A long-awaited update to the popular X-Pro1, the Fuji X-Pro2 addresses many of its predecessor’s issues and debuts a handful of brand new technologies.
Fuji’s X-Pro1 was a camera that appealed to many, with its classic styling, flexible hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder and unique X-Trans sensor technology setting it apart from many other compact system cameras.
It won fans from wedding, landscape and street photography circles, although it wasn’t without its criticisms, with its AF system and video functionality getting particular attention for the wrong reasons.
Fujifilm attempted to rectify some of these issues through a slew of firmware updates, but after four years a new camera is required to compete with rival models. And here it is, the X-Pro2, sporting a brand new sensor, an updated viewfinder and many improvements to its AF functionality as just the tip of its changes.
The X-Pro2 is aimed at the enthusiast and professional end of the market, the same kind of user who may be drawn towards the more SLR-like X-T1.
In this bracket it goes up against the likes of the full-frame Sony A7 II compact system camera, as well as the Olympus OM-D EM5 II and E-M1 and the Panasonic Lumix GX8 in the Micro Four Thirds system.
The camera sports a brand new 24.3MP sensor, which is once again based on the same X-Trans CMOS technology as before, here on its third generation. Despite an increased pixel count over the 16MP X-Pro1, the sensor can shoot across a wider range of sensitivities, from a base ISO of 200 to ISO 12,800, with extensions to ISO 100 and 51,200 equivalents.
There’s also a new X Processor Pro engine that’s said to ensure a 0.4sec start-up time and 0.05sec shutter lag, as well as 8fps burst shooting and faster AF performance than before. It’s also now possible to shoot both uncompressed and losslessly compressed Raw images, for up to 27 and 33 frames respectively at the camera’s maximum burst rate.
Fuji’s now-standard Film Simulation options such as Standard/Provia and Vivid/Velvia are now joined by a black-and-white Acros version, which Fuji claims gives images deep blacks and smooth tones, and there’s also a new Grain effect mode that treats images with two different levels of grain, making them appear more like images captured on film.
These are joined by Advanced Filters such as Soft Focus, Miniature and High Key, and in-camera Raw processing, with all of these options and more, is also on hand.
The AF system now comprises 77 AF points as standard, and this can be expanded to 273 points where required. 40% of the imaging area is now covered with phase-detect points, and together with improved to the predictive focus algorithm, Fuji reckons this helps the camera when tasked with focusing on moving subjects.
The company also claims AF is twice as fast as that of the X-Pro1. Manual focusing, meanwhile, gains different colour options and peaking levels for focus peaking, as well as two Digital Split Image methods of achieving correct focus, which work on the same principle as when focusing using a rangefinder.
The X-Pro1’s Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, now dubbed Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder, has now gained the Electronic Rangefinder feature that first surfaced on the X100T compact, which overlays a small electronic finder in the corner of the optical one for guidance on exposure, white balance and focus.
The OLED panel of the electronic part has also jumped in resolution up to 2.36million dots and had its maximum display rate increased to 85fps on the High Performance power setting.
It’s now possible to adjust the viewfinder’s diopter without external lenses, while a new Bright Frame Simulation option displays framing marks for different focal lengths, displaying the angle of view of each before a lens of that focal length is used.
There’s also a 3in LCD screen with a high resolution of 1.62million dots beneath this, although it’s not possible to pull this away from the camera in any way, nor is it sensitive to touch.
Video recording options now feature frame rates up to 60p and the option to use an external microphone through a port at the side, as well as the option to record time-lapse footage for up to 999 frames.
Wi-Fi, meanwhile, which has featured inside a number of other Fuji releases, in on board, allowing for remote control and instant image sharing, and there are also now two card slots at the side of the camera, both accepting SD-format media.
The camera also makes use of the same battery as the X-Pro1, with 210 frames in the High Performance mode, 250 frames in Standard and up to 330 frames in the Economy setting.
Fuji X-Pro2 Review: Build and Handling
The X-Pro2’s body is designed along the same lines as the model it updates, although a number of small changes have been made. The grip on the front plate is noticeably more defined, while a new command dial on the front joins the existing one at the back of the camera.
Compared with the X-Pro1, the grip provides a more secure hold, although, some may not find it as comfortable.
On the top plate the shutter-speed dial now features an internal ISO dial, which can be adjusted by lifting the former up by its sides and turning. Being marginally taller and less obstructed by the top plate than the X-Pro1’s makes it noticeably easier to turn, while the slightly finer milling around the edges also helps with purchase.
The window on this that displays the ISO setting is a little small, however, and often needs to be read either upside down or at an awkward angle as it is turned.
The exposure compensation dial is also larger than before and extends out to -/+3EV, with a further ‘C’ option that extends this even further to -/+3EV. This dial is conveniently placed and easier to use on account of its increased size, although it’s also somewhat easy to accidentally knock it out of position.
