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Anybody using Fujifilm cameras for pro video work?


Tim Sewell
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Two things are combining that result in me needing to get some good answers from people who are doing client video work with Fujifilm cams.

1) I've decided to take the plunge and start offering photographic and video services part-time, for pay. I used to do quite a bit of pro stills work, so I'm pretty confident I can get going with that - the video I'll take more gradually.

2) I've fallen deeply in love with the X-Trans sensor.

My quandary (if you can call it that) is this: I couldn't conceive of doing any kind of pro work with only a single body. At the moment I have a C100 mkii and a Fujifilm X-E2. I have a bunch of Samyang lenses, a bunch of EF and EF-S lenses and all manner of lights and grip stuff. I reckon that if I sell the 2 cameras and the 2 STM lenses I bought to go on the C100, plus a couple of other bits and bobs, I can raise around GBP3500, which should be enough to get me 2 X-T2 bodies and a lens or 2 (I already have the 18mm f2). Realistically I'd be mainly using the Samyangs for most of the sort of video work I'll be seeking, but I'd like a couple of AF X-mounts for the stills side of things.

Now I love my C100's image and ergonomics - and I know I could always rent a second one for paid work; but there's no way I could afford to buy the X-T2s unless I sell it and the idea of renting for stills work doesn't appeal as I like to get really familiar with cameras I use for that sort of thing. For the avoidance of doubt - I'm fully sold on the Fujis for the stills side of things, it's the video I'm unsure about.

So I'm hoping someone can answer a few questions to help me:

1) I understand that the X-T2 gives full manual control of all settings for video - is that correct?

2) Does the Fuji lens-based IS measure up to that in the EF-S STM lenses (the 18-135 and the 55-250)?

4) What kind of focusing facilities are available on the Fujis during video recording.

5) A lot of the X-T2 video I've seen has had poor motion cadence - can that be remedied? Can anyone point me to samples where it isn't in evidence?

6) The 4K looks great - what's the HD like?

7) I'm a little confused about the differences between the X-T2 and the X-T20. Is it just the weather sealing? Can they be easily matched (one of each would leave more cash for lenses)? Does the X-T20 have the new sensor/processor combination?

8) How are the X-T2s in use, ergonomically-speaking?

9) Is there anything I'm missing?

Thanks in advance if anyone can help me out with these.

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This is a decent comparison to summarise the differences in video performance between the X-T2 and the X-T20.

The headline difference is in the line skipping on the X-T20 which gives the X-T2 the edge (ho ho) in terms of sharpness but at the expense of the additional crop factor.

Its by no means a night and day difference though so they will cut together without a major issue.

The X-T2 can also do log albeit only to an external recorder.

On the other hand the X-T20 does touch AF which might be something that would be appealing.

There are other additional hardware differences that favour the X-T2 such as a better EVF, dual card slots, the battery grip and so on so there's no question its a higher end offering but, IMO, I think a better spend instead of two X-T2's would be one X-T2, one X-T20 and use the saving on a Crane or other gimbal.

You'd be getting near identical IQ so most of the advantages of two of the same model but with the advantage of the flexibility of different form factors (the X-T20 is not far off GX80 tiny) and also addressing its achilles heel compared to GH5 etc of not having IBIS.

 

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I've used Fuji for paid gigs.

X-pro2.

Works okay. Not reliable image. Odd distortion with edges of frames and the Fuji wide angle lens. 

Anything with auto exposure will result in "step" adjustments.  Not smooth changes. 

Its useable, but doesn't exactly inspire confidence or allow flexibility. 

Needs exposure compensation in post, and you have to adjust the native files.  If your workflow happens to involve a transcode before editing, you're gonna have an issue to deal with insofar as you'll have to adjust levels while transcoding or you're gonna have a lot of detail lost in the blacks and highlights.

Most folks don't work this way these days, so most likely that's a moot point, but still mentioning it just in case...using FCP7 ain't a viable option, for instance.

Color sure is purty tho'

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Btw., what people like about Fuji cameras - the color science - has nothing to do with X-Trans (although Fuji's marketing wants you to believe that). The sensors in the cameras are just ordinary Sony sensors with a different filter array than Bayer. This should, in theory, avoid blocky debayering artefacts with a more chaotic/organic pattern when pixel peeping. But it should make zero difference for video where pixels are downsampled anyway.

