When Sony unveiled two new versions of the PS4 during its special PlayStation Meeting in New York it rather glossed over the new, slimmer version of the console, dubbed the PS4 Slim – but which will become the de facto PS4. The company understandably put greater focus on the higher specified 4K gaming powerhouse that is the PS4 Pro1, which is due out November 2016. And as the PS4 Slim had been leaked in full a couple of weeks before the event there was little left to reveal that hadn t already been published across the entire internet. There could be another, even more obvious reason why, though. For all intents and purposes, the PS4 Slim is just the standard PlayStation 4 in an all-new body.
PlayStation 4 Slim review: Design
The new shape and build of the PS4 Slim looks like the console has been on the Atkins diet for a while. But although other consoles have benefitted from trimming down in the past, such as the PS3 and, more recently, the Xbox One S, the new PS4 aesthetic makes it look cheaper than the last, despite its 259 asking price.
The new matte and mottled exterior looks more Primark than premium. And the rounded corners give it an air of Fisher Price over flagship device. Still, it is a PS4 the latest iteration of the fastest selling console of all time and something that continues to bring a smile onto millions of faces on a daily basis. As soon as you load your first game you realise that its superficial looks are irrelevant, and at least some of the new design decisions make sense. The physical power and eject buttons are easier to use than the weird touch-enabled strips on the original. And the glowing strip that indicates whether the PS4 is switched on or in standby mode has sensibly been reduced to a single LED under the buttons. It won’t bother your eyeline so much when sat under a TV.
The slimmer build is also better suited to standing on its end using an optional stand, if that’s your bag. The footprint is also designed to better hide it away in an AV cabinet as it is dinky smaller even than the latest Xbox.
There is one caveat. For some reason unbeknownst to us, the optical digital audio output on the rear has disappeared. That might not affect many, but is bad news for those who would rather feed sound directly into separate speakers that don’t accept HDMI. All other ports, including two USB 3.1 sockets, Ethernet, the aforementioned HDMI and an AUX hole for the PlayStation Camera are still present.
PlayStation 4 Slim review: HDR incoming
As for gaming, its primary function, the PS4 Slim is superb as good as the original for sure. System software 4.0 was recently made available as a download for this and former PlayStation 4 models and it really enhances the machine in terms of functionality.
Since its original launch, Sony has regularly updated the console, adding new features all the way. But the most recent gives the experience a new coat of paint in the form of a refined, better looking user interface and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. The latter feature is only relevant for those with a HDR-enabled television and requires games to support the wider colour gamut and deeper contrast it affords. Sadly, there are no titles available as yet, but when the PS4 Pro launches in November, you can expect to see a flood of enabled games, including many existing titles that will add the video feature through downloadable patches.
PlayStation 4 Slim review: New software
The latest user interface is similarly laid out as before but vastly superior in many ways. You can now create folders to store groups of games or apps, and a tidier on-screen design looks sharper and neater. While it isn’t quite as complex as the Xbox One dashboard, we find it is easier to navigate and get to the most important aspects namely playing games.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
This is where any PS4 excels and the Slim is no different. Thanks to better graphics processing, it soon became apparent after the launch of this generation of console gaming that the PlayStation 4 was superior than the Xbox One, often attaining better resolutions and/or frame rates on comparable games. Microsoft recently responded with the superb Xbox One S, which upped the hardware ante somewhat, and while the slim version of the PS4 hasn’t been tweaked in the same fashion, it is still highly capable of up to 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second. Three years of heritage also means that developers are wringing more out of the hardware than ever before. The Sony PS4 plays host to some incredible games these days, not least Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. We’re not sure they’d have been possible a few years back.
PlayStation 4 Slim review: New controller
Such games also play well on the new DualShock 4 controller, which comes in the box and has an added, player-facing LED light strip along the top of the controller’s touch panel.
This, we were informed, is so players can see it without having to flip the gamepad over, to see which colour they are during multiplayer games or the like. The new pad also adds the ability of communication through the USB port. This means you can use it with a PC, for example, without any complicated set-up processes.
PlayStation 4 Slim review: No 4K UHD Blu-ray
We’ve found that the new PS4 is less noisy than our regular beast, at least when playing games off the hard drive. There were times this summer that our original PS4 sounded like an industrial leaf blower (probably down to the accumulation of dust in its vents over time), but we’ve had no such issues with the PS4 Slim. The disc drive makes a little noise when turning, but it’s nothing in comparison.
That’s with both game discs and Blu-rays or DVDs. It’s a crying shame that Sony decided against upgrading the drive to one that can spin 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, something Microsoft added to the latest Xbox One, but the HDMI port isn’t 4K compatible anyway, so it’s irrelevant in this case. Another disappointing decision, we feel, is that the new PS4 only comes with a 500GB hard drive. A 1TB model of the existing PlayStation 4 was released to cater for those who want to build large games libraries and it seems stingy to revert back to half that capacity. We were told it was a cost issue, to keep the price down to 259, but we’d rather have the option, much like Microsoft offers with the Xbox One S, which comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB flavours (at increasing price points, of course).
