Before I start, let me say that this review is based on a pre-production model, so things may differ from the final production line models; also with it having an identical sensor to the X-Pro2 (which has MIND BLOWING image quality), I won’t be talking about that too much, but more of features, pros and cons.
Getting used to navigating the X-T2, I have to say, it feels like the natural upgrade from the X-T1 (my current camera). The focus speed, IQ (image quality) and joystick from the X-Pro 2 are all features I loved and wanted on my X-T2; features which may help convert those who haven’t yet found the perfect mirrorless camera to replace their bulky DSLRs.
Lock buttons on both the ISO, and shutter dials are a welcome addition. No longer having to keep the lock button held down, while turning dials, speeds up “on the fly” shooting. To also be able to lock those dials when needed, so as not to bump them, is fantastic.
For me, having the to lift and rotate the X-Pro2 shutter dial to change the ISO, wasn’t to my liking, and nearly every time I took an X-Pro2 out for a shoot, I accidently changed the ISO while trying to change the shutter speed. So, I am very happy to say, the exposure control of the X-Series cameras finally seems to be perfected on the X-T2
Adding a switch to the dual SD card slot cover ticks another box for me personally. While I very rarely had any issues with this on my X-T1, I was concerned that over time the slot cover would wear and pop open during shooting. This has been addressed in the X-T2 by having a hard plastic side cover (instead of the X-T1s rubber cover), and a switch that must be pressed before opening.
The new battery grip is also a major upgrade, tripling the camera's battery life (by holding two extra batteries) and providing the previously missing headphone connection. Combined with the X-T2’s new 4k video, these features will finally remove most reviewers only complaint about the X-Series cameras. While this doesn't necessarily turn the X-T2 into a flawless video machine, the video quality is now great. Not just “usable” or “good enough”, but great!
Changing one of the D-pad FN buttons, to quickly display audio levels, is a great short cut for those who plan to frequently use the X-T2 for video. Combined with the X-Series glass, and now with broadcast video quality, I am really excited to get the X-T2 out in the field for more tests.
My absolute favourite upgrade is that the mode selection switch (below the ISO dial) is now nearly impossible to bump and much firmer to change. Maybe a little too firm, but compared to how often I have accidently changed my X-T1 into Auto Bracket mode, this change has removed my biggest complaint from the X-T1.
My only quibble so far, is the new flippy screen, and I put this down to being something of a flippy screen connoisseur. While I love the ability to maneuver the screen (just over 45 degrees to the right), making those oddly angled shots that much easier to obtain, it is now noticeably harder to fold up. As I regularly place my camera on the ground for low angle shots, the little lip on the bottom left of the screen isn't quite enough to grip on to, to tilt the screen up confidently.
However, this may very well be due to the fact that I have used my X-T1s flippy screen a million times, softening up the hinges, whereas the X-T2 is brand spanking new, so it might just be a little stiff. This is such a minor concern though, and with it being my only one so far, I wouldn’t let this influence my decision to buy the camera in the slightest.
4 days in, having had a chance to use the X-T2 on a few different jobs now, I have some bad news for those hoping this isn’t going to be a necessary purchase.
As mainly a landscape photographer, one of the best things about the X-Series system is the hyperfocal calculator (this is the blue line at the bottom of screen that changes in size as you zoom and adjust your aperture showing you what exactly is in focus) that is displayed on screen when shooting in manual focus. While I have very rarely used this feature with zoom lens on my wide angles, I use it for nearly every single shot with my favourite lens, the 10-24mm f/4. A few months ago, I purchased the 16mm f/1.4, and while this does have a way of working out your depth of field on the lens (same as the 14mm), it saddened me that the on screen hyperfocal calculator wasn’t displayed, and I had my fingers crossed for a firmware update to change this in the future. I am very happy to report that on the X-T2, when using the 16mm f/1.4, that the little blue line is back.
Next up is the electronic view finder (EVF) and flippy screen. As I mentioned earlier, I am a flippy screen fan, as I shoot a lot of my images very low to the ground. I always found when I turned the screen and EVF brightness up to +4 or +5 (+3 is my favorite) on the X-T1, it tended to blow out the highlights of the display. While shooting at a beach with the X-T2 however, I noticed that the image through the EVF put the flippy screen to shame (it transpires that flippy screen display brightness can be cranked up to +4 or +5 also, and still maintain the highlight definition). The EVF looks perfect, showing fantastic shadow details, and while I thought the X-T1 EVF was amazing, the X-T2 EVF is a step up I wasn't expecting. As for the stiffness of lifting out the screen, it is still a little harder than that of the X-T1, but I am getting used to it, so put that down to me just being stubborn to change. So for both the EVF and the flippy screen I am very pleased.
After the version 4 firmware update for the X-T1, I rarely had any troubles with focusing, the X-T1 wasn't as fast to snap to targets as my old DSLR, but I never found tracking and accuracy to be an issue. The small range of continual focus points on the X-T1 had been frustrating, and the X-T2 has stepped up that game, going with a total of 325 AF points, Zone focusing points increased from 49 to 91, and 40% of the imaging area covered with phase detection AF pixels. Shooting flying birds took a moment to work out a focusing system that suited my style, but once sorted, I didn’t feel once like I was being held back by the camera. Trying to keep focus on birds in flight become more about my ability to keep them in frame, rather than the camera’s ability to keep them in focus.When not trying to fight with foliage for line of sight on my target, it felt like watching National Geographic through my viewfinder; the image and tracking was so smooth and fast.
Highlight and Shadow control has also bumped up from (+/-2) to (+/-4), I am not sure if many other people use these settings in-camera, but as I prefer to produce either an extremely flat image (with both set to -4), or capture it perfectly in-camera (I like to show clients my shots as I take them sometimes), having this extra range of control is another bonus.
So, with the pre-production model on its way back and my production line model purchase on the way, I will update this review as I get more hands-on time with the actual camera. This very well could be the titan killer we have been waiting for.