X-Pro2 Versus...

For those of you who hunt around this site a little, this could be old news as I’ve been adding and refining Versus content for the X-Pro2 for a couple of months now.

If you’ve been waiting for an in-depth comparison between Fuji’s latest rangefinder-style flagship and it’s predecessor, or the current DSLR-style flagship, these articles are for you. I compare everything from build quality and handling to image quality and ISO performance.

Fuji X-Pro2 vs. X-T1

In addition, I’ve split my Versus pieces into two categories, Body, and Lens. The Versus menu was getting a bit long, and likely difficult to navigate so this should help.

Next on the to-do list, update my X-E2(S) comparison pieces to reflect Firmwware Ver.4.00

Disassembling a Fuji XF Lens

Fascinating post at Lensrentals.com:

The overall construction is excellent. There was no place during this disassembly that either of us thought we saw a weak point that would be likely to cause problems. It’s not massively over engineered, but it’s very solidly constructed. [...] This looks like a lens that was designed by people who know how to make reliable lenses.

More on ACROS

Patrick La Roque on ACROS:

I noticed ISO 2000 seemed to be a sweet spot for this simulation, creating a visible grain that added personality without reducing sharpness or introducing anything remotely muddy into the mix (actually it scales well all the way up but 2000 felt like a good general compromise).

Nice of Patrick to get some of this work done for us. Auto ISO users might want to think about capping it around 2000.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Fujifilm’s commitment to bringing their film legacy to the X Series is an issue of pride. It’s where their identity can shine and how they can differentiate themselves further. I personally find the development of Acros, the research that went into its creation, very, very exciting. There’s a complexity at work here that goes way beyond slapping a curve on top of a monochrome file, and this shows a thirst for exploration that could yield serious results down the line.

I was thinking the same thing.

ACROS

There’s been a lot of speculation on if and when we’d see firmware updates for the X-T1, X100T, and, to a lesser degree, the X-E2(S)1 that would include Fuji’s latest Film Simulation Mode, “ACROS.” Currently, ACROS is exclusive to the X-Pro2. I heard suggestions on Twitter that this wouldn't happen because the new film simulation requires the X-Processor Pro, which is also exclusive to the X-Pro2. This didn’t sit right with me on its own. I couldn’t imagine a black and white conversion along with a new tone curve requiring that much more computational effort. We already have “Monochrome” and can tweak its tone curve via Shadow and Highlight Tone, so I figured we’d see ACROS in a future update, or there had to be more to it.

Well, Fuji has all but closed the door on ACROS coming to any other currently available camera, and has offered pretty strong hits as to why. It does have a lot to do with the X-Processor Pro, but there is more to it.

The image design of “ACROS” is only achievable with the resolution of X-Trans CMOS III2 and the processing power of X-Processor Pro.

The fine detail that ACROS achieves is only possible with the resolution power of 24MP. And the complex grain effect is only possible with the powerful X-Processor Pro engine.

So the processor is part of it, yes, but the sensor’s resolution also plays a role. Here’s what I think the important bits are:

To be specific, ACROS mode has a completely different noise reduction algorithm from other modes.

Fuji puts a ton of effort into their noise reduction algorithms, but to date, there hasn’t been any adjustment to noise reduction based on the photographer’s selected Film Simulation Mode that I’m aware of. A setting of -1 Noise Reduction at ISO 3200 behaves the same on Velvia as it does on Monochrome.3 Not so on ACROS.

ACROS also changes the output of graininess depending on the sensitivity setting. As the sensitivity gets higher, stronger grain effect becomes visible, just like the film

This on-the-fly grain effect does sound to me like it could require a beefier CPU in order to maintain performance that is equal to when other Film Simulation Modes are used. I would be interested to know for certain if the grain output of “Grain Effect” is also adjusted based on ISO. In addition, does “Grain Effect” stack with the grain rendering in ACROS? Sounds like I have some testing to do.

It may be possible that the same concept can be achieved without the two new devices, but can we say that to be “ACROS”? The answer is “No.” We would not release a quality that does not meet our standard.

This is the bottom line for me. Would you prefer Fuji compromise image quality, even slightly, or keep a Film Simulation Mode exclusive in favour of what they believe is optimal image quality? One of Fuji’s claims to fame is decades of film and colour experience, and it’s also one of the reasons many of us choose Fuji cameras, superior JPEG output. ACROS is a step in the direction of premium, compact photographic tools that deliver uncompromising image quality straight out of camera. Whether or not they’ve delivered on that is subjective, but I think so.

