Fujifilm X-Pro 2 first impressions!

Well, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to buy this camera. I mean, what could 8 more megapixels offer me? Going from Fujfilm X-T1 (16mpx) to X-Pro 2 (24mpx)... And not that much improved low light/ISO capabilities either (depending on which technical reviews you read). And a smaller viewfinder than the X-T1... No tiltable LCD screen.

But hey, I bought it anyway on April 1, 2016. Not really sure what to expect.  But I did know this - when I sold the X-Pro 1 and bought the X-T1 I was impressed by the faster handling, the faster autofocus and the big EVF with higher resolution, of the X-T1. But I missed the design of the X-Pro 1. The Viewfinder placed all the way to left on the camera on the X-Pro1 was better for me. The bigger size, the way it fitted in my hands... It just felt more solid, better build. There was just something magical about the X-Pro 1 that made me want to just hold it in my hands, even when I wasn't out shooting pictures! (There's probably a psychiatric diagnosis for this, but who cares...) 

The autofocus sucked on X-Pro 1. Big time. It got better after some firmware updates, but still... Anyway, when I got the X-T1 I started to dream of a camera with X-Pro 1 design and X-T1 handling and speed. The X-Pro 1 inspired me to go out and take pictures. The X-T1 did too, but not in such a way the X-Pro 1 did. But, I have enjoyed my X-T1. It's a really great camera.

When I first read about the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 I was sure it was going to replace my X-T1. It was faster, had at least one stop better ISO and so on. But then, after the initial hype settled, the "negatives" from other reviews started ticking in. The ISO noise was not better, about the same. The viewfinder was smaller than the X-T1's. The ISO wheel not so practical. And 16mpx is more than enough, right? And I agreed, actually. Before I tried it that is.

Osensjøen, Norway:

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0 @ f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 200. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2, XF 14mm f/2.8, ISO 200, f/8 1/125sec

I think there's a misconception out there on the web that the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 (and 1) is primarily a camera for those who need or want an optical viewfinder (OVF), use short prime lenses, and want to pay for the extra cost of the OVF. The rest can buy the X-T1.... "The X-Pro series is for shooting street photography, for photo journalism, where the OVF is useful . The X-T1 has a bigger EVF and an articulated LCD screen..." And that kind of statements. Well, the OVF on the X-Pro 2 makes the camera more expensive, yes. And the X-T1 has a bigger EVF. And a tiltable LCD on the back. But - the EVF on the X-Pro 2 is better! Smaller, yes, a little bit. But the much improved framerate on the Pro 2makes the EVF of the X-T1 seem sluggish in comparison. 

I'd go for the X-PRO 2 even without the OVF, I'd go for the X-PRO 2 because of its better electronic viewfinder! The tiltable LCD on the X-T1, yes it's nice. Am i missing it? Sometimes, it can be nice if you keep your camera high or very low on a tripod. And sometimes I do that for my landscape shots. But it's hard to go back to the refresh rate of the X-T1 for the rest of my shooting. 

Autofocus and handling

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0 WR, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/1000 sec. 

Boxing? Well, why not? If you're professional sports shooter you are probably using a Canon 1DX or Nikon D4s/D5. But, since I'm a amateur photographer I'm quite happy with the results I got from X-Pro 2. I could shoot rather long series of RAW files with 8 fps without slowdown. And more importantly, the EVF didn't black out in between the frames the way the X-T1 does! So it's much easier to follow your subject as it moves around, and keep shooting. All of the boxing pictures are shot in RAW and post processed in Lightroom CC. There I choose the Acros + Ye film simulation - which is quite close to what you get from the in camera Acros JPEGs. 

