ON TRIAL FU­JI­FILM X-T2

While the X-T2 has quite a lot in com­mon with the X-Pro2, the two are very dif­fer­ent an­i­mals and are tar­geted at dif­fer­ent users.

Camera - - CONTENTS -

While Fu­ji­film’s X-Pro2 is prob­a­bly an ac­quired taste for some pho­tog­ra­phers, the X-T2 is much more main­stream, but equally ca­pa­ble and a really cred­i­ble alternative to a high-end D-SLR.

The X-Pro2 is a very special cam­era, but Fu­ji­film knows full well that it’s not for every­body. The un­com­pro­mis­ing rangefinder-style de­sign com­plete with hy­brid op­ti­cal/ elec­tronic viewfinder make the X-Pro2 unique among mir­ror­less cam­eras, but it also means it may not be every­body’s first choice when it comes to switch­ing from a D-SLR. This is where the X-T2 comes in.

As with its pre­de­ces­sor, Fu­ji­film is heav­ily pro­mot­ing the X-T2 as a D-SLR alternative and, what’s more, a pro-level D-SLR alternative. Tra­di­tion­ally a con­ser­va­tive lot, work­ing pho­tog­ra­phers have been slow to jump on the mir­ror­less band­wagon, but they’re get­ting the mes­sage now and the po­ten­tial re­duc­tions in the size and weight of a full kit have the same at­trac­tions for pros as they do for every­body else. The sig­nif­i­cance with the X-T2 here is that it’s an ‘APS-C’ for­mat cam­era, al­low­ing even more of a re­duc­tion in bulk as aptly il­lus­trated with the re­cently-re­leased Fu­ji­non XF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR tele­zoom – equiv­a­lent to a 150-600mm, but a frac­tion the size of a com­pa­ra­ble lens in the full-35mm for­mat.

At the X-T2’s Aus­tralian press launch, pro­fes­sional motorsport pho­tog­ra­pher An­drew Hall talked about his ex­pe­ri­ences of us­ing the sys­tem at the Le Mans 24 hour race, and he was cer­tainly con­vinced he wouldn’t be go­ing back to a D-SLR.

It’s a tad ironic, of course, that the X-T2 is more SLR-like than just about any D-SLR thanks to its 1970s styling – there’s more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the Con­tax RTS – and dial-based con­trol lay­out. They’re big di­als too, es­pe­cially the ones for set­ting the ISO and the shut­ter speed which both have lock­ing but­tons. Both these di­als also have se­lec­tor switch below them – for set­ting the drive modes and me­ter­ing modes re­spec­tively – which is really old

school. And, as has been the case on all the higher-end X Se­ries cam­eras, Fu­ji­film re­tains a ca­ble re­lease socket in the shut­ter but­ton. There’s no mode dial be­cause, also as be­fore, the shut­ter speed dial and lens aper­ture collars have ‘A’ set­tings which switches them to auto se­lec­tion. Just pick the re­quired com­bi­na­tion. The ISO dial also has an ‘A’ set­ting, al­though ob­vi­ously the range – and there’s the op­tion of pre­de­ter­min­ing up to three Auto ISO con­fig­u­ra­tions – has to be set via the menu sys­tem. As on the X-Pro2, the ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion dial is marked to +/-3.0 EV (in 1/3-stop in­cr­ments) and then has a ‘C’ po­si­tion which gives ac­cess to +/-5.0 EV, with these ex­tra set­tings se­lected via the front in­put wheel.

The con­tem­po­rary con­trols are, of course, the front and rear in­put wheels (the front one is pressed in to change the func­tion), a joy­stick for AF point se­lec­tion (as in­tro­duced on the X-Pro2) and the nav­i­ga­tor key clus­ter which are also cus­tomis­able func­tion but­tons (giv­ing a to­tal of eight in all). The joy­stick can also be used for nav­i­gat­ing the menus.

It all in­te­grates sur­pris­ingly well, a tes­ti­mony to the re­al­ity that di­als are still a very ef­fi­cient way to op­er­ate a cam­era… and the set­ting read-outs are ex­actly where they should be.

ROCKET BOOSTER

Un­like X-Pro2’s fixed panel, the X-T2’s mon­i­tor screen is tilt ad­justable, and not just in the hor­i­zon­tal plane, but ver­ti­cally too. Yes, a screen with a swing ad­just­ment can es­sen­tially be tilted in the ver­ti­cal too, but it’s then off­set from the back of the cam­era whereas Fu­ji­film’s ar­range­ment keeps it in ex­actly the same po­si­tion­ing as when tilted hor­i­zon­tally. The res­o­lu­tion is 1.04 megadots and Fu­ji­film is still stay­ing away from touch con­trols.

How­ever, the X-T2 does have the re­vised menu de­sign in­tro­duced with the X-Pro2 which is both bet­ter graph­i­cally and log­i­cally. As with the top-end D-SLRs, there’s a chap­ter de­voted en­tirely to the aut­o­fo­cus set­tings and Fu­ji­film has added yet more re­fine­ments to this cam­era which we’ll get to shortly. Alternatively, there’s a ‘Quick Menu’ dis­play which pro­vides di­rect ac­cess to the com­monly-used cap­ture and cam­era set­ting ad­just­ments (16 in all)... ei­ther as a ‘base bank’ or cor­re­spond­ing to the seven cus­tom shoot­ing set-ups. Ad­di­tion­ally, a cus­tomised ‘Quick Menu’ can be cre­ated, se­lect­ing from a bank of 24 func­tions. The EVF uses the same 2.36 megadots res­o­lu­tion 1.3 cm OLED panel as its pre­de­ces­sor, but with a num­ber of im­prove­ments com­pris­ing a dis­play lag time of just 0.005 sec­onds and a 100 fps frame rate when the X-T2 is switched to its ‘Boost’ mode. This also re­duces false colour in the EVF dis­play. There are a cou­ple of facets to the ‘Boost’ op­er­a­tions, namely the in­cam­era tweaks just de­scribed, but some quite se­ri­ous tur­bocharg­ing when the cam­era is fit­ted with the op­tional Ver­ti­cal Power Booster Grip, a.k.a. the VPB-XT2. Like the cam­era body it­self, the ver­ti­cal grip is fully weather sealed and in­su­lated, and it houses two ex­tra bat­tery packs which not only de­liver an ex­tended range – par­tic­u­larly use­ful when shoot­ing video – but also a num­ber per­for­mance en­hance­ments; the most sig­nif­i­cant be­ing an in­crease in the max­i­mum con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed from 8.0 fps to 11 fps. Ad­di­tion­ally, the shoot­ing in­ter­val time is al­most halved (from 370 mil­lisec­onds to 190), the shut­ter lag is re­duced (from 50 ms to 45) and the black-out time is also short­ened (from 130 ms to 114). There’s some smart think­ing go­ing on here be­cause if you don’t need the ex­tra speed, you don’t need to pay for it… and you can have a more com­pact cam­era pack­age. If you do want 11 fps – which per­mits the X-T2 to play with D-SLR big boys – chances are that you’ll also need the ver­ti­cal grip and the ex­tended bat­tery life, but you’ll still be get­ting a cam­era that’s sig­nif­i­cantly smaller than ei­ther the Canon EOS-1D X II or Nikon D5.

IN­NER WORK­INGS

The inside story starts with the next-gen ‘X-Trans CMOS III’ sen­sor which is the same up-rated ‘APS-C’ de­vice as is used in the X-Pro2. The ef­fec­tive pixel count is 24.3 mil­lion, giv­ing a pixel pitch of 3.91 mi­crons.

