Fujifilm X-T2 Bought, Now I Gotta Learn It

Yes, I bought the Fujifilm X-T2, as promised. (I bought the graphite edition because the price difference was less than I expected and the guy in the shop told me that in HK, the graphite versions generally have higher resale value, not that I’m planning on selling this any time soon.) I also like the retro look of the graphite edition vs. the all black:

(not my image)

Along with the camera, I purchased 3 lenses.

First I got the XF 18-55mm F2.8-F4 “kit” lens. I went with this one first and foremost because it’s cheap and has been fairly well reviewed. It’s also a lot lighter than the 16-55mm F2.8 and has image stabilization, something missing from its bigger and more expensive brother. (Although to be honest, I never missed not having image stabilization on my Nikon 24-70mm lens.)

Next I went with the XF 23mm F2 as a kind of daily walking around lens. I could have gone for the 23mm F1.4 – but twice the price, twice the weight, not weather resistant, and I believe that I will use this mostly in situations where I won’t need the additional aperture stop.

Finally I bought the XF 90mm F2. This was a tougher decision. Normally for concert shooting I use zoom lenses, not primes. I could have gone for the 55-140mm, again at about twice the price and twice the weight. I thought about it a bit and I believe as of now this will get me “close enough” to the stage and otherwise just force me to be more disciplined when shooting.

I almost bought the XF 56mm F1.2, which I would use as a portrait lens. (I have a friend who claims to have every Fuji X lens and says this one is easily his favorite.) I love shooting portraits but I decided to let this one wait until next month.

First Impressions

First and foremost, even with the kit zoom lens attached, this is so much lighter than my Nikon D800 that it’s almost insane. With the 23mm lens attached, it gets even lighter. How much lighter? I found myself checking my shoulder camera bag every 5 minutes because it was so light that I thought someone had stolen the camera from the bag. When I walked around with the camera strap around my neck, I never got tired, never felt dragged down by weight.

Secondly, as I expected, I love the wealth of physical controls available on this camera.

(Not my image.) You probably can’t tell from the photo above but there are second dials under the ISO and shutter speed dial – controlling shooting mode (single, continuous, video, etc.) and metering mode. This is what I wanted and it suits my style of shooting perfectly. There are two more dials (front and back) that can be assigned to a variety of different functions, two assignable function buttons, Fujifilm’s wonderful “Q” quick menu button, a little joystick on the back for adjusting focus point and size, and even more.

There’s also a ton of options that were not available on my Nikon, all of which will take me some time to learn so that I can use them properly.

I actually don’t really have great photos to share with you yet. My Hong Kong trip was quite busy and didn’t leave me enough time to really dig into the 370 page manual that comes with the camera or get to interesting places to shoot. I’m thinking of buying one of these two books to supplement the manual – either Rico Pfirstinger’s The Fujifilm X-T2: 120 X-Pert Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Camera or Tony Phillips’ The Complete Guide to Fujifilm’s X-T2 (which looks better to me based on Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview). But for now I’m digging my way through what’s available on Youtube, starting with this 90 minute video Fujifilm X-T2 Overview Tutorial from Tony Northrup.

Workflow

I’m also somewhat struggling with how to manage my workflow now – in that if you search around you’ll find that Adobe Lightroom is said to be notoriously bad at handling Fuji’s RAW files.

A lot of people are therefore recommending programs from a company called Iridient – they have a full-fledged processing program called Iridient Developer which people swear by (but it’s Mac only). For Windows they have something called X-Transformer, which will convert Fujifilm’s RAF RAW files to DNG format. It’s still in beta (and yet they’re charging $30 for it, the demo version will watermark your DNG files). I’ve been playing with it and there’s lot of options on conversion so a bit of a learning curve with that as well. Here’s a couple of examples though – two photos I shot and in each instance the first photo is one solely processed through Lightroom, the second converted to DNG using X-Transformer and then applying the exact same Lightroom adjustments.

The first time I converted these with Iridient I found that the converted files had noticeably more noise in them, until I found a helpful tip about adjusting the degree of sharpening during the conversion. Once I made that adjustment, I was able to see why this could be the better way to go. The differences are relatively minor to my eyes, but noticeable enough if you zoom in on sections of the photos to compare.

The above photos are also a lesson for me in that I’d had a few drinks and completely forgot to remove the polarizing filter from the lens! I was lucky to get even a couple of halfway decent shots.

So with all of this, I actually have not yet gone through all of the 350 or so photos I shot during my week in Hong Kong. I think I’m going to need a bit more practice with the camera’s settings first. Here are a few quasi-random shots from the first week (all of them processed through Lightroom but not using X-Transformer):