X-Pro2 on Wheels

I just received my X-Pro 2, and these are my brief initial impressions. As with anything new, it takes time to build familiarity and I'm sure some of these opinions will change or modify as I work more with the camera and get settled in. For now, these are simply observations.

The Build

The X-Pro 2 is a big camera compared to what Fuji has been giving us. It's similar in size to my Leica M240, but far lighter. I had read much about the magnesium body, and expected the camera to be heavier than it is. I also expected it to be smaller than it is.

It fits pretty well in hand, and although the button layout is very convenient, in use the buttons feel very far apart—even with my big hands, moving my thumb down to the focus stick felt like a distance. That's probably just muscle memory from the X100s and X-E1 and will undoubtedly feel different with time. However, I expect it also might be an issue with adjusting to the weight of the camera. Moving the thumb down requires adjusting the hold on the camera, and likely that is what making the buttons seem far apart. 

For my first experience with the camera, we headed out on the motorbikes for a ride up to Carversville. The sun was bright, making for high contrast shadows, but still low in the sky, giving off a more yellowish hue. 

Stopping at the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works gave me a chance to work the X-Pro 2 without any time pressure. I used both the Fuji XF 18-55, and the XF 14mm (review here). The camera was set to record RAW in slot 1, and Classic Chrome JPEGs in slot 2. 

The EVF is fast and crisp, and a great improvement over the X-E1. The camera information displays, however, are much smaller than in the X-E1. Since I don't often pay attention to them while shooting anyway, I don't much care. However, the smaller size takes more attention to decipher when I do need to check something. Again, I'll adjust to it with time, but anything that requires concentration interrupts creativity and it's an annoyance. 

I generally only interact with an X camera in three ways: focus, aperture, and exposure compensation. I like to concentrate on moments, and rarely ever delve into camera settings while I'm working.

The focus stick is fantastic, and I expect it will go far in bringing the speed of using autofocus closer to being on par with manually focusing an SLR.

The exposure compensation wheel is well placed, and the added range over the X-E1 and X100s is very much welcome (though I stuck with the physical wheel and didn't use the command dial—three stops of range is very sufficient).

Aperture is obviously the same on the lenses, but the grip on the camera is different making the aperture rings seem further back.

f/0—not so fast

I had only one hardware issue while shooting: while using the 14mm, the shutter wouldn't trip. I noticed that the exposure included "f/0." Removing and reattaching the lens had it working again. 

I was also surprised at how quickly the battery drained. The power settings are set to "standard," but with only a handful of shots, I was down 20%. That's a bit scary for a street photographer who wanders quite far from power sources, and makes me seriously wonder why Fuji stuck with an older battery design. The Leica M240 has a much larger battery, and it lasts for days. I can only assume that the EVF consumes a great deal of power.

Except for the lens issue, the X-Pro2 was nimble and unobtrusive, and generally got out of my way and let me make images.

Import Duties

When it came to import images, I had to confront the ugliness that is Adobe. I'll rant about Adobe in another post, but suffice it to say that there are no updates to Lightroom 5.7 for the X-Pro2. I was forced to upgrade to Lightroom 6, and dealing with Adobe's absurd installer and Creative Cloud account took several hours of time. I loathe Adobe, and this experience was yet another reason to mourn the loss of Apple's Aperture.

Export results

Once the Adobe ordeal was over, it was time to take a look at the new X-Trans results. I normally import through the SD slot on my Mac. With the two cards of the X-Pro 2, it seemed simpler and quicker to use a USB cable. (Unfortunately, the camera does not charge through USB, and the battery continued to drain rather quickly during the import.)

I shot both RAW and JPEG. The RAW files reminded me quite a lot of the Leica M240. They're highly detailed, and the grain pattern is extremely smooth. Indeed, as with the Leica, it's too smooth for my eyes. It's probably a vestige of having formed my photographic chops with film, but I've never been a fan of the ultra smooth, ultra crisp, look of most digital images.

That's not a bad thing in a raw file, though. What it means is that there is a metric ton of detail in the shadows and highlights. That means a lot of flexibility during development. I don't pixel peep, but it's immediately obvious that there is a lot more detail than in the previous X-Trans sensor of my other constant camera, the X100s. I can tone down the "digitalness" during development, so I have zero complaints about the quality, and am very pleased to have more to work with in the highlights and shadows.

The Classic Chrome JPEGs are fine. The colors look good, and I can see using CC on occasion. My biggest complaint about jpegs is the loss of shadow detail, and the CC files weren't pleasing to my eye in that regard. The images here ended up being all from RAW files, except for the second one in this article. 

The X-Pro2 has a lot to offer, and I'm excited to see all that it can do. Next up on the list, I'll next explore Arcos, because as much of a RAW shooter as I am, it would be amazing to finally find a way to reduce development time!