I was lucky enough to spend a few months with a pre-production X-T2 and let me tell you: I put this thing to WORK.
Let me first state what this review will NOT be. I’m not going to regurgitate tech specs that you can easily find on any retail website, I feel that we are constantly bombarded with that stuff and while its good to know, seeing it once is enough. What I AM going to tell you about is how, as a hustling photographer, I put this thing through its paces. I am also going to preempt this with the standard disclaimer *this is a pre-production unit with a pre-production firmware*blah* blah* and I am also under no obligation to say good things about Fujifilm cameras. I was using them long before they made me an X-Photographer because I thoroughly enjoy their system more than any other.
All that being said, this camera is a beast, pre-production or not. I’ve had several firmware updates from the mothership since I’ve had it, and I can honestly say that with every one, the camera got better and new features became available. I felt like a kid at Christmas, never knowing what to expect. Fujifilm has boldly stated “Creative Perfection” in their marketing efforts, and I’ve got to say, they have me excited about the future of photography and technology.
As a photographer, I am constantly shooting, whether it be personal work, commercial work, weddings, products, or architecture and interiors. Over the past 3ish months (give or take) I have shot 3 weddings, 2 engagement sessions, 3 travel trips, numerous products, baby photos, and tons of landscape and wildlife. So when it comes to experience with the camera, I’ve got my fair share.
I am going to start with a little backstory. When I originally sold my X-Pro1 to fund the X-T1, I did so with a bit of angst. I had come to love my X-Pro1, but was wanting to officially dump my Canon gear and go 100% Fujifilm. But with the X-Pro1 being the original interchangeable lens camera, it was a bit dated. I needed faster autofocus and processing. I never quite “fell” for the X-T1 like I did the X-Pro1, but it was a fantastic camera and I enjoyed my time with it as my primary. I came to love the tilt screen so much that it really influenced the way that I shoot certain things. A low perspective combined with the XF56mmF1.2 R lens @ 1.2 gives such a unique depth of field that it is one of my go to techniques.
Fast forward to the X-Pro2. I was over the moon. This was the camera that I had been waiting for. It had the same look and feel of the original, plus a brand new engine and sensor. I was starting to think that I would never need another camera ever again. I started hitting a few small snags where I would go to shoot low, and I would have to lay on the ground, “no biggie”, I thought. A small sacrifice to be made for a technique that I loved. Next up was the fact that I love prime lenses on the Pro2. But for a lot of my work I have to use bigger zoom lenses for versatility. The XF50-140mm on an X-Pro2 just feels a little out of place to me. But feels right at home on an X-T2 with a grip. It has such a perfect balance that it almost begs to be shot. So much so that in my time with the X-T2 I have shot more with the XF50-140mm than I have ever shot with a zoom before. I am a wide shooter by nature, but shooting with a zoom has really forced me to think more about my compositions, and in turn is continually making me a better photographer.
My first real experience putting the X-T2 + Booster Grip to the test was a rainy wedding. The ceremony had to be moved indoors, and the lighting wasn’t great. I set both the Pro2/T2 to Auto ISO to max out at 12,800 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 to stop the motion, and the camera performed without any sort of hiccup. I was a tad nervous that it was a pre-production unit and I had my X-T1 on standby in case anything odd happened, but it never did. I have never really used continuous AF, but really got to mess around with what the X-T2 has to offer and it definitely blew me away. The settings are very customizable depending on your AF needs and what you are shooting. They even give you AF “presets” to help you decide what would be best given the circumstance. But the real game changer for me was the inclusion of the focus lever, we all knew this was coming after it was introduced on the X-Pro2, but what I wasn’t considering is that the another focus lever would be available for shooting vertically on the booster grip. As a wedding shooter, this was huge for me to be able to swap orientations back and forth and always have the same controls, in the same place regardless. The only one thing that I could ask for via firmware update is locking focus points to orientation. The 5D3 allowed me to do this so that when I was shooting vertically, the focus point I choose was tied to the vertical orientation, and when I switched back to landscape, the focus point switches back to the last used point when i was shooting in landscape. That is a small, small addition that I can live without, but with 325 AF points, it would be helpful to not have to scroll through so many points when shooting back and forth. You could also dumb the X-T2 down to only shoot with 91 AF points, but who wants to do that? 😉
I immediately noticed how snappy and responsive the camera was, even compared to the X-Pro2. I am definitely not a continuous machine gun shooter. In fact, for the majority of my work, I am shooting on a tripod and bracketing my exposures in a pretty methodical way. But back when I was shooting weddings with DSLRs, there was a lot of half-pressing, clicking, recomposing, clicking more, and really riding the shutter button pretty hard. With the X-T1 there was always a bit of a “blackout” time after the shutter dropped and that made it hard to recompose and continue shooting. The X-T2 even with boost mode disabled has zero noticeable blackout. And with boost mode enabled, well, I felt like I had to keep double-checking that I wasn’t actually shooting with a DSLR. The speed is THAT good. For the majority of the weddings,I was shooting with the XF23mmF1.4 R on my X-Pro2, and XF56mmF1.2 R on the X-T2,, and I found that was the PERFECT combination for me. During the ceremony I switched to the XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR on the X-Pro2 and the XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR on the X-T2 because I need the range to be able to capture all that I need. This was the setup that I have been waiting for as long as I have been shooting weddings. It just feels “right”. Thats not even taking into account the fact that I used to have a 5D3 and a 5D2 slung around me with various L glass, and at the end of a 10-12 hour day, I felt like I wanted to die. After my first wedding shooting with the X-Pro2/X-T2 combo I felt completely unscathed, and it was weird.
