Travels in China with the Fujifilm X-T2

Published on: 19th Jul 2016
In Equipment

The Fujifilm X-T2 Launch event took place on 14 July 2016 in Johannesburg and I was asked to tell the audience about my experiences with the camera during my travels in China in June 2016.

For my talk I selected a set of photos to Good example of high ISO low light handling. I did not have my tripod with me so I had to Up the ISO to get sharp photos. [614]point out the specific features of the camera that I loved. These are the topics I shared at the launch event:

  • Low light / High ISO
  • Subtle colours
  • Dynamic range
  • 16 vs 24 mega pixels and slow shutter speeds in street photography
  • The 3 way tilt screen
  • Acros film simulation

Low light / High ISO[614]

I arrived in Hong Kong on the Saturday but only went over to Mainland China on the Sunday afternoon. When I arrived it was raining (and it continued to rain for the next 3 days!). We went out for dinner on the Saturday evening and This is the final crop based on a 16 megapixel sensor from the original 24 megapixels [626]because of the rain and me being tired I did not take my tripod with me, just the camera with the 35mm F2 lens. But, like always, when opportunity knocks, you need to answer. After dinner I noticed that the low clouds are actually creating a wonderful mood to the city which I had to capture. Being without a tripod I used high ISO and my normal "steady" handheld techniques to get sharp images. It worked!

The next morning, Xiaoyi decided to sleep in - for two reasons; It was still raining and the shops in Hong Kong normally (especially on a Sunday) only opens at about 11am. I decided to go out to take some early morning photos - for two reasons; It was still raining and the shops were still closed. This session really tested the X-T2's weather sealing! I ended up only using the 50-140 lens because of its weather sealing and also the very large lens hood which was comfortably keeping the rain away from the front lens. I am not a "from-the-distance" street photographer, so it took me some time to get used to this anonymity. I do like the results and will most likely explore this type of photography further in the future. I love the detail in the darker areas of "Speedo lady" [626].I was also impressed with the image stabiliser allowing me to handheld this photo at 1/40 second at an effective focal length of 180mm.

Subtle colours[618][620]

For me, any photography outing is always about the possibility to take some special landscape photos. This year's A sunrise near Xiapu with good detail in the clouds [620]trip was specifically planned around the visit to Xiapu and its beautiful scenery - the other photo opportunities is coincidental. Xiapu was an absolute hit, I know that I will go back there The X-T2 is good in capturing subtle changes in colour. Look at the colour of the nets of the firshermen [618](hint - let me know if you also want to go there, as soon as I have 10 people on the list, I will arrange a trip...). I love my Fuji X-T1 for its wonderful colour rendition, and it was important for me to see that the X-T2 with its smaller pixel size can do the same. Well, I am impressed, it looks even better! Look at the subtle colour detail of the fishermen's nets in [618]. I love the colour of the clouds and their reflections on the beach in the harbour scene[620].

Dynamic Range[617][619]

I've read many reviews about the dynamic range of the X-T2, and they are not far off. The sunrise landscape scene of the kelp farms[619] showed good This photo is a good example of the detail possible in a high contrast scene. Detail is well retained in the direct sunlight on the smoke. [617] detail in the highlights as well as the shadows of the mountains. The jpeg version of the forest scene[617] however had some lost of detail in the sun rays but as soon as I opened the RAW file, it showed the true possibility A sunrise with a custom white balance to create an better mood. [619] of this camera's large dynamic range. The shadow areas around the tree roots did have good detail (even in the jpeg version), but I selectively lighten it in post processing to be more balanced.

16 vs 24 megapixels and slow shutter speeds in street photography[627][615]

For me the 16 versus 24 megapixels is a big deal - and not in a good way. It is almost as if I have a mental block Handheld low light photograph with a TV of 1/20 sec [615]when it comes to high megapixel cameras. It actually goes back all the way to the Nikon D800. Shortly after the launch of the D800, Nikon South Africa gave me a D800 to take on one of my China trips. This was a huge upgrade from my trusty D700. On my return from the trip, I found that about 70% of all my photos were not sharp - the dreaded camera shake... The combination of a very heavy camera, large lenses and the very small pixels compared to the D700's was apparently just too much for me to handle. The D700 with its 12 megapixel full frame sensor was very forgiving and I was obviously not camera fit for the D800. (I kept on using the D700 until I upgraded to the Fujifilm ecosystem.)

