|Early morning dappled light on a birch with toadstools and orange fern (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 48.5mm; 1/40th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
If you don't want to read this entire tome, very simply, the camera performed flawlessly (unlike the photographer at times! LOL). No lockups, no let downs, no unwanted surprises. It just did what it is supposed to do—every time. The image quality is what I expected (based on my experience with the X-T1) and my expectations are very high. I sold all of my Nikon and Olympus gear and, with the X-T2 in my arsenal of photographic tools, I don't and won't miss them nor do I anticipate needing them in the future. In other words, you won't be able to pry this camera out of my hands for the foreseeable future. I need no other camera for my work. Your mileage may vary, as they say...
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a Fuji fan boy, I'm a photographer. (if you want to see more of my work, look at my website, www.dennismook.com. I've posted a new gallery with many of my just completed New England road trip images. I will be culling them additionally in the next few weeks an leaving only the "keepers" online.) I've owned and used Nikon, Canon and Leica 35mm camera as well as Pentax, Mamiay and Plaubel Makina medium format cameras, and large format camera systems over the many years I've passionately photographed, both personally and professionally. I'm a "generalist" photographer and photograph in a variety of genres. I need and use the tools that "fit" me best and the ones that get the job done that I need done. I am not endorsed by anyone nor do I receive anything free from anyone. There is no advertising on my blog or website. I'm not a Fuji X-Photographer. I love photography and have felt this way since 1970. That being written, I'm going to gush a bit about what Fuji has given us.
One thing we have to remember. Great camera bodies in and of themselves are pretty useless without great lenses and accessories to go with them. That is the beauty of what Fuji has given us—a combination of well thought out and engineered camera bodies to use along with lenses that leave nothing to be desired, when it comes to image quality.
Now, to go on... I want to relay what worked well and what didn't work well for me in using my six week old Fuji X-T2. I have made over 2700 exposures so far under a variety of conditions, from bright sunlight to dark interiors, from landscapes to people to fast moving objects such as locomotives/trains and birds in flight. I've used the camera from the lowest ISO to ISO 6400. I've used several film simulations, including Acros, as well as RAW.
|The Way Forward; Birch Forest Path (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 54.1mm; 1/140th sec. @ f/11; ISO 500
I have now sold all of my Nikon and Olympus gear because—drum roll please—I don't need them anymore. The X-T2 gives me the quality, both technical and visual, I need for stock and personal work and I really see no reason to anticipate buying some other camera in the foreseeable future (unless I just want to play with a certain one and/or test one). The X-T2 satisfies all of my image quality demands—and for stock photography, the demands are high. When it comes to image quality, It lacks nothing that I need when I professionally or personally photograph. These statements are huge for me as I was one who never thought 35mm, even Leica, produced images with the qualities I wanted. The X-T2 is that good, in my book.
The camera never let me down from the brightest sunlit, blue sky day to the dark interior of a locomotive roundhouse photographing black steam locomotives under very marginal light. I have absolutely no complaints. The 24mp sensor, as I have written many times over the past few years, is my sweet spot for my stock photography and my stock agency, as well as their partner stock agencies, seem to love the quality of the image files. I specifically asked an editor to look at the files to ensure they met their professional needs and the editor was very happy with the files I sent.
The X-T2 handles and feels almost identical to the X-T1. If you have an X-T1, you will not notice much, if any difference. Even though the camera is slightly larger, it feels just the same. I love how it feels in my hands. It fits my hands perfectly. Being an old-timer, the feel and controls are a throwback to my 35mm film camera days. It is the type of camera that comes second nature to me. I really enjoy using this camera body because of how well it fits my hand and how the controls are laid out. I want to pick it up and use it over any other camera I own.
The controls on the X-T2 are slightly different from the X-T1. However, if you are used to an X-T1, there is no learning curve. The way Fuji laid out the controls, from the Shutter Dial to the ISO Dial to the Aperture Dial on the lenses, is perfect. Fuji gave us 8 function buttons to program and that should meet almost all photographers' needs. I didn't need any transition time and there were no surprises when first picking up the camera.
Most controls are just fine but there are a couple of comments about others that are really niggles, nothing major, but I think could be improved. The feature I like the most is the Focus Point Selector, or "joystick" as most have come to call it. That one feature, to me, makes a world of difference when out making photographs. I tend to adjust my focus point often and the "joystick" fits right under my right thumb. Both ISO and the Shutter Speed dials are taller and have a different locking mechanism. I find the extra height an improvement but I've had issues with the locking mechanism. Nothing about how it is designed or implemented, just my use of it. I find that if I don't lock the ISO dial, it can easily be moved by bumping it or when putting my camera in or taking it out of my bag. I now remember to lock it each time. Not a camera problem, but an operator problem. It comes down to getting me used to the new system.
|Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Maine (from JPEG) (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 16-55mm lens @ 16mm; 1/250th sec. @ f/11; ISO 200
The AE-L and AF-L buttons, the function button next to the Exposure Compensation Button and the function button on the front of the camera also don't rise above the plane of the camera body enough for my liking. They are the same as was in the X-T1, so I stuck a little round ball of Sugru on each to raise them up a bit. You wouldn't believe how much of an improvement that is for me when actively photographing and using one of my fingers or thumb to find and push one of those buttons without taking my eye away from the viewfinder. A little height increase made a big difference for me. In case you are wondering, the Sugru can be taken off easily without leaving any marks on the buttons.
