Fujifilm X-Pro2 Digital Camera Review
The X-Pro2: The ultimate photographer's camera.
Back in 2012, Fujifilm's X-Pro1 expertly melded together vintage design and great build quality to produce a rangefinder that captured both pros and enthusiasts by surprise. Capitalizing on the success of the groundbreaking Fujifilm X100, the X-Pro1 truly gave shooters itching for an interchangeable lens camera a unique experience.
After four long years, the sequel is finally here. And after spending over a week straight with the camera, it looks like the Fujifilm X-Pro2 (MSRP $1699.96) is going to do it all over again, only better. With a new sensor, a faster processor, and improvements to...well, everything, the X-Pro2 is one of the best cameras we've ever tested.
While there are still a few questionable areas–such as lackluster video quality and questionable RAW compatibility–we think advanced photographers will love the X-Pro2 to bits. Nitpicking aside, this is an amazing camera that any shooter worth their salt should be proud to own.
Design & Handling
Aesthetically, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is a gorgeous blend of retro sensibilities and modern tastes. The controls are all there on the body, so users never need to search though menus to change anything. This is similar to the X-T1 and X-Pro1, but Fuji has really mastered the art here.
Much like its predecessor, the most intriguing design feature on the X-Pro2 has to be the viewfinder. While it isn't the best viewfinder ever made, flick the front lever to the right and it can switch between an optical viewfinder and a 2.36-million dot (up from 1.44 million dots) OLED electronic screen. If that's not enough, while using the optical viewfinder users can now access a picture-in-picture mode by flicking the switch to the left. This lets you check focus and exposure quickly, while still keeping you engaged with your subject.
The optical viewfinder doesn't show you a "through-the-lens" view like a DSLR, so actually framing your shot requires a bit of guess work. To help, it has an electronic frame line overlay that moves dynamically to give users an idea of where the framing will be. You can also tap the viewfinder switch button to bring up general guidelines for major focal lengths.
If you're a fan of rangefinder cameras, you're going have a hard time finding faults in the design of the X-Pro2. It has the classic look and feel of an old-school film body, but with a few new tricks. If you're used to shooting a traditional DSLR design however, you might find the front grip a bit lacking. And while there are a ton of shortcuts to take advantage of, that comes with a steep learning curve.
Personally, I found street shooting to be the ideal environment for the X-Pro2. It's more pocketable than a full-sized DSLR and more discreet when shooting on the move. The big controls made it easy to shoot–even with gloves, which is always an issue with Boston winters. And finally, I enjoyed having the option of both optical and electric viewfinders. I love shooting with traditional rangefinders, but the ability to use the EVF to frame your shot perfectly is simply invaluable.
A lot has changed in the world of mirrorless cameras since the launch of the X-Pro1 and Fujifilm has baked those lessons into the X-Pro2. Performance has received a big upgrade this time around, with a new 24-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor, 273 on-sensor autofocus points, an expanded ISO range, 1080/60p video, and improved AF tracking. These new additions have turned the X-Pro2 into one of the most powerful rangefinders that we've tested to date.
Let's start with the new sensor. Lately Fujifilm has been using a 16-megapixel X-Trans sensor, but the X-Pro2 steps it up to a new 24.3MP sensor–putting it on par with most other cameras in its price range. The new sensor also extends the ISO range out a bit, with a native range of 200-12,800. You can expand that to 100-51,200 as well, though ISO 100 is only available when shooting JPEG. While a base ISO of 200 can be worrisome, we found it was relatively noise-free and razor sharp.
The new processor is also worth a shout out, as it delivers a much snappier experience than previous Fujifilm cameras, from startup to continuous shooting. There is a bit of lag when shooting RAW images before you can preview the shot, but nothing that should seriously disrupt workflow. With a class 10 SDHC card, we were able to get around 83 shots at 8.5 frames per second (fps), right in line with what Fuji claims. That's pretty impressive for a rangefinder–and more than enough for most users.
Autofocus speeds were a frankly terrible on the original X-Pro1. Fuji did what it could to fix that after the camera's launch with firmware updates, but it never really got to a reliable place. While we don't test AF speeds in our lab, it's plain to see that the X-Pro2 is significantly faster than its predecessor. Moving subjects still pose a problem, but as I've stated, most people aren't using rangefinders to capture particularly fast-moving subjects.
