My First Shoot With the Fujifilm X-T2: A Tale of Love at First Click

My First Shoot With the Fujifilm X-T2: A Tale of Love at First Click

A couple of months ago, I finally pulled the trigger; I broke out my wallet and dropped a (rather large) chunk of change on my first mirrorless camera kit, the Fujifilm X-T2. I had been researching mirrorless options for almost a year, and finally landed there for a multitude of reasons. I was mainly interested in a mirrorless kit for use while traveling and backpacking, and loved the idea of a smaller, lighter kit. All signs started pointing at the X-T2 over the other long-term contender, the Olympus OM-D EM-1 MK II. It was only a couple of weeks before I headed off to spend a month in India and Nepal, so I needed to learn this camera relatively quickly.

Luckily, a friend needed some engagement photos, so it was the perfect storm; something I don’t shoot too often with a camera I had never used. Here’s how it went.

For this kit, I went to my local camera shop and picked up a used Fujifilm X-T2 body, as well as a 16mm f/1.4 (24mm equivalent), 23mm f/2 (35mm equivalent), 35mm f/2 (50mm equivalent), 56mm f/1.2 (85mm equivalent), and 90mm f/2 (135mm equivalent). All primes, all fast, mostly small (the 90mm is a little larger than the others, but still smaller than my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8), and all lighter than my DSLR rig. Opening all of the boxes was even better than the Christmas that I got an N64.

I hadn’t even put every lens on the camera before this shoot, so I was pretty much going in blind. Luckily, my friends Vamsi and Meredith were great sports (even though I didn’t exactly warn them ahead of time), and let me play around. I used all natural light, which is rare for me; I usually bring at least one speed light with a small octobox on shoots and modify the light in some way, so shooting all natural light was actually kind of refreshing.

My favorite image from the shoot. Not double exposure, and all in-camera. Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.5, 1/500, ISO400

My favorite image from the shoot. Not double exposure, and all in-camera. Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.5, 1/500, ISO400

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO400

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO400

Here were my initial thoughts about the X-T2:

  • The autofocus is better than I expected, I guess, but still not as good as my Nikon DSLRs. Boost mode helped the performance, but it was still noticeably slower than what I was used to. AF-C seemed to be slower than AF-S, and different lenses definitely had different autofocus speeds. The autofocus speeds of mirrorless cameras were a big reason I held off for so long, and I realized I had a lot to learn on how to maximize those speeds with the X-T2.
  • The battery life was better than I expected, but again, still not as good as the Nikons. I went through less than two batteries on a shoot that lasted less than four hours, including a delicious Indian buffet lunch in the middle.
  • My “keeper” percentage for this first shoot was a lot lower than with the Nikons, which was to be expected since it was my first time using that camera and my first time to ever use a mirrorless system. Hopefully that rate will improve.
  • Using the electronic viewfinder definitely had a learning curve, but I got used to it more quickly than expected. Again, boost mode helped. If the X-T2 has one of the best EVFs on the market, I don’t really want to use cameras that have worse ones.
  • It was really nice to carry around such a lightweight camera.
  • I had to get used to the depth of field difference compared to full-frame cameras. Having the aperture set to f/2 on the 56mm (85mm equivalent) on the Fuji leaves more in focus than my Nikon 85mm does at f/2. I haven’t shot on anything that wasn’t full frame for many years, so this took some getting used to.
  • The 23mm f/2 and 35mm f/2 look and feel almost exactly the same, and I kept reaching for the wrong one in my bag.
  • As expected, image quality was not nearly as good as the D810, especially regarding high ISO and dynamic range, but the colors were nice.
  • The shutter speed dial on top took some getting used to. I ended up just setting it to “T” which let me set the shutter speed fully using the rear dial instead. Using the aperture ring on the lenses didn’t take as long to adapt to and was actually kind of fun. And speaking of shutter speed, the electronic shutter is an incredibly cool feature to have. Silence can be golden in the photo world, and the fact that it can go up to 1/32,000 s is insane.
  • It seems really well-built and sturdy. Is it as tough as a pro DSLR? Only time will tell.

Fuji X-T2, 23mm f/2 @ f/2.8, 1/250, ISO250

Fuji X-T2, 23mm f/2 @ f/2.8, 1/250, ISO250

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.5 & f/2 (left, right), 1/500, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.5 & f/2 (left, right), 1/500, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 16mm f/1.4 @ f/3.6, 1/2000, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 16mm f/1.4 @ f/3.6, 1/2000, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/1.4, 1/400, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/1.4, 1/400, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO400

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO400

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/1.8, 1/640, ISO400

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/1.8, 1/640, ISO400

Shooting on a mirrorless camera system is totally different than on a DSLR system, but both have their advantages and disadvantages. I think I waited so long to buy the Fuji kit because I felt like I didn’t have time to learn a new system, but really, the process was a lot more seamless than I expected. Within a few weeks, I felt like I could use the Fuji setup for most of my shoots and only have the most discerning clients able to tell the difference.

