Portraits with the Fujifilm X-T2
5 March 2017 | Category: Stills
When I started looking for my first ‘proper’ camera in 2008, the options given to me at the time were DSLR or DSLR. Settling on a Canon, I’ve stuck with their brand for the past 8 or so years as I’ve always felt it to be right for me. Having tested a few of the early mirrorless camera offerings, I wasn’t convinced. However, with the launch of Fujifilm’s new award winning XT-2 and X-Pro 2 models, I decided it was time to take another look and see whether I might be tempted to look elsewhere.
On first impressions, the XT-2 has some obvious advantages in both size and weight. Weighing in at around 500g with battery and memory card, it is almost exactly half the weight and size of my current DSLR - perfect for packing light for location shoots and staying under baggage allowances when travelling - both of which are huge factors for me. Built of magnesium alloy just like my DSLR, the body is weather sealed at 63 points, giving me confidence that it can withstand the daily grind of a photographer’s workload.
I really like that all the main settings are readily available on the body of the camera, allowing them to be set even when the camera is switched off. It's not something I’ve ever really spent much time thinking about, but it definitely had an effect in making the shooting process feel more enjoyable. Lock and release buttons are also in place to stop you accidentally changing the ISO or shutter speed whilst shooting.
The Fujifilm XT-2 also includes 8 customisable buttons, which makes those additional settings, like back button focusing and white balance controls, easy to find when you need them. There is a focus lever too, which gives lightning-quick access to changing your focal point. With 49-91 points to choose from, getting those images in focus should be no problem at all.
The 3-inch tilting LCD screen is brilliant, allowing me to shoot from difficult angles without needing to squeeze into awkward spaces or lay down on the floor.
Popping a memory card into the camera before my test shoot, I was happy to find dual SD card slots, both compatible with UHS-II type cards for super fast write speeds and with the option to write to both cards simultaneously or use the second card as an overflow when the first card is full. Having shot on CF cards with an SD backup slot on my Canon, I’ve always had to invest in two sets of memory cards, whilst in comparison, this dual SD card system just ticks all the boxes for me.
For my test shoot, I had arranged two different set ups with burlesque performer Valerie Savage. The first was in artificial light, designed to test the ISO capabilities of the XT-2. With all of my exposure settings readily available on the camera body, it was a really intuitive camera to work with and I didn’t get that ‘first day with new equipment’ feeling I was expecting. Everything was incredibly sharp where it needed to be. Shooting at an ISO of 1600 (my usual limit on the Canon), there was noise visible in the images but it was minimal with no false colours. I definitely felt like I could push this substantially more. Boasting ISO settings of 200-12,800 (with the capability of 51,200) the XT-2 would be amazing for those working in low light levels, although I do wonder if not having ISO 100 would be an issue in bright conditions.
The second part of the shoot was natural light based, where I was specifically interested in looking at colour and skin tones. I felt the XT-2 handled the subtle qualities of skin tones really well, making them easy to retouch, although the overall colour of the image at factory settings was a little heavy on the pink scale. That being said, its not a deal breaker as Fujifilm make it really simple to change colour balance in camera. Or, of course, in post.
For me, there is one sticking point. The EVF. On one hand, I love that it displays a live view that reflects my exposure settings. On the other, it is still electronic, and the very minimal lag - emphasis on the very minimal (0.005 seconds according to the spec sheet) - is still noticeable when trying to capture those fleeting moments and expressions of portrait photography. It’s so close to being perfect, but for me, it’s just not quite there yet. That being said, perhaps with the optional vertical power booster grip - which boosts EVF from 60fps to 100fps - I may have found this less of an issue.
I’m due an upgrade on my camera body and its fair to say I’m very tempted. This may be the camera that pushes me into mirrorless...
Images: Tigz Rice Studios
Model: Valerie Savage