Both color and white balance were also exceptional, with Pro Neg. Hi and custom white balance producing accurate, pleasing colors. There are plenty of other color modes to choose from, such as the over-saturated Velvia or the more subdued Classic Chrome. Auto white balance handled daylight extremely well, but did struggle a little in both fluorescent and incandescent light. I'd recommend sticking with RAW images so white balance can be adjusted easily in post.
Video is something that Fuji has struggled to master across its entire lineup. However, the X-Pro2 shows signs of real progress with significantly less moiré than the last few Fujis. At 1080/60p, the video was sharp and popped in a pleasing way. High frequencies will still produce some discoloration, but in the real world it's more likely to be a fringe occurrence.
Before you buy the Fujifilm X-Pro2, take a look at these other cameras.
If I'm being honest, I enjoyed shooting with the X-Pro2 more than any digital rangefinder I've used–including the $7,450 Leica M Monochrom (which I adored). Like the Monochrom and other rangefinders, the X-Pro2 makes you slow down and take your time while composing shots with the optical viewfinder, but having access to an EVF means you can shoot quickly and stay on the move when necessary. In many ways the X-Pro2 strikes a near-perfect balance between throwback retro rangefinders and more efficient, modern imaging tools.
I tend to lean toward heavier cameras because I always want my bodies to feel solid, and that usually comes with a cost in weight. The X-Pro2 balances this extremely well, feeling solid and well-built without being too heavy to carry around all day. This made it much more portable than I thought it would be at first glance.
The controls are also laid out well, with key functions that are easy to reach, but rarely by mistake–with the exposure compensation dial the only exception. While shooting I noticed that I would accidentally switch the exposure compensation dial with my thumb while reaching for the camera from my hip. Clicking the command dials, both front and rear, can be a little finicky as well, since they are already positioned quite deeply in the camera body.
In the shot above, I wanted to capture the detail in the evergreens as well as the swirling snow around me. This requires a relatively slow shutter speed, which would usually be trouble while shooting hand-held. The X-Pro2 handled it pretty well, as you can see the snow streaking in front of the trees while the trees themselves remain sharp. It's not a complex shot, but it wouldn't have been possible to get in sub-zero, blizzard conditions without the phenomenal weather sealing and ergonomics that the X-Pro2 offers.
This photo shows the reflection of Downtown Boston in the Charles River. I was obviously going for the mirrored effect and achieved it fairly easily, but because I was using the optical viewfinder the inaccurate framing meant it clipped the bottom a little more than I wanted; the goal was to get the top of the Prudential Center in both the top and bottom of the frame. I did end up reshooting until I got what I wanted, but this probably could've been a one-and-done shot if I had just used the EVF. The X-Pro2 at least allows you to choose, but this is something to keep in mind.
The X-Pro2 is certainly not "baby's first camera"; it's a photographer's camera through and through that does an excellent job complementing the more workman-like Fujifilm X-T1. It's a camera that requires a fair amount of patience, but it has so many little tricks, shortcuts, and fun features that it'll reward your diligence (and patience) in spades.
But even with all the things Fuji did right this time around, the X-Pro2 isn't the camera for everyone. One biggie: While Fujifilm did vastly improve the video quality, it still isn't amazing. There aren't a ton of video-centric features, high-frequency patterns still have moiré issues, and it doesn't record 4K video. Those are all boxes ticked beautifully by the Panasonic GH4. The GH4 isn't as exciting for hardcore photographers, but it offers 4K video and all the accessory compatibility that videographers will need, all at a lower price point.
You also might want to look elsewhere if you're going to be capturing sports, wildlife, or other fast-moving subjects. While Fujifilm certainly improved its autofocusing speeds, traditional DSLRs such as the new Nikon D500 or Canon 7D Mark II are going to give you faster bursts and better lens selections for those situations.
But in truth, these are minor caveats instead of major red flags. Simply put, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 didn't disappoint us in the slightest. And if you're looking for a proper successor to the X-Pro1, you won't be either. It is a monster in the lab, a wonderful performer in the field, and extremely easy on the eyes. If you're looking for a camera that can cover a wide variety of shooting situations with relative ease, while simultaneously offering you different ways to approach shooting the same subject, the X-Pro2 is your camera.
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