Fuji XT2 Review – Fuji Comes of Age

Fuji XT2 review

 

I must admit that I was quite excited for this Fuji XT2 review. Partly that was down to my love hate relationship with the XT1. That was a camera I loved the concept of and indeed it had many great features such as external dials for aperture, shutter speed and ISO, a huge viewfinder and great image quality. However there were a few aspects that made me begrudgingly sell it. The focus still wasn’t quite as good as it needed to be and other cameras offered more features at that time. See my XT1 vs Olympus EM1 video for more on that.

My excitement was also aroused due to the internet buzz over the improvements made to the X-Pro2 and indeed the early noise coming out from Fuji XT2 reviews.
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Fujifilm X-T2 Camera Kit – Black

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Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)

So lets take a look at the new features of the Fuji XT2 and see what we get.

  • New 24mp sensor with broader array of Phase detect AF points
  • 8 FPS mechanical and 14 FPS Electronic burst rate.
  • 4k video 
  • Dual SD card slots
  • New hinged LCD Screen
  • Handling improvements (which I’ll discuss later)
  • Dedicated AF Joystick
  • 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed (1/32000 electronic shutter)
  • Acros film simulation
  • Customisable continuous AF profiles

As you can see from the list Fuji pulled out all the stops here to create a true flagship camera that has improvements across the board. The new 24mp sensor, a bump of 50% from the older generation 16mp sensors is a welcome addition and brings it in line with the competition.

Fuji clearly want to take the video market more seriously with 4K output and they have listened to feedback from photographers in nearly every department and worked to improve on what they already had with the XT1.

 

Fuji XT2 Review – Handling

The XT2 is slightly larger than the XT1 at 133x92x49.2mm and also 67 grams heavier. In the hand this makes the XT2 very comfortable to hold, offering good grip and a little more space to work with when using the controls.

I always felt the XT1 was a good camera but in need of a few improvements and the XT2 has come up trumps here, offering a little more room to work with and a more robust feel than its predecessor.

The front grip is slightly more pronounced on the XT2 and fits perfectly in my hand.

The first and most noticeable addition is the new AF Joystick which allows you to easily re-position your selected AF point directly with just the a flick of the controls. It works seamlessly and really speeds things up when you need to quickly select or change your focus point. This has the added benefit of freeing up the D-pad direction buttons to use as custom function buttons.

The New AF joystick located below the Q menu button

The Fuji XT2’s magnesium alloy shell is fully weather sealed (when combined with Fuji WR lenses such as the 90mm f/2) down to -10 Celsius, having 63 points of sealing. The VPB-XT2 grip is sealed to the same level. I’ve been caught out with my XT2 + 90mm f/2 in torrential downpours and it dealt with them rather better than I did.

One of the features that draws many photographers to the Fuji X-Series of cameras and especially the XT1 and 2 is the retro style control dials.

The Fuji XT2 retains the shutter speed dial although now it offers a 1/8000 maximum shutter speed. This is a particularly welcome feature for those wishing to shoot with fast aperture primes in bright light.

The XT2 also has a physical ISO dial with a range up to 12800 ISO + the H (high ISO options set in menu of 25600 or 51200)

One of the major handling improvements I’ve found with the XT2 is that Fuji have now changed the ISO locking mechanism to a push ball point style button. Now you press to lock and press again to unlock. This is vastly more usable than the one on the XT1 where you had to press and hold it to unlock the dial every time you wanted to change ISO.

The dials are also slightly taller and better damped which makes them much easier to change quickly. They are now what I would consider as close to perfect as you can get. In fact they’re so good that I don’t think about them. That’s a good thing as they simply do their job and don’t hinder the shooting experience at all.

The addition of dual memory card slots will be appreciated by everyone but in particular by pros because it gives the option to have an overflow, backup, or to shoot raw to one and Jpeg to the other. Both slots are UHS-II ready (unlike the X-Pro2) so you can stick a fast SD card in both and keep on shooting as I have.

You can get the same memory cards that I used from Amazon UK  

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Dual SD card slots, both UHS II compatible

Fujifilm have also attended to one of my gripes on the XT1, namely the flimsy memory card door. It is now much more robust and features a small lock so that you no longer accidentally open it in use. The little flick lock is easy to operate so doesn’t hinder you when you want to access your memory cards.

Locking mechanism and better build quality are appreciated on the memory card door.

 

The exposure compensation dial is well damped and in my time using it has never been knocked while getting it in and out of my bag. It doesn’t feature a lock unlike the shutter speed and ISO dials but it doesn’t seem to need one. It offers +-3ev of compensation with the addition of a C position which extends this to +-5 ev.

The Fuji XT2 retains the front finger and rear thumb control dials but they now include push to click functionality taken from the X-Pro 2.

The rear D-pad buttons protrude away from the surface a little further than on the XT1 and feel much more responsive in use. No more squidgy buttons here.

The video record button has been removed and replaced with a dedicated video position on the drive dial (Located around the base of the ISO dial). The options on the drive dial are now Movie, Bracketing, Continuous High, Continuous Low, Single frame, Multiple Exposure, Advanced Filter (effects), and Panorama.

The Fuji XT2 offers several metering modes which are changed with a second dial around the base of the shutter speed dial. Spot metering is taken from the centre 2% of the image frame, centre weighted which adds increased importance to subjects in the centre of the frame, multi  and average. For most circumstances multi metering does a good job although I often switch to centre weighted when shooting portraits, particularly against a bright background.

I found the XT2 to under expose slightly in some circumstances but it’s so easy to add a touch of exposure compensation via the dedicated dial that it wasn’t really an issue. Just something to be aware of.

[UPDATE] This feature is offered. I missed it but found it while playing with the cameras menu system. Thanks to Eric who also pointed this out.

It would be nice if Fuji would offer the option of linking spot metering to the AF point in use as this can be really useful for shooting portraits off centre and for shots such as birds in flight against bright skies.

The XT2 also includes bracketing options for exposure, ISO, film simulation, white balance and dynamic range. Exposure bracketing is inexplicably limited to only 3 frames though which will be a serious gripe for those interested in HDR photography. I’m sure Fuji could increase this via firmware and I suggest that they do. Adding the option to bracket up to 7 frames would seriously increase this cameras appeal to HDR photographers.

There are 8 special effects filters which I have never used but for those interested they are Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Colour, High Key, Low Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus and Partial Colour. The effects don’t work when shooting video of course but they also don’t work if you are shooting raw and Jpeg.

More interesting I suspect to the vast majority of photographers is the addition of the Acros film simulation along with the ability to add red, yellow and green colour filters as well as grain in two strengths. I’ll take a more in depth look at this in the image quality section below.

In addition to Acros we also have the standard film simulations of Provia (standard colour) , Velvia (more saturated) , Astia (A little softer in colour than standard and nice for outdoor portraits), Pro Neg standard, Pro Neg Hi (Give nice skin tones Hi offering a little more contrast), Classic Chrome (muted colours for a retro look) and Monochrome with the ability to add red, green and yellow filters.

Classic Chrome is still a favourite.

Out of these filters I find myself mainly using Astia for outdoor portraits, Classic Chrome when I want a more subdued vintage look to shots, Pro Neg Standard and Hi when shooting portraits both in and outdoors depending on the look I want. If I want a black and white image I always use Acros now as it delivers beautiful contrast without blowing highlights and blocking shadows. The smooth tones of the new simulation are rich and very, very pleasing but more on that later.

The Fuji XT2 also offers an interval timer to shoot up to 999 images at intervals of between 1 second and 24 hours.

Viewfinder and LCD Screen

The Fuji XT2 retains the same excellent 2.36million dot viewfinder as the XT1. Offering 1024 x 768 resolution with a large 0.77x magnification. Compared with its rivals the XT2 viewfinder offers a huge view and is certainly one of the selling points of this camera for me.

An excellent feature carried over from the XT1 is that when shooting in portrait orientation all the shooting information is rotated so it is easily legible. A great feature and one which I’m not sure why other manufacturers have not implemented on their models.

There is also an option to show a slightly smaller image along with a second image to the right giving a highly magnified view with focus aids such as peaking and split screen simulation. I must admit though that I don’t use this feature as I prefer to keep the immersive large display intact.

The viewfinder has a vast number of display and overlay options which enable you to set it up with the information that is most important to you. It offers a level gauge although unlike Olympus and other models it is only a single axis level.

The viewfinder is now twice as bright as the XT1 which is perfect when shooting on bright sunny days as I have been recently. The refresh rate remains around the same at 60fps vs 54 fps on the XT1 but you now have the option to use boost mode on the XT2 to increase this to 100FPS. This is particularly useful when shooting fast moving subjects and firing off a burst of shots.

I’ve found that while there is still a little lag when tracking fast moving subjects it is now pretty minimal and I have no problem keeping up with the action when using boost mode.

The viewfinder eyepiece is now larger and keeps out stray light effectively.

Overall I’d say the Fuji XT2’s electronic viewfinder is the best on the market. It’s a joy to use.

LCD screen.

The LCD screen on the XT2 looks virtually unchanged at first glance. It remains a 3″ 1040 unit and unfortunately Fuji have again decided not to add a touch screen. Particularity with the addition of 4K video on the XT2 it would have been great to have a touch screen in order to easily be able to pull focus when shooting video.

However Fuji have implemented an ingenious design to allow shooting at varying angles in portrait orientation. As well as being able to tilt vertically there is an additional hinge that allows the screen to flip out horizontally. It’s a great bit of design and one that adds to the usability of the camera in more situations. For some reason the shooting information doesn’t rotate to match the shooting orientation unlike when using the viewfinder.

One issue I have on my XT2 and one that has been reported by a number of other users is that when switching on the camera both the viewfinder and LCD white out for several seconds before the exposure seems to adjust and display correctly. I’m hoping Fuji attends to this in a firmware update. In fact, knowing Fuji I’m almost certain they will as they are the best in the industry for adding fixes and improvements via firmware updates.

Fuji have implemented a new menu system on the XT2 which overall is a little more user friendly. Being a long time Fuji X user it has taken me a little while to get used to it but now that I have it is more intuitive and makes more sense. The new menu layout is tabbed and with the XT2 offers an AF specific tab, highlighting the cameras aspiration to become a workhorse of pro sports and nature photographers. I’ll talk more about this and the AF performance further on. One small gripe is that it doesn’t always remember your last location in the menu. So for example, I format memory card one, it then takes me out of the menu and I have to go back in, re-locate the format option and repeat for slot 2. It would be better if once card 1 is formatted it just kicked me out to the same sub menu so I can quickly format card 2.

The Fuji XT2 is well connected, now with a separate 2.5mm remote jack and thankfully a common 3.5mm microphone socket. There is also an HDMI port and a faster USB3 port too. The XT2 can output uncompressed 4.2.2 8bit 4k video externally although internally this is reduced to 1080p.

WiFi options remain essentially the same as the latest X Series models. It uses the same app and offers the same features. There is no NFC or Bluetooth available.

