The New Fujifilm X-PRO2 Camera offers a huge range of features. On offer is a New X-Trans™* CMOS III sensor & X Processor Pro, New Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, New 1/8000 sec. Mechanical Shutterand much more.
Full HD Video Recording
Reverse Galilean viewfinder with electronic bright frame display Coverage of frame area v.s. capturing area: approx.92% Magnifications approx x0.36 / x0.60
SD/ SDHC/ SDXC Memory Card
3.0" LCD Screen
NP-W126 Li-ion battery
140.5mm (W) x 82.8mm (H) x 45.9mm (D)
4 sec. to 1/8000 sec.(P mode), 30 sec. to 1/8000 sec.(All modes) Bulb mode(up to 60 min), TIME : 30 sec. to 1/8000 sec.
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"...The X-Pro2 is as good as it gets."
| byCAMERA Magazine
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Four years ago in this issue we road-tested Fujifilm’s X-Pro1, which was a signifi cant new camera on a number of fronts. For starters, it was Fujifilm’s fi rst X Mount camera, following the hugely successful fi xed-lens X100 (but, we learned later, was apparently developed first). It marked Fujifilm’s return to interchangeable lens cameras of its own making, following a string of Nikon-based D-SLRs. Perhaps more significantly though, it was the first professional-level mirrorless camera and, as such, an indicator that this category was here to stay.
Consequently, the X-Pro1 represented the first credible mirrorless alternative to a D-SLR… in a rangefinder-style camera body too. It continued the retro-themed styling of the X100, in the process re-establishing tried-and-true dials as the main means of controlling a camera. Retro subsequently became the new modern, emulated by just about everybody who’s anybody in mirrorless cameras – Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and, more recently, Leica.
All of this makes the X-Pro1 a very significant camera in the history of photography. But more than this, it was a brilliantly conceived and executed design, good enough to challenge the idea that the D-SLR was the be-all and end-all when it came to high-end cameras. It further developed Fujifilm’s innovative and ingenious hybrid optical/ electronic viewfinder (in particular to accommodate zoom lenses) and the pioneering ‘X-Trans’ sensor which eliminated the need for an anti-aliasing (or low-pass) filter and its attendant strangulation of optimum resolution. Four years ago it was a very bold statement – brave even – and, indeed, it’s been capable enough to stay in the top echelon of mirrorless cameras for all this time.
So, what does Fujifi lm do for an encore? How much can it better the X-Pro1, particularly now that there’s some stiff competition in higher-end mirrorless cameras; notably Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 II models and Sony’s Alpha 7 Series? Well, the good news is that the X-Pro2 is better than its predecessor in just about every way… and the X-Pro1 was a pretty good starting point. At first glance, it looks pretty much the same on the outside – and, of course, that’s a very good thing – but closer inspection reveals quite a number of changes – some small, but all making a contribution to enhanced ergonomics and operational efficiencies. It’s the same on the inside, only here changes such as a new sensor, processor and autofocus system obviously have more far-reaching implications. According to a senior Fujifilm executive, “It looks the same, but basically we’ve changed everything”.
Fujifi lm is certainly wise to stick with a distinctly Leica-esque styling for the X-Pro2 which subsequently looks classically purposeful and, of course, classically elegant. It’s also resisted the temptation to make it any smaller so it’s still a fairly substantial beast by mirrorless camera standards, but obviously smaller than any comparably featured D-SLR.
Importantly, the tough all magnesium alloy bodyshell is now weather-sealed which was at the top of the wishlist for many users of the X-Pro1 given its clear appeal for location work. There’s a bigger and more ergonomically-shaped grip – effectively eliminating the need for an add-on – but the real deals as far as the X-Pro2’s handling is concerned are a new front input wheel (a.k.a. the front ‘Command Dial’) and, on the rear panel, a jog-type controller for selecting autofocus points (and called, in a tell-it-like-it-is manner, ‘The Focus Stick’). The additional input wheel has both rotational and press-in actions (the latter to change function), and significantly enhances exposure control efficiencies, especially when shooting in manual. Milled dials are retained for shutter speeds and exposure compensation, but the latter is significantly larger than before with an expanded setting range of +/-3.0 EV, plus a ‘C’ position which gives access to +/-5.0 EV, the extra settings then selected via the front input wheel (press it in to change the function). The shutter speed dial is also a bit beefier than before, mainly in depth, and its top disc incorporates a window through which can be read the ISO setting. Yes, in a glorious piece of retro design Fujifi lm has returned to the lift-and-turn method of setting the film speed… sorry, the ISO sensitivity. Don’t laugh, it really works… it eliminates the need for an additional dial, but is still equally efficient and you get the ISO read-out exactly where you need it. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways and, even if it was a bit before your time, it’ll still feel quite intuitive.
