Fujifilm X-T2 review: The definition of a great camera

Fujifilm X-T2 review: The definition of a great camera

- in Equipment Reviews
740
0

The Fujifilm X-T1 was a high watermark for mirrorless camera design and has remained among my favourite cameras since its launch in 2014. Its video capture wasn’t up to much and rival cameras were faster, but sublime ergonomics meant taking photos was an absolute pleasure and inspecting the resulting photos was an equally rewarding experience.

The X-T2 builds on its predecessor with 4K video recording, faster performance, dual card slots and a new 24-megapixel sensor with 169 phase-detect autofocus points built in. All the evidence so far suggests that this is the best Fujifilm camera to date.

The X-T1’s top plate was covered with dials and switches for direct access to drive mode and exposure-related functions; aperture control is available via a lens ring on most Fuji X Mount lenses. The X-T2’s ISO speed and shutter-speed dials are a little chunkier and easier to grip. The lock buttons in the centre of each dial are now latching so you can leave them locked or unlocked depending on your preference. The X-T2 also adds a mini joystick on the back for shifting the autofocus point. The 3in screen tilts up and down as before, but on the X-T2 it also tilts out to the side by 45 degrees – handy for waist-level shooting when in portrait orientation.

READ NEXT: The best cameras of 2017 – our favourite snappers to buy this year

The electronic viewfinder is the same as on the X-T1, and few other cameras can match its enormous 0.77x magnification. With a 2.4 million dot resolution, very short blackout time during capture, and the ability to show the full gamut of camera settings and menus, I’d argue that this is at least as good as using an optical viewfinder on a professional DSLR.

As before, the magnesium body is weather-sealed to protect it from the elements. This time there are twin SDXC slots behind a door on the side of the camera, each supporting cards up to 256GB in capacity. On the other side there are USB 3 and micro-HDMI sockets, a 3.5mm microphone input and 2.5mm wired remote socket.

Fujifilm X-T2 sockets

There’s also a PC sync socket on the front of the camera for triggering off-camera flash systems. Wi-Fi is included, with the companion app for Android and iOS devices providing remote shooting for photos and videos. This includes control over exposure compensation, autofocus point, ISO speed, white balance, flash, film simulation and self-timer settings. Managing the Wi-Fi connection is cumbersome, though.

The spec sheet looks even more impressive when you add the VPB-XT2 vertical grip unit, or Power Booster Grip, to use Fujifilm’s name for it. It costs £299 and holds two more batteries (bought separately for around £60 each), increasing battery life from 340 to 1,000 shots. It includes an additional shutter release button and various other controls for improved ergonomics when shooting in portrait orientation. It adds another 369g to the weight of the camera and some extra chunkiness to the existing grip on the camera.

These features are common for vertical grip units that are available for upmarket SLRs. This one goes further with a power socket for the bundled mains adapter, which can simultaneously charge both batteries or run the camera directly from the mains – extremely useful for long video shoots. The 3.5mm headphone socket built into the grip will please videographers too.

The grip also boosts various aspects of performance. Continuous shooting increases from 8fps to 11fps, making this one of the fastest mirrorless cameras currently available. Fujifilm also claims improved performance in normal use, with blackout time down from 130ms to 114ms, autofocus speed down from 80ms to 60ms and shutter lag from 50ms to 45ms. The viewfinder becomes smoother, with a 100fps rather than 60fps refresh rate. Video recording increases to 30 minutes per clip, up from ten minutes for 4K and 15 minutes for 1080p. Recordings span multiple 4GB QuickTime files, and after reuniting them in editing software there were no glitches in the video or audio.

Fujifilm X-T2 batteries

These figures – particularly the 11fps continuous mode – make the X-T2 a serious contender for wildlife and sports photography. It surpassed expectations in tests, hitting 11.3fps and lasting for 87 JPEGs or 27 RAW frames before slowing. Even at this point it still managed 5fps JPEGs or 3.5fps RAW with a fast card. Continuous autofocus is available at this speed, with the camera slowing down a little whenever it had to update focus.