The magnesium-alloy body is also now weather-sealed, protecting it against splashes, dust and freezing temperatures down to -10oC. The camera’s LCD screen, meanwhile, is very detailed and shows excellent contrast, and its wide viewing angle makes it slightly easier to use away from standard shooting positions, in lieu of any kind of tilt/articulating functionality.
One of the most positive changes from the X-Pro1 is the inclusion of the focus lever at the back of the camera, which can be used to quickly select the focus. The control protrudes far enough for comfortable operation, and also moves freely enough for the desired point to be easily reached, returning to the centre of the frame when pressed in.
It’s great that Fuji has consolidated it into a single control here as it can really speeds this up, and unlike on other models with similar controls, the user can continue using the viewfinder without their nose or anything else getting in the way of this.
The command dial on the back of the camera usefully magnifies into the centre of the frame when pressed so that you can quickly check focus, and this serves the same purpose when playing back images. This works well, although the dial is recessed much further into the body than on the X-Pro 1, which makes this action a little more awkward than it should be.
Controls on the back of the cameras are clearly labelled, and although some are a touch smaller than the X-Pro1’s, they appear to travel more positively into the body. There are no longer any controls to the left of the LCD screen too, which is great as everything can be controlled with one hand.
Having the playback and delete buttons next to each other, for example, saves time when reviewing and deleting images. The Q menu, accessed via a button inside the rear thumb rest, not only accesses options quickly but also allows you to customise these to your liking.
The menu system has been given a cosmetic makeover, with menu tabs more clearly labeled, space for one further option on each screen (eight instead of seven) and a different font that’s easier on the eye.
There’s also a My Menu option too, which allows you to select and sort 16 of your most commonly used options for easy recall, and you can also assign different option to six buttons all around the body. All of this is right at home on such a model and allows you to work faster and easier.
Thanks to its increased resolution and display rate, the electronic viewfinder shows details with better clarity and with less dragging as you move around the scene, and it does well to match the performance of a optical viewfinder in good light.
Aliasing artefacts when shooting fine details also appear to be far less of an issue and less of a distraction than before, particularly when set to the High Performance power mode, although this does come at the cost of battery life.
Fortunately, even on the Standard setting, performance is still very good, with a little more tearing of moving subjects but AF speeds maintained to the same level and brightness still fine.
The optical viewfinder displays a little distortion but the framing marks that indicate angle of view are clear and responsive to zooming, and contrast and visibility are both good (even a touch better than on the X-Pro1).
A lever at the front of the camera which shifts right to alternate between optical and electronic finders now also moves left to activate the Digital Rangefinder, so that exposure and focus can be viewed in the optical finder. What’s particularly good is that you can apply focus peaking to this window alone, so that you can retain a view of the scene while using this to fine-tune focus.
Fuji X-Pro2 Review: Performance
A comparison with the X-Pro1 shows Fuji to have indeed improved overall focusing speeds. Fuji claims focusing speeds have been doubled, and although it’s hard to measure this precisely, this does often appear to be the case when the AF point is selected and the subject is well illuminated. This slows a touch against low-contrast subjects, with just a little extra hunting, although this is common to practically all cameras.
The camera’s Wide/Tracking option does well to maintain focus on moving subjects, and I was impressed with the hit rate when studying images close up. Now and again the camera returned false positive focus confirmations, but this did not happen frequently enough to be a cause for concern.
As with many such systems, occasionally it would be distracted by other subjects, such as the glistening water in a pond when photographing birds, although most of the time it stayed well with the subject and ensured sharp images.
It’s possible to adjust the size of the focusing point – here, more a box than a point – and this is useful when focusing on smaller details such as the stamens of flowers, particularly in the absence of a touchscreen. This is also helped by the ability to quickly select of AF points using the new focusing lever.
Using a Transcend 64GB SDXC card, I managed to capture 25 uncompressed Raw and Fine JPEG images for at 8fps, which dropped to a rate of about one frame per second after this, and 26 when shooting uncompressed Raw images alone (one short of the promised 27). The camera also didn’t freeze in the 20 seconds or so it took to write these to the card, remaining operational throughout and even allowing further images to be taken.
The camera’s Raw processing options allow images to be quickly and easily tweaked post-capture, although there is no preview for different settings as they are selected, in the same way that there is when selecting white balance and Film Simulation modes while shooting. Once the image has been processed, however, it returns to the original Raw image, which at least gives you an idea of the overall impact of all changes.
The image stabilisation system inside the XF 50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR lens used as part of this review did well to stabilise handheld shots, with an average benefit of around three EV stops, and although many of Fuji’s other optics lack image stabilisation – a feature that’s conveniently found in the bodies of many rival cameras – it is possible to specify minimum shutter speeds through three separate Auto ISO options.
It’s not quite as convenient and is more practical with prime lenses than zooms, but it does help to ensure shutter speeds stay appropriately high when not shooting in the shutter-priority mode.
The camera’s auto white balance system does very well in a range of environments, only slipping under mixed daylight and incandescent light, delivering far too warm a cast. I found it also sought to slightly tame the slight warmth of other artificial sources, but otherwise it did well.
