Shooting live music comprises a significant percentage of my photography. It is also a style I enjoy a lot, both as a photographer and as a musician myself.
Thought the years I have used a number of cameras in this discipline and have grown to demand a number of features and level of performance in order to make my life easier; and also more enjoyable. Shooting with Fuji exclusively for quite some time now, I already posted about my first all-Fuji concert photography experience a few months ago. Now with the advent of the X-T2, I guess it was time to evaluate the camera in this environment. Which I did shooting this music festival, and there is where you can check out photo samples too (also all photos in this post are from that concert and the X-T2).
The X-T2 was used alongside the X-Pro2, for two obvious reasons: I know the X-Pro2 much better and it was my safeguard and it’s also a brilliant idea to have two cameras on you (with different lenses) in a live music shooting. Concerning the final image quality, there is absolutely no difference I can discern between the two cameras, so no point in discussing this particular subject.
Speaking of the X-Pro2 and live music, I have already spoken about in my “first two months” review: I have found the camera to be ultra responsive, very intuitive and generally a joy to use in such an environment. This evaluation carries on to the X-T2, but diverges on the subject of user interface and operability.
The X-T2 is, in my opinion, a magnificent photo-journalism oriented camera. Since concert photography is, to a great extent, a photo-journalistic discipline, it has an advantage by design and function. The combination with the, now extensive, variety of Fujinon lenses, would give any photographer a very high end tool for carrying out such shootings with the outmost ease. There is absolutely nothing to envy on any other high-end, and usually much more expensive, camera system. It’s also almost embarrassing to emphasize how much improved the X-T2 is over the X-T1, a camera that, particularly with the latest updates, was already quite excellent to begin with.
But what about a comparison with the X-Pro2? In the field, I can find a number of specific advantages in favor of the X-T2:
The 3-way Tilt screen. This eases framing at several interesting angles and should not be underestimated
Better handling with long/heavy lenses: especially with the grip, the X-T2 will be more comfortable with the 16-55mm and 50-140mm Pro lenses, which are a common choice for such events
Battery life: again the grip multiplies the available power. But the new battery –and power handling system- also makes things much better. In the field, the battery lasted at least 20% more than the older ones, by my estimates
Faster C-AF system: a lot of live music photographers don’t use C-AF, but they should, in my opinion. Having highly energetic performers on stage, doesn’t help with focus accuracy. The improved C-AF options in the X-T2 could give a decisive advantage.
Video quality and options: again, self-explanatory. More and more photographers would like to take at least a few great looking short video clips.
Is the above list enough to push someone over to the X-T2 instead of the X-Pro2? I don’t know. These points are an objective assessment; how much value anyone places in any of them, is a highly subjective matter.
My personal preference though: I still prefer the X-Pro2. To be absolutely honest though, my ideal package for music photography would definitely include the X-T2 as a secondary camera, with grip and the heavier lenses.
Please understand this is a matter of personal taste, but I’ll try to rationalize it a bit. I simply find the X-Pro2 more intuitive to use. I can find all controls and important functions without thinking about it at all, and, for me at least, this is not just a matter of familiarity. There is a misconception, I believe, that the X-Pro2 is more “traditional” and “analog like” than the X-T2. No. Exactly the opposite is true. The X-T2 features extra analog controls for photometry and drive modes, which the X-Pro2 has in menus. I personally find it more confusing having to deal with those in two separate sections of the camera (left/right top), during a high-paced concert photography session. Again, YMMV and I’m sure it will.
Another X-Pro2 benefit is, one more time, the OVF. Shooting musicians moving on stage, it is a great advantage to be able to see what’s entering or leaving the frame. And, the more I think about it, the two cameras seem to complement each other considerably. Damn you, Fuji!
To conclude, the X-T2 is an absolutely marvelous concert photography camera with no fault to speak of. Anyone accustomed to the X-T1, other mirrorless cameras of the same format, or any DSLR at all, should be able to breeze though a shooting very soon indeed. In fact, I’m sure the X-T2 will become the de-facto X-camera of choice for music photographers, and I’m also certain it will steal a surprising number of sales from other brands too. Anyone interested in that kind of photography should definitely put it on, or near, the top of one’s shortlist.
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