Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Should You Upgrade To Fuji X-Pro2 or X-T2?

I've been asked a few times now, "Should I upgrade to the X-Pro2 or X-T2?" I'm not sure how qualified I am to answer this because I've never used either. But I will try to give what I hope is a helpful response.

The big headline with the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 is the 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensor. Prior to this, Fuji's X-series cameras had a 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensors (there are a few non-X-Trans sensor models, too). The jump from 16-megapixels to 24-megapixels seems large, and is that extra resolution worth handing over large sums of cash to get?

The "old" X-Trans sensor has "only" a third less resolution than the new sensor, which isn't necessarily huge. And the gap might not be as big as you think because not all lenses can resolve that amount of detail anyway (although the Fujinon lineup is pretty fantastic and many of the lenses can). Basically, the extra resolution will allow you to enlarge a little more or crop a little deeper, but it's not going to be a night-and-day difference.

With the 16-megapixel X-Trans, if you have clean, sharp, uncropped exposures, you can make nice-looking 20" x 30" prints. If you used high-ISO or cropped a little, you'd max out at 16" x 24" prints. Not all that many people print larger than that, and so the 16-megapixel resolution is sufficient for most people.
Mirrored Mountain - Mirror Lake, Utah
Captured with a Fujifilm X-E1.
There are different software options (some are better than others) to upscale your images, which allows you to print larger than what the resolution would indicate. When I mentioned print sizes in the last paragraph, I wasn't taking into account the use of upscaling software. It's possible to make larger prints even with the 16-megapixel X-Trans.

I also didn't factor in viewing distance. When people view large prints, they instinctively move back to a normal viewing distance. The larger the print the further back people will naturally move to view it. "Pixel-peepers" will want to examine your images from an inch away, but normal people don't and won't. Just as long as there is space available for viewers to stand a normal distance away, they will.

This is important to understand because you can print as large as you want, just as long as you don't force viewers to see your images too closely. Billboards look great at a distance and terrible up close, but nobody is looking at them up close. Keep all of this in mind when you are considering print size and resolution.

With all of that out of the way, my recommendation is that if you routinely print at sizes of 20" x 30" or larger, you may find the additional resolution of the 24-megapixel X-Trans useful. Otherwise, you really aren't gaining anything.
Our Galaxy - Mirror Lake, Utah
Captured with a Fijifilm X-E1.
The negative side-effects of additional resolution are that it takes more memory space and it makes photo editing programs run a little slower. Not really huge deals, but worth noting that more resolution isn't always better. Street photographer Eric Kim put it this way: "More megapixels, more problems."

I haven't found very many high-ISO and dynamic range comparisons of the "old" and "new" X-Trans sensors. Sometimes squeezing more resolution onto a sensor has a negative impact on those two things. What I discovered (from the little that I found) is that the 24-megapixel sensor seems to be at least as good as the 16-megapixel sensor, and perhaps might offer a very small improvement in both high-ISO and dynamic range (key words being "very small").

The new Fujifilm cameras, the X-Pro2 and the X-T2, are very fine cameras. They won't disappoint. But if you are happy with the Fuji camera that you already own, I don't see the need to spend bunches of money for the trivial upgrade. Unless you routinely print very large, it makes more sense to stick with what you've got.

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