Review – Fujifilm X-Pro2

The X-Pro2 is the first X series camera to feature Fujifilm’s new 24.3 megapixel X Trans sensor. That’s a decent jump from the 16.1 megapixels of previous X series bodies. Coming 4 years after the original and revolutionary X-Pro1, the X-Pro2 is every bit the flagship camera Fuji X shooters have been waiting for.

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Fujifilm let me borrow an X-Pro2 and the super telephoto XF100-400mm lens to review on a mid summer 3500km road trip through British Colombia and Alberta. I brought along a few other Fujifilm lenses as well as a Rokinon X mount 8mm fisheye to see what the X-Pro2 could do in various situations.

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X-Pro2 – XF100-400mm

This camera is gorgeous. It has a classic rangefinder look reminiscent of 1960’s Leica’s. As with all other X Series cameras that beauty is more than skin deep. The X Trans sensor is superb, offering outstanding detail and rich colours. The increased resolution gives you the ability to crop a bit more than you could with the old sensor.

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X-Pro2 – XF27mm f/2.8

Low light performance is good up to ISO 6400 and very usable up to ISO 12800. The mechanical shutter is good for 1/8000th of a second, up from 1/4000th on the X-T1/X-T10. The electronic shutter remains unchanged at a top speed of 1/32000th. It’s great for stealthy street shooting.

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X-Pro2 – XC 16-50mm

Auto focus points are WAY up, to 273, all of which are accessible. Wide tracking autofocus is significantly improved and the burst rate of 8 frames per second makes the X-Pro2 a real option for things like motorsports. My X-T10 handled a Formula 1 race with ease but the X-Pro2 would’ve been that much better. Time to plan for next year.

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X-Pro2 – XF100-400mm

The hybrid viewfinder is as cool as it gets. If you long for the days of film but need the information of a modern camera you will love the optical viewfinder (OVF). If you need to see exactly what you’re shooting you will love the electronic viewfinder (EVF). I shoot mostly with the EVF, its ultra fast refresh rate and high resolution work better for me but the OVF saw some duty with the XF27mm f/2.8 during some street shooting sessions. Of note for people who wear glasses while shooting, if they’re polarized sunglasses all you’ll see is a black EVF or rear screen when shooting landscape. I don’t get this with my X-T10 and it’s a bit frustrating.

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X-Pro2 – Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye

The controls ore excellent and you have 6 programmable buttons to personalize. the shutter speed and ISO dials are stacked like on old 35mm film camera and I absolutely love it that way. So many reviewers/photographers have complained about this setup and some have questioned its longevity. My 1960’s era Pentax SP1000 35mm SLR has an almost identical setup and it works perfectly.

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X-Pro2 – XF 27mm f/2.8

There’s a new joystick for selecting autofocus points. It’s placed within reach of your right thumb and is a great addition that will hopefully make its way to other X Series cameras. My only beef, and it’s a very small one, is that when carrying the X-Pro2 with a shoulder strap and leaving the cameras powered on between shoots it can easily move you focus point by rubbing up against you while walking.

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X-Pro2 – XF 100-400mm

Shooting with the X-Pro2 is so rewarding. Every button, every click, every shutter actuation sounds beautiful. The images are sublime, as X shooters have come to expect, and Fujifilm’s legendary film simulations look better than ever and the new Acros simulation is downright mesmerizing.

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X-Pro2 – XF 35mm f/1.4 R – Acros film simulation 

 

The semi-matte finish and magnesium body ensure this thing will last and age nicely. With weather sealing to keep dust and water out you will be shooting with the X-Pro2 for years to come. The diopter is new and improved, with a bigger dial which is easier to handle and less likely to be adjusted in you camera bag.

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X-Pro2 – Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye

 

There are dual card slots under a weather sealed door that has moved from the battery compartment to the side of the body. Shoot raw and JPEG simultaneously, use one for video and one for stills, whatever makes you happy. I’m not a video guy but the 1080 60p is better than previous Fujifilm efforts. If you want 4K you’ll want to wait for the X-T2.

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X-Pro2 – XC50-230mm

Overall the X-Pro2 is an outstanding camera. Good looking, solid performer, great images, extensive Fuji glass to suit every photographer. But that can be said about lots of cameras from every manufacturer. The difference with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is something that isn’t technical, it’s a feeling. The X-Pro2 makes me want to use it. It makes me want to flex my creative muscles, it’s makes me feel like an artist as opposed to just some guy with a fancy camera.

