Fujifilm X-T2 Review

Introduction

There has been a lot of things posted a the internet, some good, some bad…mostly good. Granted, it’s valid for good things to be said about this camera, because its a very good camera…but I’ve seen a couple Fuji fanatics get a little trapped in the hype. Hopefully we can clear that up in this review.

These are my thoughts. I’m not a professional, just an enthusiast who enjoys my photography.

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Fujinon XF35mm f/2 R WR – ISO200 – 1/4700th – f/2

Packaging & what’s in the box

At the end of the day, a box is a box. For some obscure reason some people like hearing about packaging so I’ll dedicate 20 seconds of my life to this. I do like it when a company does more than the bare minimum for their boxes, or at least attempts to make them look like you’re buying a premium product. Unboxing a Fuji reminds me a little of Apple. It’s tasteful and clean, consistent branding with decent quality packaging.

Inside the box you’ll find the usual assortment of accessories that most cameras give you. You have a battery, charger, strap and a tiny external flash.

I have to admit to being impressed with the tiny flash. I’ve never been a fan of the built in flashes, but having this as an external as and when you need it is a nice touch without impacting the size of the body. In my case, it hasn’t stopped me buying an external flash, but it will provide something for the odd occasion when I need it.

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Fujinon XF90mm f/2 R LM WR – ISO200 – 1/210 – f/2

I have never used the OEM straps on DSLR’s. I have normally use a removable Black Rapid on the odd occasion I have needed it. For my XT-2, this won’t change although I will not be using a Black Rapid. I’ve opted to buy a Tap and Dye Legacy Strap which I plan to use when carrying it around with a 23 f/2 or 35 f/2. This is not a reflection on the poor quality of the Fuji strap (which is not particularly spectacular), it’s simply a personal preference thing…I just wanted a removable strap. I’ll post a review on the Tap and Dye Legacy when it arrives.

Surprisingly enough, despite supporting USB charging, Fuji have chosen not to include a USB cable in the box. I think this is a oversight, particularly at a time where not anyone will have a USB-3 cable and a lot of people won’t be aware that you can use a Micro USB in a USB-3 slot. I asked around and 90% of people I talked to were not aware of it. Granted this is mentioned in the manual, but it’s not common knowledge and people tend to look at slots and just look for cable to match. In the case of USB-3 cables, you also may not want to share cables as one of your cables to be dedicated to a desktop drive.

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Fujinon XF50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR – ISO200 – 1/3000 – f/2.8

Build Quality

The build quality of the XT-2 is really first class, there is no other way to describe it. It’s an all metal construction and I doubt anyone is going to calling out Fuji on their quality control. When I was writing this, I picked up the camera and had a look around for anything I could fault. Looking at the camera, there isn’t anything you could point to and say “Fuji went cheap on this” or “The finishing isn’t great”. It is an impeccable product. The finishing is really outstanding and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design. If I was going to nitpick, I’d say a soft release button would have been nice as standard.

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Fujinon XF90mm f/2 R LM WR – ISO200 – 1/210 – f/2

Features and Controls

Overall, the controls are very good, with a couple of annoyances, but these are relatively minor. On the positive, I really like the manual controls for aperture, shutter, ISO and exposure conpensation. It’s weird coming from a PASM type of dial to this, but when you start working with it, it’s really great. I had some initial frustrations with rotating the aperture dial, but that is not a criticism of the camera, it’s more the process of getting used to changes to controls.I like the fact that Fuji have given so much flexibility and control over the buttons.

Some of this is a little hidden but as you get to grips with it, you start to appreciate having access to the Q menus. There are multiple Q menus and these are a little hidden from view due to the requirement to press the Q button and rotate the dial. This is not a criticism of Fuji, but more an indication that this is really a camera that you have to read the manual with when you first get it.

Whilst you can set the Shutter on the dials, rotating the rear dial does allow you to adjust up or down as required.

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Fujinon XF90mm f/2 R LM WR – ISO640 – 1/1000 – f/2.8

From a personal perspective, my only real issues I could find around the controls the rear AE-L buttons are very shallow which makes them difficult to use if you map it as an AF-On button the way a lot of DSLR users would. I’ve seen a stick on silver button from RLuther but they are a little bling for my liking. I’ve also heard of people add Sugru to the rear buttons which I am a little hesitant to do until I verify how removable it is or consider potential alternatives.

