Highly anticipated. Long awaited. It's finally here sitting on my desk. To explain the excitement and anticipation, you need to understand that I've always wanted Leica with a 50mm Noctillux. It's like buying a Corvette Z06 in Hawaii. I'm not going to be able to use it in the way it was intended, but the sheer joy I'd get out of it would be unmeasurable, and if you have to do something, why not do it in style.
So here we are, my first rangefinder camera (not truly a rangefinder but close enough). I've used it to shoot with a lovely lady and here are my thoughts on the transition from SLR cameras as well as this camera specifically.
The Transition to Rangefinder
Steep learning curve. I'm trying my best to embrace the optical viewfinder when I can. If I just use the EVF, I could've stuck with my X-T1 or my 5D Mark II. It's a joy to use it and it's a death wish at the same time. Here's the joy, in a time where we live with cameras that have over 200 autofocus points and cameras that shoot multiple pictures faster than we can blink, this thing slows you down and makes you consciously think about what you're doing and how you're doing it. I can't see what my image is going to be framed like, but at the same time I can see more of what's in the frame. I put more effort into each photo and I'm aware of the surroundings and I think I frame the photos better because of it. Here's the death wish, a lot of what I do is hard to focus on with the OVF since there's no face detection there. Yes, I know that the tiny EVF that pops up in the corner can show me the focus area, but I use that to display the entire frame so I can judge exposure (the meter for exposure is INVISIBLE in bright light).
Rangefinder cameras for lifestyle photography might be a bad idea, but people have been making amazing photos with Leica cameras for ages. For now, the OVF will be for personal work and the EVF for work work, at least until I get better at using the OVF.
Fujifilm, synonymous with film and color reproduction. X-Trans II, debatable as a game changing sensor as far as colors go. X-Trans III, not just a incremental upgrade over the X-Trans II. The colors on this thing pops with a certain depth that's hard to explain. All of these photos were taken in complete cloud cover between showers of rain and the colors are hardly muted or washed out. As far as noise goes, I think it's about the same as the X-Trans II, but after resizing the images to 16 megapixels it's noticeably better. Some will say noise didn't get any better, but to maintain about the same noise while bumping the density of that sensor by that much is quite an amazing hurdle to leap over.
I've been able to use VSCO for a bit in the past and their black and white films are simply amazing, especially Fuji Neopan 400. But Acros, just wow. I'm totally fine with posting straight out of cam JPEG images online without having any wish to edit it further. If I ever go on a black and white only streak I'm certain I can live off the X-Pro2 and my iPad Pro. Contrast is great with deep blacks and bright whites, with the grain turned on it truly feels like film.
The buttons. Good gracious the buttons. After the X-T1 failed to deliver buttons that bred confidence in each press, I'm pretty sure that engineer got fired. This camera just feels nice to push, click, and spin. The directional buttons are a little noisy, as in my neighbor can hear when I'm playing with my camera, but I'll take that over buttons that are mushy any day.
I thought I would love 273 autofocus points but that's just way too many to toggle through individually. Maybe if I'm doing headshots and I'm on a tripod it'll be great to nail the location of your focus but other than that, 77 is more than enough. Focus speed, marginally quicker than X-T1 but not a slouch at all. Faces detection is a bit better, it locks on to faces quicker and at farther angles. Unfortunately, Eye AF hasn't improved as much. You need to be pretty close for that eye to get focus.
The shutter. Dear lord, the shutter. Yes it shoots to 1/8000 but that's not important at all. What is important, is the sound. Out of every single camera I've ever owned, this shutter sounds the best. I usually shoot with the electronic shutter to put less wear on the camera and shoot in complete silence but this thing sounds so nice, I might just have to shoot with the mechanical release more often.
The Big Finale
The million dollar question, the do-re-mi, the big cheese. Do you or don't you buy this camera? Answer these questions and it'll paint you a better picture.
Are you going to use this camera strictly with the EVF?
If you said yes, don't buy it. Yes it's got a faster refresh rate but the X-T1 EVF colors seem to be more accurate. It's also easier to see the EVF in the X-T1 because it's darker around the EVF and it's physically bigger with more magnification.
Do you appreciate the time spent focusing, framing, just as much as the photos you get out of it?
As silly as it sounds, if you said yes and you like the process of taking a picture, you'll appreciate the challenge of a rangefinder.
Do you need the best autofocus, fastest frames per second shutter, best ISO performance, basically the best of the best?
If you said yes, calm down, there are more important things in life. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bugatti just released new cars, those are far more important than the new camera. Start saving.