New Year, New Camera (Pt. 3)

Fujifilm X-Pro 2

“It makes me happy.”

That is the answer I gave to a friend when questioned about the new Fujifilm X-Pro 2. And, that sums up my review of the latest, top-of-the-line camera from the X-series. Given the number of reviews of this camera in existence already, you can stop reading here, since that is my conclusion.

If you want to continue to read, this is less of a review and more of my first impressions of the new camera. (Read about features and specs)

Off we go…

X-Pro 2

I knew I wanted to own the new X-Pro 2 sometime in 2012. That’s right, after first using the X-Pro 1, I was already anticipating the follow up to that camera. When I heard that the X-Pro 2 was actually going to ship in early 2016, I ordered mine. Three months later, I finally had my replacement for the X-Pro 1 and I am not disappointed.

In hand

Ah, that’s better. The X-Pro 2 is my preferred size, weight and shape for a camera, particularly a working camera. I really love having both an optical and electronic viewfinder and switch between the two as circumstances demand. The inset focus window in the OVF is also great and I switch it on and off when I use the OVF. Although the viewfinder isn’t as large as the X-T1, I am very happy with it.

The X-Pro 2 is little larger and heavier than any of the other X-bodies. For me, that’s a good thing. The balance of the camera and the hand grip make the X-Pro 2 very usable with nearly all of the Fujinon XF lenses. Since I use the XF50-140mm f2.8 lens a fair amount for work, I am considering getting the accessory grip to help when using that lens. Overall, the standard grip is a big improvement over the X-Pro 1.

The layout of the controls, all on the right-hand side of the camera is also a big improvement. My only quibble is with the angle of the rear, top place. Because it slopes away from my hand toward the top of the camera, reaching the AE-L, metering and view mode buttons, can be a challenge with my right thumb. I’m still adjusting to the layout and hopefully I will adapt to this design “feature.” The layout of the other buttons and the fact that you can program nearly all of them to your own specifications, makes the X-Pro 2 very functional. Also, the buttons are larger and more robust than the buttons found on the X-T1.

The new focus lever (stick) is a great feature, one of those features that make you wish that every camera had it. Separating focus point selection from the D-pads is a brilliant idea.

The inset ISO dial is good. It’s a reasonable solution, given the lack of space for a dedicated dial, like the X-T1. Like many aspects of design, one solution won’t please every user. So far, this user is pretty happy.

Performance

Everything is better and faster with the X-Pro 2 than with all preceding X-camera. And, it works as I would have it work or I can adapt to how things work, which is nearly as good. Given the four years between the X-Pro 1 and 2, and the interim design improvements of the X-E2 and X-T1, this isn’t a surprise. I’m just happy that Fujifilm used the past experience to make the X-Pro 2 as good as they have.

I was expecting a slight decrease in battery life with the X-Pro 2, but I haven’t noticed that. Battery life is on par with all other X-cameras. Certainly no worse in my experience and the battery indicator seems to be better calibrated to the actual charge available. Carry extra batteries and enjoy the benefits of the many features that those batteries power.

I can’t really say if my life has been improved with dual card slots and I’m on the fence about the new Acros film simulation. I’m liking it for portraits, but not sure yet about on the street. I did experience the custom settings reset bug. Once. Then, never again. I did install the latest firmware update just to be sure though.

With my set of XF lenses, focusing has been great. I still use the camera mostly in MF and use focus peaking and the back button to focus. Works great.

I won’t go on about how much faster any particular feature is. I will just sum up this section by saying that the X-Pro 2 performs as I would want and expect a professional tool to perform. The bonus for me is that I enjoy using it so much. Much more than any other camera, X or otherwise.

Still adjusting

Yeah, I’m still adjusting to the new layout and discovering new features. This is part of using any new camera. I haven’t tried the X-Pro 2 yet for some of the types of photography that I enjoy, but I have been using it extensively for work and on the street. One of the features that I first noticed on the X-T1 and has made it’s way to the X-Pro 2 is the ability to shoot flash in continuous shooting mode. I like it. Apparently, it will also supports high-synch flash when Fujifilm releases the new, professional speedlight.

One feature of the X-T1 that didn’t make it to the X-Pro 2 is an articulated rear screen. I did use it on occasion with the X-T1 and relied heavily on it with the X70 (no choice there), but I think that I can live without it on the X-Pro 2. It would have been nice to have, but the lack of a tilting rear screen was not a deal breaker for me. I just like too many other things about the new camera that out weigh the lack of this feature.

Picking up the X-Pro 2 felt like coming home again. I originally purchased the X-Pro 1 when I was a confirmed rangefinder photographer. It eventually replaced my digital rangefinders, proving itself to be more versatile while producing exceptional images. The X-Pro 2 is the welcome evolution of this lovely, but quirky camera. It feels perfect in my hand, making photography fun like only a few other cameras have.

Is the X-Pro 2 a Leica killer or the perfect camera for everyone? Anyone? It won’t please everyone and it may not make some people happy. But, for this photographer, the X-Pro 2 is pretty close to perfect. In fact, it just makes me happy.

A note about 35mm lenses

Thanks to Fujifilm, I have the use of a new XF35mm f2.0 WR lens to use with the X-Pro 2. I wasn’t anticipating liking this lens as much as I do. I have always loved the XF35mm f1.4 lens and continue to use it a lot. A lot. The f2.0 is also an excellent lens and I am really enjoying using it, particularly on those rainy nights when out looking for photo prey on the streets. Since I already own the f1.4 version, I won’t be buying the f2.0. However, I would seriously consider getting the XF35mm f2.0 WR lens instead of the f1.4 if I were in the market for a XF35mm lens. (Hint, hint).

After using this lens, I sent my request to Fuji HQ for them to consider making an XF23mm f2.0 WR lens. I would definitely consider buying that lens to replace my XF23mm f1.4 lens, which is excellent, but larger than I prefer for use on the street. Since they listened to almost all of my recommendations for the new X-Pro 2, I think that there is a good chance this might happen too. (I wish I had that type of influence, but Fujifilm is known to listen to photographers, so here’s hoping.)

Images captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with a variety of XF lenses. Monochrome images are JPEGs with Acros Yellow film simulation. Colour images are a combination of RAW and JPEG.

8 Comments

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  1. Larry Gottschalk April 13, 2016 — 13:51

    Good stuff, Don. Always an enjoyable read and look. Am looking forward to the X-T2 here.

  2. Nice blog post. Lots to like in the photos too. The “Zara” umbrella shot is a great dynamic street shot with great composition and timing. I think the colour rain on glass shot with lights is also a very engaging image. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes, Mr C :-)

  3. robinmargaret April 7, 2016 — 07:46

    The camera sounds great; now if I only knew how to use it like you do and could take such great photographs.

  4. Gaston Plourde April 6, 2016 — 07:17

    Thank you Don for this well written blog. It makes me want one. Aside from being good, this camera is also a beauty…

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