It has been nearly six months since I decided to dip my toe into the world of mirrorless camera technology so I figured it is about time that I air my thoughts on the Fujifilm XT-2 from the perspective of a landscape/adventure photographer. With having the camera for a longer duration I now feel that I can provide some practical insight on its performance being used as a full time landscape and adventure type camera. If you are familiar with the blog and my work you know that I have been a Canon shooter from the beginning. So, alongside the XT-2 I still have my Canon 5d Mark III. At this point I still can not part with this camera for a few reason that I will get into later on.
The first thing people say to me when they hear that I picked up the XT-2 is “why Fujifilm over Sony”? I say to them, “that is a great question”. There are a few reasons but the main point boils down to size. When I began looking into mirrorless cameras I was looking for a kit that could accommodate a fast and light style. One of my favourite pastimes is rock climbing and for a few years I have been lugging my 5D3 up multi-pitch climbs, and although it performed excellent it was like carrying a small child up a mountain every time I went out. It was for this reason I began to look for a lighter alternative that could perform as well as my Canon. Initially I considered a Sony A7r2, I even had it ordered in for me by my local Camera shop. I was 100% ready to make the jump to Sony, I even began selling off my Canon gear. First to go was my Canon 7dmrk2. Then my 100-400 version 2, I still regret that decision. Next to go was my go to landscape and climbing lens the 17-40f4. By this time I was stripped down bare to only my full frame Canon 5d3, the sigma 20mm ART 1.4, still my favourite lens, and my wedding lens the 50mm 1.2.
After the dust has settled and I was still not ready to jump over to Sony full frame for the simple reason that full frame glass is still full frame glass. Even though the overall dimensions and weight of the Sony body was less than my Canon bodies the lenses were the same size and weight if not larger. I knew this from the start but for some reason I decided to ignore it, perhaps due to the new gear high I was on from the excitement of switching over to a new camera system. But after the sell of of a bunch of Canon gear I began to feel like I was making a bad mistake. What I wanted most of all was a compact camera system that would still perform like my Canon gear but deep down I knew the difference was going to be only marginal. Then came the fateful day when my mentor showed up toting his new XT-2. Instantly I was drawn to the Camera, like the hottie at the high school dance. After some discussion I wrote the camera off due to its APC-S sensor. I just couldn’t give up full frame. A few days went by and could not get the camera out of my head. So, I started weighing the pros and cons of the Fuji system. I looked into the lens lineup and found that they had a 10-24 which in full frame language converts to a 15-36 focal length, my favourite focal length. After a few late nights of incessant research I decide that I would call my local camera shop and make the switch from the Sony body to the Fuji. I ended up picking up the XT-2 and the 10-24 for the same amount that I would have paid for the Sony alone. I have taken the camera out a number of times and put it through its paces bringing us to now, where I can say that I am still in love with the system. With all of this said and you yourself are contemplating a switch here are my own personal thoughts on some of the advantages and drawbacks of the Fuji system.
This camera is so small and so light, the main reason I picked it up and still love it so much. With the 10-24 attached, one of the X series larger lenses, I could still smuggle the system inside the Canon equivalent. With being an landscape and outdoor photographer who loves to travel this is a huge plus. I took it on a couple climbs in the later season and it performed so well. I really didn’t know it was there when I had it attached to my Peak Designs Capture Clip. Normally I can’t see over the Canon when it is attached this was not the case at all with the Fuji.
So many people are concerned with megapixel count these days that they forget to consider any other aspects of a camera system. The XT-2 is 24 megapixels, that’s 2 more that my Canon 5D Mark 3. I understand that it doesn't handle megapixels like a full frame camera but I have nothing but great things to say about the quality of images. I have been able to print 24x36 inch images and they are tack sharp! Along with image sharpness the XT-2 offer incredible dynamic range. I have pulled shadows and dropped highlights significantly in Lightroom and it doesn't have any degrading effects on the image, in my personal opinion it blows my Canon 5d3 out of the water.
This camera is hands down the sexiest camera I have ever put my hands on. The analog features that are all right there on top, make the camera a pleasure to use for any nostalgic student of camera history. I love that the aperture ring is on the lens and that everything feels so pure. Along with the analog functionality the digital interface is easy to get a grasp of and very customizable. I have been able to customize all button to suit my needs as a landscape photographer. My favourite function of the camera is that the option to bracket exposures is easily accessible on the left top dial. One of my biggest pet peeves with my Canon cameras is that you have to go menu diving pretty hard to activate this function.
