The Fuji X-T2 departed here yesterday for a new owner. Which is strange in a way, because it's close to the best camera in the history of ever.
By my lights—that is, for someone who uses a camera the way I do (without too much fuss), wants to shoot the kinds of things I shoot (anything that catches my fancy, but nothing too specific), and prefers the kind of knobs 'n' dials-oriented controls I prefer (so you can look at the camera and see visually how it's set)—maybe even someone who is within shouting distance of my age, meaning someone who used, or remembers, relatively simple mechanical film cameras—the X-T2 is a firing-on-all-cylinders, smack-the-bullseye wonderment.
I didn't really realize this until I compared it directly with a Sony A7III...and with the older X-T1.
I was curious about the real-world differences between a 24-MP FF sensor and a 24-MP APS-C sensor, so I took both the Sony and the new Fuji around the yard and took the same picture with both cameras about 45 times. (More about that in a future post.) Both were set on ƒ/5.6 and ISO 400, both had a ~50mm ƒ/2 lens mounted (the close-to-perfect Zeiss 55mm ƒ/1.8 ZA for the Sony, the Fujinon 35mm [52.5mm-e] ƒ/2 "Fujicron" for the Fuji. Note that the Fuji has a little advantage in depth-of-field with both lenses set at ƒ/5.6). I already felt like I had a good handle on ergonomics and basic controls with both cameras, so I was just going to look at image quality.
But (as has often happened over the years with real trials as opposed to on-paper or in-my-head consideration) I discovered something I didn't expect to. Mind you, I have no problems with the Sony—I rather like it. It's a little heavy even with the smallish prime lens, and it's not the most comfortable camera to hold (though not bad), and the shutter is a little on the loud side—well, maybe more than a little. But it's pleasant to use and doesn't seem to get in my way much. It doesn't have any weak spots. I like it, is what I'm saying.
But switching off and using one after the other again and again, the X-T2 just seemed so much more fluid, easeful, pleasant, responsive, clear, and smooth. The Sony's finder "felt" bigger...but it's not, much, when you compare them directly. It seemed "clearer"—but that's just because I had the Fuji finder set to the parameters I like (colors more muted, less contrasty) and the Sony was still at its defaults. The Sony seemed faster and more responsive...but nope again: that was a trick of the louder, crisper shutter sound. You can even make the X-T2 into a sports beast, by adding the Vertical Power Booster Grip.
In fact, I was pretty amazed at just how great the X-T2 felt in nearly every intangible parameter. Size and weight are not just tolerable, they're well-nigh ideal. The shutter sound is a thing of beauty, soft and smooth and silken. The responsiveness is like an eagle-eyed French waiter, who just takes care of everything immédiatement with a complete absence of fuss. The camera with the perfectly-proportioned Fujicron just feels flat wonderful in the hand and to the eye.
Everything about it seems better.
Now, you might say that this is so because I'm already so used to my old X-T1 (I bought the review sample not long after it appeared and it's been my main camera for several years now) and that's a valid point. So then I brought out the X-T1 and compared that to the X-T2. And you know what? The X-T2 also won that comparison. The X-T1 is a singularly successful first-generation camera—very well thought out from a user's perspective, ergonomic, beautifully designed. You might not care for the design choices, but I doubt anyone would argue that the design isn't sensible and well-implemented of its type.
Yet...the X-T2 is better in many small but significant ways. It's easily faster; performance virtually all around is improved. The small changes in operability are improvements. It's even a subtly different shape—like a car that looks quite similar to its predecessor but on which every single part and body panel is new—and I was surprised to discover that it's noticeably more comfortable in my hand. It fits better. If you use them one after the other, switching back and forth, they feel different. The whole thing overall just feels better—more coherent, more comfortable, smoother, more "together."
That surprised me too.
I will add that if you shoot Fuji and you don't have a so-called "Fujicron"—one of the smaller ƒ/2 lenses (the 23mm [35mm-e] ƒ/2, the 35mm [~50mm-e] ƒ/2, or the 50mm [75mm-e] ƒ/2—or buy all three), you need to get yourself one. Just as a treat for yourself. They handle superbly on the camera, and match its perfection stride for stride. Body and lens in combination are synergistic, and deeply satisfying. Just try it. You will see.