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X-Pro2 – XF100-400mm

If you’re an X Series shooter, and want to upgrade your gear, the X-Pro2 will not disappoint.

Scott.

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Review – Fujifilm XF100-400 F/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

When I got my first Fujifilm X Series camera, an X-A1 I received as a birthday gift, a lot of my photography friends wondered why I wanted a Fujifilm camera. Why not a DSLR or a micro four thirds camera they asked. Surely the lens selection for those choices were far more extensive. At the time they were right, but there was something about the look of the all black X-A1 that made me ignore their advice and dive into a relatively new system. Looks are probably a shallow reason to buy a camera (hello Leica shooters!) but the X-A1 was more than just a retro toy, it produced stunning images.

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XF100-144mm and X-Pro2 at Two Jack Lake.

Fast forward a couple of years and the Fujifilm X Series has grown to be a formidable player in the world of photography. The lens lineup is outstanding and the recently released X-Pro 2 (review coming soon) and the upcoming X-T2 and X-A3 have pushed the apsc sensor mirrorless X Series to a whole new level. The biggest hole in the lens lineup was a super telephoto for sports and wildlife photography. The XF100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR (that’s a long name) has addressed this need and Fujifilm Canada was kind enough to lend me one to take on a recent Alberta road trip.

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Dinosaur Provincial Park.

I paired it up with the X-Pro 2, also loaned to me by Fujifilm, and my trusty X-T10. I took it to some great destinations including Mount Robson, Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Banff National Park, and Lake Louise. The full frame equivalent focal length works out to 152-609mm on the apsc sensor. It’s the longest lens in Fuji’s arsenal, the next closest being the XC50-230mm F/4.5-6.7 OIS II. The optical image stabilization (OIS) is said to provide 5 stops of stabilization meaning you can shoot handheld at longer shutter speeds. It works great, even at 400mm.

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Tourist action shot. I emailed them this picture.

Paired with the X-Pro 2 it’s a bit of an awkward match up. The hybrid viewfinder is pointless past 50mm but the electronic viewfinder is fantastic. It’s ultra fast refresh rate and high resolution make shooting with this super zoom a breeze. The X-T10 is a better match for this lens with its SLR style centre EVF. The upcoming X-T2 with its battery grip will be the best thing to pair with this lens. The OIS tends to eat up batteries and the X-T2’s extended battery life would make a day out in the woods a little more bearable.

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Moose on the loose in Sherwood Park.

Speaking of bears, I only saw one on my trip and it was running away from me. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. I managed to find a moose, magpies, ravens, chipmunks, mountain sheep, and lots of mosquitoes. Shooting wildlife with this lens is a delight. Autofocus is quick and accurate, colour and sharpness are great, and mechanically everything feels solid and well built.

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Just outside of Drumheller.

You can set focus from 5 meters to infinity to help with auto focus speed for far away subjects or set it for the the full range if need be. There’s a manual aperture ring and a switch on the lens to switch to auto aperture. The focus and zoom rings offer nice resistance and are covered in ridged rubber for extra grip. There’s a removable tripod mount which can be positioned at any angle and locked into place with a set screw.

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George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

 

The WR stands for Weather Resistant so you can shoot in the rain or snow as long as you’re paired up with a WR body (X-Pro2, X-T1, X-T2)

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Eagles above Two Jack Lake.

Tracking autofocus is decent when used with the X-Pro2 or the X-T10. I would’ve liked to try some sports photography with this lens but I simply ran out of time. I was able to get some action shots of a few Bald Eagles soaring above Two Jack Lake though.

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Fat Chipmunk in Banff.

There is one weird quirk I noticed during post processing. At 400mm the JPEG images come out a bit sharper/better than the raw files. Fujifilm is known for excellent JPEG files but I still would’ve expected the raw results to be the better of the 2, even if only marginally. In all honesty the majority of my workflow is still JPEG with Fujifilm, they’re that good.

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Nearly full moon over Vancouver.

Fujifilm has become a real option for professionals looking to move away from bulky DSLR gear and the ever growing lens lineup can only help that trend.

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Devonian Gardens in Edmonton.