On the side is a new compartment cover which opens to reveal dual memory card slots – another much-requested feature – for SD devices and with support for UHS-I speed SDHC types and UHS-II speed SDXC. These slots can be configured for a sequential changeover, simultaneous recording of two files (i.e. to create a back-up) and a RAW+JPEG split. Having the dual slots is, of course, excellent, but so is the fact that the memory card slot is no longer in the camera’s base with the battery.
The rear panel’s layout is basically unchanged except for the shifting of some buttons to accommodate a wider, 3:2 aspect ratio LCD monitor screen which also has a higher resolution of 1.62 mega dots (versus 1.23 on the previous model) and a 60 fps refresh rate. It’s still fixed though, and doesn’t have touch controls. The optical viewfinder’s window is a major reason why the X-Pro models look so much like Leica RF cameras – at least from the front – and the X-Pro2 has all the hybrid-based developments that have been introduced with the successive editions of the X100.
In case you aren’t familiar with the basic concept of Fujifilm’s hybrid viewfinder, it can be switched between fully optical or fully electronic viewing, but the clever bit is that you can have the optical viewfinder plus the key digital display elements. Additionally, there’s an ‘Electronic Range Finder’ (ERF) display which appears as a small panel inset at the lower right corner of the frame. This is a TTL feed direct from the sensor and provides a magnified view from the active focus point – without any parallax error – which is very handy indeed. With manual focusing, the ERF panel will also show the focus peaking display which, on the X-Pro2, can be set to red, white or blue at either low or high-intensity levels.
The optical finder has a brightline frame which automatically adjusts with a zoom lens and a built-in magnifier so it can be switched to handle focal lengths longer than 35mm… otherwise the picture frame would become very small indeed. Fixed brightline frames are provided for the 18mm, 23mm, 27mm and 32mm focal lengths and, once the magnifier is switched in, 35mm, 56mm, 60mm and 90mm. All this is done via a lever on the front panel which is flicked left or right to change the viewfinder type, and incorporates a button to engage and disengage the magnifier. Now obviously there are lenses longer than 90mm in the Fujifi lm X-Mount system in which case you simply switch to using the EVF. This is now a TFT LCD panel with a resolution of 2.36 megadots which can be configured – along with the LCD monitor screen – to show a selection of camera settings (you choose), an AF/MF distance scale with a depth-of-field indicator, electronic level, real-time histogram, guide frames and an exposure compensation scale. And, thanks to the hybrid design, you can have all these elements in the optical view as well, the only difference being that the auto-rotate for EVF/monitor displays isn’t available. So, you might well ask, why bother with having an optical finder at all now that the EVFs are so good? Glad you brought this up, especially as we’re now pretty convinced EVFs are the future, but… even the best can’t ultimately match an optical finder and the main advantage with the X-Pro2’s is that you can see what’s going on outside the image frame which has always been the key capability of a classic rangefinder camera and allows you to better anticipate exactly when a shot is going to come together. Fujifilm’s hybrid design allows you have the best of both worlds, mixing some aspects or simply relying on one display type when it’s the most appropriate for the subject or situation. Given the developments in EVFs over the last four years, it’s now more likely than ever to remain unique, but there are still compelling reasons for having both options on tap and it puts the X-Pro2 in the mix whether you’re contemplating a new D-SLR or a new high-end mirrorless camera.
The inside story starts with an all-new sensor which Fujifilm is calling the “X-Trans CMOS III” and embodies a host of new design features. It’s ‘APS-C’ size, of course, but with a higher effective pixel count of 24.3 million – the highest so far in a Fujifi lm X Mount camera – giving a pixel pitch of 3.91 microns.
