Fuji X-Pro2 Wish List, X-E2 and Thoughts on the X-T1
It's been nearly 2 years since the Fuji X-Pro1 was released and I have owned that camera pretty much since it's launch. As you can see, the camera has a few wear marks due to constant use over that time period.
I thought it was time to put down some more thoughts on the system now that Fuji have pushed forward again with some new cameras. These articles that I write from time to time are meant to be useful to people who are contemplating buying in to the X system or maybe looking for some tips.
So what qualifies me to write this article? Well firstly I should say I don't work for Fuji or have any connection to them. I work as a private photography tutor here in the UK, offering a wide range of photographic courses both physical and some online too, like Creative Assignments. Of course I shoot too, I'm very passionate about art photography and spend a lot of time working on my personal projects and also still shoot some commercial work too.
Camera equipment I use:
- Fuji X-Pro1 (pictured above)
- Fuji X-E2
- 18mm f/2 lens
- 23mm f/1.4 lens
- 35 f/1.4 lens
- 18-55 f/2.8-4 lens
- Fuji EF-X20 flash unit
- Fuji X20 compact camera
I do not own the X-T1 nor have I used it. Unfortunately I'm not one of those lucky photographers to be on the list to test these camera pre-release. Fuji if you're listening, loving your work ;-) But even then, I'm only interested in writing down my honest thoughts about these cameras. I only mentioned this as I will be putting down some thoughts about this camera later.
Fuji X-Pro1 Sales
So firstly let's talk about the X-Pro1. The camera at the beginning got a right slating from some, mainly down to the slow auto focus and because of the lack of good processing software options available at the time. Those issues have largely been addressed with Fuji's amazing firmware updates and finally working with Adobe. You really have to hand it to Fuji with this, they have been so good in updating the firmware on these cameras, sometimes adding additional functionality as well as improving existing.
But the X-Pro1 didn't sell that well, I think this is due to the camera really needing some of those firmware upgrades, certainly to get anywhere near it's potential. I'll admit that at times it did feel like a work-in-progress. Had Fuji have got this right when they launched the camera I really think sales would have been stronger. Also they then later released the X-E1, which in a lot of ways was a better camera! Okay, no optical viewfinder, but it was smaller, had better electronic viewfinder and was cheaper. For a lot of people this was a no-brainer and Fuji in some ways shot themselves in the foot!
That said, there has perhaps never been a better time to buy in to this system with an X-Pro1. There are lots of deals out there, the best I have seen recently is for an X-Pro1 with two lenses for under £900. The same cost me over £2,500!
Fuji X-E2 v X-Pro1
I skipped the X-E1, I didn't see it worthwhile having both the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. However, when the X-E2 recently came out, I couldn't resist, I saw it as a really good opportunity to take advantage of that camera's features and have both the X-Pro1 and X-E2. The idea was to have one as a spare camera, a back-up. But in reality they are two different beasts and there are definitely situations I want to pick up the X-Pro1 more than the X-E2 and vice versa.
Two main reasons I might be more tempted to pick up the X-Pro, firstly the optical viewfinder and secondly the size balances better with larger lenses, like the superb 23mm f1/4.
The X-E2 certainly has faster auto focus, really noticeably faster. The electronic viewfinder is pretty pleasurable to use, it's high resolution and the refresh rate is really good. You'll notice I don't talk numbers too much, I just tell you about how the camera feels and works for me. It does have some other cool features, like WiFi. I like being able to just quickly process a Raw file in camera and then whizz it over to my phone or tablet. Raw files are pretty painful if you trying to transfer more than a couple, even with fast broadband. It's nice that the X-E2 has a 3 stop exposure compensation dial compared to the 2 stop one on the X-Pro1, but I don't really think that is a big deal as you can always just shoot in manual exposure. I like that the X-E2 has a pop-up flash, I know this might not be a big deal to some, but to me this is really useful. I'm a take-my-camera-everywhere-sort-of-guy and having a flash when really needed is great. You can use it to remotely fire the EF-X20 flash too.
I have one gripe about the X-E2 compared to the X-Pro1, I just wish you can assign a function button to the View options, so you can toggle through LCD only, EVF only, Eye Sensor etc etc. A few people have mentioned this and I also find this annoying. Get to it Fuji, please!
So that's my thoughts on the X-E2.
Fuji X-Pro2 Predictions and Wish List
You'll notice that in this part of the article I keep mentioning the X-T1. It looks surprisingly good! I really didn't think it would interest me but it kind of does. I knew it was coming and I kept up to date with all the rumours, but it still ended up being much better than I had initially thought it would be, on paper at least. This bodes well for the X-Pro2, it will definitely have to borrow some of these features and perhaps refine them further. I won't be ditching the X-E2 for the X-T1 just yet, but it's almost tempting!
When will the X-Pro2 come?
It's now time for Fuji to be thinking about the replacement of the X-Pro1. Okay, we know they're already thinking about it, in fact I'm sure they're doing much more than just thinking. The latest rumour backs up what we heard some time back, that an announcement will probably come in 2014 and launch in 2015, also saying that they want the X-Pro2 to be another breakthrough camera and not just an update. So far so good!
Sensor revolution? Full Frame?
My reckoning is that will be a different sensor to what the current X cameras use. Of course there is talk of the Fuji and Panasonic collaboration on the Organic sensor but also a surprising amount of talk on forums about the possibility of full frame. I say this is surprising, because the whole x system has been built around an APS-C format sensor that has "full frame quality". That marketing line is one that has come back to bite Fuji on the bum of course! I saw some discussion on this the other day where someone had suggested that Fuji market their cameras based on the fact that they have 'the best quality APS-C image sensor', which I'm sure no one would dispute. Of course full frame cameras have moved on since the launch of these cameras, so although the camera might well match some full frame cameras, it's not going to match all and its better to be the best in it's class rather than the worst. I'd agree 100%.
Before we can really make up our minds about what we think Fuji might do here, it's important we know that the current range of Fuji lenses do not project an image circle which would be large enough for a full frame sensor. In fact probably the X-Mount itself would not except a lens that could do this. So this means a complete new mount and new range of lenses. Surely Fuji would not go this route, I for one really hope that they don't as I think they would really be shooting themselves (and every x owner) in the nuts!
So for my money, I really do think that the X-Pro2 will be an organic sensor camera. I don't completely understand the science, but I do know that this means some really great things for images. Greater ISO performance, much greater dynamic range and higher resolution, some saying even as much as 70MP could be the upper limit for an APS-C organic sensor. So if we were to say that the X-Pro2 had a 24MP-36MP sensor that had much greater dynamic range and even better low light performance, then we are really talking BREAK THROUGH!
It's interesting to note that the X-E2 has some clever technology to help with diffraction, Lens Modification Optimiser (LMO). Diffraction could be even more of an issue with the capabilities of such an organic sensor, so it shows that they are already on the case with this!
Video & Sound Recording
The X system is primarily a stills camera, but Fuji will have to think about video too. The X-Pro2 MUST HAVE a microphone input so those that need to, can add good quality audio to their video output. Video is a big topic, but it would certainly make these cameras appealing to a wider audience if video was improved. But perhaps the X-T2 would be the camera for this.
We know that Fuji use a (Sony) sensor with on board phase detection for faster auto focus. The X-E2 uses contrast and phase detection which makes the AF much quicker. The X-T1 also uses this technology and is said to be faster still, so it's perfectly feasible that the X-Pro2 could be faster still! Bear in mind that the X-T1 is positioned between the X-E2 and the X-Pro.
The X-T1 is also weather sealed, with several weather sealed lenses on the way. Would they make the X-Pro2 weather sealed? I'm not sure, but I think if they released the camera with a new weather sealed prime, then perhaps this could be a good idea. I think landscape photographers would really appreciate it.
I already mentioned that the X-Pro1 has been greatly improved with firmware and continues to be. But I think an X-pro2 with much faster technology inside could mean lots and lots of other improvements that couldn't be achieved with the current body. I'm sure the new X-Pro will use the SDXC UHS-II SD technology for much faster shooting and playback.
Custom Playback Options
I would like the ability to customise the playback options. For example, I would like to be able to view the full size image in review, with an overlay of the histogram and highlight warning. Maybe even a function button to overlay this info whilst held down. Because I haven't had a play with an X-T1 I cannot say whether the playback options have been improved greatly.
