Fujifilm Australia Launches Innovative New X-T2 Digital Camera on Sydney Harbour.

Text: Carmel Morris

Photographs: Karin Gottschalk

After days of rain, a sunny day fell well-timed upon our lucky group for the Fujifilm XT-2 launch at Sydney’s Luna Park. 

View of Luna Park from across Sydney Harbour, shot from underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge.
View of Luna Park from across Sydney Harbour, shot from underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fujifilm Australia offered a jet boat ride to X-T2 launch attendees.

The X-T2 shares many similarities with its sister the X-Pro2 such as the 24 megapixel APC-C X-Trans III sensor. What mainly sets the XT-2 camera apart for me, though, is its ability to shoot 4K video.

Having played with other contemporary hybrid cameras such as the Panasonic GH4, I can say that having 4K is a must if you want to shoot top quality, future-proofed video. The processor is fast and the advantage of 4K is that it down-samples beautifully on most 1080p devices. The difference is quite evident when comparing regular 1080p footage with XT-2 down-sampled footage on the same 1080p monitor.

But here’s the kicker: stills on the XT-2 are shockingly impressive. Guest speaker X-Photographer Andrew Hall presented a suite of stunning images that put the XT-2 to the ultimate bash test of high motion stills capture at Le Mans; where every sports car was captured in the precise moment with a clarity unseen in other cameras.

Many shots were taken at 1000 ISO to prove that the processor can easily keep up with scenes in motion. These shots were mostly captured with a wide open aperture instead of the usual ‘two stops down’, showing excellent optical quality with the subject in full clarity and with the bokeh where you want it.

The boost function for higher frame rates and dual battery system to support this is a definite bonus. The phase detection auto focus system is state-of-the-art and menu options allow you to modify autofocus type, speed and sensitivity.

Fujifilm's two latest pro-quality cameras, the X-T2 and a rigged-up X-Pro2. Smartphone photograph by Carmel Duryea, processed with Macphun Tonality CK. .
Fujifilm’s two latest pro-quality cameras, the X-T2 and a rigged-up X-Pro2. Smartphone photograph by Carmel Morris, processed with Macphun Tonality CK. .

The X-T2’s Look and Feel

The camera is surprisingly lightweight, though some would argue for more weight to help stabilize shooting on the go. Of course the addition of a battery grip adds to the weight somewhat, but I had no trouble taking quick shots either way as the grip and feel is solid.

Like the X-Pro2, the XT-2 features a joystick control which makes it easy to navigate and zoom in and out of images and menu items on the viewer.

The rear LCD viewer features an unusual pivoted swing-out mechanism so the screen can be adjusted to many suitable up-down-left-right viewing angles. I found the mechanism a little awkward to begin with but can see the advantages. Someone mentioned that he had dropped the camera (a concern one would have if the view screen was extended) but the armature is well-designed and the viewer mech was undamaged. I have seen other camera brands with different viewer design approaches and my scant guess is the unique XT-2 design is to get around a patent.

The X-T2’s External Battery Grip (VPB-XT2)

Fujifilm’s proprietary battery grip unit for theXT-2 offers fast charging for heavy on-the-go-usage, so no need to buy third party battery charging kludges.

The VPB-XT2 unit locks to the XT-2 seamlessly and appears to operate on one to two battery units, that being the NP-W126S lithium battery. The AEL-L, AF-L, Q, and Fn Buttons are doppleganged onto the unit for ease of use, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack (yes standard 3.5mm, who’d have thought?).

There is a ‘Normal’ and ‘Boost’ selector for ‘regular’ charging and fast charging. There has been some contention over fast charging verses standard charging. Depending on the battery’s lithium lattice structure, fast charging could possibly affect, as in reduce, cycle life. The NP-W126S is a pretty forgiving battery, but like any other lithium it is advised to never let them go flat.

When I was building my electric vehicle, I soon discovered the lithium cells hated being drained below 33%. They also hated fast charging. So I never let them go flat, or fast/overcharged them. I have applied this dark art of battery ‘philosophy’ to other batteries to great benefit; one can make batteries last many years if they are not persistently drained to zero.

