fuji – why still only three frames per bracket? And why put movie mode onto the left subdial where brackets used to be on X-T1? It would make more sense to place it with the other extras on the right side of that dial together with panorama, filters etc.
Also it would make sense if info icons on EVF were to have the same locations on both X-Pro2 and X-T2, for the sake of clarity and simplicity … and finally, how about an option of saving your camera body settings onto an SD card as a file so you can quickly set up another new one?
Anyway, would I fly again – absolutely yes (see link below), would I take the same cameras – yes, may be swapping 35mm to 23mm f1.4 or 16-55 f2.8 lens.
“I am a self-taught photographer. My day job is an academic researcher/ lecturer based in London, UK. I started photography properly about four years ago when I switched from Canon to Fujifilm X system, that was X-Pro1 camera, and I have stayed with Fujifilm ever since. I like moving between styles: street, architecture, landscape and travel photography as it helps me to explore the world. I currently use X-T2 and X-Pro2 (lives in my bag) camera bodies and Fujinon prime and zoom lenses.”