Colombo, Sri Lanka

Fujifilm X-Pro 2: She’s got it where it counts, kid

Charlene fujifilm gear, general 72 Comments

It was exquisite.

I spent a whole day in late October last year, doing nothing but hitting “refresh” on DHL’s tracking site, willing the courier to make it to my door in under 12 parsecs.

So lifting the pre-production model of the new X-Pro 2 out of its packing was a hotly anticipated moment.

On the train. Colombo, Sri Lanka

On the train. Colombo, Sri Lanka. — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/160 sec, f5.6, ISO 400

Picking up the X-Pro 2 for the first time felt like returning to some kind of photographic home. I got its predecessor – the X-Pro 1 – in 2012. It was my first X-series camera, and with the old XF 35mm f1.4, the only thing I had to make photos with for 2 years.

It had been a while since I’ve held an X-Pro body. The first time this one sank into my palm, I had that feeling. The one that translates roughly to “ahhhh, this is the way it should be”?

That recognition.

A passenger on the train looks out at the sea as the train chugs along the coast. Colombo, Sri Lanka.

A passenger looks out at the sea as the train chugs along the coast. Colombo, Sri Lanka. — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/2800 sec, f6.4, ISO 640

The X-Pro 2 hits all the right notes with its amazing new sensor and shutter, both which improve on already sensational low light handing and responsiveness. Its shape is still delightfully discreet, with the classic styling that the X-series is known for. I’ll admit I was surprised at how little Fuji had changed its flagship cosmetically, beyond the addition of a joystick at the rear, the integration of an ISO dial into the shutter speed one, and the strangely recessed AF-L button we have in the pre-production version. Certainly, with its boxy no-frills glory, the X-Pro 2 isn’t the most eye catching camera on earth. But if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that this very plainness warms the cockles of my heart.

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque in Pettah. Colombo, Sri Lanka

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque in Pettah. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/3000 sec, f2, ISO 800

That being said, it does comes with plenty of flash, hidden under that unassuming hood.

This review will not address them all, only the facets that I found applicable to street shooting, my style.

Sensor

Colombo Fort train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/115 sec, f2, ISO 5000

Colombo Fort train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/115 sec, f2, ISO 5000

The X-pro 2 comes with a new 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor. Its low light handling is magnificent – native ISO of 12,800, people. Ok, the files are huge – 40 to 50 Mb per RAW file – but it comes with an option to save compressed RAW, which will presumably reduce file size. This option wasn’t available to test in the pre-production firmware at the time I had the camera, so I have no idea if there’s any loss of quality or other issues. In a cursory 5 second video test, it appears that video quality has improved as well, with noticeably less moire.

Shutter

Secretariat train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/90 sec, f2, ISO 10,000

Secretariat train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/90 sec, f2, ISO 10,000

The brand new shutter in the X-Pro2 is extremely responsive and just about eliminates lag, giving us more speed – 1/8000 sec – along with a rather pleasant sounding schnick as it releases.

Dual card slots, Joystick, AFL button

 

I find dual card slots an extremely useful feature. The second card can be configured to save overflow or mirror the files from the first, or you can configure Slot 1 to save RAW and Slot 2 to save JPEGs.

The new joystick makes moving the gazillian focus points (also a new feature) a breeze. I however, shoot with a single focus point in the middle of the screen and never move it, so I can’t tell you how effective it is.

What I will say though, is that it’s placed so there’s little chance of accidental engagement while shooting. Thumbs up.

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8 | 1/800 sec, f4, ISO 400

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8 | 1/800 sec, f4, ISO 400

The new AF-L button on the pre-production copy is completely recessed. Impossible to find without having to stop what you’re doing to look for it. I shoot on manual focusing mode only, using the AF-L button as a focus trigger, and found this incredibly disruptive to use.

