Today Fujifilm announced the brand new X-T2, a successor to the X-T1 interchangeable lens camera introduced in early 2014. I’ve owned the X-T1 for a little over two years, and over time it has become my favorite camera ever. Fujifilm has updated it regularly with significant upgrades like improvements to the camera’s autofocus system and new film simulations that give you phenomenal looking JPEGs straight out of the camera. With its large, detailed electronic viewfinder and great lens selection, the X-T1 has become my do-everything camera. It managed to pull me away from the Canon 6D I’d used before, and I haven’t looked back. You’ve likely seen many, many photos snapped with the X-T1 here at The Verge.
But firmware updates can only get you so far. Now the time has come for a proper sequel. It's got more megapixels. It shoots 4K video. And that electronic viewfinder has been made even better. After a week of using a pre-production X-T2 sample unit, well, I'm considering making the switch when it hits stores in September. The X-T2 will cost $1,599.95 body-only, or $1,899.95 in a kit configuration that includes the decent 18-55mm lens. That's not cheap, and it's actually a fair amount more than the X-T1 was at launch. Are the refinements worth it? Let's take a look at what's new.
First things first: though they look nearly identical, the X-T2 is slightly larger than its predecessor. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference without holding both cameras simultaneously, but it's worth noting. The most important change to the X-T2 is in the sensor. Fujifilm has brought over the 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III that debuted in the X-Pro 2, adding eight megapixels on top of the 16 that the X-T1 offered. It’s not a huge leap, but makes a very noticeable difference in terms of image detail. And as my colleague Sam Byford mentioned in his review of the X-Pro 2, those 24 megapixels really allow the company’s lineup of lenses to shine.
The X-T2 can also record 4K video — a first for an X-Series camera — at framerates of 24fps, 25fps, or 30fps. (1080p can be recorded at up to 60fps.) The 100Mbps 4K footage that I’ve taken so far looks nice enough, and you can apply any of Fuji’s nice film simulation effects before hitting the record button. But I doubt anyone will be buying the X-T2 because of its video chops. For one, 4K recordings are limited to 10 minutes, which feels a little restrictive. That recording time jumps to 30 minutes if you buy the X-T2's battery grip, but in general, I still came away thinking that Fujifilm’s got some catching up to do if it really wants to compete with Sony, Panasonic, and others on this front.
4K is a nice selling point, but this isn't a company known for its video chops
Just like the X-T1, you’ll be buying this camera for the pictures it takes, and there’ve been plenty of upgrades to that side of things. The maximum native ISO has been bumped up to 12800 (compared to 6400 last time) and the shutter max is now 1/8000 (or 1/32000 if using the electronic shutter). The focus selection joystick from the X-Pro 2 has been brought over, and I love it. It’s a much more intuitive way of selecting what part of the frame you want to lock in on. This required Fuji to sacrifice the Focus Assist button, but now you can just push the back dial control in for the same result.
And my, are there a lot of focus points. The X-T2 gives you 325 individual AF points to choose from, with 49 of them covering the center phase detect. Fujiifilm claims the X-T2’s processor allows it to refocus more frequently, improving its ability to predict what you're trying to focus on. I didn't really notice any big difference there, but I did appreciate some other updates: the X-T2 now accepts two SD cards, has a much more convenient 3.5mm mic input, and connects over USB 3.0. The eye cup is wider, so it's a little better for people with glasses (me) and cuts out more light. And the locking mechanism for the top dials has also changed. When you push the small black circles, they'll rise up a little bit and unlock. Move the dial to where you want it, push again, and it locks in place.
One pretty odd new "feature" affects the 3-inch rear LCD. Before it could tilt up or down, but now it also tilts out to the right. I'm honestly not sure why Fuji made this design decision; it doesn't allow for a ton more creativity (it won't flip out a full 90 degrees) and feels like something that could eventually break. I doubt I'd ever use it, but it's there if you need to get a tight shot or video.
That battery grip you see above, though... That can drastically upgrade some of the X-T2's capabilities. It's not cheap, but holds two additional batteries — for a total of three — and can charge both of them simultaneously with the included AC adapter. So you're all set as far as battery life goes, but it does a bit more than that. There's a "Boost" mode on back that, when switched on, actually pulls juice from all three batteries at once. This boosts the camera's continuous shooting speed to 11fps (the X-T2 is limited to 8 without the grip / Boost mode) and makes the electronic viewfinder feel even smoother and more lifelike with a refresh rate of 100fps; there's no discernible lag at all. The grip also features a headphone jack for monitoring your audio when shooting video, and as I mentioned before, extends the length limitation when recording. I bought the large metal grip accessory for the X-T1, but I might just shell out for this instead when the X-T2 launches.
There's a lot to like about the X-T2, and I certainly haven't mentioned everything. The settings have gotten more convenient and versatile; now you can store three different Auto ISO preferences and switch between them depending on what you're shooting. The new ACROS monochrome film simulation turns out some beautiful results. And just like its predecessor, the X-T2 has built-in Wi-Fi for sharing your images right to your smartphone and posting them to Instagram without delay. But the improvements you'll notice most often come with that 24-megapixel sensor, better autofocus, and yeah, maybe it's worth trying out the 4K video. I'm not positive I want to go through the hassle of selling my X-T1 and purchasing Fuji's latest. But every time I pick it up, the argument for upgrading gets a little easier.
Fujifilm is also announcing a $450 flash, the EX-F500, designed as a perfect companion for the X-T2. (The tiny flash included with the camera is still kind of a joke.) That's also shipping in September.
Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales.