Fuji X-Pro2 Field Test Part II

A fast performer in almost every way (but disappointing back-button AF)

By Eamon Hickey | Posted: 05/24/2016

I’ve used some X-series cameras from Fujifilm that had somewhat middling performance, but the X-Pro2, while not the fastest camera I’ve ever used, gave me very little cause for complaint. In my first tests of the camera, it was clear that its control response is fast and crisp. The very slight exception is that the X-Pro2 was sometimes a bit slow to wake from sleep in cases where I had left it idle for many minutes between shots. In other basic ways, such as shot-to-shot-time and buffer depth, I had no problems with the X-Pro2 in any of my shoots -- never missed a shot because of either factor.

In my early walks with the Fujifilm X-Pro2, I paid particular attention to the speed and decisiveness of its autofocus system in the most typical use case — single AF on stationary subjects. In walks along the East River and around the Lower East Side, I shot in bright light and at dusk, and the camera’s AF system was quick and sure. During one walk at night, in very dim light with low contrast subjects, the AF system was perfectly acceptable but not as good as the best AF cameras I’ve used, and it behaved the same in several later tests in very dim light.

Sony A5100 Review - burst animation

It was also during these first few walks that I discovered my biggest gripe about the Fujifilm X-Pro2 — I could not make back-button autofocus work for me. The problem is that the AF-L button, which you must use for activating autofocus in the back-button setup, is flush with the camera body. I just couldn’t find it by feel, even after several days of trying to get used to it, and this made back-button AF so frustrating that I ended up turning it off and going back to conventional shutter-release AF. If you don’t care about back-button AF, then this is no big deal. But for me, a good back-button AF setup is a non-negotiable requirement, and thus a major drawback.

Fuji X-Pro2: Continuous autofocus

To get an informal test of the Fujifilm X-Pro2’s continuous AF performance on moving subjects I shot some touch football, the model sailboats that I mentioned in Part 1 of this Field Test, ice skating, and dog Frisbee, among other things. Overall, I got a fairly high percentage of sharply focused shots on these kinds of subjects, even the touch football shots, which were taken in fairly dim light around dusk. I came across the ice skaters on a small rink near Battery Park. To shoot them, I used the camera in its high-speed burst mode, and my sequences of 8-12 shots typically had hit rates (i.e. percentage of well-focused pictures) above 50%.

My general opinion is that the X-Pro2 is definitely a credible performer for autofocusing on moving subjects. That said, I’ve used pro-level SLR cameras that gave me higher hit rates on similar subjects, and I did not test the X-Pro2 on the truly difficult AF subjects like multi-player sports, especially the ones that are played indoors (i.e. basketball, hockey etc.) I think it’s a safe to say that the X-Pro2 is not really designed for photographers who shoot a ton of sports anyway, and its very decent C-AF performance would be more than satisfactory for me and my general walkaround people and street shooting.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/500s / f/2 / ISO 250 / 53mm eq. / XF 35mm f/2 lens
This is one of several sharp images from a sequence shot using Continuous AF.

On several of my outings with the Fujifilm X-Pro2, I tried out the camera’s manual focus features. I ended up mostly preferring to use the standard manual focus assist function, which is just a magnified view of the focus area. It’s quick and easy to activate — you just press the thumb wheel in — and makes it easy to determine proper focus using either the EVF or the LCD. The split-image focus assist also works perfectly well, and if it were the only manual focusing aid available, I’d have no complaints. Focus peaking is the third manual focus assist function. I’m not as crazy about focus peaking as many photographers are, but I found the X-Pro2’s system to be as good as any other I’ve used.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/350s / f/8 / ISO 200 / 53mm eq. / XF 35mm f/2 lens
I used the standard magnification aid to manually focus this shot, but the split-image focusing aid also worked well for this scene.

Fujifilm’s lens lineup continues to impress

I was delighted to get Fujifilm’s relatively new Fujinon XF 35mm F2 R WR lens along with the X-Pro2. They seem like they should go together like bread and butter, and that’s exactly how it turned out. I loved this lens every time I shot with it. It feels really well built, yet remains relatively compact and light. Its aperture and manual focus rings have a nice feel, and it autofocuses very quickly. We reviewed this lens a few months back and gave it great marks, and all of my results with it back up what we found in that review. This is just a little jewel of a lens.

One shot I took at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park sums up its good qualities for me. The day was cold, and I as I walked around the fountain, I spotted a miniature poodle in a cozy spot. It took me only about a second to set the aperture for f/2.8, focus and shoot. The picture is very sharp, but I’m especially pleased with the smooth, neutral bokeh in the background.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/250s / f/2.8 / ISO 200 / 53mm eq. / XF 35mm f/2 lens
I loved the 35mm lens for street shots of cozy poodles and any other subject. Developed from raw in camera using the Pro Neg Hi film simulation.

I also received a Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens with the X-Pro2. This is another lens we’ve reviewed very favorably. It’s somewhat on the large size for mirrorless system standard zooms, but that’s its only drawback as far as I’m concerned. It’s very well made and produces excellent images, and it's a kit lens! I made good use of the versatility of this zoom when I was shooting pictures of Chinatown markets one afternoon, alternating between wide-angle shots of storefronts and close-ups of customers and shopkeepers.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/125s / f/5.6 / ISO 1250 / 76mm eq. / XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R
The 18-55mm lens came in handy for both wide-angle and detail shots in this Chinatown fish market.

