Let's get this out of the way up front. We loved the X-T2. It has all the right controls in all the right places. Aperture is controlled on the lens, including an auto setting. ISO and Shutter both have dedicated manual controls with markers that let you dial-in your settings without ever looking at a monitor or viewfinder. It's beautiful. For about 20 minutes we struggled to learn how to enable aperture priority for still shooting, only to realize that if we turn the ISO and Shutter dials to auto while manually setting the aperture, we were effectively in the mode we were looking for.

Yet, the XT-2 is an imperfect video camera. It struggles to keep up with the features and innovations brought to market by leaders like Sony and Panasonic. What we’re left with is a camera that compromises. Similar to how the GH5 is a spectacular video camera with mediocre photo capabilities, the Fujifilm X-T2 suffers from the opposite problem.

Ergonomics

Both the ISO and the shutter speed dials have locking buttons, while the dedicated dials for shooting mode and metering mode are positioned such that they are unlikely to be accidentally turned. The exposure compensation dial inexplicably doesn't lock.

Top view of the Fuji X-T2

One nice setting on the exposure compensation dial is Custom, which enables the front command dial to shift the exposure to +/- 5 EV. The front command dial isn't hard to reach, but isn't in a place where your fingers naturally rest. That means, if you're using Custom mode, you're unlikely to spin the command dial accidentally. Additionally, the Custom setting is about an eighth-turn in either direction to get back to normal exposure compensation levels, rather than the usual 1/24th turn between exposure adjustment levels. For this reason, we found the Custom setting to be the closest thing to a lock on this dial.

The Fujifilm X-T2 captures beautiful still photos. Paired with the XF 16-55 2.8, the X-T2 was one of the most enjoyable still cameras we've ever shot with. In addition to the dedicated physical controls already mentioned, the X-T2 is compact yet feels substantial in your hands. The EVF eye-sensor is generally fast and responsive. The digital zoom for focus assist happens without latency.

Another unfortunate aspect of the X-T2 is the fact that the headphone jack is only available with the optional Vertical Power Booster Grip, which retails for 227 dollars. While we're happy Fujifilm included the possibility of connecting headphones to the X-T2 in general, it's common among other cameras at this price point to have a built-in headphone jack. A lack of one on the X-T2 is disappointing.

The grip, however, does add some additional value beyond just the headphone jack and more comfortable portrait photography ergonomics. Most applicable to video shooters is the increase in battery life and 4K record time. Without the grip, record time in 4K is limited to 10 minutes. Adding the grip increases the limit to 30 minutes thanks to the additional heat distribution.

While the standard 10 minute record limit may sound disappointing at first, it's a bit more palatable when you consider that due to that limit, the X-T2 doesn't have any overheating issues.

The LCD screen on the rear of the camera is tiltable and can articulate slightly to the right, but can't flip 180 degrees for selfie mode. As such, Sony users, who are used to tilting screens only, will find the added range of movement refreshing, while Canon users, whose cameras frequently have fully articulating screens, will find it limiting.

Back view of the Top view of the Fuji X-T2 showing the tiltable LCD screen

The electronic viewfinder is crisp and vibrant. When shooting outdoors in a variety of situations, we never had a problem easily seeing our subject through the viewfinder. Often, when raising the camera to our eye, there was a visual glitch at the bottom fourth or so of the EFV which appeared as a purple stripe, but it vanished in less than a second. This glitch never negatively affected our ability shoot, and we haven't encountered anyone online with the same issue, so we assume it's an issue with our individual unit.

One issue we discovered while shooting stills was with regard to the eye sensor and startup time. If you turn the camera on away from your face and raise it to your eye within about three seconds, there will be a delay of a few seconds before EVF switches on. However, if you turn on the camera with the camera already at your eye, it’ll turn on instantly. Likewise, if you turn it on, allow the LCD to turn on, then wait five seconds before raising the camera to your eye, the EVF will switch over nearly instantly. It’s a small detail, but we missed a few shots before getting into the habit of having the camera at our eye before flipping the on switch. Another solution would be to disable the LCD entirely, forcing use of the EVF, but that’s just not how we roll in the video world.

Another issue we had was with raw photos on our SD card being occasionally unreadable. When reviewing photos, we had to avoid specific shots or risk locking up the camera. Fortunately none of the shots were corrupt, and moving the shots to a computer and clearing the card fixed the problem. Hundreds of photos later, we haven't experienced this problem again.