Thankfully, the back button focusing function can be switched to the AE-L button, which saved the day. The AE-L button isn’t in an ideal spot to trigger focus if you have hands the size of mine or smaller, but it is a very practical, usable workaround.

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8 | 1/290 sec, f8, ISO 320

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8 | 1/290 sec, f8, ISO 320

C-mode on the EV dial & new ISO dial

Charlene-Winfred-XPro2-10689

The C mode gives you the option of adjusting the EV using the front command dial, and also providing an additional couple of stops of compensation: up to +/-5 EV. I’m not entirely sure what to think of this particular addition. While it’s nice to have the additional stops of compensation, having to “switch gears” to utilize anything beyond +/- 3 makes little sense user-experience wise. Why not rejig the EV dial to allow for +/- 5 instead of making you change to a different mode of operation for the same function?

This becomes especially material when you realize that the EV dial is as loose and travel-happy as that of the good old X-Pro 1. You can’t lock the dial at C if you wanted to use that mode exclusively. The addition of the C option squarely between +3 and -3 means that there’s no stopping this merry-go-round. It just keeps going around that mulberry bush.

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/320 sec, f4, ISO 500

X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/320 sec, f4, ISO 500

Changing ISO can be achieved by lifting the outer ring on the shutter speed dial, which is integrated into the same wheel. It took a bit of getting used to at first. The pre-production unit I used came with no instructions, so I was scratching my head for a while, staring at the little numbers under the transparent plate in the shutter dial, first asking no one in particular “what the is that?” then after realization dawned, “how the hell do I move it?”

I finally figured it out by accident – catching a fingernail on the underside of the dial while poking and prodding the thing to make it go. When the outer ring of the shutter dial lifted I almost dropped the camera in alarm, thinking I’d broken it. Happily, the bit of my brain that registers New Gear That Doesn’t Belong To Me kicked in just in time.

(Said part of brain continued to get many kicks out of ISO 12,800.)

I got used to it quickly though, and found it easy enough to change my ISO on the fly.

Galle Face Green. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/1000 sec, f2.8, ISO 320

Galle Face Green. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/1000 sec, f2.8, ISO 320

New Menu

Aside from the format option (addressed below), I don’t have much objection to the menu itself.

I do idly question the need for a rearranged menu. It seems counter intuitive, especially for existing X-series users, having to switch between different menu systems in different bodies to achieve the same desired result. But I guess, as it is with most new things, we’ll get used to this in time.

New Menu: Format option

I have major beef with this. WAY too many clicks. UGH. You have to click your way into 4 levels of menu to format one card, then it automatically returns you to the viewfinder so you can click back into those levels to format the second card. It is a ridiculously cumbersome way of accessing a very commonly used function.

However, there is a quicker option (thank the gods!): Long press the delete button (trash can icon) for about 2 seconds, then press the rear command wheel. This brings up the format option immediately.

I would have never guessed this one without being told (thanks Karl!), so remember kids, you heard it here first!

Train to train. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/1000 sec, f2.8, ISO 320

Train to train. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 27mm F2.8 | 1/1000 sec, f2.8, ISO 320

A very advanced hybrid viewfinder

The advanced hybrid viewfinder. Image slightly out of focus as I'd move a camera in one hand while trying to get the camera in other in focus.

The advanced hybrid viewfinder. Image somewhat out of focus as I’d move a camera in one hand while trying to get the camera in other, in focus. Oh well.

The X-Pro 2 sports the same hybrid viewfinder that the X-Pro 1 had, with the addition of a schmancy electronic magnification window in optical mode, to help you nail that focus. I used the EVF exclusively (didn’t know about this feature until a few days ago either), so I have no idea how practical a thing this is, but it is certainly intriguing! And no, the X-Pro 2 doesn’t have that beautiful big EVF that X-T1 users know and love.

