I thought long and hard about upgrading my camera to a Fujifilm X-T2. The internet is bursting with positive reviews about it’s image quality and capabilities, and as it is quite small, yet powerful, it seemed ideal for my needs.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as I expected so this is my review and my reasons why I decided to return it for a refund. One of the main reasons was that it may not have been working correctly, but there were other issues with using it that convinced me that this wasn’t ideal for me after all.
What I like about the X-T2
There is plenty to like about the Fujifilm X-T2. There are loads of articles and videos online that go into great detail about it’s strengths, so I will just focus on some of the major things that I liked about this very capable camera.
The X-T2 has fabulous build quality. For its size, it is actually quite heavy, but its solidity and quality are definitely reassuring. It feels like you can take it anywhere and the fact that the body is weather resistant supports its position at the top of the X camera range.
The X-T2 is an expensive camera but its build quality and finish are worthy of it’s price.
It’s all about the image quality right? To my mind, all the positive reviews about the image quality are correct. This camera can produce stunning photos. A major motivation for buying a new camera was to find a system that produces high quality images with only the minimum time spend in post production on the computer.
Fujifilm have a well deserved reputation for producing JPEG images that many photographers struggle to better by editing and processing RAW files. I love the film simulations and love the quality of the JPEGs that the X-T2 delivers. They are amazing!
I took the X-T2 with me for a quick walk around the Meadows in Tavistock to try it out with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens. Here are some images which are JPEGS straight out of the camera. I was really pleased with their colours, resolution and detail, all without having to spend hours on the computer with Lightroom and Photoshop.
I didn’t do anything to those images other than resize them for this page. The X-T2 definitely matched my expectations with image quality. It must be one of the best APS-C cameras on the market.
Of course this is part of image quality, particularly if you want to use JPEGs as much as possible. I had always struggled with obtaining accurate white balance from the Panasonic GX8 I owned previously.
In contrast, the X-T2 nailed excellent white balance every time. It was so accurate that I soon forgot all about white balance and just relied on the camera to get it right while I concentrated more on the other aspects of photography such as composition and timing.
Face detection and speed of autofocusing
The X-T2 has excellent face and eye detection systems to ensure accurate focussing on people. It locks onto the subjects face and keeps that focus, even if they move, or you re-frame the shot. It will also accurately find the nearest eye and lock onto that with uncanny tenacity.
Autofocus speed is admirable too. Focus snaps quickly onto your subject and re-focusses quickly as you move the focal point around with the focus joystick. Sadly, the X-T2 doesn’t have a touch screen and I found that to be a disadvantage though I soon became proficient with the joy-stick control instead.
All was not entirely well with autofocussing, though, as I will discuss later in this article….
There are a lot more positives about things camera, but I will let others describe them in more detail as these were the stand-out points that I discovered during the few days that I had the camera.
Now we come onto the negatives, unfortunately.
What I didn’t like about the Fujifilm X-T2
I can some up my feelings about this camera in a single sentance.
I loved the photos that the X-T2 produced, but I didn’t like using the camera to get them!
I am very surprised by these feelings. In fact I’m quite shocked because almost all reviewers say that they love this camera and how they have become Fujifilm converts, giving up their expensive and powerful DSLR’s in the process.
These are the reasons why I felt differently, and ended up sending this camera back for a refund.
Body heat and terrible battery life
I had only been shooting with the camera for about ten minutes when I noticed that it was becoming warm. I wasn’t shooting 4k video or blasting away taking photos at 11 frames per second. I was just shooting single frames and playing with the menus to configure this new camera.
The X-T2 continued to get warmer and then the battery indicated that it needed charging again even though I had only shot around 50 frames at that point. It was very surprising with far worse battery life than I had expected.
I know that mirrorless cameras have short battery life, but this was ridiculous.
I was alarmed that the camera was becoming so warm so quickly and shut it down. Later on, I tried filming several 4k video clips, which can only be a maximum of 10 minutes long when not using the vertical power grip.
The first ten minute video clip was fine, but towards the end of the second ten minute clip, the camera became almost too hot to hold. Not good at all.
Overall, through the few days of ownership, I always seemed to be re-charging the battery. My Panasonic GX8, which I owned for 18 months, and is also a mirrorless camera, was never this bad with battery usage.
I seriously think that you would need at least two spare batteries, and probably more, if you were to take the X-T2 shooting for a full day – covering a wedding, for example.
In fact battery life was so poor and the body warming so bad, that I really do wonder if either the camera, or the battery weren’t working properly. I hope so, because I wouldn’t be able stand that poor performance for too long.
In the section above, I praised the Fujifilm X-T2 for it’s autofocus issues, however I did encounter some significant problems with it.
I needed to photograph a lens that I was selling and I just could not get the X-T2 to focus on it, even if I aimed at some of the more contrasty bits of the lens such as the aperture ring markings.
