Hands on the XPro2 - Mohamed Hakem's Photography

Fujifilm Middle East was kind enough to send me a pre-production unit of their new flagship camera; the Fuji XPRO-2. This camera was the most anticipated camera since the start of the X-series. There were websites built solely for rumors on it. The reason for this is that this is the first flagship fuji camera to have a successor, people already loved the Xpro1 and couldn't wait for the second version.

The Xpro1, which was their first interchangeable-lens camera had an extremely difficult task that only a really powerful camera can overcome. The task was to enter a market of giants; DSLR dominated and introduce something different.The Xpro-1 was the first camera from fuji-film that will use a new mount and a totally new line of lenses. At its release fujifilm announced only 3 prime lenses available the 18,35 and 60mm. The risk was huge for fuji to release a camera on a new unknown line and promise the customers that they will release more and more lenses. Only a confident company can do so. The XPro1 did not target the beginners, and strangely found a place between giants. It exceeded the expectations despite relying only on prime lenses.

Thanks to numerous releases of high end lenses and perfect image quality, The system was coming more alive each month with many thinking that they are near to completely committing to the system. Fuji built a great reputation of hearing its customers and support their cameras with free firmwares. They also do not easily replace cameras like sony does every 3 months.

Now the legacy continues for the Xpro-2. Coming to a solid base of lenses and completing a concept of unrivaled technology, am amazing technology in its sensor design and hybrid viewfinder, the XPro2 is a recipe for success to those who understand the approach of Fujifilm. The approach is simple: We are not in a technological race of mega pixels and senosr sizes, we are here to build a camera that you will love and always use.

The XPro2

1- Packaging

The box is not so different than all other Fuji film Cameras. To be honest I was kind of expecting to have the same package of the Xpro-1 which was a nice rich leather box, but now it is just as normal but having this X cross on the top of the box. Not so important but I always admire nice packaging :)

2- The Looks

Fujifilm has the habit of carefully designing beautiful looks; a look that combines the past with the present. Their very first X series camera was the X100 grabbed the attention of many photographers. One had forgotten the good old days of manual knobs and rings which we use flawlessly without getting into menus and or adjusting through a screen or screwing unmeasurable wheels. The fuji approach is beautiful knobs and dedicated customizable buttons all over the camera. they are now even smarter and we will see how in while.

The Xpro2 is not that different in terms of looks than the XPro1, however it has minimal changes that completely change the camera in terms of handling and using. the Look is the same retro look with a lovely optical view finder, it looks great on small lenses, with the big ones the XT-1 looks better.

3- Handling

The handling of the camera is beautiful, way more grippy than the XPRO-1, I remember with the XPro1, I used a separately sold added L shaped grip which added a little bit to the weight and size, but now with the XPRO2 I don’t think that I will need anything. It sits comfortably in my hand. I’ve always been a fan of the rangefinders Since I can use it on my right eye with one hand and both eyes opened. They are less intimidating than DSLRs and they sit comfortably beside your nose, without having to curl your body around the camera. it is slightly heavier than the XPRo1 but still way less than DSLRs - No comparison here!

4- Button Experience

The new layout is an overhaul and the best  thing that I like about this camera. The buttons seems to be all set for one hand usage. The middle joy stick is magical! After trying it a couple of times I couldn't imagine how is this idea not a standard option on all cameras! It makes you use the 273 focus points flawlessly, without the need to jiggle around anything. all the buttons are redesigned and you have tons of customizable options to suite your needs. Now lets talk about the knobs, there is a knob that combines the Shutter speeds and the ISO. Very well built and you switch them both on the go, I liked the Idea very much. looking only at the buttons you will notice how Fuji did listen to its customers and how they really do react and give instant redesigns. There is another thing new which is a C option in the exposure compensation knob that can also be customized. the overall look of the camera is smooth without many buttons (leica style) not like the XT-1. Well done fuji regarding button layout! 10 out of 10.

