THE LOVE FOR TRAVELLING, THE PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY (MADE IN MELBOURNE AND AROUND THE GLOBE)

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Fujifilm X-T2 review for city and travel photography

Fujifilm X-T2 review for travel photography and city exploration

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I must admit that everytime I receive a Fujifilm camera I feel like a small kid at Christmas time.

When I received the Fujifilm X-T2  for a travel photography review I had exactly the same trembling hands as a 5 years old on the 25th of December.

Of course I have seen the X-T2 already on magazines and website.

However I just can’t stop myself loving the Fujifilm design. And putting together the X-T2 with the XF 35mm F2 R WR lens was really exciting (my wife calls my studio the play room LOL).

However, reviewing many camera/lens brands, I like to take things not personally. At the end of the day my sense of beauty could be considered an eyesore for someone else.

So I decided, for the first time ever, to extend the camera review to a much larger sample of travel photographers.

How did I do that?

A big storm coming to St.Kilda (ISO100, 35mm, f/7.1, 20sec)

A big storm coming to St.Kilda (ISO100, 35mm, f/7.1, 20sec)

First time feeling of travel photographers

My home city is Melbourne and, when not travelling, I run workshops almost on a regular basis.

In the two weeks I had the Fujifilm X-T2 for a review, I was lucky enough to have 4 workshops with around 2-3 people each.

Most of the people that come to the workshops love to use the camera for travelling, however they are not happy with the camera setting (they use the camera in auto mode) and/or they want to improve the own composition.

I definitely consider all of us travel photographers. We all want to capture better photos and use the camera at full potential.

We quickly go through the P mode (ISO setting), we move to the Aperture mode to finish in Shutter Priority and Manual mode. We do all this with 5-6 photographic challenges to improve our composition.

Honestly, where do I see the biggest challenge? The camera setting. Where to find the ISO? How to change the F-stop etc.

So I decided to give the Fujifilm X-T2 to all of these people for 15-30 minutes, just for a photography challenge (I was nearby in case of any question, which did not happen)

The photo was taken with the Fujifilm X-T2 handheld. The camera in the photo is an Olympus (ISO12800, 35mm, f/2.5, 1/100)

The photo was taken with the Fujifilm X-T2 handheld. The camera in the photo is an Olympus (ISO12800, 35mm, f/2.5, 1/100)

I was blown away. Every single one came back to me with a big smile saying “it’s so easy!!”. Every single one could in no-time work in Aperture or Shutter priority mode and someone even try manual.

This does not happen with most of the other cameras because people are more concentrated on where to find the setting than actually composing the photo.

Not to mention how all of them were in love for the design, but that’s impossible not to be.

This experiment made me thinking a lot.

It is so easy to use this camera, for really everyone. Just one word: simplicity.

Sometime the frustration of not being able to set our camera push us to give up all together, which is a real pity.

On the Fujifilm X-T2 there are 3 dials:

  • ISO setting
  • Shutter Priority setting
  • Exposure Compensation

The Aperture can be controlled similarly through a ring on the lens.

If you are familiar with the X-T1 you already know what I am talking about, otherwise a new and better world is waiting for you 🙂

When travelling the last thing you want to do is to go through menus. If you are after a landscape, that could be fine, however if you are in a market, on a small lane or in front of an interesting shop, you really need to move quickly with the setting otherwise you may miss the moment.

Changing the value on a dial is really super easy and quick.

Night photography workshop, improving handheld (ISO3200, 35mm, f2.0, 1/13sec)

Night photography workshop, improving handheld (ISO3200, 35mm, f2.0, 1/13sec)

Beauty contest and spontaneity

Of all the feedback I received there was a common pattern and this was the beauty of this camera. It could easily win a contest.

Fujifilm X-T2 front and back view

Fujifilm X-T2 front and back view

Its retro style design is really outstanding. And this takes me to another, more important, consideration.

People like to be photographed by beautiful and/or retro cameras, less so by bulky ones (read DSLR)

I own myself a full frame sensor Nikon and making photos in the street is always a bit of a challenge. Most of the people feel intimidated. Common questions I receive:

  • Are you a photo-reporter?
  • Are you a detective?
  • Why do you make a photo of me?
  • and obviously ….give me 5$

Indeed my Nikon is too big, even with the tiny Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 (one of the most amazing Nikon lenses by the way)

When I was out in the streets or markets with the Fujifilm X-T2 it was all so much easier. I was definitely seen as a tourist visiting a city. And the common questions changed:

  • what camera is it? (with a wow on the face)
  • Why do you still use a film camera?
  • wait, let me move here for a photo…

I also change the way I make photos. I do not use the viewfinder but instead the external LCD tilted up (my camera is at my hip level).

True, the viewfinder allows my eye to concentrate more on the composition. But this comes at a price, it creates a sort of wall between me and the subject.

With the tilted LCD I can talk with my subject and still make a photo without giving that feeling of studio photography.