In a way, I think using the X-T2 made me think differently than I do when I use a DSLR. I don’t really know why. I think it challenges me to look for light differently, which is never a bad thing. Maybe it’s the EVF? Maybe it's just because I didn’t bring an off-camera flash? Maybe because I was only using prime lenses? It's probably a combination of those things — but whatever it was, it was fun.

Does this camera replace my DSLRs? Not yet, for sure. The speed and low-light capabilities just aren’t up to snuff for some of the things I do. But I loved using it, and for traveling, for an everyday carry camera, for street photography, for low-pressure portraits, and even just as a backup rig, it’s a dream.

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/160, ISO200

Fuji X-T2, 56mm f/1.2 @ f/2.2, 1/160, ISO200

Overall, I’ve had fun learning this camera and learning about how mirrorless systems work, including all of their idiosyncrasies. What was your first experience shooting a mirrorless system like?

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14 Comments

An honest review IMO. I thank you. Your words are engraved on my brain as one in a similar situation a couple of years ago. I chose a Sony a6000 at that time but always had either the Oly or Fuji in mind as it seemed they were progressing at a faster rate than all of the DSLR technology. I have recently considered dumping the Canons and use the Sony for back up to the Fuji X-T2. Have changed my mind based on your review - mainly for focus and focus tracking that you stated were a bit slow. That said, I am happy that your new set up is working for you, and like yourself, not quite ready to abandon the DSLR's. Perhaps someday ....................

I'd still look into it, and borrow or rent one just to play and see if it would work for you. Even though there are some shortcomings, no camera is perfect, and this one is still a joy to use. I'm looking forward to the X-T3 or X-T2s, or whatever the next iteration is, which will hopefully have in-body IS, maybe some better AF and DR specs.

Josh Leavitt's picture

Excellent review Stephen. Thanks for posting it. Fuji really brings back the full manual control with all their dials, so it definitely takes some getting used to. But that must have been an awesome photoshoot; traditional celebratory Indian attire practically begs for the Fujifilm color science. Amazing images.

You probably need to do more than one session before making claims that the focus is slow. You are insane if you think that or you just don't have it configured properly. The dynamic range is also extremely impressive. I also have both bodies and while I agree that yes, the d810 is probably a bit quicker in focus, but not by much at all and the fuji tracking is spectacular. I am thinking you don't have it set up correctly.

To be honest, some of these "claims" were also based on using it for the past couple of months, including a month-long trip in India I just got back from, not just after this first shoot. The AF definitely has some... caveats. Using it on the zone mode definitely helps in AF-C, for example, but still... it's just not as fast as my D810 or D3s. But that's OK! I didn't expect it to be, and I know the tech will improve with time and maybe even firmware updates. DR is impressive, but again, not compared to my DSLRs. Compared to cameras of a few years ago? Of course. It's all relative.

Bill Reed's picture

Nice Photos.

I follow filmmaker Noam Kroll's blog and he also chose this camera. He is a really good video colorist, and he praises the "color science" that Fuji uses. He also says how amazing the stills are.

Nice to hear I have the XT 1 but am thinking up grading to XT 2 later this year I love XT 1 some sure I will love the 2 . I use only Ziess lens on my mind but I hear that Fuji makes some great glass. Thanks for your review and very lovely images.

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

I rent the x100T/F when I'm traveling around. I'm normally on my 1D.

"In a way, I think using the X-T2 made me think differently than I do when I use a DSLR. I don’t really know why. I think it challenges me to look for light differently, which is never a bad thing."

It is very true.

I considered getting the Fuji but a lot of images I see posted by Fuji users seem to have that unnatural Fuji film color cast or have images that look oversaturated.

I shot these in RAW, so the Fuji's color options don't reaaaally apply, since those are just written to JPEGS. I still edited them to be more of my 'style' in Lightroom afterwards. I will say though that the Fuji has LOTS of customizable options for color preferences, AND you can view them live in the EVF, which is really cool.

Adam Chandler's picture

Great images! That camera is attractive to me as well and I can't wait for low-light focus and image quality, dynamic range, and speedlight system to improve a bit.

X-Trans sensor produces nice soft images which feels too soft when you have D810 and Sigma lenses...

Jay Jay's picture

When compared against mirrorless cameras, the XT2 is amazing (I own one). I love being able to many things to all the buttons. Focus is great. It's SMALL. It feels like a good vintage camera but shoots like a professional modern one. But compared to a full frame, such as a Canon 5D IV (I own that too), the XT2 stays on my shelf collecting dust, only to be used when i want to take a small unobtrusive camera out with me for a fun day of shooting with friends. It's hard to be separated from the Canon when the focus is super fast, being able to move the focus point via joystick is lightning quick, which counts for everything when doing street shooting, and the dof from the lenses, not to mention the ultra high ISO you can shoot at is unmatched. I want to use the XT2 more, but i can't, owning the MK IV. Being capped at film length unless you purchase the extended battery grip for the XT2 is also a bummer.

With that said, i do enjoy the XT2. It always makes me happy shooting with it, the the IQ is so good on it. To me, it's like having that Lexus IS sports car you drive around during the weekdays, but when you want to let loose and have fun, you pull out in your souped up Cooper Mini and hit the back roads for the weekend.

Nice pictures Stephen!