This is my first camera review and, admittedly, I’ve struggled with it. I’d like it to be fair. Balanced. Engaging would be good, too. Let’s start with the backstory. I was headed to British Columbia to do some backcountry skiing with friends. I’m the sort who tends to shoot more while on the road and thought the trip would make for a perfect camera test. The XT-2 had just come out and a friend at Vistek had a contact at Fujifilm. The timing was perfect and he urged me to reach out. Sure enough, days later I’m unboxing a loaner and, with more than a little guilt, swapping my beloved XT-1 from my luggage.
It’s about here, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit to being a Fuji fanboy. When the X Series launched I was first in line for the x100. I got the x100s, too. I had been using the 5D MIII for work and have schlepped many a dSLR on vacation. The X cameras were a revelation for me and when the XT-1 landed I embraced it with open arms. With it I’ve shot an ad campaign (including a billboard) and carried it on all my trips for work or pleasure because it is just that: A pleasure to use. It even looks cool hanging off your shoulder. Sure, the XT-1 has its faults but, at least for me, it lived up to its billing as an SLR-killer. Needless to say, I was keen to get my hands on the XT-2 but the bar was set high. All this time I’ve been singing Fujifilm’s virtues so what if the new flagship model sucked? [Spoiler: It doesn’t.]
There’s already been a tonne written about the XT-2’s tech specs [here’s a couple I read from CameraLabs, The Verge and Fstoppers] so I don’t feel I’ve got much to add to that conversation. What I can offer is my real world experience using the XT-2 in some demanding conditions. I’ll touch on the big upgrades then move on to the bit I’m most excited about [Hint: it’s the battery grip.]
XT-2 > XT-1
Here are the differences, starting with the physical stuff. It’s got dual card slots, a brilliant thumb-operated AF joystick (that’s also a button) and an extra flippy rear view screen that now tilts out in portrait mode (or to the left in landscape) as well as up and down. The thumb and forefinger shutter/aperture controls (i.e. command dials) are buttons now, too. It’s also a touch bigger overall but not in a way I found noticeable. The ISO and shutter speed dials lock with the press of a button now, too, which I like.
It’s also beefed up its shutter speed and tops out at 1/8000 [compared to the XT-1’s top speed of 1/4000.] The ISO has been upped to a see-in-the-dark 12,800 [way higher than the XT-1’s 6,400] and that’s not all. The folks at Fujifilm continue to honour their heritage with the addition of another film simulation, ACROS BW, as well as a general film grain feature I found to be totally fun [see shot at the bottom.]
In addition to the Q button familiar to X shooters, there’s a new My Menu feature that lets you add the functions you’re likely to change more frequently to a personalized screen.
It also does 4K video [but frankly I don’t care… To find out why, read to the end.]
And then, there’s the 24 MP X-Trans III APS-C sensor. The XT-1 is a solid performer with a 16 MP chip but this new one is really quite dazzling, especially at long exposures. *If you’d like to pixel creep, the straight-out-of camera Fine JPG of that star shot up top is here on 500px, complete with specs.]
It’s right about here that I should mention this is the same sensor that is in the X Pro2 and the much more consumer-friendly (cheaper) XT20. So why pay twice as much for the XT-2? Well, the build, for one. The Deuce is fully weather sealed and comes with all those new features mentioned above. The XT20 doesn’t. Fuji puts a premium on those mostly physical features and therein lies the rub. It’s the feel. It was the compact heft of the XT-1 that sold me on it the moment I picked it up. It’s the same for the XT-2. Not to take anything away from the XT20. It is most likely the best pound-for-pound bargain going in cameras today. But, that said, I know which I’d have.