Fujifilm X-T2 Launched in Singapore. Plus Hands-On Impressions.

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After weeks of anticipation, the Fujifilm X-T2 was finally launched in Singapore on 10 Aug 2016, a day after Singapore’s National Day. It was held in the Luxe Art Museum, a small museum near The Cathay at the end of Orchard Road. To cater to the large turnout, Fujifilm Singapore has organised two sessions of the launch event—one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. I attended the latter session.

The event started with Mr. Favian Loo, Divisional Marketing Manager of Fujifilm Asia Pacific giving us a rundown of the new features of the Fujifilm X-T2. Among them are an upgraded 24MP sensor (the same one used on the X-Pro 2), significant improvements in AF performance and 4K performance. There is also a specially designed vertical battery grip which further improves the performance of the X-T2, as well as to give a much longer battery life by allowing the user to use three batteries simultaneously. The two batteries in the grip will be consumed before the one in the camera body. As with modern-day electronic devices, the X-T2 batteries can also be charged using USB.

Mr. Favian Loo
Mr. Favian Loo talking about the improvements made in the Fujifilm X-T2.

Next to present is Ms. Mindy Tan, the first female Fujifilm X Photographer. Mindy presented a photo slide show about the hutong in Beijing, China and her experiences in using the X-T2 while shooting her photo project. Unfortunately, the projector and the purplish light used in the event doesn’t do justice to her work. Thankfully, they are also presented as prints in the event grounds.

Ms Mindy Tan
Ms Mindy Tan

Next up is Mr. Benny Ang, followed by Mr. William Chua, both wedding photographers. They shared with the audience their experiences of using the X-T2 for their shoots and how the small size of the X-T2 helped them get their shots more easily. In particular, William told us about how the smaller X-T2 (compared to a DSLR) enabled him to shoot more easily in Morocco, where the people are camera-averse.

Mr. Benny Ang
Mr. Benny Ang
Mr. William Chua
Mr. William Chua

Hands-On

After the presentation, we finally got to lay our hands on the Fujifilm X-T2. There are also two live studio shooting sessions hosted by photographers Benny Ang and Ivan Joshua Loh. I headed straight to the demo stations, where there are a few demo units.

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 35mm f/2.0 WR lens.
Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 35mm f/2.0 WR lens.

In the hands, the X-T2 body feels similar to the X-T1. The hand grip is now slightly deeper, making for a nicer feel. The lock on the ISO dial—one of those things I hate on my X-T1—is now improved. It’s now a toggle switch—press once to lock, press again to unlock. This is much better as I can leave it unlocked for ease of changing settings. The same lock is also implemented on the shutter speed dial, though I think that doesn’t really require locking in the first place. But still a good usability improvement.

Also, as you can see from the photo above, the X-T2’s shutter button now has a threaded hole for those of you who wants to use a traditional mechanical plunger-type shutter release or a soft-release button. The exposure compensation dial of the X-T2 now lets you do up to ±5 stops of compensation. This is done by setting the dial to the “C” setting, and dialling in the desired exposure compensation using the front command dial.

Fujifilm X-T2 exploded view.
Exploded view of the Fujifilm X-T2.

On the back of the camera, the next major change is the flip LCD screen. Besides flipping up/down for high/low angle shots, the LCD also flips horizontally. Unfortunately, it only flips to the right. It would be nice if it could flip to the left as well. Though improved, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the X-T2’s EVF compared with my X-T1.

Fujifilm X-T2 Rear LCD
Fujifilm X-T2 Rear LCD

Like the recently-launched X-Pro 2, the X-T2 also features a joystick controller at the back. This works much better in selecting AF points than the rather mushy D-pad of the X-T1. On the X-T2, the D-pad buttons were also improved. They click more positively now compared to the X-T1. Definitely an improvement. With 91 AF points, the joystick is a welcome addition to easy selection of the desired AF point or group.

