Fuji XT2 First Impressions

Fuji XT2 - The Moors above Saddleworth.
Fuji XT2 – The Moors above Saddleworth.

This last weekend was possibly a turning point for me. My XT2 has finally arrived and I’m excited. I haven’t been excited about a new camera in a long time. It’s hard to say what’s different this time but there is just something about the Fuji. The XT system and lenses is very high quality but compact. It seems to have many of the benefits of the Olympus EM5 but with improved image quality. That’s something that was difficult for me to admit at first as the Olympus has served me well for several years and is an excellent camera. Let me share my first impressions with you.

Removing the camera from the packaging for the first time, it feels very much like the XT1. The various dials which felt well positioned on the XT1 are all still there but with a few more options. What I liked about the XT1 was that everything seemed to be where you would expect to find it and the XT2 is very similar.

There are a few points though that Fuji should be specifically commended for:

  • The eyecup on the XT2 is just like the replacement eye cup on the XT1. This is an optional accessory with the XT1 (and worth investing in).
  • The screen protectors for the XT1 fit the XT2.
  • The battery from the XT1 fits and works fine in the XT2. Sony is the only other manufacturer that seems to adopt this approach.

Looking over the camera controls I immediate notice one enhancement. I am very fussy about where I place the focus point and the XT2 just made life easier for me. The back of the camera now has a small joystick with which you can move the point of focus. I used to have one of these on my old Sony R1 and I loved it. You can even use it with the camera to your eye.

The other enhancement that I like is the two-way articulated rear LCD. I don’t particularly find the swivel screens very useful as I tend not to get horizon skewed. With the XT2, the screen moves on a hinge but there is a second hinge allowing it to tilt either horizontally or vertically. Nice.

In short, this feels a lot like the XT1 but with a few nice features thrown in.

When I bought the XT2 I purchased it as a kit with the 18-55 lens. Although I already have the amazing 16-55 I decided I couldn’t pass up the extra lens for only £250 more. The 16-55 whilst excellent is bulky and doesn’t have IS. The 18-55 is much smaller and does have IS. Whilst it’s not wide enough for all my work, it’s fine as part of my walking kit.

This lens also allows me to use the camera with my LowPro 140 shoulder bag. I use this bag for trekking as it allows me to also use a good sized day pack. The XT2 with 18-55 lens, together with the 55-200 lens all fit into the shoulder bag.

In terms of the 18-55 performance, the results are very good. It’s very sharp and seems to perform well across the entire focal range as well as into the corners. The only problem I’m finding is that after shooting a lot with Micro 43 cameras, I keep misjudging the depth of field with the Fuji. Given how sharp the images are, it’s not something I’m happy about. I need to get used to the larger sensor.

The colours from the XT2 RAW files are excellent as is the detail. I have been looking hard for signs of water colour effect and false pattern (wiggly worm) when using Lightroom but so far none. I did spot what I thought was some false pattern in a couple of images but then realised how to avoid it. I need to consider this more with the XT1 but if I have hit on something I will share it soon.

Shadow detail is also very good and the images are clean when lightened. I could apply a substantial amount of shadow recovery to a very contrasty scene and the result were very natural. The film simulations are also very nice in Lightroom.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the XT2. I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces in a proper shoot.

Fuji XT2 - The Moors above Saddleworth.
Fuji XT2 – The Moors above Saddleworth.

7 thoughts on “Fuji XT2 First Impressions

  1. The Fuji looks great, but for those of us who want to stay with really light weight systems, such as the M43, changing to a whole new system seems very prohibitive from the enthusiast point of view. To scrap a whole system in favor of a new system with various expensive lenses and other required gear seems out of reach for most of us unless it is in relation to cameras being our livelihood. I would question, why not look to the new EM1 Mark II for a camera body and continue to use the wonderful Olympus glass that you already have. And then there is the whole issue of the Sony 7 series that really requires Canon glass and bulky adapters to make it work well. Will you quit using that too? I guess that if camera manufacturers would make cameras with interchangeable sensors (like film) and possible updateable internal computers, we wouldn’t have to abandon all the beautiful glass and the familiarity of our gear as it relates to depth of field and other similar issues. A familiar camera system that I use all the time makes me take better pictures. Having to get used to another system that is either new or one I use periodically is a distraction and a cost liability.