The XT2 uses the new NP-W126 battery which retains the same power specs but apparently deals with heat better. Presumably this is necessary when shooting 4k video. The older XT1 batteries will still work but just make sure to check for overheating issues if shooting 4k video. The battery door on the XT2 now feels more sturdy and has a reassuring feel to it when opening and closing.

What is new on the XT2 is the ability to charge it via USB which is great, if like me you have a number of different cameras and travel a lot. No more lugging all the various chargers with you. It is still supplied with an AC charger though unlike some Sony’s I have purchased in the past.

 

The VPB-XT2 battery grip offers a number of additional features which I shall quickly list here. For my Fuji XT2 review I did not purchase the battery grip so can’t really comment on them.

  • Increases shooting speed to 11 FPS
  • Reduces shutter lag
  • Adds headphone jack
  • Increases 4k shooting time from 10 to 30 minutes
  • Takes 2 additional batteries. 
  • Adds AC power so you can shoot even without batteries

The VPB-XT2 is more than just your standard battery grip and I will probably purchase it in the future when funds allow. I’m getting married in a few months time so I can’t justify it right now.

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Overall Fuji has addressed every single one of my issues in terms of handling that I had with the XT1. It feels better made, the dials are much more user friendly and there are no little things that bug me. Ergonomically I’d say Fuji have made the perfect camera with the XT2. I absolutely love using it. I previously always found using a PASM dial and control wheels to be faster than the external dials of the Fuji system. However with the XT2 that has changed. The extra depth of the ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials give just the right feedback to be able to change them quickly and easily. The revised ball point pen style locking mechanisms are so much better and the slight increase in overall size mean that this camera handles superbly. I actually can’t think of anything that I would change in terms of ergonomics. Oh yes I can, just add a touch screen Fuji and then the XT2 would be perfect.

Fuji XT2 Review – Auto Focus

I got the Fuji XT2 with super high hopes for the auto focus system, mainly because of the hype that I had heard on the internet about it being incredible, amazing, lightening quick etc.

The XT2 now sports 325 auto focus points (you can select to only use 91 if you wish), including 169 phase detect points. The area covered by the phase detect AF points is significantly larger than on previous models so tracking subjects becomes much easier. The XT2 also offers Zone and Wide AF tracking modes which use a portion of the AF points to keep your subject within them.

In Zone AF the autofocus area becomes a square measuring 3×3, 5×5 or 7×7 points. You can adjust its position using the AF joystick or cross keys. If you are using S-AF mode you can choose from a 13×7 array, or in C-AF, the smaller 7×7 square.

First lets start by talking about the AF speed in S-AF mode because that is probably what a lot of us use most of the time.

I intentionally shot the XT2 with an older 23mm f/1.4 and a more recent 90mm f/2 because I am aware that if I only used older lenses then any criticism of the XT2’s auto focus would be blamed on the older lens design.

I can say now that the Fuji XT2 auto focuses faster than any other X series camera that I have tried. It is faster to focus and lock on than the XT1.

When shooting in good light it is very quick to focus and very accurate too. Using the new AF joystick combined with the additional focus points available you can easily adjust your AF point and for example, highlight the one over your subjects eyes.

Speaking of eyes, the XT2 offers face detect AF and eye detect AF with the ability to select left or right eye. I have found this to work very well in practice although I still slightly prefer Olympus’ system. The Face and Eye detect AF can be overridden manually by selecting your AF point with the joystick. Something which wasn’t available when I tested the XT1. Face detection is not available in C-AF mode though as it only uses contrast detect AF.

In the menu system you can select your priority between focus and release and have it set separately for S-AF and C-AF. For S-AF I always have this set to focus priority.

The auto focus is fast but it is still not quite as quick as my Olympus Pen F which is instant. The XT2 is quick but on occasion when using older lenses such as the 23mm f/1.4 it can hesitate for just a fraction of a second. However when using the 90mm f/2 it was noticeably faster.

In general it is fast enough for almost any purpose. Capturing photos of your children who wont keep still for a second will not be a problem for the XT2.

Tracking performance on the Fuji XT2 is where I found the greatest improvement. In comparison to the XT1 the XT2’s tracking performance is excellent. It is quick to pick up the subject, almost always selects the correct subject (especially if you select the suddenly appearing subjects option as below) and once locked on it gave me the highest hit rate of any camera that I’ve tested so far and that includes my Nikon D7200.

 

What’s new with the Fuji XT2 is the ability to select between a number of different tracking profiles to suit your subject. These profiles alter the sensitivity and speed of the XT2’s auto focus. The profiles available are Multi-Purpose, Ignore Obstacles, Accelerating / Decelerating Subjects, Suddenly Appearing Subjects, and Erratic Motion. This feature is normally found on high end DSLR’s aimed at pro sports photographers so it is great to see Fuji including them here.

The new menu system is intuitive to use.

Turning on boost mode supposedly improves AF performance but in all honesty I found that it didn’t hugely affect AF performance or the hit rate I was getting with the camera.

The buffer depth of the XT2 is good. I was using matching Sandisk Extreme Pro 32gb 280 mb/sec UHS II cards in both slots and when shooting Raw+Jpeg at 8FPS the camera would only start to slow down after about 3 seconds. The buffer then cleared in about a further 3 seconds.

Shooting Fine Jpeg  I was able to shoot forever. Shooting Compressed Raw files I was able to capture 34 frames before the camera slowed down.

Overall the Fuji XT2 has some of the best AF performance you will find in any mirrorless camera. Combine this with the additional tracking AF profiles and it is a very capable camera for almost any use.

 

Fuji XT2 Review – Image Quality

Classic Chrome

The Fuji XT2 uses the same 24mp X-Trans III sensor found in the X-Pro 2. It increases resolution by  50% over the older 16mp sensors. It also now allows shooting in raw at ISO 100

Resolution

In terms of resolution this allows for greater detail and increased ability to crop your images if required. Wildlife photographers in particular will be delighted with this increase in resolution as you can never have too much reach or ability to crop when shooting animals in the wild.

Where I really notice this is when shooting portraits, the new sensor shows more detail in the eyelashes of a subject. It is also quite noticeable when shooting detailed landscapes. The higher resolution combined with lack of AA filter allows for incredibly sharp images. Combined with the new autofocus system, getting pin sharp images even at large apertures is easy. Don’t forget that thanks to the way mirrorless cameras work there is no need for micro adjustments to the AF system when using different lenses. When your shot is in focus, you can be sure it really is in focus.

What is surprising if you look at the results below is that the Nikon 18-140mm kit lens does surprisingly well when compared with the Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 prime.

Dynamic range

To test dynamic range I set the Fuji XT2, Nikon D7200 and Olympus Pen F up on a tripod. Shooting at all the cameras base ISO settings with the same shutter speed and aperture and in raw.

Fuji XT2 + 23mm f/1.4 @f/4, 1/50, ISO 200
Nikon D7200 + 18-140mm @ f/4, 1/50, ISO 100
Olympus Pen F + 17mm f/1.8@ f/4, 1/50, ISO 200

 

There are a couple of interesting things to note here; The Fuji at ISO 200 is a little brighter than the Nikon shot at ISO 100 but darker than the Pen F. This would match my findings that it can sometimes under expose a little. The XT2 seems to prefer to under expose slightly and protect the highlights.

Secondly, when you increase the shadows in Lightroom to the same level as the Olympus Pen F the Fuji retains the detail and doesn’t introduce too much noise. So the detail is still there in the shadows while protecting the highlights.

Fuji XT2 (left) with shadow brightness increased to match the Pen F (right)

Now if we compare it against the Nikon D7200 where I have increased exposure by one stop in Lightroom, effectively giving an ISO 200 image we can see that the Nikon image is brighter at the same settings. There is not much in it though so to me it doesn’t look like Fuji are fudging the numbers anymore, or at least not to any significant degree. The Nikon is exposing the image slightly to the right on the histogram and indeed it shows more clipped highlights than the Fuji file but shows more shadow detail. The Nikon image is also more saturated but when shooting raw it’s not a significant factor as you can easily change the colour.

Fuji XT2 (left) and Nikon D7200

There is some jpeg artifacting in these images so I will upload full resolution samples to Flickr so that you can look in more detail.

 

From these results I can say that the Fuji XT2’s sensor is right up there with the best performing APS-C sensors on the market. I would also say that at this point, dynamic range and resolution are no longer significant factors when choosing between APS-C and Micro 4/3. All the sensors perform really well at base ISO.

Fuji XT2 Review – ISO performance

I tested the noise performance of the XT2 against the Nikon D7200 and Olympus Pen F.

Firstly I tested all 3 cameras in the same dim light using the same shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings. All shots were taken in Manual mode using a tripod. The light was very dim.

At ISO 1600 the differences between the three cameras are minor. At 3200 we start to see a gap emerging as this is where Micro 4/3 tends to fall behind.

The Fuji starts to show better performance than the Olympus Pen F around 3200 ISO

 

It also performs a little better than the Nikon D7200

Fuji XT2 (left) vs Nikon D7200 at ISO 3200

At ISO 6400 the Fuji sensor really starts to show better noise handling than the Nikon D7200. Noise is better controlled and finer as you can see below. I’d say it has about 1/2 stop advantage at this point.

At 6400 ISO the Fuji XT2 starts to perform noticeably better than the Nikon D7200 (right)

Finally I shot both cameras at 12800 ISO and at this point the D7200 image starts to break down, I was surprised how well the XT2 handled it. At this point the Fuji XT2 is significantly better than the D7200, by almost a stop. The Pen F at 6400 performs very similarly to the Fuji XT2 at ISO 12800.

Fuji XT2 (left) performs considerably better than the Nikon D7200 at 12800 ISO

 

So in terms of noise performance the Fuji XT2 has improved on previous generation sensors by around a stop at high ISO’s. This is very impressive considering that they have increased resolution by 50% over the older X-Series models and their ISO settings seem to be more in line with the competition now.

I feel comfortable shooting at ISO 6400 on the XT2 and will go to 12800 if required. Remember these shots are all raw files with no post processing work done on them. They were converted straight to Jpeg in Lightroom (creative cloud version). As I mentioned before I will upload the samples to my flickr account so that you can look in more detail if you wish.

 

Acros Film Simulation

 

As I mentioned before one of the additions to the XT2 is the Acros film simulation first seen on the X-Pro2 earlier in the year. I personally find this black and white mode to give beautiful tones with plenty of contrast. In my testing it requires contrasty scenes to really get the best out of it but then high contrast scenes always benefit black and white images.

Below are a few samples. You can see more on the Fuji Acros vs Pen F Tri X page here

 

Fuji Acros + Yellow filter

 

Fuji Acros + Green Filter

Video

The XT2 adds the ability to shoot 4k video and for me this is a huge bonus because it was an area where I would previously had to have kept a separate camera just for video. I have only briefly tested it but the quality looks to be excellent with little of the artifacting that we saw from previous Fuji models.

I’ll be testing this further and adding some samples once I have a faster internet connection.

