Coming to Grips with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster

The Fujifilm X-T2  mirrorless camera is an amazing image making machine in a small package.  Adding the VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip makes it a not as small a package.  The question, is it worth the extra weight.

The VPB-XT2 has several advantages over the equivalent VG-XT1 X-T1 vertical grip. Allowing for two batteries gives you a whole lot of exposures and the boost mode that lets your X-T2 shoot 11 frames per second (without the extra batteries you get 5 to 8 fps).

Having the extra hardware and batteries does make for a substantially heavier kit.

There is also a larger hand grip for the right side of the camera which gives you a deeper grip for holding on to camera. The left side also has the secondary shutter and wheels and buttons to match the regular buttons on the back of the camera for when you are shooting in vertical mode. It even has a joystick for adjusting the focus point.

The right side has the lever for opening the battery compartment.

Also on the right side is a pin for plugging in included AC power supply which will charger your batteries (takes about 2 hours they say) and a jack for plugging in head phones for when you are creating movies. The green lights signify that the batteries are charging.

While the additional weight can be felt as the unit is well made and the addition of the additional metal in the extended grip is rugged (thus adding more weight) it does not move the unit into the realm of impossible to lift. It still is a fairly compact package and still comes in under the weight of a DLSR with a vertical grip attached.

I had the VPB-XT2 on the X-T2 with my Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR and a teleconverter while out trying to capture the Roseate Spoonbills behind my house yesterday. I was carrying it in one hand on grip without much problem. It felt well balanced. I might suggest you looking into getting a wrist strap (there is a convenient bar on the bottom for attaching same).

If you are shooting sports or wildlife, the 11 fps will help. If you are doing portrait work and prefer having the shutter button on the top in portrait mode you will like this unit. It does take some getting used to. In vertical mode the EVF seems to me to be a bit lower than I would like but that is a personal problem.

This is a good time to buy a VPB-XT2 as Fujifilm has then on sales (until the middle of July 2017) .

Roseate Spoonbill taken with the X-T2 and the XF100-400mm.

Looking Thru The Fujinon XF 60mmF2.4 R

I’ve been wondering lately if the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro is as good on the Fujifilm X-T2 as it was on the X-T1. The XF 60mm was one of the first lens released for the X-Trans series and there has been quite a bit of good glass released since the XF 60mm.

XF60mmF2.4R Macro Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
XF60mmF2.4R Macro Fujifilm X-T2 – XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

So I did a bit of shooting around the yard as well as with my friend Spot.

New Growth Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

I really didn’t get that close with the lens to try it’s true macro close focus and I didn’t attempt to add any extension rings. Just shot some pictures.And in small images it seems sharp enough.  But if you zoom in I’m not finding the absolute sharp spot that I was hoping for.

Fern Details Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

Wide open the fall off is quite pleasing.

Apparition Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

One thing I was pleasantly surprised about was it lens focus ability. If you want to find out your camera and lens work well together see if it can focus on wispy clouds in the sky. I had no problem with this lens on the X-T2.

Dragon Fly Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

I was even able to capture the dragon fly in the foreground in this image. Probably have to click on it to see it.

Spot Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

Working with flash with Spot as the model. The color rendition seems to be a bit off.  The spot on Spot’s hand is supposedly the same color as his body but seems washed out.  Possibly because its nearer the flash.

Spot Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

Opening up the aperture to F2.4  shows how the lens handles the fall off. It was pretty good but the the clothes pin isn’t as sharp as I wanted it. Probably the fault of the photographer.

Spot Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

And you can get pretty close.

Spot Fujifilm X-T2 XF60mmF2.4R Macro

Another shot without flash at F11 for 10 seconds ISO 200. This time the color rendition is better too.

Spot Fujifilm X-T2 XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

For comparison this was shot with the XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens. Both were shot raw and had the Provia/Standard profile applied in Lightroom.

There have been some really phenomenal lens coming from Fujifilm recently like the XF16-55mm and the XF50-140mm.  I’m really waiting for the promised XF80mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens coming the year. While it will probably be more money I expect it to be a much better lens than the XF60mmF2.4 R

Expanded Exposure Bracketing with the Fujifilm X-T2

I had all but given up on using exposure bracketing on my Fujifilm cameras. I would shoot the standard three frames, regular exposure, +1 and -1 and then use Lightroom’s merge to HDR to build a “High Def” image. Problem was that I could get the same result just taking the normal exposure and by moving the highlight and shadow sliders along with moving the white an black point sliders and get a result that was very similar to the HDR output. The dynamic range of the X-Trans sensors is pretty wide in raw. So why bother?

With newly released version 2.0 of the X-T2 firmware, you can set the camera to take up to 9 exposures to really build a much more “dynamic” image.

Kings Cross Station

This is the final image I developed using the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR while waiting to take the train from London to Hogsmead somewhere near Hogwarts School.

Here is how I had my camera set up to shoot the bracketed images.

On the Shooting menu, select drive settings.

Then select BKT Setting

Then BKT Select (Hard to see in my excellent screen captures…)

Once you select AE BKT you can go back one screen and set up the AE Bracket steps

Click on AE BKT

Then Frame/Step Settings. Note below you can set for continuous frames or 1 frame per click. You can also determine the order in which the exposures are made.  I have it set to O normal exposure then plus exposures then minus exposures.

You can then select the number of frames to shoot.

And finally the number of steps between exposure. Note on the graphic below that the middle step is not right on 0 as the camera also takes into account any EV adjustments you have made. In my case I have (and usually have) a 2/3 minus EV dialed in.

And here you have the resulting 5 exposures. I think we start to have some captures that we can work with for building interesting HDR images.

Images shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F/2.8 R LM WR