(The fact that Fuji sells a number of cameras without X-Trans, but with ordinary Bayer filter pattern - the entry-level X cameras and the high-end medium format GF cameras, yet with the same colors, proves this point. Nevertheless, X-Trans has become some kind of cargo cult...)

 

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  1.  Yes
  2. Don't know. Seems to work fine though.
  3. AF-S, AF-C. No tracking or face detection (except in HD).
  4. Rolling shutter on the camera is fairly average (ie. good in HD and poor in 4k).
  5. I'm not a big fan of the HD, especially in low light.
  6. The XT2 has several firmware enhancements that make it a lot more usable for video (eg. being able to switch between the EVF and LCD, and ability to change iso while recording).
  7. -

Others have pointed out other issues that make the camera not a great choice for documentary type work. But would be good for things like narrative where you can take your time.

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Most of the pros/cons have already been addressed. I will add the XT2's image also oversampled so its pretty much aliasing/moire free, I hate moire so that's a big plus for me. There's a thread here where someone matched a XT2 to a C100 with a color checker, so you can use them side-by-side.

No zebras. I shot with Sony video cams for years and the A7s before moving to the XT2, I really miss zebras as they've always been my main exposure tool.

Its ergos can be a little annoying at times - I shoot stills/video at the same time and there's no way to just simply hit record - you have to move the tiny mode switch four clicks in either direction to go from single shot to video. Really wish Fuji had put a dedicated record button or at least put single shot right next to video so you could click back and forth without having to check what mode you're in. If you miss you're in bracketing or multi shot. I'm traveling for a year with my cameras and find this especially annoying since I grab stills and video of everything I find interesting, so there's a lot of fiddling with that damn switch.

With stills the X-trans still has the worm/watercolor issue with fine detail if you're using Lightroom. Its not as bad as the 16mp sensor, but it's still there.

Personally if you're in the Canon camp with the C100, I'd go with Sony for the simple reason of electronic adapters - your Canon lenses will be fully functional on all bodies.

Its a great camera, but with the a6500 offering IBIS and better AF - I'm not sure I'd be shooting Fuji right now if the a6500 was released instead of the a6300 - which I sold to go Fuji. Especially with the recent Sony lens releases.

Chris

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50 minutes ago, Inazuma said:

One thing that I think can be attributed to the X-Trans filter array is the high iso performance. Most other sensors give a lot of colour noise at high ISO's which is ugly. The X-trans grain is for the most part, colourless. Makes the images look a lot more film-like and a lot more pleasing to the eye.

This article says the opposite (I'm just linking it and have no opinion on the subject matter): https://petapixel.com/2017/01/27/x-trans-promise-problem/

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My favourite Fuji is actually the X-T20 for video.

It doesn't have the 4K crop and the image quality is very close to the X-T2's 4K for much less money, even at high ISOs.

X-Pro 2 for stills has nicer ergonomics but only 1080p so the X-T20 has my vote.

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3 hours ago, jonpais said:

@Tim Sewell You can see my review of the X-T2 here.

So the condensed version would be - correct me if I'm wrong and thanks for a valuable review - this -

The list of shortcomings can seem daunting. If initiating recording while looking through the EVF, the LCD turns off, and vice versa. There are no histogram or zebras in movie mode. (The histogram has been enabled and EVF functionality has been addressed in a firmware update). When using the battery grip, the camera will stop recording when one of the batteries dies. The camera remote app won’t capture 4K, only 720p. Battery life is abysmal. There is no articulating LCD screen. Log must be recorded externally. In AF-C, the camera changes focus points abruptly, which can be jarring. The handgrip is unnecessarily small. Focus points cannot be made small enough in video mode. 

...These sound like problems that won't be problems for some people at all. Eg if you shoot with manual lenses anyway generally from a chest braced rig or monopod, then changing batteries more often doesn't sound like an awful trade-off for the image quality. I'd find not having zebras a little annoying, but as long as I had a histogram I'd be ok.