You can upgrade the PS4 hard drive, though, and it’s even easier on the new model with a slide-out HDD caddy hidden under a flap near the rear. We swapped ours for a Samsung 2TB 2.5-inch drive and, as long as you have the right screwdriver to hand (a Phillips #1), it’s very easy going. It cost us an extra 80 for the drive, but that’s well worth it.
There’s little doubt that when viewed on its own terms, with little comparison to rivals or the former model, that the PS4 Slim is an excellent games console. It might not be as pretty as its older brother, but it is as capable. And considering the PS4 currently reigns supreme as the king of consoles, it is a no-brainer for those who have looked longingly at the PlayStation games line-up and couldn t afford to join in previously. However, Microsoft has recently upped its game with the Xbox One S, which has a lot more to offer than the PS4 Slim, thanks to 4K upscaling and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player built-in. Both consoles now have HDR gaming capabilities, which is a great leap forward, but Sony’s omission of the physical UHD Blu-ray format (one it is heavily pushing itself) means the Xbox One S is more attractive at the same price point. Then, of course, there is the PS4 Pro2. Coming in November, the Pro is a far more capable version of the PlayStation 4, with the potential of 4K gaming (albeit with clever upscaling techniques by developers). It has more powerful processing and greater RAM so it is better futureproofed too. And as it’s only 90 more expensive than the PS4 Slim with a 1TB hard drive as standard, we can see many opting to save up a little extra cash for that monster instead.
So while the latest iteration of the PS4 is a great console and very well timed considering PlayStation VR is just around the corner too we wonder what kind of impact it will make.
- ^ higher specified 4K gaming powerhouse that is the PS4 Pro (www.pocket-lint.com)
- ^ there is the PS4 Pro (www.pocket-lint.com)
The EOS M5 is a very welcome addition to Canon’s product line-up and arrives at a time when many photo enthusiasts were starting to doubt whether Canon would ever produce a mirrorless camera that caters for their needs.
Although the M5 doesn’t tick all the boxes (the limited buffer memory being a case in point), it is streets ahead of the previous EOS M models. It seems Canon finally has a serious contender in the burgeoning mirrorless market.
When Photokina opens in Germany next week, a highlight in Canon’s display will be the EOS M5, the company’s first mirrorless camera for photo enthusiasts. It’s been a long time coming but, having handled the camera at a media briefing, we believe it’s a potential game-changer. Equipped with a similar APS-C sized CMOS sensor to the EOS 80D1 plus the DIGIC 7 processor introduced in the PowerShot G7 X Mark II2 it’s a neat little unit that looks and handles like the flagship models in the popular PowerShot G line-up.
The new Canon EOS M5 with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, one of the kit options that will be available with the camera from mid-November. (Source: Canon.)
Build and Ergonomics
Although thebody of the EOS M5 is made from polycarbonate, it looks and feels solid and a bit like a ‘grown-up’ PowerShot G5X. It’s somewhat larger because its sensor is significantly bigger and, unlike the PowerShots, it accepts interchangeable lenses. Sadly, it’s not weather-sealed.
Front view of the EOS M5 with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
The control layout will be familiar to users of Canon’s cameras (both PowerShots and DSLRs) and most will also appreciate the modifications introduced in the new camera. The grip is generous making the camera comfortable to hold, regardless of the size of your hands, and there’s a moulding to accommodate your middle finger.
Top view of the EOS M5 with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
Like the PowerShot G5X, the top panel of the EOS M5 has a large mode dial on the left side and an exposure compensation dial on the right. Between them is the pop-up flash housing with a hot-shoe on top. The shutter button sits forward on the top panel between the EV dial and the grip moulding, with a M-Fn (programmable function button) to its right and a flash pop-up button to its left. All pretty standard so far. Located in the right side cluster is a new multi-function dial with a central button that provides quick access to key shooting controls. Pressing the button toggles through different functions (white balance, focus, drive, exposure parameters), while turning the surrounding dial wheel lets you choose individual settings within the selected function. It’s quick to use, since you can see what you’re selecting in the EVF or on the monitor screen.
Rear view of the EOS M5. (Source Canon.)
Controls on the rear panel are also arranged in a conventional fashion, most of them to the right of the monitor screen. However, the power on/off switch is inset into the left side of the top panel below the mode dial and accessible from the rear of the camera. Right of the monitor is a conventional arrow pad with directional buttons that access the ISO, flash, delete and white balance sub-menus. Above are the Info and movie buttons, with buttons for the Starry Sky focus/ single-image erase and AF frame selection functions arranged vertically in the top right hand corner of the rear panel. Below the arrow pad are the playback and menu buttons.
The EOS M5 in ‘selfie’ mode with the monitor flipped down. (Source Canon.)
The monitor tilts up through 85o and down through 180o to allow the camera to be used for low-angle shooting or set to capture the ubiquitous ‘selfie’. It has a 3.2-inch diagonal measurement, which is on the large side of average and a more than acceptable resolution of 1,620,000 dots.
Best of all is its touch-panel overlay, which covers the entire screen. Users gain full access to the camera’s controls, including touch AF and touch shutter functions. A new touch-and-drag function allows your thumb to be moved across the screen to change the focus while you’re composing shots through the EVF. This enables smooth and seamless focus pulling while movie clips are being recorded. The EVF is a major step forward for the EOS M line-up and one of the key features that makes the M5 attractive to serious photographers as well as anyone who shoots video. It’s a 0.39-type OLED screen with a high resolution of 2,360,000 dots and a fast 120 frames/second (fps) refresh rate and it’s positioned mid-way along the top panel. A 22mm eyepoint provides comfortable eye relief for photographers who wear glasses, while dioptre adjustment is also provided. Like the PowerShots, the EOS M5 houses its battery and memory card in a single compartment in the grip, accessed via a hatch on the base plate. This is more characteristic of snapshooters’ cameras and one of the few downsides of the M5 because it prevents you from swapping battery or memory card when the camera is tripod mounted.
The metal-lined tripod socket is in line with the optical axis of the lens, which is welcomed. Also on the base plate is the contact point for the NFC (near field communication) function. A USB socket and microphone jack sit beneath hard plastic covers on the left side panel, while the HDMI port is on the right hand side. Below it is the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna. Metal strap lugs sit high on each side of the camera body.
Who’s it For?
In brief: just about any photographer who wants a lighter, more compact camera, either as an adjunct to a DSLR or an alternative. There are now seven EF-M lenses to choose from if you want the smallest, lightest optics. Or you can use EF lenses with the EF Mount Adapter.
The EOS M5, shown with the new EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens that was announced concurrently with the camera as well as the body jacket and neck strap accessories. (Source: Canon.)
The EOS M5 will be particularly welcomed by video shooters because it has an electronic viewfinder, even though it doesn’t support 4K movie recording. As well as making it easier to compose shots, it also lets you see the camera settings on the periphery of the frame and shows what you are recording with accurate detail and colour reproduction.
The 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor in the EOS M5 is essentially the same as the sensor in the EOS 80D, although it’s actually marginally smaller (but not enough to signify). It has a 3:2 aspect ratio and can produce images with a maximum resolution of 6000 x 4000 pixels (the same as the 80D). The pixel pitch is approximately 3.7 microns. The DIGIC 7 processor has so far been used only in the PowerShot G7 X Mark II3, where it provided improvements to noise handling across the camera’s ISO range, face registration and subject detection and tracking. It also increased battery life by just over 25%.
The EOS M5 also benefits from the new processor, enabling it to support a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600 and add a new panning mode to the Scene presets. Other welcome additions include HDR (high dynamic range) and time-lapse recording modes, the latter producing a slow-motion movie. Aside from the EVF, the autofocusing system is one of the main features that separate the EOS M5 from its predecessors. This is the first time Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF has been used in an EOS M camera, where it delivers a DSLR-level of focusing speed and accuracy as well as superior tracking performance when shooting in Live View mode for both bursts of still shots and movie recordings. The system operates across more than 80% (both vertically and horizontally) of the sensor area and includes 47 sensor points arranged in a 7 x 7 grid. Users can select AF zone focusing and use a block of nine points in a 3 x 3 grid or single-point focusing and each of these blocks can be moved freely via the touch screen. Depth AF support, a new feature, can detect whether a subject is moving towards or away from the camera and adjust focus accordingly.
In manual focus mode, you can magnify the area around the focus zone by 5x or 10x and a peaking display (which outlines areas that are in-focus) is available. Manual focus over-ride in AF mode is supported. The M5 can support continuous shooting at up to 9 fps when focus and exposure are locked with the first frame or 7 fps with continuous autofocusing. Unfortunately, the buffer memory isn’t overly generous, holding a maximum of 26 JPEG frames. No information has been provided on raw frame capacity but we assume it’s substantially lower. Although designed primarily for taking still pictures, the M5 can also record Full HD movies and supports frame rates of 50, 25 and 24 fps for PAL system users (60 and 30 fps for NTSC). HD movies can be recorded at 50 (60) fps and VGA clips at 30 or 25 fps. The maximum clip length is 29 minutes and 59 seconds or up to 4GB.
Digital stabilisation is available in movie mode. It covers five axes – up, down, pitch, yaw and roll, in the process cropping the frame slightly. Since the frame is already cropped for movie recording, reducing resolution at the same time, this isn’t a major issue as the EVF and monitor will each show the area that will be recorded. You can overlay a grid (3 formats to choose from) and/or an electronic level to help you keep horizons level while recording both still pictures and movie clips. Histogram displays are also available and you can choose from brightness only or brightness plus RGB. Connected photographers are well catered for with integrated Wi-Fi and NFC as well as a low-power Bluetooth connection, which provides an always-on link between the camera and a smart device. Powered by the Canon Camera Connect App, it lets you operate the camera from the connected smart device, view images and upload them to sharing and/or storing websites.
Finally, like Canon’s DSLR cameras, the EOS M5 supports in-camera raw file conversion, enabling users to shoot raw files and quickly convert them into JPEGs for sharing. A new addition is support for batch conversion of multiple raw files. In-camera re-sizing is also available.
The EOS M5 is a very welcome addition to Canon’s product line-up and arrives at a time when many photo enthusiasts were starting to doubt whether Canon would ever produce a mirrorless camera that caters for their needs. Although the M5 doesn’t tick all the boxes (the limited buffer memory being a case in point), it is streets ahead of the previous EOS M models. It seems Canon finally has a serious contender in the burgeoning mirrorless market. Today’s photographers have moved on from the DSLR vs mirrorless battle and it’s no longer a case of choosing one or the other. Most serious enthusiasts use both, and often the mirrorless camera will be favoured for its portability and functionality, while the DSLR will be chosen for its imaging performance particularly for still shots. Because of their EVFs, mirrorless cameras are much more suitable for movie recording than DSLRs, which is why so many manufacturers are offering models with 4K capabilities. Sensor size and resolution are less important for movies because the frame is always cropped.
Today, manufacturers like Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony have carved out sound reputations among serious enthusiasts and professional photographers in a market where formerly DSLRs ruled. When you can get the same (or better) resolution and imaging performance in a smaller, lighter camera with an EVF that can be used while shooting movies, why wouldn’t you opt for mirrorless?
So thanks, Canon, for adding another mirrorless brand for us to choose from and adding the benefits of the Canon heritage. Let’s hope the company’s designers continue to push the EOS M range further. We look forward to reviewing a camera once they are released locally in November.
Image sensor: 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS sensor with 25.8 million photosites (24.2 megapixels effective); fixed low-pass filter
Image processor: DIGIC 7
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens mount: EF-M (EF and EF-S lenses compatible via Mount adapter EF-EOS M)
Focal length crop factor: 1.6x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (Exif Ver.2.3), CR2.RAW(14-bit Canon original RAW 2nd edition), RAW+JPEG; Movies: MP4 AVC/H.264; AAC-LC stereo audio
Image Sizes: Stills 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 3984 x 2656, 2976 x 1984, 1920 x 1280, 720 x 480; RAW – 6000 x 4000, M-RAW – 4500 x 3000, S-RAW – 3000 x 2000; Movies: 1920×1080 (Full HD) at 50p/30p/25p, 1280×720 (HD) at 50p/25p settings
Image Stabilisation: Lens based for still shots; in-camera 5-axis Digital IS available in movie mode
Dust removal: EOS integrated cleaning system
Shutter (speed range): Electronically controlled focal plane shutter (30 to 1/4000 seconds plus bulb, X-sync at 1/200 sec.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3EV steps
Exposure bracketing: +/-2 EV in 1/3EV increments (can be combined with manual exposure compensation)
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Custom and Remote settings
Focus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 49 focus points (7×7 grid) via auto selection; manual positioning – 1 point or 1 AF zone (9 points, 3×3 grid)
Focus modes: One-Shot AF, Servo AF, Face + Tracking, Smooth Zone AF, 1-point AF, manual focusing with peaking and magnification (5x or 10x)
Exposure metering: Real-time metering from the image sensor with Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Partial at centre and Spot metering; metering range EV 1-20 (23oC/ISO 100)
Shooting modes: Scene Intelligent Auto, Hybrid Auto, Creative Assist Special scene Self-Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Food, Panning, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control, Creative Filters, Program AE, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Manual exposure, Bulb exposure, Custom (x2)
Picture Style/Control settings: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1 – 3
Image Processing: Highlight Tone Priority, Auto Lighting Optimiser (4 settings), Long exposure NR, High ISO NR, Lens peripheral illumination and chromatic aberration correction, diffraction correction, Creative Assist background blur – 5 settings; brightness – 19 levels; contrast, saturation, colour tone, monochrome, filter effects – Ye, Or, R, G plus Sepia, Blue, Purple Green toning
Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
Custom functions: 12
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100-25600 (in 1/3- or whole-stop increments); Movie ISO 100-6400
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White fluorescent, Flash, Custom (1 setting can be registered), Colour temperature setting, WB compensation B/A and M/G: +/-9 levels
Flash: Built-in pop-up flash GN approx. 5 (ISO 100, in meters), coverage to 15mm lens angle of view; integrated hot-shoe
Flash modes: Auto (E-TTL II), manual flash on/off, 3 flash power output settings, red-eye reduction lamp is available
Flash exposure adjustment: +/-2EV in 1/3EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max. 9 shots/sec. (7 fps with AF tracking)
Buffer capacity: Max. 26 Large/Fine JPEGs
Storage Media: Single slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards; UHS-1 compatible
Viewfinder: 0.39-type 2,360,000-dot OLED EVF with 100% coverage, 22mm eyepoint, eye sensor, dioptre correction