The key de­sign features in­clude a ‘Float­ing Dif­frac­tion Am­pli­fier’ to re­duce noise and re­shaped mi­crolenses to en­hance sen­si­tiv­ity. The read-out speed at 4000x6000 pix­els is 28 fps which is par­tially achieved by re­plac­ing the tra­di­tional alu­minium wiring tracks with cop­per to re­duce re­sis­tance (sim­i­lar to Sony’s lat­est full-35mm sen­sors). Cop­per also al­lows for thin­ner wiring which helps re­duce noise. The na­tive sen­si­tiv­ity range is equiv­a­lent to ISO 200 to 12,800 with a two-stop ‘push’ to ISO 51,200. In case you’re new to it, the ‘X-Trans’ name refers to Fu­ji­film’s unique 6x6 RGB colour fil­ter

IT’S A TAD IRONIC THAT THE X-T2 IS MORE SLR-LIKE THAN JUST ABOUT ANY D-SLR THANKS TO ITS 1970S STYLING AND DIAL-BASED CON­TROL LAY­OUT.

group­ings – as op­posed to the stan­dard 2x2 RGBG Bayer pat­tern – which em­ploys a prin­ci­ple called ape­ri­od­ic­ity to lower the fre­quency at which a moiré ef­fect will oc­cur with re­peat­ing pat­terns. Fu­ji­film was first with the idea of find­ing an­other way to deal with moiré other than the con­ven­tional op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter (which throt­tles res­o­lu­tion), and ‘X-Trans’ sen­sor re­mains the most el­e­gant so­lu­tion.

The sen­sor is matched with Fu­ji­film’s dual-core ‘X Pro­ces­sor Pro’ engine which delivers that 8.0 fps shoot­ing speed and, for the first time on an X Mount cam­era, 4K video at the Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion (see the Mak­ing Movies panel for a full run-down of the X-T2’s video ca­pa­bil­i­ties). There’s also a big enough buf­fer mem­ory to en­able bursts of up to 83 best-qual­ity JPEGs or 33 RAW files when shoot­ing at 8.0 fps, but switch to the cam­era’s sen­sor shut­ter and you can step up to a very snappy 14.0 fps for bursts of 42 JPEGs or 28 RAWs. RAW files can be cap­tured ei­ther as 14-bit un­com­pressed files or with loss­less com­pres­sion if you have a need for speed as the file size es­sen­tially halves. The JPEG cap­ture op­tions com­prise two lev­els of com­pres­sion, three im­age sizes and three as­pect ratios – 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. There are dual mem­ory card slots for the SD for­mat – both now with UHS-II speed sup­port – and a range of file man­age­ment con­fig­u­ra­tions, namely ‘Se­quen­tial’ for au­to­matic over­flow, ‘Back Up’ which records files si­mul­ta­ne­ously to both cards, and RAW/JPEG which sep­a­rates the RAW+JPEG cap­tures to slot one and slot two. You can also spec­ify which card is used specif­i­cally for video record­ing.

When shoot­ing at ei­ther 8.0 fps or 14.0 fps, the aut­o­fo­cus­ing and me­ter­ing are locked to the first frame, and if you want con­tin­u­ous ad­just­ment you have to slow down to 5.0 fps (but ob­vi­ously the burst length in­creases) which is a handy 2.0 fps faster than the X-Pro2.

REFOCUSED

The 24.3 MP ‘X-Trans’ CMOS sen­sor in­cor­po­rates ded­i­cated pixel ar­rays for phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing which is em­ployed in conjunction with con­trast de­tec­tion mea­sure­ments de­pend­ing on the sub­ject or sit­u­a­tion. The num­ber of fo­cus­ing points is fur­ther in­creased on the

X-T2 to a to­tal of 325 – ar­ranged in a 25x13 pat­tern – of which 169 are phase-de­tec­tion ar­rays. The ex­tra points com­prise two col­umns of 13 con­trast detectors added to each side of main clus­ter which gives a wider cov­er­age than with the X-Pro2, and Fu­ji­film says the AF pro­cess­ing power and speed have been in­creased too.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the joy­stick con­trol makes point se­lec­tion a lot quicker and eas­ier than us­ing the con­ven­tional up/down and left/ right keys (al­though these are still avail­able for this if you pre­fer). In the Zone and Wide/Track­ing modes, the num­ber of avail­able zones in­creases from 49 to 91 (49 of which use phase-de­tec­tion mea­sure­ment) and fo­cus­ing is via a 3x3 points clus­ter which is moved man­u­ally in the for­mer and shifts au­to­mat­i­cally in the lat­ter. Larger clus­ters of points – ei­ther 5x5 or 7x7 – can also be se­lected, de­pend­ing on the size of the sub­ject. New is an ‘AF-C Cus­tom’ menu which presents a num­ber of sce­nar­ios for fine- tun­ing fo­cus track­ing; five in all which vary three pa­ram­e­ters to suit the type of sub­ject move­ment. The five op­tions are called Multi Pur­pose, Ig­nore Ob­sta­cles & Con­tinue To Track Sub­ject, For Ac­cel­er­at­ing/De­cel­er­at­ing Sub­ject, For Sud­denly Ap­pear­ing Sub­ject and For Er­rat­i­cally Mov­ing & Ac­cel/De­cel Sub­ject. Ad­di­tion­ally, there’s a cus­tom set­ting which al­lows you to man­u­ally ad­just the three con­trol pa­ram­e­ters which are Track­ing Sen­si­tiv­ity, Speed Track­ing Sen­si­tiv­ity and Zone Area Switch­ing. All this, of course, is very sim­i­lar to the track­ing ad­just­ments avail­able on the topend Canon and Nikon D-SLRs… which is most def­i­nitely de­lib­er­ate. AF per­for­mance re­mains one of the few ar­eas where the pro D-SLRs are still ahead of mir­ror­less cam­eras, but Fu­ji­film has worked ev­ery an­gle on the X-T2 to close this gap. In­ci­den­tally, with the ex­cep­tion of track­ing sce­nar­ios, most of the X-T2’s AF en­hance­ments are avail­able for the X-Pro2 via a firmware up­grade.

Switch­ing be­tween con­tin­u­ous and sin­gle-shot AF op­er­a­tions is per­formed man­u­ally via, as be­fore, a switch on the front panel and this also se­lects man­ual fo­cus­ing. The as­sists for man­ual fo­cus­ing com­prise a mag­ni­fied im­age, a fo­cus peak­ing dis­play (with a choice of colours and lev­els) and Fu­ji­film’s ‘Dig­i­tal Split Im­age’ panel which is su­per­im­posed over the cen­tre of the im­age and can be ei­ther trans­par­ent (i.e. colour) or in mono which helps it stand out bet­ter. There are three splits which are mis-aligned when the sub­ject is out of fo­cus and fo­cus­ing the lens brings the four sec­tions to­gether… just like the old op­ti­cal split-im­age rangefinder. How­ever, as we noted with the X-Pro2 the dig­i­tal ver­sion doesn’t work nearly as well. The splits are quite hard to see un­less you have very con­trasty ver­ti­cal edges – al­though there’s a slight im­prove­ment with the X-T2 – and you really need to be a long way out-of-fo­cus to no­tice the off­sets. You can zoom in when us­ing ei­ther EVF or mon­i­tor screen

AF PER­FOR­MANCE RE­MAINS ONE OF THE FEW AR­EAS WHERE THE PRO D-SLRs ARE STILL AHEAD OF MIR­ROR­LESS CAM­ERAS, BUT FU­JI­FILM HAS WORKED EV­ERY AN­GLE ON THE X-T2 TO CLOSE THIS GAP.

which helps a lit­tle, but us­ing the fo­cus peak­ing dis­play is ac­tu­ally far more ef­fec­tive in prac­tice.

FASTER AND FLASHIER

The X-T2 has same 256-seg­ment me­ter­ing sys­tem as the X-Pro2 with the choice of multi-zone, cen­tre-weighted av­er­age, fully av­er­aged or spot mea­sure­ments. Use­fully, the spot me­ter can be linked to the ac­tive fo­cus­ing point (or points clus­ter).

The fo­cal-plane shut­ter is Fu­ji­film’s new 1/8000 sec­ond speed assem­bly which is tested to 150,000 cy­cles, but as noted ear­lier, there’s also a sen­sor shut­ter which has an ex­tended speed range of 30-1/32,000 sec­ond and, of course, op­er­ates silently.

The max­i­mum flash sync speed is 1/250 sec­ond and, while the X-T2 doesn’t have built-in flash, it’s supplied with a handy lit­tle ac­ces­sory unit called EF-X8 and which has a met­ric guide num­ber of eight at ISO 100, 11 at ISO 200. The flash modes in­clude auto TTL, fill-in, red-eye re­duc­tion, slow speed sync, first/ sec­ond cur­tain sync and man­ual (ad­justable down to 1/64 of full power). Flash com­pen­sa­tion is avail­able over a range +/-2.0 EV. There’s also a ‘com­man­der’ mode, but as we’ve noted with ear­lier X Se­ries cam­eras, this is limited to the re­mote trig­ger­ing of pho­to­cell-equipped units and doesn’t ex­tend to wire­less TTL con­trol. That said, full wire­less TTL con­trol is now avail­able from the new EF-X500 ac­ces­sory flash unit – but you’ll ob­vi­ously need more than one – which has a met­ric guide num­ber of 50 at ISO 100 and tilt/bounce/ zoom head. It’s also fully weather sealed. Ex­ter­nal flash units sync via ei­ther a hot­shoe or a PC ter­mi­nal.

Auto white bal­ance con­trol is sup­ple­mented by seven pre­sets (in­clud­ing one for un­der­wa­ter) and pro­vi­sions for cre­at­ing three cus­tom mea­sure­ments. Fine­tun­ing and auto brack­et­ing are also avail­able. As on the X-Pro2 there are five auto brack­et­ing modes – all op­er­at­ing over se­quences of three frames – the ad­di­tional op­tions be­ing for ex­po­sure, ISO, dy­namic range and the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets. The X-T2 has the full com­ple­ment of cur­rent ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets – which now num­ber a to­tal of 15 – in­clud­ing the Ko­dachrome-looka­like Clas­sic Chrome and the ex­tra ACROS (named af­ter Fu­ji­film’s fa­mous fine-grained B&W neg­a­tive film) B&W set­tings. As we noted in the X-Pro2 road-test, the stan­dard mono­chrome ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­set is ac­tu­ally based on Fu­jichrome Provia mi­nus any colour, but ACROS is de­signed to have a tonal­ity curve which em­pha­sises de­tail in the high­lights and mid-tones, but gives en­hanced smoothness in the shadow ar­eas as a bal­ance. The noise re­duc­tion al­go­rithm is also dif­fer­ent and ac­tu­ally pro­cesses the noise to look like film grain. And the ef­fect varies with the ISO set­ting. Just in case you’d like to do this with the other ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets, there’s now a ‘Grain Ef­fect’ func­tion with the choice of Weak or Strong set­tings. As with the stan­dard B&W ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets, there’s a choice of ad­di­tional ACROS set­tings with yel­low, red or green con­trast­con­trol fil­ters.

The colour sat­u­ra­tion, sharp­ness, high­light and/or shadow tone (i.e. con­trast) and noise re­duc­tion can be ad­justed for each pre­set. Up to seven cus­tomised shoot­ing pre­sets can be com­piled from a to­tal of nine ad­just­ments; in­clud­ing Film Sim­u­la­tion, Grain Ef­fect, white bal­ance, dy­namic range and noise re­duc­tion plus the pic­ture pa­ram­e­ters.

There’s a choice of three man­ual set­tings for dy­namic range ex­pan­sion pro­cess­ing – called 100%, 200% and 400% – or an au­to­matic cor­rec­tion which as­sesses the bright­ness range in the scene and tweaks both the ex­po­sure and the tone curve ac­cord­ingly. The X-T2 also has Fu­ji­film’s ‘Lens Mod­u­la­tion Op­ti­miser’ (LMO) pro­cess­ing which de­tects and cor­rects for dif­frac­tion blur, an in­ter­val­ome­ter (for up to 999 frames), a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity (tech­ni­cally still only a dou­ble ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity) and a se­lec­tion of eight ‘Ad­vanced Fil­ters’ which in­cludes all the usual sus­pects – Toy Cam­era, Miniature, Soft Fo­cus, Par­tial Colour and Pop Colour – which prob­a­bly aren’t a big pri­or­ity on a cam­era like this, but the Dy­namic Tone, High-Key and Low-Key set­tings may have more po­ten­tial.

