Wednesday 15 July 2020

A Lucky Deal

Hidden Bee
Fujifilm X-T2, XC 35mm f2

I'd honestly not really been looking for a new body. Sure, there are a few things I don't like about the X-T1, the D750 and even the A7II (when I borrow it back from my SO)

But a couple weeks ago my usual sales guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse on a used X-T2, so I got it for a ridiculously low price today.

The X-T2 solves a few issues I had overall with the X-T1 in particular and with my whole selection of cameras in a couple cases.

From the X-T1, it gets me back to the 24MP resolution that I have found to be a comfortable balance between good overall resolution & cropability and good noise performance. Another big thing is that the 24 & 26MP Fuji bodies have full support for their film simulations in RAW converters including CaptureOne (my go-to), while the 16MP bodies (and the 12MP X100) aren't supported for film simulations in RAW converters. That's something that I really would like as it allows me to set my starting point for conversion when shooting, although as I shoot RAW I'm not locked in.

There's also a number of firmware improvements, a better menu layout, support for proper BBAF, ISO extension now works in RAW (but not in Auto ISO), there's an extra stop of ISO range at the top end, a focus joystick (although sadly it can't trigger AF-on), the menu setup is better and includes a MyMenu implementation that lets me put manual lens focal length in an easily found place (albeit still not on a button where it belongs) and Auto ISO now respects focal length, even for manual lenses. The control wheels are now click wheels, albeit the front wheel's function is canned. It's also a touch larger, 60g heavier and the quality of the dials & switches is improved. It also takes classic threaded cable releases or soft releases like the X-E2 but not the X-T1, adds dual UHS-II SD slots (vs a single UHS-1) and can USB charge the battery, and with the right setup, can even run the camera off external USB power in a pinch. The dial locks are now push-on/push-off, rather than press & twirl and the on/off switch is larger and more positive, making it easier to actuate by feel. Additionally the quality of the focus peaking rendering is significantly better, on par with the A7II, where the X-T1's peaking kinda sucked, especially when magnified.

The big add however is that this gives me a camera with a 2-axis tilt LCD for tripod use. All of the cameras I was using either have single-axis tilt or a fixed LCD. The X-T2 has a unique 2 axis tilt system which is ideal for tripod use and far, far superior to flip/twist LCD's. Sadly, only 3 cameras have this system (the X-T2, X-T3 and X-H1), although Panasonic clearly looked at this setup and adapted it for the S1R, which has flip/twist and tilt via a similar system.

The 2 axis tilt setup solves both basic issues with rear-LCD use for stills shooters. It flips up/down behind the camera exactly like regular tilt screens, which is pretty much ideal for waistlevel usage as well as landscape format usage on the tripod, but when shooting portrait orientation, you get limited tilt as well, where most cameras with a tilt screen (including the X-T1, and all X-Tx0's, E-M1, E-M5, D750, D7500 and D780, Z6/7, and all Sony A7/A9 bodies) are stuck with a fixed screen the moment you want a portrait oriented shot. Honestly, for selfies using the phone app for control and view beats any flip-forward LCD.

Is it perfect...No. Like all the Fuji's, the AF-L and AE-L buttons are badly located and hard to make out by feel. There's still useful items in the menu that should be assignable to buttons and the click action on the joystick & front dial should be assignable. And the manual lens slots still have only 2 of 6 being user-configurable, the other 4 are fixed as 21, 24, 28 & 35mm. Oh, and the camera doesn't disable the EVF when the screen is flipped out, although like the X-T1 the sensor is calibrated FAR better than the A7II's so as long as you don't have the camera pressed up to your body you won't accidentally switch (the A7II however requires at least 30cm or so of clearance to not trigger, which is extremely annoying). There's also a new VIEWMODE of Eye Sensor + LCD playback where even if you have Image Review disabled, if you shoot via the EVF and then immediately take the camera away from your face you get the last image displayed on the LCD instead of the live view feed. This mode should be an option in the Image Review settings rather than a VIEWMODE option. Heck, I'd love to be able to pick the VIEWMODE options because I only ever use 2 of the (now) 5 options and would rather not cycle through EVF only and LCD only which I never use.

So overall, the X-T2 is a great refinement of the X-T1, solving most (but not all) of the annoyances while bringing better AF and IQ across the board. I'm looking forward to shooting a lot with this camera.

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