When I first started taking photography more seriously I picked up the Canon 70D. I loved this camera for its tilty screen. I honestly think it is an essential as a landscape photographer so the fact that the Xt-2 has this feature was a huge selling point for me. Getting a low and unique perspective is the name of the game and if I don't have to get down on my stomach in the mud or freezing snow that is a huge bonus! I am absolutely in also in love with Fuji XT-2 tilty screen and I know for sure that I could never go without this feature again.
When it comes to ISO performance it has been traditionally so that crop sensor cameras just can't keep with a full frame sensors. I believe that the Fuji XT-2 is on par with my Canon 5D3 in this area. With both cameras I am confident in keepers at 6400 iso and if I am really hurting I can take the XT-2 all the way to 8000. As well, with Fuji’s monochromatic noise the grain is just easier on the eyes than the Canons grain at high ISO's. I have shot climbing in a dark canyon and printed images shot at 6400 with shadows pulled over a stop and they prints come out looking amazing. Its almost unreal how far crop sensor technology has come in such a short period of time.
The Not so Goods
Lack of Depth of Field
As you may or may not know, a crop sensor is not able to achieve the same results as a full frame in the depth of field department. This has to do with the physical size of the sensor. The bigger the sensor size the shallower depth of field results you can achieve. No amount of advancement in tech can help a crop sensor in this area. It is because of this I still have the Canon full frame system. Although I don't use the Canon gear for what I most frequently shoot, landscapes, I still can not part with it for the few occasions when I shoot weddings, events, or family photos. At this point, because these jobs are the real money makers for me, I am hesitant to sell off the rest of the Canon gear. Although I am tempted to give Fuji’s 85mm 1.2 a go and get rid of the Canon system all together it’s the full frame Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, that holds me back. It’s just too amazing for things like environmental portraits and astro photography to part with.
The Digitally Simulated Image.
As a guy who is making the mirrorless transition I should have been able to deal with this I know but, for all the things I thought would bother me this one never crossed my mind. Manually focusing landscapes is where I find the issue and although I am employing features such as focus peaking and boost mode, which ups the refresh rate of the simulated image, I still have a hard time trusting that everything is tack sharp. I really do love being able to zoom in on the actual object and manually nail my focus but I also have to consider that this could be just another growing pain that comes with making the DSLR to mirrorless switch.
It's Too Small
I know what your thinking on this one, "you bought this camera because you wanted a smaller camera you goof?" Ya I know I know, and I really did and I really do love that about the camera. But, there is still something to be said about a big beefy DSLR grip. I love the ergonomics of the DSLR and that the buttons are big and tactile. With landscape photography I have no issues because I don't handle the camera as it is on the tripod. Where the problem lies is in my climbing photography, more notably ice climbing. The bottom line is that gloves and little tiny Fuji buttons don't mix. Normally I use a medium glove in regards to thickness and I have now resorted in using a much thiner glove so that I can feel the buttons on the camera.
In the end I have made the decision to not only stick with the Fuji XT-2 but it has moved its way into top spot in the bag. I have sold a substantial amount of my Canon gear and only two lenses remain, the 20mm 1.4 and the 50mm 1.2. At this point the pros of the XT-2 outweigh the cons and I believe the cons are just part of the adjustment period that comes with making the DSLR to mirrorless jump. As I said, the depth of field capabilities of the Canon full frame are what is keeping me from going full Fuji but in time I may be able to strike a comprise with the addition of a new chunk of glass or two. When it all boils down I can't ever image being without the XT-2. It does things for me that the Canon can not do and the image quality and ISO capabilities for a crop sensored camera are like nothing could have ever dreamed to be possible. Every outing with the beautiful Fuji XT-2 is a pleasure and at the end of the day it's really not the camera that makes good photographs its the photographer. In saying that, being able to find a camera that suits all of my needs as a landscape photography and then some is what makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and that has to count for something too.
For more sample images and to check out my recent work captured with the XT-2 follow me on Instagram @tylerweberphoto
Tyler weber is a landscape photographer based in Alberta Canada. For more of his work and insight follow him on Instagram as well as Facebook and 500px