X-Pro2 - Fujifilm finally gets the rangefinder right

X-Pro2 - Fujifilm finally gets the rangefinder right
The Fujifilm X-Pro2.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone

It's been a good four years since the launch of the original X-Pro1, and since then Fujifilm has gone on to launch a whole host of X-series cameras, including what has since been widely taken to be Fujifilm's flagship camera - the SLR-styled X-T1. Yet, despite the success of the X-T1, fans were still clamoring for a successor to the X-Pro1, and it seems this year Fujifilm has finally delivered.

The X-Pro2 represents the flagship rangefinder of the family, and marks the start of a new generation of cameras for Fujifilm, with a brand new 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor, high performance X Processor Pro and a focal plane shutter that reaches a top speed of 1/8000s.

The continuous shooting goes up to 8.0 fps, just like the X-T1, but the X-Pro2 has a bigger buffer allowing it to maintain that rate for 83 frames (in JPEG quality) - almost twice of what the X-T1 achieves (47 in JPEG quality).

In fact, almost everything is improved, and it seems the X-Pro2 is the embodiment of all of Fujifilm's latest technologies, like the Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder from last year's X100T, and the electronic shutter from the X-T10 (that has since been incorporated in the X-T1 via firmware update). So, you could easily say the X-Pro2 truly marks the beginning of an exciting new year for Fujifilm.

Design and Handling

From the front, the X-Pro2 looks virtually unchanged from the original, with the exception of the larger handgrip, and the inclusion of a front control dial. Turn it to the back though, and you'll see a much more noticeable change. You now get dedicated buttons for auto-exposure lock and for switching metering modes, and all the buttons are now to the right of the rear LCD.The rear thumb grip also extends further down, offering a better grip.

All of the X-Pro2's displays are also much enhanced, from the viewfinder to the LCD. The optical viewfinder (OVF) finally comes with a diopter adjustment dial so you can account for less than perfect eyesight, and it now covers 92 per cent of the frame, up from 90 per cent in the original.

Again, a flick of the OVF/EVF switch lever in front toggles the display in the viewfinder from OVF to EVF, but now you can get an additional Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) window that can display your focus point in either 100 per cent view, 2.5x magnification, or 6x magnification, allowing you to check focus with greater accuracy. This works even with Manual Focus assist, and so offers an option for even greater precision.

On that note, the X-Pro2 has a total of 273 AF points across the frame, approximately 40 per cent of the imaging area is covered by faster Phase Detect AF pixels with the number of Phase Detect AF points increased from 49 to 77. And there's now a handy Focus Lever by the side of the LCD that allows you to quickly shift your focus point.

In our testing, we found that this implementation works really well, and that the position of the lever was just about right - not too high to be hard to reach, and not too low to cause confusion with the other controls.

Up top, the control dials have also seen change. They're now slightly bigger, and the shutter dial now incorporates a window for setting the ISO level. That's accomplished by slightly lifting up the ring surrounding the dial, then turning. This moves an inner dial which adjusts the camera's ISO. All the ISO settings are there, as well as the auto ISO setting, the ranges for which can be defined in the camera's menus.

Speaking of which, the menus themselves have changed. They now follow a more typical layout of six groups relating to image quality, focus settings, camera settings, flash settings, movie settings and custom settings. Of course, there is always the Q menu for easy adjustments, and you can again set your preferred custom functions to almost all of the buttons on the camera.

The X-Pro2 also gets dual memory card slots, a first for Fujifilm. This falls more in line with the concept of a "professional series camera", and is definitely a welcome introduction. The X-Pro2 is also weather sealed like the X-T1, and it continues to offer a flash sync port for use with studio strobes.

Overall, we must say the X-Pro2 is very well built. The camera feels well-balanced in the hand, and overall feels solid and more importantly, gives you the sense of being a premium product that you would expect from a professional level camera.

Imaging Performance

The X-Pro2 is a fast and responsive camera, and we found the autofocus to be extremely fast overall, even in low light. That essentially fixes the biggest issue that most photographers had with the original X-Pro1, and we do think it's even a little faster than the X-T1, making this the fastest AF system Fujifilm has in their stable at this point.

