A real world review of the Xpro2
So where do we begin? The Fuji XPro 1 was the camera that started it all for the Fuji X system. Granted the original X100 was the first in line, but it was the XPro 1 that was first to feature the exceptional X-Trans sensor along with the first batch of Fujinon lenses we've come to love. It was launched in early 2012 along with a trio of primes and then at a staggering rate Fuji introduced new X series cameras and lenses. Any replacement for the XPro1 will have huge shoes to fill, it's not all about specs, speed and wifi (although very nice) it's about how the camera makes you feel. That's what the Fuji X Series is really about. Until the XPro2 arrived my main body has been the XT1. It was a great camera (and still is). But it wasn't my favourite. That place was reserved for the XPro1 with all it's faults, funny noises and quirks. I just enjoyed the form factor and the smug satisfaction that it was a bit niche and not for everyone. What I really wanted was an XT1 inside a XPro body. Thats what Fujifilm have just given us....and a whole lot more.
I've been using the Fujifilm XPro2 since it's release, shooting weddings, headshots, street photography and some portraiture. This 'review' is not based on technical charts or in depth analysis, simply how well it's performs compared to the previous generation of X Series cameras at the three main genres I shoot. All my opinions are my own.
I don't shoot in Jpeg so all images are based on the Raw files and edits of them in Lightroom CC.
The XPro2 retains the same retro range finder looks of the original. At first glance it both models look very similar and from a distance its difficult to tell the two apart. A closer look reveals subtitle changes that reveal some key differences but Fuji have still managed to keep the design true to the Xpro name.
The Xpro2 features a new 24mp Xtrans 3 sensor which should hopefully be rolled out to future models. I say hopefully because it's good, very good. The jump in megapixels is nice. The previous generation of 16MP Xtrans sensor was always enough for me but I can understand why the jump has been made. There is no loss of IQ at high ISO, infact we now have an extra stop to play with. Provided the image is exposed correctly raw files are usable at ISO 12800. Image resolution now sits at 6000 x 4000px which provides a nice bit of head room when cropping. Higher res images translate into better detail in the files and there is a genuine noticeable difference in XT1 and Xpro2 files. This may not be so obvious in web viewed images, but at full resolution on a 27" screen it's there. In the main though, IQ is faithful to the X series. If you crop Xpro 2 files down to 4896 x 3264px the image with be practically identical to X trans 2 files from what I can tell.
The first thing you notice when shooting a wedding with this camera is it's speed. There is practically no delay or lag when pressing the shutter and i've noticed a big increase in the the number of keepers during post processing as a result. It is particularly evident when shooting candids of guests when the decisive moment can be easily missed. The electronic shutter is more useful now when trying to keep quiet with a big reduction in the banding from certain artificial lighting. This was a bit of a pain with the Xtrans 2 bodies as this electronic shutter mode caused severe banding and therefore useless in a lot of typical english churches. The auto focus is a big step us from previous generation. It's accurate and faster than the previous X series cameras. The most important improvement for me is the continuous AF performance which has greatly improved. The wedding processional can be shot with confidence and the increase in buffer size is most welcome. The OVF is a significantly better experience this time around and the auto focus confirmation can be trusted to a much higher degree than Fuji's older OVF's. This makes the camera a pleasure to use in this mode for candids of wedding guests throughout the day. The hybrid viewfinder mode is great for giving you the confidence that AF has acquired correctly. The EVF is very nice indeed. 85fps (in high performance mode) makes this as smooth as gets EVF wise in a Fuji camera until the XT2 arrives. If you're coming from an XT1 though, the EVF is notably smaller which might take a while to get used to. Its clarity and sharpness more than make up for it for me but something to consider if the EVF is at the top of your features list. I've picked up a couple of extra batteries for weddings anticipating the reported battery drain issues. the camera is hungry for juice (especially the high performance mode) but it's by no means massive problem. I think i'm getting about 2/3rds the shots from the genuine batteries than I would get with XT1. A full 12 hour wedding i'm taking 9 batteries for the Xpro2 and XT1 2nd body.
I've shot some weddings this summer in very bright light and this can be a little problematic using the viewfinder in direct sunlight. There's no option at the moment to add an extended eyecup which I found to be a godsend on the XT1. I've also noticed something else..... the XPro2 can get quite warm with prolonged use. It's not a big deal but it is noticeable compared to the previous generations and it might come in handy for anyone shooting in the winter....ahem. Apart from those couple of minor gripes the camera is very nice indeed and well suited to wedding photography.
The Xpro2 is a pleasure to use on the street. Its nothing revolutionary in this respect as street is part of the Fuji X DNA. I shoot street using both AF and MF zone focusing. Again the faster AF and lack of lag is great. If shooting manual focus you have the option of full EVF with a much more detailed peaking or split screen. Another option is the hybrid viewfinder with the tiny screen in the bottom right showing focus peaking and exposure. This mode is great...well kind of. Its described as an electronic rangefinder which I suppose it is but it doesn't feel like an real rangefinder. I haven't used it with legacy glass so can't comment. The brilliant quality of a MF rangefinder is the speed. Fuji's fly by wire XF lenses combined with electronic rangefinder offset to the bottom right just isn't quick enough for a lot of situations. Just like the Xpro1, the Xpro2 s a great street companion just better in every way.
The XT1 is a superb headshot camera. You don't see many pro's using fuji's for headshots but trust me, they're missing out. The Xpro2 is just as good...sometimes better...and sometimes worse, Let me explain. The Large EVF on the XT1 make composition very easy. It's a little more challenging on the XPro2 due to it's EVF size. Added to that the XT1's grip is designed to be used comfortably in the portrait orientation and you don't have that luxury with the Xpro2. I use the Classic Chrome profile in lightroom for headshots as I find it to be perfect for obtaining nice skin tones and consistency throughout the shoot. Thankfully this profile is just as good with the new camera as with the old. The higher resolution of the files though is a big step up with headshots. The detail in the eyes, skin pores, hair and eyelashes are so much sharper. The extra cropping room is very handy.
a few extras
The Xpro2 is a fantastic camera and i'm enjoying it immensely, but it;s not for everyone. Some will really need the ergonomics of the XT lines as well the EVF. Some will want the Xpro line form factor and OVF. For some it will come down to the appearance of the cameras alone. The good news is Fuji will be offering both in the form of the Xpro2 and XT2. I really loved my Xpro1, it was a good friend to me but not one I could necessary trust with important paying tasks but it was great fun to hang out with. The XT1 was never my best friend, it was more of a highly reliable colleuge that worked hard and got the job done, but i wouldn't go for a pint with it after work. The Xpro2 succeeds in being both and with a few compromises it fits into both camps.
So when the dust settles and all the launch hype disappears, is the XPro2 the best thing since sliced bread? Answer: It is for me.