LCD monitor: 3.2-inch TFT LCD with 1,620,000 dots, electrostatic capacitative touch screen capabilities, tilts up 85o and down 180o
Playback functions: Single image display, Single image + Info display (8 options), index (6, 12, 42, 110 thumbnails); rotate, delete, zoom (2x – 10x magnification), jump by 1, 10 or 100 images, by shooting date, by folder, by movies, by stills, by rating, movie playback, slideshow (all images, by date, by rating), movie playback, slideshow with transition effect (fade); in-camera raw image processing, PictBridge direct printing supported
Interface terminals: Micro USB 2.0, HDMI micro (Type D connector), 3.5 mm stereo mic jack
Connectivity: Bluetooth (low energy), Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz only), Dynamic NFC support
Power supply: LP-E17 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Pack; CIPA rated for approx. 295 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6 mm
Weight: Approx. 427 grams with battery and card
The Fujifilm X-T2 is a compact system camera featuring a 24 megapixel X-Trans III sensor, high-performance X Processor Pro image processing engine, 2.36m dot resolution OLED electronic viewfinder, three-direction tilting LCD screen, a robust weather-resistant body, 4K video recording, 14fps continuous shooting, a focal plane shutter with a top speed of 1/8000 sec. and flash sync up to 1/250 sec, silent-operating electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32,000 sec, 91 auto-focus points, and support for dual SD memory cards. The Fujifilm T2 body-only costs 1399 / £1599 and the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF18-55 lens will cost 1649 / £1899.
Ease of Use
At first glance the new Fujifilm X-T2 looks almost identical to its 2-year-old predecessor, the X-T1, which was released back in early 2014. A closer look, though, reveals a number of subtle design tweaks, and it’s all change “under-the-hood”, with a new 24 megapixel sensor, faster X Processor Pro image processing engine, improved Auto-focus system and enhanced video recording. The Fujifilm X-T2 sports a DSLR-look rather than the classic rangefinder design of the X-Pro series, a move that proved very popular when the X-T1 was launched, broadening the appeal of the X-series to potential customers that wanted a DSLR, or at least a camera that looked like one. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to have been the mantra of the X-T2 design team, with this new camera once again resembling a miniature DSLR. Once again the X-T2 is weather-proof, with 80 points of weather sealing offering dust-resistance, water-resistance and freeze-resistance down to -10 C. The optional Vertical Power Booster Grip (VPB-XT2) offers the same levels of weather-proof-ness, along with a growing number of weather-resistant lenses that Fujifilm have launched since the original X-T1 was released.
The X-T2 dispenses with the range-topping X-Pro2’s innovative Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, replaced instead by a high-resolution OLED electronic viewfinder. Although sharing the same 2.36m dot resolution as the X-T1, Fujifilm have clearly been hard at work on making the X-T2’s electronic viewfinder even better, boasting brightness levels 2x better than on the X-T1 along with an automatic brightness adjustment function and a faster 100fps frame rate. With a magnification of 0.77x, it narrowly beats the Olympus M-D E-M1 to the title of “EVF with the world’s highest magnification”, while it has a lag-time of just 0.005 sec, in practice answering one of the most common complaints about electronic viewfinders. By default, the EVF refreshes at a rate of 60fps, but in the new Peformance Boost mode this jumps to 100fps, smoothing out fast-moving subjects. The viewfinder has the same stunning Graphic User Interface as the X-T1, which no optical viewfinder could ever hope to emulate. The default Full mode does what its name suggests and displays an uninterrupted view of the scene with all the settings information displayed outside the frame so that you can really concentrate on your subject. Normal provides an optimum view, including the shooting settings. The very clever Dual mode takes advantage of the EVF’s size to display a split view of the scene before you, with the full frame on the left and a smaller 100% manual focus area on the right, complete with either focus peaking or Fujifilm’s digital split image function. Finally, the displayed settings in the Full and Normal modes automatically rotate when the camera is held in a portrait orientation (although sadly not for the Dual view). You can also now customize the shooting information that’s displayed in the viewfinder.
Front of the Fujifilm X-T2
The Fujifilm X-T2 is a very well-built X-series camera, with absolutely no flex or movement in its chassis thanks to the die-cast magnesium alloy body and machined control dials. At the same time, it’s actually a little lighter than a first glance might suggest, weighing in at 507g body only with the battery and memory card fitted, 67g more than the X-T1. Measuring 132.5mm (W) x 91.8mm (H) x 49.2mm (D), it’s slightly taller and deeper too. The X-T2 has a deeper hand-grip at the front and a prominent rest at the rear for your thumb, with your grip helped in no small part by the textured faux-leather surface that runs around the full width of the camera. Two small metal eyelets on either side of the body are used for connecting the supplied shoulder strap. A metal tripod mount is positioned in line with the centre of the lens and next to the battery compartment, which means that you’ll no longer have to remove the camera from the tripod to change the battery, as with the X-T1.
