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.
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.
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.
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.