Cargills.Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/140 sec, f2, ISO 320

Cargills.Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/140 sec, f2, ISO 320

LCD screen – It doesn’t have a flip screen like the X-T1. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Having gotten used to the flip screen, I’ve come to appreciate its usefulness in a range of situations. I can live without it for stills, but it would be hard to shoot video without it (not that I’ve shot more than 5 seconds of video with it).

Tripod mount still covers the battery hatch – not a problem for me normally, as I never use a tripod for stills. If you do use a tripod though, or a video rig, you’d need to remove the camera from its mount to change the battery, (something I have to do with the X-T1).

Strap

Charlene-Winfred-XPro2-Menu-10681

I was pleasantly surprised to find a usable strap in the box. That was a nice touch. I have had no love for the standard Fuji straps that come with all my cameras to date, cardboard-like as they are. The new strap however, was a pleasure to use – grippy without being sticky, supple enough to conform to my shoulder with ease, and aside from “Fujifilm” embossed into it at center, nice and plain.

What does it all mean?

Train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/1000 sec, f2, ISO 400

Train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 35mm F2 | 1/1000 sec, f2, ISO 400

So after some gushing and griping, what do I really think about the X-Pro 2?

It’s great.

Despite the niggles I’ve mentioned above, the X-Pro 2 is a camera that makes shooting in a variety of conditions, across a variety of applications and styles, easier. I’m a street shooter in mindset and method, and it felt absolutely right in my hands.

Passenger on the train. Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/19 sec, f2, ISO 10,000

Passenger on the train. Colombo, Sri Lanka — Fuji X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/19 sec, f2, ISO 10,000

I used it during the month I was in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, along with the X-T1 and X-T10. The X-Pro 2 has the same dimensions as the X-Pro 1, so it’s a sizeable camera, when compared to the more compact models Fuji has released since.

The reactions I got with the same lenses on those 3 bodies were subtle, but different, with the most marked difference between the X-T1 and the X-Pro 2. The X-T1, with its many dials and markings and distinct SLR shape, looks like a camera you would do something serious with. The unmarked X-Pro 2, especially with a 27 mm on it, simply doesn’t call attention to itself, and didn’t engender much interest. Most people were unfazed by it, reacting to me more than they did the black box in my hands.

That was delightful.

It was good to have an X-series flagship back in my bag in its newly incarnated form – it brought back the pleasure and intuitiveness of a camera that was an old friend.

X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/115 sec, f2, ISO 12,800

X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/115 sec, f2, ISO 12,800

Official Pages

Fujifilm Cameras: X-Pro 2

Other Reviews

From Kage: An X-Pro 2 collective review

Patrick LaRoque: From Leo to Revelation | Journey With the X-Pro 2

Flemming Bo Jensen: Fujifilm X-Pro 2 – Return of A Legend

Kevin Mullins: Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Review – Initial Thoughts

Jonas Rask: The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 Review

Comments 72

  1. Hi Charlene. Thank you for this first review on the web! Can’t wait to see one in the flesh. One question, is the hybrid viewfinder showing a little window (to check exposure and correct focus) the same way the X100t does? Eric

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      Ah, ok. Well, I’ve never used any of the X100 series, so I have no idea if they are the same thing, to be honest!

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      I keep finding out things about the X100 cameras that pique my interest. And thank you 🙂

  2. Very good Charlene.

    These images from the areas around trainsstations are so moody and very well composed. Subtle in their colours yet sparkling with vibrancy.

    Thank you for a great read. Now enjoy your deserved holiday.

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      Tusind tak, Jonas. Train stations are pretty awesome to shoot (as you would know very well). Congratulations yourself for delivering 2 outstanding reviews!

  3. Great images **again** and a nice read.
    Much more enjoyable then the dry techno babble at a certain digital photography review website.

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      Hahaha, so to clarify, you’re not a fan of the tech reviews, Willem? 😉

      Thank you kindly.

