I’ve been in the market for a new DSLR/Mirrorless camera for a while now, and just this week I finally came to a decision and purchased the Fuji X-T2. For those of you that aren’t familiar with it yet, the X-T2 is a 4K capable, Super 35mm interchangeable lens mirrorless camera from Fuji that offers a lot of really unique features for filmmakers and photographers alike.
While Fuji’s X-T2 had been on my radar for a while now, and in fact I even listed it as one of my top DSLR/Mirrorless cameras to buy in 2017, there were a couple of other cameras I had been considering too. Specifically, it was between the Lumix GH5, Canon 5D MK IV, and Fuji X-T2.
All three cameras are viable options in their own right, but in order to finally make a choice I really had to consider my unique needs as a filmmaker.
The GH5 could have been an easy choice for me, as I’ve previously owned the GH2, GH3, and GH4, and am generally a big fan of what Panasonic is doing. In fact, if I didn’t already own a proper cinema camera, there’s a good chance I would have gone with the GH5 as it is the biggest workhorse out of the three cameras, and offers by far the most functionality.
Features like internal 10bit recording, high bitrate 4K, and internal stabilization naturally made the GH5 a contender, and for these very reasons I often recommend the GH5 to filmmakers that don’t already own a cinema camera. It’s a tool that can nearly do it all…
That said, when it came down to my purchase, I knew that I didn’t need my camera to be an “all-rounder”, since I would still likely shoot my larger scale projects on owned or rented cinema cameras. I was looking for a camera that would serve some of my smaller narrative and personal shoots, most of which call for me to shoot in a much different way than I would on a larger production. I didn’t need my camera to offer every single feature under the sun, but I did want it to offer the best version of the functions that I knew I really needed.
For this reason, I considered the Canon 5D MK IV for a while, as despite it’s technical shortcomings it has a lot to offer in other respects.
Unlike the GH5, the 5D MK IV can’t shoot 10bit internally, doesn’t have internal stabilization, and lacks many of the GH5’s other video features. But much like other Canon cameras, the 5D MK IV excels in the color department. And with that in mind, I was very tempted to pick up a MK IV, even though the camera is limited in so many other ways.
In the end though, I just kept coming back to the Fuji X-T2 as it seemed to offer me a best of both worlds scenario…
Here it is, pictured with the 35mm F/2 weather-sealed lens –
Although the X-T2 doesn’t have quite as many features as the GH5 – for example it only records F-Log to an external recorder and doesn’t have internal stabilization – it is still very much a camera designed with filmmakers in mind. It has a fantastic EVF, focus peaking, gorgeous 4K (down sampled from 6K), and loads of other controls that make it a breeze to shoot video with. So while it may not boast all of the same features of the GH5, it does have a whole lot of them, and some additional functionality that is completely unique to the X-T2… More on that below.
Perhaps most importantly for me, is the consideration of Fuji’s incredible color science. Given their history as a manufacturer of true motion picture film, no one in the DSLR/Mirrorless market really understands color as well as Fuji, at least in my opinion. I’ve owned the incredible Fuji X100T for a while now (which I use only as a stills camera), and know first hand how incredible Fuji’s colors can be. Based on this, the Fuji X-T2 rendered the 5D MK IV obsolete for my purposes, as the primary reason I was considering the MK IV was because of it’s colors.
So in the end, I saw the X-T2 as the perfect happy medium. It showed itself as a camera that offered loads of incredible GH5-style video functionality, but with color science that exceeded that of Canon.
Even the sensor size of the X-T2 is a bit of a metaphor for a best-of-both-worlds camera, as it has a Super 35mm sensor, which is smack dab in between the GH5’s MFT sensor and the 5D MK IV’s Full Frame sensor. There is of course no one sensor size that is perfect for all filmmakers – some prefer the more versatile MFT format, and others like the larger than life aesthetic of Full Frame. But for me, I’ve always been a huge fan of Super 35mm, so this was yet one more factor that drew me to the X-T2.
I also absolutely love the X-T2’s physical dials for ISO and shutter speed, as well as the dial that allows you to switch between stills and film mode. It makes shooting on the fly so quick and easy, and helps you avoid having to step into the menu unnecessarily.
The icing on the cake for me though, was the integration of Fuji’s Film Simulation modes into the X-T2.
Much like my fuji X100T, the X-T2 allows me to bake a film look into my video recordings (and photos of course). And with loads of amazing film looks to choose from, including: Astia, Velvia, Classic Chrome, and more, the in-camera possibilities with color are seemingly endless.
Those of you that read my blog often know that I am very much obsessed with color science, and often purchase my cameras based on their capabilities in the color department above all else. For this same reason, I often like working with cameras that can shoot in Log so that I have maximum flexibility in post when color grading.
At the same time, many DSLRs/Mirrorless cameras don’t do a great job of recording log internally. A great example was the GH4, which suffered from some noticeable banding issues when recording Log in-camera, and ultimately needed an external recorder for usable results.
The X-T2 only offers F-Log recording externally (perhaps for the very reason I mentioned above), and that’s totally fine with me as it offers something that I find even more useful: Film Simulation.
While of course I still plan on fully color grading my X-T2 shots, I’m very much looking forward to working with compressed footage that actually looks good straight off the cards, and doesn’t need to be manipulated too heavily. As opposed to heavily compressed Log footage (which can fall apart when you grade it), the images off the X-T2 when using Film Simulation already look incredible, which can mean less time in post and better quality results.
This will also save me a step in the color grade, as my workflow will simply consist of balancing each shot to match each other, and then applying one of my Cinematic LUTs to the footage, which will give them a texture and mood that is suitable for the story I’m telling.
If I were shooting on a proper cinema camera (that didn’t shoot RAW), I would shoot Log in a heartbeat as it still offers the most flexibility in post. But when working with a 100Mbit compressed video file, there is something to be said about capturing your look in-camera, so you don’t need to push the colors around in post too drastically.
As I often say, no camera is ever going to be perfect, and no camera can do it all… So with that in mind, we always need to make our purchases based on our own unique needs as filmmakers. For me, the X-T2 was an incredible option as it offered the best of both words between the GH5 and the 5D MK IV. And based on the cameras that I already own (and the gaps in my gear closet), the X-T2 complemented my kit very nicely. To top it off, the camera is also reasonably priced at $1599 for the body.
Some of you may be in the same boat as me, while others may be better suited with a GH5, a 5D MK IV, or something else entirely. The good news is, it’s 2017 and we have more choices than we’ve ever had before, and the market is filled with cameras that can meet the demands of filmmakers of all types.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is make your camera purchase based on your needs, and not someone else’s. And definitely don’t make it based on the specs on paper, as they will never lead you in the right direction!
With that in mind, I am still very interested in the GH5 (and I’m sure many of you are too), and as such I will be doing some extensive coverage on it over the coming months. I will likely also test out and review the 5D MK IV at some point soon.
I am also currently working on a detailed review of the X-T2, which I will release in the next few weeks along with some test footage, so be sure to stay tuned for that…
In the mean time be sure to subscribe to my podcast on micro-budget filmmaking, and to my newsletter for exclusive weekly filmmaking tips.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!