The Fujifilm X-T1 Review

The Fujifilm X-T1

I decided to take my time reviewing the X-T1, time, as I wanted to be sure my initial reactions were sound and not a reaction to the wave of excitement gripping the photography world.

As I slowly opened the box and studied the camera my first impressions of the X-T1 were ecstatically positive, but would my initial reaction have longevity beyond the honeymoon period?

The answer is simply and confidently “yes”. I have enjoyed the upgrade path and technological development of the Fujifilm range ever since I bought my X100 back in 2011. It was initially a labour of love, a change from DSLR that wasn’t without a learning curve but I was hooked. A different approach to photography that gets the photographer thinking and pushing their own skills and craft further.

X-T1 for Long Exposure Photography

What I admire most about Fujifilm is the companies commitment to constant improvement; even the X100 continued to see firmware updates long after the release of the near perfect X100s camera.

For me the X-T1 is a remarkable piece of design and engineering. The result of substantial research and development by a company committed to delivering the tools that allow photographers to capture stunning images.

X-T1 Long Exposure, straight from camera.

The X-T1 sees all the brilliance of the X100s and interchangeable lens systems pulled together into a single camera. Don’t get me wrong the other X cameras are amazing but the X-T1 is just that bit extra special, everything Fujifilm learned from the X100, X-Pro1, X-E1 fused into one of the best cameras on the market.

Form Factor

The X-T1 is a striking camera and the build quality is exceptional. The camera feels mature as if Fujfilm have been working in secret for years investing in the design, form factor, button location and ergonomics. I could literally rave about the ergonomics for hours, the X-T1 camera is extremely comfortable to hold, solid in the hand and the controls are extremely accessible in use.

Gareth Dunlop on stage

Accessibility

One aspect of the X-T1 that stands out has to be is the accessibility of the controls. There are more physical controls that are easily accessible along the top, front and rear of the camera. Better still, many of the buttons on the camera are programmable.

I believe Fujfilm have listened to their customers and delivered the optimum camera yet offering the flexibility of allowing customised control to suit the particular fine needs of the photographer.

It is amazing just how accessible the controls are when shooting. I am still fine-tuning my custom settings but I think it will take a few more weeks of shooting to get everything the way I want it. I should also mention I have been shooting JPGs as I wait for X-T1 support in Adobe Lightroom. I have been shooting RAW for a number of years but the JPG files captured by the X-T1 are very impressive.

Fujifilm Timer App X-T1

LCD Screen

The X-T1 LCD screen is stunning; a menu system in high definition and features a similar tilting screen that appears on the Fujfilm X-M1 that is really useful. If you really want to have the ultimate in screen flexibility check out the Fujfilm Remote Camera App review.

Centered Viewfinder

I don’t know how common “left-eyed” photographers are but it appeared most manufactures placed their viewfinder to suit right-eyed image-makers. Fujifilm have centered the viewfinder on the X-T1 and I have noticed just how much more confortable it is to use. The screen quality is stunning in the viewfinder as it is on the LCD screen. It is amazing to see the split screen function when using manual model, it is amazing to load up the Q menus in the viewfinder and make adjustments or preview the images previously captured.

Silent Valley Long Exposure

X-T1 Weather Sealing

Probably the most exciting aspect of the X-T1 for me is the fact the camera is weather sealed. Given the majority of my photography happens in the great outdoors protection from the elements is important.

Over the last few years I have been employing freezer bags to protect my camera when in the mountains and if I was honest I really stressed about getting my gear even slightly wet. I am unlikely to capture images in the pouring rain but is liberating to have the freedom to know that the camera is protected if it does get a little wet out on the hills. In Northern Ireland we see a fair bit of rain so weather sealing is possibly more about reassurance than shooting in the rain.

The X-T1 in use

Over the first few weeks of use I decided to employ the X-T1 in a range of situations:

The X-T1 for music photography
The X-T1 for landscape photography
The X-T1 as a remote access camera
Using the X-T1 for remote bird watching (seriously!)
All posts with the X-T1

The camera, like previous Fujfilm X-range cameras is a reliable performer producing images that are sharp and feature excellent dynamic range. Like the X100s the X-T1 is a head turner, and I found people approaching to ask about the camera and was it an old film model.

