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The X-Pro 2 on the runway - a mini-review
Old 11-19-2016   #1
honozooloo
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The X-Pro 2 on the runway - a mini-review

This is gonna get long-winded, so apologies in advance. Here are a few of my own observations about my X-Pro 2 after an intensive week of shooting with it. I'm not sponsored by Fuji in any way, and have bought all my Fuji stuff with my own hard-earned cash. All views expressed here are my own. So anyway. Recently, one of my company's publications, Honolulu Magazine, put on it's annual Fashion Week here in Honolulu. We staff shooters were tasked with shooting 13 full runway shows in three days, with the usual behind the scenes and general crowd/location shots thrown into the mix. It was a looong weekend, and a great chance to see how the X-Pro 2 stacked up as a stand-in for my company-issued kit.

Our work-issued cameras are those dependable workhorses, the 5D MKIII. Now they're great, well-rounded, and just never quit. But they're also heavy, and in anticipation of a long weekend of running and gunning, I decided to lighten my load a bit and carry my X-Pro 2, 55-200mm, 16mm, and 35mm 1.4, with my Fuji X100s for snapshots. All of the above kit weighs less than just one 5D3 with a battery grip and 70-200mm attached. Consider that if I were shooting all Canon it'd probably require two Canon bodies (one for long, one for wide), and the requisite on-camera strobe on the wide...thats gotta be nearly 20 lbs of kit I'd be schlepping around for 12 hours a day.

I've used the X-Pro 2 on various assignments, it excels at journalistic style reportage as it's unobtrusive, not intimidating, relatively quiet (or silent if you engage ES), and FAST. So I knew it would do just fine for the behind the scenes stuff:










And while we're on the subject of using this camera for general reportage: It's sooooo good. AF-S locks quickly and confidently, and the general speed of the camera lets you rattle off fast shots in rapid succession after locking focus quickly...a reassurance for me in these situations because it's hard to track everyone's expressions in a quickly-moving backstage environment. Having an optical VF lets me "see" beyond the framelines and compose my shots with better situational awareness than the tunnel vision of an SLR. I have my AE-L button setup to start/stop AF, and use it to lock focus then reframe. I did notice one quirk with this setup: When firing off shots one after the other in single shot mode with AF locked/stopped, there can be a longer than usual lag between frames from time to time - it feels like the AF in the lens is refocusing to the previously-saved point? I had AF Prefocus on and this still happened randomly. Not sure why the camera would do this, but it seems like an easy firmware fix *ahem* Fuji.

In terms of IQ, the lighting backstage was dark (duh, it's backstage) but the X-Pro 2 was more than acceptable at ISO 1600. Honestly, the first day of fashion week, I took the 5D3 too just in case the X-Pro 2 didn't cut it. I used the Canon here and there, but it wasn't any faster to focus (actually it felt a hair slower) than the X-Pro 2. If you've never tried shooting backstage at a fashion show, it's a very challenging environment: people running around frantically, crappy dim light, and here you are trying to stay out of the way. The 16mm 1.4 and the 35mm 1.4 were my lenses of choice backstage, and both were very quick to focus despite the fast pace. The X-Pro 2's files were also significantly cleaner in post, with much more shadow detail available for recovery - the Canon showed much more "blotchiness" in it's shadow detail when pushed in post. And while we're on the topic of files, the X-Pro 2's compressed RAWs took up less space than the 5D3's...a definite advantage when you're shooting over 1500 frames a day. One drawback: the Fuji files take a LOT longer to import into LR if you leave Smart Previews on. It's even slower if the Fuji files are compressed. Like I have a loaded current-gen Macbook Pro and it still takes 4x-6x longer to import vs the same number of Canon files.

On day one, I mostly used the Canon to shoot my long shots on the runway...when I'm on the clock it's my instinct to go with the gear I know best to be sure I get results, and of course Canon's AF tracking with lenses like the 70-200L II IS is pretty much industry standard. So I used the Canon for my long shots. On day one I used the X-Pro 2 and 16mm lens to get close-up profile and 3/4 shots from my vantage point, which was about halfway down the runway facing the end of the walk. I had the X-Pro 2 in liveview, with Zone AF and AF-C engaged. And you know what? I was really impressed with how the Fuji tracked:












The 5D3's buffer (especially when shooting continuous and RAW) isn't the greatest, and it requires real discipline to rattle off a burst, then wait till the buffer clears before you shoot another one with the Canon. The Fuji's buffer literally did not fill EVER at 3FPS in RAW. I could track a model the whole length of the runway with the X-Pro shooting in RAW at 3FPS and not experience a buffer lockout. Even more impressive, during a rehearsal I stood at the head of an 80-ft runway with the 55-200mm attached, dialed in Continuous H (8FPS), Zone AF, Large JPG Fine, and AF-C, and shot a continuous 8FPS for the 40 seconds or so that the model took to complete her walk. No stutters, no buffer lockout, and about 95% of the frames were tack sharp. Crazy. The other photographers definitely took notice of this, and even the guy with the 1DX was impressed.