Moving on to travel and landscape, which is my primary focus with these cameras. As a matter of fact, I got away from shooting paid work to focus on my “art” and the prime reason I did so was because of the Fujifilm X system. I was inspired to finally chase after my true passion in photography. And I have to say, this camera definitely has found a place in my camera bag when it comes to landscapes. I can’t wait to buy one when they become available, and let me tell you why. As I stated before, I am primarily a wide shooter, and the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS is my go-to lens for shooting wide. But something about the X-T2 + Grip has really pushed me to want to shoot more with the 50-140, even in my landscape work. I’ve even found a love for shooting horses and wildlife because of the camera/lens combo, which is something I never thought I would enjoy. I am glad to see a progression in my work, as I don’t want to get stuck shooting the same landscapes over and over again. Instead, I would prefer to maintain my style throughout my body of work so that it is all recognizable and related.
With the X-T2, I gained back that ability to shoot low perspectives with ease. I even gained the ability to shoot portrait oriented shots low because of the new 3-way tilt, and let me tell you, this might be my favorite addition. I saw a lot of people online complaining about the screen tilting oddly to the side so that “their arm could see the LCD” so clearly they have never shot any sort of water reflection, or low angle shot in portrait. Well you should try it, because it gives you such a unique look. I love the X-T2 for shooting astrophotography specifically because of the tilt screen. Often times the camera is pointed up at a crazy angle, and I will light paint in certain dark areas that need it. Anytime you can avoiding having to lay down on the ground to frame up the shot is welcome. The locking button on the ISO and shutter speed dial comes in very handily in the dark, but is definitely a welcome addition overall. You can really tell that Fujifilm took feedback from us in mind when redesigning the dials. Being able to lock/unlock each dial depending on what you are doing is great. Also making them slightly taller really helps you not to accidentally switch the drive dial under the ISO and the Photometry dial under the SS, which I know was a widespread complaint about the X-T1. Sensor-Wise we are right on par with the X-Pro2 in terms of ISO, dynamic range and resolution, and I am looking forward to the firmware update in October that gives the X-Pro2 the new focusing algorithm from the X-T2.
I’ll touch lightly on video, as I haven’t devoted a ton of time to it. But everything that I have shot looks great. The ability to use film simulations is huge for me, and probably will push me to shoot more video. One of my least favorite things to do is color grade footage, as I just feel that it takes forever to do the right way. And shooting with a film simulation gives a base “look” that is super simple to grade in post. I would also love to test out F-Log recording to an external HDMI recorder eventually, but I just don’t have that equipment readily available.
All in all, my time with the X-T2 has been awesome. It just feels like a solid, well-built camera with that typical Fujifilm charm that screams retro from the outside, but technological powerhouse from the inside. I know a lot of people who didn’t jump on the X-Pro2 train early because they love the body style of the X-Tx line, and I don’t disagree with you. While I prefer the X-Pro2 for a lot of what I do, the X-T2 has proved essential in a lot of other situations. Some people seem to be confused about having two flagship cameras in one system, but I think if you step back and look at them you will see them for what they were meant to be. While the X-T2 has proved to be more capable because it has a few more bells and whistles, I believe that those who want the X-Pro2, will get an X-Pro2, and those who want an X-T2, will get and X-T2. And then there is a whole other camp of people like me who see the benefits of both and will make room in their camera bag for 2 bodies.
If you have any questions about the camera feel free to ask away. Hopefully Fujifilm doesn’t want it back anytime soon, as I am having too much fun.