IN THE HAND

Com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor, the X-T2 has bulked up a bit – al­though it’s still much smaller than a com­pa­ra­ble D-SLR – and has a big­ger, bet­ter-shaped grip so it’s more com­fort­able to han­dle. It also feels bet­ter bal­anced when fit­ted with a big­ger, heav­ier lens. In ad­di­tion to the four nav­i­ga­tor keys, an­other four but­tons can be cus­tomised from a list of 31 func­tions (or dis­abled com­pletely). Sim­i­larly to Canon’s D-SLRs, you can also cre­ate a cus­tomised ‘My Menu’, com­pris­ing up to 16 reg­u­larly-used func­tions which can also be ranked in im­por­tance.

The viewfinder works ex­cep­tion­ally well and there’s now a much more sub­stan­tial eye­cup to keep out ex­tra­ne­ous light. The dis­play can be con­fig­ured with a guide grid, level in­di­ca­tor, fo­cus­ing dis­tance scale (with a depthof-field in­di­ca­tor) and real-time his­togram. It’s also ad­justable for bright­ness and colour bal­ance, as is the LCD mon­i­tor screen. The main dis­play here can also be set to show the same el­e­ments as the viewfinder plus, when fo­cus­ing man­u­ally, there’s an op­tion which adds a small ad­di­tional panel that’s es­sen­tially a sim­pli­fied ver­sion of the X-Pro2’s ‘Elec­tronic Range Fin­der’ (ERF). This pro­vides the man­ual fo­cus as­sists sep­a­rately from the main im­age dis­play which some users may find eas­ier to work with.

The main mon­i­tor also has info-only dis­play which is pri­mar­ily de­signed to be used in conjunction with the EVF. It pro­vides a host of in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing an AF point grid, a real-time his­togram, ex­po­sure set­tings and a bank of 15 cap­ture set­tings.

The im­age re­play/re­view screens in­clude a thumb­nail ac­com­pa­nied by cap­ture data, a high­light warn­ing and a bright­ness his­togram. The in-cam­era edit­ing func­tions in­clude RAW-to-JPEG con­ver­sion, Fu­ji­film’s ‘Pho­to­Book As­sist’ fea­ture (which al­lows for up to 300 images to be or­gan­ised for re­pro­duc­tion in a photo book) and di­rect printing to an In­stax in­stant print de­vice via WiFi. How­ever, the X-T2 doesn’t of­fer the con­ve­nience of NFC con­nec­tiv­ity.

In ad­di­tion to wire­less file shar­ing, the Fu­ji­film Cam­era Re­mote app has a ‘Re­mote Con­trol’ func­tion which covers a wide se­lec­tion of cam­era op­er­a­tions – in­clud­ing fo­cus­ing, ex­po­sure set­tings, the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets and the self-timer. Re­mote file brows­ing is also avail­able, and images can ac­tu­ally be geo­tagged from a smart­phone’s GPS.

SPEED AND PER­FOR­MANCE

With our ref­er­ence mem­ory card – Lexar’s 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) Pro­fes­sional – loaded up, the X-T2 (us­ing the fo­cal plane shut­ter) cap­tured a burst of 77 JPEG/large/ fine files in 9.451 sec­onds, giv­ing a shoot­ing speed of 8.12 fps. This pretty well matches Fu­ji­film’s quoted specs; a lit­tle faster in terms of ac­tual speed, but a lit­tle un­der the burst length… the lat­ter un­doubt­edly be­cause the av­er­age test file size was a healthy 13.8 MB.

