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The X Pro 2, Some Initial Thoughts

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Man in the Tree (Fujifilm X100t)

Well it’s finally been introduced.  Last Friday, Fujifilm released the long anticipated update of its original replaceable lens “X” camera, the X Pro 1, with a new model, the X Pro 2.   With this introduction, there have been a flurry of early reviews by photographers and writers, who have been given early access to the new camera.  I’ve been reading these with great interest. 

X Pro 2 (Fujifilm image)

X Pro 2 (Fujifilm image)

I have had some contact with Fujifilm marketing recently, opening the possibility of obtaining testing samples: I have made inquiries already as to when this new camera body may be available. In the meantime, like many Fujifilm X shooters, I need to decide whether this new camera would be a logical addition to my equipment bag, or a $1700 trophy acquisition.

I did a wishlist article on this camera some months past. Time to see whether I was “on target”.

Fujifilm had a reputation for releasing what were essentially “beta” products and then updating them into their final form while in the customer’s hands.  Many of us have praised the company’s dedication to improving their products with firmware updates, but others have rightly criticized the company, for releasing immature products. This criticism I think was certainly valid for the original X100, as well as the X Pro 1, both of which were somewhat underdeveloped at their release, but were significantly improved by the time of their final updates. One can make the argument, that companies like Sony whose cameras are  infrequently updated, get away with this because they tend to introduce more completely developed/featured products that do not require such ongoing attention.

More recently I think, Fujifilm has paid a lot of attention to their initial offerings.  Their latest camera releases, have performed well right of the box, with firmware improvements that are more a matter of “icing on the cake“ rather than fixing obvious deficits.  Certainly cameras like the XE-2, the XT-1 and the XT-10 fall into this category.

The four-year gestation period for this camera, is unusual for Fujifilm.  I suspect the company was eager to get this one, billed as their “flagship”, right  from the start.

There are a lot of places on the web to read about the specific improvements of this camera vs. its predecessor.  I wish to highlight the ones that I think are important, and might compel me to upgrade.

Most strikingly, there is a new sensor.  This continues to use the unusual X-Trans color filter arrangement.  It is now 24 megapixels (versus 16 in the earlier cameras. One wonders whether waiting for Toshiba/Sony? to produce the new sensor caused the delay in introduction of the new flagship.

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The Sensor (Fujifilm Image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m not sure the extra resolution is that important to me, as I can already print nice 20 by 30 inch prints with the current sensor.  Certainly the extra cropping ability would be useful.

Water Tank, Hickory Run (Fujifilm X100t)

Far more interesting to me is the possibility that the sensor has increased high ISO capabilities over its predecessor. I’ve read several reports that the X Pro 2 has roughly one stop higher ISO capabilities, meaning that ISO 6400 in the newer camera looks the same as ISO 3200 in previous models.  This would certainly be worthwhile.

The X Pro 2 unlike its predecessor, is weatherproof.  It certainly makes sense, given that the XT-1 which is now further down the pecking order, has the same attribute. This I think is important to a camera that will clearly be marketed to professionals.  Though weatherproofing has not been important to me up to now, I start to get interested given the development of the fairly inexpensive weatherproof XF 35mm f2 lens now available.  I also appreciate the despite the weather-sealing, it retains a threaded shutter button for use with a cable release.

Fujifilm seems to be continually improving their auto-focus systems and the X Pro 2 is no exception. It now has many more auto-focus detectors available (273) with 77 phase detection points on the chip). This would seem to make it potentially more useful for action photography, especially given that it can shoot at 8 frames per second with a deeper buffer. Whether speed and sensitivity are improved from the already excellent XT-10 remain to be seen.

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Camera Back (Fujifilm Image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X Pro 2 also has the Wi-Fi capabilities of several of its predecessors. This can be quite useful. Also welcome is the front control dial, and the rear joystick dedicated to controlling focus points. This would spoil me for my other Fuji bodies.

 

Fuji made several small improvements that seem trivial, but mean a lot to us long time “X” shooters. First, they centralized the tripod mount, moving it away from the battery door. Second, they took the memory card out of the battery compartment, created a second card slot, and placed both on the side of the camera. The dual card slot operate much like my Nikons, with the capability of changing them from sequential storage, to duplicate storage, to sequestering files by type (raws to one card, JPGs to the other).This will be huge for wedding shooters. For me I can now keep a tripod shoe on the camera without having to remove it to change memory cards, or batteries. If we could just get two-button card formatting, also like Nikon bodies, I’d be in heaven.

And finally, like every other bloody viewfinder equipped X body, the X Pro 2 has an adjustable diopter control. Whoever omitted this from the X Pro 1 should have been severely  disciplined.

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Viewfinder (Fujifilm Image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, thank you to Fujifilm for using the exact same battery they have used for their interchangeable lens cameras since the X Pro 1. This is really a loyalty inspiring move.

Despite all of this, I think that as I am generally happy with my current Fujifilm bodies (a seldom-used X Pro 1, a XE 2 and an XT-10) and my decision to acquire the new camera prior to the period when it is discounted (a year or so if history repeats) will depend largely on the improvements in the new sensor.

In the meantime I will watch for raw files available for download, and for raw support availability for both Photoshop and Capture One. Hopefully I can snag a body for review.

Let’s see what this new camera can do.

 

As always you can view these images on my Smugmug site located here. They are located in the Fall-Winter 2015 Gallery. Clicking on the image will also display it in a larger format.



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