Ian Somerville

For everyday use I have been using the 27mm pancake lens that makes the X-T1 as portable as my already lifetime favourite, X100s camera. The X-T1 and 27mm fit easily in the little felt case that comes with the Millican Christopher bag which adds a nice bit of protection.

It is a really great everyday combination, the power of a great camera partnered with a stunning little pancake lens that produces some excellent bokeh (see Understanding Depth of Field). I think the 27mm is an overlooked lens of the portfolio, which I think it will be a firm favourite for everyday documentary photography. I am also thinking although the 27mm isn’t weather sealed, there is less of it to get wet (I hope I am right).

Belfast at night

The negatives

To be honest I don’t see anything to criticise and all I can mention is change from other X cameras is the size of the control pad on the back of the camera. The buttons feel smaller and slightly more recessed than what I am used to but I assume this is down to the weather sealing feature. It isn’t overtly a negative, they are just different and slightly more recessed that previous models.

Fujifilm X-T1 Remote App

Conclusion

Does the X-T1 deserve the hype? Definitely. The X-T1 is a powerhouse that delivers stunning, pin sharp images with the almost breathtaking dynamic range we have grown to associate with the Fujfilm X-Range. I struggle to find fault and I hope you understand what I mean when I say I could look at it for hours, it is a remarkable piece of technology. The controls are extremely accessible on the body of the camera and there isn’t hardly an aspect of the device that isn’t customisable or adjustable. The viewfinder and LCD screens are stunning and if that isn’t enough you can even control the camera via live view on a mobile device.

The X-T1 has all the bells and whistles and underneath is a powerful, remarkable image maker that is as usable in the hands of a new photographer as it is in the hands of a pro. The X-T1 is not only a top performer but it is a joy to use and the ergonomics are excellent.

I am in awe of the Fujifilm X-T1 and don’t have the capacity to see where the company will take the X range from here. I know the lens roadmap is very exciting and I can see the X-T1 making a considerable dent in the digital SLR market. Notable is the fact that every photographer I have spoken to (who has used the X-T1) has nothing but love for what has to be the most desirable camera of 2014.

What do you think?



Comments

  1. I’m itching to find one of these in the wild so I can try it out.

    Interesting note on the future of the X series. All I’ll say is I’d love to see a full frame X-Pro-2…

  2. Still waiting for mine here in British Columbia, Canada – ETA early to mid-March. Too long : )

  3. Agree with your opinion…XT1 is a camera to covet…glad you also mentioned the 27mm pancake… it (sort of) makes my XE1 feel like a 100s, great for everyday shots…lovely shots of the mournes ( mental note to self…must shoot up there one of these days!)

  4. I played with it as long as possible in the Fuji showroom, with different lenses and I agree with what you write. Everything feels natural about the controls and the EVF of this camera! Without owning it, I won’t comment on the IQ, but I guess it must be at least as good as my X100s, so that should satisfy most people.

    As for the future of the X range? tough question… Given the huge work of creating a new lenses line-up, just going to Full-Frame seems a small step. I’d rather see them focus on top-notch APS-C sensors (organic?) or release an innovative medium format (4/33 or 6/45).

  5. The pre-release Camera Raw on Adobe Labs will support the Fuji and with colour profiles too!

  6. What a welcome change to read a review where the reviewer is not intentionally trying to find nits to pick at. Thanks David, an enjoyable piece of reading.

  7. I am surprised you felt the four way controller was not an issue. I found the buttons far too recessed to be easy to change, and impossible while wearing gloves, something you might want to do with a weatherproof camera!! So I will be sticking to my X Pro 1.

  8. Tim, I did mention these, under the paragraph “Negatives”. I agree they are smaller and recessed but something I’ve already got used to. Don’t get me wrong I would love the ones on the X-Pro1 but I suspect the weatherproofing is the cause.

  9. David and Tim, Fuji largely designed the recessed buttons that way to reduce the possibility of pressing them accidentally. I find that I’m always hitting the D-pad buttons on the X-E1 when I don’t mean to, especially when wearing gloves or shooting one handed. I’ll gladly take smaller buttons that are slightly harder to press with my gloves if it means I’m not accidentally changing setting all the time.

  10. Good review David. Yes, I did read it.. 🙂 Regarding the 27mm lens, with it being on sale is it a good buy? I’ve read good and bad. I have the 35 and 23 so am not as interested in it but….?

  11. Always curious to know why the desire for full frame? I used to feel that way but no longer do. Do tell?

  12. John, I love it, the top image of the X-T1 is shot with the 27mm. I think the bokeh is really nice with it. I know some people have criticised it but I am not seeing the negatives. Great little lens.

  13. I’m with you, David, I think this is Fuji’s best X body yet. I never fell in love with the X-Pro 1 and wasn’t crazy about the X-E1. This, however, might be the one that convinces me to sell my DSLR gear. I’m just going to wait and see what the upcoming long lenses are like first.

    As for the weather sealing – I took it out the other day in a somewhat heavy snowfall and it held up just fine (as did the non-weather sealed 14mm lens I was shooting with). Also, I am one of those elusive left-eyed photographers you mentioned. It is nice not to have marks from my nose all over the screen.

    My only gripe is with the four way controller on the back, which seems to bother me more than it does you. However, I’m fairly confident that with more practice I’ll get used to it.

  14. David,

    Excellent review, thanks for posting it.

    I just got my X-T1 yesterday, and my first impressions with it were, “Wow!”

    The EVF is, in a word…amazing. Incredibly large, clear, bright and fast. It’s very close to a dSLR OVF for clarity in daylight, and actually brighter than a dSLR OVF in low light. It also rotates it’s display to portrait mode when you hold the camera in that orientation. Very cool. The entire camera is way cool. Additionally, I’ve found the comments from reviewers about the locking ISO and exposure comp dials are at the height of nitpickiness; it’s very easy and fast to change the ISO with your fingertips, rotating the dial while holding the interlock button down. You can even do it without looking at the dial. Count three clicks up or down and your at the next ISO setting. Also, the comment that the exposure comp dial is too stiff is inaccurate, also. It’s very simple to turn it with your (shutter) forefinger and thumb, or just your thumb once the dial runs in a bit. I was doing this shooting with the camera today without even thinking about it, that’s how fluid operating the camera becomes after just a few minutes.

    The other cool thing I like the custom function button on the front sits just under your second finger when holding the camera with the grip. I set mine up to for this button to make AF point selections, so you can change AF points without having to move your hand. Also the front finger and rear thumb grips are really well done. Not as big and prominent as on the Oly E-M1, but very well-designed for holding the camera effectively. It’s like the body is sculpted from billet.

    Also, being able to change the metering mode with the dial under the shutter speed dial is way cool, I put the camera is spot-metering mode for a photo tonight very quicky and easily.

    Very impressive camera and the image quality, like my X-Pro1 is outstanding. Waiting for Capture One to provide RAW conversion as well as Lightroom. Right now, Photo Ninja supports it, which I also have. Really waiting on the Capture One support, though, as I’ve found it to do the best conversions from my XP1 images.

    Cheers,
    Stephen

    __________________

  15. Full frame images feel nicer to me, I’m also a sucker for brutally low depth of field, obviously full frame helps with this as you can get closer to the subject.

    Wider on wide lenses is great, I often find myself thinking “Hmm I wish I could get a bit more into this shot” I very rarely find myself saying “Hmmm I wish I could get less in this shot”, & if I do I can just take a step forward or crop after the fact 🙂

    It’s great to see the image quality from crop sized sensors climbing up to the same level but that, of course used to be one of the main reasons.

  16. I think you are maybe a little too uniformly positive; many other testers have complained about the buttons on the back and how hard they really are to use. I have to agree with them on that score but also agree with you for the rest.

  17. Would one use the Lee seven5 filters with the X lenses as well? Thanks, excellent website you have.

  18. No problem. 35 on a crop is quite different to 50mm on full frame but if it makes no difference to you then sick to crop.

    It makes a big difference to me though 🙂

    The wider your lens the deeper your depth of field. For instance something like a 14mm lens on a very wide aperture would still have nearly everything in focus. But a 200mm lens even at something like f/5.6 would offer quite a a shallow depth of field.

    So although 35mm & 50mm isn’t that far apart there is stil a notisable difference. Also though on crop vs ff you’re getting around the same in the frame.

    Ya get me?