The aut­o­fo­cus­ing is the fastest yet in the X Mount fam­ily with a no­tice­able im­prove­ment in the re­spon­sive­ness of the con­tin­u­ous op­er­a­tion with Zone AF and the ac­cu­racy of the track­ing… even with­out the sce­nario-based fine­tun­ing. Nikon’s D500 (and D5) set the bench­mark here, but there’s no ques­tion that Fu­ji­film has made up a lot of ground, es­pe­cially since the X-T1. There’s no ques­tion that the X-T2 is now one of the fastest fo­cus­ing mir­ror­less cam­eras on the mar­ket, as ev­i­denced by the amount of motorsport pho­tog­ra­phy be­ing shown in test re­ports… fast-mov­ing rac­ing cars re­main the ul­ti­mate chal­lenge for aut­o­fo­cus­ing sys­tems and this cam­era looks to

THE X-T2 HAS BULKED UP A BIT – AL­THOUGH IT’S STILL MUCH SMALLER THAN A COM­PA­RA­BLE D-SLR – AND HAS A BIG­GER, BET­TER-SHAPED GRIP SO IT’S MORE COM­FORT­ABLE TO HAN­DLE.

be up to the job. The 256-seg­ment me­ter­ing sys­tem isn’t new, of course, but it’s proven re­li­able on pre­vi­ous X Mount mod­els – in­clud­ing the X-Pro2 – and it con­tin­ues to work re­li­ably here.

Al­though the X-T2 has an ex­panded ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion range of +/-5.0 EV, in prac­tice you rarely need more than an ad­just­ment of 2/3-stop… and this is usu­ally only to counter slight un­der­ex­po­sure. High con­trast sit­u­a­tions are han­dled sur­pris­ingly well.

Straight out of the cam­era, the best-qual­ity JPEGs look su­perb with ex­cel­lent colour fidelity, ex­tremely crisp def­i­ni­tion and a wide dy­namic range. Fu­ji­film’s vast ex­pe­ri­ence with colour re­pro­duc­tion is put to good use in the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets which have been de­signed to bal­ance col­ori­met­ric colour – or real colour – with ex­pected or ‘mem­o­rised’ colour. The Stan­dard/ Provia pre­set’s colour, but Vivid/ Velvia punches up the sat­u­ra­tion with­out com­pro­mis­ing tonal gra­da­tions and really repli­cates the eye-pop­ping look of Fu­ji­film’s much loved trans­parency film. And B&W afi­ciona­dos will love the ACROS pre­sets – which we ex­plored ex­ten­sively when test­ing the X-Pro2 – as they de­liver stun­ning con­trast (es­pe­cially with Red ‘fil­ter’ ap­plied) with­out com­pro­mis­ing dy­namic range or tonal­ity. The good news for RAW shoot­ers is that the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets are proper pro­files so the pa­ram­e­ters can be ad­justed post-cap­ture.

The X-Pro2 delivers ex­cel­lent high ISO per­for­mance, but if any­thing the X-T2 does a lit­tle bet­ter over­all, a tes­ti­mony to the fact that the cor­rec­tion al­go­rithms are con­tin­u­ally be­ing re­fined. Con­se­quently, noise just isn’t an is­sue all the way up to ISO 3200 and is min­i­mal at ISO 6400 al­though there’s a hint of grain­i­ness in ar­eas of con­tin­u­ous tone. This be­comes more no­tice­able at ISO 12,800, but nei­ther sat­u­ra­tion nor sharp­ness are sig­nif­i­cantly di­min­ished so this set­ting is more use­able than is of­ten the case with an ‘APS-C’ size sen­sor. Not sur­pris­ingly, the ex­pan­sion set­tings are a last re­sort, al­though ISO 25,600 is pos­si­bly use­able if you only need a small-sized im­age… def­i­ni­tion is def­i­nitely re­duced, but the colour sat­u­ra­tion is still sur­pris­ingly good.