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0 WR, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/1000 sec.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0 WR, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/1000 sec

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0 WR, ISO 3200, f/4, 1/1000 sec

The only lens I brought for my X-Pro 2 to the boxing matches was my Fuji XF 35mm f/2.0WR. It focuses fast, for a mirrorless system anyway, and is very sharp. Being a prime lens, I had to do some cropping in post to improve on the composition somewhat. The Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom would have been better for this kind of shooting since I really can't plan or decide the distance to the action. But the 24 megapixels gave me more to crop from without losing too much quality. One thing is sure, the X-Pro 2 feels faster in hand than the X-T1. Not only the autofocusing, but everything! Less lag. And the buttons are way easier to press. The joystick makes it so much easier to pick the right autofocusing point fast. And the number of autofocusing points have increased from 77 to 273 with a bigger coverage. Almost like a sports camera... or perhaps not quite:

Cause I did bring my Canon 7D Mk II with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 - which is a fast focusing and sharp lens for the Canon crop cameras. And I took a lot of pictures with that combo. And of course, it is better suited for this style of shooting. Still, I was surprised to see how many keepers I got from my Fuji. The thing is, for me the Fuji X-PRO 2 is a better overall camera than Canon 7D Mk II. The canon is too big for me to do street shooting, the dynamic range makes me keep it at home when I'm out taking landscape shots. 

The X-Pro 2 goes with me everywhere. The Canon 7D Mk II does not. Like in this instance, when visiting some friends, capturing my 21 month old son as he is chasing soap bubbles:

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 23mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 23mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 23mm f/1.4, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec.

Well, maybe not the sports camera Canon 7D Mk II is, but still fast enough to capture this little fellow, running around, playing. And that's good enough for me. And because the whole system is faster and more responsive than the X-T1, these kind of shots were easier for me to capture. Since I use the EVF a lot the faster framerate in the EVF, and almost no blackout in between pictures in long series, really made a big difference to my old X-T1. The pictures above are shot in RAW, post processed in Lightroom CC, using Camera Astia/Soft profile - fairly close to what you get from in camera Astia JPEG's.

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0WR, ISO 200, f/8, 1/240 sec.

And it's a camera that goes with me everywhere, in the streets, or out in the woods:

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 + XF 35mm f/2.0WR, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec.

I used my old X-Pro 1 in minus 20 degrees Celsius with no problems. That's way below the specified operating temperature! But it wasn't weather sealed so I never dared to bring it out in the rain. The X-T1 is weather sealed, and thankfully the new X-Pro 2 is too. I am looking forward to bring this camera to Thailand this summer. Also, I like the idea of two SD card slots. I'm not a professional, so it's not like I ever missed it a lot. But still, nice. Have I ever experienced a SD card failure? Yes. One time. No big deal at the time. But I'd hate it if it happens to me this coming summer when I'm travelling in Thailand.

One other thing I like with the X-Pro 2 is that the tripod mounting hole now is located so it's possible for me to change batteries when I have the camera on a tripod. On the X-T1 I had to remove the mounting bracket from the bottom of the camera first. Oh, and for you JPEG shootes, I am happy to announce that the waxy skin effect of high ISO JPEG's from X-E2,  X100-T and X-T1 are gone! If you don't know what I mean, don't worry about it...google it if you want. But for those who have noticed this irritating artifact, problem solved with the X-Pro 2. Also, my first impression is that the dynamic range of this new sensor is improved upon the X-T1. But I have to do more testing to say it for sure. High ISO noise is about the same as X-T1 - and that with more megapixels! So that's good I think. And the noise is... pleasant actually. Max ISO for RAW files has increased to 12.800, while the X-T1 stopped at 6400. But really, I would rather have a lower base ISO and increased dynamic range, down to 100 instead of 200 which is the lowest of the Fuji sensors. But that's the landscape shooter in me talking. I love the low native base ISO of 64 on my Nikon D810 - (but that camera is another story when it comes to dynamic range and resolution of course).

So, goodbye to Fuji X-T1. But, would I be buying an X-Pro 2 if there was a X-T2 available? With its bigger EVF but the same new refresh rate as X-Pro 2, same 24mpx sensor, same or better autofocusing system than X-Pro 2, tiltable LCD, cheaper... and so on? Nope. Last night, as I was watching TV, I found myself just holding my X-Pro 2 in my hands - for no other reason than I liked it. I never did that with my X-T1. This is love. (Do you know a good psychiatrist? )