My X-T2 is here! First looks (and under test: USB Chargers)

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Last night UPS stopped by and knocked on the door. Inside the box was my new toy, the Fuji X-T2. Last night I pulled it out, charged the battery and played with it a bit. A few initial thoughts:

  • It looks and feels like the X-T1. It is, in fact, very hard to find any changes to the body or controls. My take on this is that it’s awesome, because if you have muscle memory in using the camera, it’s not going to break. It’s got a very comfortable feel and very well balanced. Fuji really got this camera right with the X-T1, and the X-T2 recognized that by not changing stuff for the sake of change. The physical changes to the camera are very subtle.
  • One thing they fixed with the X-T2: the D pad on the X-T1 was hard for me to manipulate because the buttons were very flush to the camera body. On the X-T2 they are more proud, both easier to find by touch and easier to use reliably. A minor but huge improvement to operability for me.
  • The only real change to the controls: the focus assist button is gone, the Quick menu button is put in its place, and where the Quick Menu button was there’s now a small button/trackpad manipulator. Press it to activate, and you have up/down/left/right movements on it. By default it’s set to show and move the autofocus area across the sensors.
  • One very small change that I love: on the X-T1 the shutter button was solid. On the X-T2 it’s threaded like the old rangefinders were, which means if you want to add a shutter button to it, you can.
  • The memory card door was a press and slide on the X-T1, on the X-T2, there’s a latch. And behind it are two SD card slots, not one.
  • The cover for the connector for the battery hand grip is rubber and pressure fit. I expect photographers are going to be losing that at inconvenient moments. I’m not convinced that’s a good idea, I might cover it with a bit of tape.
  • The ISO wheel goes to 12,600 ISO instead of 6400.
  • The shutter wheel goes to 1/8000 instead of 1/4000.
  • The one place your muscle memory will fail: the software menuing system: It’s been significantly changed and upgraded, and I think at first usage it’s a big improvement and easier to get around, but stuff’s in different places. It took me a few minutes to find the command to format a card (hint: setup->User Setting-> Format)

Looking at and holding the Fuji X-T2 makes me want to make a snide comment about the people currently complaining that Apple didn’t significantly redesign the iPhone 7 (it merely re-engineered the inside guts in major, massive ways); if something’s already really good, it makes little sense to change it for change’s sake. Fuji got that right with the X-T2. It fixed a couple of design nits, updated it a in little but caring ways, and I’m really impressed with the refinement of what was already a really nice camera.

By the way, XT-1 batteries are compatible with the X-T2, so you don’t have to build a second set of batteries for the X-T2 if you have a few around with the X-T1. Also, it looks like most accessories that work with the X-T1, such as an L-bracket, it should work with the X-T2. I’ve picked up a cheap, low-profile L-bracket for the X-T2 to test, and once I have it and try it out, if it’s any good I’ll let you know.

I’m looking forward to getting outside this weekend and taking it out for some tests, and it’ll be in the bag for our upcoming trip.

Under test: USB Battery Chargers

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One thing that caught my eye recently were camera battery chargers that plug into USB chargers instead of the wall. With the growing dominance of things that get charged by USB, when I travel, I always travel with a good USB charger (mine is currently the Anker 6 port, but they actually sell up to ten port models). My early testing is encouraging, but I want to take them on the road before I make them the permanent part of my bag.

The ones I’m testing are from Neewer, and they have them for Fuji, Canon, Nikon and other cameras, and unlike manufacturer or most third party chargers, they are dirt cheap at about $10 each, they are small and light (two of the Neewer chargers are about the size of the Canon charger), and some early testing indicates they’re faster than the traditional power plug chargers I have (but I still need more data on this).

So I’m seriously thinking these things are going to turn out to be great additions to the bag, but I haven’t field tested them yet. But if you’ve been frustrated by the cost, weird notification choices (hey, does the glowing LED mean charging is done? Or still happening? And any idea when it’ll be finished? No, set a timer to check every ten minutes) and cost, these USB units seem like a godsend. And they even tell you how far along the charge is.

So expect to hear more about these soon.