This is a lens I will be adding to my camera bag in the very near future. It is a bit large and heavy for a mirrorless system but compared to an equivalent Canon or Nikon lens it’s quite compact.

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George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary.

Watch for my upcoming review of the X-Pro2, possibly the sexiest camera I’ve ever used.

Scott.

Review – Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 Photo Printer

Who doesn’t love instant photos? I have a Polaroid Supercolor 635 CL and it’s a lot of fun. The biggest problem with it and all instant cameras, aside from the ever increasing cost and availability of instant film, are the cameras themselves. Imagine being able to instantly print photos from your camera or smartphone in the same fashion. That’s exactly what the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 does.

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Not quite pocket sized but small enough for a camera bag or larger coat pocket, the SP-1 is wireless utilizing WiFi and CR2 lithium batteries to keep you printing wherever you are. The non-rechargeable batteries are good for 100 prints according to Fujifilm. In reality it’s closer to 75-80. I picked up an A/C cord on Amazon which uses any smartphone USB plug you already have laying around which cures my battery anxiety.

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The business card sized prints look great. Using the “Intelligence Filter” in the Instax App adds some color and contrast that help the instant prints pop more than unedited photos. The free app is available for iOS and Android and is easy enough for the most techno-phobic person to use.

The printer takes Instax Mini film which comes in 10 shot cartridges. The film is pricey on a per-shot basis, over $1 CAD per print and the printer is anywhere from $150-$220 CAD depending on sales or promotions. It probably isn’t an impulse buy but it’s not overpriced either.

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Who is the target buyer for this printer? I think that has changed since it was introduced. It has changed from a novelty item aimed at families, hipsters,  and teenagers and is now used by street photographers for making real connections with their subject matter. It’s also being used by professional photographers to show proofs to clients on the spot no matter where you’re shooting.

Fujifilm X Camera shooters can print right from their camera or use the app. Any WiFi enabled camera that can send photos to your smartphone can utilize the app along with any photos taken on said phone.  Gone are the days of instant photography guess work, you now know exactly what your print will look like before it’s done developing. The Instax Share SP-1 bridges old and new using modern image capturing technology to give you business card sized prints dripping with nostalgia. You can add text to them too, imagine being able to create a business card on the spot tailored to its recipient? So many possibilities, I’m just getting started with this thing!

Please like, subscribe, and share. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what I’m up to!

Scott.

3 weeks with the Fujifilm X-E2s

January saw 3 new cameras and a new lens added to the Fujifilm X series lineup. All of them were given extensive coverage and praise by many outlets, all except one. The X-E2s is an updated version of the X-E2 where as everything else was essentially brand new. Sure, the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 look very similar but they’re so far apart in terms of performance it’s hard to see the 2 as a simple upgrade.

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Fujifilm X-E2s/Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8

I owned the original X-E1 but decided to pick up an X-T10 instead of the X-E2 due to a few performance differences. The X-E2s gives you everything the X-T10 has in a sexy rangefinder style body. The grip, top plate, and buttons have been slightly restyled from the X-E2 and they are noticeable but not life changing upgrades. With the firmware 4.0 upgrade current X-E2 owners get all the internal upgrades (electronic shutter, better AF etc.) for free.

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If you’re a Fujiflim X series shooter you’ll feel right at home with the X-E2s. The image quality is on par with the rest of the lineup and its firmware brings usability up to the same level as well. The only thing I missed when switching between the X-T10 and the X-E2s is the front control dial/button. It’s useful when shooting in manual mode and when doing long exposure work when using lenses without a manual aperture ring. Is it a deal breaker? Not really. The X-E2s is slightly smaller than the X-T10 and that is important in some situations.

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Price wise the X-E2s sits in the middle of the pack (excluding the X-Pro2) at $899 body only. That’s the same as the X-T10, $100 more than the X-E2 which is on sale until March 31st and still readily available, and $450 less than the weather sealed X-T1. The entry level X-M1 ($549 body only) and X-A2 ($549 with the 16-55mm OIS II lens) occupy the bottom end of the lineup but are crazy bargains given the image quality they produce.

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All images shown here were shot with the X-E2s and various X Series lenses except the product shot, that was an LG G4. Out of camera jpegs are outstanding and the latest film simulations are all there minus X-Pro2 exclusive Acros black and white. These aren’t filters, they are simulations of classic film stock right down to the grain and they’re fantastic to shoot with.