I am not privy to any battery management circuitry for the XT-2 but would hope something is in place to protect from overcharging. For the NP-W126S, use fast charging only for occasions demanding it, otherwise stick to regular charging and keep spares topped up.

Finally, while the handgrips are useful (MHG-XT2) I’d fork out the extra dollars for the battery grip any day.

All New Professional Flash unit (EF-X500)

I spotted a Fujifilm wireless EF-X500 TTL flash unit on display and was curious as for a long time we had avoided flash units in favour of LED studio lights. The specs look great; up to 50 meters at 100 ISO (details in link below).

Tethering a wireless flash unit has many advantages. Supporting up to three units and four optical channels, you can easily set up keylight, background, and hairlight the way you want. Optical wireless syncing has been around for a while now and, like the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT, I hope Fujifilm provides a radio version (at typically 2.4Ghz) for multiple tethering (though you could experiment with RoboSHOOT triggers).

My imagination can only toy with radio possibilities which Fujifilm could take up if 802.11 (b,g,n) multi-flash is the thing you want. Imagine a daisy chain of multiple flash units programmed to a time sequence, for example, following the marathon runner’s last staggering steps through the ribbon, all carefully calculated via onboard CMOS and light-balanced accordingly, and without cables – but we digress:)

Finally, I will definitely be placing the XT-2 on my shopping list as this camera encompasses many features spread across other camera brands, making it a fantastic all-round device. With many thanks to Fujifilm Australia, I look forward to taking some great images on the XT-2.

Tech Notes:

The header and gallery photographs in this story were made with a Fujifilm X-Pro2 rangefinder-style camera and Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses, carried in a Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 bag. The X-Pro2 was equipped with a Match Technical Thumbs Up EP-7S thumb grip and Boop-O-S Black soft release, a Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 hand grip, and Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera straps.

The images were shot as raw digital negatives and processed with Capture One Pro 9, with some images exported to Macphun Noiseless CK or Google Nik Sharpener Pro via Affinity Photo.

Camtech: Fujifilm Announces X-T2 – Perfect Companion for the X-Pro2 & 4K Video Powerhouse?

Not so long ago, the late Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape was asked by his publisher Kevin Raber, “Are we there yet?” The question was in regard to contemporary digital cameras and software. Mr Reichmann’s reply was “almost”.

That video was made before this year’s release of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and well before last week’s announcement of the X-T2 mirrorless APS-C camera. Both Mr Reichmann and Mr Raber are longtime photographic industry veterans and digital early adopters, the former once a Leica-toting photojournalist and the latter most recently a Phase One Camera Systems employee. They know their stuff. I trust their judgement.

If that question, are we there yet, had been asked last week, I strongly suspect Mr Reichmann would have answered wholeheartedly in the affirmative, at least insofar as photographic hardware goes. Mr Raber’s recent article about the X-T2 suggests that. Confirmation may come when the Luminous Landscape team receives its production X-T2, Vertical Power Booster Grip and accessories.

Although my way of seeing and photographing was intimately shaped by using a number of rangefinder cameras of all film formats, I maintained a parallel collection of more technically-oriented cameras for other kinds of photography.

Even a project like this one, Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation & Success, with specific goals and subject matter demands, requires more than just one sort of camera and lens – for scene-setting wide extreme wide views, distant details, extreme close-ups, intimate portraits, immersive images of people in action and photographs of architecture. I have been looking for the contemporary, affordable, portable version of the sort of technical and other cameras I have often relied on, and the Fujifilm X-T2 may well fit that niche.

The X-T2’s standout features making it prime candidate for that role are several:

  • Big, clear, fast-refreshing OLED EVF.
  • Excellent eye relief, especially compared to the X-Pro2 – based on the eye relief of the X-T1.
  • Suitability for wide, standard and long multifocal lenses aka zooms as well as macro lenses.
  • Suitability for adapted lenses of all sorts and sizes including tilt and shift adapters.
  • Small size even with the battery grip – I prefer using big lenses with  battery-grip-equipped cameras for good balance.
  • Articulating monitor aka LCD – I prefer the fully-articulated monitors on my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8 but the jury will be out on the X-T2’s three-way tilting LCD.