Fuji XT2 Review – Conclusion

Overall Fuji has really pulled out all the stops with the XT2. They have upgraded the sensor giving 50% more resolution yet somehow improved high ISO noise performance. Everything about the camera feels quicker than the XT1, from the menu system through to auto focus performance.

The AF joystick speeds up AF point selection by a huge amount and this combined with accurate face and eye detection means that you rarely miss a shot. S-AF is as quick as anyone needs in real life and tracking performance is among the best I have used.

Yet it is the handling where I feel that the XT2 really shines now, thanks in large part to to all the minor changes that Fujifilm have made to the design. Slightly larger body, more rugged build quality, larger dials, better feeling buttons, better quality memory card and battery doors, dual SD card slots and an intuitive hinged LCD design.

I think Fuji have made the perfect handling camera and it really is a joy to use. I get to use a huge number of cameras and for me the Fuji XT2 feels the best in use. It is quick and easy to control and the image quality is superb, right up there with the best APS-C sensors. The fact that it is also a good looking beast is a bonus.

Apart from the addition of a touch screen LCD I struggle to see how the Fuji XT2 could be improved ergonomically. It seems to have hit the perfect size/weight/performance combination for all my needs.

Fuji have smashed it out of the park with the XT2 in my opinion and judging by the stock delays I think a lot of people agree with me.

I mentioned previously in a post that I wondered whether the XT2 would be enough to tempt me back in to the X-System as my main camera. Well I no longer have to wonder. I shipped off three cameras for sale yesterday and the XT2 wasn’t one of them. I’ll be keeping that and hopefully adding a few more lenses to my bag too.

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Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T – Retro Showdown

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T-

These two cameras are among the most popular retro styled cameras currently available. So I decided to put the Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T to see which camera is better built, has better handling and most importantly which produces better images.

I also shot a video if you don’t want to read all of this although I add a few more details here

So before we dive right in lets take a look at the features of each camera to see what you get before we put them up against each other in real World use.

Olympus Pen F features

  • New 20mp sensor  The new sensor gives an image size of 5184 x 3888 pixels
  • 5 Axis Image Stabilisation built in to the body. 
  • 2.36 million dot OLED Viewfinder. The viewfinder on the Pen F is the same as that found in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II offering 1.23x magnification.
  • 10 FPS mechanical shutter and up to 20FPS with the electronic shutter. 
  • Fully articulating 1.04 million dot 3″ touch screen LCD screen.
  • 50mp High res shot mode.
  • 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed , 1/16000 with the electronic shutter.
  • 1080/60p video.
  • Colour Wheel control dial giving access to fine tuning of black and white, colour and ART profiles.

Fuji X100T Features 

  • 16mp APS-C X-Trans II Sensor . Sensor size is 23.6mm x 15.8mm giving an image size of 4896 x 3264 pixels.
  • Hybrid viewfinder with 2.36 million dot LCD. This is both an optical and electronic viewfinder
  • Fixed 23mm f/2 Lens with leaf shutter, in built flash and ND filter
  • Mechanical 6FPS shooting speed. 
  • 1.04 million dot 3″ Fixed LCD
  • 1/4000 mechanical shutter speed, 1/32000 with electronic shutter
  • 1080/60p video
  • Fuji Film Profiles

 

Now before I start, both the Olympus Pen F and the Fuji X100T are great cameras. Both have a large following and the X100 series from Fuji has almost legendary status.

However a lot of people say that at the price you would be crazy to choose a micro 4/3 sensor over an aps-c or full frame camera. If you think that’s the case then you might want to see my Micro 4/3 vs APS-C article

If you are looking for more detailed information then check out my Fuji X100T review and my Olympus Pen F review . I also put the Olympus Pen F vs OMD EM5 II so make sure to check that out too.

Sensor size is not the only factor to consider here though. You need to look at the camera as a whole when deciding between the Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T and in the Pen F’s case that includes all the light and superb lenses available from Olympus and Panasonic.

 

Handling

Before writing up this Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T article I have had the chance to use both these cameras for an extended period. The Fuji for nearly two years and the Pen F for nearly two months now. I bought these camera with my own money (as I do with all my gear). I have no bias to any manufacturer or system although I have to admit that both Fuji and Olympus are among my favourite brands for cameras.

This is because they both continue to innovate and bring us great new cameras, lenses and features. Both Fuji and Olympus cameras are feature rich, more so Olympus as they give us incredible tools like 5 axis IS, live bulb, live time and the new high resolution mode. Fuji keeps it a bit more simple but that’s fine with me also as they give us great film simulations and beautifully handling cameras with real external dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation and aperture rings on most of their lenses which are a joy to use.

The Olympus Pen F and Fuji X100T feel similar when holding them. The Fuji X100T is a little larger at 127 x 74 x 52 mm compared to the Pen F’s 125 x 72 x 37 mm and slightly heavier at 440  while the Pen F is 427 grams. However don’t forget that the Fuji includes a lens at this weight. Once you add a lens like the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 to the Pen F it actually feels a little heavier than the X100T.

The Olympus Pen F feels a little more solid. Both are well made but when holding them next to each other the Pen F feels better made. The Fuji has a small grip on the front whereas the Pen F does away with any front grip. The thumb rest on the Pen F gives decent purchase which makes the camera comfortable to hold.

I have the silver versions of both and they look very stylish although I actually wanted the black Pen F but it was out of stock and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this stylish camera.

The design of both cameras is nice but the Pen F wins in the style stakes with its beautiful shape, luxurious metal finish and a higher quality faux leatherette grip.

The dials feel better built on the Olympus, giving better feedback and feeling more solid in use. For example both cameras have exposure compensation dials but the Fuji’s is a little easy to accidentally knock while the one on the Pen F is stiffer and requires intentional movement to change.

Both cameras have plenty of external dials but they go about implementing them in different ways.

The Fuji X100T goes for an old school aperture ring on the lens as well as shutter speed dial on the top. There is no ISO dial like you find on the Fuji XT1 but I don’t miss it that much.

Shooting with the X100T is very intuitive and it’s nice to be able to see your settings without having to look at an LCD screen or viewfinder.

The Olympus Pen F uses a more standard PASM dial and control dials in front and behind it to control your settings. I actually find this to be slightly quicker to use in practise but there is not much in it so choose what you prefer. It is nice to see Olympus putting a push to lock button on the PASM dial. You simply press it to lock and press again to unlock.

The Pen F also has a physical exposure compensation dial with +-3 ev available. The on/off switch is also nice to use. I actually prefer it to the on off switch on the Fuji which can be a little hard to use sometimes as it is just a bit too small.

As you can see in my video the Fuji features a small hand grip on the front whereas the Pen F doesn’t. However the thumb grip on the Pen F is larger and makes up for this. I actually feel that I have a better grip on the Pen F but again with both cameras the differences are quite small.

 

The Pen F features a fully articulating 1.04 million dot 3″ touch screen LCD. The Fuji has a standard non articulating 1.04 million dot 3″ LCD screen. Some people love articulating screens others despise them. That’s up to you to decide what you prefer. I hope the Fuji X100T successor has a flip up screen like the X-T1. That would suit this camera better.

Winner – Draw

 



 

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T – Features

The X100T features the last generation 16mp X=Trans II sensor while the Olympus Pen F sports the latest 20mp Micro 4/3 sensor from Sony.

In reality 20mp vs 16mp doesnt make a huge amount of difference and in my testing the differences were minimal and any perceived increase in resolution is more to do with the lenses used on both cameras than the resolution itself.

The Olympus Pen F also features the new colour wheel on the front of the camera.

This gives you direct access to customise your Jpeg output using the new black and white simulation modes, the new colour mode or the older Art modes. If you shoot Jpeg (and even if you don’t) you will love the new black and white (Tri X simulation) from Olympus. It gives a fantastic contrasty image. What is even greater is the ability the Pen F has given users to customise the look of the images.

You can change the tone curves, introduce colour filters as well as add a grain and vignette.

Shot on the Pen F using the black and white colour wheel

The Fuji X100T added the Classic Chrome simulation mode to the other film simulations offered but nothing in there quite offers the customisation of the black and white output available on the Pen F.

You can add colour filters (red, green, yellow) to the monochrome mode in the X100T but again the Pen f has more options here with Yellow, orange, Red, Magenta, blue, cyan, greenand yellow-green. You can also vary the strength of each filter in three steps.

I’m dying to get my hands on the new Fuji X-T2 to try out their Acros black and white simulation as it looks beautiful. Some of the images I have seen Damien Lovegrove produce with it are simply stunning.

The Fuji X100T is not really about features and all the bells and whistles. It invites you to simply concentrate on your images. You wont find image stabilisation, live time or live bulb modes as in the Olympus but for some this wont matter. However it does have some advantages which are perhaps more useful in general photography. The X100T has a leaf shutter which allows fast flash sync speeds even up to 1/2000. Why does this matter? It allows you to add fill flash in daylight and for brightly lit subjects when you can’t decrease your shutter speed to the usual flash sync speeds of 1/200 or 1/250.

It also has a built in ND filter. This again is great when shooting in bright light when you want to use large apertures. Normally you would have to add an ND filter to your lens to enable you to keep your shutter speed below the maximum. However the X100T has this feature built in. There are basically very few situations where you can’t get the image that you want with the Fuji.

The built in ND filter on the Fuji X100T allowed me to get this shot and still shoot at f/2

 

The Pen F on the other hand looks like a simple camera but in reality it is feature rich. The 5 axis image stabilisation built in to the body is the best that there is. It allows you to handhold shots at unthinkably slow shutter speeds and still get sharp shots.

One of the newer features (first introduced in the OM-D E-M5 II) is the High resolution mode. This combines 8 images in to 1 using sensor shift technology. Basically it moves the sensor a tiny amount between each image and then combines them in camera to give you an 80mb raw file or 64mb Jpeg. The detail that this produces is incredible and easily on par with 36mp full frame cameras such as the Nikon D810 and Sony A7R.

The only issues is that it is limited in use to still subjects and you need to have the camera on a tripod as the Image stabilisation doesn’t work at the same time. So any subjects with movement will not work in this mode. Uses I can see for it are architectural, still life, fine art and Art reproduction photography. I also noted that the colours produced by the camera in this mode were very rich and beautiful.

 

Winner – Draw

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T – Auto Focus

 

 

Neither of these cameras are going to be useful for fast action or sports. The X100T’s auto focus is way too slow and the Pen F tracking is not up to scratch because there are no phase detection pixels. Instead it relies on contrast detection auto focus.

In reality no one in their right mind would buy these cameras with the intention of shooting wildlife or sports.

So in normal use which one is better and will give you more keepers?

Photos of moving subjects are easier to get on the Pen F

Simple, the Olympus Pen F wins here comfortably. In good light it is closer than you might think but the Pen F locks on faster and more decisively. Don’t forget that the Pen F also has a better implementation of face and eye detection auto focus. On the Pen F you can select face detection, eye detection, left, right or near eye detection and it works really well most of the time. It also has touch to focus on the LCD screen so you can touch where you want the camera to focus and it will take a shot with your subject in focus.

 

The Fuji has face detection too but doesn’t offer the customisation of the Pen F with no eye focus selection.