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Should you buy an X-E2s over an X-T10 or an X-E2? That’s a difficult question to answer. The X-T10 offers slightly more functionality with its extra buttons and tilting screen. The X-E2 offers a lower price with identical specs. The X-E2s does improve the feel of the rear controls over the X-E2 and the grip is more comfortable. I would guess the X-E2 won’t be available for much longer so keep an eye out for price drops and clearance sales. If you like the rangefinder style body and can live with fewer buttons get the X-E2s. If you like the SLR-ish look of the X-T10 you won’t regret buying it either. It really is a question of style, not substance.

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Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for letting me test this camera and share my thoughts. I’ll be reviewing the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 instant photo printer in an upcoming post. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what I’m up to and what gear I’m using. You can subscribe to this blog or share it via the buttons below. Click some, you know you want to.

Scott.

Review – Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro Lens

A few weeks ago Fujifilm Canada sent me a brand new X-E2s to review. As a current X Series owner I have a few lenses already but Fujifilm asked what lens I wanted to test with the new body. My first choice was the XF 35mm f/2 WR but all the test units were being used so they sent me my second choice, the XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro.

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Photo – Fujifilm Canada

 

Macro photography is something I know very little about but I love the results. A friend of mine does amazing work with insects, check out his work at macromundo.org. I did a bit of macro shooting along with some street photography and short telephoto shots. The f/2.4 aperture is fast, produces decent bokeh and the 90mm full frame equivalent works well for portraits. It’s a bit too long of a lens for everyday shooting though.

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X-E2s, 1/4000 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

Handheld results are decent considering this lens doesn’t have image stabilization. Shooting in aperture priority yields the best results.

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X-E2s, 1/1000 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

This lens gives very shallow depth of field for macro shots which is typical. Manual focusing using focus peaking works very well, auto-focus is a different story. This is one of the original XF lenses and it’s showing its age a bit. Auto-focus is slow in most situations, especially during macro shooting. In decent light it’s fast enough and in low light it does well if there’s some contrast to work with. If you need to shoot moving subjects you’ll want to shop around a bit.

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X-E2s, 1/100/sec, f/2.4. ISO 200

It’s  tack sharp, only falling off a bit at the edges between f/4 and f/2.8, and produces great colour in combination with Fujifilm’s unique X-trans sensor.

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X-E2s, 1/2500 sec, f/2.4, ISO 200

On the street this lens is great for picking out interesting details and lighting in architecture. Every shot in this post is a jpeg straight from the camera with no editing. The results are consistently good, something Fujifilm X Series shooters have come to expect from the entire range.

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X-E2s, 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 400

As a telephoto lens the 90mm full frame equivalent focal length is a bit awkward. It never seems right, either a little too close or not close enough. It’s very sharp stopped down a bit and again the colours are great.

I’ll be sending this lens back to Fujifilm soon and I’ll definitely miss it. Macro shooting is a whole new world to me. I can see this lens making it into my lineup at some point. Thanks to Fujifilm Canada for sending it my way.

Scott.

Wellington Photo Roundup

It’s been 3 months since I was in New Zealand and this is my first post about Wellington. I connected with Wellington in a way I can’t explain. These are few photos I took, I hope you like them. I honestly can’t find the words to express what Wellington meant to me.

"Solace In The Wind."
“Solace In The Wind.”
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
Wellington architecture is a constant juxtaposition.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
New Zealand was choosing a new national flag while I was visiting.
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel's Cafe
Baked Spanish Eggs at Fidel’s Cafe
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Wellington Cable Car.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
The Beehive, aka the New Zealand Parliament.
Rain on Cuba Street
Rain on Cuba Street
Free range balloon.
Free range balloon.
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Beef Wellington from The Tasting Room
Street Art.
Street Art.
The Bucket Fountain.
The Bucket Fountain.

Project Pocket Camera Is Finished!