Another new change is the SD card door. On the X-T1, the SD card door slides towards you to unlock, much like some Nikon DSLRs. On the X-T2, there is now a lock lever on it which you must press in order to unlock the door. This implementation, though possibly more secure, is more fiddly when you need to change SD cards quickly. It’s probably not something you can do quickly when wearing gloves.

I also tried to test out the improved AF speeds as well. However, the first unit of the X-T2 I laid my hands on had a XF 16mm f/1.4, which isn’t very fast. Also, the rather dim (and lit with purplish lighting) show ground isn’t the best place to test AF performance. I tested with an unit mounted with a XF 35mm f/2.0 and AF speeds were similar to my X-T1 which I had with me. At the live studio setup, however, the X-T2 AF speeds were pretty good, focussing almost instantly on the models. I believe the firmware is still not the final version and is still being improved. The production version should be much better.

A visitor checks out the Fujifilm X-T2 at one of the live shooting setups.
A visitor checks out the Fujifilm X-T2 at one of the live shooting setups.

Another highlight of the X-T2 is 4K video recording. Again, the lighting conditions on the show floor weren’t good for this. The rather short security cable which the demo units were tethered to didn’t help either. On the X-T2, Fujifilm has removed the dedicated movie record button from the body. Movie recording is now its own drive mode which you set on a dial below the ISO dial. Once in movie mode, the shutter button will start the video recording. The X-T2 is able to record to the SD card slots or to an external recorder via the HDMI output.

Image quality is excellent. Here is a shot taken at one of the studio shooting areas, using a X-T2 and XF 50-140mm f/2.8. It’s slightly cropped but no other image adjustments were made.

Fujifilm X-T2 sample.
Fujifilm X-T2 sample shot.
100% Crop
100% Crop

High ISO performance looks pretty decent too. Here’s a shot at ISO 12,800. This is the highest native ISO of the X-T2 before going into one of the boost modes.

Fujifilm X-T2 output at ISO 12,800.
Fujifilm X-T2 output at ISO 12,800. No noise reduction applied.
100% Crop of the above image.
100% Crop of the above image. No noise reduction applied.

Hopefully, we can get hold of a review unit of the X-T2 from Fujifilm as it’s really hard to test out the camera at the event. But as of now, I quite like the improvements which Fujifilm has put in. The camera is available for pre-order from Fujifilm’s authorised dealers at S$2,599 for the body alone, or $2,999 with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens.

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Fujifilm Announces the X-T2—An Upgrade to the X-T1 With 24MP X-Trans CMOS III Sensor And 4K Video

Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4
Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4

Over two years ago, Fujifilm launched the X-T1, which won me over to the Fujifilm X system, I never looked back since. Today, Fujifilm announced the highly anticipated and much rumoured (and leaked) Fujifilm X-T2. Like the recently-launched X-Pro 2, the X-T2 features a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III CMOS with an ISO sensitivity of up to 51,200 (extended.)

The improvements of the X-T2 revolve over AF and video, with the AF system being boosted up to a whopping 325 AF points (there were only 49 in the X-T1.) Out of these 325, 169 has phase detection. Fujifilm claims that the X-T2 will be able to focus down to light levels of -3EV. On the video side of things, Fujifilm’s video capabilities were previously sub-par on the previous X-cameras, so I am surprised that the X-T2 will have 4K 30fps video recording capabilities. I am not sure how that performs, though. It does look like Fujifilm is serious about video on this camera, providing a 3.5mm microphone socket, on-screen audio-level monitoring and even a F-Log flat tone curve for easier post-processing. Mic levels can be adjusted by means of a customisable button.

The maximum shutter speed has been increased to 1/8000 when using the mechanical shutter (1/32000 with electronic shutter.) Fujifilm says that everything from the AF speed, start-up time, shutter lag and EVF blackout have been improved to the extreme, calling this “ultimate mirrorless camera.”

