Mirrorless


Camera Review: Fujifilm X-T2

March 7, 2017

By Theano Nikitas

The X-T2’s retro look and feel should set analog lovers’ hearts aflutter. The more practical-minded amongst us also appreciate the durable weather sealing.

Fuji has stepped up its game with the X-T2, adding feature and performance enhancements that further set it apart from its sibling, the X-Pro 2. Although both cameras share the same 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro, the X-T2 is more nimble—a plus for sports shooters—and is the first Fuji X-series mirrorless camera to record 4K video. But that’s just scratching the surface of this highly capable camera’s features.

Features

With its plentiful feature set, the X-T2 offers a wide range of options for photographers of all stripes. Beyond the standard exposure and fine-tuning options, Fuji’s film simulation modes provide creative, film-like color and black-and-white options. In addition to Provia/standard, Velvia/vivid and others, the X-T2 now includes several ACROS (high contrast black-and-white) settings, with or without red, yellow or green filters. Toy, miniature, pop color and a handful of other filters are also available, although I think the film simulation modes are better suited to professional image making.

You’ll also find lots of customization, control over dynamic range and multiple bracketing modes for AE, film simulation, dynamic range, ISO and white balance. Unfortunately, all bracketing options—including exposure—are limited to just three frames.

With the Fuji Camera Remote app for iOS and Android you can geotag, transfer images and remotely trigger the camera. There’s also a PC AutoSave for Windows and Mac computers for wireless image transfer.

Although the camera doesn’t have a built-in flash, it does have a hot shoe. And, of special interest to videographers, it has a stereo microphone connector, along with an HDMI output. A USB 3.0 port and a remote release connector are also provided.

Design

The X-T2 maintains a retro-look and feel, with external controls for quick and easy access to important settings. Top mounted dials control shutter speed, ISO and Exposure Compensation, with sub-dials for shooting modes (bracket, continuous, movie, etc.) and metering. Forward and rear control wheels complement a number of other external controls, including an aperture ring on the 18-55mm f/2.8 kit lens.

Although the EV dial doesn’t offer the same center lock buttons found on the ISO and shutter speed dials, it clicks into place and is unlikely to be accidentally changed.

At 5.21 x 3.61 x 1.94 inches and weighing 1.12 pounds, the X-T2 is slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor. Well-constructed and weatherproof, the camera is nicely protected against the elements. It’s comfortable to hold and should provide good balance for longer lenses (we only had access to the 18-55mm f/2.8 kit lens).

The overall design hasn’t changed much from the X-T1, but Fuji has added a small joystick to manually adjust the AF point position. Located to the right of the LCD, the joystick—despite its small size—is easy to reach with your thumb. Although very responsive, there’s little chance of overshooting the accuracy of the specified AF point position.

Also new to the X-T2 is a unique, 3-inch LCD. The screen pulls out from the camera body and, like similar LCDs, tilts up and down. But a release latch on the side opens the screen to the right. It’s not as convenient as a fully articulated screen, but is helpful when shooting from low or high portrait-oriented angles.

Although it doesn’t have the great hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro 2, the X-T2’s EVF is positioned in the center of the camera, over the lens—much like a traditional DSLR, which we find is a more comfortable location. The EVF is large, bright and a pleasure to use. In fact, it’s probably one of the best EVFs on the market today. A fast refresh rate and minimal blackout time during continuous shooting are welcome touches for action and sports shooters.

A dual SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot supports UHS-II cards in both slots and can be customized to provide back-up or to split file types onto different cards. There’s a lock on the door covering the card slot that we find slightly annoying; we prefer a slide-to-open type of door for faster access to cards.

Image Quality

The X-T2 delivers great JPEG images straight out of the box with accurate colors and good detail reproduction.

Shooting in semiautomatic exposure modes, we found that the X-T2 tended to slightly underexpose images. Since we generally underexpose images just a hair when shooting in manual mode, we were happy with the results and were able to pull out shadow details when necessary. Overall dynamic range is broad enough to capture high contrast images with smooth transitions between highlights and shadows.

Even with its higher megapixel count versus the X-T1 (24 megapixels vs. 16), the X-T2 kept image noise to a minimum up to about ISO 1600 and a little beyond. Noise started creeping in after that, but the X-T2 managed to hold onto details quite well. We would feel comfortable shooting at ISO 6400 when necessary.

Video quality was impressive, especially considering this is the company’s first 4K camera. Exposure was fairly even and footage was generally sharp and nicely detailed. Natural color rendition was the norm when shooting in the default Provia/standard film simulation. Though Fuji has added an F-Log option for de-saturated footage, it’s only available when recording video to an external recorder. Still, it’s a good indication of this camera’s video potential.

Performance

Highly responsive, the X-T2’s performance is one of its many notable features. Start-up is almost instant. Like the X-T1, the X-T2’s burst mode delivers up to 8 fps when shooting with the EVF and mechanical shutter, but with the X-T2, you can add the VB-XT2 optional power boost grip that ups continuous shooting to 11fps. At 8 fps you’ll be able to capture up to 83 JPEGs, 33 lossless compressed RAW or 27 uncompressed RAW before the camera slows slightly. The buffer clears relatively quickly and even when the camera is writing data to the card(s), all functions are fully available. You can even continue to shoot, albeit at a slower rate.

Autofocus is equally spry, thanks to the camera’s new AF system. With 325 AF points (including 169 embedded phase detect points), the X-T2’s AF system not only covers more of the frame but is also faster and more accurate than its predecessor. Low-light focus is responsive as well and can focus to light levels as low as -3EV.

To get the most out of the camera’s continuous and tracking autofocus, however, you’ll need to dig into the menus. Like Canon, Fuji now offers several options—customizable presets and manual settings—to match the AF performance to the current scenario. For example, you can adjust tracking sensitivity, predictability of subject movement speed and more. It’s a little tricky but very useful once you figure out how each works.

Bottom Line

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a stellar choice for photographers who want to combine performance with excellent image quality. It’s not the lightest or smallest APS-C mirrorless camera on the market, but the X-T2 will handle long lenses well. The camera’s solid build and weatherproofing is a great bonus for outdoor shooters and even those who only occasionally venture out into inclement weather or dusty conditions.

At $1,600, it’s only slightly more expensive than the X-Pro 2 but offers 4K video and an updated AF system. We also like Sony’s APS-C sensor a6500 for its AF accuracy, shooting speed, touchscreen focus and, more importantly, its in-body 5-axis image stabilization. And it’s less expensive, too, at around $1,400. But if you have a few hundred extra dollars, you may want to check out the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II ($2,000)—it’s faster than both the Sony and X-T2, delivers great image quality and offers 4K recording. However, it has a smaller sensor and that means you’ll also take a hit on wide-angle shots with its 2x crop factor.

The competition is unquestionably pretty fierce in this category but you can’t go wrong with the X-T2 if performance and image quality are at the top of your must-have features.

Fujifilm X-T2

www.fujifilmusa.com
PROS: Weatherproof; excellent image quality; large and bright EVF; speedy performance/AF; 4K video.
CONS: Only average battery life at 340 still images; requires optional vertical boost grip for optimum performance; no touchscreen capabilities; F-Log only available for externally recorded video.
PRICE: $1,600

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