After the long wait, the new ‘flagship’ camera from FujiFilm is out. It’s called the X-Pro2 and is the updated, revised version of the camera that, for many people around the world, started the explosion that is the X-Series – me included. For those people who have not used a FujiFilm camera, this review might not come across as the impartial review I was asked to, and did my best to, write. But please, bear with me, as a FujiFilm X-Photographer I will try my very best to stay away from any emotional connection I have with this stunning camera or the amazing company that built it. I want to give you an honest opinion of how I feel when I shoot with this camera. To do that, I need to explain the situations surrounding the time when I first shot with the X-Pro2.

Fuji X-Pro2

In October, I was testing the 35mm f/2 lens from FujiFilm and I had just sent back my images when I had an e-mail from Marc Horner. It said something about a big NDA then a few other things including code names about a new camera. At this stage I didn’t know anything of much substance, but a few weeks later I was on my way to see Motley Crue in Birmingham when my phone rang. It was Richard Wan. We quickly made a plan to meet in a layby by Birmingham Airport and a black box was signed for. The box had my name on it and a note. I had an idea what was in the box, but it was only when I got into the gig and opened it that I knew for sure that the camera in my hand was an a new rangefinder style camera. The top plate was covered with a metal engraved plate that provided the prototype details – aside from that there are no markings on the camera. There was nothing inside of the box – aside from a camera, a note with a personal message, a battery and charger. There was no manual, no documentation, nothing. On the very bottom of the camera in very small letters that could be made out after careful inspection. The words SAMPLE had been put over the label in capital red letters. But, I didn’t even have to try and make out the wording under the red lettering. I could have had my eyes closed and still known – this new camera was an X-Pro, it slotted into my hand just like my other camera had a thousand times.

Fuji X-Pro2

I turned the camera on for the very first time and took a photo. Everything was right. The weight, the balance, the touch, the buttons – everything. Being super honest, I didn’t even notice the new menus right away, it was the speed of the new camera that got me. After that I wanted to see if they had made a new film simulation mode – I found the ACROS mode and that was me happy. Everything after these two elements was only going to be extra in my eyes. The camera was faster, sharper, leaner and had a killer new Monochrome mode.

Dave Kai-Piper Extensive Review of the Fuji X-Pro2

Dave Kai-Piper Extensive Review of the Fuji X-Pro2

Examples of ACROS images, full resolution. Click here to download.

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As there was no manual in the box, there was a little bit of fun to be had trying to work out the specs and operation of the X-Pro2. As we were on the way to the Motley Crue gig, I thought this would be a great time to try out this new mystery camera. I still no idea of megapixel count until I checked the display info to see the files in RAW, were a 4000×6000 pixels. Ah, 24 Megapixels it was then. The next thing I wanted to do was see if Lightroom would open  the files. I opened up the memory card slot and WHOOP – dual memory cards, and, to make that even better, Fuji had put one UHS II 16gig cards in the camera. I doubt they will ship like that when sold, but they are UHS II card slots which is amazing and lightning fast. This lead my mind to my next thought, what needs super fast cards: 4K video cameras. I clicked through the settings to see what the video was like on the camera. Sadly, 1080P @ 60fps was the highest setting I could find. H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p @ 35 Mbps to be exact. Not a massive let down, as I have the Panasonic GH4 and so far have never used the 4K mode. I understand it’s a popular feature for others, I just have no application for it aside from being able to crop in, which is nice but not something I will miss here. One slight downside is the 14 minute max recording time.

As I explored my way around the camera, I looked for all the things I thought would be there. Focus Peaking in 3 colours, burst modes (8FPS), 77 Focus Points, WiFi and it does take the same battery as all the other interchangeable lens X-System cameras. Fuji did say that this camera is far more efficient with the battery too (an extra 50 shots I am told) although I have not tested this out.