Photos

We’ll admit to not being great photographers here at Videomaker, but still, this author loves taking photos. I take a ton of them. I rely a lot on auto-focus and aperture priority. I’m not great at being ready at just the right moment when a photo-op presents itself. I’m also kind of lazy, which means I carry cameras in my backpack rather than on a strap around my neck. For me, the ideal way to use a camera is generally to configure the camera in a very specific way and try not to accidentally change it. I should be able to pull the camera from my bag, switch it on, raise it to my eye and snap a usable shot. Thanks to the locking controls, that’s generally what you get from the X-T2.

The X-T2 has a super quick, 91-point autofocus system. We never had any trouble missing focus. Generally,  we found the face tracking to be reliable, though in some cases it was challenged. One specific example was a wide with foreground objects competing with our subject, all while full-frame evaluation was enabled. In this case, two out of three attempts ended with the camera choosing to focus on the foreground rather than our human subject, despite her face being clearly visible. We chalk this up to user error, however, as switching to zone evaluation fixed the problem.

One nice auto-focus feature is the ability to track not only eyes, but left and right eyes individually. This worked out great for wide-aperture photos where we wanted the eye closest to the lens to be the sharpest part of the picture.

In post, we found even high ISO images to be clean and have generally pleasing noise. Still, Lightroom cleaned it up nicely. For most shots, we felt comfortable shooting up to 6,400 ISO, knowing we could clean it up in Lightroom.

The X-T2 doesn’t have in-body image stabilization — neither does the 16-55 we shot with. That made camera shake a problem at lower shutter speeds. In fact, without a tripod, we were generally unable to shoot still photos at anything slower than 1/60. Fujifilm does make lenses with image stabilization and we regret not borrowing one for this review.

Video

While testing the X-T2’s video, we traveled to Macedonia in Eastern Europe to train NGO's in the craft of creating and distributing video. Macedonia provided a striking backdrop for camera testing. Most shots were taken outdoors with natural light, during both day and night.

It was under the midday sun that we discovered the first unfortunate aspect of the X-T2: it has no proper exposure monitoring for video without a firmware update. Our go-to exposure monitoring tool is zebra stripes, but a histogram will work in a pinch. The X-T2 doesn’t offer zebras while recording video, and we didn’t discover we were using old firmware until after the first shoot. Frustrating! Thankfully, the update got us the histogram we so badly needed.

Dynamic range is on-par with cameras that don’t have a log profile. In the midday sun, blacks were frequently crushed while skin-tones were often blown out. While Fujifilm technically does offer an F-log profile to helps with this, it only works when using an external recorder. Since we didn't have an external recorder on this trip, F-log was unavailable to us. That said, F-log does improve dynamic range substantially.

Dynamic range is on-par with cameras that don’t have a log profile

One example of where dynamic range was limited without F-log was in an outdoor shot across a footbridge in a park. In this shot, sunlight and shadow created a dapple pattern on the concrete and metal bridge while surrounding trees were shaded. In this and other shots in the park, tree trunks came out nearly black while lighter colored objects in direct sun like the concrete were completely blown out.

All this said, the X-T2’s dynamic range isn't outside what we would expect from a camera without a Log profile. Perhaps we’re spoiled by cameras like the Sony a6500 having S-log, but with standard dynamic range at best, we felt crippled shooting outdoors without F-log. We hope that Fujifilm finds a way to remove the external recorder requirement for working with F-log in the future.

Other than dynamic range, however, the video looked very good. Our images turned out sharp and crisp. Rolling shutter effects were minimal, and so motion appeared fluid and natural. Colors appeared true to how they appeared in person. ISO noise was easily usable up to 3,200, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some shooters are comfortable taking it to 6,400. That said, we wouldn’t advise shooting video at ISO 12,800 under anything but the most urgent circumstances.