Shiny black objects can be difficult for camera autofocus systems, but I never had a porblem with this sort of photography with the GX8 or previous Nikon cameras. The Panasonic DFD autofocus system easily nails things like this, whereas the X-T2 made a complete hash of it.
In fact, such was the inability of the X-T2 to find focus on the subject, I had to resort to manually focusing, or I would still be there now.
The thing is, the X-T2 has two types of autofocus; contrast difference (CDAF) and phase difference (PDAF) and neither of them would work.
It wasn’t just the lens that I was photographing that caused the X-T2 to throw its autofocus toys out of the pram. Any low contrast or shiny surface forced the X-T2 into hunting mode, whereas the same subjects had not caused any problems with the far superior focussing abilities of the Panasonic GX8.
For a leading edge and expensive camera like the X-T2, it’s inability to focus on these types of subjects and to often hunt for focus in lowish (not low) is very disappointing.
Cannot see the focus point in bright light or green backgrounds
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is very high quality and is definitely a feature of this camera. There is also a pretty good LCD screen, which you can also use if you don’t want your eye glued to the EVF.
However I found a big problem with this.
When the camera is in focus, it turns the white focus box green, giving you feedback that focus had been achieved. That’s great, until the ambient light is bright enough to wash out the white focus point box or if you are shooting against a green background, such as grass, that neatly camoflages the focus point!
When I was shooting in the Meadows, I sometimes could not see the white focus box at all, and at times lost the green focus point entirely. I did not know what I was focussing on when using the LCD.
Now, to be fair, this happened with the GX8 occasionally too, however that camera has a touch screen so you could just touch the screen at the required focus point and know that the camera would get it right, even of you could not see the focus confirmation box.
By not having a touchscreen, you are completely dependent on seeing where that focus point is with the X-T2. If the LCD gets washed out then you are forced to use the EV. That is probably very difficult when you are shooting video.
I searched and searched through the manual and in camera menu systems to see if there are ways to brighten the focus box in the LCD, or change its colours, but I failed to find anything.
So it looks like you are lumbered with the default display of the focus points in the LCD and that is definitely, for me at least, a very bad thing.
Poor ergonomics make the X-T2 difficult to use
Most photographers and reviewers (hopefully they are the same!) praise Fiji cameras for their ergonomics and their retro designs. The fact that I didn’t feel at ease with the ergonomics of the X-T2 seems surprising, particularly as I come from a film camera background and welcome using traditional dials to change shutter speed and aperture.
Let’s start with the size of the camera. It packs a huge amount of capability into a smallish body and in fact I found holding the camera body pretty uncomfortable. The height of the body forces me to hold the camera with it resting on my little finger as you can see in this photo.
The solution is to use the vertical power grip, particularly if you are using larger lenses. This works well, but it makes the camera much heavier and larger. In fact it becomes as large and heavy as a full frame DSLR!
If I had to carry the X-T2 with the grip everywhere, I would much rather be carrying a full frame DSLR, which would have better image quality and capabilities than the X-T2.
These problems holding the camera also caused me another problem. The focus lever, which you use to move the focus point, seemed to be too close to the hand grip positon so I had to keep changing my hand position to focus the camera.
It’s a shame that these ergonomic issues compromised my enjoyment when using the camera. I felt that I was battling with it, rather than it moulding seemlessly into my photographic technique.
Are Fujifilm trying too hard with this camera?
The X-T2 is a powerful camera which offers a wide range of capabilities; 4K video, fast frame rates in burst mode, sophisticated focus tracking systems and comprehensive JPEG processing. This is all great, but I wonder if it is trying to deliver too much from such a small body.
The battery is small too, and yet it has to power all these energy hungry functions, which must be why the camera gets so hot and the battery life suffers as a result. It is trying to compete with top of the range DSLR’s that are far larger and use much bigger batteries.
These DSLR’s can deliver far more reliable autofocus tracking under difficult lighting conditions, and being larger are much better placed to keep cool under demanding conditions, which professional photographers rely on.
There is no doubt that the X-T2 is a pro level camera, but if it was not trying to be a jack of all trades, it could be a fantastic master of one or two capabilities and, to my mind, not suffer from over heating and poor battery life problems as a result.
So it’s bye bye X-T2
The Fujifilm X-T2 is a good camera, but as this article shows, it definitely has its faults. To my mind, these are mostly caused by stuffing too many power hungry features such as 4K and high frame rates into a small body.
The battery is too small and the size of the body cannot dissipate heat fast enough when the camera is working hard. The ergonomics did not work for me either, but that is a personal thing which may not apply to you.
So the X-T2 has now been packed up and returned and I was left with the challenge of finding a replacement. Read this article to see which camera I chose. I’m delighted with it!