Video test review: Fujifilm X-Pro2 versus Nikon D800 & iPhone 6s

Camera acquisition syndrome (CAS)

Last April, I purchased a Fujifilm X-Pro2 mirrorless camera system. I made an unboxing video and a gallery of stills, which I posted shortly afterwards. In the fall, I took the system (with the addition of Fujinon 10-24 and 50-140 zooms) on a trip to England, where I fell further in love with the relatively compact, lightweight kit.

But how does the X-Pro2 fare in the video department?

I put the most recent addition to my camera bag up against my Nikon D-800 DSLR and, for good measure, the iPhone 6s.

I made these comparison clips last May, but then The Move interceded and many things took a back seat to renos and reorganization. Now that my workspace is beginning to be workable, I’m trying to catch up.

The shoot

On a beautiful, late spring day (I’m so ready for it’s return!) I took the three devices to Beacon Hill Park and adjacent beaches, some of the finest locations in Victoria, British Columbia.

The first 2:10 of the video review consists of clips made with the X-Pro2, combined with the 23mm f1.4, a lens I’ve come to treasure for its sharpness and superb contrast. Then I alternated between the Fuji and the Nikon, with a couple of clips from the iPhone 6s thrown in for good measure.

The Nikon was fitted with 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 zooms.

The results by no means constitute an exhaustive technical assessment, but I think they provide a fair idea of what can be achieved with minimal editing. All clips are right out of the cameras — no post-processing adjustments.

I ran through a few of the Fuji’s most popular “film simulation” settings, such as “Chrome,” “ACROS” (B&W), “Sepia,” and “Velvia.” (full options: Std., Provia, Velvia, Astia, Classic Chrome, Pro Neg. Hi/Pro Neg., Acros/Monochrome, Sepia)

The camera has received accolades for its jpeg images, so it was no great surprise that the X-Pro2’s jpeg engine did a fine job on video output. By comparison, the D800 clips appear somewhat soft and low-contrast. Then again, the D800, with its 36MPX full-frame sensor, albeit with anti-aliasing filter, displays excellent dynamic range.

All clips but one (the “scarecrow”) were shot mounted on a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod with Manfrotto 050 Photo Movie head. The iPhone was attached to this rig with a Joby GorillaPod.

Functional considerations

Let’s be clear, none of these can be considered professional video cameras. Other reviews (since this one is late to the game) have made note of the X-Pro-2’s Moire and aliasing issues. The D800 suffers to a lesser degree from the same defects.

Settings on the X-Pro2 are minimalist, shall we say. There is no dedicated video button; you press the top fn button to begin recording. You can reprogram other buttons to take up this function. Once you’ve chosen your settings, that’s what you’re stuck with; no changing mid-record. You’re also stuck with auto-exposure (see tree pan at in video). There’s no override that I can find. This is the most vexing oversight as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully, this can be addressed with a future firmware update.

I made all clips from the Nikon and Fuji 1080p and 60fps.

This test didn’t examine low-light performance, but I know from previous experience that the D800 does not shy away from shady places. The X-Pro 2 is also impressive, producing useable “footage” down to ISO 1600. Here’s where the iPhone is better left in one’s pocket, unless its flashlight function is needed to find something in the camera bag.

None of these cameras capture 4K video — we’re talking 1080p as the highest resolution. (The Fujifilm X-T2 recently stepped into that arena and the new iPhone 7/7 Plus feature 4K video recording at 30 fps)

Final thoughts

I’ll let the results speak for themselves. For my purpose (I don’t consider myself a videographer), both the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and Nikon D800 work well — even the iPhone clips look decent if stabilized and ambient light is sufficient — but I have to say, the X-Pro2 comes out on top if you’re looking for high quality clips right out of the camera. Again, the excellent Fuji jpeg engine sees to that.

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