The Fujifilm X-Pro2 is the second rangefinder style X-mount mirrorless camera from Fujifilm, with support for Fujifilm’s excellent X-mount lens range. 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.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Features
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.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Build and handling
Fractionally larger and 45g heavier than the X-Pro1, the construction of the body is made up of four aluminium panels compared to three on the X-Pro1 and features a dust-proof, splash-proof and freezeproof structure to keep the most determined photographers shooting when the going gets tough. Viewed from the front, you’ll notice the focus assist LED is now square rather than circular, the microphone holes have been relocated to the top plate, and a new function button (Fn2) is now located inside the viewfinder switch.
Significant changes at the front of the camera are the new handgrip and a deeply recessed front control dial. In the hand, the X-Pro2 feels slightly chunkier than the X-Pro1 with the deeper grip and extended thumb rest at the rear both benefiting from soft rubber to cushion it more gently against your fingers. The new front dial is easy to locate using your index finger. It clicks as it’s turned and, most importantly, allows users the option of adjusting the shutter speed manually when the shutter speed dial is set to its ‘T’ setting.
There have also been some minor changes underneath. In contrast to the X-Pro1 that had its single memory card slot positioned alongside the battery, the X-Pro2’s dual card slots are found at the side behind a robust weather-sealed door for faster access. Another minor alteration involves the tripod thread, which is now positioned centrally rather than being offset.
The major ergonomic change on the camera is the amalgamation of ISO and shutter speed control into one dial on the top plate. Like the X-Pro1, there’s a central button that needs to be depressed to unlock the shutter speed dial when it’s set to the ‘A’ position. Lifting the shutter speed dial and rotating it adjusts ISO, but after extensive testing I found there were times when I’d accidentally adjust the shutter speed when it was set outside of its locked ‘A’ position and I didn’t pull the collar up high enough.
Both Auto ISO and the ‘L’ and ‘H’ settings (the latter being used to enter the X-Pro2’s expanded ISO settings) can be selected from the dial, however it’s worth noting all the ISO values are fairly small to read, they appear upside down when the shutter speed is set to around 1/125sec, and they’re not illuminated. During low-light testing I found myself referring to the info display on screen or looking through the viewfinder to find out what the sensitivity was set to. In hindsight, had Fujifilm introduced a ‘Q’ setting or such to the ISO dial, users could, if they wanted, override the top plate dial and access ISO in the traditional way via the Quick menu or assign it to a Fn button.
Shifting focus to the back of the camera, you’ll find there’s a fantastic new AF point toggle selector that’s offset to the left of where your thumb rests. It saves having to pull your thumb away to operate autofocus via the four-way controller and results in a much more comfortable and intuitive way of refining the position of the AF-point. There’s also the option to depress it, which instantly moves the AF point into the centre, plus it serves as an excellent way of navigating the main menu, quick menu and drive mode settings.
Generally speaking, the ergonomic changes that have been made combine to give it a better feel in the hand. The revised positioning of buttons and dials will take a bit of getting used to for existing X-Pro1 users, but those who do upgrade will quickly find the changes to the body are mostly beneficial and help improve the overall handling experience.
There will be some who pick up the X-Pro2 and feel happy using it straight out of the box, whereas others will want to customise it in a particular way that suits the manner in which they like to work. With no fewer than six custom function buttons (four more than the X-Pro1) dotted across the body and a total of 32 custom settings that can be changed in the quick menu, there’s no shortage of customisation control. Function button settings can be changed from the main menu or, just like the X-Pro1, it’s possible to reassign a function button by holding down the Fn button for longer than three seconds. On the X-Pro2 this will load up 25 options to choose from, which is ten more than the X-Pro1.
Scrolling down the left side of the menu, you’ll also notice the X-Pro2 introduces a new menu item labelled MY, which stands for My Menu. To access this, you’re first required to go into the setup menu and user settings before selecting the My Menu setting. From here you can add and rank different menu items that you use most into one single page to create your personalised menu. It adds yet another string to the X-Pro2’s bow.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Performance
One of our criticisms of the X-Pro1 was its ‘steady’ rather than ‘snappy’ autofocus performance. Although it’s not a camera aimed at top-level pro-sports photographers, we still expected the focus speed to be slightly more responsive than it was. Fujifilm listened to its critics and answered them a year later by releasing a new firmware for the camera that improved the AF speed and focus detection algorithm.
