Selah and I have been shooting weddings with Canon since 2012, starting with the 5D Mark II. Going into this wedding season, we decided it was time to upgrade camera bodies. The 5D Mark IIs had treated us extremely well, so I looked at Canon's current lineup.
As of this review, the Mark III is four years old, which is significant for camera technology. The 5DS is the latest in Canon's lineup, so I looked at it as well. Between the 5D Mark III still being around $2499 ($300 rebate from B&H at the time of this review), and the insane file sizes from the 5DS, I was bummed. The cost of two 5D Mark IIIs would be around $5000, and if we had gone with the 5DS, we would more than double the amount of space needed for each wedding.
This created a bit of a dilemma for me.
Enter: The Fuji X-Pro2
Almost a year ago, I briefly entertained the idea of switching to a mirrorless system when I saw the Fuji XT1. I had recently purchased a Fuji X100S to use for travel and personal work, and was immediately smitten with how inspiring it was to shoot with. Ultimately, I never pulled the trigger on the XT1 in the midst of a hectic wedding season, but the seed had been planted. Fast forward to January 2016 and I'm reading about the announcement of the Fuji X-Pro2, an update to their flagship camera, the X-Pro1.
The wheels really started turning at that point. The X-Pro2 would be a significant overhaul to the X-Pro1 and seemed like a potentially viable option. Things like Fuji's build quality and lenses stood out to me. As well, it would weigh significantly less than our Canon gear, which is awesome when you shoot a 12 hour wedding. And it would cost significantly less. We could have a full kit (two bodies and several lenses) for less than the price of two 5D Mark IIIs.
But I had a lot of questions. Everybody knows pros only shoot with full-frame DSLRs, right? Will it be up to the challenge of the fast-paced shooting environment of a wedding? There's not a lot of time to fiddle with camera settings or menu dive during a ceremony or reception. Even time for portraits with the couple can be quick because of scheduling. I decided to rent one and bring it along to a wedding.
Two weddings and thousands of images later, Selah and I are stunned with the results. We've enjoyed every minute of shooting weddings with this camera, and feel inspired and pushed to continue to hone our skills as a result.
The camera is a true joy to shoot with, and, in terms of our shooting style, I certainly feel it's up to the task of being used for weddings. I absolutely love the colors and working with Fuji RAW files. And I'm impressed with the sharpness the lenses and accuracy of the autofocus system. Ergonomically, the camera feels great to hold and carry. The combination of physical dials and menu system make it easy to be on-the-fly.
-The EVF (electronic viewfinder) and "Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder" are so awesome. Being mirrorless, these don't use a pentaprism system, like DSLRs, to show you what your framing/image looks like through the lens. And unlike "DSLR-style" mirrorless cameras (Fuji XT1, Sony a7R), you can use either an OVF (optical viewfinder), which gives you framing lines for an idea of what you're capturing, or an EVF, a tiny LCD screen that shows you exactly what you're capturing, right down to being a preview of what the image will look like in terms of exposure, colors, etc. With the X-Pro2, Fuji introduced a third option--a combination of the two (Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder). This option uses the OVF, but a smaller EVF pops up in the lower righthand corner, giving you the ability to peak exposure, or zoom in to check focus. It's a game-changer.
-I love the lenses. If you use Canon, like us, you're probably used to paying $1000-$2200+ for their top-of-the-line "L" series lenses. Until a certain price point, they're mostly made of plastic. Not Fuji's lenses. The XF series feature all-metal construction. They not only feel and look nice, but I've been extremely impressed with sharpness, even wide open. As well, the lens lineup directly compares to Canon's L series, in terms of focal length options.
-The photos themselves. Duh. Our only real-world comparison is to what comes out of the 5D Mark II and Mark III (I use one that belongs to an organization I work part time for). The files more than compete with what we were getting with the Mark IIs. I've even had a slightly easier time editing them because they're just closer to what I want our photos to look like to begin with.
-The ISO ring/ISO selection. To begin with, I was a little nervous about being forced to use a physical dial to change ISO, coming from Canon, and even thought this would be a con in the review. To choose your ISO, you lift up on the ring around the shutter speed dial and turn, much like some film cameras. I thought this would be a slow process, as it requires taking your eye away from the camera. But after using the camera for a coupe of weeks, it's not an issue anymore. That's because the function button on top of the camera can be used to choose one of 3 auto-ISO options, which are each customizable. Choose a minimum ISO, choose a maximum ISO and choose a minimum shutter speed for each one, and then change in camera from there. It's actually faster than using the Canons. The first auto ISO range I set is 200-400, great for outside, the second is 400-800, perfect for bright rooms during the day or moving from shooting in front of windows to a shadowy corner, the third is 1250-6400, getting us through dinner at well-lit receptions, or if we just don't want to use flash later in the evening.
-Using the camera is a treat. I feel more inspired when using this camera. It feels less like a tool that I'm lugging around, and more like a piece of the creative process itself.
Not so much...
-F-Stop Selection. I wish I could use the rear thumb dial to select my f-stop, in addition to using the physical ring on the lenses.
-Battery Life. This isn't a huge deal, as you can just change batteries, but we could go almost all day on a single battery with our Canons. We go through around 3 batteries for each camera with the X-Pro2.
If you're reading this, you either have nothing better to do than read my droning about this camera, or you're a wedding photographer possibly considering the switch. You might be saying "but, Joe, my 5D, D800 whatever is a full frame DSLR and the X-Pro2 isn't. consider the bokeh balls and such!". So what? What does using a full frame DSLR really mean to you? Are you concerned about losing shallower depth of field or slightly better low-light performance? Then stick with the full frame DSLR. If you're questioning whether or not you have legitimate reasons to stay with full frame DSLRs, and wonder if you bought one because it's the thing to do, then you're on the right track. Not once have I wished this camera was full frame. I'm more concerned about what a camera might push me to do creatively than what the bokeh balls look like.
"Yeah, but it it's still not a DSLR, and DSLRs are made for the most demanding shooting situations." Again, if you're here as a wedding photographer, then I think this camera could work for you. This isn't a review of the X-Pro2 vs the 1DX Mark II. If you feel like you need that kind of performance and want to spend that kind of dough, by all means. This is about how the camera works for us, as wedding photographers. If you'll remember, we were shooting with 5D Mark IIs, and the X-Pro2 outperforms that camera.
Ultimately, this isn't a technical review. I didn't sit down and compare the X-Pro2 to 5 other cameras under rigorous studio conditions. It came with me to a wedding, and I ended up shooting more with it than my Canon. That means everything in the real world.
Is this camera THE ONE? Nah. There's no such thing. In a few more years a successor will arrive and blow this thing out of the water.
I'm here to say that Selah & I are thrilled with this camera and feel so compelled and excited to shoot with it. We already feel that the quality of our work has improved, and that speaks louder than any opinion about which DSLR or full frame mirrorless camera someone might think we should have chosen.