Street photography and travel photography have lots in common. The overlap is quite amazing. I actually wrote more on this subject here.

Street photography with the Fujifilm X-T2 and a XF35mm F2 (ISO1600, 35mm, f/2.0, 1/17mm)

Street photography with the Fujifilm X-T2 and a XF35mm F2 lens (ISO1600, 35mm, f/2.0, 1/17mm)

Fujifilm X-T2 technical review

I like to review the cameras with a travel eye.

Portability

This is why I would never suggest to buy the typical full sensor DSLR for any kind of trip. They are great cameras for studio or sport photography, beside other kinds, but having a 2kg+ camera/lens with you the all day is a real pain.

The X-T2 is a small camera (133 x 92 x 49mm) weighting just 500gr. I choose for the review the XF35mm (just 170gr). That makes a total of 670gr. Very light.

Even if you use my favourite travel lens, the XF 16-55mm F2.8, you come up with a total of just over a kg.

Really one of the most portable cameras

Sensor

This camera has an APS-C 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor, exactly the same as on the X-Pro2. I was really impressed by it, especially in low light conditions. Read more on my night tests.

As I said many times, when shouting in perfect light conditions, the sensor size and type are not as relevant. You can use your mobile and no worries, surely you can’t use a wide aperture however if this is not what you are looking for then a tiny sensor will do the job.

When light becomes tricky, when you are out at night for some street photography, or you just forgot your tripod on an amazing sunset than the sensor quality plays a big and major role.

In this respect, I reckon that the APS-C 24.3MP X-Trans is on par with the full frame sensor from Nikon. Amazing quality.

ISO100, 35mm, f/7,1, 20sec with tripod

ISO100, 35mm, f/7,1, 20sec with tripod

Autofocus

The Autofocus on the X-T2 is improved a lot, especially when compared to the previous model. First of all it is super quick, similar to most of the new DSLRs.

It has also 325 AF points that can be selected in the single-point mode (that’s really more than enough 😉 ). It works in contrast-detect AF with the central 40% of the frame covered with phase-detect AF points, which helps in AF-C. You may read more about the difference of contrast and phase here.

EVF and LCD

Electronic viewfinder or LCD?

I personally prefer to use the LCD and the one on the X-T2 is just perfect. It can be tilted up or down and even on the side. 3 inches in size and over 1M dots in resolution. Just great for travel photography.

Admittedly I was expecting it to be touchscreen however unfortunately it is not. The tilting on the side could be improved too.

There has been no improvement on the EVF, when compared with the X-T1 model.

ISO1000, 35mm, f/2.0 1/110sec handheld

ISO1000, 35mm, f/2.0 1/110sec handheld

External controls

As I said, the most important settings (ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed and Exposure Compensation) can and will be done through the dials and the lens ring.

If you need to go through the menu, for other common settings, you can use the Q button.

On the X-T2 there is a small AF joystick that comes super handy when you need to move the AF-Point on your frame. This is probably one of the most useful control button I have ever experienced in any camera I have used or reviewed. Great addendum from Fujifilm.

Card slots

The Fujifilm X-T2 implements 2 cards slots and, in my opinion, this is one of the most welcomed feature.

The double slots is just essential in any kind of professional photography. I always use the second slot as a backup on my Nikon. I do not really want to arrive at the end of the shooting day with all of my photos lost because of an SD card failure. I use it as a backup.

And honestly I use the backup option in any circumstance, even when taking photos of my family at an event. Surely it’s not as bad if I waste a day of family and friend photography, it will happen again…maybe…but it’s annoying anyway.

And if you think that an SD card failure is really a remote event, I agree with you….till it happens.

Video

If you do videos in your trips, you will be happy to hear that finally Fujifilm has introduced the 4K video and the X-T2 is the first model to have it.

The camera has a 3.5mm socket for external microphones however there is no headphone port, usually used for audio monitoring. If you need it (essential for professional videos) you have to add the vertical booster grip.

Final thoughts

This is really a sexy camera. Be ready to be stopped and asked about it.

I cannot think of another camera with a better design…..or maybe yes, the just announced Fujifilm X-T2 Graphite Silver Edition

Very simple to use and functional at the same time. The only drawback I can see is the lack of a touchscreen LCD, but I can live with that thanks to the introduction of the AF joystick.

The Fujifilm X-T2 is not the cheapest camera in town. However, the easier learning curve will allow you to actually use and abuse your camera from day 1, which is a big bonus compared to other cameras.

This camera is sold as body-only or, for just $300 more, together with the 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 lens, which is really all you need for travel photography. You can always buy a prime on a later stage (see here the best lenses for travel photography)

If you are in Australia I found the best price for a Fujifilm X-T2 here.

More photos


Ethics statement: The X-T2 camera and the lens were loaned to us by Fujifilm Australia. We were not asked to write about them and, most important, we were not provided any sort of compensation. All the opinions are mine, based on many years of travel photography. In the post there are affiliate links. If you buy through these link, we will receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. This is how we run this website and you can support it. Thank you!