I'm keeping the older X-T1, plus I'm buying a new system camera which should arrive in a few days. But the X-T2 for me hits all of a camera's design parameters in the sweet spot. It has everything most people need. It does everything most people want to do. But it's more than the sum of its parts, more than the feature list, more than the spec sheet. It's just a camera that's fun to use and gratifying to use. It's what a camera should be. It's got balance. It's graceful. Capable in every way. Just superb.
Most cameras will meet their owner's approval. Assuming their want-list (and "like-list") is similar to mine, though, I'll bet an X-T2 with a "Fujicron" will make its owner happy.
Original contents copyright 2018 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Anthony Shaughnessy: "The obvious question being—why did you sell it?"
Mike replies: Because it doesn't have IBIS, which I want. I've written about "why" often enough that I sound like a broken record (to myself at least), but here's the executive summary:
I handhold much better with a camera that has image stabilization (IS)—but I'm reasonably convinced...that this is partly because knowing it's there helps me to relax.
In other words, with some sort of IS present and functioning, I don't get the yips. Knowing it's all up to me to hold the camera steady makes me anxious, and I do worse than I would do otherwise.
I can't be positive of any of this, of course, but I've been convinced for some time that IS makes more of a difference for me than it does for other people, and that part of its advantage for me is not technical—well, not actual—but psychological.
Here's the post about it, called "The Yips."
I wanted to keep one of the two Fujis, because (for some reason I can't quantify) I really like the Fuji X-Trans files when converted to B&W using Silver Efex Pro 2. I made the decision to keep the X-T1 because I could get a lot more selling the X-T2. All of this is just personal, naturally, and shouldn't be seen as having any significance for anyone else.
Rob L.: "All of this is true. :-) I traded a D750 for an X-T2 and have yet to regret it—despite the D750 being capable of creating technically better files, with its larger sensor and generally better autofocus. The Fuji feels better. The numerous small improvements made to the X-T2 over its predecessor add up to be rather large—the only lack, and what I surmise is your reason for selling, is in IBIS. I miss that—I'd very much like to get the performance I'm getting with the 50–140mm with a 23mm or 35mm in the dark, but I'll accept that lack for now as every other thing just works.
"There's a directness to the Fujis that's matched in my M6, and, swapping between both on the rare day when I'm taking pictures for me and not as part of something else, the sheer joy of using devices that fit perfectly to hand is a big part of my fun. In a world of power tools, it's closer to the perfection of a Japanese hand plane than most anything else."
Steve Jacob: "So you are getting an X-H1 then?
"Kidding aside, I concur with the general appreciation of Fuji's approach. My X-Pro2 is a deeply-refined second-generation camera in which most of the fundamentals are just right.
"I like it not because it is perfect—it isn't in any qualitative way—but because its imperfections, such as they are, are more quirks than annoyances. If anything, they are endearing, like a favourite aunt who sings out of tune when she's busy in the kitchen baking amazing cakes.
"Previously, the nearest thing I came to a camera I really liked using was my Pentax K-7. It had a near perfect grip and controls, but its character flaws including wayward IBIS, poor focusing and a shutter button that kept sticking in the down position. Not being able to get any image without motion blur at certain shutter speeds is like having an aunt who can sing like an opera star but occasionally gives you food poisoning.
"Which is to say, the X-Pro2 really is the first camera I ever owned for which there is real pleasure to be derived simply from picking it up and using it. I can't really think of anything to criticise, because I just don't care enough to rack my brains over it."
Barry Braunstein: "I have two personalities—my go-to camera/system is Nikon (D850) with their zoom lineup. For travel and a backup system (or when I'm shooting video on the Nikon but also need some stills during a live performance) I reach for my X-T2. For travel, the X-T2 is lightweight, very capable, and I've been very pleased with the images even under terrible lighting conditions. Have shot live performances and made prints up to 17x22 and they look amazing. I moved up from an X-E2 which I never really liked ergonomically—the X-T2 feels so much better. But—I still love my Nikon as it's a workhorse, it still 'feels better,' and I can always rely on the results. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but despite its size and increased weight (especially with zooms attached) I'd still take the Nikon over the Fuji (except for travel where weight is key)."