  19. I do understand, however, I’m not sure I agree. Again a 35mm on a 1.5 crop is indeed a 50mm on a FF. They are essentially the same with regard to DOF. I’ve seen a test (can’t find it right now) that showed images side by side that were exactly the same. It was a studio set up, so it was easy to take the Sony FF with a 50mm 1.4 and compare it against the Fuji 35mm 1.4 and the result was that the DOF or out of focus area look identical. And why wouldn’t they? Its physics right? Again the “bokeh” might be a tad different as the glass will effect such…. Again, just trying to be sure about all this. I own a D3x and the Fuji… I’ve been doing some of my own testing and am finding similar results…

  20. That is what I used to think and realised the examples were often cropped. In the same way there is a ratio of focal length it also applies to the related aperture. For example 85mm f/1.2 on a cropped sensor works out approx 135mm at f/2. That is why some photographers comment at how difficult it can be to shoot at f/1.4 on full frame. This was something I really struggled with mentally but once it clicks you can really use it to your advantage. I sometimes use a 200mm at f/2.8 on full frame for compression. http://www.flickr.com/photos/flixel/9426863289/in/set-72157632469549675

    There are so many variables. I guess that is what makes the process of capturing images enjoyable.

  21. I did mention the buttons being different but I have manage to get used to them. I would agree they are slower when used to change the focus point than other X series cameras.

  22. I think the key point there is that 50mm and 35mm are actually quite similar. So the difference wont be huge. in fact it would probably be very hard to distinguish amongst the variance in the bokeh caused by the aperture blades.

    if you took a longer focal length lens such as a 135mm the differences will be magnified & easier to see. At the end of the day focal length effects depth of field regardless of what size sensor it’s mounted to — that’s physics 🙂

    Perhaps the what you are looking for is different to what I am looking for. And honestly if you’re finding the results pleasing/similar then why does it matter?

  23. The resultant depth of field is affected I think is the best way to think of it. John, my brain struggles with it which is why I struggle to put into words.

  24. As much as it’s struggling, you’re bag on 🙂

    I’ve just done the maths guys:

    Based on a subject that is 180cm (6ish feet) from the camera, the ff/50mm will give you a total in focus area of 10.7cm, and the crop/35mm will give a larger 14.7cm. The larger the DOF the more in focus the background will be.

    John, it might help you to read up on the ‘circle of confusion’ if you want to get into the technical side of it instead of the aesthetic. But as much help as it is to know about this stuff, really what it comes down to is how the image feels to you.

  25. Rick, ultimately it does not matter. I’m a workshop leader and I am always looking to learn so I can pass along valid and factual information. I’m a big gear is good vision is better guy, so the bottom line for me is, do I like it? Yup, I do when it comes to Fuji and thus I’m very happy. And I am fully aware that gear does not make great images. People do. Thanks for engaging in a healthy discussion!

  26. The maths in this post is so wrong it makes my head hurt.

    35mm f1.4 on a 1.5 crop is the full frame equivalent of a 52.5mm f2.1 lens.
    It’s not phsyics – it’s maths. It would be physics if you dropped both lenses and tried to calculate how fast they would accelerate and what speed they would reach before they hit the ground

  27. Phil, agreed about the maths but the point is that most photographers only consider the principal of focal length when going between full frame and cropped. Also note that you drop your lenses the acceleration is constant 🙂

  28. Hey Phil the english in your post makes my head hurt. Maths? 🙂 Just kidding, sort of. Thanks for your reply, however, if you read the thread you would have known I was trying to understand. So you’re saying one needs to 1.5x the aperture too? Why? Isn’t a 1.4 aperture 1.4, regardless of the format?

  29. Okay, to show I’m a sport…. I just looked up maths and see it is a real word! How about that! I’ve never heard that before. See that, I’ve learned even more! My bad!

  30. I bought this camera primarily to house my Konica Hexanon 60 F1.2. I had been mulling what camera to get since last fall and now I am in seventh heaven.

  31. Hi David.

    Since I bought your e-book “The long exposure” I’ve been trying to master the discipline 🙂 And I did great with the X100S, my Lee filters, bulb mode and a “manual trigger wire” (Don’t know the correct term for the last one)

    But with the X-T1, I can’t add my “manual trigger wire” and have to settle with 30 sec exposures or actually touching the camera twice, when starting and stopping the exposure.

    How would you recommend doing long exposures with the X-T1 that lasts more than 30 seconds?

    Thanks 🙂 This would be really helpful

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David

David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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