1. Doubling down: Fuji is doubling down on its advantages. It picked right; in a down market, the mirrorless segment is holding its own, and Fuji's sales are bucking the trends, improving slightly as others decline. Plus, a pleasant surprise with the X-T1 is that more pros than expected are using the mirrorless X system for at least some work. So Fuji is showing a strong willingness to help them not decide against [sic] the new flagship X-T2.
Plus, Fuji has shown a willingness to work very hard on addressing the weaknesses of its cameras, and respond to users' concerns and complaints. With the X-Pro2 for example it was a long time between upgrades, and the improvements were both real and thoroughgoing, making for a tweaked camera that really does feel and work considerably better.
So Fuji is adding to the X-T1's strengths, addressing the known weaknesses, and hoping for the same synergy of betterness [sic].
2. The $$$: Early-adopter cost is $1,599. This is $100 less than the X-Pro2 and right in line with what you expect a flagship mirrorless to cost...in the perfect slot where it denotes premium quality but no Veblen-Good price-premium for exclusivity. It's perilously close to, but still keeping just enough distance from, the Sony A7II. Expensive, but not too expensive. Attainable by most. It's a Goldilocks pricetag, shrewdly judged, placed just so.
Of course Fuji has been a full participant in the recent trend of holding periodic sales to spur purchasing. Best shot for those without money to burn: probably to wait till the X-T2 goes on sale for the first time. Ten months? Sixteen? Could be a while, but that day shall come. Of course, being an early adopter is part of the fun, and waiting just cuts down on the extent of the period during which you get to own the latest thing. You'll decide.
3. Video surprise: The big news on this camera is 4k video, but, really, you'll need to go elsewhere to read happy palaver about that, if I'm honest. It's not just that I don't care about video...and I'm not trying to be a curmudgeon, honestly. It's that I'm devoted to still photography. Dedicated to it. I've been deeply fascinated by still photographs for most of my life. Still photography is my passion, to employ the jargon of now.
Of course I watch movies and TV shows like most people*, and make and send social-media video clips like most people. But for art, I have almost no interest in making videos. This alienates me from today's cameras somewhat, and from the whole happy project of uniting excited consumers and eager purveyors of gear. It's very much like when two-channel stereo stores for music listening switched over to home theater...it's not that I didn't want the dealers to succeed; it's not that I'm trying to be contrary to mass taste or majority interest; it's just that I'm really dedicated, devoted almost, to two-channel music listening. It's music I care about. The equipment is secondary, interesting only because of what it can do. In the same way, it's still photographs I care about. That's why I buy cameras. That's what I need a camera for.
If cameras someday get integrated phones, or start talking to you like Siri, or can tell you where to turn when you're driving in the car, I won't care about that either. I'm not trying to impede the march of progress, or rain on anyone's parade, and I'm not being critical of anyone else's interests or needs. It's just that, speaking for myself, I'd really like it best if my camera were just a camera.
That said, Fujifilm really has two top models, and the X-Pro2 appears to be oriented more toward shooting stills. The X-T2 is going to go the other way and compete as a dual-use model for pros who need video and amateurs who want it and enjoy it. Good to have that variety in the system.
4. Ultracomplexificationary: You know how camera instruction books used to be little pamphlets with 25 or 30 pages even with illustrations? And how they're now like miniature telephone books with hundreds of pages and require approximately the same level of effort to master as a semester-long college course? Well, suffice it to say that the helpful "drill-down" tell-you-everything reviews are going to have a concomitant degree of complexity. So let me just try to summarize the changes for you in a simple, easy-to-grasp form.
Significant changes I care about but you might not:
- New vertical power grip that holds two extra batteries and greatly extends shooting life before a battery change. (Downside, battery change will take longer and you'll need more chargers. Plan ahead.)
- Super-nifty double-hinged flip-up viewing screen that adds flip-up in vertical orientation to the old single-axis horizontal flip-up (see above).
- Joystick! O joy. Everyone loves joysticks. They're handy. They work.
- Two card slots. I am apparently retarded about card-changing protocol, so this will either help or make things worse. Help, I hope.
- 24-MP sensor. This is a significant jump up from 16 MP, but we already know it's a real improvement because it's the same sensor as in the X-Pro2, where it's continuing to get good marks. I'd need to be convinced the new sensor is as good as the old one, myself, apart from the larger image size.
Significant changes I don't care about but you might:
- New ambient light-ruiner flash. For those who use flash. I think the last time I used flash was five years ago but I could be wrong, it might have been six. YM most definitely MV.
