Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

Started Feb 21, 2017 | Discussions
katastrofa Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

I'm looking for my first "serious" camera to do wildlife photography, in particular birds. I will be often taking photos in low light conditions (in the forest or among foliage, at dusk or dawn). Because of the ability to take photos almost silently when using the electronic shutter (won't spook the birds) and somewhat lower weight, I'm thinking of getting a mirrorless camera. Wanting an APS-C sensor, I am increasingly drawn towards Fuji X-T2 paired with their XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 WR lens (and maybe the 1.4x converter). Does it make sense? Will I have good low light autofocus performance with this setup?

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,410
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

The major problem with most implementations of the Electronic shutter is the amount of time it takes to read the sensor.  Most ILC cameras until very recently required 1/10-120 second to read the sensor, leading to image distortion with any significant movement.

I used my E-M1.1 with the Electronic shutter for stationary birds with good results (probably 1/15 second readout) much of the time.  Also some cameras reduce the image from 12 bit to 10 bit to speed readout.  However, with any movement of the target I did sometimes get distortion.

The most recent Olympus camera (E-M1.2) has reduced the sensor readout with the Electronic shutter to 1/60 second, removing distortion even with most BIFs making it the preferred shutter for most applications (no vibrations of any kind).  Electronic shutters are not recommended for AC based artificial illumination.

Reviews of the Fuji X-T2 indicate much better wildlife performance, but I could not find out the sensor readout time when using the Electronic shutter.  The Fuji appears to be an excellent camera.

You should ask about use of the Fuji Electronic shutter for wildlife or any other applications on the Fuji DPR forum.  One limitation of the Fuji may be the lack of a fast long telephoto lens which without dual stabilization, may make a tripod more critical for very low illumination situations.

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shotguns Contributing Member • Posts: 898
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

I had the XT-2 and liked it very much. If not shooting wildlife exclusively (or mostly so) it should serve you well. I didn't use the Electronic Shutter though... but the EVF does have a blackout period  (not too bad) but works great for shot reviewing! The 100-400 is a pretty good lens overall. Weight it nice. Seems rugged enough. I like Nikon's 300 PF better and the D500 I now shoot with better for most all things. I wish the grip on the Nikon were smaller though but other than that - as I now mostly do wildlife only - the D500 was the way to.

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OP katastrofa Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

When photographing skittish animals with D500, was the shutter & mirror sound a problem?

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zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 32,101
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography
1

katastrofa wrote:

When photographing skittish animals with D500, was the shutter & mirror sound a problem?

Have you tried to shoot animals in the past with a DSLR, or a non-silent camera, or near someone with one, and found the animals were too skittish?  Where do you live...some places may be much tougher to get close to wild animals, and others may be much easier as animals are more used to seeing people in their vicinity.

I shoot with both a DSLR and a mirrorless that has a silent shutter mode...but honestly I've rarely needed to use the silent shutter, as in my area, most animals are fairly used to people in their vicinity and are not very skittish.  The few times I've used silent shutter was late at night, midnight or after, trying to photograph opossum and other night animals in my backyard where it was so silent that any noise at all would be quite noticeable.  But really, silent shutter isn't generally necessary for any daytime shooting in my area.

If you're trying to photograph animals very far from civilization, in a hide or something, the silent shutter could be useful - but even then, lots of photographs of rare animals are taken from hides with DSLRs, usually with long-reach lenses that keep the photographer far enough away from the animal to avoid spooking it, especially if there are other noises to help mask the shutter - wind, rustling leaves and branches, etc.

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OP katastrofa Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

I've read many opinions on the 'net, some people say DSLRs can spook birds, some people say the opposite.

My cats do wake up when I take their photos with superzoom (no mirror, only mechanical shutter) when they are sleeping.

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,410
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

Birds in populated areas are rarely bothered by mechanical shutters or most other sounds that humans make. However, wildlife that is truly wild can react to the shutter more than to other louder sounds.

Last fall while walking in my local wildlife refuge, I stopped to photograph a large group of waxwings eating berries in front of me. I would normally have used the Electronic shutter (ES), but I had been photographing BIFs with the Mechanical shutter. I didn't think about switching to the ES since they had not reacted to my approach. The first click of the shutter caused the birds to immediately disappear. I waited, but the birds did not return. Had the birds been much farther away, they probably would not have reacted.

I find my local black bear much more sensitive to the sound of a shutter than most birds. Of course that could be the result of the ones who survive the local bear hunt being more sensitive to strange noises. The ES works very well and all the bear need to worry about is my male cat demonstrating his best Halloween cat imitation.

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,410
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

katastrofa wrote:

I'm looking for my first "serious" camera to do wildlife photography, in particular birds. I will be often taking photos in low light conditions (in the forest or among foliage, at dusk or dawn). Because of the ability to take photos almost silently when using the electronic shutter (won't spook the birds) and somewhat lower weight, I'm thinking of getting a mirrorless camera. Wanting an APS-C sensor, I am increasingly drawn towards Fuji X-T2 paired with their XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 WR lens (and maybe the 1.4x converter). Does it make sense? Will I have good low light autofocus performance with this setup?

The 1.4x converter would not be a good idea.  You would have a maximum f8, not good for focusing or ISO in poor light.

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drj3

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,410
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

shotguns wrote:

I had the XT-2 and liked it very much. If not shooting wildlife exclusively (or mostly so) it should serve you well. I didn't use the Electronic Shutter though... but the EVF does have a blackout period (not too bad) but works great for shot reviewing! The 100-400 is a pretty good lens overall. Weight it nice. Seems rugged enough. I like Nikon's 300 PF better and the D500 I now shoot with better for most all things. I wish the grip on the Nikon were smaller though but other than that - as I now mostly do wildlife only - the D500 was the way to.

For more typical wildlife (especially BIFs), I would agree that the Nikon D500 is about as good as you can get (well maybe the D5 with 600mm f4).  However, given that the OP appears to be interested in photography in low light (thus probably not flying birds), I think the advantage of the D500 for this type of wildlife would be the better lens choice, but an expensive gamble, if the OPs birds are frightened by the sound of a mechanical shutter.

My personal bias would be the Olympus E-M1.2 with the 300mm f4, since its electronic shutter can be used with moving wildlife, and its dual stabilization gives up to 6.5 stops of stabilization.  However, at about $5000 for the lens, camera, MC14, & grip, not something I would recommend unless the OP had asked about mFTs cameras.

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OP katastrofa Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: Does it make sense to use Fuji X-T2 for wildlife photography

Beautiful photo of such wonderful animals! Why are people hunting them??

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