In low light both cameras can sometime hunt. In the case of the Fuji it can hunt back and forth and still not find it’s intended target. The Pen F is pretty good unless your subject has very low contrast, in which case it can sometimes fail to lock on.

Winner – Pen F 

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T – Image Quality

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T

 

So we have an older generation 16mp X-Trans APS-C sensor against a newer generation 20mp Micro 4/3 sensor.

The new sensor in the Olympus Pen F is a slight improvement over the older 16mp sensor in previous Olympus cameras like the OM-D E-M5II but it’s not a huge improvement in terms of resolution.

In terms of IQ the Pen F combined with the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 produces sharper images than the Fuji. It is very close unless you shoot close to your subjects. Then the difference is greater as the 23mm lens on the X100T is known to be a little soft at close distances.

Fuji X100T shot on a tripod
Olympus Pen F + 17mm f/1.8 Shot on Tripod using the same settings as the Fuji X100T

 

The Pen F definitely seems to perform better at high ISO with less colour noise than the OM-D E-M5II. The grain produced at ISO 3200 is small and quite filmic so I don’t mind shooting at up to ISO 3200 for some subjects. I think 6400 is too far for this format at the moment unless your output is on the web or small prints.

 

The larger sensor in the Fuji X100T naturally gives it an advantage here and around half to one stop advantage at high ISO. I would max the X100T at ISO 6400 but again only for some subjects.

 

In terms of colour you can check out my Micro 4/3 vs APS-C article to see comparisons. Both produce great Jpegs with very nice colours. Which you prefer is really down to the subjects you shoot and personal taste. I would say that Olympus and Fuji produce the best SOOC Jpegs in the industry right now.

Despite the difference in sensor size these two cameras are very close when it comes to image quality. However all things being equal the Fuji will produce shallower depth of field at the same aperture and handles high ISO noise slightly better.

The Pen F is more customisable if you are shooting Jpegs thanks to the fantastic new colour wheel at the front and the ability to tweak and perfect your output.

Winner – Fuji X100T

Please help me build this website so that I can keep reviewing gear. This site takes a lot of time to keep going and I can only do it with your help. If you want to buy anything from Amazon etc then please use my buying links. It wont cost you anything but I do get a small commission from Amazon. Thank you from me and my family to all of you who help
You can buy the Pen F through Amazon UK below


You can buy the Olympus Pen F through Amazon.com below

Olympus PEN-F (Body-Only) (Silver)
Olympus PEN-F (Body-Only) (Black)

Olympus Pen F vs Fuji X100T – Conclusion

So which is the better camera overall?

If I had to pick one as my only camera it would be the Pen F due to the fact that it is an interchangeable lens camera. This doesn’t mean it is a better camera than the X100T.

For instance I have owned the X100T for nearly two years and for some of that time it was my only camera. I would prefer to have the Fuji as a second camera. One that you always take with you and know you can still capture great images. If the 23mm (35mm equivalent) focal length suits you then it is a fantastic camera. There is also something pleasing about having a fixed focal length as it teaches you to see in that format and to use the camera that you have. You wont spend time worrying about which lens to use. You will just work out how to get the shot. With that said there are some occasions where you wont get the shot because you are just too far away from the subject or you are too close and can’t fit everything in. There is only so much you can do with one fixed lens.

If you are trying to decide between these two cameras based on image quality then check out my full resolution files on Flickr. If ultimate image quality is what you want then again the Fuji would just sneak it. But it is close, much closer than many would have you believe. Don’t forget that the Pen F has in built IS and you can add a fast lens which will negate the Fuji’s slight advantage at high ISO’s.

In the end the Pen F is the more well rounded camera with better auto focus, better build quality, in built image stabilisation and of course you can switch lenses to suit your needs.

The IQ of the Pen F is very close to that of APS-C and as you can see from my Micro 4/3 vs APS-C shootout it is more dependent on which lenses you stick in front of the camera. For example the Pen F + Olympus 17mm f/1.8 was sharper than the 18-140mm kit lens on the Nikon D7200 and indeed it is sharper than the Fuji X100T.

 

If you shoot at high ISO a lot then you would probably want to look at full frame because the differences between Micro 4/3 and APS-C are not huge. Check out my quick look at the Sony A7II for a full frame camera featuring in body image stabilisation.

 

In the end both of these cameras are great fun to shoot with and give excellent results. You can take great photos with either camera and you will have a lot of fun doing so without lugging around all the extra weight of a DSLR and a bag full of lenses. The fact they both look great is just an added bonus and who doesn’t like pretty stuff.

 

Olympus Pen F Review-Style Over Substance?

In this Olympus Pen F Review I shall build on my Olympus Pen F first impressions after having had the camera for quite a while now.

Olympus Pen F Review – Features

Lets take a look at what the Olympus Pen F offers in terms of features as the latest Olympus camera in the Micro 4/3 format.

  • New 20mp sensor which is the first resolution upgrade we have had in a long time for an Olympus Micro 4/3 camera. The new sensor gives and image size of 5184 x 3888 pixels compared with 4608 x 3456 found on the previous 16mp sensor in cameras lie the OM-D E-M5 II. These added pixels are always welcome as long as they don’t come at the expense of noise. In my testing I have found that the noise performance of the new sensor is slightly improved over the older sensors, offering less noise at base ISO (200) and similar noise performance at higher ISO’s such as 3200 and 6400. The benefit of the extra resolution is noticeable even at higher ISO settings where noise performance remains similar but retains more detail in shots.
  • 5 Axis Image Stabilisation built in to the body. Olympus’ 5 axis IS is simply the best in the industry. It is a fantastic feature which allows you to hand hold shots at implausibly low shutter speeds. In my testing I found the 5 axis IS to not be quite as effective as that found on the OM-D E-M5 II probably because of the increased resolution of the Pen F. I can comfortably handhold at 1/2 second on the Pen F whereas I can do so at 1 second on the E-M5 II.
  • 2.36 million dot OLED Viewfinder. The viewfinder on the Pen F is the same as that found in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II. It is a very good viewfinder offering nice bright, clear view although slightly smaller than that found in the OM-D E-M5 II it is still very good in use offering a large enough view to clearly compose your photos.
  • 10 FPS mechanical shutter and up to 20FPS with the electronic shutter. The Pen F is not built for fast action but with a fast 10FPS shutter speed it certainly ha no problems capturing the decisive moment.
  • Fully articulating 1.04 million dot 3″ LCD screen. The fully articulating screen on the Pen F is a pleasure to use. It can be folded back in to the body with the screen facing inwards to protect it from damage. This is also a useful feature for those that prefer to use the viewfinder. The LCD screen can also be used as a trackpad for auto focus when using the viewfinder. Simply slide your thumb across the screen to change your auto focus selection point.
  • 50mp High res shot mode. This actually produces a 64mb Jpeg and an 80mb raw file. In practise it’s us is limited to static subjects but when you can use it oh wow the results are fantastic. The image is more detailed than any full frame Image I have seen and the colour detail and accuracy is improved too. Great for architectural, product and still life photography.
  • 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed , 1/16000 with the electronic shutter. Thanks to the fast top shutter speed I have always found it possible to shoot wide open in bright light.
  • 1080/60p video. Some of the product shots on my videos are shot with the Olympus Pen F and the video is clean and shows no artifacting. 4K would have been nice but this is a still orientated camera. Video with the Pen F and it’s 5 axis IS is great for being able to grab steady handheld footage.
  • Colour Wheel control dial givng access to fine tuning of black and white, colour and ART profiles. I’ll talk more about this later but for now I’ll say that this feature is a lot of fun to use and produces beautiful black and white photos.

 

Olympus Pen F Review- Build Quality

Firstly let’s go back over the build quality because I think this is worth re-stating as Olympus deserve some serious credit here.

Weighing in at 427grams and measuring 125 x 72 x 37mm the Pen F is a small camera but it doesn’t feel light or cheap.

The body itself feels solid, much more so than Fuji cameras. While the body is smaller than Fuji X cameras it is in the same ball park and actually feels heavier than the X100T for example. But it does not feel heavy in use, just reassuringly solid.

The Olympus Pen F offers fantastic build quality. Each knob and dial is well made, gives a solid feel and offers great tactile feedback when in use. The exposure compensation dial is certainly stiffer than that on the Fuji X series cameras and as a result it does not get easily knocked and ruin shots. It stays in place until you want to change it.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews saying there are no visible screws on this camera and this is true although I don’t know why so much is made of this. Perhaps Olympus wanted reviewers to mention this for some reason. While it’s true I prefer to note the high quality materials and feel of the Pen F. Magnesium alloy body, metal dials and a nice faux leatherette material wrapping the body for grip.

I like the on/off dial rather than a switch, the shutter dial feels great in use and as mentioned the exposure compensation dial has just enough resistance to stop unintended movements.

 

 

 

Olympus Pen F Review – Handling

Let’s be honest, we all buy Mirrorless cameras because we don’t want the weight of a DSLR system but that doesn’t mean we want to give up decent ergonomics and handling.

The Pen F wont suit everyone as it doesn’t offer a front grip to wrap your finger around although there is an optional front grip available.You can buy the grip from Amazon UK here  Olympus ECG‑4 Camera Grip for PEN-F Camera and Amazon.com here Olympus Non-Powered Metal Grip PEN-F, Black (ECG-4)

What it does offer is a very balanced camera when combined with small prime lenses like the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f/1.8.

The Olympus lenses are available from Amazon UK below

Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 Lens – Black
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8 Lens – Silver
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1:1.8 Camera Lens – Black
Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8 Lens – Silver

And for my friends in the USA and Internationally from Amazon.com below

Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 (Black) for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras
Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 (Silver) for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 (Black) Lens for Micro 4/3 Cameras – International Version (No Warranty)
Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 (Silver) Lens for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras

I found the camera to be comfortable in use. In fact it is a delight to use because of the way that Olympus has really thought about the design of the Pen F.

The thumb grip on the reverse gives plenty of purchase and due to its small size my ring finger sits under the base of the camera offering all the grip I need. What I also like is that on this model the strap lug does not get in the way as I found on my old OM-D E-M5.

The new front control dial which controls art effects and more importantly black and white output doesn’t get in my way at all. In fact it feels perfectly positioned to me. Ideally it would be customisable for those that don’t want or need to use the new dial as intended and perhaps Olympus will add this with firmware in the future.

 

You now have four custom settings on the PASM Dial which allows you to set up the camera to quickly switch to your favourite settings. The only issue I have with this is that the custom modes don’t allow you to switch between the black and white mode and colour modes. For example I wanted to have C1 assigned to my colour portrait settings, C2 for landscape shots and then C3 & C4 set to the black and white modes that I had tweaked with curves and filters. However if you are in standard colour mode on the front dial, changing to C3 will not take you into your black and white settings. You will still have to turn the colour control dial on the front.

All the buttons on the reverse of the camera offer decent feedback and as always with Olympus the camera is so customisable that you can set it up almost exactly how you want it.

 

The fully articulated LCD screen is bright and so useful when shooting street photography or from unusual angles.