Fuji X-Pro2

Fuji X-Pro2

Other things that jumped out at me as I checked over the camera was the dual ISO and shutter speed dial. This is a totally new way of using the dials on any camera, as far as I know. The things to take note of are the fact that this camera will do a shutter speed of of 1/8000 and you can boost that to an impressive 1/32000 if you want to shoot with the electronic shutter over the mechanical one. I do love to have these options, but I would also like to start to see things like ND filters built in. The ISO dial goes from 200 all the way to 12,800 with an in camera boost all the way to 51,200 if you need it. The exposure comp dial is big enough to slide with your thumb if your the type of photographer who uses it, plus, it has a ‘c’ setting that bumps +5 ev to the image if you need it too. It is the same size as the dial on the X-T1. Personally, I have never touched this dial on any camera ever, but, it is there if you like to use it and are a jpeg shooter. As my buddy also noted during his review of the camera, I like the that ISO extensions can be recorded in RAW not just jpeg like in earlier cameras. It should also be pointed out that when looking back at the images shot at super high ISOs, the noise and grain that comes out of this camera is very nice. You could almost say the natural noise is pleasant if you are going for a grainy image.

The EVF is better, much better, even better than the X-T1 in my eyes. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, I much prefer the location of the EVF as this body is a rangefinder design over the ‘mini’ DSLR body of the X-T1. In case you are curious, the raw EVF stats are:  Size – 0.48 in/12 mm, 2.36 million dots and 100% coverage with a 85fps refresh rate.

Onto the new menu system – it’s new and I like it. One of the really nice things about Fuji cameras is the fact that I spend very little time in the menus and when I do, it is a quick and clean experience. Nothing winds me up more than a bad UI.  The screen on the X-Pro2 is nice, very nice in fact. The menus are very detailed and there is a ton of stuff to go through and customize. From all the things you would expect such as focus and shooting settings to the new Grain setting, they are all super easy to locate using the arrow keypad or the new joystick control. Most things you will need to use though are still on the ‘Q’ menu which has its own button on the back. But, as many Fuji photographers know, the beauty of the system is the fact you spend very little time buried in the menus with these cameras.

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

New power management options:

  • High performance: EVF: 6000×4000 res, 85fps refresh, 210 shots, Very fast AF
  • Standard perf: EVF: 6000×4000 res, 54fps refresh, 250 shots, Very fast AF
  • Economy mode: EVF: 3000×1000 res, 54fps refresh, 330 shots, Fast AF

The X-Pro2 is four times faster than anything in the current lineup – so I am told – and in real life testing I would have to say that’s spot on: This camera is nippy and zippy. The new processor goes under the title of the X-Processor Pro, and the new chip is the thing that provides the power behind the jpeg engine, white balance system, autofocus and also now can provide a compressed RAW file. The stronger chip combined with the hundreds of phase detection pixels is seamless. The sensor is still built around the X-trans tech, but this is a newer version gives almost twice the readout speeds over the X-T1 due to a new manufacturing method using copper in place of aluminum between photo sites. This is what gives that impressive ISO range and the higher megapixels. The last little bit of ‘uber geekism’ is that there is now 40% more coverage of the phase dedication pixels with the third generation X-trans Sensor.

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

Let’s talk about the files. At first I could only shoot JPEG if want to use an Adobe workflow, since the RAW profile is not yet available. This was fine as the JPEGS are near the best I have ever seen. But to really evaluate the camera’s true potential, I needed to get the best access to the RAW as I could. To do this, Japan sent out a super new beta version of the SilkyPix program which allowed me to convert my RAW files into 16bit Tiffs for processing. This was the first real time to get a close up of what this camera can do, and as close as I’ll come before the profiles are released closer to the camera’s sale date. Since I am not able to process the RAWs directly though the same way as normally do, I processed some X-T1 files though SilkyPix (the same method I am having to use to get X-Pro2 RAWs right now) to compare and yes, the images from the X-Pro2 are better. Bigger and better and with a higher focus hit rate. The tiffs are full of color and tone, and shadows and highlights are dealt with wonderfully.

So, back to the gig for a moment, as I was there watching Motley Crue rip though there last show ever, I was shooting away on this new camera. I didn’t at that point know anything about the sensor’s “40% extra of this” and “10% more of that.” The things I cared about was that it was near pitch black and I was able to pick this camera up and use it – things like that are super important to me.