With the 16 megapixel Fujifilm (X-E1, X-E2 and X-T1) sensor I learned that I can easily keep the camera steady without even thinking about it down to a TV of 1/30 second, and with some breathing control I have a large This is an example to show the gain of the 24 megapixel sensor. [627]collection of sharp photos all the way down to 1/10 second. It was therefore very important for me to test the X-T2 at slow shutter speeds. I was really worried that the smaller pixels size could result in a Déjà vu situation. I had ample opportunity to try this on several street photography sessions, and I can report (with a sigh of relieve) that I am very impressed with the results. The fujifilm mirrorless system again proofed that the combined weight of the camera and whichever lens you select, is not only saving you on the weight in your camera bag, but will also result in a bag full of sharper low light photos! The photo called "The conversation"[615] (between the granddad and baby) is a good example of this. It was A low angle using the electronic shutter and the articulated screen in the new portrait format [621]taken at 19:00 in an alleyway at ISO 800 with a TV of 1/20 second while walking the streets of Shenzhen.

The benefit of the 24 megapixels over the now older 16 megapixels does give you some room to crop. My photo (see [626] above) called the "Speedo Lady" is a crop to 16 megapixels just to show the gain of the 24 megapixel sensor.[627]

The 3 way tilt screen[621][622]

When I received the X-T2, I did not know about the new portrait mode tilt screen (I am not an avid rumour follower, so I missed this one). When Eslie of Fujifilm South Africa showed it to me I was really impressed. This is exactly A low angle using the electronic shutter and the articulated screen in landscape format [622]what I was missing - and I did not even know it!

I have many examples of portrait format landscapes where I remember me crawling on the ground (the crawling is nothing, it is the getting up afterwards that is becoming a problem). But for me this will open new doors with regards my street photography.

The combination of the tilt screen and the electronic shutter creates a setup that I called "Stealth Mode". Read my article on the website for some tips on my use of stealth mode.

Acros film simulation[615][616[

I will keep with the tradition by also including my opinion of the Acros film simulation. So much is said and showed about the Acros film simulation that I had to try it. And I can see its place. I did read up about it on the fujifilm website and must agree that a lot of thought went into it. [begin rant]What I do not understand is why somebody will setup their camera to I had to try the acros monochrome film simulation for people photography and loved the results. After this I used it many times [616]use Acros simulation but then also add settings such as +3 to the blacks and +2 to the highlights. Surely, you cannot show such photos to somebody else and tell them that this is Acros simulation. At its best it is your own black and white rendering, and don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in having your own taste of black and white photography, but do not mislead people by telling them you are using Acros simulation.[end rant]

While looking for a place to have lunch I saw a couple getting their wedding photos taken on the beach, and I could not resist but to jump in and also take some photos. The rest of our group follow suite and soon we took the whole photo shoot over - poor professional wedding photographer, he will never be the same again! This photo [616] was taken using the Acros film simulation and no post A monochrome photo of the mountains of Guilin [624]processing was done. I agree that a bit more detail the the groom's face added during post processing will enhance the photo, but for this review I decided not to do any post processing on the photo.

A Final word

Before the official tour to Xiapu I went on a scouting tour for three days to Guilin and surroundings to prepare for next year's landscape photo excursion. Obviously three days was way too short, but I did get some footage to confirm that this will be an excellent photo opportunity.



Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces

During the Fujifilm launch event I showed one photo of the rice terraces to the audience and mentioned the fine detail available as a result of the 24 megapixel sensor. They then asked me to zoom in on the photo, but I prepared the photos for the target display which means that it was already showing at 100% of my processed photo. For those interested to see the detail in this shot, I have prepared an original size photo using the Zoomify tool. This will allow you to zoom in on any detail up to the full 100%. Drag in the photo to look at different areas of detail.

Obviously I need to add the disclaimer that this photo (and all the others) was taken with a pre-production version X-T2 camera and that the image quality in the final product may be different!

(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)