After updating our long-term X-Pro1 with the latest firmware we lined it up side by side with the X-Pro2 to conduct a series of focus comparison tests. The X-Pro2’s ability of focusing faster became apparent when both cameras, fitted with the same lens, were asked to focus between near and far subjects. Where the X-Pro1 stuttered for a fraction of a second on a few occasions before it acquired focus, the X-Pro2 showed no such signs of delay and locked on instantaneously. It was a similar story testing both in a low-light street scene. The X-Pro2 revealed no signs of difficulty focusing in the challenging environments I subjected it to and the benefit of having more AF points spread across the frame and a new AF toggle beside my thumb meant that I could pinpoint the focus point faster and with greater precision than was possible on the X-Pro1.
In typical Fujifilm fashion, the X-Pro2 renders beautiful colours. Rich blue skies and lush green fields were reproduced just as I remember seeing them and I built up trust using the auto white balance mode, which had no difficulty depicting accurate colour shot after shot, both indoors and outdoors. Users of the X-Pro 2 can expect their images to pack a punch straight out of the camera set to Provia/Standard mode, but if you’d like your shots to mimic other classic film emulsions there’s a full suite of film simulation modes that can be assigned to any custom function button. I have always been a fan of the Velvia/Vivid mode, which helps to accentuate vibrant colours, particularly in landscape scenes. On the X-Pro2, however, I found myself falling in love with the new Arcos filter emulsion mode, which produces stunning contrast to black & white images straight out of the camera when set to Arcos+R filter, and worked particularly well for interior and architectural scenes.
The camera provides a live preview of exposure via the screen and EVF, making it easy to know where you stand with regard to any compensation that may be required. The camera controls exposure metering very well and I rarely found myself adjusting the exposure compensation dial beyond 0.7EV unless I needed to bracket widely for a scene.
A rather nice touch for those who like to shoot unobtrusively is the X-Pro2’s silent mode. With the electronic shutter activated, there’s not a peep out of the camera when the shutter is fired and it’s great to see Fujifilm offering users the option to adjust the shutter type straight from any custom function button. One of the things we’ve been waiting for Fujifilm to refresh for a while is the menu interface and on the X-Pro2 our wish has been granted. The font has changed for one that’s much clearer to read and, rather than numbering the shooting and setup menus, there’s now a list of icons down the side, which are far easier to comprehend. It is worth pointing out that if you do add items to the My Menu setting, the camera returns to My Menu every time you hit the Menu/OK button, and for those struggling to locate the advanced filter or multiple exposure options these are hidden away within the drive menu.
It would be foolish not to comment on the compositional characteristics of the camera, and with the option of selecting optical or electronic viewfinder as well as a live view screen, the X-Pro2 has all the options users could ever want. I raised the camera to my eye for virtually every shot while it was in my possession and found the optical viewfinder has its perks when you’d like to see what’s going on outside of the frame. Shooting information is presented much more clearly in OVF mode than on the X-Pro1, and it’s great to see so many new visual aids being added around the frame. The camera’s EVF is superb too and the step up in resolution is really noticeable when you depress the rear control dial and enter the magnified view – useful for refining focus when using manual focus lenses.
The X-Pro2 accepts the same NP-W126 battery as the X-Pro1, and three power modes – high performance, standard and economy – offer varying levels of stamina from 210 shots per charge to 250 and 330 shots respectively. The electronic viewfinder has a refresh rate of 85fps in high performance mode. This drops to 54fps when the power mode is set to standard or economy.
After a period of time I found the auto brightness of the EVF was a little dim for my liking and switched it to over to manual (+2). The rear display’s 1.62-million-dot resolution provides a crisp, clear image. My only reservation is Fujifilm’s decision to keep it fixed like the X-Pro1 rather than fitting it with a tilting screen, which would have prevented me crawling around in the mud to get the opening shot to this review.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Image quality
We have tested numerous Fujifilm cameras with 16.3-million pixels so it’s refreshing to see a new 24-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which has never featured in an X-series model before. The question all photographers intrigued by the X-Pro2 want to know the answer to is how well this new sensor measures up against the 16-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor of old. We inspected our lab results alongside the X-Pro1’s and quickly discovered the X-Pro2’s sensor surpasses its predecessor in some style.