The viewfinder is just as good if not better than the EVF in the X-T1. I really enjoying using it and will not go back to a DSLR with an optical viewfinder. Looking through an EVF still is a bit funky when photographing a fully backlit subject with bright sky in the image. You have to get used to the "look" of the EVF in that situation as the contrast looks a bit strange to me. Also, at 8 fps, there is minimal blackout, not totally eliminated, but certainly workable without losing the position of your subject as you pan with it. I've photographed several trains coming at me at about 80 mph at a slight diagonal and tracked them easily. Same with my tests with birds in flight. No complaints with the EVF.
|Lily Pads in Dappled Morning Sunlight (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 119.2mm; 1/450th sec. @ f/8; ISO 400
The menus are quite comprehensive, easy to read and easy to set up your camera and use. You won't have to delve into your menus often while out photographing since almost all of the functions you may want to change can be found in the Q-menu or can be set on the function buttons. That is nice. The menu structure seems logical to me and I can find things easily, if necessary. I have one niggle. I don't like having to go deep into the menu to reformat my memory cards. According to the User's Manual, there is a way to press two buttons to reformat the cards, but I can't seem to get it to work. However, I'm persistent and I'm going to figure it out. Additionally, after formatting card 1, it would be nice if the menu returned to the same screen so one can easily and quickly format memory card 2, instead of defaulting back to the "My Menu" logo when one wants to format a second card. Now, one has to go through the entire deep dive a second time to format the second card.
Also, I wish any function button could be programmed for every function but it can't. There are some controls that are not included. This stuff is just personal preference stuff.
|Hunter Brook Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 50-140mm f/2.8 lens @ 71.5mm; 1.8 sec. @ f/8; ISO 200
The film simulations continue to be excellent and I don't hesitate to engage any of them for what I believe is an appropriate use. I normally use Provia. I like shadow detail so my standard Provia settings include brightening the shadows and increasing contrast in the highlights. It works well for me. The Acros is a nice improvement in the monochrome setting as it seems to give a bit more micro-contrast to the images. Although I like the new Acros setting (it seems to have a bit more overall and micro contrast than the monochrome simulation) and will use it when I need a JPEG out of the camera, I find converting RAW color images into black and white is much more versatile as I can control the luminance and tonality of each individual color much more effectively. I will probably continue to practice that when I want black and white images.
(If you want to shoot only JPEGs but simulate all of the flexibility one finds in a RAW file, set your film simulation to Pro Neg S, your highlights and shadows as low as they can be set, -2, your sharpness to -4 and your noise reduction to -4. That will give you a pretty low contrast, relatively unsharp and potentially noisy file, but one that can be fully exploited. You can add contrast but you can't recover shadow detail and lost highlights if your contrast is too high. You can sharpen an image in your image editing software but you can't "unsharpen" it if already sharpened in the camera. You can add sophisticated noise reduction but you can't add back the subtle detail that in-camera noise reduction may have removed while reducing noise. You get my point. To maximize flexibility, turn every JPEG setting down as far as you can in-camera.)
Only three images for bracketing. Still a problem. Not a problem when on a tripod but if you are handholding the camera, it is an issue as the only way to get around this limitation is to take three images, adjust the exposure compensation dial, then take three more images, which will then give you several additional EVs of exposure. There has to be some technical reasons that goes along with bracketing only three film simulations, three white balance settings, etc. as to why Fuji can't give us more. On a tripod, it isn't an issue unless your subject is moving.
Focusing. What can I say? I can find no fault, only praise, for the improvements made in single as well as continuous focusing with the X-T2. The focusing is fast and dead on with all of my lenses. I've used several of the focus tracking settings in the menu. I've used wide-tracking with great success. I've used large focusing points and small focusing points. The camera seems to just lock on and stay locked on moving subjects, no matter which ones I photograph. My hit rate for keeping focus on moving subjects is close to 100%. That is a big improvement even over my Nikon D810. I'm sure it doesn't work well in some circumstances, but I haven't found those circumstances in my photography yet. I will keep pushing the envelope, however, to determine the focusing systems limitations.
Dodge Pickup and Lobster Pots, Bernard, Maine (click to enlarge)
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 40.1mm; 1/950th sec. @ f/8; ISO 400
I have found that I have slightly changed the method in which I photograph now. In the past, I almost always used aperture priority, daylight white balance (just for a standard reference as I almost always shoot RAW) and carefully set my ISO for the lowest setting while still achieving the shutter speed I need. I don't necessarily do that anymore.
When I'm using a tripod, I continue to set the camera as above, except I use auto white balance. When handholding the camera, I'm now utilize the camera slightly differently. I now am setting the camera on auto ISO as well, manually setting my shutter speed and aperture to where I want the depth of field to be and what shutter speed I need, then fine tune exposure with the exposure compensation dial. The difference is, with my kinds of photography using the Fuji X-T2, I don't really worry about ISO anymore and the correct depth of field and shutter speed are more important than ISO to a given situation. I couldn't do this with my Nikons or Olympus cameras.
In regards to the conversion of RAW files in Lightroom, I no longer see any issues. No more smudged or smeared greens and no creation of false content, in the way of small, black outlines around hard items such as a pebbly surface, are seen. I no longer see a need to augment my RAW conversions with another RAW editor. That is excellent news! If you are still seeing issues, maybe I need to look closer than 100% on my monitor. Let me know.
|Nubble (Cape Neddick) Lighthouse, York, Maine (click to enlarge)|
X-T2, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16.5mm + Polarizing Filter; 1.2 sec. @ f/4; ISO 200
That is about all I can report at this time. I will continue to use the X-T2 whenever I photograph and I will periodically report back as to my findings, good and bad. I have an upcoming road trip planned for some fall foliage nature photography. After the trip, I'll give you some more of my insight into this new photographic tool.
Thanks for looking. Enjoy!
Dennis A. Mook
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