Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:
Part 31: The X-Pro2 Review: Focusing with the X-Pro2: No Change?
Last time out, I spoke about the image quality of the X-Pro2, (which you can read by clicking here)
Of course IQ is pretty much wasted if what you want in focus is not in focus!
The bugbear of the original X-Pro1 was AF… everyone and their (blurry OOF) dog complained that the X-Pro1 was, well dog slow.
Now I’d be the first to admit that the X-Pro1 was never greyhound fast, but after several FW updates, it wasn’t that bad, but if you were wanting to track the action in burst mode using a X-Pro1 camera, then frankly you were barking up the wrong tree.
I (along with many other people no doubt) decided that manual focus was the way forward with the X-Pro1, and I wrote about how I set my X-Pro1 to facilitate MF.
You can read those pages on the links below.
But there’s no need for X-Pro2 owners to read those links, because AF is now a 100% reliable tool that never flutters or falters…
Ha ha ha ha ha ha just kidding! 🙂
Make no mistake, the AF of the X-Pro2 is tangibly better than that of the X-Pro1. Better than the X-T1 too. There’s a caveat though – to get the best AF performance out of the X-Pro2, you’ll need to pair it with one of the newer XF lenses, these lenses feature improved AF motors, and internal focusing elements.
Lenses like the 35F2, the 90, the 16-55.
I own exactly none of these lenses! I use the original 3 primes (18/35F1.4/60) & the 27, so I can’t comment too much on the improved AF.
But it’s a little irrelevant to me anyway…
No I nearly always use the X-Pro2 in manual focus mode.
This isn’t because the AF is bad… Nope, it’s because where possible, I like to have control over what the camera focuses on.
So in terms of how I set the X-Pro2 up for MF, not that much has changed,
But before I talk about that, let’s talk about when/how I do use AF.
The X-Pro2 features AF modes like the X-T1 does.
And the Zone Focus AF mode is great (especially when used in conjunction with the OVF, it’s really quite a wonderful combination). Snaps of my kid or cat, or a grab shot – ‘ZFAF’ is my go to. The little multitude of AF boxes gives you a pretty reasonable indication on whether or not the camera has acquired the focus you want. Although that’s a little scene dependant.. Shooting my kid sitting at the table, you’ll see her face peppered with AF boxes and everything’s good.. Try to pick a single leaf out on a tree sitting in a sea of foliage and things are less clear cut!
The Zone Focus is my go to AF mode, turning my X-Pro2 into a pretty reliable P&S.
But I digress – despite the improvements in the AF (and they are very noticeable) I’m still a manual focus guy.
I’ve carried my way of setting up the X-Pro1 for MF, over to the X-Pro2.
As per the original X-Pro1 (and indeed other X series cameras) MF is enabled by turn the front M C S dial to ‘M’
Which looks like this:
(This is actually a shot of my X-Pro1, but this dial is the same on the X-Pro2)
To engage Back Button Focus (BBF), you press the AF-L button on the rear of the camera.
This feature is slightly changed from the X-Pro1. The X-Pro1 had a combined AF-L/AE-L button (which isn’t relevant for BBF) and the X-Pro2 has a separate button for each of those functions.
The function of these buttons can be swapped in the settings menu – so if you’d rather the AE-L button performed AF-L, then this change can be set.
One thing the X-Pro1 AF-L/AE-L button had going for it (compared to the X-Pro2) was that it was easy to find by feel and easy to press.
Not so with the X-Pro2. The button sits practically flush with the body, and finding and executing it by feel is awkward.
I’m using a piece of sticky backed rubber (that originally was part of a set of sticky pads that you put on cupboard doors etc to stop them closing with a bump).
This looks crap, and no one’s sent me a Blue Peter Badge – however I can now use BBF effortlessly without fumbling about like a teenage boy attempting to extract his first ever data from her bra!
Once set up, the X-Pro2 will engage a AF focus run whenever you press the AF-L button (if you’re using a XF mount electronic compatible lens, not a legacy or manual one), and you can tweak focus using the focusing ring of your lens.
But the X-Pro2 has some key benefits that make MF even more rewarding than the X-Pro1 ever was.
But first, let’s look at what’s NOT changed.
The OVF/Magnified Focus box feature is completely unchanged in operation.
If you’re in OVF only mode, and you press the rear command dial in; then you’re immediately presented with a magnified 100% EVF view of the focus box contents. Scroll the wheel to select between 2 different strengths of magnification. Just like the X-Pro1.
Also, you still can’t change the size of the manual focus box (you can the AF one of course), so occasionally BBF completely fails to find the target (as the target is not compatible with the set size of focus box) and you have to do it all manually. No drama.
So in basic principle, the X-Pro2 manual focusing functions are unchanged from the original… But the rest, the rest is slightly different.
We’ll pick up on those next time.
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