Because the Focus Lever made it so easy to switch focus points, we actually found ourselves using single point focus most of the time. That's also testament to the spread of AF points across the frame being adequate enough for most scenarios. We would like it if there were more points spread across the entire frame (like with Sony's a6300) but as it is right now, only the extreme ends are left out, so you definitely have plenty to work with.

A common knock on mirrorless systems is how you're forced to rely on an EVF which either doesn't refresh fast enough, or feels straining to the eyes after long periods of use. The X-Pro 2's Hybrid Rangefinder lets you choose between optical and electrical easily and is even able to provide framing guidelines based on the lens you have mounted for greater accuracy.That certainly helps if you're moving over from a SLR format camera, as what you're seeing through the optical viewfinder isn't exactly what the lens is capturing.

One major advantage we found, was in being able to set a secondary, digital window in the optical viewfinder to display your magnified focus point, so you can check if your shot is in going to be in focus. That's certainly a lot faster than checking your shots after the fact, and it's something we'd love to see in future cameras from Fujifilm - if they could find a way to bring this over to a typical SLR-format camera.

While you certainly wouldn't normally be using a long telephoto lens like the Fujinon XF 100-400mm on a rangefinder, we had a unit on hand and we wanted to see how well the new sensor and the lens performed, and we must say the results were quite impressive.

The combination produces images with great detail, provided you handle the lens and body combination properly. The X-Pro2 has a magnifier in the optical viewfinder that slides in when you use lenses with focal lengths longer than 35mm, however that maximum magnification it can get is only 0.6x, so for lenses above 56mm, you'll just get a box marking to indicate where your frame is. As you might imagine, at 400mm, that box is tiny, but it does offer you a chance to still track your subject optically.

The one thing that's stood out is the amount of detail captured by this camera under all settings. This is one instance when we can safely say that the images throughout the camera's ISO range remain very usable; including ISO 25,600 which Fujifilm considers to be a "boost" ISO (and so not available for selection in Auto ISO mode).

We were so taken by the resolving power of the camera that we compared the studio test shots to those we took last year when testing some full-frame cameras like the Canon 5DS R and the Sony A7R II. Hard to believe, but it certainly seems like Fuji's engineers are spot on when they say their new APS-C 24.3MP X-Trans III sensor resolves as much as a 30-plus megapixel full-frame sensor.


35mm at f/8.0, 1/180s, ISO 3200 (100% crop)

51mm at f/16, 1/8s, ISO 3200 (Sony A7RII)

Both images are 100 per cent crops taken at close to the centre of the frame, but on separate occasions and with an aperture difference of two stops, but at ISO 3200 and under the same lighting conditions. The X-Pro 2 is the image on top, and despite being taken at a lower resolution, certainly seems to have less noise, while not losing out on too much detail compared to the image from the Sony A7R II.

Colors are typical Fuji - vivid and saturated - especially if you use the Velvia film simulation. The white balance is generally quite accurate, except for the tungsten lighting we use for our studio test scene. This turns out extremely orange, and it's something we've seen across a few cameras now.

Conclusion

The X-Pro2 is certainly a most impressive camera. It addresses all of the faults of the X-Pro1 and brings performance that easily surpasses the X-T1 while adding needed interface upgrades to a camera that just feels right in the hands. In terms of image quality, the camera certainly performs well enough to match and compete with the full-frame cameras out there, so that's quite a big step towards justifying sticking with the smaller APS-C size format (while also speaking to the quality of their lenses).

We do hope the engineers at Fujifilm look into the white balance issue we mentioned earlier, though the problem could be averted if you shoot raw and apply white balance after, you'd miss out on those great Fuji JPEG colors. We do think it would be good to add a timelapse capture function to the system as well, given that there's already an excellent intervalometer provided. Users would certainly appreciate being able to get a timelapse movie direct from camera, and that offers another option where the film simulations can be applied.

We wonder if they couldn't have added in the excellent flip-up LCD (with touch) from the X70, as that certainly would have come in handy for low-angled shots. Still, the X-Pro2 has proven to be a worthy flagship camera for the X-series, and it leaves us with plenty of expectation for the rest of the line-up to come.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Performance: 9.5
Design: 9
Features: 8.5
User-Friendliness: 9
Value: 8.5

The Good

Great layout of controls.
Excellent image quality.
Autofocus is much improved.
Hybrid viewfinder adds an extra dimension.

The Bad

Auto white balance has issues with tungsten lighting.


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