- Moar a) cowbell b) AF points. Moar. Moar. Moar. Always better. And sometimes actually is.
- Claimed better focus tracking. I should try focus tracking once in my life, just to say I've done it.
- Video but we already talked about that.
- Up to eleven frames per second. I can't slam this because the CH (continuous high) setting on the X-T1 is the first such setting/function I've ever integrated into my shooting habits. It was instrumental in getting the shot of the swallowtail butterfly I showed you the other day, for example. I just can't grok needing CHigher is all, but again, might be important to you.
5. Haptics 'n' hand feel: Having not tried an X-T2 yet, I'm going to assume that the feel of the buttons 'n' knobs have been improved. This never bothered me on the old camera but it was a consistent complaint about the body and Fuji tends to listen to that sort of thing. Given that the mechanical feel and cool-gadget quotient (CGQ) of Fujis is already quite high, this promises good things for....
6. Feeling the love: As a photo-magazine editor I learned to kinda keep my ear to the ground for clues about how people are really feeling about stuff. In the car world they call it "owner satisfaction" and they chase the metrics scientifically. In the camera world we're left with the mammoth jambalaya of the forums and seat-o'-the-pants stumble-bumming about with our divining rods. But just using my well-practiced intuition for such things, I'd say there's a whole lot of love out there for the X-Pro2. People who've bought them are using them, and people who are using them are loving them. That's just the scent in the air as I perceive it.
I'm sure Fuji is hoping for the same reception for the X-T2, given the popularity of the X-T1 and its own willingness to work on small refinements as well as larger ones. This remains to be seen, of course, after cameras are in the hands of users. But it will be interesting to watch. I will try to keep my thumb on that pulse.
7. Speed: While I applaud improvements in speed specifically applied—naturally, like everyone—I'm not sure I'm a huge believer in speed improvements in general. What they amount to are incremental steps toward sufficiency. I'm reminded of a recent joke in the automotive press. Every time a car is updated or replaced, the claim is invariably made that the new chassis is now 10% or 20% or 50% (or whatever) stiffer than the old. But if you added up all the claims over the years, it would mean that cars are stiffer by some absurd percentage like 11,000% or something, which is silly. Similarly, all this "faster faster faster" just means that speed is still an issue because it's not yet sufficient—if it were, we wouldn't be talking about it. The Sony A6300, for instance, supposedly has the fastest AF of any mirrorless camera in the world. It captures focus in .05 sec., whereas the old model, the A6000, could do it in only .06 sec., making the old camera worse and the new one better. The GX8 also acquires AF in .06 sec., and it's...sufficient. So what we really need is sufficient speed in important parameters, so we can stop talking about the incremental micro-steps as if they matter so much. When was the last time you read about a new camera that wasn't supposed to be faster in some parameter or another by some ineffably-quantified amount?
That said, the X-T2 is faster than the X-T1 and who would complain about that?
8. Size and design: The X-T2 is an extremely tidy, well-sorted, nicely put-together design. The old version is just d-licious and d-lightful if physical knobs and dials fit your comfort level. And Fuji showed itself willing to think through changes very thoroughly on the X-Pro2, so it has probably done the same for the X-T2.
So why mention it? Well, just that I hear a lot of people complain that there's no reason to use mirrorless if the cameras are going to be as big as DSLRs. Folks, the X-T1 and the X-T2, which is nearly exactly the same size, are little cameras. I'm 6'1" with medium-large hands and the X-T1 is on the "but still okay" side of "almost too small." I'd like one of the bigger grips, although I've never sprung for one. It's not a large camera. The lenses look large (and some of them balance large on the bodies) but they're not large either in any absolute sense. Almost every DSLR I've ever used feels larger and has larger lenses if all else is the same. These cameras are right-sized, scaled to human hands, very comfortable to carry and to shoot with. This idea that the X bodies offer no size advantages over DSLRs should be quashed. Not correct. The size of Fuji bodies is shrewdly judged and in the ballpark of ideal.
Quick iPhone snap of dog sniffing garbage container. In the foreground, my everyday camera, the X-T1, with the fast 23mm, next to the old Sony A900. The Sony is big but by no means the biggest, and is comfortable to hold in male hands. The Fuji by contrast feels on the verge of petite.
9. Am I going to get one? Dunno. I'm gradually returning to camera-shopping mode. I wanted to check out the GX8 and I'm waiting to see the E-M1 replacement, and I'm going to rent an A7II. I personally think I need a camera with IBIS, due to age and a slight but nagging problem with the yips. That's just me, not a judgement. I turn 60 in February and we all have to adjust to whatever we have to adjust to. I've been thinking about this for at least six months, trying to figure out how to get what I need without sacrificing too much. As we all do, probably more frequently than we should these days....