X-Pro 2 Samples

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

 

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

Fast-forward five weeks and I still am using the camera pretty much every day. There was still an embargo on the camera and I didn’t really know what was inside it, only how it performed. I was reading the rumor sites with everyone else going, “Ah, that makes sense now,” and giggling to my self when they got something right. The 15th of January came around, and like everyone else I was watching the news unfold and all the 100 Photographs around the world talk about their time with the camera. Then something happened. The French team showed a video of what the inside of their viewfinder looked like and it blew me away. They had a photo which showed the viewfinder overlaying an LCD image over the optical one. It turned out there was a button which I had not pressed yet. I fell in love with my little black box even more, I had just found a way to shoot in the perfect way for my style. As my buddy Kevin explains:

I like using the OVF for many reasons, but primarily I believe its a quicker shooting experience and it allows me to “see more.” I can watch and observe a lot more using the optical viewfinder.

 

The X-Pro2 has a cool feature called Multi-Magnification which automatically switches the viewfinder magnification according to the lens in use and an electronic rangefinder that simultaneously displays the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical viewfinder (allowing you to see a live view of the exposure). I call this the best of both worlds! 

Since I have had the camera, I really have not used anything else, I am still not 100% sure if it has knocked my D800 or the Pentax 645z out of my camera bag for good as they are different cameras for different things, but I am still confident that this is just the most fun, most amazing, most enjoyable camera you can buy today, or pre-order today anyway…  Most cameras are tools: this is not a tool, it’s a Fuji. And in this day and age of blandness and DSLRs, that really does mean something.

Fuji X-Pro2, Dave Kai-Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

X-Pro 2 Samples from Dave Kai Piper

There is something very fun about testing a camera blind: Not knowing what the camera is, what the retail price will be or the details of the pixel peeping specs. Just going on the touch and feel alone, I like this camera. I would have liked this camera if it was still 16 megapixels and I would have liked this camera if it only had one SD card slot – UHS I or II. The fact that this camera is weather sealed is not the big plus point for me, and conversely the lack of a tilt-able screen really is not a worry. It’s not like we moaned about a lack of a tilt-able screen when we were shooting film.

My final thoughts are as such: I like this camera and I am pretty sure you will too, unless you try pretty hard to not like it, or the rangefinder style isn’t your cup of tea. It is a photographer’s camera and the eccentricities of the X-series are still very present in this new camera. The things that make you excited about shooting are loaded into this body and I would find it hard that any true photographer would not be interested in it. All that said, there are probably folks who won’t enjoy the camera. No product appeals to 100% of the population.

Anyway, go rent one, go see a show or a buddy who has one because let’s face it: no online review, not even this one, will tell you what the X-Pro2 feels like in your hand – this is all part of the charm.

The X-Pro 2 is an amazing camera. In terms of design aesthetic and a technological point of view the X-Pro2 is the very camera I have come to expect from FujiFilm. It fills the gap between the DSLR market and the lower end cameras and feels like a camera made for the love of photography. Combined with the continual development of outstanding lenses, the X-Pro2’s 24 megapixel sensor is perfectly paired to take full advantage. The predecessor to this camera kick-started my love affair with the FujiFilm X-System and this update has refined that first love, making it leaner, meaner, stronger, sharper and more dynamic, all while still keeping all the elements that made me connect with the camera the first time around.

Class leading, packed full of innovation and premium quality from every element of the camera, in all the expected (and unexpected) ways, the X-Pro2 is a camera we will be talking about in years to come, as we did the X-Pro1.

  • J.L. Williams

    “…the dual ISO and shutter speed dial….totally new way of using the dials on any camera, as far as I know…”

    So new…? [sigh]

    • Bernd Gundermann

      Those of us, who have used film cameras will be familiar with the combined ISO and shutter speed dial. Its amazing how Fuji complements the best out of film and digital features.

  • Gilbert

    Immediately I think of the Mamiya 6, which has a similar ISO-Shutter Dial.