The optical hybrid viewfinder is of course the X-Pro's unique selling point and I for one think this is a very important factor for this camera. The last firmware update made the optical viewfinder much more accurate, but I still think improvements could be made here. For me the biggest issue is that the AF point can sometimes be a little unreliable, although I'm very careful to position the actual AF box on the subject, I do still end up with a image or two that are back-focused. The trick is to have AF distance indicator on and keep an eye on that distance, hopefully you can see if there is likely to be a problem. I'd like to see some hardware upgrades to viewfinder. Could we even move the optical viewfinder as opposed to just the frame lines!?
A much better electronic viewfinder goes without saying. Higher resolution and faster, needs to match that of the X-T1 or better still.
I would like to think that Fuji would improve the eye piece of the X-Pro2. Of course the current one is renowned for coming loose and being lost in the undergrowth, unless you use the clear nail varnish trick. So the new eye piece should be more comfortable, have a diopter adjustment and ideally not fall off when you're looking the other way!
Manual Focus Aids
Manual focusing is often talked about and Fuji are constantly improving this, with focus peeking and the digital split screen, which I think is excellent. They always said they would add more colours to the peeking, which I believe has now been done on the X-T1, this would be really welcomed on the X-Pro2. But I just wonder if there is anyway to add a manual focus assist to the optical viewfinder?! Since reading more about the X-T1 there is something quite interesting about that camera's viewfinder. It's big, really big. This means it can allow for a digital image of the scene and next to it a split screen focus aid. If that could somehow be incorporated in the OVF that would be terrific!
The WiFi features have been improved on the X-T1 meaning you can use it for wireless tethering to a mobile device. You can use a tablet or mobile to frame, shoot and even adjust some settings. Also it's possible to do interval time shooting I believe.
Tethering to Lightroom
I'd like to add wired tethering (to Lightroom) for the X-Pro2. I'm sure there are enough studio shooters who could make good use of this.
I would like to see the overall size of the X-Pro stay the same. That size does sit well in the hands and balances well with the larger primes. Also it will keep those happy who already own X-Pro1 accessories.
JPG, RAW & Software
Fuji have always had an excellent JPG processing engine in-camera, so much so that some people prefer to just shoot JPGs, which blows my mind! I'm RAW all the way, but I think it's great what they have managed to do with that. I see that it's rumoured that Adobe will soon add further support for X-Trans files in Lightroom, with the ability to use the Fuji film types on your Raw files. This is really great news and I can only hope that there is further improvement in the demosaicing of the files. Let's just say though that this has improved like a billion percent (maybe not an accurate figure) since the first support of X-Trans files. I am now happy to use Lightroom for 99.9% of my workflow, I just think there is a little bit more to come from Adobe on this.
I see the new X-T1 comes with it's own flash unit. They do need to work on the flash system if they really want these cameras to be used by professionals. The EF-X20 flash is neat, looks nice and is well built, but the functionality lets it down, especially the fact that it won't sleep and wake up with the camera, which can be really annoying. If they just fixed that, it would be so useful. So I suggest they do a firmware update to that flash (if possible) and then make a new flash with more power but retain the same build quality and style if possible.
A lot of people are screaming for TTL off camera flash. I'm not sure this will come, but who knows with Fuji.
More Manual Control?
Another thing I'd like to see come over from the X-T1 is the addition of an ISO dial. Maybe a dual dial might be an option, perhaps ISO on the lower dial and shutter speed in the upper.
It seems like a long list, but I think most of this is achievable, let's hope so.
- New Organic APS-C sensor (24-36mp)
- Anti diffraction technology - Lens Modification Optimiser (LMO)
- Microphone input
- Faster AF (Contrast/Phase Detection) - At least as fast as X-T1
- Weather sealed
- Option to customise playback (histogram and highlight warning)
- Improvements to optical viewfinder
- Improvements to electronic viewfinder
- Better eyepiece, more comfortable with diopter (and doesn't fall off)
- Manual focus aid in optical viewfinder
- Wifi with same or more options than X-T1
- Continued work with Adobe
- Better flash options
- TTL off-camera flash
- Add ISO dial
Having now written a fair bit on how Fuji could improve these cameras, let's not forget just how good they already are. I for one have loved using them over the past couple of years and hope they can go from strength to strength. I have taken some of my favourite images with the X-Pro1 and X-E2. This article has been quite wordy, so here are a few images taken with these cameras...