It's been a four-year wait for the arrival of a new flagship model in Fujifilm's X-Series. Michael Topham reviews the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to find out if it meets our high expectations
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Review – Introduction
When Fujifilm announced the original X100 back in 2010, there was a real buzz around what might be next to follow in the X-series. Speculation on the production of a rangefinder-meets-Compact-System-Camera finally came to fruition in early 2012 and the X-Pro1 set the benchmark in the X-series for being the first interchangeable lens camera to flaunt the X-mount and accept a brand new range of XF-series lenses. The combination of the X-Pro1’s retro styling, X-Trans sensor technology and hybrid multi viewfinder caught the attention of many serious enthusiasts and seasoned pros who warmed to the idea of owning a modern digital rangefinder-style model capable of delivering exceptional image quality and withstanding the demands of day-to-day use. Needless to say, the X-Pro1 was a revolutionary camera that will always be remembered for kick-starting Fujifilm’s X-series system as we know it.
Though still widely used, the X-Pro1 has started to lag behind today’s competition. To compete with the best in the market, Fujifilm needed to create an out-and-out replacement, and this has recently arrived in the guise of the X-Pro2.
If you’re familiar with the X-Pro1 you’ll notice straight away that the X-Pro2 follows in its predecessor’s footsteps with regard to body shape and design. Look beyond its robust magnesium-alloy chassis, though, and you’ll quickly realise there’s a lot more to the X-Pro2 besides its ergonomic changes. Behind the X-mount, it’s a case of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ with a 24-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor that now supports lossless compressed 14-bit raw capture. This new sensor spreads phase-detection pixels across a broader area to improve autofocus accuracy and response, which I’ll touch on more shortly. There are other gains to be had from the new sensor such as a wider ISO range. This spans from ISO 200-12,800 (extendable to ISO 100-51,200) and there’s now the option to shoot in both raw and JPEG file formats at all sensitivities, including the expanded settings.
By pairing the new sensor with Fujifilm’s latest EXR image processor, the X-Pro2 presents multiple speed benefits. As well as being able to process its data four times faster than the X-Pro1, the X-Pro2’s response speeds have improved. It starts up in a brisk 0.4sec, has an impressive 0.05sec shutter lag, and the focus speed is rated at 0.06sec. Better still, the refresh rate of the electronic viewfinder (EVF) has increased from 54fps to a maximum of 85fps in the X-Pro2’s high performance mode, reducing the delay that’s often associated with tracking moving subjects using an EVF.
In similar fashion to the X-Pro1, the X-Pro2 combines the best of optical and electronic technologies into one complex hybrid viewfinder. This includes an optical viewfinder with a parallax corrected electronic frameline showing roughly what the picture will include as well as exposure, file format and battery life information. Alternatively, you can flick the switch on the front of the body to change it from an optical to an electronic display, which has 2.36-million dot resolution and displays 100% coverage of the sensor like the rear screen. Both the size (0.48in) and the resolution of the EVF have improved and a new viewfinder interface features too.
The speed benefits don’t end here and, unlike the X-Pro1 that could run at up to 6fps, the X-Pro2 is capable of shooting as many as 83 JPEGS or 33 raw files continuously at 8fps. There’s a mechanical focal-plane shutter with a 1/8000sec limit and the opportunity to shoot at up to 1/32000sec by taking advantage of the X-Pro2’s electronic shutter – a feature we’ve seen before on both the X-T1 and X-T10.
Returning to the subject of focusing, the X-Pro2’s improved hybrid phase and contrast detection autofocus system features more selectable focus points than before. There are now 77 focus points laid out across the screen in Single AF mode with 49 of these points being the phase detection type. If you’d like to be extremely precise with positioning of the AF point in the frame, these 77 points can be swapped for 273 points, which split the same area of the frame into a 13×21 grid of smaller contrast-detect AF points with the central 77 points remaining the phase-detection type. Also adopted from other X-Series models are the zone and the wide/tracking modes, face/eye detection, as well as the advanced manual assist modes that include Fujifilm’s colour digital split image function and focus peaking.
Viewing of images has also been enhanced below the viewfinder with a new 3in, 1.62-million-dot screen that improves on the X-Pro1’s 1.23-million dot display. It remains fixed, as opposed to the tilt-type found on the X-T1 and X-T10, and its lack of touchscreen functionality encourages users to operate the camera traditionally using its buttons and metal dials.
Just when you thought that was it, there’s more. Like the Leica SL, the X-Pro2 features a dual SD card slot and there’s a newly introduced Acros black & white film simulation mode that has been simulated from the popular Neopan 100 Acros film that boasted the world’s highest standard in grain quality among ISO 100 films.
Elsewhere, users are given greater latitude when it comes to adjusting exposure compensation from the top plate thanks to a new ‘C’ setting that enables the exposure compensation dial’s limit of +/-3EV to be expanded to +/-5EV. In addition to all of this, there’s a new graphical user interface and for those who like to shoot video, there’s the option of recording Full HD (1920×1080) footage at 60/50/30/25/24p for up to 14 minutes. The fact Fujifilm has decided to leave 4K video out underlines the fact that the X-Pro2 is very much a camera designed for serious photographers who see still images as a priority ahead of video.