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Fujifilm X-Pro2: The legend is back

PHOTO: FUJIFILM

Camera stands out for image quality, ability to toggle between film simulation modes

The Fujifilm X-Pro2 is the successor to the four-year-old X-Pro1, which has garnered a cult following.

The X-Pro2 features the newly developed 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III image sensor, which is an upgrade from its predecessor's 16-megapixel one.

Fujifilm's X-Trans CMOS image sensor differs from conventional image sensors in that its red/green/blue photo sensors are arranged in an irregular pattern that mimics the randomness of 35mm film. Such an arrangement reduces the moire effect - in which closely spaced straight lines come across with a wavy pattern distortion.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,799 (body only)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III APS-C

    DISPLAY: 3-inch with 1.62 million dots; built-in hybrid viewfinder - optical viewfinder/electronic viewfinder with 2.36 million dots

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 8 frames per second

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 51,200

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 495g (body only, including battery and memory card)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The X-Pro2 also comes with the new X-Processor Pro image processor, which is said to be four times faster than its predecessor.

I reviewed the X-Pro2 using Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2.0 prime lens (this translates to 52.5mm in 35mm format due to the APS-C image sensor's 1.5x crop factor).

Straightaway, I was impressed with its image quality. Details were sharply rendered and the colours vivid. Pictures have great dynamic range, with details visible even in the shadow areas.

But the best part of the X-Pro2 is its ability to toggle between different film simulation modes that mimic Fujifilm's films of old, such as the Velvia colour slide film and Acros monochrome. I found myself using the Acros film simulation mode a lot. It produces grains that are almost film-like.

The ISO performance is amazing, with noise artefacts starting to appear only at ISO 6,400 - but they were not significant. It was only at ISO 12,800 that detail loss and chromatic noise became apparent.

Start-up time is around 0.7 second, while shutting down takes around 1.2 seconds. This is really quick, considering that mirrorless cameras usually take two seconds each for power-up and shut-down operations. Shutter lag is negligible.

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the X-Pro2 was able to capture 25 RAW images in 2.9 seconds before the buffer ran out. It works as advertised.

The AF points in the X-Pro2 have been increased to 77, from the 49 of its predecessor. Consequently, the AF speed has improved significantly.

Getting a focus lock in bright sunlight is almost instantaneous. Under dim lighting, it takes one to two seconds to secure the focus lock with the help of the AF assist light. The X-Pro1 would at times fail to even focus under similarly dim conditions.

The X-Pro2 retains the weather- sealed magnesium-alloy body and retro rangefinder-like styling of its predecessor. The front grip is more pronounced than its predecessor, making it much easier to grasp the camera.

Looks-wise, the X-Pro2 continues to be an absolute beauty with its rangefinder styling. It has a dedicated shutter speed dial and an exposure value compensation (EV) dial on the camera's top. Changing the aperture is done through the aperture ring on the lens. Those who have used film rangefinders or manual SLR cameras will find using the controls to be a walk down memory lane.

However, the X-Pro2 also incorporates a number of improvements to the controls. To save space, the ISO dial is embedded within the shutter dial. You need to lift the shutter speed dial and turn in order to change the ISO settings.

In addition, a small rear joystick allows you to change the AF point quickly - heaven-sent when you need to compose pictures.

The only downer is that it is easy for the EV dial to get turned by mistake. But the overall handling is top-notch.

Further helping the camera's handling is the upgraded Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder. A push of a front lever switches the hybrid viewfinder from an optical viewfinder (OVF) to an electronic viewfinder (EVF). I prefer to use OVF, but I like the fact that I can switch to EVF when I need to check the white balance.

The camera also features a new electronic rangefinder mode that displays a small EVF over the OVF, for users to check for focus and white balance during OVF mode, so you get the best of both worlds.

The X-Pro2 has dual SD card slots, allowing you to do a direct backup of photos or have more storage space.

Battery life is around 350 frames on a full charge, which is average for mirrorless cameras.

• Verdict: If you cannot afford to buy a Leica rangefinder, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 is the next best thing. You don't have to sacrifice an arm and a leg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Fujifilm X-Pro2: The legend is back'. Print Edition | Subscribe