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I Took My Fujifilm XT-2 to Italy. Here’s Why It's Still a Great Travel Camera.

2016 technology meets Roman ruins, the Ligurian coast, and the hottest summer in recorded history


  1. The Fuji XT-2 remains an excellent camera despite its age, and is particularly well-suited to travel photography;

  2. It held up to the record heat in Italy very well, never overheating or shutting down despite being exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time, and

  3. the compactness of the system helped achieve some great street photography shots of locals

It was 43 degrees celsius, 109 Fahrenheit—the hottest day in Rome’s history.

And I decided to do not one, but two walking tours to see the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the ruins. As I glanced at the old Roman Senate building, where Caesar was stabbed (and allegedly also created a famous salad?), I pondered my appetite for a similar fate, which I believed could offer some respite from the ripping sun.

But instead, there I stood, in the middle of the Colosseum, decked out in gear devoted simply to surviving the day. There was my short sleeve shirt and shorts—my signature trip outfit. There was my ridiculous bucket hat, which, despite its looks, did cool me down. I completed the “proud tourist” look with a classic fanny pack that I attempted to repurpose as one of those cool lululemon cross-body totes, semi-successfully (points for function, not for style). The pack’s strap helped me carry arguably the two most important pieces of gear: my water bottle, and my Fuji XT-2.

Released in 2016--the same year as the iPhone 7, which featured a home button and a mega 4.7-inch display, the Fuji XT-2 was the much-awaited sequel to the Fuji XT-1. Compared to its predecessor, it featured an upgraded sensor (24.3MP vs 16.2MP), a faster processor, and a more advanced autofocus system. The XT-2 also had a faster continuous shooting speed of up to14 frames-per-second and a dual-card slot. Could this 2016 tech still cut it in 2023? It’s a question I’d considered before, and one that factored into my decision not to bring my XT-2 last time I traveled abroad. I figured my iPhone could do the trick. It was lighter and had “computational photography” capabilities—modern, I thought. As the old adage goes, it was also always with me. What could be better for travel photography?

But the truth is, while the iPhone can undoubtedly produce stunning travel shots, it left something wanting. It wasn’t satisfying to me to pull out my phone all the time, point it at a subject, and click the button on the screen. It wasn’t just the shooting experience, though. The XT-2’s sensor just produced better images in so many cases. Whether shooting punchy black-and-whites that would otherwise be flattened by the iPhone’s incessant need to HDR everything; sprawling landscapes that benefit from enhanced color depth and contrast; or simply wanting the depth-of-field control that a camera system like the XT-2 and one of Fuji’s excellent lenses offered, I knew that this time, I had to bring my “real” camera. So, I resolved to stuffing my XT-2 and the trusty 23mm f2.0 from Fuji—a compact and sturdy solution that featured the right combination of sharpness, depth of field, and inconspicuousness—into my bag.

The trip would make for an excellent test of the XT-2’s capabilities. The camera accompanied me every day, rain or shine, heat or shade (there wasn’t really “cold”). Challenging lighting conditions , which oscillated between the harsh contrast of the midday light and the soothing soft tones of beach sunsets, presented themselves in every street corner, building, gallery, basilica, alleyway, and landscape. I didn’t expect everything to go smoothly, but overall, I was excited by the opportunity.

So what did I learn?

The Fuji XT-2’s censor performed admirably in low light, even while shooting JPEG.

For those who have been to cathedrals across Europe, I challenge you to name one with competent indoor fluorescent lighting. Safe to say, even with the stained glass windows letting in lots of natural light on a bright, Milanese day, the optical conditions inside of the Duomo proved challenging. Even shooting JPEG, the Fuji XT-2’s censor captured enough light to pull the detail out of the shadows.

Italy Duomo, Milan, Milano, sculpture, stained glass, saint
A statue of a saint sits illuminated by the scant light arriving through the stained-glass window. Fuji XT-2, 1/125 at f2.0, ISO 400, 23mm.

Even in harsh lighting conditions, the Fuji XT-2’s censor can still capture a wide dynamic range that is reflected pleasantly in its final images

Italy, Duomo, Milan, Milano, buttress, buttresses, sculpture, statute, city, skyline, view, roof

In broad daylight, the famed flying buttresses of Il Duomo in Milan shine. The pink hue from the marble, while accentuated in post-processing, is discussed as a staple of the structure highlighted during the guided tour. Despite the harsh midday lighting conditions, enough detail was captured in the JPEG file to draw out the buttress's underside and darker crevices. Fuji XT-2, 1/1250 at f5.6, ISO 200, 23mm

Florence, Accademia, Michelangelo, Italy, David, Black and White

It’s not often a museum is constructed around a single work of art, but the Accademia in Florence was built around Michelangelo’s “David” to highlight its brilliance. Here, natural light from the dome above the statue illuminates its detail, while the surrounding shadows offer a challenging exposure environment for any metering system. The XT-2 captured the scene brilliantly. Fuji XT-2, 1/140 at f3.2, ISO 400

Italy, Portovenere, coast, coastline, colorful houses, sky, fishing, village, sea, travel

This particular shot of Portovenere—often called the “sixth city” of Cinque Terre—really illustrates the XT-2’s sensor’s capabilities, especially when it comes to dynamic range. It was shot into direct sunlight; yet, the detail preserved in the shadows allowed the colorful building facades to flourish in post-processing. Fuji XT-2, 1/1400 at f5.6, ISO 400

Italy, Rome, St. Peter's, basilica, Vatican, Vatican city, Michelangelo, sculpture, bronze, rays, sunlight, sun rays, gold, golden

This shot of the sculpture at the center of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is another good example. Despite being shot into direct sunlight, enough detail was retained in the shadows to draw out the ornate patters underneath it. Fuji XT-2, 1/125 at f2.0, ISO 1000, 23mm.