The EVF has the same resolution as the X-T1 with 2.36 million dots, but the refresh rate has been increased up to 100fps in Boost Mode. The display lag time has also been reduced to 0.005s. Blackout time has been halved from that of the X-T1 due to parallel processing of the live view and fast shutter charging, allowing continuous shooting up to 5fps in Live View. Brightness has been doubled on the X-T2’s EVF and there is now a auto-brightness function to allow easier viewing in bright lighting conditions. Another improvement is in the rear LCD—whereas on the X-T1 you can only tilt up/down, the X-T2’s LCD also flips to the right for waist-level viewing when shooting in portrait mode.

Finally, a special Vertical Power Booster grip is also available for the X-T2, which lets you use a total of three batteries (two in the grip, one in camera) for an increased maximum burst rate of up to 11fps (from 8fps) and 4K video recording up to 30min (from just 10.) Of course, this also lets you shoot many more shots than you can with a single battery. Like the X-Pro 2, the X-T2 also features a joystick control at the back for controlling the settings or navigating the UI. This, in my opinion, beats the rather mushy d-pad of the X-T1.

Fujifilm X-T2 With Power Booster Grip
Fujifilm X-T2 With Power Booster Grip

Photographers who like old school cable releases might like to know that the X-T2 now has a threaded shutter release button which allows you to use these mechanical shutter releases. On the X-T1, the only option is the electronic shutter release RR-90. Like the X-Pro 2, the X-T2 now features two SD card slots which can be configured as backup, overflow or video storage.

Overall, the X-T2 is a significant improvement over the X-T1. I can’t wait to get my hands on one to try it out. Fujifilm, if you are reading, maybe you can send us a review unit to check out.

No local pricing has been announced yet, but in the US, the X-T2 will be launched in September at US$1600 for the body alone or US$1900 when bundled with the excellent XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens. The Vertical Power Booster Grip will cost another US$330.

 

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Fujifilm Announces Firmware 4.0 for the X-T1/X-T1 GS With Major AF Improvements

As part of their “Kaijin” philosophy, Fujifilm has announced version 4.0 of the X-T1/X-T1 GS Firmware which offers significant improvements to the X-T1’s AF system. I am sure Fujifilm is as excited about this as I am, as they’ve made the above video to take you through the improvements. This is the first time I’ve seen any camera maker do a video to introduce a firmware update!

According to the press release, the AF improvements are:-

1. A new auto focus system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects – The auto focus system complements the fast and accurate single-point auto focus system with new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes, which use 77 autofocus points across a wider area to substantially improve the camera’s ability to track and capture moving subjects.

The Zone mode allows users to choose a 3×3, 3×5 or 5×5 zone from the 77-point auto focus area. When combined with the AF-C continuous focusing mode, the camera continues tracking a subject in the selected zone. The 3×3 and 3×5 zones at the center, in particular, offer extra-fast focusing with the use of the built-in phase detection pixels.

In the Wide/Tracking mode, the camera displays the area in focus, identified automatically out of the 77-point auto focus area (Wide in the AF-S mode) and tracks the focus area’s subject across the entire 77-point AF area (Tracking in the AF-C mode). This makes it possible to maintain focus on a subject that moves vertically, horizontally, and back and forth.

2. Improved auto focus accuracy – Single-point auto focus now divides the focus area into smaller sections to more accurately determine the distance to the subject for even greater focusing accuracy. The built-in phase detection pixels have increased sensitivity from 2.5EV to 0.5EV. This improvement delivers phase detection auto focus performance that enables fast focusing in low-light conditions and on low-contrast subjects.

3. Eye detection auto focus – The new firmware update provides Fujifilm’s Eye Detection auto focus, which automatically detects and focuses on human eyes. The function allows you to easily focus on the eyes even in difficult conditions, e.g. when shooting a portrait wide open to obtain a beautiful bokeh background.

