I'm lucky to have gotten the photography bug right before the Fujifilm X-Pro2 ($1,600 on Amazon) was released. The camera industry has just undergone a drastic change in the past couple years and is at the point where you can rent a body and lens for a month at 1/5th the price it costs to buy them. I explained my reasons for renting before buying in a previous article. My first rental was Fujifilm's x100t but it was really with the first mirrorless interchangeable lens rental away from my intro Nikon system that I fell in love. I rented the X-Pro2 from LensProtogo, which was awesome because the body and lens came in Pelican cases that were great for carrying around the gear.
When I first held the X-Pro2, I was amazed with how good it felt in your hands. I couldn't believe how compact it was for an interchangeable lens body yet despite its size how substantial it felt. If the camera wasn't so ergonomically sound, you'd be of a mind to say that it was heavy in your hands. But with the way the grip is laid out, it fit perfectly in my hands. Add to the fact that Fujifilm's lens are generally more compact than the industry average and you get a perfectly balanced camera. There's no hand straining because you feel like you're combating the force of gravity on the lens and are two seconds and one relaxation of your grip away from dropping it on the floor.
The other major thing that stood out to me was the classical mechanical, dare you say, retro feel of the camera. Almost every setting on this camera is a fingertip away from changing it, whether it's the focus point, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, viewfinder to LCD, etc. This was a major departure from my Nikon system that is controlled almost exclusively through a LCD menu.
The X-Pro2 incorporated Fujifilm's latest 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor, an evolution on the former 16 MP X-Trans CMOS sensor incorporated in the X-Pro1 and the 16 MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor incorporated in the X-T1, making it Fuji's highest pixel count camera out to date. The biggest upgrade though has to be around the autofocus points, with the X-Pro2 having a combined 273 directly selectable points compared to the 77 of the X-T1 and 49 of the X-Pro1. It also comes with a very nice focus point joystick that I will discuss in more detail further down (here's a hint, it's amazing).
The X-Pro2 has two SD card slots, weighs in a little over 1 lb at 495g, and has a battery life rated at 350 shots using the optical viewfinder and 250 with the EVF. It has a slightly faster maximum shutter speed of 1/8000s versus the X-Pro1/X-T1 max shutter speed of 1/4000s. The native ISO is bumped to a range of 200-12800 (100-51200 in expanded mode) versus just 200-6400 of the X-Pro1/X-T1.
What I loved about it
The reason I loved this camera was just how easy it was to shoot with it. It feels like an extension of your body after just the first few hours of shooting.
The Viewfinder (Specifically the EVF)
I love the placement of the viewfinder on the side, as it reminds me of old disposal cameras I used as a kid on trips. With the x100T, I used the optical viewfinder because I felt like the EVF was laggy when you panned the camera. On the X-Pro2, the EVF is a revelation. It updates so fast and literally shows you the picture you are taking before it's shot. Whether you want to make sure you're getting that creamy bokeh, or peak focus while manually focusing at night, or want to see how the shot looks while using Acros Film Simulation, it can all be done live while looking through the EVF. The EVF is truly one of the best things about this camera.
Acros Film Simulation
As you can tell with the black and white photos in this thread, I was a huge fan of the Acros film simulation that comes built into the camera. Paired with the EVF, you can literally watch your world through a beautiful black and white lens. Being able to actually see the camera handle the live B&W image on the EVF means I took better B&W shots. Being able to see the light in the picture above come through the screen door and illuminate only a part of my wife's face and body lead to an amazing shadow effect on the left side of the image. The best part is that I saw all of this through the EVF before taking the shot. So cool. There's a bunch of Acros film settings built in that I tinkered with and you're able to apply them while your taking the shot or even after as a filter. To read up a bit more on Acros check out this review.
The other real game changer for me on the X-Pro2 is the focus stick. I literally now reach for it instinctively while shooting with other cameras since, it's that infectious once you've shot with it. The ability to easily move the focus point around on the frame to capture the exact spot you want to focus in on is amazing. It's right at your thumb's reach so you never have to take your eye off the viewfinder. I used it in the image above to focus right on my dog Willis' eyes so they were perfectly in focus while even his nose and ears are slightly out of focus. The focus stick allows you versatility to stay in the moment and catch different shots without having to pull the camera away from your eye. In the end, it helps you capture more moments the way you want and reduces the amount of times you experience that feeling of having a great moment get away from you because you were fiddling with your camera settings.
