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Final thoughts along the road on the Fuji X-Pro2

I have now had many oppportunities to test the Fuji X-Pro2 in various situations, from quick hands-on experiences organized by Fujifilm between the official announcement of the camera and its official launch, to testing in real life situation in the field with a rented model.

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The X-Pro2 will quickly feel familiar to X-Series users. In many aspects, the X-Pro2 is an evolution of the X-Pro1, technologically and ergonomically.

Technologically, while there is nothing groundbreaking compared to the competition, the update is welcome:

  • The X-Pro2 is the first camera of the X-Series to boast the new 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, along with boosted processing power thanks to the new  X-Processor Pro engine. A logical and welcome improvement, though we can all thank the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor for many years of loyal service 😉 Despite of the additional megapixels, the X-Pro2 performs equally, to slightly better given the added resolution, than the Fuji X-T1 for example
  • The autofocus system has also benefitted from a (well needed) upgrade, with 273 autofocus points (169 of which are phase-detect). Important improvement, the phase detect AF pixels now cover around 40% of the screen rather than a small rectangle in the middle
  • The mechanical shutter was also improved, with a max shutter speed of 1/8,000s. More importantly for flash users, the maximum flash sync-speed is now set at 1/250s. This will give a bit more leeway to shoot wide open with a fast prime while using a flash, before requiring a ND filter. We are still due a proper comprehensive Fuji flash system with high-sync speed though
  • The hybrid viewfinder (OVF/EVF) has also been upgraded, with the addition of a X100T-like small EVF screen “within the frame”, that can be brought up in the bottom-right while using the OVF

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Ergonomically, the X-Pro2 is bringing many changes over the original X-Pro1:

  • The addition of a focus lever to select the focus point is my favourite new feature. Those who had been using the X-Series since the beginning will remember the days when we had to first press the AF button and then the D-Pad buttons to move the focus point selector. The focus lever works like a charm, and means that you can keep the 4 D-Pad directions as real custom buttons
  • All the buttons on the back of the camera have been moved to the right of the screen, for easier “one-hand” operability
  • The ISO selection has been moved out of the camera menu and replaced by a dial (100 times yeah!!! 👍👍👍), which is “embedded” within the shutter speed dial (not so yeah 🙁). You need to pull up the dial before you turn it so that it will a adjust the ISO, and you can see the currently selected ISO level through a small window pierced within the shutter speed dial. It is still a better option in my opinion than setting the ISO within the menu of the camera, but this is borderline gimmicky compared to an independent dedicated dial
  • The X-Pro2 is the first camera from the X-Series that comes with a dual slot, that you can use in 3 different modes: a slot that gets used when the memory card in the first slot is full, a simple back-up of the first slot, or a slot that gets the JPEGs when shooting in the RAW+JPEG. The latter is my favourite, because having a memory card with only your JPEG files is very handy to quickly share them on social networks. Note that only the first slot will take advantage of the faster speed of UHS-II SD cards, the second slot is a regular SD slot

What about the video mode? Video has always been a weak point of the X-Series cameras, with poor quality in many situations. The video quality is much better with the X-Pro2, in the sense that most of the time you actually get usable footages. If you are deep into video and don’t bring up Google when people talk about S-Log, the X-Pro2 is still not going to be a camera for you. However, if you are taking pictures, but sometimes need some video clips, at least now you can do that without fearing having only video clips full of moire. In the example below, the first video clip setting the stage (between 00:14 and 00:18) was shot wit the X-T1 (and does not look so great), while all the other video clips were shot with the X-Pro2:

One thing I noticed, you can only shoot video on the memory card in the first memory card slot. Once this card is full, you don’t seem to be able to shoot videos on the memory card in the second memory card slot.

 

The one compartment in which the X-Pro2 does not improve over its predecessor is battery life. Fujifilm has chosen to keep the same batteries as for the other X-Series cameras, which will delight the Fuji users who have invested in piles of spare batteries. However, from my experience, a fully-charged battery will give you only ~250 shots.

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Overall, the X-Pro2 delivers on a lot of promises, and if you are already into the X-Series you will not be disappointed by the leap forward with the new sensor. As seen above, there is a lot of good things to say about this camera. I only regret the design of the ISO dial and the too short battery life. The hybrid viewfinder remains the main feature that differentiates the X-Pro2 from other cameras. Personally, while I enjoy using it, I can live without as I have become accustomed to the big electronic viewfinder of the X-T1, and therefore for my own kit i am rather waiting for the X-T2 that should be announced in the now very-near future, as I prefer the dedicated mode dial (rather than a Drive menu) and the simple ISO dial.

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Field Test: Shooting with the Fujifilm XF50-140mmF2.8 + XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter

The Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter came out at the end of last year. At the moment, it is only compatible with the XF50-140mmF2.8 zoom lens, but the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom and the XF120mmF2.8 macro will also be compatible when they are released.

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When you add a 1.4x teleconverter between your lens and your camera, you lose one stop of light (due to the almighty laws of physics). Therefore, the XF50-140mmF2.8 + XF1.4X TC will be equivalent to an XF70-196mmF4 lens. You need to update the firmware of your camera (X-T1 in my case), something We have gotten used to do, but you also need to update the lens firmware (something we do less often) before you start using the teleconverter. Once both the camera and the lens firmware so are up to date, your camera will be able to understand to which lens you have attached the teleconverter, and from there will be able to calculate the correct values of focal length and aperture.

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In order to test the XF50-140mmF2.8 + XF1.4X TC combo in real-life conditions, I decided to use it for most of my portraits of the last Coming of Age Day, mounted on the X-T1, only switching to the XF56F1.2 prime at the end of the day. Knowing that I was losing one stop of light, I raised my ISO to 400 before I started shooting but apart from that the experience was completely seamless. In particular, shooting during daytime in good weather condition, I did not feel any difference in terms of auto-focus performance compared to using the XF50-140mmF2.8 without the teleconverter. I would assume there should be a more pronounced impact when auto-focus conditions are intrinsically more difficult (in low light for example), but this is not something I tested as in such conditions I would by default take only faster primes with me anyway.

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In terms of image quality, adding a piece of gear, no matter how well designed, between your lens and your camera body is going to downgrade the image quality. If you zoom enough on the files and do some comparisons, you will without a doubt find some differences, but the important thing to define a good teleconverter, in my opinion, is to make sure that these differences are not visible if you are not looking for them. Mission accomplished for Fuji. When you look at portraits like these ones, the fact that it might have been shot with a teleconverter which would have slightly downgraded the image quality is not the first thing that comes to your mind (not the second either!):

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Conclusion: the XF1.4X TC WR Teleconverter is a piece of gear that does well what it is supposed to do, and will come very handy in various situations for the nature and wildlife photographers. Unfortunately, you cannot use it with any lens, and the number of compatible lenses is very small at the moment. I am looking forward to see how it performs with the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 zoom when it comes out in February.

 

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