Two memory card slots are located on the right-hand flank of the camera when viewed from the rear. The X-T2 is the latest camera to offer compatibility with Ultra High Speed UHS-II SDXC memory cards, which has the main benefit of increasing the data writing speed in continuous mode to about twice that of a conventional UHS-1 card. The X-T2 offers a continuous shooting rate of 14fps for 42 JPEGs or 28 compressed RAW files if you use a UHS-II SDXC card and the electronic shutter, making it one of the fastest compact system cameras on the market. If you prefer to use the mechanical shutter, the rate drops to a still impressive 11fps with the VPB-XT2 grip fitted, and 8fps without. At the heart of the X-T2 is the brand new 24.3 megapixel APS-C sized X-Trans III CMOS sensor, with APS-C being a size that’s more commonly used by the majority of DSLR cameras than by compact system cameras. Fujifilm actually claim that the X-T2’s sensor will deliver image quality that surpasses most APS-C DSLRs and even some full-frame ones, thanks to the unique sensor which has a type of colour filter array that mimics film grain and no optical low-pass filter for higher resolution images, and as our test photos and sample images on the next two pages show, the X-T2 actually does live up to those claims. We won’t say any more at this point other than to recommend that you take a look at our Sample Images for yourself. Helping to keep the image quality high is the 18-55mm standard zoom kit lens that we predominantly tested the X-T2 with. This offers fast maximum apertures of f/2.8 at 18mm and f/4 at 55mm, with the added benefit of built-in optical image stabilisation to help keep your images sharp. There are aperture and manual focus rings on the lens barrel, which in conjunction with the shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on top of the camera body makes it straight-forward to set the exposure. We did find though that the aperture ring is easily moved, particularly when taking the lens on and off the camera, so watch out for an incorrectly set aperture. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS is a really nice standard zoom that’s certainly a cut above the kit lenses that ship with most interchangeable lens cameras.
Front of the Fujifilm X-T2
The 18-55mm lens’ fast maximum apertures in conjunction with the large APS-C sensor make it easy to throw the background out of focus and achieve some really nice bokeh effects. The combination of the fast apertures and the extensive ISO range of 100-51200 makes the X-T2 very well suited to low-light shooting, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in places where you’d usually be reaching for a tripod (if allowed) or other support. The clever ISO Auto Control setting allows you to set a maximum sensitivity (now up to 12800) and a minimum shutter speed (1/30th is a good starting point), with the camera over-riding your ISO choice if it thinks you’re being too ambitious whilst maintaining a shutter speed that won’t introduce camera shake. With its new focal-plane shutter, the X-T2 has a more adaptable top shutter-speed limit of 1/8000th second in all shooting modes than the X-T1’s 1/4000th speed. This allows you to select a faster aperture even in bright conditions or when shooting with flash during the day, although as there’s no built-in ND filter as on the X100-series cameras, if you want to use, say, the 35mm lens at f/1.4 in very bright sunlight then it’s still a good idea to buy an actual glass ND filter. The X-T2 utilises a focal-plane shutter rather than the leaf shutter that the X100-series have, much like a regular DSLR camera. This results in slightly noisier operation and a much slower flash-sync speed of 1/250th second (versus the X100’s 1/4000th second). To make the camera less obtrusive there’s a Silent menu option which turns off the speaker, flash, AF-assist lamp and most importantly the shutter-release sound, instantly making the X-T2 perfectly suited to more candid photography. The X-T2 also has an electronic shutter in addition to the mechanical one, which provides a much faster top shutter speed of 1/32,000th second. This allows you to continue shooting wide-open with fast aperture lenses in the brightest of conditions without having to resort to fitting a glass ND filter or using external flash and lights. There are some important caveats with the electronic shutter – the ISO range is restricted to 200-12800, you can’t use the flash at all, and the slowest shutter speed is only 1 second, but overall it’s a great addition that makes the X-T2 more versatile than its predecessor. It’s also possible to set the electronic shutter in 1/3 steps from a range of 1sec to 1/32000sec.
The X-T1 was no slouch when it came to auto-focusing, but Fujifilm have made the X-T2’s AF system even better. It can auto-focus in as little as 0.06 seconds and offers an increased number of AF points – 91 versus the X-T1’s 49 – again laid out in a 7 x7 grid, with a lot more of the imaging area covered by fast and precise phase detection AF pixels ( approx. 230% more compared to the X-T1).
