Fuji Takes Big Step With The NEW X-T2
UPDATED July 7th With News From The NYC Fuji Press Event
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It is becoming an interesting summer as we move closer to Photokina. One word that is permeating the new camera releases so far this summer is mirrorless. Today Fujifilm announces the New X-T2 camera. This could very well be one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry. There were so many leaked photos and specs over the last few months that the thrill of just what this new camera offers had been diminished quite a bit. Nevertheless, I am quite excited that it is now official, and we begin the wait for the delivery of this camera and its accessories sometime in September.
I am a Fuji owner and user and have bees since the X-Pro 1 was released. I then moved to the X-T1 and then the X-T1 G. I also have purchased a large arsenal of lenses. In a few days, I will have a detailed report on the NEW 100-400mm lens and teleconverters, and this will be followed by my hands on review of the X-Pro 2. Spoiler alert, I really like the X-Pro 2 and 100-400mm lens. That is why I am very excited about the news of the X-T2. It takes all that is good with the X-Pro 2 and builds on it to make a camera with even more features and higher performance.raphite
There have been some weaknesses in mirrorless cameras over DSLR systems such as a slower refresh rate in the viewfinder and lack of high frame rates for capture. This made its hard for the sports and wildlife shooters to move over to mirrorless. If the NEW X-T2 performs like it is supposed to, then this may be a step closer to changing the playing field.
I’ll give Fuji credit as I have in my upcoming reports on the 100-400mm lens and the X-Pro 2 camera—they listen to their customers. They have designed and made it very clear via a defined road map, what lenses they are releasing and these lenses are nothing less than superb. Also, they have continually released firmware updates to fix bugs (of which there weren’t many) and have added additional features of which there have been many.
I expect many of the features of the X-Pro 2 to be carried over to the X-T2 and then some. I am heading to New York City for the Press Event on Thursday evening. This will be my first chance to hold and see the new X-T2 up close. I have held a beta tester’s camera, tried it out and really liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that based on the feel and the specs, I have already placed my order. So I should receive one of the first units when they are released.
Below I’ll list some of the specs and features from the Fuji Press release. On Thursday night I’ll take some photos of the camera and maybe even have images from the camera to share. We’ll see what Fuji decides to do regarding that; many times manufacturers are a bit guarded about releasing images until they have a final version of the camera—especially to the press. So, check back on Friday and I’ll post an update to this article.
Now let’s get to some of the NEW key features that I consider big.
Finally, Fuji will have 4K video that can use each available Film Simulation mode, including ACROS, to easily produce premium-quality footage that is as unique as the photographer behind the viewfinder. This is cool stuff. Since getting the X-Pro 2 I have been shooting RAW and JPEG with the JPEGs in the beautiful ACROS BW Mode. This Film Simulation mode of BW is just gorgeous. Shooting RAW and JPEG allows me to have the RAW to use for color editing and the JPEG with an out-of-the-camera B&W that is so good, it doesn’t need any additional work. As you’ll read below you will need a Booster Grip (vertical grip) to be able to record up to 30 minutes of 4K video. We’ll see how that works under real world conditions and whether we experience any heating problems as we have seen on another camera recently.
Auto Focus With An Attitude
The X-T2 receives a dramatically improved auto focus system (AF) that increases the overall single AF points to 325, and the number of Zone focusing points to 91 (expanded from 49 in previous models). Approximately 40% of the imaging area ( the center area containing 49 focusing points) is covered with phase detection auto focus pixels to form a fast and precise phase detection auto focus area that can be used in a variety of scenes.
With the high-speed X-Processor Pro and the use of improved algorithms, the X-T2 now refocuses more frequently, enabling predictive AF of advanced accuracy.
The X-T2 also has an enhanced ability to autofocus on small points of light, low-contrast objects, and subjects with fine and delicate textures such as bird feathers and animal fur.
The X-T2’s performance of contrast detection AF enabled for approximately 65% of the imaging area, has also been improved. The data read speed has been doubled compared to previous models to achieve AF performance of higher speed and precision. Photographers will enjoy accurate focusing is all shooting situations, even in low light with a -3EV.