Marketplace

At this price, you have a few possible alternatives, though noting at exactly this price. The first camera we’d consider looking at is the Panasonic Lumix GH5. At about 2,000 dollars, it’s a bit more expensive than the X-T2. What you get is internal 10-bit 4K video, and it’s the only interchangeable-lens camera even close to it’s price point that has that. It’s  also got an included headphone jack. Unfortunately, if you want Panasonic’s Log profile, it’ll cost you an extra 100 dollars. It’s also doesn’t have nearly the photographic capabilities of the X-T2

Next you have the Sony a6500 which sells for 1,300 dollars. Which camera is a better stills camera is up for debate, though we give the edge to the X-T2 due to its controls system. But the a6500 is a much stronger video camera. While it also doesn’t have a headphone jack, the a6500 can shoot 4K video for up to 30 minutes continuously — though it may overheat before it hits that limit. It can also shoot 1,920 x 1,080 video at up to 120 frames per second — twice the speed of the X-T2. That’s not to mention it’s got S-log which can record internally and it’s got in-body image stabilization which is absolutely amazing.

We’d recommend the X-T2 over most Canon cameras for most video shooters with the exception of YouTube vloggers. Canon cameras commonly have fully articulating LCD screens, which are invaluable for anyone shooting video of themselves. Otherwise, Canon has been slow to put both 4K and Log in their consumer and enthusiast level cameras.

That leaves Nikon’s D500 at 1,800 dollars, which shoots 4K video, has a headphone jack and is a damn-good stills camera. It doesn’t have a Log profile, but it’s otherwise very close to the X-T2. We prefer the manual control of the X-T2, but this really comes down to personal preference.

Who Should Buy It

If you don’t plan to use an external recorder, and generally don’t care about shooting still photos, you should skip the X-T2. However, if you consider yourself anything of a photography enthusiast, you’ll have a blast with this camera. The controls and ergonomics are superb. The autofocus is fast and accurate. And the the photographic  image quality is phenomenal. It’s definitely a buy for people who are serious about photography and are light video shooters.

Likewise, if you take video seriously, plan to use an external recorder and are also serious about photography, again, the X-T2 is a buy. From what we can tell, F-log is a competent profile so long as you can use it.

For anyone with limited interest in photography and without access to an external recorder, it’s hard to recommend the X-T2 over a camera like the Sony a6500, which offers great 4K video and an in-camera log profile for a few hundred dollars less.

Conclusion

The X-T2 was a super-fun stills camera, but as a video camera we found it to be just average. The physical control system is a breath of fresh air when shooting both stills and video. In fact, it’s so refreshing, it’s been difficult going back to another, more conventional system where you have to look at a screen to see your shutter, ISO and aperture. Still, the Fujifilm X-T2 is lacking a few features that would have made it great: zebra exposure monitoring in video mode, a built-in headphone jack and an internal Log profile.

Fujifilm
www.fujifilm.com
PRICE: $1,600

SUMMARY:

The Fujifilm X-T2 is a superb stills camera. We loved the image quality and physical control scheme, but found the video capabilities to be average, at best.

STRENGTHS:

  • Physical controls
  • Great photo image quality
  • Fast auto-focus

WEAKNESSES:

  • F-Log requires external recorder
  • No in-body image stabilization
  • No built-in headphone jack

RECOMMENDED USERS:

  • Independent filmmakers
  • Generalists
  • Travel videographers
  • Journalists

TECH SPECS:

Lens Mount: Fujifilm X Mount
Camera Format: APS-C (1.5x Crop Factor)
Pixels: 24.3 Megapixel
Max Resolution: 24 MP: 6000 x 4000
Sensor Type / Size: CMOS, 23.6 x 15.6 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Audio: Linear PCM 14-Bit
Memory Card Type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Video Recording: NTSC/PAL
Video Format: UHD 3840 x 2160p (100 Mbps H.264) 1920 x 1080p (100 Mbps H.264) 1280 x 720p (50 Mbps H.264)
Video Clip Length: Up to 30 Minutes
Focus Modes: Continuous-Servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M), Single-servo AF (S)
Autofocus Points: Hybrid: 325
Viewfinder Type: Electronic
Display Screen: 3" Rear Screen Pivoting LCD (1,040,000)
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200-12800 (Extended Mode: 100-51200)
Interval Recording: Yes
Connectivity: 1/8" Microphone, 2.5mm Sub-mini (2-Ring), HDMI D (Micro), Micro-USB, USB 3.0
Wi-Fi: Yes
Battery: NP-W126S
Weight: 1.115 lb / 507 g with memory card and battery

Mike Wilhelm prefers pictures to words. He’s also Videomaker’s Director of Content.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great review!
    What do you think of his now the price has dropped considerably and Fuji has added 120fps at 1080 with internal log recording?

    You still need the battery grip for headphone support, but I feel like this is the best kept video secret now at this price.

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