Likewise, the metering system did a very good job to keep exposures balanced, and got it pretty much on the mark when shooting scenes dominated by either darker or brighter subjects, not swaying too far into over or underexposure like so may other cameras easily do. If it does have a tendency it’s towards underexposure, although this is probably just as well as highlights do appear to blow their details a little sooner than expected.
The standard Film Simulation setting is the Provia/Standard option, and this is well suited to everyday scenes, rendering colours with a pleasing accuracy in JPEG files. Raw files are much flatter by comparison, and studying the two side-by-side shows a good improvement in sharpness in JPEGs but a little scope for improvement to really bring out details (and this can be adjusted to taste).
The Vivid/Velvia mode is excellent for saturating colours while keeping them realistic, while the new Acros mode is a good all-round monochrome option, perhaps not as high in contrast for dynamic results but therefore suitable for a broad range of scenes. The new Grain option also lends images a pleasing (if subtle) texture reminiscent of medium-speed, black-and-white film, particularly the strong option where this is more visible.
Although a little noise can be witnessed on all ISO settings, the camera offers a great deal of control over its reduction in JPEGs, with the minimum settings advised once the ISO 3200 setting is reached. Appropriate noise reduction leaves images artifact free, and although a little flatness is observed at higher ISOs where this is applied, a good level of detail remains.
Lab testing, however, shows the camera to fall a little short against much of the competition with regards to Raw image noise, as well as dynamic range at higher ISO settings. On the other hand, results from low-ISO images display very good dynamic range and also confirm the accuracy of colours in JPEG files.
Resolution in Raw files is also pleasingly high, not always as high as the competition but overall showing greater consistency across the sensitivity range until around ISO 25,600.
Video footage displays good detail and smooth motion, and is less troubled by various artefacts than on the X-Pro1. While certain shutter speeds cannot be used and the camera lacks feature such as zebra patterning, the wider choice of frame rates and possibility to use external microphones is also very welcome, and a great improvement on the X-Pro1.
Those using the camera for non-professional video use are advised to employ the Auto ISO setting, however, as the aperture can close down incrementally (and thus, noticeably) when the aperture ring is set to Auto.
The camera’s Wi-Fi mode pairs with a smart device quickly and the Remote Camera app features a fairly straightforward interface that allows the user to control basic options such as ISO, aperture and the self-timer. Post-capture, images download to the device quickly, allowing you to capture, download and send them out into the wider world in little time.
Fuji X-Pro2 Review: Sample photos
Click images to see at full resolution…
Fuji X-Pro2 Review: Verdict
The X-Pro2 is a significantly changed camera over its predecessor. What’s particularly great to see is that Fuji has sought to make improvements in so many different areas, from the better-guarded body and physical controls to the AF system, viewfinder and menus.
Not everything is a complete success and how you view the changes very much depend on your primary shooting subjects. If you shoot landscapes, for example, you may not really be too bothered by some of the handling and physical quirks, or the lack of an articulating/tilting LCD screen, but those intending to use it mainly for street and documentary photography may find these things to be an issue. Still, the net result is definitely a positive one.
Having just been launched the camera is not only significantly more expensive than much of the competition, but around £1000 more than the camera it replaces. The camera’s main competitor is perhaps the Sony A7 II, although many people not tied to any particular system will perhaps also add the cheaper Olympus Pen F and OM-D E-M5 II to their shortlist, as well as the Panasonic Lumix GX8.
There really is plenty to like about the X-Pro. On the imaging side you benefit from a high-resolution sensor, sound metering and very good JPEGs straight out of the camera, while the addition of the focus lever and the consolidation of various other controls make for a more refined camera. Faster focusing is a bonus, as is the higher resolution viewfinder, and the ability to extensively customise the camera and develop a personal menu just makes it even better.
Not all the physical controls have been changed for the better and the grip, exposure compensation dial and rear command dial can be troublesome. Even on the Standard performance setting battery life is fairly unimpressive, and while it’s possible to achieve more shots than stated, you’ll likely to need another battery if shooting over the course of a day. The lack of an articulating or tilting LCD screen is also a shame.
I have every confidence that the X-Pro2 will be a success, as it’s clear Fuji has listened paid attention to the feedback from the X-Pro1 and taken this on board to create this new model. Issues have been fixed and many features that were already considered to be good enough have been made even better. Together with the X-T1 it’s the most complete model the X-series has witnessed so far, and deserving of its co-flagship status.
Some changes may irk those upgrading from the X-Pro1 but it’s likely that some will only notice these by comparison, and will perhaps not be as great a problem for those new to the system. Those seeking built-in image stabilsaition or a more fully featured display may be tempted by rival offerings, although those primarily using the viewfinder will find it to be a solid and dependable tool, particularly if they go to the trouble of customising the camera as extensively as Fuji has allowed.
Overall Score: 4/5