Low Light Performance & Manual Focusing
One of my major interests in photography is astrophotography and nightscape shots. I was slightly nervous the first time I took the X-Pro2 out to Staunton River State Park because I knew how troublesome it can be to manually focus a lens to infinity on my Nikon system. The X-Pro2 completely blew me away with how easy it made getting pin-point stars in focus, even while focusing at an incredibly dark site. When in manual focus, it magnifies a portion of the frame and then has 3 rectangle strips across that align to the same shade of color when in focus. You also have a very precise electronic manual focus ring and gauge on the EVF. All of these things make what can be a very difficult thing to do in the middle of the night much easier.
I honestly was really impressed as well with the sensor sensitivity in low light situations. The picture above captures the constellation Orion and the rarely seen, Zodiacal light. If you don't have an astronomy geek of uncle like I do then then you might not know about the Zodiacal light (I didn't until he told me we might be able to capture it) - read more about the Zodiacal light here. I took a couple pictures of the winter milky way that came out great as well. This is by far the best performing low light crop sensor I've shot with. It won't compete with the full frame Sony sensors of the A7 series but it's really not that far behind.
What I did not love about it
You have to be really picky here to pick things wrong with this camera but of course you can always find things that can be improved. Some of these are just complaints that I have because of the challenging environment you find yourself in while doing astrophotography. So here goes.
- The most obvious complaint is the battery life. If you are just picking it up, shooting here and there around the house the battery life is just fine. On a night when I'm shooting constantly through the EVF, manually focusing and taking long exposures the battery lasted a good 2 1/2 hours. Not bad but you need a battery grip or an extra battery for sure. I can imagine you might run into similar troubles if you took the camera out for a full day of street photography.
- Speed of the Auto Focus: It was a major improvement from the x100T but compared to shooting with the Sony Ar7 II, Fuji definitely can still improve it. I'm honestly being nit picky here as I only noticed it a few times not focusing fast enough to catch my moving toddler and generally in lower light situations.
- The ISO dial: this is probably the most common complaint about this camera. To adjust ISO on the camera, you have to lift the shutter speed dial up and turn it at the same time. It can be finicky and difficult at times but honestly, I keep my ISO set on A (automatic) and just adjust the min and max auto ISO in the menu settings. You can actually set at least 3 of these auto ISO settings and assign a button on the back of the camera to jump between them easily. The only real time I adjust ISO regularly is when I'm shooting the night sky and then it's really only a range of 4 to 5 ISO settings.
- A tilt LCD screen so that I can use it when shooting nightscapes and astrophotography. Crouching down to put my left eye to the viewfinder on a tripod is heavy work on the knees and back on a long night of shooting. Even worse, having one of your eye's night vision completely gone while the other is completely adjusted is an experience in its own. I know the X-T1 has a tilt LCD screen so I'm sure Fujifilm intentionally does this to differentiate the two, as the X-T1 and future X-T2 is geared toward videographers that use the LCD more.
- The App used to sync with the wifi and download pictures. It's not so much that the app is poorly designed (though it is) but that you can't just bulk download the pictures you took from the day and have to download them one by one.
Bottom line: I took more shots with this camera then any camera I've rented, owned, or used previously. The X-Pro2 is a joy to have in your hands and a tool that you look forward to using again and again. For its price, $1,600 USD for the body, you cannot even begin to compete with the quality of images it shoots. Can you find a camera with better specs, absolutely you can. The thing that makes this camera so great is how you experience shooting through it. The ergonomics are a tremendous advantage of this camera along with the ease of use to adjust just about every setting on the fly. Like I said previously, the EVF is a revelation and the focus stick revolutionary. These combine to make a camera that will change the way you experience photography. The camera practically disappears and allows you to immerse yourself in capturing the perfect moment in time. I'd highly recommend this camera and will most likely buy it in my near future.