Fuji X-Pro 2 vs. Canon 5D3? (Part 2)
So, it’s been a good long while since I wrote Part 1 of my transition from a Canon 5D3 to the Fujifilm X Pro2. I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the X Pro 2 and the Fujifilm system in general. After all of these months, what’s my conclusion?
Well… I sold all of my Canon gear and am now shooting Fuji exclusively. It’s that good.
The light weight and compactness of this mirrorless system were big draws for me, and the X Pro2 delivers in spades. I never realized how cumbersome a full-frame DSLR & accompanying lenses were until shooting with the Fuji. Hanging a DSLR & good glass around your neck gets uncomfortable pretty fast, but the Fuji setup is light enough to carry all day. I’m using the standard-issue Fuji strap that came with the camera, and have never felt the need to buy anything else. It’s not luxurious, but it IS comfortable. Also, Fuji did a great job placing the strap mounts on the camera chassis. It balances well against the body without having “lens dive”, even with a bigger lens like the XF 56 f1.2.
The other big draw of the Fuji system is their film simulations. I tend to shoot a lot of monochrome images, and having the ability to get the results I want in-camera is remarkable. Maybe I’m lazy, but if I can save myself some post-processing time, I’m going to do it. I’m not a fan of sitting in front of the computer & cycling through a bunch of photos in Lightroom. Post-processing has always been the biggest downer of this hobby for me, and the film simulations save me a LOT of computer time. I spend enough time on a computer at work, I don’t want to come home in the evening to spend even more time in front of a screen. I’m a photographer for fun, so the more time I can spend with a camera in my hands vs on the computer, the better. The Acros simulation alone has probably saved me a few dozen hours of post since I’ve had the camera.
While we’re on the subject of post-processing, I have to mention the quality of the jpegs from the X Pro2. They are simply outstanding. I rarely shoot RAW any more. There’s just no need. The jpeg files are crisp and dynamic, with little gained from the RAW workflow. The only caveat is if I’m shooting a landscape with too much dynamic range. If the shadows look too dark in the viewfinder, I might switch over to RAW capture with the intent of lifting shadows in post. This camera captures a ton of dynamic range, so I’m never afraid to underexpose for highlight detail, knowing that the shadows will have what I need once I open the RAW files in Lightroom.
One feature that caught me off guard is the electronic viewfinder. My previous experience with other brands’ EVF’s left a lot to be desired, so my expectations weren’t that high for the Fuji. I bought this camera intending to use the optical viewfinder, not for the EVF. The first time I fired up the EVF I was surprised at the brightness, clarity & overall usability. Not to mention that the you can see the film simulations real time. After a few weeks bouncing back & forth between the different viewfinder modes, I ended up settling on the EVF exclusively. I don’t even think about using the other options any more. YMMV, but I absolutely love the EVF & everything it has to offer.
The biggest kudos I have to give to Fuji for their X series cameras (not just the X Pro 2) is the inclusion of directly-accessible manual exposure controls. It is incredibly freeing to have direct access to ALL exposure controls without having to go through menus or press buttons. Having mechanical knobs & rings to spin keeps you “in the moment”. There’s nothing quite like manually controlling aperture with rings & dials. The photographic experience becomes so much more intimate. I’ve never felt this “connected” to any DSLR. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t felt that zen-like connection to their camera. You just have to experience it for yourself. And for those of you that just want to set it & forget it, there ARE auto modes available. But trust me, you WANT to shoot the X Pro2 manually. Thank me later.
As great as the camera is, it did take some time to get used to the small form factor. I shot Canon DSLR’s for a long time, so I was quite accustomed to the feel & size of a full-frame camera. You don’t realize how much you take something like that for granted. The Fuji is MUCH slimmer, shorter and narrower. Smaller in every dimension. The shutter button is geometrically in a different place (duh). It took me about a week to figure out how to comfortably hold the camera since it is SO different. The hand holding position it quite different than I was accustomed to with DSLR’s. This isn’t a bad thing, as the Fuji is ultimately way more comfortable to shoot with. It’s just…different. I wasn’t prepared for that aspect of the transition. Now that I’m used to the X Pro2, I hate holding any DSLR. By comparison, they’re just too damn bulky.
Another thing that took some time to get used to was turning the camera off. It seems like a silly complaint, but you really do need to physically turn the camera off while you aren’t actively shooting, or else the battery dies. Fast. I’m not just talking about when you set the camera down after a shooting session, but ANY time you aren’t shooting. If the camera is hanging from your neck, the eye sensor thinks your face is pressed to the camera & it turns on the EVF, which is a HUGE battery drain. Now that I’ve been shooting with the camera for a while it has become a subconscious part of my work flow. The operating system fires up damn quick, so it doesn’t prevent me from getting shots. So at least there’s that. But I never really thought much about battery life with my Canon cameras. I never had an issue with them, they always had ample charge no matter how much I shot. The X Pro2 requires a different approach. While different, it’s not a big deal once you get used to it. Like anything else, it becomes habit.
The only other gripes I have with the camera are minor. The fact that the battery door lock isn’t spring loaded is annoying. You always have to remember to slide the lock into place after closing the door. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s irksome. Even after shooting the X Pro2 for 7 months, it still annoys me every time I swap batteries. From what I’ve read, the new XT-2 has fixed this problem. Again – not a big deal, just mildly annoying.
The last complaint I have about the camera really isn’t a complaint, it’s more of a design criticism. It doesn’t have a tilt screen. Of course, I knew this when I bought the camera, and my Canon didn’t have one either. However, this is really the ONLY thing that keeps the Fuji X Pro 2 from being THE perfect camera. Having a tilt screen in the digital age just makes sense. I know Fuji put a tilting screen on the new XT2, but IMO the X Pro series should have it as well. Because, why not? Of course, this is just a preference thing. Not everyone wants a tilt screen. Until they’ve shot with one. Then they want it.
All-in-all, the X Pro 2 is nearly the perfect camera. I’m glad I made the switch.