Olympus Pen F Review- Image Quality

The Pen F is fast enough to capture fleeting moments with Kids

I mentioned in my first impressions post that the image quality looks about the same as previous 16mp Micro 4/3 sensors. However after having looked in more detail at the output I can now say that the sensor in the Olympus Pen F is an improvement in terms of detail captured and ISO performance. You wont notice it in every shot but when pixel peeping you can see more details in eyebrows, eyelashes and in the fine details of landscapes.

What also seems noticeable to my eye is the way that the new sensor renders colours. The skin tones produced by this camera are more accurate and the tonal transitions are softer and more subtle. Portraits on the Pen F are noticeably better than the OM-D E-M5 II.

Shot with the Olympus 17mm f/1.8

These small improvements are welcome although they alone might not justify an upgrade from any of the 16mp Micro 4/3 models.

ISO 3200 comparison between Olympus OM-D E-M5 II (left) and the Pen F

From my testing high ISO performance has improved around 1/3-1/2 a stop. What is more impressive is that the way the camera handles colour. Noise has improved with the Pen F showing less colour noise at high ISOs. Once you bump up the ISO the Pen F is also retaining more detail than the 16mp sensor found in the OM-D E-M5 II. The ISO comparison images were shot at night to show real world use rather than artificially bumping up ISO settings.

More detail is retained in the Pen F image at 6400 ISO (right) than on the 16mp sensor of the OM-D E-M5II

If you want to see full resolution files you can do so on my Flickr page

 

High Resolution Mode.

I’m not going to go in to too much detail here as I plan on writing a separate article on the high resolution mode.

So far it seems to work under very strict conditions. There must be no camera movement and no subject movement. When these conditions are met then the high resolution mode works very well. It easily out resolves the standard mode and improves colour accuracy.

 

Black and White Mode and the new colour Dial

Straight away I may as well tell you that this feature will be of no concern to those who shoot only in Raw format as it is only available for Jpeg shooters.

However I used to exclusively shoot Raw myself until recently and yet I find myself loving this new feature.

So what does it actually allow you to do?

Flick the dial to the black and white mode and you now have a whole host of customisation at your fingertips. Firstly there are three black and white profiles available. The first is a flat monochrome profile. The second (where the fun is) is a Tri X (ish) simulation offering bright whites and dark blacks. The third is an infra red like look. If you want to see how this works in operation then take a look at my Olympu Pen F vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 II video

Shot with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8

 

 

Once you choose your mode (we will go to mode 2) you then flick the rear switch and option to change the curves now appear. It is set to +6 highlights and -6 shadows initially. This gives a very contrasty look so I changed the levels to +4 Highlights, -3 Shadows and + 1 midtones. I found this to retain decent contrast but also offer better tonal transitions.

Flick the switch again and you now have the ability to add colour filters to the image via a colour wheel. You can alter the colour filter, Green, red, orange, blue, magenta, yellow green and also vary the strength in the 3 steps.

Next you have the option to add a vignette to your shots and vary the strength in 3 steps as well as add a film grain overlay to your images. This grain is scanned in from film according to Olympus so it is pretty realistic. Again you can vary the strength with three settings.

The sheer amount of options can be overwhelming at first but you soon work out what your favourite settings are and the controls are intuitive and quick to use. These modes are so much fun to work with. I am a fan of getting the shot that you want in camera as I no longer want to spend hours sitting at a computer editing my images. Therefore with all this control at your fingertips you can create almost exactly the image you want straight out of camera.

I’ve found the results to be very good once I toned down the in camera default Curves. This kind of control along with the what you see is what you get nature of electronic viewfinders virtually eliminates the need to post process your images. Some may want the extra control offered by post processing software but at the very least you can shoot Jpeg and Raw and have the best of both worlds. Let me say the whole process is very addictive and you might find yourself shooting more black and white photos as a result.

Shot Using the Blue Filter

My girlfriend has complained that all the photos I keep taking are black and white and this is entirely down to the Olympus Pen F and its new black and white modes.

Can you replicate this on other Olympus cameras?

 

I see a lot of people asking if you can replicate the same look on the OM-D E-M5 II or other Olympus cameras.

In my opinion it would take a lot of work to get close to the look that the Pen F gives you. Firstly the Tri X simulation is only available on the Pen F and no matter what I do on the OM-D E-M5 II I cannot replicate it with tone curves in the monochrome mode. Secondly you cannot vary the strength of the colour filter available on the E-M5 II and to add grain or vignetting would require time post processing the files.

B&W Mode on the OM-D E-M5 II

Basically if you want this feature or the look then you will have to get a Pen F. I’m sure you can get close with PP work but in the end the Pen F allows you to shoot the photos straight out of camera and it really is great fun doing so.

 

Olympus Pen F vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 II

 

So in my first impressions post I mentioned that I wanted to see if the Pen F is worth the extra money over the OM-D E-M5 II.

The added features of the Pen F, 20mp sensor, new processor, colour wheel, black and white profiles, extra custom modes on the PASM dial apart, they’re the same camera right?

 

Here is how I look at it. If you need weather sealing or budget is the primary factor then the OM-D E-M5 II will do most of what the Pen F can but it wont do it as quickly and it wont be as much fun.

Sure the OM-D E-M5 II viewfinder is bigger, I can’t say I noticed a huge difference in real world use. What I did notice is that the Pen F feels quicker in use with far less lag when switching between the LCD and viewfinder. The whole experience is quicker when using the Pen F.

Auto Focus is faster on the Pen F, the images you get are slightly better thanks to having more mega pixels, slightly better high ISO performance and there is something about the rendering of images on the Pen F which just makes the images more pleasing to my eye.

Here are the pros and cons of each

Pen F 

  • There is no denying it is a beautiful camera
  • New black and white mode is a lot of fun and produces beautiful photos
  • Improvements in image quality
  • Speed of handling and auto focus is faster

OM-D E-M5 II

  • Weather sealed
  • Larger viewfinder
  • Cheaper
  • Feels better with larger lenses

If you are trying to decide between these two cameras then you really want to take a look at my video comparison and write up between the Pen F and E-M5 II

 

So getting back to the start of this Olympus Pen F Review, is the Pen F all style and no substance?

It is certainly a stylish camera but some have bemoaned the lack of weather sealing and the price. It is undoubtedly one of the most stylish cameras currently available but I couldn’t ever justify keeping a camera for its looks alone. The price is the price, only you can decide if it is worth it to you. It certainly is for me.

Weather sealing would be nice but then how often do we really use it. A light shower is no problem to any camera that I’ve owned for years and are you really going to be out shooting in a torrential downpour even if a camera does claim to be weather sealed. The lenses that best suit the Pen F are in my opinion small light primes and these aren’t weather sealed anyway so having a weather sealed body makes no sense. I think Olympus probably knew that when they made their design decisions.

The Olympus Pen F has enough to keep even the most demanding enthusiasts happy. The new 20mp sensor is an improvement over the older 16mp sensors in almost every way. The camera operates more quickly, focuses faster and offers the ability to customise your out of camera jpegs beyond anything else on the market.

Add to this excellent build quality and a great range of small fast lenses which are available for Micro 4/3 and even at the asking price it is still a great camera.

If I had to choose between this and the OM-D E-M5 II it’s simple, I’d get the Pen F for the improvements in image quality, operation and a huge boost to the fun factor of using this camera.

 

Keep checking back on this review because I will add more images as and when I have them. I shall also add more hi resolution shots to Flickr. I also have a quick video which shows how the black and white mode works and will upload that as soon as I have a decent internet connection.

Please help me build this website so that I can keep reviewing gear. This site takes a lot of time to keep going and I can only do it with your help. If you want to buy anything from Amazon etc then please use my buying links. It wont cost you anything but I do get a small commission from Amazon. Thank you from me and my family to all of you who help

The Pen F is available fom Amazon UK here

 

and for international visitors the Pen F is available from Amazon.com here

 

 

 

 

Olympus Pen F First Impressions

UPDATE My full Olympus Pen F Review is now here.

 

So I have now had chance to try out the Olympus Pen F and the OM-D E-M5 II briefly although I haven’t taken them out on any serious shoots yet.  Here are my first impressions.   The Olympus Pen F is small but surprisingly a little taller than the EM5 II. Size wise it feels similar (slightly smaller) to the Fuji X100T although the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is a little larger than the X100T’s fixed lens.  It also feels a little heavier than the Fuji X100T and EM5 II. Build quality is superb. Both the Olympus Pen F and the OM-D E-M5 II make the Fuji cameras feel like toys.  The dials and buttons are way better than the Fuji cameras in terms of build quality, materials used and tactile feedback. The Olympus Pen F feels very comfortable to hold, even without a grip attached.  It has a nice heft to it. I’m very impressed with this cameras build quality and feel. I don’t find the front dial to get in the way or feel uncomfortable when shooting like some people have reported. Features I spent over a day acquainting myself with this camera and setting it up how I felt best.  There are an incredible amount of customisation options which can feel a little overwhelming at first. The 20mp sensor seems to produce pretty much the same image quality as the older 16mp micro 4/3 sensor. I’ll have to do more serious tests but thats my initial impression. High ISO performamce seems around the same as previous micro 4/3 cameras. No great leaps in image quality here by the looks of it. The viewfinder is clear, bright and responsive.  The button layout is excellent and highly configurable as always with Olympus cameras. The single shot auto focus is super fast. Easily as quick as the Nikon D7200. I haven’t tested tracking af yet. When comparing it to the Fuji X100T in any light it is no contest. The X100T is slow and ponderous in comparison. In low light the Pen F focuses confidently while the Fuji hunts back and forth. I can take shots of my daughter almost instantly with both Olympus cameras while I miss the shot a lot of time with the X100T.  The camera feels more responsive and faster in use than the E-M5 II. There is hardly any delay when switching between functions, menus and importantly the rear screen and viewfinder.

Olympus Pen F Black and white modes

So far in my test shots I love the output of the new B&W Jpegs. I’ve toned down the contrast slightly from its original settings and the look that the files have are beautiful. What I also really like is the ability to add colour filters and vary the strength. In the shot below I added a blue filter to bring out the texture of the wood. High resolution Mode We all know the limitations of the high res mode but under the right conditions it definitely produces a lot more detail and improves colour rendition too. I’ve got some samples of this that I’ll add to the full review once I’ve had more time with the camera. Overall the Pen F feels like a great camera and I’m excited to test it thoroughly.  Similar to the X100T, it makes you want to pick it up and shoot which is always a great quality for a camera to have.   Please help me build this website so that I can keep reviewing gear. This site takes a lot of time to keep going and I can only do it with your help. If you want to buy anything from Amazon etc then please use my buying links. It wont cost you anything but I do get a small commission from Amazon. Thank you from me and my family to all of you who help.

Olympus Pen F Review Coming Soon

UPDATE I’ve now added my first impressions of the Olympus Pen F here 

 

With the recently announced Olympus OM-D E-M1 II coming soon (we expect around November) I thought it would be fun to try out the fairly new Pen F and put it up against the OM-D E-M5 II.