I’m sure most of you know I’m a camera hoarder. I prefer to think of myself as a rescuer of vintage cameras. I have some wonderful old film cameras that get used and appreciated instead of ending up in a landfill. Film is a bit of work, it is getting expensive to buy and process, and it sucks to travel with. My digital lineup used to include a Pentax DSLR but late last year I sold it and committed to the Fujifilm X series. My first “real” camera was the Fujifilm X-A1, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an APS-C sized sensor. It was the camera that sparked my interest in photography. It had its limitations, the biggest being the lack of a viewfinder. After I picked up my Pentax DSLR the X-A1 didn’t see a lot of action. When I sold the Pentax I bought a Fujifilm X-T10, the little X-A1 was always around though. It was a gift and I couldn’t bring myself to sell it.

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A few weeks ago Fujifilm announced some new hardware. The XPro 2, the X-E2s (I also owned an X-E1 briefly which I loved), the X70, and the XF 100-400mm zoom lens. The X70 got me thinking about my X-A1, I could essentially make a pocketable fixed focus camera with similar specs for a lot less money. Project Pocket Camera was born. I purchased the Fujinon XF 27mm f2.8 pancake lens from London Drugs and stuck it to my X-A1. It fits in a coat pocket and takes fantastic photos. The X70 is $899 new, my X-A1 setup is around $200 less. $250 for a used body, $399 for the lens, and $50-$60 for the optical viewfinder I found in the Ukraine. Do you need the viewfinder? No, but it sure is cool.

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The image quality this package delivers is outstanding. The 27mm focal length works out to 40.5mm in full frame terms given the crop factor of the APSC sensor. I’ve seen a few people complain that this lens doesn’t have an aperture ring. It would be nice but the rear control dial does the trick in aperture priority mode.

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Granville Street at night
The f2.8 aperture is fast enough for most low light situations. The X series is decent up to ISO 6400 with minimal noise, even when shooting jpegs.

Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
Yukon Blonde at The Commodore.
I have a few X series lenses, the 16-55mm kit zoom, the XF 35mm f1.4 (which is dreamy), and the 55-230mm zoom. The 27mm is impressive and versatile, it is well suited to travel and street photography, and the autofocus is fast and accurate. The X-A1 is a prefect companion for this lens, the rest of my lenses do the heavy lifting on my X-T10.

Winter in Vancouver.
Winter in Vancouver.
To be honest if money was no object I’d have bought an X70 instead. This setup is a compromise but the results have exceeded my expectations and my X-A1 has found a new purpose.

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Stay tuned for more photography related pieces in the future. When the weather clears up I have some projects I want to tackle. I have a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix coming up and I’m hoping to get into the heart of the BC back country this summer.

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @wflbc.

Scott.

WFLBC Goes To New Zealand – A Mirrorless Adventure

Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip...
Ya, I made a logo and a hashtag for my trip…

As most of you know I’m off to New Zealand in November. As a photography enthusiast I’ve been having a hard time deciding what kind of gear I want to bring along. Film was out right away because that’s too much work. It was down to my Pentax DSLRs or my Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras. When I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish in New Zealand the choice was easy, mirrorless all the way.

What's in my bag?
What’s in my bag?

My X-series cameras offer the same sensor size and resolution as my DSLRs but take up a lot less space which is a big consideration for air travel. A DSLR body, a prime and a zoom lens take up the same space as 2 mirrorless bodies, a prime, and 2 zooms. That means a smaller camera bag that can be your secondary piece of carry-on baggage. My editing/sharing tools are an iPad mini and a Chromebook. Both are light and compact and if they get lost, stolen, or damaged they’re not worth a ton of money.

The Fujifilm X-series is a fantastic camera platform. My little X-A1 (now replaced by the X-A2), the black camera pictured above, is a perfect starter camera for anyone who wants to get better shots than a smartphone or a point and shoot can produce. My X-E1 (now replaced by the X-E2) is aimed at more advanced shooters with greater manual control and a slick electronic viewfinder. I have 3 X-series lenses. A 35mm prime lens for portraits or street photography, a 16-50mm zoom for wide angle and general shooting, and a 50-230mm zoom for wildlife and telephoto shots.

Most days I’ll just carry the X-E1 with either the 35mm or the 16-50mm on it. I don’t want to pack a bag around unless I think I’ll want more options depending on my destination. I’ll pack a tripod in my checked bag just incase. Taking 2 bodies isn’t 100% necessary but if one body breaks of malfunctions I have a backup.

Mirrorless in New Zealand, That’s what’s for lunch.

Scott.

Editors note – My flag logo will be out of date soon as New Zealand is currently in the public consultation phase of picking a new flag.