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Guest Post By Rick Birt of Romeo Bravo Photo
I have now had my Fuji X-Pro2 for a few months, and I’ve used my wife’s Fuji X-T2 at a few events. I wanted to share my thoughts so far, and give some insight on why I ditched my Sony Super-Camera for Fuji.
After I retired, my wife asked what I wanted to be now that I could do whatever I wanted. Her question made no sense to me since I had just retired from my dream job. I had never thought about what I wanted to do next. In my mind I had done everything I had set out to do. What does one do after flying jets in the Marine Corps?
Chippendales dancer maybe? I’ve got some moves, but I’m no Chris Farley. I’m more of a karaoke to “I Touch Myself” kinda guy.
So, I started assisting my wife Kelly in her photography business. I eventually picked up the camera and shot a couple of our model friends. I loved it! More importantly – the models loved the images, and so did their agents. Back then I was using my wife’s old Canon 1Ds mk III with whatever lenses she wasn’t using. I liked it, but it was a real beast to lug around. I’m also a real tech/gadget geek and I wasn’t really impressed with Canon’s lack of features (even in their new cameras). Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate well made vintage stuff too, but the 1Ds3 is hardly a classic. So, I began researching and learned that Sony was about to unleash the amazing a7R II. On paper it was the perfect camera. For me personally…not so much. Let me list my pros and cons:
- 42 Megapixels with no AA filter
- 4k Video
- SHARP!!!! – especially with Zeiss (even Sony/Zeiss) lenses
- Ability to adapt virtually any lens ever made
- The Eye-AF was game-changing
- Skin tones were pretty bad
- Buffer was terrible. After taking about 15 shots the camera would refuse to do anything until it finished writing to the SD card. Want to view a photo you just shot? Sorry! #unionbreak
- Start-up time wasn’t very fast, but sometimes it was plain SLOW (for no real reason)
- Menus are horribly unintuitive – try finding the ‘format card’ function…I’ll wait
- Auto White Balance did not work well. I even had trouble with custom WB at times
- Harsher bokeh and out-of-focus highlights than I liked
- Too Sharp? I know that sounds ridiculous, but show any woman a razor-sharp, 42mp, cold-toned, close-up of herself and let me know what she says. Hell even I didn’t like seeing images of myself straight out of the Sony #wearmoresunscreen
- The amazing quality lenses were being made as big or bigger than their DSLR counterparts. This virtually eliminated the size/weight advantage of buying a mirrorless camera. The lenses were also more expensive than similar Canon offerings.
I know there are people that will claim that sharper is better, and that Canon has inaccurate (magenta) colors. Those people have a great point – especially if they are shooting architecture or landscapes. However, when you shoot people, I think you actually have to take on a different opinion of what is ‘better.’ The best example I can think of to illustrate this is a Youtube video created by Sony photographer Gary Fong. In the video he shows pictures of a model to compare the quality of the Sony G Master 85mm lens (on a Sony a7R II), vs the highly-regarded Canon 85mm L. In the end most viewers concluded that the Sony portrait was better because of the detail vs the Canon. However, I bet if we asked the model she’d prefer the Canon shot. My wife thought the Canon portrait was better because it was “prettier,” and she is a professional photographer with 25 years of experience!
Fashion and portrait photography are very much about image. It’s not about accuracy, it’s about aesthetics. Photoshop exists because people prefer to look at re-touched images.
Trust me, I did a lot of experimenting with the Sony, and a ton of gnashing my teeth in Lightroom, Capture One, DXO, and Photoshop to try and find the right formula. But after I had a model tell me that she thought her skin looked a little ‘dead,’ I finally decided to look elsewhere. I read a great post by Bill Palmer (a long time Leica user) entitled “Fuji is the Leica of the new Millenium.” As a long time Leica luster, I was intrigued. I decided to rent a Fuji (and an Olympus) for a comparison. I took about 1500 shots of my wife that day, and when we both looked at the images, Fuji was the OVERWHELMING winner. It wasn’t even close. I think the ratio was like 50:30:20. In fact, my wife liked the Fuji files so much that she pre-ordered the Fuji X-T2. Bye Felicia!
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Fast forward to the present after using both of Fuji’s flagship cameras in a variety of situations…Both cameras are great for the majority of the work I do. There are things I wish were different, or better, but I can live with the cons.
Before getting to the Pros & Cons, I want to tell you about a situation I experienced while shooting an event a couple of weeks ago. There were 8 photographers for the event using Nikon and Canon. My wife and I were using our Fuji X-Pro2 and X-T2. The Digital Tech stopped me and showed me a shot from a Canon 5D MkIII shot at ISO 1200. Then he showed me a Fujifilm image shot at ISO 6400. He was amazed at the quality of the Fujifilm shot, and that it had more room for highlight and shadow adjustments than the Canon file. He said “I’m buying a Fuji.”
I also had no less than 6 people stop me and ask what I was shooting with. After asking more questions, a few of them said “You should sell cameras for Fuji, because I’m buying one.”
- Skin-tones that are model approved ;)
- The best AF performance of any mirrorless camera
- Amazing in-camera film simulations
- Magic – there is a real film-like magic in the Fuji files. It’s hard to put a finger on what it is, but you know it when you see it (although it is difficult to spot online). Leica owners have spun tales of magic in their cameras for decades. I agree with them, but I really can’t afford $10k+++ on a Leica body and set of lenses. The Canon 1DS Mk III actually had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to it as well, however there is A LOT more Dynamic Range in the Fuji files.
- Fuji firmware updates. Fuji is one of the best companies in the world for breathing new life into their old cameras by adding new features, and improving existing ones.
- Small/light/rugged cameras AND lenses that are really made in Japan
- Spectacular quality glass! IMO the rendering of the Fuji lenses rivals (and in some cases exceeds) that of Leica lenses.
- Film Simulation can be used in video as well
- Inexpensive vs pro and prosumer cameras from the competition.
- I love the Rangefiner-like design of the X-Pro2. A left-side viewfinder/EVF is great for right-eye shooters that have noses. Also, all of the settings can be adjusted with my right hand.
- 4k video in the X-T2
- Tilting LCD on the X-T2
- Auto Focus is excellent, but lags a little behind the best DSLRs. The AF is faster than the Sony’s, but the Eye-AF is not as good.
- The smaller APS-C sensor produces more noise at ISO 3200+ than the full-frame Sony a7R II. However, the Fuji noise looks a lot like film-grain – so it is actually quite pleasing.
- No IBIS. I don’t care that Fuji has said it ‘can’t’ be done. All other leading mirrorless manufacturers have it, and Fuji doesn’t…it’s a con.
- No touchscreen. Fuji claims that users didn’t want one. I’m waiving my bull$hit flag now.
- Support of pro lighting lags behind Canon, Nikon and Sony
- Tethering is not supported on the X-Pro2, and sketchy on the X-T2.
- AF while shooting video doesn’t work the same as when shooting photos. I feel it is implemented better on the Sony, but I rarely shoot video so it’s not a big deal for me.
- Manual focus is slightly odd compared to other cameras I’ve used.
- Lack of dedicated Pro Support. Again – CaNikon and Sony have it.
All in all, I am VERY happy with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 given my style of shooting. Even though I like the tilt-screen of the X-T2, I still prefer the X-Pro2 overall. Other than the reasons mentioned above (EVF and button layout) the X-Pro2 just feels like more of a ‘premium’ camera. I also prefer the feel of the buttons. Plus – I think it flat out looks better…
Image is King ;)