Rear of the Fujifilm X-T2
If you want even more control, you can select the 325 points option which splits the same area of the frame into a 13×25 grid of smaller AF points, of which the central 77 are phase-detection points. The X-T2 is the latest X-series camera to offer Zone and Wide/Tracking modes which utilise the larger 325-point area to capture moving subjects. In Zone mode, you can select a 3×3, 5×5 or 7×7 zone out of the 325-point AF area. During AF-C focus, the X-T2 continually tracks the subject, positioning it at the centre of the zone. The centrally positioned 3×3 and 5×5 zones in particular deliver fast focusing thanks to the on-sensor phase detection AF. The Wide/Tracking mode combines the Wide mode (during AF-S), in which the X-T2 automatically identifies and tracks the area in focus across the 325 point AF area, and the predictive Tracking mode (during AF-C), which uses the entire 325-point area to continue tracking the subject. This feature enables continuous focusing on a subject that is moving up and down, left and right or towards and away from the camera. Fujifilm have drastically improved the AF-C algorithm to make the X-T2 better able to track moving subjects. You can now determine how the camera reacts to the way the subject moves within the frame, how fast the subject moves and where in the frame the camera prioritizes focus, with five AF presets offered and the ability to create up to 6 of your own. The AF-C system is so complex behind-the-scenes that Fujifilm have created a special microsite to explain it in more detail (http://fujifilm-x.com/af/1). The X-T2 also offers Eye Detection AF, which as the name suggests automatically detects and focuses on human eyes You can also define the area of priority focus, for example the right or left eye, or the eye closer to the camera.
There’s also the continued ability to change the size of the focus point via the rear command dial to achieve more precise focusing. As well as the extra AF points, one of the positive effects of the high-performance X Processor Pro image processing engine is much faster AF speed – about 2x quicker than the processor used on the X-T1 camera – making the X-T2 the joint-fastest AF performer in an X-Series camera with the X-Pro2. Also borrowed from the X-Pro2, the X-T2 now has the fantastic Focus Lever joystick, used mainly for setting the AF point. This is a real boon to anyone who changes the AF point a lot, making it simple to change even when holding the camera at eye-level.
Top of the Fujifilm X-T2
Manual focusing is activated by setting the focusing switch on the front of the camera to Manual and using the ring that encircles the lens to focus. In terms of focusing aids, the Standard option offers a distance scale along the bottom of the viewfinder (both the OVF and EVF) and on the LCD screen if you’re using that for composition, with a white bar indicating the the focusing distance and a blue bar showing the depth of field, which actually changes in line with the current aperture – very handy. The X-T2 has another trick up its manual focusing sleeve in the shape of the rear command control (the dial which sits under your right thumb). You can press this in to magnify the view in the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen. Furthermore, if you hold down the rear command control dial, the manual focusing aid then switches to Digital Split Image, and then to Focus Peaking – a very neat way to quickly change between the three modes. The second manual focusing method is the Digital Split Image feature. Harking back to film cameras of the past, this displays dual images on the left and right which then need to be lined up together for accurate manual focusing, enabling accurate focusing especially when shooting wide-open or for macro shooting. It’s much easier to understand in practice than written down. The third and final method is the Focus Peak Highlight function, which displays a white line (the colour and strength are customisable) around the subject when it’s in focus. In addition to the class-leading electronic viewfinder, the X-T2 has a high-resolution 3 inch LCD monitor on the back, which offers 100% scene coverage and 1.04 million dots, and can be usefully tilted up and down by about 90 degrees when in landscape mode and upward when shooting in portrait mode by releasing a small switch on the edge of the screen. The LCD screen has a handy Info view which presents all of the key settings at once, or you can switch to the Standard or Custom Live View modes, with the latter offering 14 customisable options (these are also used for the electronic viewfinder). The X-T2 has a built-in eye sensor so that you only have to hold the camera up to eye-level to switch between the rear LCD and the electronic viewfinder (or you can press the View Mode button on the side of the pentaprism).
In terms of operational speed, the Fujifilm X-T2 is very satisfying to use. Shutter lag is virtually non-existent on this camera (0.045 second), so once you have set the focus, you’ll never miss the moment because the camera can’t fire the shutter quickly enough. The shot-to-shot time is just 0.17 second, and it starts-up in only 0.3 seconds. The write speeds from pressing the shutter button to recording to the SD / SDHC / SDXC memory card are fast too. Shooting a single RAW + Fine JPEG takes less than half a second to record to a UHS-II card, a big improvement on the already speedy X-T1. Continuous shooting speeds have been improved too, as we’ve already explained above. Thankfully the camera doesn’t lock up completely for a long time if you shoot the maximum number of images in a burst, allowing you to continue shooting after just a few seconds. The X-T2 also offers interval timer shooting for time lapses, with intervals of 1 second to 24 hours and up to 999 frames.