I'd never tried to shoot a runway show with the X-Pro 2, actually after buying it a few months ago I'd never gotten around to even trying it's AF-C mode at all. But after seeing what it did on day one, I was going to give it a try on the runway on day 2 for sure. On days 2 & 3 I broke out the 55-200mm and used it to shoot side & 3/4 view shots from the back of the seating areas around the runway, over and between guests' heads. It was a challenging environment, as people in the foreground and background can be very "distracting" for a tracking AF. The Wide AF option got distracted a little too easily for my taste, but the Zone AF let me put the area of focus just where I wanted it while I tracked the models.

And before I go any further, let me also mention one major thing that helped us do our job during fashion week: Our lighting guy, Bernhard Link. Bernhard designs lighting for the best of the best, and it shows. He's the kind of lighting guy who can just tell you "F/4, ISO 800, 1/500th" and the color temp and you just dial your camera in to his recommended settings and go knowing the whole runway is lit at that EV. The falloff from his setups is so good, the exposure differential helps darken the audience and minimizes their distraction in the images and to your AF. And finally...well holy crap just look at that light. Sculpted enough to show depth beautifully, but filled enough to not crush shadows.

Bottom line, with lighting this good I opted for the slower but lighter and slightly longer 55-200mm in lieu of my 50-140, and didn't regret it once. For a cheapo drainpipe lens, the 55-200mm really can get the job done IQ and even AF speed-wise, and as long as you don't need the fast aperture I see nothing wrong with this lens. I loved the results I got with this lens and the X-Pro 2:












In conclusion, after putting the Fuji through a pretty grueling weekend, it was able to deliver impressive results, and really, substitute in for a much larger DSLR. Image quality-wise it was great, I just love the additional shadow detail in Fuji files...yeah I know dark areas are just black, but Fuji's dark areas retain just a hair more detail and look, well, better.

I expect many of the performance issues to be improved upon by firmware updates, and hope that my experiences can help others out there decide if this camera is right for them.
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Old 11-19-2016   #2
Mark A. Fisher
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What a terrific, hand-on review! And the photographs are stellar! Thanks for sharing all of the info and the photos with us. I just got my new X-Pro2 yesterday, with a 16-55 lens, and took them out for a bit of shooting today, haven't even had a chance to look at any of the shots yet. With these examples of yours I'm pretty excited to see how mine turned out.

Thanks!
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Old 11-19-2016   #3
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I love this camera as well!! I've used it on the street and used it with strobes doing portraits.. Knocks it out of the park in both regards! Its the most versatile camera out there. Image quality is excellent.. Not much to not like about this camera at all.. A couple of minor things that could be better... I'll take this camera over any DSLR any day of the week and twice on Sunday easy!
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Old 11-20-2016   #4
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Interesting, thanks for sharing your impressions and the great photos
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Old 11-20-2016   #5
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I very much enjoyed reading about your experience.

The low-light results confirm the new X-Pro 2 (X-T2 and SONY 6300) dual-gain data stream texhnology makes a difference in real life.

While I fount the X-T1 and X100T AF useful for my work, it's nice to read Fujifilm's next generation AF is even better.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and photographs. Along with your excellent composition/eye, I found your approach to exposure to be perfectly suited to the subject matter.
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Old 11-27-2016   #6
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I very much enjoyed your post, made for an interesting read, thank you.

I used my XP2 on a job a couple of weekends ago (1000s of cross country runners, while I was pearched on a rock on a steep hill over a river, doing the reportage!)

I was also impressed with the camera.

