February 21, 2016

Hands on with the new Fuji XPro2 (or It looks like I am investing in a new camera!!)

Recently, the internet has been awash with rumours that Fuji was about to announce a new camera, the Fuji XPro2. As a Fuji user I was amongst those who were really anticipated the announcement. I was one of the first people in the UK to purchase the original XPro1, a camera I always loved using for commercial photography, and alongside my two Fuji X-E2s and X100s cameras has been a solid tool in my arsenal ever since. Now, the sensor on the XPro1 is starting to show its age. The original XTrans sensor, used by the XPro1 and the X-E1, is a little basic, but it does perform extremely well in good light; resolving good gradation in the tones through the entire range, from extreme highlights and the darkest shadows. The only time the sensor has let me down has been in extreme low light. If I am working in very dark situations I will often prefer to use my X-E2s as they retain more detail and they have much better low light focusing capability. In most commercial situations I am working in good light, but I often second shoot for my friend Samantha Hook at weddings, and we often have to work in low light, so low light performance is critical to me.

The new XPro2 was officially released a couple of weeks ago and since then I have been scouring the web trying to find an opportunity to get my hands on one, just to see if they live up to the hype. Yesterday I managed to get down to Digital Depot in Stevenage as they were holding a Fuji sponsored workshop with Commercial Photographer Wayne Johns to specifically demonstrate the XPro2.

Fuji XPro2

The lovely Romanie, photographed at a Fuji Workshop held at Digital Depot and hosted by Commercial Photographer Wayne Johns.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright Paul Saxby Photography 2015. Photograph by Paul Saxby.

Wayne had supplied us a Model, the very lovely Romanie, and some lighting gear. personally I wasn’t bothered about the lighting exercise, I have plenty of experience lighting so I spent most of the morning putting the XPro2 through its paces. I did shoot a few frames using the lighting set-up, but most of the time I used available light and took photos of Wayne as he worked.

Fuji XPro2

The lovely Romanie, photographed at a Fuji Workshop held at Digital Depot and hosted by Commercial Photographer Wayne Johns.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright Paul Saxby Photography 2015. Photograph by Paul Saxby.

Oh Boy, the camera certainly did live up to expectations. The Xpro2 is head and shoulders above its predecessor in every way.  The image above is straight out of camera. No editing, no Photoshop, straight out of camera. Take it from me, file is beautiful.

– The focus is snappier, even faster than the Nikon D4 I use on my work for the MoD. The camera no longer hunts, it just finds focus and stays there. Fuji user Jeff Carter wrote this great article about how he used the XPro2 for motorsport recently and he was totally blown away by how good it was. I certainly agree with him, the focussing is amazing. I would have no issues using the camera in high pressure press situations, and I am confident the camera could out perform any Nikon for focussing in low light.

– The tonal range, even on the Jpeg files, is astounding. I used the camera set to record a Black and White image using the Acros +Yellow film simulation. The images are astounding, a perfect replication of the film I used many times over the years. Across was always a favourite of mine and the Fuji geeks have made a perfect job at replicating it in camera.

– The images are virtually noise free. Even at very high ISO settings the noise is minimal and perfectly usable.

– The processor is quick….very quick. I set the camera to record RAW and High Res Jpeg files simultaneously. Even at 8 frames a second the camera wrote the files to the UDMA card without any buffering. In most of my work, which involves supplying images to the Press, I only shoot Jpegs, so I would be more than happy that the camera could write images to the cards fast enough in any situation.

– Two Card slots…. Something we Pro Fuji users have been waiting a long time for. Using two cards is extremely important as it provides security and redundancy for storing images. Most professional grade SD cards are incredibly secure and stable but there is always the slim chance that a card may become corrupt, so a second card, set to record a duplicate copy of all the images as I shoot allows me to have a backup copy just in case a card dies on me.

I also got to play with the new 90mm, a lens I was instantly smitten with. I don’t often use long lenses, but this lens (roughly equivalent to a 135mm lens on full frame sensors) is totally brilliant. Fitted to the XPro2 it recorded tack sharp images, even wide open. I could see myself using this lens almost exclusively for my portrait work, especially for my corporate portraits. I also managed to have a play with the new 35mm f2 lens. I really wanted to like this lens, which I did, but I already own the 35mm f1.4 and the advantages the f2 version offers didn’t really seem to be enough to make me invest in the newer lens.

Lets face it, I have to admit, there is every chance I will invest in this new camera sometime. The question is when. Personally, I think it might be sooner, rather than later……..

Now where did I put my piggy bank?