“Save our Sirius,” said the man sitting on the pavement not more than three metres away from Sirius, the social housing icon of Brutalist architecture in Sydney’s historic The Rocks. “Why do they want to save a pub?”
The Sirius building is anything but a pub, as my first story about it illustrates, a fact that can be easily determined by those who care to glance upwards from their comfy perches.
More than a thousand citizens of all ages, who clearly do know what Sirius is and stands for, took part in a rally on September 17 to protest the imminent eviction of the last remaining longterm residents of Sirius and the planned sale and destruction of their homes.
People from all walks of life took part, including present and past residents of Sirius, Dawes Point and Millers Point, architect Tao Gofers who designed Sirius in the 1970s, local and state politicians, as well as architecture enthusiast and radio personality Tim Ross….
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 Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2)
Fujifilm’s proprietary battery grip unit for the XT-2 offers multiple boost settings that improve continuous shooting speed and autofocus.
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 AE-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?).
I am not privy to any battery management circuitry for the XT-2 but would hope something is in place to protect from overcharging. 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.
I recently bought an X-Pro2 specifically for use in this project, ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation and Success’, and need a second Fujifilm camera so I can have each of my two current Fujinon lenses attached to cameras ready for action at all times. Although I would normally add a second X-Pro2 due to how I love rangefinder-style cameras so much, the X-T2 is very tempting indeed given its 4K video capability.
Australian X-Photographer Andrew Hall has been using Fujifilm’s longer Fujinon zoom lenses with his X-T1 and more recently X-T2 cameras for motorsports photography in races around the world. I found Andrew discussing and comparing big, long lenses on the balcony outside the event venue in Luna Park.
A blast from the past with a Røde mic-equipped Canon DSLR being used to video action at the X-T2 launch event. Although I still have my Canon EOS 5D Mark II – fully functional, and Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 kit lens – non-functional due to a common but costly engineering problem with the lens’ internal circuitry, my sole DSLR is reserved for testing lenses rather than making serious photographs now. Once you go mirrorless, it is so hard to go back.
We were intrigued by the X-T2’s innovative three-way tilting LCD. Most current digital cameras use fully articulated or non-articulating LCDs. It will be interesting to see how this new approach works out in practice.
Sydney’s Luna Park is a popular venue for corporate events as well for simply having old-style fun – or pissing yourself laughing.
One aspect I really enjoyed about the X-T1 review loaner that I borrowed from Fujifilm Australia a while back is its design, so reminiscent of some of classic Zeiss and Kyocera Contax 35mm SLR cameras.
Although I am not a motorsports fan, I was seriously impressed by Australian X-Photographer Andrew Hall’s images shot with the X-T2 and a range of Fujinon prime and especially fast professional-quality zoom lenses. If a camera, its lenses and battery grip can handle shooting in the high;y demanding conditions of the racetrack, then it should be at home with other demanding conditions and subject matter too.
The X-T2’s larger dials should prove handy in high-stress situations such as photographing live performance in near darkness, in combo with the legendary EVF Fujifilm debuted in the X-T1 and that may well be improved in the X-T2.
Jet boat heading for one of the many cruise liners that arrive in Sydney Harbour throughout the year.
Fujifilm Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500 mounted on a pre-production X-T2 with Vertical Power Boost Grip VPB-XT2. Monitor/recorder mounted on the tripod but not connected to the camera. I am looking forward to trying out the X-T2’s apparently amazing 4K video in conjunction with Fujifilm’s beautiful film simulations.
Fujifilm Australia’s X-T2 launch event was rewarded with a marvellous sunny day, a welcome occurrence after weeks of cold, grey and rain. Luna Park locals celebrated by bearing almost all.
Launch event attendees were offered the chance of riding in a Sydney Harbour jet boat. I declined as I needed to concentrate on photographing within the event venue, but highly recommend trying out jet boating if you ever come to Sydney, especially when it is sunny and warm.
A set of Fujilfilm Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500 units had arrived at Fujifilm Australia the day before the X-T2 launch. It has been some years since I last used portable or studio flash with serious intent and I am looming forward to trying this flash unit out. One of its most intriguing aspects? An LED light acting as a modelling light for the flash function as well for shooting video. LED lighting units for still and movies have evolved rapidly in recent years so it is good to see portable flash becoming innovative too.