Pushing the sensor to the extremes of its ISO range reveals users can shoot confidently between ISO 100-6,400 without fear of noise severely degrading image quality. Colour noise is extremely well-controlled and, although luminance noise makes its presence known at high sensitivities, the level of detail the sensor resolves up to ISO 25,600 is phenomenal.
The X-Pro2 puts in a respectable dynamic range performance and manages to exceed 12EV when it’s set to its lowest sensitivity setting. Increasing the sensitivity by a stop to ISO 200 sees the figure drop just below 12EV, with figures remaining above 10EV up to ISO 800. Beyond ISO 800, results drop to 9.3EV at ISO 1,600 and 8.1EV at ISO 3,200. It’s encouraging to see the figures remaining above the critical 6EV at ISO 12,800. The dynamic range only starts to drop below 6EV when the expanded ISO settings are used.
The X-Pro2 clearly benefits from the lack of a low-pass filter. The level of detail recorded by the sensor goes one better than that of the X-Pro1 and it resolves a maximum of 3,400l/ph between ISO 100 and ISO 400. Resolution drops ever so slightly at ISO 800 to 3,200l/ph and it manages to resolve the same 3,000l/ph figure between ISO 3200 and 6400. The level of detail the sensor resolves at high sensitivities is quite remarkable. It manages to resolve 2,800l/ph at ISO 12,800 and only drops to 2,600l/ph at ISO 25,600. Pushing the X-Pro2 to its limit resulted in 2400l/ph being recorded at its ISO 51200 equivalent setting.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 ISO sensitivity and Noise
Our X-Pro2 raw files were first converted in Adobe Camera Raw 9.4 before we inspected the level of noise through the ISO range. Exceptionally clean results were recorded between ISO 100 and ISO 1,600. Luminance noise starts to become apparent at ISO 3,200 and ISO 6,400 when viewing images at high magnification, but it has quite a pleasing fine film-like aesthetic and can be controlled effectively in Adobe Camera Raw. Needless to say, I wouldn’t hesitate to use ISO 3,200 or ISO 6,400 in challenging low-light situations. Rotating the ISO dial to ISO 12,800 introduces more luminance noise, but the level of fine detail remains high and it’s by all means a useable setting with some vigiliant application of noise reduction. Users could turn to the expanded ISO 25,600 setting for urgent situations, but we’d stay away from ISO 51,200 where there’s a drop in saturation.
ISO sensitivity and noise – Raw
The 100% crops below show the X-Pro2’s raw output at each ISO sensitivity setting
ISO sensitivity and noise – JPEG
The 100% crops below show the X-Pro2’s JPEG output at each ISO sensitivity setting
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Verdict
Fujifilm had strong foundations on which to build their successor to the X-Pro1 and, rather than starting from scratch, they’ve focused their attention on refining what was a great camera, revamping it into something truly special.
Modifications and improvements have been made to virtually every area of the camera. While it’s the new 24-million-pixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor that receives most acclaim, there’s much more besides the X-Pro2’s stellar image quality and the fantastic detail it resolves. The combination of its solid metal body, refined handgrip and plethora of metal buttons and dials make it a pleasure to pick up and use from the hip. Other small refinements such as its dual card slots, revised menu system and improved weather resistance merge seamlessly with the significant developments that have been made to its superb hybrid viewfinder and autofocus system.
It’s great to see most of the criticisms we made about the X-Pro1 being ironed out. It isn’t entirely free of quirks, however, and there were times when the lack of a tilting screen was greatly missed. The ISO speed dial on the top plate takes some getting used to and the battery life, particularly in high performance mode, will encourage users to invest in a few spares.
Fujifilm had their work cut out to produce a camera with a superior set of features to the fabulous X-T1 and one that lived up to our high expectations. The X-Pro2 manages to do just that and then some – it’s an absolutely stunning premium compact system camera that we can categorically say has earned its place as the flagship model in the X-Series. The styling and off-centre viewfinder won’t be to everyone’s taste, but those after a superb digital rangefinder will find it hard to resist the temptation. Sometimes the longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when it finally arrives. The saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ is true in the case of the X-Pro2.
Score: 5 out of 5