Slow start with the Fuji X-T2, first impressions

White water canoeing, Fuji X-T2 - PJ020028

I picked up my pre-ordered Fuji X-T2 the morning they went on sale. Unfortunately I put my back out the same day; no the X-T2 is not that heavy! But the back problem meant I struggled to walk, sit or even drive for nearly a month so I was largely limited to snapshot mode with my new toy.

However it did still lead to some insights. The X-T2 works just like my X-T1 except for the ISO dial. I use it frequently and initially struggled because the lock button works differently. On the X-T1 the dial is locked until the button is pressed and held while changing ISO setting. On the X-T2 the dial is free unless locked by pressing the button, so I kept locking it when I wanted to change ISO. Not a big issue and now I am using the camera more it is becoming second nature, until I try to use it alongside my X-T1 I suspect. The X-T1 is just back from a service so more on that later.

The first improvement I found with the X-T2 is that it can be charged using USB. As I was travelling in a motorhome (RV) in France that was invaluable. I rarely had access to mains so being able to charge the camera from a five volt USB socket was so convenient. That said, it seems that despite pre-release rumours the batteries in the grip cannot be charged using USB which is a shame. The grip is much better than the one for the X-T1 which I have never really used as one needs to remove it to take the battery out of the camera for a recharge. With the X-T2 USB charging means that is no longer necessary and, in any case, the grip batteries are used before the in-body battery, at least in normal use. However I will only use the grip when shooting events, such as sport and some news,  that need the extra performance or the extra battery capacity. for most purposes I like the lighter weight of the camera without the grip, the battery life of the Fuji X cameras has never been a problem for me.

The X-T2 felt snappier in use but I did not try it directly alongside the X-T1. It was four weeks before I was able to get to a more active subject. I wanted to find a football (soccer) game but there was nothing happening at my usual choice of location. Instead I headed down to my old sailing club but the action was gentle as there was not a lot of breeze. The X-T2 seemed to be doing better with the 100-400mm than I recalled the X-T1 had managed and was hitting the focus spot on.

My final resort was to walk down to the white water canoe course but again there was not much happening. However I took some shots and it was only afterwards I realised that I had not noticed any viewfinder blackout or other issues, I had been able to follow the action much better than with the X-T1 especially when using the grip on boost. During this brief exercise I only binned a couple of shots for focus reasons, the focus was on the background rather than missed focus—I felt they were down to my technique rather than the camera. My general sense was that the X-T2 autofocus was markedly faster than the X-T1 when using the faster focussing lenses; the 100-500mm and the 50-140mm f2.8 lenses.

I now need to find a real test to enable the X-T2 to show its capability for sport's use. Ideally I need an opportunity to shoot football or even better, basketball. I have more experience with basketball, my son played at a high level, and it is more of challenge for autofocus as players move randomly in three dimensions, usually close up and in relatively poor light. Of all the sports I have photographed, which is most, basketball is the most difficult. The one that I imagine might be even more difficult, because of its speed, is ice hockey but I have never had the opportunity to shoot it; I may have to approach our local team, Nottingham Panthers.

Finally to bring this post to a close, I took the opportunity to get my X-T1 serviced while my photography opportunities were limited. The camera had the usual problems, a badly bowed connector door, spreading body covering, especially  on the back, and the card door seal was breaking up. Otherwise it still does the job I bought it for so I will keep it to use alongside the X-T2 until I can justify or need another X-T2 body for action work. I registered the repair with Fuji and sent it off on Saturday morning. I paid £140 plus £10 ($12.50) extra for it to be fast tracked and it was back by 9.30am on Wednesday looking pristine apart from a few battle scars. Light rubs,  on the metal work, even they seemed reduced. It is effectively as good as new with a fresh twelve month warranty. It would be useful if Fuji had a professional support service but in the interim £10 for 48 hour turnaround instead of 10-15 days sounds like a good deal. I have used Fuji for repairs or service three times now and I am happy with the service.

I should be able to get back into my photography seriously now my back pain is starting to ease, I will just need to be careful I do not overload my bag. All being well I will be able to complete a more thorough evaluation of the X-T2 and comparison with the X-T1.

Notes

The heading picture was taken with a 50-140mm lens on the Fuji X-T2 with battery grip on boost for maximum autofocus speed. I used a 3 x 3 zone focus area and continuous autofocus used the default settings and drive speed was CL (continuous low, 5 frames per second). The shot was one of a short burst (rare for me), all in focus but then it was not a challenging subject for AF but I was able to follow the action with the high frame rate for the electronic viewfinder, I simply did not notice the blackout any more than I would with a dslr. The raw image was processed in Capture 1 pro (version 9.3.0) to open up the shadows a little, I could happily have used the out of camera jpeg if time had been an issue (say for breaking news).

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