They say the best camera is the one that you have with you but I say it is having the best lens for the job is what really makes all the difference. Around my house we get some rather exotic looking birds from time to time. These Wood Storks were sitting in my back yard a couple of days ago. The didn’t seem to mind me taking photos of them, at least for a few minutes.
When the birds do come by its nice to know you have a lens that can capture them in full glory. I think Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is a great addition to the Fujifilm line of outstanding lenses. I purchased mine with the Fujinon XF1.4X TC WR 1.4 factor teleconverter.
Strangely, shortly after purchasing the lens and teleconverter we suffered through a very hot dry summer that kept the birds away, but that is another story. Anyway the XF 100-400mm is one of Fujifilm’s red badged premium lens. It has a rather high price tag unless you compare it with some of the other lens manufacturers. Right now (before Christmas 2016) it is on sale for $1699 most places.
The lens is big and heavy compared to other Fujifilm lenses but not overwhelming. In my hand I can carry my X-T1/X-T2 with the lens attached with in one hand while I’m walking around. It balances well with three fingers on the grip. The range of the camera on the APS-C is from 150mm to 600mm which gives you plenty of reach. With the 1.4 teleconverter is reaches out to 800mm. I do most of my shooting (granted with good light) hand held with the 5 Stop OIS image stabilization system. When you are all the way out to 800mm you do sometimes need a bit more of a foundation like a tripod. At 400mm the max aperture is F5.6 and at 800 the max aperture is F8 but that should not be an issue, just find enough light.
Speaking of the tripod. The lens does have a collar mount so that the lens itself can be mounted on a tripod. The foot of the collar is not very big and may cause some issues with mounting it. I have not had an issue with that but some have complained. It is much smaller than the foot on the Fujinon XF50-140mm F2.i R LM OIS WR lens. When mounted on the lens foot there is a lock off so you can turn the camera between landscape and portrait mode which I think all lens should have (but not realistically).
The lens focus is quick especially with the X-T2 and using the continuous zone focusing can produce some very sharp images. There is a lot of detail and the contrast and color is quite good. This is an all round good lens. I don’t have any images of birds in flight as my skills in panning need a refresher course or maybe just a complete do over. Nothing to do with the lens.
I ordered my Fujifilm X-T2 the day it was announced last July and was shipped one of the first units on September 8th (thanks B&H Photovideo). I thought I would write up a fancy review for my new gear but I realized that I couldn’t be objective in that I’m not a reviewer, I’m an owner. I’m on my third Fujifilm camera in the last 2 years.
So as an X-T1 user and lover was the update to the X-T2 worth it? Of course it was although I do have some thoughts on if you should upgrade too that i’m keeping to the end just to keep you in suspenders.
So in the meantime here are my thoughts on the upgrade to the X-T2.
Sensor – I am happy to report that the larger sensor does not lose any of the qualities that the previous 16mp sensors possessed. As expected the detail is better because there are ½ again as many pixels. Because the new sensor has the same footprint (APS-C) as the previous ones a little care must used in hand holding the cameras just like other higher megapixel cameras which will pick up every little vibration. It’s just the nature of the beast. The X-Trans III process is also very good. Having the additional film profiles for ACROS really completes the X-Trans . The X-T1 Monochrome profiles were OK but pretty generic. Those profiles are still present along with the new ACROS profiles. I’m not much of black and white shooter but the ACROS film simulations are so pretty.
ISO – For the most part I’m using Auto ISO when shooting. I have my max ISO set at 3200 with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 second. I’m not a big proponent of usIng high ISO’s on any camera. Other than photojournalism or bad selfies at a dimly lit party I think there are few real excuses for using really high ISO. That being said i’ve had a pretty good experience shooting the Disney Christmas parade handheld at ISO 6400 although the best picture I got shows that I could have lowered the ISO as the shutter speed ended up at 1/300 of a second. Any noise presented can be cleaned up easily by your standard off the shelf software.
Joystick – The joystick is the thing that you didn’t know you needed until you get one. Like a lot of photographers I would keep the focus at the center of the image. I would then set focus and move the camera for the composition. The problem with this focus strategy there is a chance (in my case, a good chance) that moving the camera even a little bit changes where the focus lies. On the X-T1 I did move the function button to display the focus grid to the bottom d-pad button so that it was easier to move the focus point. Still it was awkward. Now with the Joystick if find moving the focus point much easier and I am more likely to move the focus point rather than the camera. That being said I am a left eye shooter and occasionally my nose does get in the way of the joystick.
Dials and Buttons – I guess I just got used to how the dials on top of the camera worked on the X-T1 and I occasionally get things backwards when adjusting the ISO and Shutter speed buttons. I’ve started to come around but once in awhile I push the buttons when I don’t need to and it causes a bit of a stumble when changing stuff. Moving the video function to the drive dial was a master stroke. I never did have issues with the buttons on the pad and I’m not having any issues on the X-T2. I have one problem in that I can not figure out how to do back button focus on the X-T2. I may have to get out the manual.
Movies – I have not done any movies on either the X-T1 or X-T2 so I can’t really compare the movie making abilities of either camera.
Upgrade– As to if you should/need to upgrade to the X-T2 if you have the X-T1 the answer is yes but with an if. If you already have the premium lenses, the XF 16-55 and or the XF 50-140 and maybe the XF 56mm and the XF 90mm then by all means do the upgrade. You images will only get better. If you can only afford to upgrade lens or camera get the better glass first. The image quality of Fujifilm red badged lenses is so good that you can work magic with the 16mp of the X-T1. If you are doing movies or have the good lenses already then the next logical step is the X-T2.
Then there was the lens that I didn’t think I needed. I seem to have acquired quite a number of the Fujifilm XF lenses. I was pretty sure I had all my bases covered from the very nice wide angle XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS and finishing up with the monster Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.
It took a long time to convince myself to buy the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens because I had the XF 18-55 F2.8-F4 kit lens which was pretty close in range as well as aperture and was reasonably sharp. For a kit lens it is one of the best of any brands. I also have the XF 18-135 Having amassed a number of points on one of my credit cards allowed me to buy the lens without the normal $1k plus price tag. So one day it showed up at my door. (It followed me home dear, can I keep it?).
Having used it for the last few months I have to say I now understand why so many professional photographers say that a 24-70mm F2.8 lens is their go to lens. The XF 16-55mm is the APC equivalent of the full frame 24-70 and it is a stunning lens.
The lens performs so well it pretty much doesn’t come off my camera unless I’m using the XF 100-400mm telephoto. The 16-55mm is incredibly sharp, has great contrast, color rendition, and just performs in all conditions. I’ve gone from not thinking I needed it to it being the lens that is always on my X-T1.
The other day I made a quick trip over to Epcot and realized that I only needed the one lens for any type of shooting I would do there. On previous trips to Walt Disney World I would take along at least 3 lenses, The XF 18-135mm, the XF 60mm, and the XF 35mm F1.4. While the Fuji system is compact and weighs a lot less than my previous (well I still have it but it hasn’t got much use) system, It still was more weight that I didn’t want to carry. So out came all the other lenses and I began traveling light.
It took me a lot of time to realize what should have been obvious. Always get the best glass you can. I think I may have heard one or two pro’s mention that. If you want to take the best pictures go with the “Pro” lenses like the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR and the Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR which I will have to discuss in another post.
There have been some gripes about the XF 16-55mm not being a OIS (stabilized) lens but I haven’t had any issues with that. I tend not to try and shoot in too many low light situations. It does have a bit of reach when zoomed and it not the lightest lens by any means. On my X-T1 it is well balanced and I don’t have any issues carrying it around all day. One thing I’ve noticed is that the “Pro” lens like the XF 16-55mm and the XF 50-140mm is that the are much more contrasty in the mid-range than the lesser lenses. You will find you need a lot less sliding of the Clarity slider when processing your images.
For a lens I didn’t think I needed it spends a lot of time on my camera. Getting the best glass is just common sense.