5- Menus

the menus format is the same however some easy markings are added that shows how many pages/function which is quite helpful, you can also choose a My Menu (other than the quick menu Q) that you can assign whatever you please in it. What I like here is that fuji expands the customizability of the menus and buttons with each model release.

Added options: there is now a Pixel mapping option that helps with hanged pixels that you can fix it instantly without having to send it anywhere there is also a grain effect which I like and reminded me of the good old film days (the effect can be normal and high and off).

6- Operation

the camera is much more responsive, the XPro-1 was considered slow in every way, the XT-1 was the fastest that fuji ever did, but now the XPRO-2 is even more responsive, the switching to on is faster, the noises are less quirky than the XT-1, the shutter sound is so pleasing! with the XT-1 it was a bit on the aggressive side. Even the data on the screen updates as you go as fast as it should be, point towards a dark area and you see the shutter drop and then to a bright and you can see all the increments updated live as you go.

7- The View Finder

Fuji uses its unique Hybrid viewfinder that it uses with the XPro1 and the X100 family, so we will be talking about 2 vewfinders one optical and another Digital. The technique makes the camera so unique and very pleasing to use, you can now have the best of both worlds of using a highly detailed digital viewfinder and a rangefinder optical one distanced by a flick of button. The digital view finder is so detailed that you will barely now that its digital.But to be honest comparing the viewfinder with what fuji does was not what I expected, the Electronic view finder of the XT-1 is still better, and the optical of the X100 family is much bigger, don’t get me wrong the viewfinder is still very good, bright and detailed, but you have to become greedy. its not a fair competition because the XT-1’s EVF is on a class on its own.

The Final Word after using it in serious situations

I've been using the Xpro-2 for the last couple of weeks in many situations. I've used it casually, for taking pictures of my friends and family, in professional photo sessions, under the rain and in the desert were it experienced hard dusty conditions,  What I can say is that it is the best fujifilm camera Out there. It is very responsive, fast and quick. As you have already noticed I didn't speak much about the specs because I am not a fan of evaluating a camera by its numbers! great pictures are not taken by higher spec camera. If you understand the Fuji approach which is a camera that you will love to use and will reward you with excellent image quality rather than going into a pointless technical race. Now the Auto focus is on the DSLR level, not the pro ones but still very good, For me I will wish nothing more than that.

The New Sensor is 24MP and this is in my opinion is the sweet spot in the the MP counts. I've tried Higher than this (36MP and medium format) and I see no reason to have higher than 23MP. 16MP was very good and having a 24MP is the highest that I would want... for now.

I have used the camera in a photo session and the colors were absolutely amazing. the quality it produces really shortened my post processing time. Black and white out of the camera is beautiful! I bet if any one would ever retouch a black and white afterwards.

the ISO performance is fantastic, a little grainy but higher in details, it won't give you the melted look of the extreme ISOs of the XT-1.

for me this is the best camera and would be my primary one

The Pros:

-Perfect Image Quality

-Very good Auto Focus

-Fantastic Buttons Layout

-Hybrid view finder is very good - still the X100T is better

-Dynamic Range is very ..very good

-The Camera is responsive - you won't feel a difference if you are coming from a Pro DSLR

-JPEGs out of the camera are the best of all 

-In Camera filters are very useful

-And of course the things that Fuji are already famous of (build quality/Size/looks/etc..)

The Cons:

- No tilting screen! the back LCD in the mirrorless world proved to be used by professionals! we were just not used to it due to the DSLR limitations. Now the tilting screen is being used in many applications. I personally use it in landscapes and sometimes in street like shooting from the hip technique.

-Battery life, mirrorless are known to have this drawback. in the XT-1 the camera made around 300 pictures per charge. with the XPRO2 the usage became more and it is around 250. To be on the safe side during assignments I usually have 4-7 batteries!

JPEGs straight out of the camera

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