Photographers love mirrorless system cameras. They’re smaller and lighter than full-sized SLRs, and more often than not camera bodies and lenses are cheaper too. Of all the brands which build mirrorless cameras, Fujifilm is arguably the most loved: since the introduction of its X-series back in 2012 it’s been feted not just for its retro looks but for its emphasis on manual controls and image quality.

If there’s one area where even Fujifilm has struggled to convince diehards in the past, however, it’s around sports and wildlife photography. Traditional logic dictates that mirrorless cameras just can’t compete on speed and autofocus detection of moving subjects.

This bird was captured using the 100-400mm lens at full zoom.
This bird was captured using the 100-400mm lens at full zoom.

With the new Fujifilm X-T2, however, traditional logic might just have been flipped on its head. A fully separate phase detection AF sensor covers 65% of the viewable area with 91 focus points, and is as fast and accurate as that in SLR bodies that cost twice the price. What’s more, with a burst shooting rate of up to 11 frames per second in Boost mode, there’s nothing the X-T2 can’t capture, no matter how quickly it’s moving.

X-T2 in the bush

To test the X-T2 out, Fujifilm took us to the Pilanesberg nature reserve where we were able to test it out for capturing wildlife from all angles.

Literally all angles.

Shot from a balloon following the elephants below.
Shot from a balloon following the elephants below.

Coupled with the firm’s new XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens, the Fujifilm X-T2 is a great camera for wildlife. The APS-C sized sensor turns that lens into the 35mm equivalent of a 150-600mm telephoto, which means you can stand back without disturbing the animals and still get a great close up.

The lens, as with all Fujifilm lenses, is sharp and distortion-free all the way through its mighty length. And most important of all, the lens and camera together are fast. The X-T2’s new and improved autofocus system, which puts a phase detection sensor onto the image sensor itself for quick reaction speed, finds and locks onto targets much more quickly than any other camera in the range. And once a subject is locked, new predictive algorithms hold it in focus as if it moves unpredictably around the frame.

Shooting at night, the X-T2 captures detail in the dark.
Shooting at night, the X-T2 captures detail in the dark.

Fast tracking autofocus has been the last hurdle for mirrrorless systems. With the Fujifilm X-T2, the Japanese company has cracked it.

Fast but not furious

Capturing great wildlife pics requires a combination of two things: patience for the animals to do what they want coupled with a lightning fast camera that’s always ready when you need it. Waiting for that perfect shot only to miss it because the camera is booting or the autofocus isn’t the most disappointing thing we can think of – but it’s not far off.

The two-headed rhino is actually two creatures enjoying some sun.
The two-headed rhino is two creatures enjoying some sun.

But the first half of the equation is also important. Wildlife pics means keeping the camera close, over the shoulder or on your lap if you’re driving the bush trails. So the fact that the Fujifilm X-T2, 100-400mm lens are so small and light compared to traditional SLRs is a benefit not to be overlooked. Even with the battery grip attached, which gives the camera super-power features like an 11fps capture rate and wider dynamic range, it’s a combination that’s not going to wear you out.

And if you’re clicking away all day with that battery pack, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a second SD card slot in the side so you don’t have to switch out storage too often too.

With the X-T2, there’s little left to prove. This is a camera which can compete with rivals that cost half as much again. Keep an eye out for it when it lands in South Africa next month.

Want to listen to our exclusive interview with Fujifilm’s Eslie Basson about the X-T2 launch in South Africa? Check it out here.

A giraffe, spotted through the tall bush.
A giraffe, spotted through the tall bush.
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