  4. How nice to catch up with the “Tug Boat Queen” looking at a beautiful set of photo’s from Sri Lanka. I’m jealous of your new toy – what a cracking camera they have followed the XPro-1 with……
    Loved Flemmings high ISO pics too…..but Jonas R was the first in my inbox this morning with a great review and some stunning pics as usual.
    Keep up the great work Charlene….time is passing us by…..

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  5. As always great train photos with the new toy Charlene and without all the (nerd, geek, tech spec, jargon) of other reviewers. I guess the question is will this be your new camera in the future?

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      Pauly, I don’t think I could do too much tech speak if my life depended on it. I don’t know if this will be my camera going forward, honestly. I already have 2, it’s not like I need another! (Plus I’m hoping they come up with the X-E version at some point in the future)

  6. Beautiful images to accompany your review – they really convey an atmosphere of dark, heat and humidity. I haven’t considered the xf27mm before, but you obviously love it. I liked the wider angle of the X100 vs the 35mm I use on my XE1, but the XF23mm is too expensive and big for my tastes, so I will have to get one. Love your style, btw.

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      I want to say the 27 is my favorite lens, just cause it’s so light and small, that I chuck it on the camera and forget it’s there.

      And thank you Mike 🙂

  7. I really like your sense of light and darkness – the pictures from Secretariat train station and Fort station really speak to me. Good, personal reviews by you and Flemming. Now if Fujifilm would just put the same technology into the X-T 2 …

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  8. Finally an interesting review !
    Thank you very much for having based your review on the way you use your camera and for mentioning the good and the bad.

    I have a question regarding using the camera in manual focusing mode with the AF-L/AF-E button as a focus trigger. On the X100s, I can’t choose the size of the focusing area. Did you come across a possibility to adjust it on the X-pro2 ?

    1. Sorry, I got a bit passionate there and forgot to give some context. I meant finally an interesting review of the X-Pro2 in comparison with the ones I’ve read from other photographers 🙂

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      Yes, you can absolutely change the size of the focusing area on the X-Pro 2. It has all those fancy wide and zone tracking zones that the X-T1 was given, so the focus point shifts correlate with those too.

  9. A nice honest review and what an amazing collection of photos, simply magnificent. I just loved the mood and colour. Can you please comment on you post process techniques.

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      Your the first to ask, Harry.

      None of the Adobe products I use support these files yet, so I had to manipulate the raw files in Fuji’s own raw file processor (they sent it to us). I did very basic things – adjust white balance a smidge warmer for the pictures shot in the afternoon, then applied a little bit of contrast, pulled the reds down, pulled sharpening down as far as it would go, and saved all selected files as a 16 bit TIFF.

      Adjustments were minimal, mostly to get the color right, even the light out and make sure, as much as the software allowed, that highlights were recovered. The Raw file converter is clunky (at best) to use, so I couldn’t do half the stuff I would normally in Lightroom.

      From there though, I opened each TIFF in Photoshop and adjusted to my liking from there. Because 5 of these files were meant to be printed, it mostly involved pulling up black levels (I like my shadows crushed), and fine tuning color and exposure. That was it really. It’s been years since I’ve touched Photoshop, so suffice to say, I’m no longer as proficient with it as I am Lightroom. All manipulation was pretty basic, but the straight out of camera RAW file was right, so I didn’t have to do too much.

      Hope that helps. I followed no particular formula in processing these images. I just did what I could to get them looking like the finished versions i had in mind.

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  10. Thank you Charlene for giving me such a detailed response, much appreciated! I’ve sent the link to your site to a few friends so that they can get inspired as I am. I will now read each of your blog posts and have bookmarked your page. Cheers!

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  11. No fast action images. No birds in flight or running kids or anything to show autofocus with the drive humming at 5-8 frames per second so we can see if it actually works.

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  12. What beautiful images! I really loved Secretariat train station. Colombo, Sri Lanka, its softly dark shadowy areas, each individual window warmly glowing life inside. Did you find that the files have more richness than those of the XT1 because the files are larger? Did you find that this camera is simpler to operate ( menus easier to navigate) than the Xt1 or just a bit different?

    Thanks for posting this. Is your work available on flickr?

    Many thanks,
    chris

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      I do find the X-Pro series of cameras easier to operate in general, but I do think they’re made for the way I shoot: simply. The new menu… I haven’t decided if it’s easier yet. I’m so used to the logic of the old menu that I find this one a little confusing. That said, it’s probably just a matter of getting used to.

      I can’t comment on whether the files give me more latitude until Adobe releases an update for Lightroom to recognize them, unfortunately. I had to lightly adjust these raw files in Fuji’s raw converter, which is clunky and slow as hell. Then export them as TIFF files, and adjust those in Photoshop to achieve the desired result. What I could do with them was extremely restricted.

      But I can’t imagine them being less manipulable than X-T1 files though, if not more. I’ve always gotten massive latitude from my X-T1 files.

      Hope that helps!

      And no, I’m not on Flickr. The bulk of my work is on this website.

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  13. Great pictures and review. Thank you.
    If you could have an XT-2, XE-3 or XT-20 with the same sensor and processor as the XPro 2, which would you choose?
    x

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      X-E3, hands down (with the same shutter too. This new one is quite delightful). I really hope they’re going to make one!

  14. Hi Charlene, I just discovered your review. I’m a street photog myself switching to the X-Pro2 from the X-T1. I heard the shutter lag is all but gone, is this true? There were several times on the X-T1 where the subject was moving fast across a scene. Upon reviewing these images, the subject was not quite where I wanted him to be to create the perfect frame (he was always a little past the mark). I’m not quite sure if it’s my slow reflexes, but I’m hoping the OVF “overscan” + lower shutter lag might improve the situation. Also I heard they tweaked the color filters. I shoot mostly in Classic Chrome. Is it any better?

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      “I heard the shutter lag is all but gone, is this true?”

      Yes. it’s true! I’ve just picked it up again after a couple of months of not using it, and I’m all stoked by the new shutter again. It is absolutely responsive and fires when you hit the button. After the X-T1, this shutter feels like a performance beast.

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      Oh and I forgot to answer your film simulation question, Mike. I’m not sure how much they’ve tweaked the existing film simulations (I never use anything but Astia and Provia myself), but there is an additional black and white one – Acros.

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  15. Just want to mention that the iso mechanism may not be over engineering, but extreme retro; that is what my very first camera has in the 70’s, the Fujica ST 801.

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      Goodness, that way WAY before I was born 😉 Yes, I do realize where this design comes from. It took a little bit of getting used to, having never used a camera with it before.

  16. Great fantastic shots Charlene! And I love your reviews(from the one on the Pro 1 as the first one I read)If I may ask you, why do you prefer the x E line? I own an x E2, that now with the new 4.00 update is even more fantastic.Nothing to wish left(Maybe weather sealing) But now the Pro 2 is here…… I am afraid that I might……
    Greetings from the Netherlands

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      It’s really a simple answer, Gerard: the X-E cameras are smaller, lighter versions of X-Pro cameras. Carry on restrictions are a part of my life, so the lighter the equipment, the better (my poor back is happy about this too).

  17. Good morning Charlene! Thank you for your quick response! “Lighter equipment”. I know what you are talking about(but you don’t look it!I am a, well, a “nearly old”man, you seem far away from that……. I mean from being old,not from being a man, you most certainly don’t look like one)I changed from Nikon DLSR’s to Fuji(which to me is the new Nikon)because I had RSI …. in BOTH arms (which is seldom my doctor told me) It became so bad that I even couldn’t hold my Pro 1. Hence the X E2. A perfect machine. But it’s part GAS(just a little part) and I am afraid you’re beautiful high ISO shots spoiled it for me(Not even to mention the “format” tip.Don’t understand why Fuji doesn’t let you go back to the same position in the menu! But now you can make your own menu, that kind of solved it too) Hope to read a lot more from you in the future(and seeing many many more pictures)And I share your love for trains. The only way to travel! All the best! Gerard

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      I’m no young punk, although I will say that one doesn’t have to be old to sustain long term injury *wry smile* I’ve suffered from pretty awful RSI myself (which still flares every now and then), though only in one arm. I can’t imagine having it in both arms. My sympathies!

