Camera Review: Fujifilm’s X-Pro2
August 18, 2016
The Fuji faithful had to wait four years for a replacement for the X-Pro1. While the wait was long (in camera years), those with the patience and fortitude to hold out have a potent successor in the X-Pro2. Indeed, the upgrades range from the major higher resolution, more AF points, improved sensitivity—to the minor but still welcome, like the inclusion of a diopter on the viewfinder.
The X-Pro2 packs a 24-megapixel, APS-C-sized image sensor (the X-Trans CMOS III for those keeping score) with a native ISO of 200-12,800 (expandable to 100 and 51,200).
It features what Fujifilm calls an Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder which can alternate between a true optical viewfinder with 92 percent frame coverage or an EVF with 2.36-million dot resolution and a refresh rate of 85 fps. The X-Pro2 gives users a Bright Frame Simulation function in the optical viewfinder mode so the angle of view of each focal length can be confirmed without having to replace the lens, so the user can change lenses more accurately.
Mechanical shutter speeds top out at 1/8000 and flash sync speeds now reach 1/250 (up from the X-Pro1’s 1/125 sec.). There’s also an electronic shutter capable of 1/32,000 sec.
There’s built-in Wi-Fi and a dozen film simulation modes, which Fujifilm cameras are known for.
The X-Pro2 is a sturdy block of a camera. Weather sealed in over 61 points, its magnesium alloy body and milled aluminum dials have a distinctly premium, durable feel. While it’s a crop-sensor mirrorless camera (www.pdnonline.com/gear/11-Mirrorless-Marvels-15442.shtml), the X-Pro2 isn’t all that compact and the left side of the camera (facing the back) feels particularly tall, a consequence of accommodating the large optical viewfinder. Weight wise, it’s comparable to Olympus’ E-M1 flagship at 17.5 ounces (body).
Like its predecessor, the design channels the film rangefinders of old. While we’re certainly in the pro-dial and knob camp, not everything about the X-Pro2’s design worked for us. Our biggest beef was the combo shutter speed/ISO dial—to set ISO, you have to lift a ring around the shutter speed dial and twist it to set your value (visible through a tiny window on the dial). In practice, it’s hard to change ISO without accidentally nudging the shutter speed up or down and the ISO values appear upside down or at best sideways through the window. Worse, there’s no other way to adjust ISO—it’s not available as a Quick Menu option or elsewhere in the camera’s menu system. The only ISO option in the menu is setting an upper bound on auto ISO.
The X-Pro2 also lacks a dedicated movie record button or any way to put the camera into movie mode without actually triggering movie recording. Six of the X-Pro2’s external buttons can be customized, however, so you can assign movie recording to one of those as a workaround.
That said, there are a few great design touches too, including dual memory card slots and a tiny joystick for adjusting AF points—something we frankly wish every camera had.
The image quality from the X-Pro2 is outstanding. Image noise in JPEGs is very well contained below ISO 6400. Above ISO 10,000, noise rears its speckled head quickly. The camera’s noise reduction does a very good job at retaining details and colors as you crank the ISO, with fewer color shifts as you ascend the sensitivity scale. The camera’s 14-bit RAW file shows a nice degree of latitude when it comes to recovering details lost to shadows or pulling down over-exposed highlights.
Video recording isn’t a major priority for the X-Pro2. While camera makers migrate to 4K, it’s stuck in the HD lane, delivering 1080p video at up to 60 fps at the relatively low bit rate of 36Mbps. Out of the camera, the blacks and shadows are crushed, but color rendition is accurate, and while the bit rate trails some 1080p competitors such as Olympus’s E-M5 Mark II (https://www.pdnonline.com/gear/Camera-Review-Olympus-OM-D-E-M5-Mark-II-13797.shtml), the footage was still nicely detailed. We also like that you can use the film simulation modes in video.
The X-Pro2 is a fun camera to shoot with, once you stop cursing its ISO dial. It’s very quick to start up and shot-to-shot times were excellent, with very little shutter lag. The camera is also very responsive when set to single point AF. Packed with 273 focus points, 77 of which are phase detection points covering about 40 percent of the sensor’s imaging area, the camera locks focus quickly and accurately. We do wish the AF points were red or any bright color other than white as it can be a bit tough to see them.
Continuous AF mode is much more hit-and-miss. While the 8 fps shooting speed of the X-Pro2 is useful for fast action, the AF system couldn’t always keep pace.
Using the Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder was a joy—it’s easy to bounce between the optical viewfinder with an electronic frame overlay and the EVF. The electronic frame was very responsive as you zoom from wide to telephoto, but it stuttered a bit on the return.
It’s churlish to grumble about the lack of an articulating or touch display on a camera like this, since there’s no point in buying it if you’re not planning on using the viewfinder extensively, even exclusively, for composition. We can grumble about battery life though, which measures in on the low side for the category at a paltry 250 shots (per CIPA) using the EVF and a slightly more respectable 350 when the viewfinder is in optical mode. In practice, using a combination of the EVF and OVF, plus filming video and reviewing images on the display, the battery will tap out on you far too quickly.
The X-Pro2 is ultimately a niche camera. If you desire the rangefinder-like experience in a rugged body with a retro feel and don’t mind parting with $1,700 for the pleasure, we say go for it. Image quality-wise, you won’t regret it. The hybrid viewfinder is cool enough that we can forgive the cumbersome ISO dial.
But if you’ve got $1,700 to drop on the best mirrorless camera you can find, the X-Pro2’s unique charms can’t mask the fact that it lacks features, particularly on the video end, that less expensive cameras don’t. It’s a great camera that’s built like a tank, but it’s not as well-rounded as other models in the category.
PROS: Outstanding image quality; durable build; hybrid viewfinder; feature rich; dual SD card slots; very responsive on startup and in single AF mode.
CONS: ISO dial ill-conceived; no dedicated movie mode; lacks 4K; continuous AF lags competitors; poor battery life.
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CreativeLive Video Tutorial: Fuji X-Pro2 Fast Start
Related: Shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro1