Fujifilm X-T2 Review

September 8, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a compact system camera featuring a 24 megapixel X-Trans III sensor, high-performance X Processor Pro image processing engine, 2.36m dot resolution OLED electronic viewfinder, three-direction tilting LCD screen, a robust weather-resistant body, 4K video recording, 14fps continuous shooting, a focal plane shutter with a top speed of 1/8000 sec. and flash sync up to 1/250 sec, silent-operating electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32,000 sec, 91 auto-focus points, and support for dual SD memory cards. The Fujifilm T2 body-only costs £1399 / $1599 and the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF18-55 lens will cost £1649 / $1899.

Ease of Use

At first glance the new Fujifilm X-T2 looks almost identical to its 2-year-old predecessor, the X-T1, which was released back in early 2014. A closer look, though, reveals a number of subtle design tweaks, and it's all change "under-the-hood", with a new 24 megapixel sensor, faster X Processor Pro image processing engine, improved Auto-focus system and enhanced video recording.

The Fujifilm X-T2 sports a DSLR-look rather than the classic rangefinder design of the X-Pro series, a move that proved very popular when the X-T1 was launched, broadening the appeal of the X-series to potential customers that wanted a DSLR, or at least a camera that looked like one. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" seems to have been the mantra of the X-T2 design team, with this new camera once again resembling a miniature DSLR.

Once again the X-T2 is weather-proof, with 80 points of weather sealing offering dust-resistance, water-resistance and freeze-resistance down to -10°C. The optional Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2) offers the same levels of weather-proof-ness, along with a growing number of weather-resistant lenses that Fujifilm have launched since the original X-T1 was released.

The X-T2 dispenses with the range-topping X-Pro2's innovative Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, replaced instead by a high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder. Although sharing the same 2.36m dot resolution as the X-T1, Fujifilm have clearly been hard at work on making the X-T2's electronic viewfinder even better, boasting brightness levels 2x better than on the X-T1 along with an automatic brightness adjustment function and a faster 100fps frame rate. With a magnification of 0.77x, it narrowly beats the Olympus M-D E-M1 to the title of "EVF with the world's highest magnification", while it has a lag-time of just 0.005 sec, in practice answering one of the most common complaints about electronic viewfinders. By default, the EVF refreshes at a rate of 60fps, but in the new Peformance Boost mode this jumps to 100fps, smoothing out fast-moving subjects.

The viewfinder has the same stunning Graphic User Interface as the X-T1, which no optical viewfinder could ever hope to emulate. The default Full mode does what its name suggests and displays an uninterrupted view of the scene with all the settings information displayed outside the frame so that you can really concentrate on your subject. Normal provides an optimum view, including the shooting settings. The very clever Dual mode takes advantage of the EVF's size to display a split view of the scene before you, with the full frame on the left and a smaller 100% manual focus area on the right, complete with either focus peaking or Fujifilm's digital split image function. Finally, the displayed settings in the Full and Normal modes automatically rotate when the camera is held in a portrait orientation (although sadly not for the Dual view). You can also now customize the shooting information that's displayed in the viewfinder.

Fujifilm X-T2
Front of the Fujifilm X-T2

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a very well-built X-series camera, with absolutely no flex or movement in its chassis thanks to the die-cast magnesium alloy body and machined control dials. At the same time, it's actually a little lighter than a first glance might suggest, weighing in at 507g body only with the battery and memory card fitted, 67g more than the X-T1. Measuring 132.5mm (W) x 91.8mm (H) x 49.2mm (D), it's slightly taller and deeper too.

The X-T2 has a deeper hand-grip at the front and a prominent rest at the rear for your thumb, with your grip helped in no small part by the textured faux-leather surface that runs around the full width of the camera. Two small metal eyelets on either side of the body are used for connecting the supplied shoulder strap. A metal tripod mount is positioned in line with the centre of the lens and next to the battery compartment, which means that you'll no longer have to remove the camera from the tripod to change the battery, as with the X-T1.

Two memory card slots are located on the right-hand flank of the camera when viewed from the rear. The X-T2 is the latest camera to offer compatibility with Ultra High Speed UHS-II SDXC memory cards, which has the main benefit of increasing the data writing speed in continuous mode to about twice that of a conventional UHS-1 card. The X-T2 offers a continuous shooting rate of 14fps for 42 JPEGs or 28 compressed RAW files if you use a UHS-II SDXC card and the electronic shutter, making it one of the fastest compact system cameras on the market. If you prefer to use the mechanical shutter, the rate drops to a still impressive 11fps with the VPB-XT2 grip fitted, and 8fps without.

At the heart of the X-T2 is the brand new 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized “X-Trans III” CMOS sensor, with APS-C being a size that's more commonly used by the majority of DSLR cameras than by compact system cameras. Fujifilm actually claim that the X-T2's sensor will deliver image quality that surpasses most APS-C DSLRs and even some full-frame ones, thanks to the unique sensor which has a type of colour filter array that mimics film grain and no optical low-pass filter for higher resolution images, and as our test photos and sample images on the next two pages show, the X-T2 actually does live up to those claims. We won't say any more at this point other than to recommend that you take a look at our Sample Images for yourself.

Helping to keep the image quality high is the 18-55mm standard zoom kit lens that we predominantly tested the X-T2 with. This offers fast maximum apertures of f/2.8 at 18mm and f/4 at 55mm, with the added benefit of built-in optical image stabilisation to help keep your images sharp. There are aperture and manual focus rings on the lens barrel, which in conjunction with the shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on top of the camera body makes it straight-forward to set the exposure. We did find though that the aperture ring is easily moved, particularly when taking the lens on and off the camera, so watch out for an incorrectly set aperture. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS is a really nice standard zoom that's certainly a cut above the kit lenses that ship with most interchangeable lens cameras.

Fujifilm X-T2
Front of the Fujifilm X-T2

The 18-55mm lens' fast maximum apertures in conjunction with the large APS-C sensor make it easy to throw the background out of focus and achieve some really nice bokeh effects. The combination of the fast apertures and the extensive ISO range of 100-51200 makes the X-T2 very well suited to low-light shooting, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in places where you'd usually be reaching for a tripod (if allowed) or other support. The clever ISO Auto Control setting allows you to set a maximum sensitivity (now up to 12800) and a minimum shutter speed (1/30th is a good starting point), with the camera over-riding your ISO choice if it thinks you're being too ambitious whilst maintaining a shutter speed that won't introduce camera shake.

With its new focal-plane shutter, the X-T2 has a more adaptable top shutter-speed limit of 1/8000th second in all shooting modes than the X-T1's 1/4000th speed. This allows you to select a faster aperture even in bright conditions or when shooting with flash during the day, although as there's no built-in ND filter as on the X100-series cameras, if you want to use, say, the 35mm lens at f/1.4 in very bright sunlight then it's still a good idea to buy an actual glass ND filter. The X-T2 utilises a focal-plane shutter rather than the leaf shutter that the X100-series have, much like a regular DSLR camera. This results in slightly noisier operation and a much slower flash-sync speed of 1/250th second (versus the X100's 1/4000th second). To make the camera less obtrusive there's a Silent menu option which turns off the speaker, flash, AF-assist lamp and most importantly the shutter-release sound, instantly making the X-T2 perfectly suited to more candid photography.

The X-T2 also has an electronic shutter in addition to the mechanical one, which provides a much faster top shutter speed of 1/32,000th second. This allows you to continue shooting wide-open with fast aperture lenses in the brightest of conditions without having to resort to fitting a glass ND filter or using external flash and lights. There are some important caveats with the electronic shutter - the ISO range is restricted to 200-12800, you can't use the flash at all, and the slowest shutter speed is only 1 second, but overall it's a great addition that makes the X-T2 more versatile than its predecessor. It's also possible to set the electronic shutter in 1/3 steps from a range of 1sec to 1/32000sec.

The X-T1 was no slouch when it came to auto-focusing, but Fujifilm have made the X-T2's AF system even better. It can auto-focus in as little as 0.06 seconds and offers an increased number of AF points - 91 versus the X-T1's 49 - again laid out in a 7 x7 grid, with a lot more of the imaging area covered by fast and precise phase detection AF pixels ( approx. 230% more compared to the X-T1).

Fujifilm X-T2
Rear of the Fujifilm X-T2

If you want even more control, you can select the 325 points option which splits the same area of the frame into a 13x25 grid of smaller AF points, of which the central 77 are phase-detection points. The X-T2 is the latest X-series camera to offer Zone and Wide/Tracking modes which utilise the larger 325-point area to capture moving subjects. In Zone mode, you can select a 3x3, 5x5 or 7x7 zone out of the 325-point AF area. During AF-C focus, the X-T2 continually tracks the subject, positioning it at the centre of the zone. The centrally positioned 3x3 and 5x5 zones in particular deliver fast focusing thanks to the on-sensor phase detection AF.

The Wide/Tracking mode combines the Wide mode (during AF-S), in which the X-T2 automatically identifies and tracks the area in focus across the 325 point AF area, and the predictive Tracking mode (during AF-C), which uses the entire 325-point area to continue tracking the subject. This feature enables continuous focusing on a subject that is moving up and down, left and right or towards and away from the camera.

Fujifilm have drastically improved the AF-C algorithm to make the X-T2 better able to track moving subjects. You can now determine how the camera reacts to the way the subject moves within the frame, how fast the subject moves and where in the frame the camera prioritizes focus, with five AF presets offered and the ability to create up to 6 of your own. The AF-C system is so complex behind-the-scenes that Fujifilm have created a special microsite to explain it in more detail (http://fujifilm-x.com/af/). The X-T2 also offers Eye Detection AF, which as the name suggests automatically detects and focuses on human eyes You can also define the area of priority focus, for example the right or left eye, or the eye closer to the camera.

There's also the continued ability to change the size of the focus point via the rear command dial to achieve more precise focusing. As well as the extra AF points, one of the positive effects of the high-performance X Processor Pro image processing engine is much faster AF speed - about 2x quicker than the processor used on the X-T1 camera - making the X-T2 the joint-fastest AF performer in an X-Series camera with the X-Pro2. Also borrowed from the X-Pro2, the X-T2 now has the fantastic Focus Lever joystick, used mainly for setting the AF point. This is a real boon to anyone who changes the AF point a lot, making it simple to change even when holding the camera at eye-level.

Fujifilm X-T2
Top of the Fujifilm X-T2

Manual focusing is activated by setting the focusing switch on the front of the camera to Manual and using the ring that encircles the lens to focus. In terms of focusing aids, the Standard option offers a distance scale along the bottom of the viewfinder (both the OVF and EVF) and on the LCD screen if you're using that for composition, with a white bar indicating the the focusing distance and a blue bar showing the depth of field, which actually changes in line with the current aperture - very handy. The X-T2 has another trick up its manual focusing sleeve in the shape of the rear command control (the dial which sits under your right thumb). You can press this in to magnify the view in the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen. Furthermore, if you hold down the rear command control dial, the manual focusing aid then switches to Digital Split Image, and then to Focus Peaking - a very neat way to quickly change between the three modes.

The second manual focusing method is the Digital Split Image feature. Harking back to film cameras of the past, this displays dual images on the left and right which then need to be lined up together for accurate manual focusing, enabling accurate focusing especially when shooting wide-open or for macro shooting. It's much easier to understand in practice than written down. The third and final method is the Focus Peak Highlight function, which displays a white line (the colour and strength are customisable) around the subject when it's in focus.

In addition to the class-leading electronic viewfinder, the X-T2 has a high-resolution 3 inch LCD monitor on the back, which offers 100% scene coverage and 1.04 million dots, and can be usefully tilted up and down by about 90 degrees when in landscape mode and upward when shooting in portrait mode by releasing a small switch on the edge of the screen. The LCD screen has a handy Info view which presents all of the key settings at once, or you can switch to the Standard or Custom Live View modes, with the latter offering 14 customisable options (these are also used for the electronic viewfinder). The X-T2 has a built-in eye sensor so that you only have to hold the camera up to eye-level to switch between the rear LCD and the electronic viewfinder (or you can press the View Mode button on the side of the pentaprism).

In terms of operational speed, the Fujifilm X-T2 is very satisfying to use. Shutter lag is virtually non-existent on this camera (0.045 second), so once you have set the focus, you'll never miss the moment because the camera can't fire the shutter quickly enough. The shot-to-shot time is just 0.17 second, and it starts-up in only 0.3 seconds. The write speeds from pressing the shutter button to recording to the SD / SDHC / SDXC memory card are fast too. Shooting a single RAW + Fine JPEG takes less than half a second to record to a UHS-II card, a big improvement on the already speedy X-T1. Continuous shooting speeds have been improved too, as we've already explained above. Thankfully the camera doesn't lock up completely for a long time if you shoot the maximum number of images in a burst, allowing you to continue shooting after just a few seconds. The X-T2 also offers interval timer shooting for time lapses, with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours and up to 999 frames.

Fujifilm X-T2
Tilting LCD Screen

The Fujifilm X-T2 continues to excel in its handling, thanks in no small part to the numerous external controls that make changing the key settings a breeze, especially when holding the camera at eye-level. Surrounding the 18-55m lens is a circular aperture ring, although it has no markings due to the variable aperture. This dial also allows you to choose third-stop apertures. On top of the X-T2 is a large, tactile, lockable control dial for setting the shutter speed, with settings ranging from 1 second to 1/8000th second, an Auto option, a T setting for longer exposures (2 to 30 seconds, set via the circular command wheel) and a Bulb mode for exposures up to a whopping 60 minutes in length. Alongside the shutter speed dial is another tactile dial for changing the exposure compensation, with a range of +-3EV and a new Custom setting, and on the left-hand side is a third, lockable dial for setting the ISO speed, with settings ranging from Auto to H (either 25600 or 51200). Together these three controls make it extremely easy to set the exposure.

Underneath the ISO Speed and Shutter Speed dials are two more dials, the first for setting bracketing, burst, multiple exposure, advanced and panorama functions, and the second for setting the metering mode. Cleverly, unlike the dials that sit on top of the them, these two dials are not locked in place.

Four other controls complete the X-T2's top-plate. The small but responsive shutter release button is encircled by the On/Off switch, and there's now a thread for a traditional mechanical cable release. Alongside is the Fn button, which by default provides quick access to the Face-Eye Detection options, but can be customised to suit your own needs from 12 different settings. Further customisation is available via the 7 Custom Menu options, which let you create, save and recall up to 7 sets of user-defined settings, and no less than 6 configurable function buttons.

There's an external flash hotshoe for suitable dedicated external units, into which fits the supplied EF-X8 flash that ships in the box. This small but handy flash unit has a guide number of 11 at ISO 200, which goes some way to compensating for the fact that it's not built-in to the camera.

Fujifilm X-T2
The Fujifilm X-T2 In-hand

The X-T2 features enhanced built-in wi-fi connectivity, although there's now no dedicated button to access it (you have to configure one of the Fn buttons or access it via the menu system). Install the Fujifilm Camera Remote App and you can transfer your pictures immediately to a smartphone or tablet PC and then edit and share them as you wish, transfer stills and video onto the camera, and embed GPS information in your shots from your smartphone. You can also control the camera remotely, with the list of available functions including Touch AF, shutter release for stills and movies, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, Film Simulation modes, White Balance, macro, timer and flash. The built-in wi-fi also provides a simple means to backup your photos to your home PC.

The Fujifilm X-T2 can now record 4K video, the first X-series camera to do so, with 24/25/30p frame rates on offer. What's more, Fujifilm have introduced the concept of "Quick 4K", where the camera can be set to apply one of the built-in film simulation modes to your footage to avoid having to grade it during post-processing. The X-T2 actually records at close to 6K (5120x2880pixels), then downsamples to 4K. There's a 10-minute in-camera limit, which can be extended to 30 minutes by fitting the VPB-XT2 vertical power booster grip. This grip also adds a 3.5mm stereo headphone port to the 3.5mm microphone that's in the camera body, there is uncompressed 4:2.2 8-bit HDMI output, and log gamma "F-log". If you don't need 4K, the X-T2 can also record Full HD 1080p movies at 60p / 50p / 30p / 25p / 24p for up to 14 minutes with stereo sound. There is a HDMI port for connecting the X-T2 to a high-definition TV, and you can adjust the level of the internal microphone and attach an external mic for better sound quality via the Mic and Remote ports. Strangely, despite the increased emphasis on video recording, the X-T1's one-touch Movie Record button has completely disappeared (it's now been assigned to the drive mode dial).

The X-T2 has a logical enough rear control layout. Above the LCD screen and to the left of the viewfinder are two buttons for choosing image deletion or playback, while on the right is the AE-L button, rear control dial and the AF-L button. Beneath those is the Quick Menu button, which provides quick access to lots of frequently used shooting settings including the ISO speed, White Balance, File Size and File Quality, with either the new focus lever or the 4-way controller and the command dial used to quickly change them. In the middle of the controller is the Menu button, which accesses the eight Shooting and Set-up menus. Underneath is the Disp/Back button which is used for changing the LCD display or going back.

We don't normally mention accessories in our camera reviews, but the X-T2's new battery grip is so important that it needs mentioning here. The catchily named VPB-XT2 isn't just any old battery grip, though - as the first three initials suggest, it's a "vertical power booster" grip which, as well as including 2 extra batteries, increases the speed of the X-T2 in a whole host of different ways. The burst shooting speed increases from 8fps to 11fps, the shooting interval decreases from 190msec to 170msec, the release lag drops from 50msec to 45msec, and as mentioned above, the recording time in 4K goes from 10 to 30 minutes. As well as adding a 3.5mm headphone socket, it also acts as a twin battery charger, so that you can effectively charge 4 batteries at once - 2 in the VPB-XT2 (only taking 2 hours), 1 in the X-T2 camera via USB, and 1 in the supplied battery charger. The VPB-XT2 also helps Fujifilm's longer lenses balance better on the X-T2 - we'd go so far as saying it's something of a must-buy accessory.

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