The second issue is what can only be described as a bug in the Auto Exposure settings. When you set the exposure to continuous and you have the camera set to auto ISO, it only every shows the maximum ISO, not the current ISO.

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Fujinon XF16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR – ISO1600 – 1/400 – f/2.8

Image Quality

The image quality on the X-T2 leaves nothing to be desired and I suspect most photographers buying this camera will never find themselves reaching the limitation of the camera or its sensor. The reality however with image quality is that it is 90% to do with the lens anyway so whatever photos you see on the web are largely as a result of the glass the reviewer puts in front of them, not the sensor.

The high ISO quality is outstanding and the ISO invariance is on a par with my D750 which is more than I could ask for. I am not a fan of limiting certain ISO ranges to JPG only, but I don’t go there often enough for it to be a big concern for me.

All the photos in this review are with the X-T2, so I’ll leave you to judge. I probably can’t do the camera the justice it deserves and I’m sure there are far better photographers out there that can show the capability of this camera.

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Fujinon XF35mm f/2 R WR – ISO200 – 1/4000 – f/2

Autofocus

This is one of those contentious areas. I’ve seen some ridiculous claims and some claims which are good and bad. The XT-2 AF is very good, lets be clear about that. It’s much better than I expected for mirrorless. Unfortunately I didn’t have the XT-1 or X-Pro 2 as I came from the D750, so all I can compare it to is DSLR’s.Compared to the D750, the XT2 has very good AF. Not better, and not worse.

If you think the XT2 has better AF than the Nikon D5oo (which I also tested), you need to take a severe dose of reality check. Yes, there are videos out there that try to show it is better but don’t kid yourself. If you want a sports camera, the D500 is always going to be a better choice. Having a person jog back and forth at a slow pace is hardly testing the boundaries or the limitations of AF. You’re essentially testing to the mirrorless strengths. When you try fast paced sports, or a subject that is unpredictable like kids, you get a good idea of how the X-T2 performs and it’s under these more trying conditions that a D500 will smoke the X-T2. Is that a bad thing? Definitely not.

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Fujinon XF16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR – ISO6400 – 1/1250 – f/2.8

The X-T2 is still very good, it’s just not a sports camera. By comparing the two, you probably aren’t doing the X-T2 justice and I think a better comparison is to the D750 where the X-T2 would compete on a level playing field. They are both there to be the jack of all trades, not a specialised sports camera and not a specialised landscape camera and this is where it excels. The only thing it really lacks in comparison to the D750 is on the battery life.I’ll be honest and say that due to carrying additional batteries, I now only shoot in boost mode. I’m not a fan of the EVF with the lower frame rate in normal mode. If the boost mode wasn’t available, I probably wouldn’t be bothered but it’s a little like a retina screen on a phone…once you’ve tasted the goods, it’s hard to go back to the alternative.

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Fujinon XF90mm f/2 R LM WR – ISO320 – 1/250 – f/2

Ease of use

Ease of use is an interesting one. I actually wouldn’t put this down as one of the easiest cameras to use. I’m open to the idea that it’s as a result of coming from DSLR’s that the use of this may be a little more challenging because i have preconceived ideas about how things should work, but I actually found the settings on the camera more challenging than expected.

If I was battling a bit, then I could imagine a beginner and even some intermediates feeling a little out of their depth while getting used to this camera. The strange thing, is I can’t point to anything specific that is difficult to use, it’s just not the most intuitive camera to get used to. The thing with the X-T2, is if you’re prepared to invest the time to get to know it, it will be very rewarding.

While I have said that it’s not an easy camera, if you set up the camera for a novice to take a photo, the outcome is likely to be a lot better than a DSLR. The photo below is one my 6 yr old daughter took of me, while I was handholding a softbox. She was handholding the camera, so it was composed by her. The only thing I did was hold the flash and do the post processing.

Handling

I’ve added this after posting the initial as someone pointed out I missed it which was a valid point. Handling with a small camera is always going to be a mixed bag. If you have big hands with one finger slipping off the camera, it’s likely to be less favourable than a smaller handed person who finds the average pro DSLR too large to grip.

