I’ve been an amateur photographer ever since I took a photography class in high school. I love the process the technology and looking at great photos. I also feel great pride when someone enjoys my work. Most of my work is street photography so my camera setup is very important. To be successful in street photography you want a camera that blends in. Something small that looks unprofessional. You don’t want your subjects to notice that you are taking their picture because it will ruin the shot.
For the past few years I’ve been using the Fujifilm XT-1 camera which I previously reviewed here. The camera is good for shooting street work because its small size doesn’t draw attention. The Fujinon lenses are outstanding, especially the primes. They are all metal construction, some of them are weather proof and they have glass that is as good as the top of the line Leica lenses. The XT-1 has a vintage inspired design with tactile buttons and knobs that make it easy to control the camera without taking your eye off the subject. This also helps the camera blend in more as it looks vintage like something a hipster would use.
The Fuji X Pro2 is range finder camera so right off the bat it is different from the XT-1. It keeps the vintage look and feel of the XT-1 and is roughly the same size but it feels a little bit heavier. The X Pro2 feels solid in the hand and has tactile knobs and buttons similar to the XT-1. The ISO setting is now built into the shutter speed dial which saves space on the top of the camera. To change ISO settings you life the outside edge of the shutter speed dial and rotate it. I love little details like this which make the whole camera feel like a vintage Leica from the 60’s.
The range finder on the X Pro2 is both optical and electronic. When you look through the viewfinder you’ll see an 18mm lens worth of coverage. As you add longer lenses like the 23mm or the 35mm you’ll see a small rectangle in the viewfinder that shows you what portion of the fame will be captured. This allows you to see action outside of the frame which is very handy for anticipating action sequences. Shooting with a range finder camera like the X Pro2 makes it easier to find the best shots. I find it more intuitive for street photography compared to the XT-1 which shoots through the lens.
The ergonomics on the X Pro2 is good for a range finder camera. The controls are designed so that you can operate them all from your right hand. You can keep your left hand on the lens while shooting which also makes it good for street photography, especially if you are using your left hand to control focus. The X Pro2 has a small grip in the front of the camera and a little post built into the back which provides just enough grip to support the camera. There is an add-on grip for the camera which adds a little more to hold on to but I prefer the camera without it.
One of the really interesting features on the Fujifilm X Pro2 is the film simulation mode. This is a set of filters and processing inside the camera that provide some interesting outputs. The one that I’m most impressed with is the Acros simulation. This is a black & white simulation that emulates the Acros film and produces monochrome photos. With this simulation and a few tweaks to the settings I can get spectacular black and white photos. These photos look like they were shot with the Leica Monochrome which costs $8000 more than this camera. I’ve been taking a lot more black and white photos using this simulation because the photos look so amazing.
The X Pro 2 will shoot video but it isn’t really its main purpose. I have a Fujifilm microphone that fits on the camera’s hotshoe and I shot some short videos to test it out. The camera is fine for shooting video but I wouldn’t recommend it over designed specifically for video. The output looks as good as you could expect at 1080p 60fps. It won’t do anything more (like 4K) so if you plan to shoot a lot of video get a different camera.
Fujinon lenses are one of the reasons I bought into the Fufjifilm platform. Their lenses are spectacular and affordable. When other manufacturers like Nikon and Canon are making plastic lenses, Fuji is making all metal lenses. The lenses are fast, small and optically amazing. I prefer prime lenses and I’ve got the 18mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm. I also have a 18–56mm zoom but I never use it. The 18mm and the 35mm are my favorites and I use them more than the others. If I had to chose one I’d take the 35mm F2. It is weather proof like the X Pro2, the perfect length, very fast and optically amazing. It is also very small and lightweight which makes it inconspicuous and perfect for street photography. It also has a dedicated focus ring which makes it easy for me to quickly adjust focus.
One of the new features on the X Pro2 is the joystick on the back of the camera. The joystick controls the focus spot. Move the joystick up, down, left or right and you move the focus spot in those directions. The joystick is always active so you can compose a photo and then quickly adjust focus by choosing a new point in the frame to set your focus. I’m surprised that it took camera makers so long to add this feature. It comes in handy in situations where I want to change focus or those rare times that the camera is confused. If you set the focus frame small enough you can really dial in focus.
In a lot of ways you can compare the X Pro2 to the Leica M camera. The Leica M has always been the top of the line street shooter with an amazing body and some of the best lenses in the world. The X Pro2 in my opinion sets a new bar passing the Leica in pretty much every way. For the price the X Pro2 is giving you much more for the money than the Leia M. For amateur street shooters like myself the X Pro2 is the best camera on the market. It is fun to use, looks great (if you like the hipster vibe) and produces fantastic photos. Whether you are shooting raw or jpeg with film simulations, the X Pro2 is where it is at.