I also might get an X-Pro2, and wait till the X-T3 comes out to upgrade my X-T1. Sounds very sensible, does it not?
10. How the X-T2 looks from a distance: Fuji is just the story of recent years, that's all. From the sensational X100 in early 2011 to where we are now a little more than five years later, we've watched a whole system proliferate and flourish in an immensely satisfying way. This release might mark the first time that the whole system, as a system, is really fully mature. The weaknesses of the X-Pro1 are gone; the X-T2 is looking like it's going to serve pretty well as a professional camera for many kinds of pros. And here's something that you really shouldn't overlook by any means—you can get both the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 with its unique viewfinder and the SLR-style X-T2 and use the same lenses on each of them, and get one of the small, more portable bodies for hiking or family outings as well. That's just fun.
Years ago, maybe circa 2003, a friend in the industry told me that an insider had confided to him that Canon was only scared of one company. It wasn't Nikon and it wasn't Leica or any of the other companies you might ordinarily suspect. It was Fuji. That seemed mystifying, faintly absurd even, at that time—Fuji was hardly a serious cameramaker at all back then. I think it had some point-and-shoots and a repurposed Nikon body with a funky sensor in it. But we're starting to see the true meaning of that off-the-cuff comment. I'll be eagerly awaiting the first X-T2 reviews and, since I have two years with the X-T1 under my belt, I might be writing one myself.
Fun times! See you on Monday.
*Of course I haven't had a TV in the house since early '14 and I doubt I've seen half a dozen movies in the theater in any given year since the U.S. President was named Bush, so perchance Yr. Hmbl. Ed. claims too much here.
Original contents copyright 2016 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.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Steve: "I will agree on the X-Pro2. Along with the X100T it's the only camera I have truly loved. I can't put it down. I take it with me everywhere. The new 35mm ƒ/2 is fantastic. Now if they will only release those two new ƒ/2 lenses (23mm and 50mm)!!! I have the 35mm ƒ/1.4, 23mm ƒ/1.4, and 56mm ƒ/1.2 but I would prefer the ƒ/2 lenses. The 18mm is really underrated and the 16mm is absolutely fantastic.
"At this point I wouldn't even look at another camera brand I have been so pleased with the bodies and lenses. I have not missed my Nikon FF gear once since I switched to Fuji. And when I had a problem with my X100T, Fuji USA fixed it for free four months out of warranty. Their service center in New Jersey is really super. Great company, great products. I am one happy camper."
Eamon Hickey: "Contrarian alert: I like a ton of what Fuji has done with the X-series system, but I can't quite get on board with what seems to me to be a 'Fuji gets it; everybody else (especially Canon and Nikon) don't' feeling that I think is often expressed in this community (i.e. TOP readers).
"I reviewed the X100T and the X-Pro2 for Imaging Resource (had both for months and shot thousands of pictures with each of them). I gave them very positive reviews—justifiably so, I humbly submit—and yet I fell in love with neither, and in my opinion Fuji does its share of Really Dumb Things, just like all camera manufacturers. Off the top of my head:
- The back-button autofocus button on the X-Pro2 is flush with the body and almost impossible to find by feel, making a feature that is absolutely critical to me far less usable than it should be. This alone disqualified the X-Pro2 from my purchase list. A really disappointing head-scratcher to me.
- The X-Pro2's lift-and-turn ISO dial. What? On a digital camera where changing ISO from shot-to-shot is a viable, not to say necessary, shooting option?
- A lens system with inconsistent aperture controls (some have a marked aperture ring; some have an unmarked aperture ring; some have no aperture ring). Make sure you remember which is which when you change lenses in the heat of a shoot. (Compare with the much-maligned Canon, which has maintained perfectly [or at least 99%] consistent, and fast-to-use lens setting controls since the late 1980s. Twenty-five years!) From a user interface point-of-view, this choice by Fuji is a biggie.
"There are a handful of other small design choices on both cameras that did not impress me. Now, no camera is perfect and no camera company does everything right, but, honestly, based on my extensive experience (I've reviewed somewhere around 125 digital cameras from 27 different brands for 11 different publications), I don't think Fuji sits alone in some special category of goodness. But that's just sour old me. Obviously, anyone who is besotted by their Fuji, should just enjoy the feeling—love is wonderful, to be sure."