The search for the perfect camera has been a long and confusing one. There's a plethora of choices on the market, and everyone and their mother seems to have an opinion on what makes a particular brand or model good or bad.
As a casual photographer taking pictures of mostly family, cars, and other content for the blog, I've spent years searching for a camera that's not only powerful, but more importantly, is fun to use.
In an earlier post, I talked about how I made my first big jump from an ancient Canon DSLR to the Sony a7ii, heavily influenced by the idea that the Sony was, objectively, the "best" camera available.
Unfortunately, I pretty quickly realized the a7ii wasn't a good fit for me, and this set me on the search for a replacement.
In my research, I ran across a lot of praise for Fujifilm and I loved the philosophy behind the brand. But I was nervous about purchasing one myself.
Would a camera with lots of physical controls be confusing or frustrating to use? Would the step down in image quality from the a7ii have me regretting my decision to sell the Sony?
I decided to follow my gut and take the plunge, and in early 2021 I purchased a lightly-used Fujifilm X-Pro2. So, two and a half years later, am I happy with my decision?
Hell yeah I am! I've absolutely fallen in love with the X-Pro2.
In this post, I'll share some of my favorite things about the X-Pro2, as well as a few dislikes. By the end, I think you'll understand why this quirky camera has won me over, and hopefully have a better idea of what it's like owning and using a Fujifilm camera!
Let's start with a few of my favorite things about the X-Pro2.
Like #1 - Build Quality
With a solid magnesium body, the X-Pro2 is built like a tank. The build quality rivals some iPhones I've owned, with precision fit and finish and fantastic-feeling switches and buttons.
It's SO satisfying clicking the physical dials around, and the shutter button - oh man, if you haven't experienced the shutter on a Fujifilm camera, you're missing out! There's a fantastic audible and haptic snap that never gets old. Take a listen:
Everything about the X-Pro2 exudes quality, which makes the actual experience of using it truly special. You get the sense you're holding a camera built by people who genuinely love photography!
Like #2 - Ease of Use
One of the main attractions of the X-Pro2 for me was the physical dials and switches. Not only do they lend to the retro vibe of the camera, but they serve a very real, useful function too!
Being able to tweak exposure compensation, shutter speed, and ISO with dedicated dials means I can quickly and precisely make adjustments on the fly. I'm not stuck fumbling around in submenus or mapping shortcuts to generic buttons just to do things like tweak the exposure of an image.
At the same time, the X-Pro2 is happy to do all the work for you - set everything in automatic and just start shooting!
And honestly, this is how I use the X-Pro2 most of the time - making small tweaks using the exposure compensation dial and letting the camera figure out the rest. But, the times that I have wanted to configure a specific shutter speed, for example, the dedicated dial made it a breeze to set and forget.
Like #3 - Lenses
As I mentioned in my other post, one of my main complaints with my Sony a7ii was the cost. The price of quality lenses for full frame cameras is, frankly, ridiculous for a hobby photographer like me.
Having a smaller crop sensor, the X-Pro2 (and most other Fujis) use lenses that are much more compact, lightweight, and, most importantly, affordable!
For example, I've picked up the first party XF 35mm F1.4 R and 16mm F2.8 R WR (52mm and 24mm equivalents, respectively) lenses for significantly less than a single equivalent Sony lens would have cost!
But my favorite thing about the Fujinon lenses, by far, is the quality - the little details add up to make each one unique, and truly fun to use!
Playing with the aperture ring on the XF 35mm specifically is very addicting... The tactility and soft "click" is just chef's kiss.
Like #4 - Film Simulations
A camera is only as good as the images it produces, and this is one area where the X-Pro2 certainly doesn't disappoint. The X-Trans III sensor does an incredible job, and is capable of producing some truly incredible looking images!
To its credit, the Sony a7ii also produced some fantastic photos, but they usually required a lot of post-processing to achieve a look I was happy with, and diting photos has always been a love/hate affair for me. It can be extremely time-consuming, and these days in particular, time is something I just don't have a lot of!
But thanks to Fujifilm's on-camera "film simulations", I'm able to produce some incredible looking JPEGs - no editing necessary!
So what is a film simulation? Well, there's a load of color theory and science behind the idea, which this article does a great job of unpacking. But the gist of it is that Fujifilm cameras are capable of pre-processing images to create distinct styles in a way other cameras just can't.
The X-Pro2 comes loaded with a number of simulations, including:
- Provia (standard)
- Vevia (vivid)
- Astia (soft)
- Pro Neg (studio contrast)
- Acros (black + white/monochrome)
These preset simulations each produce a very different type of image than one you'd get from post-processing an equivalent RAW image file. And, while you can certainly come close to replicating the same results in Lightroom, there's an intangible "magic" to the images a Fujifilm camera produces.
So clearly, I'm a big fan of the X-Pro2 and there are a lot of things I love, but that doesn't mean it's a camera without faults!
Dislike #1 - Size & Weight
My first dislike of the X-Pro2 is its weight and size. It may be built like a tank, but it can sometimes feel like a tank dangling off my neck, too.
Thanks to the more compact lenses, It's much more portable than the a7ii was. Even so, I don't often find myself grabbing the X-Pro2 on my way out the door. Because of its size and weight, it's much more of an purposeful tool than a casual accessory.
Fortunately, Fujifilm offers a number of more compact, lightweight cameras alongside the X-Pro line, including the X100V and X-E4. These cameras are much better suited for tossing in a bag/everyday carry.
An ideal setup would be the X-Pro2 for serious, focused photography and a smaller Fuji like the X-E4 for a daily carry.
Dislike #2 - The Screen(s)
The screen and viewfinder on the X-Pro2 are fine, but the main screen is fixed in place, and doesn't allow for any sort of tilt or angle adjustment. Since a lot of my photos of cars, kids, and pets are taken near the ground, I am missing the tilting screen from the Sony.
Fujifilm did address this issue in the X-Pro3 and added a flip-down rear screen, but I haven't found this to be a dealbreaker for me. In fact, needing to physically get down on the ground to shoot has led to some more authentic moments and photos; for example, my daughter recently learning to crawl!
The internal viewfinder screen of the X-Pro2 is OK, but there have been a few occasions where I found myself squinting and struggling to see previews of photos in bright daylight. The viewfinder could benefit from a bit better contrast/brightness, which, I believe, was also remedied on the X-Pro3!
(In case you haven't noticed, Fujifilm does a great job of listening to their customers!)
Dislike #3 - Autofocus
The autofocus system on the X-Pro2 is no slouch, and has done an admirable job of keeping up everything I can (and sometimes literally, in the case of my daughter) throw at it! But, with the camera being almost eight years old, it can sometimes show its age.
In low light, the camera will do a fair bit of "focus hunting" - where it will struggle to decide on a focus target, and snap back and forth between two subjects. This is somewhat manageable by either adjusting the lighting or just re-triggering the focus lock.
The face detection autofocus is also adequate - it gets the job done, but it can really struggle in certain lighting conditions. Not ideal, but manageable if you accept the limitations.
However, as with the screens, Fujifilm upgraded the autofocus system in the latest X-Pro3, addressing these concerns specifically and giving the camera a much-needed boost in performance!
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I sold my Sony a7ii. Frankly, I didn't really know what I wanted in a camera, but I knew the a7ii just wasn't scratching that itch.
I can safely say I found what I was looking for in the Fujifilm X-Pro2.
It's quirky but capable, intuitive to use, extremely well-built, and easy on the wallet. But most importantly, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 has reignited my love for photography.
It's allowed me to capture some truly special moments over the last few years - from milestones like finally owning my attainable dream car, the WRX, our wonderful but crazy family antics, and our daughter growing up much faster than we imagined!
The older I get, the faster time seems to pass. But the X-Pro2 encourages me to slow down, be present, and appreciate the little moments as they happen.
And for that reason, it really is the perfect camera for me.
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