Fujifilm X-Pro2

No, this is not another, an in-depth description of Fujifilm X-Pro2. It will be a subjective description of the camera, and, in principle, what I noticed after the first few days of use. And it will not be just a series of delights, because I found things both positive and negative.

The first impression is very positive. The body is compact, relatively small, but solid, heavy, made of metal. Not some plastic toy, but a solid, well-designed and well-made camera. The second positive element: finally I have quick and simple access to all the most important, the most necessary settings directly on the body, using dedicated knobs, without the need for digging in the menu or pressing multiple keys at the same time. Of course, the camera has the menu, like any digital camera today, but as far as with the other cameras I have the impression to be mainly dealing with computer, whereas in the case of X-Pro 2 it is clean shooting, occasionally broken by using a PC.

Basic elements for me to control the camera: shutter speed – here I have comfortable knob, which can set the required time or the same wheel can turn on the automatic selection of exposure time. Sensitivity. Historically (at the time of shooting on film), if the camera at all had a light meter and if the meter could take into account the sensitivity of the film, this sensitivity usually was set once for a given roll of film. But now the sensitivity can be changed even with each shot, so an easy way to change it, is really important. And definitely it is NOT easy, when you need to dive into ten levels of the menu. It is also not pressing the button and turning the wheel. But it is the turn of the knob – as in the X-Pro2. Exposure compensation – it’s just a function often needed, and even more often buried in menus. And here – it is on top of the body, in the form of separate knob, so that not only can quickly enter a correction, but also see at a glance what is currently set.

X-Pro2 top view

 

And the aperture – finally, a return to the old, good and comfortable ring on the lens. In the past everyone (except mirror) lens had a ring to set the aperture. But it bothered accountants (because of cost), so they removed aperture ring from the lens, replacing it with a cheaper wheel on the body. Fujifilm on their system X suggests a return to the roots, that is, control of aperture on the lens. But keep in mind that even here it is electrical control: ring on the lens does not move mechanically the aperture leaves, but transmits a signal to the aperture control system. And it gives you more possibilities – if we want to, we can change the aperture by turning the aperture ring on the lens, but we can also do it in a fully electrical way, for example by an application on your phone or tablet. And this is what I really like, because it gives almost unlimited possibilities.

Aperture ring

 

The design of the camera refers to old constructions rangefinders. And here is the first thing about which I am not so thrilled by at the moment, but I am also not negative – just at the moment I have a so-called “mixed feelings.” X-Pro2 is a rangefinder. No, not the old, in which little could be seen as in Smena. Oh no, this is a totally different class. But there ia a disadvantage all rangefinder-type cameras have: parallax. So what sees the lens is a bit different than what the eye sees through the viewfinder. And another drawback: when you change the lens (specifically, focal length) in the viewfinder nothing changes – we still see the same picture. Designers X-Pro2 significantly minimized both problems. In the finder you can see a frame, marking the field of view of the currently mounted lens. In the case of a zoom lens, change the focal length changes also size of the the frame in the finder. Additionally, in the lower right corner of the finder, there’s a miniature screen, which shows an enlargement of the picture section corresponding to the currently selected point of focus:

Mini screen

which can be removed from the view if not needed at the moment:

No mini screen

 

In my opinion, these two solutions together make the rangefinder issues almost disappear. Almost, because we still have to deal with the image in the viewfinder being different than the lens sees, but the progress is huge. It remains an open question whether an optical viewfinder at all is needed? The answer to this question depends on what, where and when you’re photographing. For landscape photography it is completely unnecessary. But for example in the case of photographing the places where people go all the time, such rangefinder is simply invaluable. And that’s because we can see what happens on the scene without delay (eg a completely trivial and taken from life) if someone in a moment, when I pressed the trigger, do not enter into the field of view of the lens. You have to remember that the optical viewfinder in the X-Pro2 has a very wide field of view – wider than almost all lenses: only the focal length of about 16mm or less makes the field of view of the lens wider than the field of view of the viewfinder.

But the greatest joy gave me something else. I rarely photograph sport where fast AF is a must (well, maybe excluding disciplines such as chess or checkers), but I very often need to know where the depth of field begins and where it ends and what is the area of depth of field. It used to be seen just on the lens, thanks to the depth of field scale, but now, in the era of digital cameras, it is no longer so easy. And in the the X-Pro2 I do have what I need! A glance at the bottom of the viewfinder is enough: there is a distance scale, on which a white point shows the distance currently set and… the depth of field – this is the blue stripe on the distance scale:

Depth of field scale

 

As we know, the depth of field depends not only on the focal length, aperture and distance, but it depends also on how you view the final version of the image. And here designers from Fujifilm did something great: you can specify the viewing conditions for which the depth of focus will be calculated: whether for print, which inevitably has a lower resolution, and thus the depth of field effectively will be deeper, or for the image viewed in full resolution, for example, on the screen – in this case, the depth of field will be shallower, because of small tolerance to blur. In my opinion this solution is simply brilliant. And I will not deny, that among other things, this depth of field scale caused so much interested of mine in the Fujifilm system X.

So far, admiration and praise. So is there anything that disappointed me? Unfortunately, yes, but not about the X-Pro2, and generally about the system Fuujifilm X as a whole:

  1. the flashlight. What can I say: compared to Nikon, it practically does not exist. Of course, there is one or another flash in the Fujifilm’s offer, which works pretty well, if we are talking about TTL accuracy, but we can forget about something like a flash working off-camera. Not to mention multiple flashed in multiple groups – this probably is not even in the plans yet (correction: it probably is, at least the off-camera flash, as the X-Pro2 has the “controller” setting in the menu for flash).
  2. Fujifilm now offers quite a wide range of very good lenses. But completely missing macro lens. Oh yes, there is one lens described “macro”, but as it has just 60mm of focal length and the magnification ratio is only 0.5, it is a “marketing” macro and definitely not a real macro lens. The real macro lens should have 180mm – 200mm focal length for full frame, or at least 120mm for APS-C, with reproduction ratio being 1:1.

For now, these are my “first impressions”.