I will mention one issue we had with this Field Test, which we’ve had some trouble diagnosing and characterizing. My first copy of the XF 18-55mm lens produced a very high ratio of pictures with a definite double-image effect, visible at any modest magnification and similar to the way images that suffer from shutter shock can look. A lot of double-checking, firmware upgrading and testing (believe me, a lot!) could not narrow down the cause, however, and we ultimately ended up with replacements for both the camera and the lens. With the new lens (on either body), the issue is almost completely gone, but I’ve still seen it on a very small percentage of my pictures, and I very occasionally see slight softness from the 35mm lens that I can’t quite explain either.

The bottom line is that the frequency of this is now so low that I don’t consider it a problem of any kind — simple focus and camera shake errors are far more common on any system that I’ve ever used. I’m confident that I’ll get an extremely high percentage of tack-sharp pictures with the X-Pro2. But we’re noting it in case anyone else encounters something similar. For us, it ended up being a puzzling issue that only significantly affected one specific copy of the 18-55mm lens on the X-Pro2.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/80s / f/2.8 / ISO 2000 / 53mm eq. / XF 35mm f/2 lens

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/180s / f/5.6 / ISO 400 / 53mm eq. / XF 35mm f/2 lens

Fuji X-Pro2: Great images and a very nice new film simulation

As usual, you should check out our lab tests of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to get the nitty-gritty details on its image quality. My own summary is this: it’s excellent. The camera produces very sharp, highly detailed images with very good dynamic range and comparatively low noise at most all ISOs. I’ve said before that Fujifilm has always had a good sense of color, at least to my eye, and that’s just as true as ever with the X-Pro2. I’ve also praised the Film Simulation feature in the past, and the new ACROS black-and-white simulation is another good one. The best image I shot during this Field Test — the seagull picture from part 1 of the Field Test — was made using the ACROS simulation. I really like how convenient it is to use the in-camera raw development function to try out different film simulations on any given raw image.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review - Sample gallery image
1/400s / f/8 / ISO 200 / 27mm eq. / XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R
Developed from raw in-camera using the Velvia film simulation, plus highlight and shadow tone corrections.

Fuji X-Pro2: Wi-Fi connectivity is about average, but video is much improved

To test out the Wi-Fi connectivity functions of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 I used my iPhone 6 and the Fujifilm Camera Remote app. I was able to make fairly quick and reliable connections using this setup. It does, however, work like most such systems — to transfer images in the field you have to create a Wi-Fi network with the camera, then join it with your phone, with all the steps that entails. Once connected, it’s easy to browse and transfer images, and the Camera Remote app allows decent remote control of the camera, although it’s not as extensive as some systems. Overall, my experience of it was that Fujifilm’s Wi-Fi system was neither better nor worse than most others, at least not in any significant way.

As we mentioned in the overview, the movie capabilities of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 are a big step up for Fujifilm X-series cameras. There’s a good range of resolution and frame rate choices. And like most modern mirrorless cameras, the X-Pro2 gives you significant control over your exposure and focus settings when recording video. This camera is a pretty versatile video shooting machine. I’ve shot video on one previous Fujifilm camera with an X-Trans sensor, and it was pretty bad — not very sharp and marred by lots of moiré and other artifacts. Although I did not do any exhaustive tests of the X-Pro2’s video, it clearly is much better in these respects. My test clips are very sharp, with nice color and tonality and less moiré and artifacting than in previous Fuji cameras I’ve used. I feel like I could put together a perfectly decent movie with the X-Pro2 (and I would not have said that about those other Fuji's I mentioned).

Fuji X-Pro2 Sample Video
1,920 x 1,080, 60 fps
Download Original (163.6MB MOV)

Summary: Three perspectives on the Fuji X-Pro2

I’ll sum up my conclusions about the Fujifilm X-Pro2 from three different perspectives. First, is it a significant step forward compared to the X-Pro1? It’s clear that the answer here is definitely yes. It retains all the strengths of the X-Pro1 and corrects nearly all of its important weaknesses, especially on the autofocus and performance fronts.

Secondly, how does it work as a general street, travel and documentary style camera for advanced photographers (i.e. like the film rangefinders it resembles)? Again, I think the X-Pro2 does very well here — its performance, versatility, and unique viewing system, plus the great lens lineup it uses, make it an extremely capable camera for that kind of photography. Speaking personally, my problems with back-button autofocus on the X-Pro2 are a deal-breaker, but tons of photographers won’t be concerned about that at all.

Third, is the Fujifilm X-Pro2 a good all-around professional camera? Here, my answer is a qualified yes. For many, many professional photographic uses, it will work extremely well. The X-Pro2 would not, however, be my first choice for sports shooting, and I didn’t have a chance to test its on-camera flash system, which is something I would want to do before using it for event shooting.

All-in-all, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 really fulfills the promise of the X-Pro1, offering a unique viewfinder experience, professional controls, a compact system and high build quality in a camera with no real performance shortcomings.

Fuji X-Pro2 GalleryField Test Part I

 



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