It’s not just a matter of speed, though. Continuous autofocus also needs to be reliable. This is where the X-T2’s 13 x 13 grid of phase-detect autofocus points comes in, informing the camera not just whether the subject is in focus, but if not, by how much. Testing with the 100-400mm telephoto lens, the X-T2 did a passable job of tracking subjects around the frame and keeping them in focus. The results varied widely depending on the complexity of the scene, speed of movement and overall brightness, but I found that its success rate was around 40%. That’s not too shabby. The Nikon D500 sets the standard at this price for high-speed subject tracking, but the X-T2 is good enough to keep itself in the running.

The X-T2 handled sedentary subjects more reliably. Face detection is now available as a separate menu option to other autofocus settings, so you can choose to place the autofocus point at a specific part of the frame and have the camera switch to face-detection mode when it finds a face. It’s also possible to focus on the left or right eye. Shot-to-shot times in single drive mode are slow by today’s standards, averaging 0.7 seconds. This fell to around 0.4 seconds by switching to back focus, where the shutter button simply takes a picture and autofocus is only updated when the AF-L button is pressed. For comparison, the Nikon D500 focused and took a picture every 0.2 seconds in single drive mode.

Fujifilm X-T2 back

Fujifil X-T2 review: Video

Video has felt like an afterthought on previous Fujifilm X cameras. The capabilities have slowly improved over the years but picture quality has still lagged behind competitors. This is mostly down to the lack of aliasing when resizing the sensor’s high-resolution output down to the 2-megapixel frames used for 1080p video. Without aliasing, sharp diagonal lines and fine details have a blocky quality.

Aliasing is processor-intensive for 1080p footage, and it’s even more so for 4K. Some 4K cameras get around this by using a 4K crop of the sensor, so each pixel in the 4K video frame is taken from a single pixel on the sensor. The Fujifilm X-T2 uses a cropped 5,120 x 2,880 area of the sensor for 4K capture but that’s still bigger than the 3,840 x 2,160 resolution of its 4K video.

This might explain the slight aliasing artefacts I saw in its 4K footage, but it’s still a huge improvement on previous Fujifilm cameras and one of the better 4K pictures I’ve seen. It was even more impressive at fast ISO speeds, with less visible noise at ISO 3200 than the Panasonic GH4 or the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 4K videos are recorded as QuickTime files with AVC compression at 100Mbits/sec and a choice of 23.98fps, 24fps, 25fps and 29.97fps frame rates. Full HD (1080p) videos are at 42Mbits/sec and add 50fps and 59.95fps frame rates. Aliasing in 1080p footage is vastly improved over previous Fujifilm X series cameras.

This high picture quality needs to be backed up by some capable video features, and here the results are mixed. There’s full control over shutter speed and aperture settings, but the ISO speed can’t be adjusted during capture, while the remote app for Android and iOS devices doesn’t allow any adjustment of any settings while recording.

Setting the shutter speed and aperture manually and the ISO speed to Auto meant the camera would adjust the exposure automatically by varying the ISO sensitivity, but it took around eight seconds to react to changing light conditions. Fuji’s Film Simulation presets are available for video, but the F.Log profile that gives a flat colour profile – the ideal starting point for colour grading in editing software – is only available when recording to external recorders via the HDMI output.

Fujifilm X-T2 dials

Video autofocus had me stumped for a while. The camera’s 1080p videos were recorded with continuous autofocus but for 4K focus was fixed for the duration of clips. However, turning the focus mode dial on the front of the camera from S (single) to C (continuous) delivered continuous autofocus at both resolutions. Meanwhile, the autofocus settings used for stills were ignored in video mode, with the camera reverting to a Multi mode.

I eventually found a separate menu setting for Movie AF mode, with a choice of Multi or Area; the latter let me place the autofocus point and move it during recording. It wasn’t hugely reliable at locking onto subjects, though. Face detection was available at 1080p but not 4K. On the upside, manual focus for video is well implemented, with a numerical readout of the focus distance and a peaking mode that highlights areas of the scene that are in sharp focus.

Overall the Fujifilm XT2 is an excellent camera for video, particularly for advanced users who would most likely choose to focus manually regardless of the autofocus features. It isn’t quite a match for the Panasonic GH4 in terms of features, but it’s not far behind.

Source link

About the author

Leave a Reply

You may also like

Canon EOS 550D review

Update: The Canon EOS 550D was a great budget