Other X-T2 features such as 4K video are a welcome bonus. Quality video production often demands shooting with more than one camera at the same time, and the more video-capable cameras in one’s backpack, the better.

Then there is Fujifilm’s wide and ever-growing collection of top-quality lenses. The XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens with its 1:1 magnification, due out sometime in 2017, really caught my eye. My close-up full-face frontal magazine editorial portrait style was born from early access to Nikon’s Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 and Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 lenses, until I opted for 120 and 4″x5″ technical cameras and reflex cameras in the studio and the field.

For these and other reasons, that X-T2 looks like it may be the perfect companion camera for the X-Pro2. I have added some thoughts about this at the base of my X-Pro2 reference page at:

The Fujifilm X-Pro2: The Optical Viewfinder Documentary Hybrid Camera for the Rest of Us? Plus Notes About the X-T2.

 

Movies & photoessays on hold temporarily, pending revamping stills and video set-up.

Photoessay and short video work for this project, Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation & Success, is temporarily on hold pending success in securing financing to enable me to devote the time and attention that it fully deserves.

I am also looking at other options for decent internet access – we live and work in one of the many parts of Australia that the National Broadband Network seems to have entirely forgotten about. Our upload speeds here are appalling, our connection reliability is nothing to boast about and these suburbs are not even on the NBN map.

Do please come back every so often, though. Anything can happen in the next half hour.

New Cam Tech Article – The Fujifilm X-Pro2: The Optical Viewfinder Documentary Hybrid Camera for the Rest of Us? Plus Notes About the X-T2.

After I was kindly loaned a Fujifilm X-Pro2 digital rangefinder camera with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 lens, I wrote this article about the X-Pro2’s pros and cons: 

The Fujifilm X-Pro2: The Optical Viewfinder Documentary Hybrid Camera for the Rest of Us? Plus Notes About the X-T2.

I have been looking forward to the arrival of the successor to the X-Pro1 for what seems like an age. The X-Pro2 does not disappoint in the way its predecessor did, and my tryout indicated that it is the camera for the type of photography I will be doing for this project.

Film-shooting rangefinder cameras were key to my professional work as a magazine, newspaper and corporate photographer before I jumped the fence to the other side of the magazine industry and then advertising, forming my way of seeing and producing immersive, emotive portraits and documentary photographs.

Now, the X-Pro2 and a set of OVF-suitable lenses are at the top of my wishlist.

While researching the X-Pro2 from immediately after its release earlier this year, I became frustrated at how so many of my questions about it were unanswered even with so many early adopters and official Fujifilm X-Photographers who received pre-production X-Pro2s sharing their thoughts on it.

Like so many of us now, I must often buy online without seeing or trying first, and in-depth, hands-on articles are crucial in making the right decision. The X-Pro2 loaner afforded the opportunity to discover my own answers and share them with you, at the risk of TMI, and for that I am grateful to the people who arranged it.

‘People with Cameras’ in Hyde Park, Sydney

Fujifilm Australia had the innovative idea of inviting photographers to come and hang out together in the centre of Sydney for a few hours, and take on a challenge. Several hundred of them accepted the invitation and turned up, cameras in hands ready to accept Fujifilm Australia’s photographic challenge. Staff members had expected no more than a hundred of them.

Although Australia now has a more photographically active culture than it did when I came up with the magazine about which I write about on the About page, we don’t have the sorts of photographically-oriented events citizens of other countries and cities have come to take for granted. The ‘People with Cameras‘ concept is one of those.

Tech Notes:

‘People with Cameras’ offered the chance to take a quick a look at Fujifilm’s remarkable new X-Pro2 rangefinder-style camera, perfect for telling the story of these kinds of events.

I made my photographs of the event with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera with its fly-on-the-wall, waist-levelRolleiflex-style, tilting EVF, and have now added a Fujifilm X-Pro2 to my wishlist for its immersive, Leica-like, OVF, window-into-the-world goodness.

Stories of Creativity, Innovation & Success

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