Practically Perfect: Fujifilm XT-2 and Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 Review

I just finished teaching a workshop in Kyoto, and borrowed the Fujifilm XT-2 and Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 (roughly a 24mm full-frame equivalent) for a spin– and to sum up, it is practically perfect.

Review of the Fujifilm XT-2

To be honest, there is nothing really to critique on the Fujifilm XT-2. It is solidly built, ergonomic (fits comfortably in the hand), has all the dials, knobs, and adjustment buttons you need, has extremely fast autofocus (which is also very accurate), and has amazing image quality.

My only critique for the Fujifilm XT-2 is that the menus are still too complicated — it needs to be simplified further. I think all the ‘ISO REDUCTION’ JPEG settings can probably be hidden from the main menu– or even a more revolutionary idea: only be able to access those JPEG settings via WiFi connection with a phone.

But the interesting thing about the XT-2 — I’m not quite sure what the camera is for, or who it is for. It is a camera ‘built by committee’ — the best combinations of everything that all photographers wanted. Therefore, it lacks a distinct flavor and soul.

I’m not sure whether the camera is for professionals (it can be for pros, because it has two card slots). I’m not sure whether it is for travel photographers (if travel photographers really wanted something light, they would probably buy the Fujifilm X100 camera), and I’m not sure whether it is for hobbyists (they might decide to buy a cheaper camera).

Anyways, to be honest– it is a camera without any faults. It is practically perfect.

Review of the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4

Probably the best lens ever built by Fujifilm. The 16mm lens is roughly a 24mm full-frame equivalent (wide, but not too wide). It has insanely-close macro focusing abilities, which is good to shoot close-up pictures of portraits, of abstract images, etc. It is built solid — and good for low-light (f/1.4).

Shooting street photography with the XT-2 and 16mm f/1.4

I shot the XT-2 and 16mm on the streets of Kyoto, at ISO 3200, automatic aperture, and automatic shutter-speed. Essentially I shot the camera and lens in ‘P’ (program) mode.

I never missed a picture due to slow autofocus. I enjoyed using the camera setup for street photography. I was able to get close, fill the frame, and used the articulating LCD screen, to get super-low angle shots. I preferred to use the LCD screen instead of the EVF (electronic viewfinder) — to shoot quicker, hesitate less, and to frame more accurately (I prefer to frame with the LCD screen, because I get less tunnel-vision when compared to using a viewfinder).

 

Shooting was a joy. Fun, fluid, and the weight of the camera setup was solid– not too heavy, and felt good in my hands.

How I processed the pictures

I shot all the pictures in JPEG, and applied ‘ERIC KIM CHROMA’ preset. The image quality looks superb to me — and I like the colors of the Fujifilm sensor.

Even when shot at ISO 3200 (in order to have a fast shutter-speed, and a higher f-stop for more depth) I don’t really see any degradation of image quality, or excessive noise.

No more bad cameras exist.

It is a really good time for photography. There are no more bad cameras. It all comes down to ergonomics (how the camera feels in your hands), the dials and controls of the camera (if you like the positioning of the buttons, how many buttons there are, simplicity of use), as well as the menu systems (I prefer simpler menus).

Also, to be honest– whatever camera you shoot with is a vanity thing. Do you want your camera to look cool, stylish, and retro? Do you want your camera to fit your ‘lifestyle’ — or do you want your lifestyle to fit your camera?

What does a camera really mean to you? Does buying a new camera really help you make better pictures? Does buying a new camera really inspire you to make new pictures? Or does the effect of a new camera, lens, or piece of gear just inspire you for a week– then it collects dust on the shelf like all your other cameras?

Is this new camera more similar or dissimilar from your older gear? Do you have enough money to buy two of the cameras you wanna buy– in cash? Is this camera gonna be timeless, or is it gonna get outdated in 6 months-1 year?

I don’t have any answers– only suggestions. I prefer fewer cameras, and the zen of ‘one camera, one lens.’ That is just me though — I have found the answer for myself, and that advice won’t pertain to you.

But for me ultimately– the purpose of photography is to MAKE PICTURES. TO CREATE NEW PICTURES. And anything that helps you make more art or pictures is good.

BE STRONG,
ERIC

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Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017
Walking woman. Kyoto street photograph, 2017
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By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher