Q: About 10 years ago, I purchased a Fujifilm F20 pocket camera based on your recommendation. I don't think I have seen you write about Fujifilm cameras since then. Do you recommend their mirrorless cameras?
A: Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras have always created very beautiful images, but they had other limitations that hampered their widespread appeal.
These cameras have a strong cult following, especially among traditionalists. The still-picture quality rates among the best in the business, and many Fujifilm cameras and lenses have manual control dials with markings instead of buttons.
Some people love this "old school" approach, but the experience extends to other areas where it usually is not so welcome. The camera bodies do not offer image stabilization, and many of the best lenses don't have optical stabilization, either. Unless you are using a tripod, you will be shooting completely without stabilization with these lenses, just like a 1970s 35mm camera.
The system's lenses are phenomenally good. It's been widely agreed for decades that Fuji is one of the world's finest lens manufacturers. Back when I used film exclusively, Fuji enlarging and large-format lenses were my top choice. Fuji lenses are extensively used for TV, and if you have watched any sports in high definition lately, a lot of it was brought to you through Fujinon video lenses.
The Achilles heel with past Fujifilm mirrorless cameras has been video. While still-picture quality has always rated as an A to A-plus, video quality has been a D to an F. If someone wanted to do some video with their still photography, a Fujifilm camera usually was left off the shopping list. The lack of competitive video was the primary reason I haven't been recommending these cameras the past few years.
This changed with last year's Fujifilm X-T2, a 24.3-megapixel APS-C camera using Fujifilm's X-Trans sensor. This sensor uses a unique pixel layout for better images than you would expect given the sensor size, images described as mimicking the look of film. Plus, the X-T2 records great looking 4K video that is competitive with its contemporaries.
Regular readers of this column have read about Grado cartridges and headphones, and Grado family member Jonathan is quite an accomplished photographer. He uses an X-T2 and you can see some of his images at jonathangrado.com. As you will see, in the hands of a skilled photographer the X-T2 can create exquisite images.
The downside is that an X-T2 body is quite expensive at $1,599, making it a tool for professionals and serious amateurs. Fujifilm recently introduced the X-T20, which uses the same sensor and delivers almost all of the X-T2's assets for only $899 — not cheap, but certainly more affordable. You're probably going to want to get zoom lenses, however. Two kits are available. The kit to get includes the optically stabilized 18-55mm lens for $1,199. Add the 50-230mm lens for $399.
If video is not important to you, check out the other models starting with the $599 X-A3. While the sensors and features may vary across the camera model line, picture quality is always top-notch. Again, the lenses are a bit pricey, and choices are relatively limited, so be sure to look at the big picture before you decide on this system.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.