X marks the spot with three new enthusiast Fuji cameras

Fuji X-Pro2 and X70

Fuji launched its first compact system camera, the X-Pro1, way back in 2012. Since then it’s launched a raft of others, none of them adopting the X-Pro1’s innovative hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder and opting instead for no viewfinder at all (the X-A1, X-A2, X-M1), a regular electronic viewfinder (X-E1, X-E2) or a DSLR design (X-T1, X-T10). That hybrid viewfinder did reappear in the X100 compact camera range, but not in the X-mount cameras, and you could be forgiven for thinking the X-Pro1 was an early format Fuji decided not to repeat.

Not so. All along, Fuji has insisted the X-Pro1 is its ‘flagship’ camera, even after the arrival of the powerful X-T1 – and the X-Pro2 has now arrived to prove it.

Confused? It turns out that Fuji sees the X-Pro1/2 design as being an alternative to the X-T1’s DSLR-like layout. It’s just as powerful, just as desirable, but different.

Fuji X-Pro2

Fuji X-Pro2

The X-Pro2’s hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder is designed for those who like the brightness and clarity of a direct vision viewfinder with bright frames for different focal lengths – you can see what’s going on around the frame, not just within it. This can help you time and plan fleeting images, so it’s great for street photography, for example.

Or you can swap to the electronic viewfinder to preview white balance, exposure settings and image effects as you shoot, and even combine the two in Electronic Rangefinder mode, which superimposes the digital view on the optical image to provide additional shooting information.

Amongst other improvements, Fuji has increased the resolution of the electronic viewfinder to 2.36 million pixels, in line with the viewfinder in the X-T1.

Fuji X-Pro2

The big story, though, is Fuji’s new 24-megapixel APS-C X-Trans processor, which offers a 50% resolution increase over the 16-megapixel sensors used in Fuji’s X-series mirrorless cameras so far. The fact Fuji has used it here shows how serious it is about the X-Pro2’s rangefinder-style design, too.

Other improvements include faster autofocus with more AF points, dual SD card slots, a 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed and new ‘ACROS’ black and white film simulation mode and improved interface.

The X-Pro2 will cost £1,349 (AU$2,699, about US$1,940) and goes on sale in February 2016.

Fuji X70

The other big news from Fuji is the new X70 compact camera. The numbering suggests it lies somewhere between Fuji’s small-sensor X30 compact camera and its high-end X100T. In fact, it’s a lot closer to the X100T, using the same 16-megapixel APS-C X-Trans sensor but in a smaller body with no viewfinder (though an optional clip-on viewfinder is available) and a shorter focal length 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens.

Fuji X70

Fuji X70

The X70 follows the same traditional design ethos as the X100T with a manual shutter speed dial on the top plate and a manual aperture ring around the lens. Each has an ‘A’ (Automatic) setting, so if you set the aperture ring to A the camera is in shutter-priority mode, if you set the shutter speed dial to A it’s in aperture-priority mode, and if you set both to A it’s fully manual.

The X70 is the first Fuji X-series camera to have a touch-screen display and this can be tilted upwards or downwards or rotated through a full 180 degrees for selfies.

The 28mm equivalent lens gives a wider angle of view than the 35mm equivalent lens on the X100T, and if that’s still not wide enough you will be able to get a WCL-X70 to give a 21mm equivalent angle of view.

The lack of a viewfinder might put some users off, but the combination of a small body (no larger than the X30 and much smaller than the X100T), traditional controls, big sensor and wide lens could make the X70 the perfect travel/street photography camera for enthusiasts.

The X70 will cost £549 (AU$1,149, about US$790) from February 2016, and will be available in black and silver versions.

Fuji X-E2S and XF100-400mm lens

Fuji has updated another of its X-mount compact system cameras, though this time the changes are more modest. The X-E2S improves on the original X-E2 with the addition of the new Zone and Wide/Tracking autofocus options already seen on some other Fuji X-mount models. Fuji says this gives ‘vastly improved’ performance on moving subjects across the 77-point autofocus area.

Fuji X-E2S

Elsewhere, the X-E2S gets a redesigned front grip to make it easier to hold and an electronic shutter. Eagle-eyed readers will spot that these autofocus and electronic shutter features had been added to the Fuji X-T1 as a firmware upgrade, but presumably this was not possible with the X-E2. The X-E2S also has Fuji’s latest Classic Chrome film simulation mode.

You will be able to buy the X-E2S from February 2016 for £549.00 (about US$790) body only or £749 (AU$1,399, about US$1,078) with 18-55mm kit lens.

Fuji XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

On top of its three new camera launches, Fuji has also announced a new telephoto zoom for its X-mount cameras.

The XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens is equivalent to 152-609mm in 35mm camera terms, and fills an important gap in Fuji’s X-mount lens range. Fuji has the wide-angle, standard lens and short telephoto range covered pretty well, especially with high-quality prime lenses, but if it wants to compete with other interchangeable lens camera makers for sports, action and wildlife photography, it needs really good long telephoto lenses too.

Fuji XF100-400mm

The XF100-400mm certainly seems to fit the bill, offering near-supertelephoto capability and with a reasonable maximum aperture too, which drops less than one f-stop across the whole zoom range.

Fuji claims its OIS (optical image stabilization) system is the most powerful in any telephoto lens, offering a 5-stop shutter speed advantage. It can also detect and adjust to panning movements automatically.

If that focal range still isn’t long enough, you can use the new lens with Fuji’s XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter to get a range of 140-560mm (213-853mm equivalent), though this will drop the maximum aperture by 1 f-stop to f/6.3-8.

Twin linear autofocus motors are used to provide fast, quiet AF and there’s a focus limiter function too. This sets the minimum focus range to 5m so that the lens operates over a shorter focus range and can focus even faster.

The WR designation indicates the lens is water and dust-resistant, with 13 seals at 12 different points, and it’s designed to keep working down to a temperature of -10 degrees centigrade.

The XF100-400mm goes on sale in February 2016 at £1,399 (AU$2,799, about US$2,013), or £1,499 (about US$2,157) bundled with the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter. That’s not too bad for an own-brand lens with this kind of range.

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