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Stefano Ferro
Photographer
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o

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  1. Reply

    Thank you for your honest review and sharing

      • Stef
      • May 26, 2017
      Reply

      No worries buddy 🙂

    • HadarA
    • March 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Stef ,
    These days I am moving from the FF D750 to the X-T2 as a lighter traveling option . There are no cases of sports photography in my travels , so the X-T2 serves really well . The point is that during
    travels you get into streets and close places or a beautiful landscape in which you need a real wide angle lens (my favorite is the 10-24) , but willing to pick up some interesting portraits or close-ups
    I need another lens of a mid-long tele. My favorite is the 18-135 that allow me kind of wide to tele options . You are right in that we have to compromise if we like to go light weight , but you don’t know what you are going to miss but only after the travel , and that’s why I carry both lenses.
    Taking in consideration that changing lenses in some dusty areas is not a good idea or when you need to change lenses very quick may lead to a missing frame drove me to purchase additional X-T2
    body , and this way I am not missing (hopefully) any interesting situation – but “only” loaded with 2 kg weight ,( which is the weight of D750 + Sigma Art 24-105, not mentioning the 70-200f4) ,
    but enjoy even wider range .
    Since my travels these days includes very little hiking , I find it quite practical . Naturally , when travelling to areas where I know what to expect , I take only one set and enjoy good results with much lighter gear . Well, two sets are not cheap but one can use the 18-135 and the 14 mm and get great photos . The XF 16-55 quality and range are great , but lacks the OIS and is not favored by me .
    As for your review , I like the practical way you described the subjects and assume that many readers could use it , sometimes better than the fully tech info that are not so clear to everybody .

    • Reply

      Thanks for your extensive comment Hadar, really appreciated.

      I find your decision to take the X-T2 for travelling very wise. So much lighter and at the same it’s a camera that honestly can challenge many full frame sensor competitors.

      I also agree with your choice of the 18-135mm. Great all-round lens for travelling. In fact I do suggest it in the best lenses for travelling. It’s actually lighter than the 16-55mm and it has a weather resistant structure.
      I guess it is not my favourite because of the variable aperture (F3.5-5.6) and the fact that it does not have a aperture ring (probably because of the variable max aperture).
      In say that the 18-135mm costs 30% less and you have a wider focal range.
      Always a difficult choice based on where you want to compromise.
      Thanks again for your time, it’s always great to have a chat on our “toys” 🙂

    • Wojtek
    • March 16, 2017
    Reply

    Really the XF 16-55mm F2.8 is the best travel lens? 😉 Take this set in the mountains 🙂

    • Reply

      Hi Wojtek, I actually took a similar set, however Nikon (bloody heavier), on a 7 days hiking trip in Reunion Island. Mountains there are up to 3800 meters high but on average are around 2500 meters.
      Was it the best? I had lots of fun with it however I wished it was much lighter and in some cases I would have loved to have a 200-300mm zoom for some animal photography (awesome island by the way).
      Probably a lighter pack would have been 3 primes, however changing lenses on a hike is not really an option (dust, tricky surface, etc)
      The 200-300mm would have weighted way too much and possibly I lost only 5% of my opportunity shots. I can live with that.
      I was also on a 4 weeks trip and hiking was only 1 week.
      I write all this to say that, in my opinion, when we travel we need to take decisions on the best lens that will help us to shoot the majority of our trip. And we compromise with the rest.
      I find the 16-55mm (equivalent around 24-80) one of the best range for any travel.
      On a Safari we can leave it at home, we need a much higher focal length.
      On a mountain trip we can even take only 1 prime if we know the place and the type of photo opportunity.

      Thanks for leaving a comment and enjoy your trekking and photography.

      Cheers

  2. Reply

    some nice photos, and written like putting together the components of an advertisment brochure. I still don’t like that design at all:a camera that pretends to look like a single lens reflex camera but is just a computerized look alike. I prefer the XE and Xpro cameras designwise. Still the outcome of the sensor looks quuite sterile and “technically” clean to me.

    • Reply

      Good day Jens,
      I wish I could write commercials, I would get paid at least LOL It is just a work of passion and pleasure. In my reviews I usually write about my experience with the camera or lens, as it has happened with the X-T2. For the deep technical tests there are other websites that do already an amazing job and they have also great tools too.
      Believe it or not, manufacturers do not stop providing cameras/lenses if you mention what you do not like (otherwise what’s the point of a review).
      I would not use the X-T2 for studio work or sport photography for example and I could list few points I am not excited about, however this is a review about travel photography.
      The sense of beauty is really a personal thing. I fully understand your point. And honestly it’s good we have all a different perception, otherwise it would be a boring world of X-T2 photographers, assuming everyone can afford it. Indeed quite an expensive camera
      Thanks for sparing some time for your comment. Really appreciated.

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Stefano Ferro
Photographer
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o