2 hours ago, cantsin said:

This article says the opposite (I'm just linking it and have no opinion on the subject matter): https://petapixel.com/2017/01/27/x-trans-promise-problem/

The "article" was written by a completely unqualified idiot. Petapixel isn't a new source that does fact checking; it's a blog that scoops up bottom feeder content to sell advertising. Highlightsof this idiot's performance include "proving" that the sensor is broken because the camera doesn't denoise algorithm doesn't give exactly the same result as that of his  favourite raw processor. And skin looks a little odd if you blow a shot of a crowd up to around a metre...

3 hours ago, Inazuma said:

One thing that I think can be attributed to the X-Trans filter array is the high iso performance. Most other sensors give a lot of colour noise at high ISO's which is ugly. The X-trans grain is for the most part, colourless. Makes the images look a lot more film-like and a lot more pleasing to the eye.

The real point of the xtrans design is that it reduces colour noise - hence colourless grain. It's a shame that the system design is incompatible with IBIS...

I'm selling my Fuji gear - I find retro controls boring and annoying and in APSC I prefer the look of Sony - but there is a lot to said for Fuji.

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16 minutes ago, meanwhile said:

So the condensed version would be this

 

The list of shortcomings can seem daunting. If initiating recording while looking through the EVF, the LCD turns off, and vice versa. There are no histogram or zebras in movie mode. (The histogram has been enabled and EVF functionality has been addressed in a firmware update). When using the battery grip, the camera will stop recording when one of the batteries dies. The camera remote app won’t capture 4K, only 720p. Battery life is abysmal. There is no articulating LCD screen. Log must be recorded externally. In AF-C, the camera changes focus points abruptly, which can be jarring. The handgrip is unnecessarily small. Focus points cannot be made small enough in video mode. 

...These sound like problems that won't be problems for some people at all. Eg if you shoot with manual lenses anyway generally from a chest braced rig or monopod, then changing batteries more often doesn't sound like an awful trade-off for the image quality. 

The "article" was written by a completely unqualified idiot. Petapixel isn't a new source that does fact checking; it's a blog that scoops up bottom feeder content to sell advertising.

The real point of the xtrans design is that it reduces colour noise - hence colourless grain. It's a shame that the system design is incompatible with IBIS.

I think it's best to read the entire review to see things in context. I don't appreciate what you just did.

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8 minutes ago, jonpais said:

I think it's best to read the entire review to see things in context. I don't appreciate what you just did.

I certainly read the entire review. No, I don't think that quoting the entire review(!!!) here is necessary to discuss it. And if I am going to comment on it, then quoting the part I am commenting is - well, it's how the entire Internet works. It's fairer and less error prone than paraphrasing you.

And if you think that your blog posts should only be referred to and never commented on... that's just weird. I suppose you could add "Please NEVER quote or discuss the posts I make here!!!" in huge letters at the top and bottom of your blog if you really feel that way. 

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@meanwhile Rather than calling everyone whose opinion you don't agree with stupid, it would be better etiquette and more fruitful to just discuss their ideas. The article written for or by Petapixel may be flawed, I don't know enough about the topic: but I have seen numerous articles written online about the 'worms' and waxy looking skin. And I already see this waxy looking complexion at base ISO. Check out any of my videos and you'll see that faces sometimes almost look photoshopped. 

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@jonpais - I read you review and it was informative. As @meanwhile infers (and I can't find where he called you 'stupid' BTW) none of those shortcomings (and shortcomings they are) would be a deal breaker for me.

The waxy skin thing could be. After reading the PetaPixel article I went through my own (still limited) collection of Fuji shots looking for the phenomenon. I found some - but they would fall into the category of shooting conditions where I wouldn't expect pristine results from any digital, or film for that matter, camera. I've also trawled the internet for Fuji-related stuff since I dived in to this system a couple of months ago and I've got to say that, on average, the (stills) visual content I've seen has been more consistently superior than I've seen basing my searches on other camera platforms - although that could just be that because of the system's niche appeal and usual prices it mainly attracts more accomplished photographers. I can't say that I've seen enough video footage to reach any conclusions about skin in that - so I'll have to do some more research.

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