THE VERDICT

Given the sim­i­lar­ity in price, you could well end up with both the X-T2 and X-Pro2 on your shop­ping list, but they’re ac­tu­ally very dif­fer­ent cam­eras. The X-Pro2 is def­i­nitely more rangefinder-like in its over­all char­ac­ter­is­tics so it’s a more con­sid­ered pur­chase, and its pro­fes­sional ap­pli­ca­tions are more suited to land­scapes, doc­u­men­tary work or street pho­tog­ra­phy (al­though, of course, it can ac­tu­ally do a lot more). On the other hand, the X-T2 is unashamedly de­signed to make mir­ror­less con­verts of high-end D-SLR users, and par­tic­u­larly those in the mar­ket for a ‘sports’ cam­era.

Be­yond the tra­di­tional SLR-type styling and con­trol lay­out – big at­trac­tions in them­selves – the X-T2 is an ab­so­lute power house thanks to its sen­sor and pro­ces­sor, with the op­tion of tur­bocharg­ing some key specs via the op­tional booster grip… 14 fps con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing takes it right up to Canon’s vastly more ex­pen­sive EOS-1D X Mark II, for ex­am­ple.

The up­graded aut­o­fo­cus­ing sys­tem gives the X-T2 real po­ten­tial to also match it with the best D-SLRs in this area, and Fu­ji­film is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive when it comes to high-per­for­mance lenses too. But it’s not just the ‘big pic­ture’ as­pects that Fu­ji­film has got right with the X-T2, but a myr­iad of smaller de­tails – the mon­i­tor’s clever tilts, the dual mem­ory card slots, the joy­stick con­trol and vast scope for cus­tomi­sa­tion of con­trols and menus. It all comes to­gether in one glo­ri­ously ca­pa­ble and work­able cam­era. And then there are the mi­nuses which are ac­tu­ally plusses… less size, weight and dol­lars. It all adds up to some­thing quite special.

X-T2’s styling is straight out of the 1970s… at least as far as the top panel is con­cerned. Long live clas­sic di­als!

The se­lec­tor below the shut­ter speed dial sets the me­ter­ing mode. The menu sys­tem has been re­designed – as in­tro­duced on the X-Pro2 – and is more log­i­cal in both its ar­range­ment and nav­i­ga­tion. The new joy­stick con­trol al­lows for the quicker and eas­ier se­lec­tion of fo­cus­ing points/zones. It can also be used to nav­i­gate the menus. The mon­i­tor screen has tilt ad­just­ments in both the hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal planes. The all-metal bodyshell boasts a to­tal of 63 seals to pre­vent the in­tru­sion of dust and mois­ture. It’s also in­su­lated to al­low op­er­a­tion in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 degrees Cel­sius.

The ISO dial has an ‘A’ set­ting for se­lect­ing auto sen­si­tiv­ity ad­just­ment. The range is pre­set via the menu sys­tem. Note the se­lec­tor at the base of this dial for set­ting the drive modes, brack­et­ing func­tion, self-timer and ‘Ad­vanced Fil­ter’ ef­fects. The shut­ter speed dial is marked down to one sec­ond, while the ‘T’ set­ting ac­cesses speeds down to 30 sec­onds. An­other flash­back to the 1970s; Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues to pro­vide a ca­ble-re­lease socket on its higher-end X Se­ries cam­eras, al­though the X-T2 can also be fit­ted with an elec­tronic trig­ger. As on the X-Pro2, the ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion dial is marked for up to +/-3.0 EV, but the ‘C’ set­ting ac­cesses a wider range of +/-5.0 EV.

Two pages are de­voted to the var­i­ous aut­o­fo­cus­ing func­tions, in­clud­ing a set of ‘AF-C Cus­tom’ sce­nar­ios for fine-tun­ing track­ing.

The ‘Quick Menu’ dis­play pro­vides di­rect ac­cess to a large se­lec­tion of cap­ture-re­lated func­tions and can be cus­tomised.

The re­play screen op­tions in­clude a thumb­nail with a bright­ness his­togram and de­tailed cap­ture info.

The live view screen can be con­fig­ured with a real-time his­togram, guide grid, level in­di­ca­tor and fo­cus­ing dis­tance scale.

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