About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Two Years with the Fuji X-Pro 2: A look back

Two Years with the Fuji X-Pro 2: A look back

I discovered the other day, quite by accident, that my Fuji X-Pro 2 is two years old this week. Tomorrow in fact. What a few years it has been. I’ve had ups and downs with the camera, but it’s also been good to me. Writing about it and processing Fuji files has undoubtedly made a name for me in certain corners, and I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it hadn’t been for buying that camera.

The funny thing is, I didn’t intend to get the X-Pro 2 at all. I had initially planned to buy a Nikon D750. I had ordered it and everything, but there were delays shipping, so I cancelled it and ordered the X-Pro 2 instead. I had previously bought the X-Pro 1, and I had sold it after a couple of months as it had driven me mad, and I was a little reluctant to get the sequel, but all’s well that ends well. 

Over the past two years, I’ve gone from enjoyment to mild frustration and back again with the X-Pro 2. If you’re expecting this to be one of those posts where I extol the virtues of the Fuji system and tell you it’s better than every other camera out there with no flaws whatsoever, this won’t be what you’re looking for. This is my honest opinions, both good and bad of what it’s been like using the camera. I could have just written a fluff piece, but that wouldn’t be fair to you or me. Over the two years, I’ve had both good and bad experiences with it, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. I’ve worked to overcome the frustrations, and while I’m sure many people were happy right out of the box, I’m just picky!

As with any new camera, there was always going to be teething issues. I found that the results that I was getting didn’t match the hype. When it first came out, I kept reading about how much better the camera was than everything else out there, yet it didn’t seem to match what I was seeing. It was good, sure, but it wasn’t the second coming that some overly enthusiastic fans were making it out to be. Once I accepted that it was never going to live up to the enthusiastic cheerleading, and began to work around the things that I found frustrating, I had a much easier time.

Dublin Castle Panorama - Fuji X-Pro2

The things that annoyed me

Let me get the things I didn’t like out of the way first. For me, the three biggest issues were the Autofocus, the handling of Raw files by Adobe, and the battery. Obviously, that middle one isn’t Fuji’s fault. Regarding the autofocus, my initial problems were mainly when using single point autofocus on small objects or subtle patterns. It would frequently fail to nail focus or focus on something else. Luckily this was significantly improved by a firmware update when they added the ability to shrink the focus box even smaller.

As for the Raw files, anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that I’ve done a lot of work to get around that problem. It didn’t start with the X-Pro 2, and the X-Pro2 had less of an issue with this than the previous generation. Lots of people are perfectly fine with the way Adobe handles Fuji Raw files, and that’s great. Others like myself are not. It depends on many factors, and I’m not going to rehash the argument here, because it’s been done to death at this point. I’ve written several guides on the issue, and I continue to evolve my workflow to minimise it. 

Maynooth University - Fuji X-Pro2

When Iridient Digital released X-Transformer, it offered a way to effectively solve this once and for all, although in an ideal world Adobe would just fix it. (And no, they still haven’t, despite the fact that it feels like someone writes an article claiming that they have with every new release of Lightroom - I’ve even thought this myself at one time or another, but I went back and checked, and no, they haven’t)

As for the battery, well, that’s not exactly something that can be fixed with a firmware release. I generally carry two batteries now (the second is from my old X-E1 which I no longer use) which is fine, but it’s still a problem, primarily if you shoot video. 

Speaking of which, the other thing I don’t like about it is the video. While they added 4K it’s still crippled compared to other models, such as the X-T2. In particular, none of the picture controls works with video, meaning you can’t adjust sharpening, or the shadow and highlight tone options. The only change that affects video is the film simulation mode.

The Good

I don’t want this to sound all negative though. I really do like the X-Pro2, and despite my few negative points above, I do think that there is a lot to be impressed with.

I really like the form factor. I always did like the rangefinder styling, although it can get a little tricky with longer lenses. I love the build quality too for the most part. Apart from the doors, it’s a substantial chunk of metal, and I like having the extra weight over the X-E series.

The real benefits, which are across all of Fuji’s lineup, are the quality of the lenses, and Fuji’s colour science. I only have two lenses for the system at the moment, but I can’t really fault them. Well, I can, but I won’t ;-). While Fuji’s lenses probably get the most praise for their sharpness, people often overlook one other important aspect of them, and that is that they have excellent contrast and micro contrast. 

It’s been a great camera for travel and street photography, again, because of the form factor. While there are smaller cameras like the XT-20, I like the fact that it’s still small, but also has a bit of heft to it. I do really need to get. A better range of lenses for it, but I just haven’t been able to afford the ones I want.

I don’t actually use the OVF that much. In fact, I almost exclusively use the EVF. I did an informal and completely unscientific poll on twitter and facebook, and the majority of people that responded either prefer the EVF or only use the OVF occasionally. 

Two years of images

Looking back through my library of finished files in Mylio I can really see how I progressed when using the x-pro2. I’ve shot a lot of different topics, from nature to street and travel, but it is the last two categories, which in my photography overlap a bit, were the subjects that I ended up shooting the most. But rather than go on about it, here is a selection of images from the last two years, broken down by category.

It was kind of hard to go through them all and narrow it down, as I’ve a lot of shots. So these aren’t necessarily my best photos, they’re just some of the ones that I really like for one reason or another.

I have more examples over on the Fuji X-Pro2 Camera Samples page on my Portfolio.

Oh, and one last thing, to celebrate the anniversary, I’m putting all of my Fuji guides on sale for the next week until the end of May (Last day of the sale will be May 31st), so if you don’t have them already, stop by and check them out.

Landscape and Nature

Travel & Street Photography

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