Another area of improvement is the AF-C algorithm that has been significantly enhanced for even higher accuracy when focus-tracking moving subjects in the AF-C mode. According to the type of movement, users can choose individual settings for Subject Retention Characteristic, Acceleration / Deceleration Tracking Characteristic, and Focus Zone Characteristic, or select one of five presets or customize specific settings for these three elements.
So for bird and sports shooters, this may be the mirrorless camera you have been waiting for. If the AF in Continuous mode is that good and combined with the 11FPS that can be achieved with the booster grip and the 100fps refresh rate of the viewfinder, one may actually be able to track in the viewfinder live action without the extended blackouts previously encountered with these systems. I can’t wait to try this out. Wish I could get a camera to take to Alaska later this month when I take a trip to shoot Grizzlies (Hint – Hint Fuji – gotta loaner you can spare?)
Fujifilm’s commitment to superior image quality remains a guiding principle, and the X-T2 is the latest effort to deliver outstanding picture resolution, all from a compact and sophisticated body that is both weather-sealed and easy to travel within any location. With Fujifilm’s proprietary image design technology, produced through the development of photographic films, the X-T2 reproduces warm skin tones, bright blue skies and rich green foliage in beautiful colors, just as you remember seeing in real life. The X-T2 includes the ACROS Film Simulation for smooth gradation, deep blacks, and beautiful textures to create monochrome images that far outperform even the most demanding expectations.
The X-T2 also has the Grain Effect function for reproducing distinctive graininess seen in photographs taken with film cameras. The function is available in Strong and Weak options, and can be combined with any of the Film Simulation modes. You can easily obtain the effect of film-based photos, notable especially when the image is printed out.
I am pretty confident that Fuji is using the same 24MP chip they use in the X-Pro 2 and if so I will bear witness that the image quality will be exceptional. I took the X-Pro 2 to a workshop I did in the Palouse and liked the images from it so much, I took the system to Iceland for the latest workshop that I just finished. You’ll see some of the images in the upcoming two reviews.
There is a lot of debate about what RAW Processor to use in processing Fuji X-Trans files. As many of you know my preference and main go-to RAW processor is Capture One, and I have always felt the C1 has been ahead of the curve when working with Fuji X-Trans files. However, and I have not personally tested this, I hear that Adobe’s latest Lightroom offering does a really good job with Fuji files. So, based on what I am hearing, you can’t go wrong with either of these two major RAW processors. There are a few others also and you can get more information on these from the Luminous-Landscape Forum.
Basic response specifications, such as startup time, shooting interval and shutter release time lag, have all been improved to the extreme in pursuit of a camera that operates exactly as the photographer demands. The high-speed processing power and the use of improved algorithms have significantly improved the basic autofocus performance, and X-T2 now gives users AF-C Custom Settings for even higher accuracy in focus-tracking moving subjects.
The X-T2’s electronic viewfinder, which is used to continuously track a moving subject, is capable of displaying up to 100 frames per second, while also maintaining the magnification ratio of 0.77x and the display time lag of 0.005 seconds. The duration of the viewfinder blackout, in which the EVF blacks out temporarily while the camera reads picture data, has been reduced by more than half, enabling continuous shooting to ensure tracking subject movements.
As I mentioned above, the speed increase in refresh rates of the viewfinder and the Auto Focus continuous tracking will be a game changer. This means that Fuji may find a whole new market segment moving to this system. A further note based on my use of the 100-400mm lens and the 1.4 and 2x Tele-Converters. The 100-400mm zoom is really, really nice and I can’t emphasize this enough. You’ll see the results in the next few days. I asked some friends who were shooting with big Canon DSLRs and the big, long heavy white lenses what they thought and they were amazed. I was shooting up to ISO 12800 with good results and hand holding with the 2x converter attached at a 1200mm full frame equivalent focal length. The Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is excellent and allows a lot of leeway in shutter speed and in focus of images.
Body and grip offer ultimate stability
The X-T2’s body is fully made of magnesium alloy making it not only compact and lightweight but also solid and highly durable. The X-T2 body has weather-proofing at 63 points to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture and coupled with its ability to operate in temperatures down to 14°F, is ready for full-fledged field photography. Similar ruggedness is applied to the new Vertical Power Booster Grip.
The Vertical Power Booster Grip (optional VPB-XT2) is a dust-resistant grip, rugged and capable of operating at temperatures as low as 14°F that maximizes the performance of the X-T2 beyond expectations. It fits two batteries, bringing the total number of batteries the X-T2 can use to three, including the one in-camera, to increase the maximum number of frames that can be taken per charge to approximately 1,000 (Normal mode). In the Boost mode, multiple batteries can operate at the same time to give a boost to camera performance in continuous shooting, shooting interval, shutter release time lag and blackout time, while also extending the duration of 4K video recording to approximately 30 minutes.
The Vertical Power Booster Grip also features a shutter release button, focus thumb-stick, AE-L button, AF-L button, command dials, Q button and Fn button and headphone jack to enable audio monitoring during video recording to provide the same level of excellent operability in vertical shooting as you get in horizontal operation. The grip itself has battery-charging functionality where by using the AC adapter supplied (AC-9VS), users can fully charge two batteries at the same time in about two hours.
One of the things not stressed by Fuji in this release is a new tilting rear screen and the focus thumb-stick. I love the thumb-stick. More and more camera manufacturers are using a system like this. It allows you to move the focus area or points to where you want to set the focus without fiddling around with numerous navigation buttons. On the X-Pro 2, I found this to expedite my ability to set focus and capture images that I couldn’t with the X-T1 or the X-Pro 1.
The X-Pro 2 doesn’t have a tilting rear screen. The XT-2 has an innovative tilting screen. I’ll have photos of that from the event to show on Friday. It is not a touch screen, though!
It also looks like Fuji got very creative with power management when using the Booster Grip. Personally, I find the X-T1 rather small in size and in my big hands the system feels a lot more comfortable with the grip attached. It also makes for real easy vertical shooting as the camera controls are also built into the grip and simple to use in a vertical orientation. Using the booster Grip Fuji also can draw on more power to increase frame rate capture and power for extended 4K shooting. Seems like a reasonable trade-off to me. Once again we’ll have to see how this does in real world use.
A Real Flash Has Been Missing For So Long
Finally, the long awaited Fuji EF-X500 flash is announced. It’s been kind of a joke amongst users when we unpack our new X camera and find a puny little flash in the box. It now looks like Fuji has gotten serious and has released a more powerful and useful flash. (I have ordered one of these too). Here’s what Fuji says about the new flash.
The EF-X500 Flash will be available in September 2016 for $449.99 USD.
The new high-end multi-function external FUJIFILM EF-X500 Flash is now official for the lineup of accessories for the X Series of digital cameras. The EF-X500 is a hot-shoe mount flash with a maximum guide number of approximately 50 and includes support for the FP mode (high-speed flash sync) so that the flash can be fired at any shutter speed. Photographers can now concentrate on shooting when a faster shutter speed is required, for example, in order to use a near-maximum aperture to produce beautiful bokeh.
The EF-X500 also supports multi-flash lighting. Users can set up multiple flashes to freely control light on a subject and background for a creative result. Through-the-lens (TTL) lighting control is available with single flash and also in the multi-flash setup, so that users can start shooting without having to make cumbersome adjustments to light output.