The annoyance you describe with the lag, I THINK MIGHT be the thing that the xp2 (all Fuji Xs I think...) does with the aperture, if your working aperture is not wide open, then Fuji keeps the lens wide open then stops down to working aperture to take the shot after you hit the shutter

Using preview DOF used to be a workaround, and still is on the xp2 in EVF mode, but (unlike the xp1) not OVF

I was a bit miffed about this at first, but that "don't fully relase the shutter, and take another shot immediately", feature is such a peach that I quickly got over it!
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Old 11-27-2016   #7
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just when i was wondering if the xpro2 was worth the money...
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Old 11-28-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honozooloo View Post
Even more impressive, during a rehearsal I stood at the head of an 80-ft runway with the 55-200mm attached, dialed in Continuous H (8FPS), Zone AF, Large JPG Fine, and AF-C, and shot a continuous 8FPS for the 40 seconds or so that the model took to complete her walk.
What were your white balance and film simulation settings?
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Old 12-01-2016   #9
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamjbonn View Post
The annoyance you describe with the lag, I THINK MIGHT be the thing that the xp2 (all Fuji Xs I think...) does with the aperture, if your working aperture is not wide open, then Fuji keeps the lens wide open then stops down to working aperture to take the shot after you hit the shutter
Ahhh, that actually makes sense, and now that you mention it, I have noticed the aperture opening for EVF then closing for shutter. It's my first time shooting with the Fuji in conditions this manic so at times I know I was button mashing instead of being more methodical. I normally shoot a lot of staged editorial stuff and in slower paced conditions I probably just didn't notice the lag before. Interesting!

Thanks for sharing as well, it's rad knowing these cameras are actually holding their own under professional circumstances. Cheers!
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Old 12-01-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narsuitus View Post
What were your white balance and film simulation settings?
White Balance (per Bernhard, the lighting guy) was 2900k...interesting because most runway shows I've shot usually try to run closer to 3200k? Anyway, I shot in RAW compressed, processed in Adobe LR, and used the Really Nice Images (RNI) Agfa Vista 100 LR preset with some tweaking.
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Old 12-01-2016   #11
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Honozooloo, thank you for the detailed write-up on how you used your XPro-2 during this event. Your pic's sure back up your thoughts.
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Old 12-01-2016   #12
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Thank you for taking the time to post this detailed write up, Aaron.

It’s great to hear how a camera I’ve loved using for the last three months performs professionally against the industry standards.

How did you find the battery usage?

I find that walking around for, say ten hours (using the EV), I need to break into the spare.
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Old 12-01-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Atherton View Post
How did you find the battery usage?

I find that walking around for, say ten hours (using the EV), I need to break into the spare.
Thanks for the kind words Brian, and indeed everyone! I'm so very happy to know that sharing my experiences have been helpful to others.

The battery usage is...acceptable. During Fashion Week I averaged about 2k frames a day and usually went through 3 or 4 batteries in that time. I had all the bells and whistles activated (1-minute auto power off but High Performance, AF Prefocus, AF-C, etc were all on). Of course this is pretty much a worst case scenario for battery life; I seem to get about an average day's worth of personal shooting (or about 300-500 frames) from my X-Pro on Standard or Economy settings, which are actually plenty fast for me in my everyday use anyway. Usually if my battery dies sooner than that during a day of casual, walk-around use its due to an error on my part, e.g. if I forget to turn the camera off, it sometimes doesn't go to sleep if its carried slung over my shoulder because contact with my body keeps triggering the EVF/OVF sensor, making the camera think I'm looking through the VF.
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Old 12-01-2016   #14
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I missed this when it was first posted, glad it came up again.

Great job on the shots and with the review. Messes with my mind big time as I was heading down one road, but more excellent information is always preferred.

Thanks again.

B2 (;->
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Old 12-01-2016   #15
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This is a great report. It's super to know that the X-Pro 2 can perform this well in a demanding professional environment. I haven't shot a fashion event like this, but I've done similarly low light and fast paced/gotta stay out of the way events, and it's very challenging. The gear needs to be up to the task. Ugh, stop tempting me!
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Old 12-02-2016   #16
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It's different but a X-T1 OEM battery would last for at least 3 hours continuously using the LCD screen as a composition tool. I did this all the tie for interiors photography.
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Old 12-02-2016   #17
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FWIW I think acceptable is the perfect word for XP2 battery life.

It's probably not great if you're used to a DLSR or even something like a Leica MD, but I regularly get 400-500 frames (raw + jpg, so 800-1000 files) out of a battery when the camera is in high performance mode, which is better than I could manage with the X-Pro1

The event I mentioned above was about 4.5 hrs of shooting, 1600 frames and approximately 1.5 batteries were used

I'm not complaining about that! YMMV!!
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Old 12-02-2016   #18
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Thanks for this real world review. I've wanted an XP2 since it came out, but just can't fit it in the budget at the moment. I've even thought of selling my M6 to get one, but luckily I always realize what a mistake that would be before I actually do it.

Also luckily, I've got my X100T to keep my taste for Fuji files somewhat sated..
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