The XT-2’s autofocus system can still hang—even if it isn’t perfect

For most of the photography I do, I prefer shooting in single point AF. For this trip, I decided that wouldn’t be sufficient for the bustling Italian streets. So I quickly thumbed around the menus and set a new default: multi-point continuous AF.

Walking around, I often raised my camera for just a few short moments to try to capture a scene. This often happened while walking. In some cases, for discretion, I even resorted to shooting from the hip without looking through the viewfinder or on the rear screen at all. For each of these situations, pinpoint autofocus was a necessity.

As you can see from the collection of images below, the XT-2’s autofocus system was still good enough to identify and lock on a subject very quickly, even in complex compositions with many moving parts and elements.

Italy, Milan, milano, street photography, art, street art, man, old, elderly, bicycle, painting

A street vendor selling his art on the streets of Milan. Captured with the 23mm F2.0—equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera—this photography required relative discretion and was captured from the hip as a result. Even so, it is in clear focus. Fuji XT-2, 1/1000 at f2.2, ISO 400, 23mm

Florence, street photography, phone, booth, telephone, payphone, woman, pensive, thinking, cigarette

Another hip shot captured while walking across an alley. Here, the XT-2 was fired up in milliseconds and was able to take the shot without being noticed. Fuji XT-2, 1/1000 at f3.6, ISO 400, 23mm

Italy, Florence, street photography, square, Uffizi, man, woman, couple, shroud

Captured in the Florentine plaza just outside of the famed Uffizi Gallery (think the Louvre of Florence), this shot demonstrates the potent combination of the XT-2’s autofocus system and sensor, combined with the sharpness of the 23mm F2.0. Fuji XT-2, 1/680 at f5.6, ISO 400, 23mm

Italy, Rome, street, hot, heat, umbrella, vendor, sell, selling, sold, colorful

A street vendor outside of the Vittoria monument in Rome sells umbrellas to tourists eager to escape the sun. This image was captured from the hip at a moment’s notice. Fuji XT-2, 1/320 at f11.0, ISO 200, 23mm.

It can take the heat.

109 degrees fahrenheit couldn’t shut down this camera. It couldn’t even slow it down. Despite being in full direct access of the sun’s harsh rays while walking around Rome, it wasn’t phased. Even when its metal shell scorched skin to the touch, it somehow shielded the camera's inner tech enough to preserve its ability to operate.

Italy, Rome, Pantheon, obelisk, ruins, tourist, tourism, midday, sunny, old

The Pantheon, an architectural marvel of even contemporary admiration, attracts tourists from around the world. Fuji XT-2, 1/1100 at f5.6, ISO 400, 23mm

Italy, Rome, Caesar, ruins, sculpture, tourist, tourism, midday, black and white, julius caesar

A tourist takes a photo of a statue of Caesar outside of the old Roman Senate building, the squared structure with the triangular roof immediately behind and to the left of the statue in the frame. Fuji XT-2, 1/400 at f11.0, ISO 400, 23mm

Italy, Rome, colosseum, colosseo, ruins, bleachers, seating, seats, hot, heat, sunlight, day, old

The sun’s rays were especially potent in the arena of the colosseum. It was difficult to stand in the direct sunlight for more than a few minutes without feeling like something was going to melt. Fuji XT-2, 1/210 at f11.0, ISO 400, 23mm.

Italy, Rome, hot, heat, summer, water, bird, wildlife, nature, flying, ruins

This photo shows a girl letting a bird drink from her water bottle. It was so hot outside, the bird had been resting on the pillar for over 15 minutes without moving. It didn’t even flinch at her approach.Fuji XT-2, 1/210 at f11.0, ISO 400, 23mm

Even with all of the greatness, the system isn’t without its faults.

Italy, Rome, sculpture, street, lamp, light, building, night, evening, dark

Sometimes, the system struggled to find perfect focus in low light. Here, I used single-point AF to focus on the statue—or so I thought. If you zoom in, you can see the camera’s focus just missed. Fuji XT-2, 1/125 at f2.0, ISO 6400, 23mm

Italy, Urbino, sunflower, table, bokeh, green, yellow

I shot mostly using the XT-2’s “vivid” film preset. I often found that while it brought out colors, it did so at the expense of contrast, and often lost detail in the process. Fuji XT-2, 1/200 at f4.0, ISO 400, 23mm

Another minor qualm I encountered often with the system is that while it was incredibly quick and responsive, occasionally, it would take a few seconds longer to boot up. Sometimes, the camera would also act like it was off and refuse to display any information on the EVF or the rear screen. In both cases, a quick flick of the on-off switch usually solved the issue.

Lastly, as is often the case with early mirrorless systems, battery life presented a challenge. The XT-2’s battery is rated for about 340 shots, and while I felt that I squeezed a few more frames out of the camera than that, it was the case that I had to charge my battery every night or face the prospect of missing an entire day of photos.


At the end of the day, this trip proved to me that the Fuji XT-2 can still hold its own, and remains a formidable body for capturing all sorts of subjects. The Fuji XT-2 proved a noble photographic companion on my journey around Italy. If you’re considering taking the camera on your next trip and wondering whether it can still capture lifelong memories, stunning scenery, or captivating action, know that it is more than capable. Next time I travel, there's no doubt my Fuji XT-2 will be along for the ride.

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