FUJIFILM X-T2 key features:
- 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
- Dust and moisture-resistant body with approximately 63 points of weather sealing; Freeze resistance to 14°F
- X-Processor Pro
- Fast AF of 0.06 seconds
- Startup time of 0.3 seconds
- Shutter time lag of 0.045 seconds
- Shooting interval of 0.17 seconds
- Phase detection AF and motion predictive AF for continuous shooting up to 8 frames per second (fps)
- Up to 11fps using Booster Grip
- High-precision 0.48-inch, 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder
- Viewfinder magnification for digital cameras of 0.77x
- Wide viewing angle (diagonal 38° and horizontal 31°)
- Ultra-fast Real Time Viewfinder with a lag-time of 0.005sec (less than 1/10 of existing models)
- Automatic Brightness Adjustment function
- EVF refreshes at a rate of 60fps, or as high as 100fps in the Boost mode
- Continuous shooting of 5fps in Live View
- Full 4K 3840×2160 30P/25P/24P shooting (Using a card with the UHS Speed Class 3 or higher)
- Continuous recording: up to approximately 10 minutes
- Full HD 1920×1080 60P/50P/30P/25P/24P, Continuous recording: up to approximately 15 minutes
- HD 1280×720 60P/50P/30P/25P/24P, Continuous recording: up to approximately 29 minutes
- Four different display modes: Full, Normal, Dual and Vertical
- Full mode: Displays shooting information at the top and bottom of the screen to avoid obstruction of the view
- Dual mode: Adds a small second screen for checking focus point with Focus Peak Highlight or Digital Split Image
- Normal mode: Lets you concentrate on framing the shot in Auto Focus mode while keeping you aware of how the shooting conditions are changing, making it the perfect setting for sports and action photography
- Portrait mode: When in Full or Normal modes, it rotates the shooting information interface when the camera is turned vertically
- Tempered glass 1.04 million dot high-precision 3” tilting LCD monitor
- Digital Split Image and Focus Highlight Peaking
- Wi-Fi and remote camera operation
- ISO200 – 6400, extended ISO 100, 12800, 25600, Auto(maximum ISO setting from ISO 400 – ISO6400 available) with High ISO 51200 setting
- Lens Modulation Optimizer technology maximizes each lens’ performance
- In-camera RAW converter
- Die-cast magnesium body provides a sturdy and durable, while compact and lightweight design
- Two command dials and six Function buttons for instant control and customization
- Interval timer shooting for Time Lapse photography is available with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours and up to “∞” frames
- Advanced filters and Film Simulations, including ACROS
FUJIFILM X-T2 Accessories:
- Vertical Power Booster Grip (optional VPB-XT2) New
- X-T2 Metal Hand Grip (MHG-XT2) New
- X-T2 Bottom Leather Case (BLC-XT2) New
- X-T2 Cover Kit (CVR-XT2) New
- NP-W126S Rechargeable Battery New
- Five dedicated flash models to choose from depending on requirements (EF-X500 New, EF-X8, EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
- Battery Pack EF-BP1, compatible with EF-X500 New
- Protective Filters (PRF-39, PRF-52, PRF-58, PRF-62 and PRF-72)
- M Mount Adapter for additional lens compatibility
- Remote Release (RR-90)
- Stereo Microphone (MIC-ST1)
EF-X500 Flash key features:
- Maximum guide number of approximately 50 (ISO100･m) / 164 (ISO100·ft)
- Zooming the illumination angle for the focal lengths of 24mm – 105mm, and covering the illumination angle of approximately 20mm when the wide panel is used
- Flash head that can be tilted up by 90° degrees, down by 10° degrees, to the left by 135° degrees and to the right by 180° degrees for bouncing light
- Equipped with LED video light that can also be used as AF assist light and catch light
- Registers up to ten combinations of various setting to suit specific shooting conditions in advance for quick activation when needed
It’s been an exciting year so far. I said at the beginning of the year that this was going to be a Fuji year and so far they have certainly been busy releasing cameras and lenses. Rumors are also running around the web about a medium format offering from Fuji. Medium format seems to be the new market everyone is looking at. I guess we’ll see if that happens and if it does, Photokina will be the place where it may be announced. Nick Devlin and I will be at Photokina representing Luminous-Landscape and we will be filing daily reports. Maybe we’ll be shooting Photokina with a Fuji X-T2 this year. I’m sure Fuji has more surprises in store for us.
UPDATED July 9, 2016
The Fuji Press Preview Event
Fuji invited members of the Press as well as local photographers to their New York City event on Thursday, July 7th. The event was held at the Classic Automobile Club. It was always nice to catch up with my friends and Fuji as well as fellow content providers. The general feeling of the evening is that Fuji has a great camera with the X-T2 and that all of are anxious to get our hands on a final production model so we can put the camera to a real test.