Could there be some marketing shenanigans afoot that keep ACROS exclusive? Perhaps. I would guess it’s as much, if not more a business decision vs. strictly marketing. With enough time and money, a 16MP version of ACROS is almost certainly possible. But the technical explanation behind why ACROS won’t be arriving on EXR Processor II cameras does satisfy me now.4

  1. Lesser simply due to the X-E2S just being released, and the X-E2 getting a major firmware update. ↩︎
  2. There’s a typo in Fuji’s post. ↩︎
  3. Another interesting tidbit from Fuji’s article, Monochrome uses Provia’s tone curves for it’s rendering. ↩︎
  4. I’m doubtful we’ll get one on Classic Chrome for the X100S. ↩︎

Mirrorless vs. DSLR

If there’s one regret I have about selling my DSLR gear, it’s that I don’t have it to use for comparisons. Luckily, there are plenty of other photographers who still have DSLRs kicking around.

Ivan Joshua Loh is just such a photographer. He ran a quick comparison between the X-Pro2 and 5D Mark III:

I was expecting a slight difference with the advantage toward 5D3. And I was absolutely wrong. With the advancement of technology; not only did X-Pro2 is on par with 5D3, personally I think it maybe a tad ahead in this pack.

The X-Pro2/XF 16mm f/1.4 combo looks sharper to my eye as well.

Ivan’s post has lots more valuable insight from weight to total cost of ownership, to this fascinating little tidbit:

Talking about cool; do you know that the shutter and ISO dial on the X-Pro2 is made up of 38 parts? Just on this dial alone.

Great read.

What’s Next for the X100T

Ian MacDonald has a(nother) thoughtful piece about the X100T’s future, citing much of what it’s been missing from firmware updates.

One item I’d add to his list is the new autofocus system, which I’ve been told “should come.”. My hope is Fuji has been waiting for the X-Pro2 to come out before they add this, and other features to the X100T, so as not to steal any OVF thunder. Here’s hoping.

BJP’s Best of CES 2016

Fuji received a couple well-deserved nods from the British Journal of Photography in their best of CES 2016. As you might expect, the camera highlighted is the X-Pro2. If you missed BJP’s excellent interview with Fuji’s senior product manager for X-series, Takashi Ueno, it’s well worth reading.

It was 9 years ago when Nikon unveiled their D3 and D300. Who’d have guessed that Fuji would be mentioned alongside the follow up to those cameras? BJP hit the nail on the head with the title of their interview, “Fuji’s Second Coming.”

Hits, 50/50, and a Miss

Great read from The Strobist himself, David Hobby. First a hit:

Focus point joystick. LOVE this. Thank you. [ … ] This is something the engineers came up with absent our input. So sweet.

Bang on. And kudos to Fuji’s engineers. This is one my my two top features of the X-Pro2. Next, a 50/50:

Battery. [ … ] Here's the dilemma: Faster, more power-hungry processor. Do you give it a bigger gas tank, or go you continue to allow the battery continuity across Fuji's ILC line that so many of us appreciate.

I’d file this under “Miss,” personally. I grumbled in my review about Fuji going with the same battery as their previous cameras. I still think it was the wrong move. Sure, there’s convenience in having the same battery across multiple cameras, but I think we are quickly going to see a lot of people using their other cameras much less once they get their X-Pro2’s, or going with dual X-Pro2 kits and doing away with the other cameras entirely. Additionally, the camera most likely to be added to an interchageable X-Series is surely the X100, which requires a separate battery and charger anyhow. Now was the time to move to a higher capacity battery. Too bad. Not much to do about it now aside from be thankful whatever extra batteries we’ve purchased will still work.

A Miss:

Eye Relief. And to clarify, this is a miss for me, personally.

Not just you, David. I’ve received a fair number of emails on eye point and have started including it as part of my comparisons. This is one area the X-T1 outshines Fuji’s new flagship.

Head over the Strobist for the full article. It’s great insight in the development of the X-Pro2.

X70 Pricing, X-Pro2 Ship Date

For any of my American readers who were on the fence about preordering an X70, it seems to have dropped $100 from its original price of $799 to $699. I’m not sure if it’s a temporary thing, are a price adjustment as of yet.

That’s the good news. The bad news is shipping dates are either slipping, or demand for the X-Pro2 is outpacing supply, as both Amazon and B&H Photo are showing a ship date of February 25 for the X-Pro2 instead of the original February 4. Bummer. The X70 looks to have also been pushed back, but not quite as much to February 15, according to Amazon.

For my Canadian readers, our plummeting dollar might be making you sad, but you can dry your tears when it comes to X-Pro2 pricing. At just $1,899, our price is pretty awesome compared to the American MSRP after conversion.1 You can stick it to the dollar even more by preordering from the folks at Aden before February 4th and get $150 knocked off the price of an XF 35mm f/2 WR, which was pretty much made for the X-Pro2.

  1. $1,699 USD = >$2,400 CAD, or, put another way, $1,899 CAD = just over $1,300 USD. Folks close to the border might be asking themselves if $400 is worth a warranty in the country of residence. ↩︎