      The high ISO performance in the X-Pro 2 is incredible. I really hope they come up with an X-E version of this (i read some terrible thing on Fuji Rumors that suggested they may be discontinuing the X-E line).

  18. I know what you’re saying, one doesn’t have to be old……one get’s also used to it -more or less- but it is still a bloody bugger! I read that thing about de E3, “experts” say it may depend on how many E2s units they will sell. Let’s hope …..!!! There’s also that rumor, that second half this year the X 200 will see the light of day. With Pro 2 DNA. Even though I am not a fan of the X 100 series and ONLY because one can not change lenses, otherwise great cameras, the 200 will carry a 28mm. As this is my favourite lens I will wait and see. Of course it won’t have the haptic of the Pro 2, bit it will have its DNA and the viewer system. (the x 70 actually is a real “cutie” don’t you think?)

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      Yep it’s definitely a bugger… I can attest to that!

      I have to admit, I’ve never actually used any of the X100 series, for the same reason: can’t change lenses (and 35 FOV is far too wide for my usual use. I default to 50mm). It will be interesting to see how the X100 series will evolve though.

      I’m crossing my fingers with you on the E3, or whatever alphnumeric combination it will be!

  19. I hope you don’t mind but I “checked you out” a little bit(on your site) and we seem to have a little bit in common. My “career” started at a bank as well. Being raised in a”classical” way, when I read(in early childhood) (in the bible) about Nimrod the great hunter,I just and only wanted to travel. For more or less the same reasons you give, in the mid seventies I left “the career”, sold most of the stuff and packed just 1 backpack (no need for a camera bag, traveling with a Minox)putting on my Nato jack(because of it’s many and large pockets) and with a mate left the Netherlands.We took the train (the Balkan route south in order to reach the Middle East) It took 18 years to get home again(my father became seriously ill and I wanted to support my mother)In the mid eighties I lived in Australia, started in Canberra, then stayed a few months in Sydney (at the Kings Cross Rex hotel-near El Alamein Memorial Fountain-)Then traveled up north to Cairns(Trinity Beach I lived at a mate’s place)spending the better part of a year there(working as a photographer for a local newspaper) Then the “itching”(you so well know I think)began again and new horizons had to be seen. Via the Central Americas I ended up in Denmark where I lived a few years. I believe (Mind you, my personal opinion)traveling is maybe not the only way to live……… and the of course we have Fuji in common…

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  20. Rebonjour Charlène.

    Êtes vous satisfaite de votre objectif xf27mm ?
    Je possède actuellement un x100t, que j’envisage sérieusement de remplacer par un xpro2 avec le 27mm.
    Ce petit objectif et sa focale m’intéresse beaucoup.

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  21. Hi Charlene

    Firstly, what superb pictures – a real joy to look at. You used two lenses in your article, which did you find the most useful in terms of travel and fast focus? I travel a lot and am always after the ‘perfect’ combination. I have an X Pro 2 and love it but not all the lenses you have. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    Best,

    Neil Hennessy-Vass

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      I just love the compactness of the 27mm. It’s tiny, it really is. In general I use the 27 about 50% of the time. When on a bus or a train (which is most of what I shoot), it’s more like 70-80%.

    2. That’s a high percentage indeed. I’ve seen some not so good images taken with this lens, which has put me off a bit, but I’ve realized it’s been more down to “user error”. Your images, and lots of good ones on flickr, really demonstrate that this is a very able lens.

      – Thomas –

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