Finally after some false starts I got to try out the Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless digital camera - and better yet, over the Christmas holidays. This meant I had time to delve through the plethora of features on the camera, and more importantly to take plenty of photos and videos.
I received the X-T2 with two lenses: the small Fujinon f/2.0 23mm WR and the very bright f/1.2 56mm APD that has a filter inside it to make the bokeh, or background blur, look even better when wide-open, at the cost of some light loss (the lens is actually f/1.2 thanks to the APD diaphragm).
The X-T2 and the lenses have a lovely retro design, and are well built with controls that are smooth and precise to operate.
So they should be: the X-T2 weatherproof body with no lenses retails for $2,700.
Add the 23mm lens ($800 approximately) and the 56mm glass ($2,200) and you have a rather expensive system camera (you'll probably want to budget for a battery grip too, as it extends shooting life and performance).
Being a mirrorless camera, Fujifilm was able to keep the size of the X-T2 down despite the large, APS-C X-Trans sensor with 24 megapixels. The sensor is one of big differentiators Fujifilm has, as it doesn't use the traditional Bayer colour filter.
Instead, the X-Trans filter puts the pixels in an irregular pattern on the sensor, meaning you don't need an anti-aliasing filter.
What this means in simple terms is that more light hits the sensor, and images are sharper as there's no resolution reduction from the AA filter.
Now, the X-T2 is aimed at advanced and pro-level photographers. That means lots and lots of control over the picture taking process and this can be quite daunting to start with, as you try to figure out which knobs to twiddle and buttons to press, especially if you come from another camera system than Fujifilm's, because everything will be in different places.
As the X-T2 review sample had been doing the rounds before it arrived with me, there was no printed manual. Nevertheless, I thought the controls with lockable wheels for aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and other shooting features wouldn't be too difficult to figure out, but was wondering how many good pics I'd get from the school sports event that I first tested the camera with.
Long story short, with the two lenses and the X-T2 takes some amazing pictures that are razor sharp, beautifully contrasty and colourful and a joy to behold. The camera has several classic 35-mm film emulations too which are nice to use for some situations, but I was very happy with pictures straight out of the camera with no filter applied.
The Fujinon lenses I tried out are great, with the 23mm f/2 being the one I used the most as it's an excellent allrounder that focuses really quickly, whereas the 56mm is more suited for portraits.
For composing pictures, the rear screen on the X-T2 folds upwards and sideways which is handy. It isn't a touch screen which is useful for refocusing while shooting video; there's a small joystick at the back though, which can be used to move the focus points around and that works quite well.
Both the rear screen and the electronic viewfinder are nice and bright, and able to handle New Zealand's searing sun.
On the negative side, a glitch with the ISO setting on auto caused the camera to start up at 3200 which made the screen and viewfinder go white in daylight before the X-T2 dialled down to lower levels of sensitivity. That process took a while though, and I missed a few shots thanks to that. There was a firmware update that might fix this.
Fujifilm needs rethink the menu layout to make it faster and easier to use.
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Then there's the menu system which I found confusing and hard to memorise, in contrast with the exposure control wheels and buttons on the camera and lenses that are ergonomic and easy to figure out (and which can be tweaked while the device is off).
Fujifilm needs rethink the menu layout to make it faster and easier to use. The X-T2 has Wi-Fi connectivity which is good for transferring images and videos without cables. As the pics are 6000 by 4000 pixels in size, the image files are big especially as RAW unprocessed ones, so it'd be good to have 5GHz Wi-Fi too which is faster than 2.4GHz for transferring lots of data.
This is a system camera and I didn't get to try a full set of gear including zoom and longer focal length lenses, a flash (there's no built-in one), or the battery grip to extend shooting life. Initial impressions of the X-T2 with the two lenses were great though. Steep price notwithstanding, it's a camera that should be high on advanced and pro-level photographers' wish lists.