The first thing I wanted to do was hold the camera and see how it feels in my big hands. It was comfortable and familiar as it was with my X-T1, so no surprises. What was noticeable is bigger dials that can be locked or kept unlocked on the top of the camera. The real stand-out is the thumbstick. Like the one on the X-Pro 2 this allows for setting the focus point where you want the focus to be. It’s so easy to use and was sorely lacking on previous models.
An area that has gotten a lot of attention is the Booster (vertical grip). Fuji has named this a booster grip because that is short what it is. Connecting the grip to the camera adds two more batteries to the one already in the camera and allows for more (supercharged features). These mainly are extended 4K shooting to 30 minutes and boosting continuous shooting to 11 frames per second. We’ll come back to continuous shooting again in a minute. This grip has a few added features. It mimics all the essential controls on the camera including shutter release, dial, and thumbstick and makes shooting in a vertical format really easy. Also noted is the new preview screen also has a vertical orientation. So, now if you are shooting lower angles in a vertical orientation you can tilt the screen so you can see it. I wished for this feature for the last several years and it is finally an elegant solution.
While I didn’t get a chance to test this personally Fuji did demo how fast the refresh rate was when shooting in continuous mode. Typically as I mention above shooting in this mode could cause blackouts in the viewfinder and as a result an inability to follow the moving subject accurately. Now with the booster (vertical grip) attached the viewfinder is capable of 1oo frames per second refresh rate which allows a lot better tracking. Of course, we’ll wait to pass final judgment when we get our production unit.
The Exposure compensation but which I use a lot now has 3 stops plus a “C” setting. “C”, supposed allows up to 5 stops compensation for those tough lighting conditions. See image above.
One of my main bitches on the original X-T1 was the useless HDR. which only allowed for 3 exposure with a maximum range of 1 stop. This has now been extended to two stops. I am not sure if they off more that 3 exposures at 2 stops, but we’ll check that out too on the final production unit.
4K video recording is a really big addition for the X-T2. The videos that were presented at the event looked great. But from I could tell looking at the cameras there were some setting missing in video mode and were most likely not implemented yet in the early firmware versions these cameras had. We’ll also test this out once it is available. Fuji did play some cool video rig set-ups though so at least now Fuji X-T2 shooters do have video options, although I think there are a lot of other options if you are looking for a 4K video platform. Alos, 4K live shooting output was possible and displayed all evening.
A secret I discovered and was confirmed that this camera can shoot 14 fps when in electronic shutter mode. While that may cause rolling shutter and issues with certain lighting it is pretty cool to see that setting.
Another feature we will have to test out. And, speaking of FPS I took a glimpse at the Continous AF tracking setting. The Fuji X-T2 has 5 built in settings as well as a customer setting. This feature lets you set the type of Continous AF that is best for the subject being photographed. The screen shots below should explain what these are fairly well. I am anxious to try this out and if successful this could open up all sorts of possibilities for photographing, sports and wildlife.
In October Fuji announced that it will release new firmware for the X-Pro 2 that will bring many of the same focusing algorithms to that camera as well as some new compatibility for new and current lenses. It should be noted that Firmware updating has always been simple with the X cameras. You essentially update the camera then attached the lenses that are going to be updated and update them too. This is all done without having to tether the camera to a computer, right off the SD card. In addition, the firmware will make the X-Pro 2 compatible with the new EF X500 flash allowing for high-speed flash sync speeds and multi-flash lighting.
Also, Fuji released the new Road Map for its lenses. Some things have changed like the focal length of the long awaited Macro lens. All the lenses look like they will be weather sealed. This is something I have always liked about Fuji. You know what is coming and can plan your budget accordingly. The latest roadmap adds three new lenses: the compact, lightweight and stylish semi-wide angle lens XF23mmF2 R WR, the compact mid-telephoto lens XF50mmF2 R WR and the mid-telephoto 1:1 macro lens XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro.
The XF120mmF2.8 R Macro lens, listed in the previous roadmap, has been replaced with the XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR to meet the market demand for compact and lightweight lenses. Fuji says that this lens will be compatible with the teleconverters allowing for long focal lengths that way.
We now wait. we have ordered a complete set up for testing and we’re hoping Fuji let’s give the camera and early run on a special project we are working on. As soon as we have a shipping unit we will post our hands-on review here.