Finally! Fuji has a new sensor to review! Ever since my very first X-series camera review (the X-E1), I’ve subsequently had to rehash essentially identical image quality in all later Fuji cameras. This wasn’t a bad thing: the 16 megapixel X-Trans sensor was excellent, and still holds up as one of the better APS-C sensors around, even four years later. But now the X-Pro 2 features the first wholly new image sensor since the launch of the X-Pro 1. The new sensor is a 24 megapixel X-Trans sensor, that I hoped would produce some great quality.
Color and Dynamic Range
In this first part, to be honest, there’s not a lot that’s changed. The dynamic range of the sensor is largely in line with the earlier X-Trans sensor, though perhaps there’s some slight improvement. In any case, the range of the sensor is excellent, and it can capture the complete range of tones in the vast majority of shooting situations. Fuji has allowed you to tweak the tonal curve a bit more, however, offering greater latitude in adjustment in camera to push and pull highlights and shadows to create the contrast curve best desired for the final image.
Likewise, the X-Pro 2 still has the same outstanding color response that the X-Series has become known for, with rich color and fantastic tonal response. RAW files take adjustment very well with regards to color and tonal transition, while JPEG files are simply outstanding in their color reproduction. The Fuji Film Simulations produce very pleasing colors that attempt to emulate their popular film stocks, and for the most part they succeed well. I’ll talk a bit more about JPEGs and film simulations a little later on this page.
Noise and Detail
With the X-Pro 2, Fuji has joined what appears to be the sweet spot in sensor resolution for APS-C sensors: 24 megapixels. This 50% increase in total pixels adds a bit more than 1000 pixels in the horizontal direction to give a nice boost for fine detail for larger reproductions. I was quite impressed by the detail resolved by the sensor. The Fuji lenses continue to be excellent on this sensor, and fine detail is noticeably increased over the 16 megapixel Fuji bodies. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the X-Trans filter array can sometimes cause some artifacts that are often called the ‘watercolor effect’ on fine foliage or grass details with certain RAW converters. The effect is still present with this sensor in some situations, but I found it is less obvious. You really need to look for it at high magnification to see it, and you won’t see any issues at most any print size and certainly not at any reduce size for screen viewing. In all, it’s a bit of a non-issue. On the whole, I was very impressed with the detail produced by the X-Pro 2.
One fear of increasing sensor resolution is the potential to increase noise due to lowering the size of the pixels. Thankfully, Fuji has avoided this on the X-Pro 2. While there isn’t a huge leap in high ISO performance, the noise at the pixel level is very similar to that of the X-T1. With the higher resolution, that means that more detail is recorded, and the noise will be smaller than earlier Fuji bodies for the same reproduction size. The result: a little better high ISO performance overall. It’s not a huge leap, but likely somewhere around a half stop at the highest ISOs, while lower ISOs show a more negligible advantage. The result is enough that I was able to get quite usable images at ISO 12,800, with ISO 25,600 usable in the right circumstances for small prints. The X-Pro 2 also exhibits essentially zero color shift at 25,600, which is fantastic. ISO 51,200 is still a step too far. In all, a nice improvement.
The X-Pro 2 continues the Fuji tradition of producing excellent JPEG images. JPEGs are low compression with excellent tonal range and color reproduction. Fuji cameras have the best JPEGs in the industry in my opinion, and things have even gotten a bit better with the X-Pro 2. First of all, the one JPEG downside to the X-Trans II sensor Fuji cameras was a tendency to soften skin detail at high ISO in the JPEGs. Thankfully, that processing quirk is gone, and high ISO shots of people low look quite natural.
Second, Fuji has added two new things to their JPEG processing. The first is a new black and white film simulation called ACROS, which, with the better control over highlight and shadow tones, is the best black and white JPEG engine I’ve seen in a camera. Shots with Acros have excellent tonality, great punch and a simply fantastic look. Color filters can be assigned to ACROS for different situations, giving the shooter great control over the final image. If you’re looking for a great camera to shoot black and white photos like you would film, this is a great camera to pick up. Short of a Leica Monochrom, I don’t think you’ll find a better black and white camera at this point in time.
Finally, Fuji has added a film grain option to their JPEG processing, which can really give the film simulations a true film-like look. There are two strengths of film grain that can be added, but I preferred to keep it on low when I shot with it. It adds a very nice grain to the images, and modulates the strength and size based on ISO. I generally didn’t use it much, but I think it can definitely fit well with the ACROS and Classic Chrome simulations in the right circumstances. See the shot below for an example. Click here for the full size image and click the green arrow at the bottom to view full size.
As I mentioned at the beginning: I’m not a videographer. I will say that the X-Pro 2 video looked good to my eye, but I really don’t have the discerning eye for video like I do with still photos. The X-Pro 2 does feature improved bitrate in video and external mic support. It doesn’t shoot in 4K, but can shoot 1080p at 60, 30 and 24 fps.