4. Auto Macro mode – The firmware update introduces an Auto Macro function that automatically switches the camera into the Macro mode while maintaining the conventional auto focus speed. You no longer have to press the Macro button to initiate a close-up shot. This update eliminates the Macro function assigned to the Macro Button, allowing you to assign a different function to the button.

5. Auto focus improvement in Movie mode – The optimized algorithm delivers a more natural and smoothauto focus action during movie recording.

There are also other., albeit less exciting, improvements to the camera:-

Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation – When the Shutter Speed Dial is set to T, you can use the command dial to set the full range of exposure times. This means you can change the shutter speeds across a broader range without having to change camera position. This is particularly useful when shooting in the portrait orientation with the Vertical Battery Grip VG-XT1 attached.

Exposure Compensation control in Manual mode – The Exposure Compensation dial can be used to make exposure adjustments while shooting in the Manual exposure mode with the ISO Auto setting.

Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility – The lines on the framing grid have been made finer making it easier to view the subject.

Fujifilm cameras were traditionally never known to have super-fast AF speeds unlike something like the Olympus OM-D series and the Nikon 1 series. The X-T1/X-T1 GS is no exception. The various firmware releases have more or less improved the AF speeds to something more usable. Nothing has been as significant as this release, however. I can’t wait to see how much more improvements it can bring to my X-T1.

Among the smaller improvements, the “Improved Shutter Speed Dial Operation” will most likely appeal to photographers who prefer the more modern method of using command dials to control exposure, as opposed to the more traditional shutter speed dial + aperture ring combo.

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Fujifilm Launches the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, X100T, X30 In Singapore

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Edition with XF 56mm f/1.2APD
Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Edition with Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2APD

Fujifilm Singapore launched the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, the X100T, X30, XF 54-140mm f/2.8 and XF 56mm f/1.2APD at One Rochester on 11 Oct 2014. The event was opened to anyone who registered, and I decided to check it out. Continue reading Fujifilm Launches the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, X100T, X30 In Singapore

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Fujifilm Announces X100T, X-T1 Graphite Silver, and Two XF Lenses

SidebySide

Firing the first big round of announcements is Fujifilm. The X100S gets an upgrade with the X100T. So is Fujifilm doing the alphabet loop this time?

Continue reading Fujifilm Announces X100T, X-T1 Graphite Silver, and Two XF Lenses

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Hands On With the New Fujifilm X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1 with XF 56mm f/1.2
Fujifilm X-T1 with XF 56mm f/1.2

For a long time, I didn’t think I’d be tempted with a new camera. Most of the cameras released were cool and all, but it lacked the “X Factor” to tempt me. Full frame, more megapixels, faster AF, Wifi, etc weren’t enough to get me to buy one. I am quite happy shooting my Nikon D7000.

That is, until I attended the Fujifilm hands-on session organised by a few Fujifilm dealers in Singapore to let potential buyers check out the newly released XT-1 camera. Like the Sony A7/A7R, the Fujifilm XT-1 is a highly anticipated camera and many were keen to check it out. Following the trend of retro-inspired designs started by the legendary X100, the XT-1 continue to have the knobs and dials that many will like (and surely some will hate it as well). Continue reading Hands On With the New Fujifilm X-T1

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Most Leaked Fujifilm X Camera Announced – the X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1 is finally announced today on the 28th January 2014
Fujifilm X-T1 is finally announced today on the 28th January 2014

Finally, it’s official announced – to not much surprise though, since the new Fujifilm X-T1 camera is one of the most leaked cameras, with photos and specs well available to the general public over the past few weeks.

It’s significant that a Fujifilm X camera is touting operational speed among its many attributes, as most of the X cameras so far aren’t speed demons. The X-T1 has also gained the SLR-esque hump that seems to be all the rage now, heralded in first by the 2012 OMD-EM5 and followed on by the OMD-EM1 and the Sony A7 and A7R. Continue reading Most Leaked Fujifilm X Camera Announced – the X-T1

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