“Is that camera a digital camera?” asks the guy in the park, alerted by the unwittingly loud AF confirmation bleep emitted by my X-Pro2. “It doesn’t look like it is.” Yes, I reply, while conceding that it does indeed look a little ‘old fashioned’.
That’s kind of the point: Fujifilm has made great strides over the last five years with the introduction of its retro-design, mirror-less X-system cameras. With sales of point-andshoot compact cameras nose-diving at the time – formerly Fujifilm’s bread and butter – you could say that the backward-looking, yet forward-thinking ‘X’ series saved its proverbial bacon. One camera retailer recently told us that it was now selling ten times as many Fujifilm X-series cameras as its closest rival. It’s not surprising then that the new X-Pro2 arrives with the weight of heavy expectation from photo enthusiasts, not just photo press – and all this despite the fact that the original X-Pro1 proved something of a misfire, too slow and sluggish on launch (later corrected via Firmware updates) to fully justify its ‘pro’ tag.
Fujifilm has addressed these concerns on its second-generation iteration of the ‘Pro’ line. It’s got an all-new APS-C sensor in the 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II, plus a new ‘X Processor Pro’ image-processing engine; the upshot being a claimed four times faster response. The result is a performance that will enable you to stop and shoot, rather than play the game of ‘stop and wait’ we found ourselves playing with its predecessor.
Otherwise the X-Pro2 doesn’t fix what wasn’t broken the first time round. The 2 has stayed rangefinder-like in appearance and not drastically changed from the X-Pro1; it’s still a bit of a brick, albeit one that will (just) fit in a jacket pocket with 35mm lens attached, as on our review sample. So while, handily for everyday photography, it is more portable than a DSLR, it isn’t as portable as, say, Fujifilm’s own very capable X-T10, which is a relative bargain at less than half its price.
A key talking point here, however, is the ‘hybrid’ viewfinder; we can switch between the optical viewfinder and a 2.36 million dot EVF with barely noticeable difference, or there’s the compositional option of a fixed three-inch, 1.62 million dot LCD below. At 0.48-inch, it’s larger and brighter than most too, even if, personally, we prefer using the larger LCD when taking portraits in particular, as we don’t need to hide half our face with the camera when engaging with subjects. We also have the welcome addition here of a dual SD card slot for ‘power users’ – something more commonly found on DSLRs than CSCs. These little touches all help push the X-Pro2 from enthusiast to professional territory, particularly for wedding, social, street, reportage and travel photographers – or anyone who doesn’t want to kart around a bulky DSLR and lens collection to achieve similar pin-sharp results.
There are many other positives to share: the weather-resistant, four-section, magnesiummoulded construction lends the camera a rock-solid, premium feel that mentally justifi es the £1,000 price tag as soon as you pick it up. It seems built to last, and the front and back control dials and top plate wheels for adjusting exposure and shutter speed offer just the right amount of resistance, selections clicking into place with each turn, so you can be spinning either with your thumb while watching the realtime adjustments in the viewfi nder, or on the larger backplate control panel. The camera is also swift to determine focus and write images to card – quick enough, in fact, that it rapidly becomes an extension of your own arm, which is what any camera at this level should be. This model features a new focal plane shutter as well as sensor, viewfi nder and processor, so while it’s not immediately obvious, it’s been re-worked from the inside out.
While it’s mostly good news with regard to the X-Pro2, we did fi nd it requires a period of familiarisation to get up to speed with some of its little quirks – like the fact that you have to pull up on the shutter speed dial to access the ISO settings, rather than push down or twist. A potential shortfall of power derives from the fact that this is a CSC rather than a DSLR, with the reduced battery life that its overall form factor often entails. The X-Pro2 can give us a maximum of 330 images from a full charge – rather short of the 900 shots that most consumer DSLRs for around £1,000 offer. To be fair, Fuji has gone some way to addressing this by offering a three-tier power-saving mode.
In terms of picture quality, though we noticed bags of detail in fi ne resolution JPEGs, we did spot some arguably inevitable instances of purple pixel fringing between areas of high contrast – such as where branches of a tree meet a bright blue sky. As we do with most digital cameras when faced with dim shooting conditions, we enjoyed being able to fall back on Fujifi lm’s proprietary Film Simulation modes to provide a creative boost – increasing colour saturation by selecting the Velvia option, for example, which works pleasingly. Okay, so Fujifi lm has taken an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fi x it’ approach to the X-Pro2, tweaking performance generally while retaining the classic looks that launched this X series and made it such an eye catcher in the fi rst place. Advanced amateurs and pros looking to switch or expand on existing systems will want to sit up and take note.
Fujifilm X lens mount
The X-Pro2 is directly compatible with 21 ‘X’ series lenses straight off the bat, including the 35mm shown here, suitable for street photography.
Shutter speed and ISO Dial
You could be forgiven for thinking there’s no dedicated ISO control; on the contrary, it’s just hidden beneath/within the shutter speed dial.
Or Graphical User Interface; we now get eight lines of options per menu page, instead of seven, plus a font design boasting higher text visibility.
‘Hybrid’ OVF and EVF
Can’t decide whether you prefer an optical or electronic viewfinder when using the camera at eye level? Then get the best of both worlds here.
Fixed three-inch lCD
The outwardly traditionalist X-Pro2 cares not one jot about the ‘selfie’ craze; it bucks trends for adjustable screens with a resolutely fixed monitor.
New power-managment system
Choose from three power-related settings: High Performance, Standard or Economy, in order to stretch out battery life from just 220 shots to 330.