I’m just waiting for the two cameras and a few lenses to arrive before testing them.

The Pen F is considered by some to be priced too high, especially when compared to the OM-D E-M5 II so I’m going to see what you get for the extra money and ultimately whether it’s worth the extra cash.

Updates will be posted in a couple of weeks along with the usual sample images and full resolution files on Flickr.

Then when released we will hopefully get in the new Olympus flagship OM-D E-M1 II nearer to Christmas time alongside some of the new range of Olympus Pro lenses like the 25mm f/1.2.
I’ve got a trip to Hong Kong planned for the end of the year so it might be the perfect chance to take the mk ii with me.

 

Nikon D7200 Review

The Nikon D7200 is considered as one of the best enthusiast DSLR’s on the market so after having used it for a few months alongside a Canon 80D I’m going to write up a quick review and give my thoughts on this Nikon DX APS-C DSLR.

Nikon D7200 key features

  • 24.2MP CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter
  • Multi-CAM 3500DX II 51-point AF system, all sensitive to -3EV
  • 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor, used for 3D subject tracking in AF-C
  • ISO 100-25,600, with ISO 51,200 and 102,400 black and white modes
  • 6 fps continuous shooting (7 fps in 1.3x crop mode) with increased buffer depth
  • 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed
  • 3.2″, 1.2M dot RGBW LCD display
  • 1080/60p video (1.3x crop only) with clean output over HDMI and Flat Picture Control
  • Dual SD card slots
  • Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Magnesium alloy weather-sealed body

 

I used to own a D7100 a couple of years ago and liked the camera a lot but had one major gripe that a camera with a 6 FPS shooting rate was basically crippled by a ridiculously small buffer effectively rendering it useless for fast action unless you were shooting jpegs.

You literally couldn’t even shoot a 1 second burst with the D7100 in Raw so I hoped that the increased buffer size would make the D7200 more useful in this respect.

Apart from the increased buffer size not a huge amount has changed on the D7200. The auto-focus has been improved slightly and there is the handy addition of both Wi-Fi and NFC. 1080 60p video has been added although only when shooting in a 1.3x crop.

 

For me this is not a video centric camera and as I don’t shoot much video I’m not really going to get in to the video side of things.

 

What I’m interested in with a DSLR like this is image quality, handling, useability and low light performance so that’s what I’m going to look at here.

Handling

Having shot the Canon 80D quite a lot lately and then more recently shooting the Nikon D7200 it reaffirms my preference for shooting Nikon DSLR bodies for 2 main reasons. The first being that the ergonomics just feel better. Secondly the sensor performance is still ahead in terms of dynamic range and ISO performance.

I prefer the slightly shallower grip of the D7200 over the 80D’s as it just feels more comfortable to hold over the course of a day.

The D7200 feels more natural in the hand and subtle things like the placement of the on/off switch being by the shutter release and therefore usable one handed and the placement of Nikon’s rear control dial feeling more natural than the Canon 80D’s thumb wheel when shooting in manual mode and wanting to quickly change aperture or shutter speed.

Nikon seems to understand how photographers work a little better than Canon.

Add to this that the D7200 has dual SD card slots, quick access to most shooting functions very good auto ISO implementation and it feels like a solid camera intended to get out of your way and let you shoot.

The one issue I do have with the D7200 is that when shooting in manual ISO you have to use the ISO button which is located to the left of the cameras screen. I would much rather have a dedicated button on the top right of the camera next to the exposure compensation button or at least be able to reassign one of the function buttons on the front of the camera to ISO which is not currently available.

I understand handling is a personal and subjective issue so if you prefer Canon that’s great but for me the Canons feel a little more uncomfortable and less user friendly. I used to shoot Canon on a 450d, 40d and the 5D mk ii was my main body for a long time and I never had any major gripes with them but then I used them purely in manual mode for slow and methodical shooting producing landscapes for galleries.

Since buying Nikons I found them to suit my style better.

Image Quality

The 24mp APS-C sensor in the Nikon D7200 performs very well even with the 18-140mm kit lens. The lack of AA filter allows for more detail in your shots and although it wont make or break a great image the added detail is welcome, especially when you pixel peep as I must admit I do sometimes. You can see individual eyelashes defined a little better than with Canon’s 80D which has an AA filter. I never found issues with moire so the added detail comes at no cost.

I may be in the minority here as many rave about the colours coming out of Canon’s cameras but I actually prefer the slightly more subdued look of Nikons Jpeg engine. However if I want to crank up the saturation contrast or sharpness you can easily do so in the picture settings menu or in post.

Overall the D7200 is still ahead of the Canon 80D for image quality both in terms of actual resolution and in particular the dynamic range offered by the sensor. When shooting high contrast scenes I noticed that the Canon would blow out highlights before the D7200.

High ISO performance is still a little better from the D7200 in comparison to the 80D although the gap has definitely been closed by the Canon in this area. For me the difference is now somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 a stop in favour of the D7200.

ISO 3200 is very clean and for my personal tastes 6400 is the limit of what I would use.

It is all very well all these websites claiming that 6400 ISO and above is clean in good light but you generally use high ISO’s in poor light and even at ISO 5000 in poor light the images don’t always hold up to scrutiny on even modern cameras.

 

Auto Focus

I’ll keep this short and sweet. The Nikon D7200’s 3d tracking autofocus is better than the Canon 80D’s. It is faster to lock on, tracks moving subjects better and ultimately will give you a higher keeper rate even if it shoots at 1fps slower than the 80D.

If you want to see examples and a more detailed comparison check out the 80D review here

Conclusion

As I said this is just a quick review after actually buying and shooting these cameras over an extended period.

There are hundreds of Nikon D7200 reviews out there giving every minute detail so my aim here is to give a quick overview of the camera performance in the real world and let the image examples (full res files available on Flickr) do the talking.

If I was buying an enthusiast level DSLR at this price point the D7200 and 80D would be the two cameras I would be deciding between. In this case if you have no investment in either system then the Nikon D7200 is undoubtedly the better camera for stills photography.

It’s autofocus is better, the image quality is better thanks to a lack of AA filter and better dynamic range. It also has a slight lead in terms of high ISO performance. Handling is subjective but for me the Nikon wins in this area too.

If you shoot video in any serious way then the 80D would be better but that is the only area I would say it beats the D7200.

 

Final Thoughts

Having shot Fujifilm a lot over the past few years ( I still shoot the X100T) I’m particularly interested to see what they have done with the XT-2 so that will be my next move and of course putting it up against the Nikon D7200. [UPDATE] Check out my Fuji XT2 review

Since I have a young baby and lots of nieces and nephews I don’t want to miss any of those first time moments. I will be testing to see if the auto focus system can keep up with the D7200 for shooting erratically moving children as well as a whole host of other subjects. If they have cracked the auto focus (finally) and with the new 24mp X-Trans III sensor with the beautiful Fuji Jpegs that might be a replacement for my trusty Nikon D7200. The only issue I have is that the initial price seems a little high to me considering the D7200 can be bought with the 18-140mm for well under £1000. The Fuji is over 50% more at the time of release.

 

 

Canon 80D Review- Conclusion

Having read our Canon 80D review, is this the camera for you?

The Canon 80D has improved on previous models in the series in some important aspects, not least of all image quality.

We welcome the new 24mp sensor which puts it on a more even playing field with it’s rivals from Nikon and Sony. The added resolution while not that noticeable and certainly not a deal breaker is always welcome.

What we like most about the new sensor is the improved dynamic range and the roughly 1 stop of extra high ISO performance. More importantly it allows 80% of the sensor to be used for the Dual Pixel Cmos AF.

The physical controls and handling of the 80D feel well refined and so they should after all these years. With the exception of the placement of the on/off switch and the rear control dial we can’t really fault the handling of the 80D. We also like the build quality as it feels like a solid tool that can stand up to plenty of abuse. It may not quite be in the same league as the Canon 7D MKII or Nikon D500 but at this price point it is certainly solid enough.

It would be nice to see dual card slots on the Canon 80D

The lack of dual card slots is disappointing, especially for professional use as having in camera back up is a great feature for pros.

The image quality is good but not mind blowing, the Nikon D7200 produces sharper images thanks to the lack of AA filter and the Sony A6300 images are better too in terms of dynamic range and high ISO performance.

We are a little disappointed that Canon did not implement 4k video on the 80D but then 1080 is all that a lot of people feel they need at the moment. However when Canon’s competitors offer it at around the same price point it may be wise for Canon to match it.

The actual video quality from the Canon 80D at 1080 is good and relatively free from artifacts and moire. Rolling shutter is also reasonably well controlled although as with the competition if that is a real issue for you then better to look elsewhere.

So it sounds like we don’t really rate the Canon 80D as being great for any one particular feature and that would be fair to say with the exception of Dual Pixel Cmos AF which is genuinely superb.

Yes the Nikon D7200 has better image quality and tracking focus for stills and the Sony A6300 offers better video quality.

However if you need a camera that shoots good stills and decent video then we would recommend the Canon EOS 80D over and above both of those cameras due to the following features. . The stills are good, the video is good, the auto focus in video is the best that there currently is, it handles nicely, has an articulated touch screen, is well built and allows you to use Canon’s vast range of native lenses.

Canon 80D vs Nikon D7200

The Nikon D7200 has a few advantages over the Canon 80D which will be particularly important to stills photographers. The lack of AA filter offers sharper images with more detail. The high ISO performance and dynamic range is also better. The Nikon D7200’s 3D tracking auto focus also works better than the Canon equivalent, offering better target acquisition and retention giving you more keepers.

In the Canon 80Ds favour are better movie auto focus thanks to dual pixel Cmos AF and a fully articulated touch screen which really does make shooting video very easy and intuitive. Touch to focus makes pulling focus incredibly easy and Dual Pixel Cmos AF is easily the best video focus system currently available.

 Canon 80D vs Sony A6300

In the 80D’s favour are 100% coverage optical viewfinder, articulated touch screen, better ergonomics, much better battery life, better native lens selection, better choice of external flash accessories.

In favour of the Sony A6300 is most importantly 4k video, slightly better still image quality, small size and weight, faster FPS at 11 vs 7 for the Canon.

As a camera we prefer the Canon 80D due to its usability but there is no denying that on paper the Sony offers the better specs.

Here are our recommendations:

 

Stills only photographer with no current investment in lenses – 

Get the Nikon D7200 for better image quality and auto focus.

Existing Canon users- 

Get the Canon 80D over the Nikon D7200. It’s close enough in stills performance and offers better video.

Video Users- 

If you don’t need 4k video then the 80D is a good choice, not just because it offers decent video quality but it is the usability of the 80D that makes it a good choice. The articulated touch screen along with dual pixel Cmos AF really do make shooting video a breeze.

If you need 4k then look at the Sony A6300, A7SII, A7RII or Panasonic GH4.