I can’t comment from everyone’s perspective, I can only give my thoughts so I apologise if this doesn’t fit everyone. I’m 6 foot, light build, long fingers and I find when I hold the camera, I can keep all my fingers on the camera but it’s not the comfortable sort of fit that comes with a larger camera. You are stuck where you not sure whether to let one finger slip off or put it on at an angle. That said, the upside with the weight is that I can comfortably handhold my camera one handed with my 50-140 attached and hold a softbox in another hand which would have extremely difficult with my D750 and 70-200. For anyone with large hands, I would highly recommend the battery grip. Despite the narrow thickness of the body, it is actually extremely comfortable, even more so than my D750, which was a surprise for me. I honestly expected it to be a bit thin. I’ll post a review of the battery grip in the near future.

If you are using heavier lenses like the 16-55 and 50-140, the battery grip is always going to be more comfortable due to the weight of the lenses. This is no different to DSLR’s but probably less prevalent as there are times where it is less noticeable due to the lighter weight of the lenses.

As mentioned in the previous section, my one big issue with the handling is the shallow AE-L and AF-L buttons making it difficult to use them as an AF-On button reliably, but I have seen means to extend these buttons which I will investigate once they provide a non-chrome version.

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Fujinon XF35mm f/2 R WR – ISO200 – 1/250 – f/8

Battery Life

As can be expected, the battery life is pretty dismal by DSLR standards. Initially I found myself becoming neurotic while waiting for my spare batteries to arrive. The easiest way to describe the problem is when you have a DSLR, you really don’t focus on charging your batteries. I wouldn’t be particularly concerned if I walked out with a battery half full because that’s more than 500 photos. With the Fuji, those numbers are much smaller so you tend to be preoccupied on keeping batteries charged all the time, or at least carrying one or two spare.

Whilst I say it’s dismal, it still isn’t as bad as I expected when you have the nerve to run the battery down and in reality, a large percentage of the problems are psychological. If you are the type of person that spends your life chimping, you may have some challenges but with the boost mode on, it wasn’t unusual for me to get upwards of 350 shots out of the camera. That isn’t terrible and the only time I found myself running short at about 200 was when I was the subject in a shoot, with a friend taking photos of me taking photos. I was having to hold the camera in a fixed position for extended periods with the rear screen on whilst not taking photos, not the usual type of situation a photographer would find themselves in.

On the battery life front, I ended up going down the path of some after market batteries, so if you’re in Australia, consider Betterbatt as an alternative source for batteries. At AUD$25 a battery, it’s a little more reasonable than the Fuji originals.

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Fujinon XF23mm f/2 R WR – ISO200 – 1/60 – f/16

Issues

There were a couple of small issues picked up with the camera while I was using it.

There was an issue with the auto-exposure that I mentioned previously. Hopefully this is resolved by Fuji with a firmware update. The firmware released end of November didn’t address this and I haven’t managed to locate a channel to report the issue to them.

I also picked up the lock up issue with continuous shooting which seems to be well documented. There has been talk of this being card related and battery related (X-T1 batteries in the grip), both of which apply. I was initially using a SanDisk Ultra 80MB/s card in slot 1, but since shifting to a Lexar 2000x 300MB/s card, this hasn’t occurred again. I’m not 100% sure whether this is as a result of the card change or whether I just haven’t pushed the camera to this point, but I’ll update the review if it continues to occur.

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Fujinon XF16-55mm f/2.8 R WM WR – ISO500 – 1/8 – f/5.6

Conclusion

What can you say about a camera that has probably won a number of awards by the time you read this. It’s an amazing piece of technology and Fuji have a winner on their hands.

It’s cameras like this that should have Nikon and Canon very worried because the days of substandard mirrorless experiences are gone. As the AF system in the X-T2 rolls into the lower end models, Canon and Nikon will find mirrorless cameras eating further into their market and they have every reason to be concerned about their future unless they make drastic changes.

The X-T2 isn’t perfect. A larger buffer would be nice and the issues I mentioned can largely be fixed through firmware updates, but it’s nothing that will limit your photography.

This is the first mirrorless camera that I believe has the capacity to truely compete with (and beat)  the entry level full frame DSLR’s. Granted their performance isn’t a match for the D5 or D500, but how many non-professional photographers “need” a D5? Unless you’re a dedicated sports or bird shooter, the lack of conventional (14-24, 24-70, 70-200) DX glass for the D500 is going to limit your options and that means Fuji has the upper hand.

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