A new ‘Floating Diffraction Amplifi er’ is designed to reduce noise and redesigned microlenses enhance sensitivity. The read-out speed at 4000x6000 pixels is 28 fps – twice as fast as the X-Pro1 – which is partially achieved by replacing the traditional aluminium wiring with copper to reduce resistance (similar to Sony’s A7R II). Copper also allows for thinner wiring which helps reduce noise. The native sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 12,800 with a two-stop ‘push’ to ISO 51,200. The ‘X-Trans’ name refers to Fujifilm’s unique 6x6 RGB colour filter clusters – as opposed to the standard 2x2 Bayer pattern – that’s designed to minimise moiré patterns. The sensor’s number-crunching is handled by a new dual-core ‘X Processor Pro’ engine which delivers a bunch of speedy numbers including an 85 fps refresh rate for the EVF (when in High Performance mode), a shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, a start-up time of 0.4 seconds and a fastest AF time of 0.06 seconds (more about autofocusing shortly). The maximum continuous shooting speed is 8.0 fps with a bigger buffer memory allowing a burst of 83 best-quality JPEGs or 33 RAW files. At this speed, the autofocusing and metering are locked to the first frame, and if you want continuous adjustment you have to slow down to 3.0 fps (but obviously the burst length increases). RAW files can now be captured either as uncompressed files or with lossless compression if you have a need for speed as the file size essentially halves.
The new ‘X-Trans’ CMOS sensor incorporates dedicated pixel arrays for phase-difference detection autofocusing which is employed in conjunction with contrast detection measurements depending on the subject or situation. There’s now a total of 273 focusing points in a 21x13 array, 169 of them using phase difference detection measurement in a 13x13 array (hence the need for the greater precision of the new eight-way jog controller). However, in the Zone or Wide/ Tracking modes, the X-Pro2 switches to a 7x11 points array and focusing is via a 3x3 points cluster which is moved manually in the former and shifts automatically in the latter (the bigger zone allowing for improved tracking accuracy). Larger point clusters – 5x5 or 7x7 – can also be selected, depending on the size of the subject.
Switching between continuous and single-shot AF operations is performed manually via a switch on the front panel (unchanged from the X-Pro1) and this also selects manual focusing. We’ve already mentioned the ERF tab in the optical viewfinder with its magnified image and focus peaking display, and obviously both these devices are available in the EVF to assist with manual focusing. Another option here is the ‘Digital Split Image’ which is also offered on the X-T1 and X100T albeit in different configurations. On the X-Pro2 it takes the form of a fairly big box superimposed over the centre of the image – either in mono (which helps it stand out better) or simply transparent – and with three splits which are misaligned when the subject is out of focus. Focusing the lens brings the four sections together – just like the optical old split-image rangefinder – but frankly the digital version doesn’t work nearly as well. The splits are actually very hard to see unless you have very contrasty vertical edges – and the centre split is effectively obliterated by the level indicator if it’s switched on – and you really need to be a long way out-of-focus to notice the offsets. All this is even worse if you opt for the colour (i.e. transparent) display. You can zoom in when using either EVF or monitor screen which helps a little, but using focus peaking is far more effective. You can also have the digital split image in the OVF’s ERF tab, but here it’s just so small that it’s virtually impossible to see what’s going on. Of course, the problem here is that you still need to see the image itself so the split image panel can’t be too dark, but the splits need to be more distinct for this feature to be truly useful.
A lot of things have changed in the four years since the X-Pro1 was launched, not least being a much wider acceptance of mirrorless cameras and their migration into the enthusiast-level and professional sectors. Back then the X-Pro1 was the only game in town when it came to mirrorless pro cameras, but now there’s quite a bit of choice from the superb Olympus E-M1 (itself due to be upgraded any time now) to the also-brilliant, but eye-wateringly expensive Leica SL.
The hybrid viewfinder gives the X-Pro2 a unique point-of-difference and, more importantly, still works exceedingly well in practice, its usefulness further enhanced by the nifty ERF picture-in-picture tab. The changes to the control layout contribute to a smoother and more efficient workflow as does the new menu system… here lots of small changes add up to a big difference. However, it’s the new ‘X Trans’ sensor – aided by its high-powered processor – and the hybrid AF system which are real heroes, ensuring the X-Pro2 can match it with the big guns of the D-SLR world as well as its mirrorless rivals.
B&W aficionados will just love the ACROS ‘Film Simulation’ presets and the Grain Effect function which really is a lot cleverer than it looks on paper. The greater ease with which you can get the X-Pro2 to where you want it to be adds to the enjoyment factor – something that was also an attraction of the X-Pro1, but which is sufficiently magnified with this camera to make it a thoroughly enthralling experience.
So, how does the X-Pro2 fair in the quest for perfection? Well, the goalposts keep moving here so now, for example, the fixed monitor screen is considered a flaw, but nevertheless Fujifi lm has come up with a camera that’s big on both character and capabilities, and which is very hard to fault as an overall package. If you like cameras as much for what they are as what they can do, the X-Pro2 is as good as it gets.