 

Canon 80D Review – Auto Focus and Image quality

Canon 80D Review – Auto Focus

The closest rivals to the Canon 80D are Canon’s own top of the line APS-C 7D MK II and Nikon’s D7200. While the Canon 80D can’t compete with the 7d mk II’s 10fps shooting speed it does get quite close at 7fps.

Is this good enough to negate the need to splash out more cash on the 7d MK II. It also offers a 1 fps advantage over the Nikon D7200 so is it better for rapid shooting than its Nikon rival.

Also of interest is that the 80D now offers a 45 point focus system (all cross type) and can focus down to -3ev. This is quite a significant upgrade from the 70d’s 19 point focus system which also only focused down to -.5 ev.

We did some basic testing with the 80D and Nikon D7200 side by side to get a feel for the performance of the two.

The Canon 80D was set to high speed mode with tracking auto focus enabled and the sensitivity of the auto focus set to its default level.

The Nikon D7200 was set to high speed mode with 3D auto focus.

We found that the 80D’s 7fps shooting rate seemed significantly faster than the D7200 in use. It felt faster and more fluid and on top of that we were able to take about 50% more photos with the 80D before the buffer filled up. One of the issues we found with the D7100 a few years ago was that it had a really small buffer which hindered shooting lots of photos at high fps in raw.

The D7200 hundred has improved in this area but the 80D is noticeably better.

However when it came to auto focus accuracy when tracking a moving subject the Nikon D7200 performed better than the 80D. With the Nikon shooting a burst of 10 photos of our scruffy little poodle running at us it managed to get 8 shots in focus. The 80D only achieved a score of 6 images in focus. We repeated this test several times, always using the 18-135 Canon kit lens and the Nikon 18-140mm kit lens supplied with the D7200 and found the results to be similar each time.

Canon 80D Auto Focus

Nikon D7200 Auto Focus

In conclusion if good fast tracking auto focus for stills is important to you then you may be better served by the Nikon D7200 or better still either the 7D MK II or D500.

Although we didn’t run side by side tests of the 80D vs the 7D MKII we have used the 7D Mk II a lot previously and while the 80D put in a decent performance it is simply not in the same league for fast action as its bigger brother. The 7D MK II has a separate auto focus section within the menu which allows for a variety of customisation not available on the 80D.

The spread of the auto focus points on the 7D MK II is larger and you are given more options to fine tune the system. It is also more responsive and accurate. From out testing the 7D MK II achieved hit rates of 80-90% on moving subjects. Combine that with 10fps shooting and it clearly bests the 80D.

However most people who want or need to shoot fast action will in all likelihood already be looking at the 7D MK II or the new Nikon D500. However the 80D is no slouch and compared to mirrorless offerings the system is fast, responsive but perhaps not quite as accurate.

Video Performance

What the 80D does offer is a competitive stills camera while also being a very nice video camera. The combination of an articulated touch screen with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology makes shooting videos a breeze.

Flip out the LCD screen and simply touch to focus and the response from the camera is very fast, quickly moving the desired part of the image in to focus. The new 18-135mm Nano lens is fast and quiet while focusing.

Check out our quick video below to see touch to focus in action.


When put in to tracking mode the auto focus can keep up with steadily moving objects such as a presenter walking through a scene without hunting back and forth for focus and ruining the shot.

The combination of the above technologies puts it way ahead of the D7200 if you shoot video as the performance of the Nikon auto focus in video is sketchy at best and of course, there is no articulated screen. The 7D MK II actually focuses better than the 80D for video but the articulated touch screen makes the 80D a better, more usable choice for video overall.

 

The Canon EOS 80D offers mic in and headphone out jacks which adds a level of professionalism to those more in to creating video but the lack of 4K video at this price point when competitors like the Sony A6300 offer it is disappointing.

There is also no truly flat picture profile although we found shooting in Canon’s natural picture profile with sharpness, contrast and saturation all set to their minimum settings gave a fairly flat image that could be graded in post quite nicely.

The video coming out of the 80D at 1080 24p is good if not mind blowing. It doesn’t suffer with major artifacts and is clean. However video from the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A6300 is sharper and in the case of the latter, holds together better at high ISO’s.  Don’t forget that with those two cameras you can also shoot in 4k and down sample the video to a 1080p timeline and get even sharper looking video too.

Even though other cameras offer more in terms of video image quality and indeed functionality the 80D is a nice tool when creating video thanks to its articulated touch screen and the fact that you can use the vast range of Canon EF lenses without having to mess around with adapters (albeit EF lenses will be subject to a crop factor of 1.6x on the 80D body).

 

Image Quality

 

One area where Canon seem to have been overtaken recently is image quality. This all started with the Nikon D810 a couple of years ago offering a 36mp sensor and improved dynamic range thanks to Sony’s sensor technology. Canon’s high ISO performance was also lacking so have they managed to catch up with the new 24mp APS-C sensor in the 80D or not.

 

We have now been shooting the Canon EOS 80D for around a month and in that time we have come to appreciate the new sensor. It is an improvement over the older 20mp sensor found in the 7dMK II in terms of high ISO performance and dynamic range and it offers a small improvement in IQ thanks to the jump up from 20 to 24mp.

 

Below are samples of some portraits taken with the 80D. They were shot in Raw and Jpeg using window light and just the on-camera flash for a little fill light. The aim was to shoot some nice high key shots and we found that the 80D did a decent job. The full resolution files are available on Flickr

 

Canon 80D Portraits

Here is a straight conversion of the original Raw file and a 100% crop of the same file. The image was shot with the new 18-135mm nano lens at f/5.6, 1/160, ISO 500 and shows good detail thanks to the new 24mp sensor.

Here is an image that we deliberately over exposed and then in post attempted to recover the highlights by reducing the exposure by 2EV

 

 

 

Un-Edited Jpeg intentionally over exposed.

 

 

Raw file of the same shot with highlights recovered by 2EV in Lightroom

 

As you can see the 80D did a pretty decent job of recovering the hghlights but there are areas where there is significant loss of detail such as in the curtain in the centre of the image. It does show that if you accidentally clip the highlights a little then there is some headroom for recovery with the new sensor.

 

Below is a shot which was underexposed and Lightroom warned of blocked shadows in the subjects hair.

Shot at ISO 100

 

And here is a crop from the top of the hair with the image pushed +3EV

Shadow Recovery is definitely an improved area with the new sensor

 

We are pretty impressed with the 80D’s ability to push the shadows by +3EV and still retain detail without much noise at all. For landscape photographers in particular this marks a significant improvement over previous Canon sensors which would introduce noise trying to perform similar tasks. For landscape photographers in particular this will give the ability to shoot to ensure no clipped highlights and simply push the shadows as required in post, giving a boost to dynamic range.

 

Noise performance

 

One area we were interested in was how the new 24mp sensor performs at high ISOs in real world situations. You can shoot all the test charts you want but it is in the real world that we see the true performance available.

Below are a few samples shot at high ISOs.

 

 

Raw shot at f/2.5 , 1/125, ISO 6400
100% crop of the above image

 

As you can see from the cropped image at ISo 6400 we are still getting pretty usable files. There is some noise but it is not objectionable and in fact the noise pattern is quite pleasant. This image is an unedited raw file so with a tiny bit of luminance noise reduction in Lightroom we would have no problem using this image. One thing we did notice was that under indoor lighting the Canon 80D’s white balance tended to oversaturate the red channel so we would advise shooting in Raw to easily correct this in post.

 

Below is another raw image at ISO 6400. We have shown a 100% crop with no noise reduction and then a further one with just 25 of luminance noise reduction in Lightroom to show the results you can easily obtain. Note the white balance is over saturated in the red and  magenta channels again.

f/2.5, 1/100, ISO 6400 Unedited Raw
100% Crop of the above Image
Same as above with +25 Luminance NR in Lightroom added.

 

From our testing we think the sensor in the Canon 80D provides about a 1 stop advantage in high ISO performance over the 7D MK II.

 

Here is another example, this time at ISO 3200

f/4, 1/160, ISO 3200, 100% crop no PP

Below is a gallery of SOOC Jpeg images we shot with the 80D. These and more are available on our Flickr page

Canon 80D SOOC Jpegs

So is the Canon 80D the right choice for you? Check out our conclusion to find out

Canon 80D Review

 

Welcome to our Canon EOS 80D review.

The Canon EOS 80D is a mid range DSLR featuring a new 24mp APS-C sensor, 7 FPS continuous shooting along with a 45 point AF system and full HD 1080/60p video.

The Canon 80D comes about 3 years after the 70d which is in line with Canon’s standard release schedule with XXD bodies.

The Canon 80D is a step up from entry level cameras offering a more fully featured body and better build construction for those seeking more control while not wanting the size, weight and cost of professional DSLR’s.

The most interesting points of note with the Canon 80D is the new 24mp sensor which promises better resolution, low light performance and importantly for Canon when competing against Nikon’s D7xx series bodies, better dynamic range.

The new 24mp sensor like that of the 20mp 70d employs Canon’s dual pixel CMOS AF technology allowing 80% of the pixels on the sensor to act as phase detect AF points. This in theory allows for smooth continuous AF in live view and video mode. It has been upgraded from the 70d to work with all lenses and all video quality settings. We will take a look to see what the updated technology has to offer.

The new 45 point AF system now features all cross type AF points, with 27 working at F/8 and all of them now focusing down to -3EV. Along with a fully articulated touch screen and WiFi the 80D now features NFC for quick connections to smart devices.

We tested the Canon 80D alongside the new 18-135mm Nano USM kit lens which is supposed to offer both the speed and smoothness of focusing of STM lenses for movies while keeping up with USM lenses for Stills.

 

Build Quality and handling

 

Having used a Fuji X100T for a lot of shooting in recent years there is something substantial and reassuring about handling the Canon 80D. There is no doubt that the ergonomics of a DSLR are pretty much near perfect when it comes to photography.

The camera feels very solid in the hand yet it doesn’t feel too heavy to shoot for extended periods of time. The grip is substantial and allows you to confidently hold the camera in one hand, something not always true of mirror-less bodies.

 

The first thing we notice about the Canon 80D as we switch it on is that it has retained the position of the on/off switch on top of the body just behind the PASM dial. We hate this position a it prevents us from turning the camera on while holding it one handed (ala Nikon bodies). However it is a small gripe as once turned on you can just leave it that way and rely on the camera to enter sleep mode to save battery life. The battery used for the Canon 80D is the same as all the newer Canon bodies, the LP-E6N 1865 mAh. Our first charge gave us 686 shots but that included a lot of playing with the menus and setting up the camera as well as shooting numerous short videos. Our subsequent charges gave us around 1000 shots each time. More than enough for a days shooting.

With the new 18-135mm Nano USM kit lens attached the camera feels well balanced and at 730g it is substantial but doesn’t feel overly bulky like the 7D mk II (910g) can.

If you are used to shooting Canon bodies then the 80D will feel reassuringly familiar with similar button layout. There is no AF joystick which you get on the 7dmkII but instead we have the ability to use the articulated touch screen for quick focusing in video and live view modes. However that doesn’t help when shooting stills through the optical viewfinder.