    1. Hi John, I know exactly where you are coming from and it wasn’t an easy choice for me. I have used the Olympus for almost 4 years and it has been an excellent camera, possibly one of my favourites. Before that I was a Panasonic fan and have been using Micro 43 for a long time. It has served me very well but I need to move on. I haven’t yet sold the EM5’s and am contemplating keep a cut back kit for the Infrared. The EM5 I had converted to IR is superb. My only problem with this is that I need to release the funds tied up in a lot of equipment. My equipment has to pay for itself.

      Moving to a completely new system is a challenge and that is encouraging me as well as frustrating me; probably in equal measure at present. The Fuji is an excellent system but not without its problems. One thing I have learned through this last couple of months is that switching systems forces me to explore more. I don’t think that I would have ever found Iridient developer had I not had the image quality issue with the Fuji. I have also been working a lot more with RAW Therapee, the free RAW converter that seems able to produce much more natural and detailed images than Lightroom.

      I know that people like to read about kit choices so I like to share my experience. At the end of the day however, great photography is down to the awareness, creativity and skills/decisions of the photographer. This requires you to know and understand your equipment to achieve the most from it. It also requires many hours of patient practice. The camera is just the tool but it must be right for the photographer.

      As for the Sony, it is very bulky with those Canon lenses and I had started to question why I was keeping it. Then I looked at the image quality from the RAW files and stopped asking the question.

      1. Thanks for your detailed and candid reply. As an expert and a source of excellent technical application, I would hope that you would actually keep the M43 system, at least for some extended time, to test it against new and better RAW systems, as you have already acknowledged, so we, who continue to use it, can be guided to those better options. That also includes augmented third party software such as Topaz, Nik, Piccure, and others.

  2. Hello Robin. Thanks for this initial look at the X-T2. I am interested to know if you find the new camera is more of a technical challenge, given the increase in sensor size. I have the X- T1 and find it wonderfully quick and easy to use, even in manual mode. I have heard comments from other photogs about needing to take far more care with their image making when they have upgraded to a bigger sensor size with say a Canon. One of the things I love about my current camera is its ease of use, but the temptation to go for this next model is quite strong. Don’t want to fall into the upgrade only to regret it. Thanks.

    1. Hi, I switched from XT1 to XT2. Like Robin traded some gear along with it to “pay” for it. The menu system is improved from the XT1, more intuitive. The new Acros film simulation is great. As far as I know no software update to bring this to the XT1, probably an enticement to change. The top of the camera is better. I often mistakenly pushed the mode button on top of the XT1 and went into double exposure mode mistakenly. The new has positive lock on that dial. The articulating screen does more movement but seems a bit fragile so I don’t use it much. Continuous focus in the menu is much improved with demonstrative examples and adjustments within each C mode in the menu. The SD card door is much more robust with a positive lock. Image quality? I love it. Colors in Provia mode are vibrant and clean. I tended to shoot mostly Velvia mode but now gravitate to Provia and Classic Chrome. The battery grip adds substantially more weight to the camera but I like it, the camera fits better in the hand. The grip itself is robust and well thought out. Fuji is great about constant software updates to its cameras and lenses. I switched from Nikon to Fuji mainly from weight as I ride a motorcycle. A D800 and 70-200 and 24-70 was too big and heavy for me despite the superb image quality.

    2. If you’re wondering about the move from Micro 43 to the Fuji, it is more challenging. I keep falling into the trap of shooting at f8.0 and focussing out about 30-50 feet. With the Micro 43 you can expect everything to be sharp out to infinity and it does make you a little lazy. I also shoot with a full frame Sony and I know I usually need f/16.0 or f/18.0 with a wide-angle lens to achieve a good depth of field. The Fuji has yet to become second nature to me and I keep finding I don’t have sufficient depth of field. I have read that some photographers find the increased pixel count more of a challenge but so far, this hasn’t happened to me. The XT2 is an excellent camera but you need to be sure why you need it if you already have the XT1. You could fall into the upgrade trap.

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