Hands-on with Fujifilm’s new XT-2: is it the “ultimate mirrorless” compact?

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Camera maker Fujifilm took the wraps off of its latest mirrorless camera today, the Fujifilm X-T2, which it’s describing as the company’s “ultimate” mirrorless camera.

Given the Japanese firm’s history with mirrorless cameras – its X-series of cameras have been strong favourites with reviewers since its launch in 2012 – that’s quite a statement. Having had a very brief play with the X-T2 at Fujifilm’s Johannesburg offices, it might well be an accurate statement.

Specs-wise, the X-T2 has a few incremental improvements from the previous flagship, the X-T1. It has a 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor – up from 16.3MP in the X-T1 – which has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 12 800 (plus higher values in “extended” modes).

Fuji says that autofocus and focus tracking for moving subjects – traditionally the weakness for mirrorless cameras – have both been improved over the already strong X-T1 (we didn’t get to try this out in our short play). It now has 91 focus points (up from 49) and phase detection autofocus for accuracy and speed in the centre 40% of the viewfinder.

The basic silhouette of the camera is similar to the X-T1, although the X-T2 is slightly larger in the hand. It certainly doesn’t feel unbalanced, however, and there’s some clever additions to the controls including a new thumbstick for changing AF area and a redesign of the locks on the ISO and shutterspeed dials. For the latter, the button in the middle of the dial is press to lock/unlock rather than press and hold – which makes it easier to change settings without taking your eye from the viewfinder.

The camera’s housing is dust-resistant, water-resistant and capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10°C. The company also explained that it has improved on the original X-T design, by making the autofocus and electronic viewfinder’s performance much better.

The body (which weighs 507g) is also compatible with the full line-up of 22 Fujinon lenses, and speaking of the electronic viewfinder, it has a magnification ratio of 0.77x.

“It (is) more adaptable than ever before at shooting a moving subject under difficult conditions, such as sports or wildlife photography, which had previously been considered difficult with mirrorless cameras,” Fujifilm explained in a statement.

Fujifilm goes 4K

Since the launch of the X-series, Fujifilm’s mirrorless cameras have been aimed squared at professional and high-end hobbiest photographers looking for a digital photo-taking experience reminiscent of the old range finder days. The cameras can shoot video, but it’s not been a priority or selling point – up until now. The new X-T2 supports 4K video recording and can apply the still photo Film Simulation modes – such as monochrome, “Classic Chrome” and  and so on – to video as well as still.

And naturally you would like to see what you shot, so the rear LCD screen can tilt in three different directions – which is also a first for the X series – tilting up and down when shooting in landscape, and upward when shooting in portrait. It also features two SD card slots and – for those already invested in the X-series cameras – the same battery design as previous models. Although Fujifilm does reveal that it hasn’t lost it’s high brow thinking here by refusing to give in to modernity and making the LCD a touchscreen.

The camera looks and feels great, but the bad news is that those who want to get their hands on the Fujifilm X-T2 will have to wait until September, when it will be finally see commercial release. Local pricing is yet to be set, but we will have a full review and sample shots ready to publish in a couple of weeks.

(Additional reporting by Adam Oxford)

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.