On the top of the camera body we have the display screen giving quick access to your settings along with dedicated buttons to change AF, Drive modes, ISO and metering, as well as a button to light up the display. A little further forward we have the control dial and a further button to quickly change focusing mode. In front of that is the shutter release button.

All the buttons feel well made, solid and give positive tactile feedback for easy use with your eye to the viewfinder.

The only issue we have with the controls are the on/off switch placement (as previously mentioned) and the D-pad on the rear of the body which is somewhat obstructed by the control wheel around it. It just doesn’t feel natural when using it as the wheel is a little too deep and obstructs your thumb from getting purchase on the D-pad.

Taking a leaf out of Fuji’s book we have a Q button on the reverse which gives quick access to your most regularly used features and functions. We really like this as we can quickly change settings without having to either delve in to the menus or use Canon’s customisable My Menu tab, which lets be honest is a bit rubbish.

Dedicated live view/video button, AF-on, zoom, playback . delete, control wheel lock, menu and info buttons round out the layout on the back of the camera body.

The mode dial on top now features two programmable custom modes which is always a welcome feature.

The new viewfinder is crisp, clear and now offers 100% viewfinder coverage, up from 98% on the 70D making composition much better with the 80D. It also offers diopter adjustment, always good for users of eye glasses.

The Canon 80D like its predecessor features a fully articulated touch screen. Some people bemoan articulated screens however we really appreciate them. It is easy to underestimate just how useful they are for composing shots in unusual angles and combined with the touch screen it is a fantastic tool and one that video enthusiasts in particular will appreciate.

If you don’t like an articulated screen (and we don’t know why you wouldn’t once you have used one) you can simply flip it in to the body, screen facing out and use it as a standard fixed screen. Alternatively if you are shooting using only the viewfinder you can close the LCD altogether with the glass facing the body and know that it is protected from scratches and damage.

The articulated screen is very flexible in terms of how you choose to use it.

We found the articulated screen one of the best features of the 80D and wish that Nikon would implement it on their D7xx series of bodies.

One disappointment is that the Canon 80D only takes a single SD card. We would have liked Canon to take from the Nikon D7xx series bodies which have had dual SD card slots for some time now.

 

Check out our  Canon 80D auto focus and Image quality results

 

Fuji X100T Review – Long term User report

In this Fuji X100T review I’ll talk about how I have found this camera in real World use having used it for nearly two years.

The Fuji X100T builds on the previous success of the  X100 and X100s series with the same 16mp X-Trans sensor, a fixed 23mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent focal length), aperture control ring and lots of physical dials for a rewarding range finder style shooting experience.

The Fuji 100T was announced in September 2014 and we have been using it for general shooting and travel photography since its release date.

In our Fuji X100T review we uncover the good and the bad about this popular enthusiast camera.

New to the X100T is the ability for exposure control in movies as well as 1080p video at 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60p. However more noticeable to stills photographers is the upgrading of the aperture ring on the lens to accommodate 1/3 exposure increments, the new Classic Chrome film simulation and the new hybrid viewfinder which offers both electronic and optical views and the choice to have a small overlay image of the in focus area at the bottom corner of the viewfinder.

 

We have had the chance to use the Fuji X100T for general travel photography in Europe and Asia, shooting some casual landscapes and some model shoots which has enabled us to get a real feel for the camera over an extended period of time. This review will give a real feel for the new features but also what it is like to live with this camera day in and day out for a long period of time.

 

Fuji X100T Review – Design and Handling

The Fuji X100 series of cameras offer range finder style photography and aim for simplicity when shooting. However this doesn’t mean that they are simple cameras.

In the hand the Fuji X100T feels very light and compact (in comparison to DSLR’s) yet solid enough to not feel like a plastic toy. It measures 127x74x52.4mm and weighs in at 440gm. Although quite small it is too large to be slipped in to normal size pockets but the weight is negligible if slung on your shoulder with the strap all day. Size wise it is very similar to the X-T1 although of course the X-T1’s weight can vary considerably depending upon the lens used.

Here is the Fuji X100T compared with a Nikon D7200 + 50mm f/1.4 lens

 

The design is elegant and aesthetically pleasing. Although this might not be important for everyone it is always appreciated by us when we get to use a camera that feels good and looks good too. It has the feel and look of a classic camera from the film era and we found that most people we encounter appreciate the design and styling. The camera is available in black and silver/black combination.

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We have the silver version although some street photographers prefer the black version to avoid unwanted attention. We have never found this camera to garner too much attention when street shooting though. This is mainly due to it’s small size as most people probably think it’s a cheap little compact. That’s also good if you are in a crowded place and don’t want it getting the attention of thieves.

The Fuji X100T is not weather sealed unlike the X-T1 but it feels well made with the top and bottom being of magnesium alloy construction. The hand grip on the fornt protrudes very slightly although we do find it a little small to give real confidence while holding it. However it is a light camera so it tends to nestle into the palm of your hand when shooting allowing for decent if not confidence inspiring grip.

The buttons on the back offer a clear click when pressing them, allowing for tactile feedback when shooting with your eye to the viewfinder. However they are a bit on the small side, especially the control wheel.

On the top we have the much talked about control dials. There is an exposure compensation dial offering +/-3ev. This is the one dial that could benefit from being a little stiffer in our eyes as it had quite often changed position when we took the camera out of our bag. Therefore we would recommend checking this every time you take it out of your bag.There is also a function button which by default is set up to record video although it can be customised as can 6 other fn buttons.

The Lack of an ISO dial on the X100T didn’t prove to be an issue for us.

The X100T also has a shutter speed dial with full stop increments from 1 second- 1/4000 in addition to bulb and timer mode. To make less than one stop adjustments to shutter speed you adjust the small control wheel on the top right of the rear of the camera. Lastly on the top plate we have the on off switch which can be a little awkward to quickly engage as the grip does not protrude quite far enough. It does have a thread for a shutter release cable which is a welcome addition. Note there is no ISO dial on the Fuji X100T unlike its sibling the X-T1. However in all honesty we don’t really miss it as auto ISO allows for setting minimum shutter speeds to compensate so we leave it in auto for the most part.

The rear of the camera has the viewfinder (which we shall discuss later) as well as view mode button to switch how the viewfinder/LCD screen behave when shooting. Playback button, Delete button and a further Fn button. Above and to the right of the LCD screen we have the drive mode button as well as the control dial which we mentioned earlier (used for adjusting shutter speed in 1/3 stops and can be clicked to zoom in when manually focusing).

On the right of the LCD is the AEL/AFL, Q menu and Display buttons as well as the control dial and menu buttons.

In general we like the ability to customise up to 7 of these buttons to do a whole variety of functions rather than just the default functions. For instance we set the delete button to switch the built in ND filter on and off, the up button on the control dial to turn face recognition auto focus on, right button for flash exposure compensation, down to adjust focus points and left to quickly access the different film simulations. The number of different combinations is exhaustive and allows for each user to set the camera up pretty much how they like.

The Fuji X100T has 7 customisable function buttons

On the left hand side of the body is a switch to swap between single shot, continuous and manual focusing modes.

The Fuji X100T has a Type D HDMI Micro connector, Micro USB port and a new 2.5mm microphone input; the mic input and USB port can be used with optional remote controls and the USB port can be used for charging which is great when travelling with several cameras as you can cut out the bulk of all the various different camera chargers. The Fuji X100T does of course, come with its own AC power charger.

Along with an external flash hot-shoe the Fuji X100T has an internal flash and we found it to be much better than the average in built DSLR flash at providing subtle and usable fill flash for portraits. It can be set to various modes including slow sync which is perfect for getting correctly balanced exposures with -2/3 FEC dialled in. What should also be noted is the ability of the X100T to hit flash sync speeds of up to 1/4000 thanks to its leaf shutter. This makes it easily able to shoot with fill flash in bright conditions which is a huge advantage over the X-T1 as well as all DSLR’s  unless an external flash is used. We almost always use fill flash when shooting outdoor portraits with the X100T as it seems to nail the exposure and give natural results 99% of the time.

The leaf shutter allow for fast flash sync speeds and shooting at large apertures in bright light thanks to the built in ND filter.

 

Once you have taken a shot it is also quick and easy to transfer those files to your smart device thanks to the in built wifi of the X100T. While the Fuji app is not the best it does the job and we could transfer over full resolution Jpegs ready for upload to social media. There is an annoying limit of 30 images per transfer but this is a minor inconvenience. The app also lets you remotely control the camera although not shoot video which is a shame.

Fuji X100T Review – Viewfinder and shooting experience

 

The viewfinder in the Fuji X100T is clearer than the previous models. When using the optical viewfinder the X100T displays a bright and clear electronic overlay which shows, the active focus point, shooting settings such as shutter speed, ISO and aperture as well as a rectangular marker which indicates the actual area of your image corrected for parallax. Because the viewfinder and the image sensor are not in line as on a DSLR what you see straight through the viewfinder is not exactly what will be recorded on the image. This parallax correction is therefore really useful to avoid hidden surprises in your final composition and image.

The switch (left of image) is used to switch between OVF and EVF.

Flick the switch on the front of the camera and the X100T viewfinder changes to wholly electronic view. The refresh rate is fairly quick and although there is a little lag compared with an OVF we generally preferred to shoot with the EVF because it shows in real time adjustments made to the exposure before you take the shot. We just find EVFs in general a great artistic tool as you can see your image before you click the shutter. Any changes to the film simulation are reflected in the EVF so it reduces the need to chimp images after the fact. The only exception to this would be when shooting faster moving subjects which can benefit from the real time view of the OVF.

On the whole the electronic viewfinder is on par with others in the mirrorless world like the FUji X-E2s and Olympus OM-D series.

What is new on the Fuji X100T is the addition of the electronic overlay for focusing when using the optical viewfinder. When using the optical viewfinder flick the switch on the front of the camera to the left and a small rectangular electronic over lay pops up in the bottom right corner showing the in focus area. You can click the rear control dial to zoom in and now manual focusing becomes ever so easy. Add to this the manual focus aids found on the FUji X100T like focus peaking and it gives the ability to quickly and easily achieve manual focus.

In general shooting we found the X100T’s auto focus to be a notch faster than the X100s although not quite on par with the X-T1. If you are shooting portraits, landscapes and general travel photography then the auto focus in good light is quick enough to keep up.

Where we did have a few issues was when shooting moving subjects such as kids or pets. Here we found a relatively high rate of out of focus shots simply because the auto focus could not attain focus before the subject had moved on slightly. This can be frustrating but if you shoot a lot of moving subjects then it would be wise to look at other mirrorless options like the Olympus OM-D E-M1, Fuji XT-1 or Sony A6300.

The auto focus got confused here and resulted in focusing on the wrong subject.

Every time we look at the Fuji X100T it makes us want to pick it up and shoot. It’s size combined with its excellent image quality mean that we feel like taking it with us everywhere we go without worrying about the weight and size. So how about the image quality. Well lets take a look at that in more detail in the next section. Click the link below to see the results for image quality and some sample images.

 

Image and Video quality   Or skip straight to our conclusion

 

 

 

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