My life in cameras part 13: Fujifilm XQ2 review (and some love sickness)

Update: Well, it seems I have changed my mind. After writing and scheduling this review I reconsidered and sent the Ricoh GRIII back. I would have sent it back anyway because my copy exhibited some concerning heat problems that I read about before. So I knew that some GRIIIs suffer from bad thermal management. But instead of requesting a replacement I took the refund. Maybe writing this review made me reconsider, maybe my mind cleared up in the meantime. Nevertheless I like what I wrote and the limitations of the XQ2 still apply. I will publish it anyway not the least for the image and thoughts at the end. It felt good to express it. Now if I ever get a hold of a Fujifilm X70….I might be tempted to say goodbye to this little guy here. On the other hand I only paid 150€ so I could keep the XQ2 and in a few years time maybe my daughter could be interested in a little point and shoot. She already loves her wooden camera and if she could she would play around with my X-T3.

Update 2: As fate would have it one of my Ebay searches for an X70 turned up a great bargain. Now I have cute collection of Fujis.

Update 3: The camera is not for sale, in fact I no longer own it. Please do not ask.

This is about the shortest amount of time I owned and used a camera. Three months to be exactly. I thought was over buying and selling gear just for novelty and I am. The Fujfilm XQ2 simply did not fulfill the expectations I had. I think I should cite my reasons for buying this camera in the first place.

This brings me to the reasons for buying this small camera. I often take images before or after work and I do not want to bring my big setup with me every day. I also want something discreet for taking shots inside train stations, tunnels, shopping centers and the like. And third when I go for a walk with my little kid I can’t really use a viewfinder and manually focus without loosing track of my wild daughter. The XQ2 allows me keep situational awareness while shooting

A short walk with my “new” Fujifilm XQ2
Fujifilm XQ2

Why I bought the Fujifilm XQ2

My main setup for slow photography is the Fujifilm X-T3 with manual lenses. It works great. But sometimes I need something small and inconspicuous. A camera for quick snapshots and and unobtrusive shooting. I also wanted to use this camera for my rather new interest into street photography and I would feel more comfortable with something small and nonthreatening.

Why it did fail for me

The Fujifilm XQ2 is certainly a nice camera. It is really small and light. The startup time and auto-focus are pretty fast and definitely usable for what I had intended. It looks good and feels good in my hand. But. And there are several of them.

The ergonomics are terrible. The buttons are fiddly and the back dial really uncomfortable to use. It allows barely any precision. The unclicked control dial around the lens is nearly useless. There is no feedback between the turn and the action except a small icon on the display. I ended up setting the exposure compensation via the d-pad which always necessitated an extra button press. For the same reason setting the aperture was impractical with either dial so I used automatic mode most of the time.

The second big problem for me was the zoom. The motorized mechanism itself was alright and reasonably fast but the camera always reverted back to 25mm (equivalent) after shutdown. This focal length is quite wide for street photography and motorzooming to maybe 50mm would take to long. Sure I could just keep the camera on but then I was out of battery pretty quickly.

The third negative was that despite the image stabilizer the camera had to raise the ISO level quite a bit in anything other than bright conditions especially at the longer end. The images from this small 2/3″ sensors became unattractively noisy especially with color images. I wanted to use this camera for discreet shots in malls, subway stations or generally indoors and it did not deliver. I might have known this before buying but I guess I needed to see it for myself.

And finally the image quality simply was not there. Noise was distracting from ISO 400 upwards, cropping was very limited and dynamic range did not match up to what was used to. I think the Fujifilm XQ2 can still be an interesting camera even today with it’s film simulations and classic look. But then it does not really bring anything to the table to what a modern smartphone can do. Especially as the ergonomics are poor on this camera. For daylight shots with non-critical depth of field and maybe used for snapshot it would be a great camera. The colors are really nice.

What I bought instead

With the help of a bit of love sickness I took the plunge and got a Ricoh GRIII. Retail therapy is a great cure for a broken heart. Well not broken..slightly bruised maybe? The XQ2 helped me realize what kind of camera I needed for my creative ideas. The Ricoh’s large APS-C sensor (similar to the Fujifilm X-T3) has much better dynamic range, noise control and overall image quality. The stabilizer is worth it’s name and allows effortless handheld shots up to 1/10s and with some support (leaning against something) I am sure I can go even lower. It has dedicated black and white modes which suit my style of photography very well. All of this makes the image quality in low light situations much better.

Even though the 28mm equivalent lens is quite wide for street photography it is a usable focal length and the large sensor allows for easy cropping. The camera even offers a 35mm crop mode. Startup time is fast and the whole camera responds very well and offers much better and thought out ergonomics. Except it does look exceptionally ugly. Auto-focus is terrible atrocious though especially in low light but the Ricoh offers a useful snap focus feature where the lens stays at a preset focus range for effective zone focusing.

So in this sense. Thank you Fujifilm XQ2 for showing me what I really need in a small carry around snapshot camera. It is bit like dating or having a short attempt at a relationship where the most important thing was to learn what one does not want in a relationship. Exciting at first, a bit painful in the end but a worthwhile experience after all.

If you want to see some samples check out the Fujifilm XQ2 tag.

I will share one image that pertains to the while situation though.


Goodbye (2021) Fujifilm XQ2

I took this image on my way home. I had said Goodbye to someone without realizing that it would be for good. It still felt like a “see you soon”. But some people are simply unapproachable. They seek closeness but can’t actually tolerate it. They swing between opening up, letting people in and pushing them out with sudden abruptness. A week later this pattern manifested itself and I took the painful step of ending it before I became too much attached. And another week later the new camera arrived at my doorsteps. And as fate has it there are already new women to meet, potential new relationships to form, connections to make. Life is a see-saw sometimes.