Tilting LCD Screen
The Fujifilm X-T2 continues to excel in its handling, thanks in no small part to the numerous external controls that make changing the key settings a breeze, especially when holding the camera at eye-level. Surrounding the 18-55m lens is a circular aperture ring, although it has no markings due to the variable aperture. This dial also allows you to choose third-stop apertures. On top of the X-T2 is a large, tactile, lockable control dial for setting the shutter speed, with settings ranging from 1 second to 1/8000th second, an Auto option, a T setting for longer exposures (2 to 30 seconds, set via the circular command wheel) and a Bulb mode for exposures up to a whopping 60 minutes in length. Alongside the shutter speed dial is another tactile dial for changing the exposure compensation, with a range of +-3EV and a new Custom setting, and on the left-hand side is a third, lockable dial for setting the ISO speed, with settings ranging from Auto to H (either 25600 or 51200). Together these three controls make it extremely easy to set the exposure. Underneath the ISO Speed and Shutter Speed dials are two more dials, the first for setting bracketing, burst, multiple exposure, advanced and panorama functions, and the second for setting the metering mode. Cleverly, unlike the dials that sit on top of the them, these two dials are not locked in place. Four other controls complete the X-T2’s top-plate. The small but responsive shutter release button is encircled by the On/Off switch, and there’s now a thread for a traditional mechanical cable release. Alongside is the Fn button, which by default provides quick access to the Face-Eye Detection options, but can be customised to suit your own needs from 12 different settings. Further customisation is available via the 7 Custom Menu options, which let you create, save and recall up to 7 sets of user-defined settings, and no less than 6 configurable function buttons.
There’s an external flash hotshoe for suitable dedicated external units, into which fits the supplied EF-X8 flash that ships in the box. This small but handy flash unit has a guide number of 11 at ISO 200, which goes some way to compensating for the fact that it’s not built-in to the camera.
The Fujifilm X-T2 In-hand
The X-T2 features enhanced built-in wi-fi connectivity, although there’s now no dedicated button to access it (you have to configure one of the Fn buttons or access it via the menu system). Install the Fujifilm Camera Remote App and you can transfer your pictures immediately to a smartphone or tablet PC and then edit and share them as you wish, transfer stills and video onto the camera, and embed GPS information in your shots from your smartphone. You can also control the camera remotely, with the list of available functions including Touch AF, shutter release for stills and movies, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, Film Simulation modes, White Balance, macro, timer and flash. The built-in wi-fi also provides a simple means to backup your photos to your home PC. The Fujifilm X-T2 can now record 4K video, the first X-series camera to do so, with 24/25/30p frame rates on offer. What’s more, Fujifilm have introduced the concept of “Quick 4K”, where the camera can be set to apply one of the built-in film simulation modes to your footage to avoid having to grade it during post-processing. The X-T2 actually records at close to 6K (5120x2880pixels), then downsamples to 4K. There’s a 10-minute in-camera limit, which can be extended to 30 minutes by fitting the VPB-XT2 vertical power booster grip. This grip also adds a 3.5mm stereo headphone port to the 3.5mm microphone that’s in the camera body, there is uncompressed 4:2.2 8-bit HDMI output, and log gamma “F-log”. If you don’t need 4K, the X-T2 can also record Full HD 1080p movies at 60p / 50p / 30p / 25p / 24p for up to 14 minutes with stereo sound. There is a HDMI port for connecting the X-T2 to a high-definition TV, and you can adjust the level of the internal microphone and attach an external mic for better sound quality via the Mic and Remote ports. Strangely, despite the increased emphasis on video recording, the X-T1’s one-touch Movie Record button has completely disappeared (it’s now been assigned to the drive mode dial). The X-T2 has a logical enough rear control layout. Above the LCD screen and to the left of the viewfinder are two buttons for choosing image deletion or playback, while on the right is the AE-L button, rear control dial and the AF-L button. Beneath those is the Quick Menu button, which provides quick access to lots of frequently used shooting settings including the ISO speed, White Balance, File Size and File Quality, with either the new focus lever or the 4-way controller and the command dial used to quickly change them. In the middle of the controller is the Menu button, which accesses the eight Shooting and Set-up menus. Underneath is the Disp/Back button which is used for changing the LCD display or going back.
We don’t normally mention accessories in our camera reviews, but the X-T2’s new battery grip is so important that it needs mentioning here. The catchily named VPB-XT2 isn’t just any old battery grip, though – as the first three initials suggest, it’s a “vertical power booster” grip which, as well as including 2 extra batteries, increases the speed of the X-T2 in a whole host of different ways. The burst shooting speed increases from 8fps to 11fps, the shooting interval decreases from 190msec to 170msec, the release lag drops from 50msec to 45msec, and as mentioned above, the recording time in 4K goes from 10 to 30 minutes. As well as adding a 3.5mm headphone socket, it also acts as a twin battery charger, so that you can effectively charge 4 batteries at once – 2 in the VPB-XT2 (only taking 2 hours), 1 in the X-T2 camera via USB, and 1 in the supplied battery charger. The VPB-XT2 also helps Fujifilm’s longer lenses balance better on the X-T2 – we’d go so far as saying it’s something of a must-buy accessory.
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