I have been one of the few fortunate ones to be selected by Fuji to test Fuji’s newest mirrorless camera from the perspective of an SLR user. Today Fuji have announced the release of this camera, the X-T2, (X-T1 being its predecessor). It was such an honour to be selected for this task and I truly enjoyed the experience. I’ve been hearing such great things about Fuji’s cameras over the past couple of years I’ve wanted to try one myself but when you own a perfectly good camera, in my case the Canon 5D MKIII, its hard to justify trying an entirely new system. As any photographer will confirm, in this industry there is always new kit we want to purchase. So getting to test one out for free was really quite awesome.
Now I am not going to say that I prefer one over the other at this stage. My use of the Fuji is still relatively new. To be perfectly honest they both have very good selling points and I’d struggle to say one is better than the other. But if I were just starting out and in the midst of deciding which system to begin my journey with, I believe I’d be leaning in the Fuji direction.
For simplicity sake I will list my reasoning for this here:
1. The Fuji is smaller and lighter: To be honest when I first held the equivalent kit that I am used to using I didn’t feel the difference was large enough to make the switch based on that alone, which up until then was my main reason for wanting to go down this route. It wasn’t until I returned to my Canon that I realised just how heavy my current kit actually is. When shooting lengthy newborn sessions or full days at schools the lighter weight is going to make a huge difference. Holding something a little heavier for several seconds is very different to holding it for several hours.
2. The rotating LCD on the X-T2: The amazingly clever LCD can flip up both horizontally and vertically allowing better viewing angles when shooting both in portrait and landscape orientation. It is not only clever in how it maneuvers it is also made of a sturdy metal design that doesn’t seem as delicate as many other flip screens I’ve seen before.
I am hoping to utilise the flip up display to allow me to maintain better contact with my subject. By using the LCD rather than the viewfinder I’ll maintain eye contact more often which will hopefully result in a stronger connection being evident in my portraits. A greater connection with my subject can be the difference between a good portrait and a great one. Of course I can shoot in Live view mode in my Canon but I cannot flip the screen in any direction to make this of any great use. This will also be a huge help when photographing babies from above, which currently involves holding my Canon out in front and hoping for the best.
3. Focusing points that reach the outer corners of the image: Amazingly I used to utilise just one focusing point when I first started out (many years ago). Using the focus and recompose method I sometimes quite severely limited myself, even to the point of losing focus on the essential elements of the image. In recent years I’ve made full use of the multiple focusing points on my Canon (of which there are 61 in the 5D MKIII) but surprising there is still never enough. None of those points exist in the corners of the image either.
The X-T2 on the other hand offers 91, (with the option of going up to 325 points). In addition, these points spread out across nearly the entire image. Approximately 40% of the image is covered with 49 high performance points going up to 85% of the image when using the full 91 or 325 points if they have been activated (I would try to explain the difference here in the 2 types of focusing points but aside from me not doing a great job of that it would result in an incredibly long blog post - like this isn’t long enough already). With the X-T2 I no longer have to compromise my composition for perfect focus. This is a HUGE selling point for me and I’m sure many others.
4. Easy Access Dials: Fuji has done a fantastic job of listening to real photographers. I’ve been told they’ve evolved the access to their functionality to suit the needs and requests of their photographers to the point that it not only looks smart but makes real practical sense as well. There are 3 mains functions I need to access regularly, ISO, shutter and aperture. Shutter and ISO are right there on top and aperture is handled via the lens itself. Even after years using my Canon I still have to think which dial does what depending on the mode I am shooting in. The shutter and ISO each have a locking feature as well which is great so I can’t accidentally change them. Admittedly I have accidentally changed my aperture which does not have a locking mechanism however I always know when I am doing it so I haven’t yet made a detrimental mistake. The Canon only has a lock on one dial so I am always at risk of accidentally changing something, and I have had occasions where I have carried on shooting at wrong exposure levels.
Perhaps the key access feature that has impressed me most is the speed with which I can change my focusing point. The nifty little joystick type button on the back placed roughly where my thumb sits allows me to move the position of the focusing point quickly. Unlike Canon where I have to first press a button to activate its joystick like button. Its only one small step I know but that small step can be the difference between getting the shot and just missing it.
5. Closer focusing range: I love using my 70-200 2.8 L lens on my Canon. Its a beautiful, but ginormous lens. It however has me standing back about a meter and a half from my subject in order to focus. This makes things difficult sometimes and has the potential of disconnecting me from my subject. The Fuji system, on the other hand, allows me to get closer to my subject, at about a meter away instead. And although this lens is also rather large, it doesn’t quite reach the same level of ginormous that the Canon equivalent seems to be.
6. Wireless communication: Now when I am out and about I can shoot on a high end camera but still upload images to social media. In addition, when on site shooting for commercial clients I can upload direct to my tablet instantly to show the client the image at a more respectable size rather than asking them to view the camera’s LCD display, giving both the client and myself the chance review the output more clearly. This is a really nice feature to have which works more reliably than the Eye-fi system I currently use with the second card slot on the 5D.
7. Aesthetics. I know that functionality should be all that is important but I can’t help feeling that the way the camera looks matters too. And the X-T2 looks fantastic. Again, its not until I go back to my camera that I realise just how out of date and almost obsolete my Canon looks. The Fuji somehow manages to look both modern and retro. It most certainly has that old 35mm film camera look and feel that appeals to me so much. Its an inspiration all on its own and when it comes to photography who doesn’t want a little inspiration.
8. Film Simulation Modes (of which there are many): This was a feature I had never considered until I wanted to quickly see what a black and white image would look like during a test shoot I set up for an idea I am working on. I quickly picked one of the black and white modes and took my first shot. The results were incredible. I plan on testing that out a lot more in future. And since I shoot RAW I still have full control of the image and can always change my mind on the style at a later time. But it sure is nice to be able to create in camera the vision I have in my head without having to wait to get back to the computer. I have a feeling I am going to love this feature.
9. 4K video: I see this as a final bonus. I’ve barely made use of HD but perhaps its time I learnt something new. I think its pretty darn cool that I now have a camera that shoots 4K. Not many people can say that I would have thought.
Now I am not going to leave this entirely in favour of the Fuji X-T2. My Canon is still a fantastic camera. And there are features I’m not sure I want to live with out. I will list those too.
1. ISO 100. The Fuji only properly goes as low as 200. I have taken this for granted as I’ve always had ISO 100. One would be inclined to believe, particularly in this country, that the higher ISO values are considerably more desirable than the lower ones. But for someone who likes to shoot wide open having an ISO of 100 (and someday ideally lower than this) is very important. Yes we can use ND filters but why add potentially inferior glass to the precision glass we pay good money for? I hope this is a feature that will be added in future.
2. A Real Viewfinder. As much as I like the liveview, what you see is what you get, on the LCD of the Fuji, I am not a real fan of the image given through the electronic viewfinder. I find it hard to fall in love with the image I am about to create. The image looks a little false and of lesser quality, even though the image captured looks entirely authentic and of equal quality to the Canon. Of course this may not be an issue if I use it as I intend by eliminating the use of the viewfinder so I can maintain better eye contact with my subjects. Getting out of the habit of using the viewfinder though is another matter altogether. That’s going to take some practice.
3. The 24-105mm Lens: This is a focal range I have come to love. I know this is a lens issue and not anything to do with the X-T2 but it is a difficulty I see when considering how I work with the Canon. I use this for most of my portrait work. It enables me to shoot both wide angle and more close up. Unfortunately Fuji do not make the equivalent lens. Instead I need to switch between the 24-70mm equivalent and the 70-200mm equivalent. Its not impossible but it does mean I have to switch lenses more often in order to get the 70-105 range, which also means I am working with a larger lense in some cases than I would need with the Canon.
As I write this I am genuinely struggling to come up with features that are better on the Canon. Many features are equally as good on the Canon but few are actually better. In fact, in learning how the Fuji worked I actually discovered that some great features also exist in my Canon and I never realised this. It just goes to show you that reading your manual from time to time is a very worth while exercise. Now I am not going to say that I prefer one over the other at this stage. My use of the Fuji is still relatively new. To be perfectly honest they both have very good selling points and I’d struggle to say one is better than the other. But if I were just starting out and in the midst of deciding which system to begin my journey with, I believe I’d be leaning in the Fuji direction.
So would I switch to the Fuji? Well not straight away or at least not entirely anyway. I still need to get used to this camera as I’ve only had it in my hands for about 6 weeks. But I will be using it along side the Canon for awhile with the aim to switching to it for my full day sessions where the weight of the Canon is a real issue. I will definitely be using it for the overhead shots in my newborn sessions too. And where this camera is really exciting me is that I plan to take it with me everywhere now. The size of the Canon has prevented me from taking it with me unless it was really important. And low end compact cameras never appealed to me as I was compromising on quality. The X-T2 on the other hand has it all in one neat little package. Really, only time will tell. My days with my Canon could be numbered.
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