For those that were early on the list, B&H started shipping Fujifilm's X-Pro2 earlier this week. The review process is certainly under way, but in the meantime, here's a quick first look at the much-awaited Fujifilm X-Pro2.
We'll skip the broader history lesson, but the X-Pro2, for those who don't know, is the new flagship camera of Fujifilm's X-series -- a lineup of APS-C, mirrorless rangefinder-style bodies. And as the X-Series (most of which feature unique X-Trans sensors) has developed over the last several years, the X-Pro2 is essentially supposed to be about the best mirrorless camera you can get, considering price, performance, system support, etc.
Opening the Box and First Impressions
Opening any new package brings memories of Christmas. But the real treat begins in picking up the camera and holding it for the first time. Especially as I am coming from a DSLR world, the X-Pro2 is remarkably light. As one solid piece that's lighter than it looks, it feels fantastic in the hands.
Upon running my hands over the camera for the first time, it was obvious this is deserving of the "Pro" moniker if only in build quality and nothing else. The buttons are rigid and deliberate, the dials are formidable with useful and practically carved textures. The ISO dial that lifts up to rotate is beautifully reminiscent of my favorite film cameras.
Mistakes? Or Something to Get Used To?
Naturally, the first steps of taking it all in include finding the things that are really fantastic about the camera in addition to the glaring mistakes (every camera has one... or four).
The dual SD card slots are a nice feature, and while the door seems slightly on the loosey-goosey side, playing around with it for a while assured me the extra play in movement is so it can give with the user and not because it's an oversight. The dual rear and front command dials are great, but the usability of the front dial isn't the best once you switch the shutter speed adjustment responsibilities to the more proper rear dial; and both are a little too imprecise and a little too easy to move (again, coming from my Nikon DSLRs). The exposure compensation dial's firmness is just right to adjust with the thumb, but slightly too easy to knock out of place accidentally. Although it would admittedly be odd, I would like to be able to expect a firmware update to lock the dial via software for this reason, but my gut tells me Fujifilm will stand by its design wholeheartedly.
The AE-L and AF-L buttons are fantastic, but were the first buttons to be reversed in the settings for my preferences (I also locked AE along with AF with a press of the AE-L button). And the viewfinder, as great as it is, is a bit on the slow side when it comes to switching from live view on the back of the camera. This last part, however, is easy for me to forgive, as I'd turn live view off entirely and keep only the EVF going fulltime. That's how I prefer to shoot, so I don't mind if switching between viewing modes is slow.
Autofocus seems a bit slower in some situations and a bit inaccurate in others, but it's almost unfair for me to say this considering I've only had the chance to shoot "stupid" photos indoors, late at night, and only with the 56mm f/1.2 at this point. Later today I'll throw on some other lenses and will give the camera a real shot in lighting conditions under which I could realistically expect great results.
Finally, some of the buttons (mostly on the D-Pad) are very "clicky." The short travel distance of the buttons isn't as big of a deal as the noise they make, but neither feels perfect in this regard. If you don't mind the extra clack of these buttons, however, they do work excellently. But a softer button with the D-Pad like that on the Nikon DSLRs would be much more preferable.
On this note, the viewfinder is an obvious highlight of the X-Pro2. I, perhaps notoriously, crop in-camera quite a bit with my framing. I don't give myself much room at all. Now that I'll be shooting with a rangefinder for this review (of course), I'll have to adjust my style slightly to allow more room.
To this extent, the digital framing lines within the camera with the option to show the boundaries of the final frame that will be captured are extremely helpful. Along with this parallax correction comes an option (off by default) to show a corrected autofocus point position once focus is acquired with this adjustment in mind. While this isn't an issue in live view, where you're seeing what the sensor sees, it is imperative as far as I'm concerned when shooting with the EVF. Without it, it seemed like I was constantly front-focused or back-focused (depending on how I held the camera, vertically or horizontally, and increasing in severity with closer subjects, as you'd expect) compared to my initial intention. This takes 90 percent of the trouble of shooting with rangefinders out of the picture, which lets you enjoy them as much as possible with more accurate and precise framing and focusing made possible because of this EVF alone. UPDATE: The comments made in the last two paragraphs about the difficulties of shooting with the EVF were meant to discuss the difficulties of shooting a rangefinder like the X-Pro2 with the optical viewfinder (and the mitigating effect that the hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro2 has on those difficulties). The X-Pro2's EVF features a fully electronic mode, of course, that is extremely effective and that also shows the image as it will be taken, just as with live view on the LCD. However, I personally prefer the look and feel of an optical finder, which is why these performance enhancements were particularly important to me.
It's hard to call out a single feature of the X-Pro2 that is its strongest improvement over earlier Fujifilm X-series models. But if I was forced to, it would certainly be between the EVF and the new "Focus Stick" or "Focus Lever" (apparently no one can decide what to call it, but it would more accurately be called the "mini joystick"). The joystick is similar to what the pro-level Nikon D4/D5 and Canon 1D X cameras have. This selector is useful for closer-to-the-thumb access in addition to the more omni-directional D-Pads even on those cameras, but it's another feature I would consider a no-question-about-it-must-have for the X-Pro2, which has a four-direction D-Pad of which its four buttons are normally assigned to specific setting functions no less. The new joystick allows for simple and fast selection of any of the camera's 77 selectable autofocus areas. Of course, the joystick also comes in handy for a variety of navigational functions while in the menu if you so prefer.
The build quality was touched on earlier, but it's worth giving one more note that this is a seriously premium product. It is obviously built like a tank, and the body should far outlast the internal components. Weather resistance, UHS-II SD card compatibility in slot 1, and an almost ridiculous 273 focus points round out what should be a great camera. I look forward to giving it the full run-through over the next few days.
Question for You
I rarely get to ask this before a review, but what are you all hoping to see or learn about the X-Pro2 that I can pay special attention to in the review? Let me know below!
For those that haven't ordered yet and can't wait, the X-Pro2 is available and shipping (although an order now will have to wait some time for stock to come in) for $1,699.