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Fuji X-T1 — A Fine Camera for Almost Everything

Thanks to our part­ner­ship with The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary Alberta Canada), I recently tested The Fuji X-T1 w/the Fuji XF 18-135mm f/3.5–5.6 lens. The Fuji X-T1 is a solid, retro-looking mir­ror­less cam­era that I’ve been want­ing to test for a few months as it has been get­ting seri­ously good reviews and some pros have even touted it as a DSLR killer. Although I love my DSLR (Nikon D800E replaced by the D810), it’s heavy and a pain to carry around for hours and hours at a time. I’m always inter­ested to test smaller cam­eras that can give my DSLR a good fight for its money in the hopes that one day I can just bury the DSLR beast.

Fuji X-T1

Fuji X-T1

 

For those that want the con­clu­sion at the begin­ning, I really liked the Fuji– XT1 and I’ll talk about why in a few para­graphs, but let’s get that DSLR killer thing out of the way.

Straight off the bat this is one of the best mir­ror­less or point and shoot dig­i­tal cam­eras I have tested. It goes head to head to with my DSLR on many lev­els. That said, it can­not kill my DSLR or even lower priced DSLRs built in the past cou­ple of years because it can’t track and cap­ture mov­ing sub­jects with the same ease. I’m NOT a sports pho­tog­ra­pher but I reg­u­larly want to shoot a bird, squir­rel, fast mov­ing dog, or run­ning baby. For me, a DSLR killer must be able to track and cap­ture a mov­ing sub­ject with the same ease and effi­cacy (and ratio of keep­ers) as a DSLR. The X-T1 can­not eas­ily do this and admits to being unable to do this on page 68 of the man­ual. It’s the one big thing that’s miss­ing for me in this (and every other mir­ror­less or point and shoot on the mar­ket today) cam­era. It does a bet­ter job at this task than all the other mir­ror­less or point and shoot cam­eras I’ve tried, but DSLRs cost­ing the same or less money as this cam­era will get you sharper results with greater ease. If you accept this lim­i­ta­tion and you have the bud­get for it ($2100. for the cam­era and lens) it’s the best non-DSLR cam­era that I’ve tried.

Here’s a check­list of the main things I really liked about the Fuji X-T1

1 — Solid feel and size — The Fuji  X-T1 is a solid feel­ing metal cam­era and I like that. I’m sick of pla­s­ticky feel­ing devices. This cam­era is VERY rem­i­nis­cent of my old Nikon FM2 film cam­era in terms of shape, size and weight. One of the main advan­tages of this cam­era is that it is much smaller and weighs less than most DSLRs. The FUJI X-T1 weighs 440 grams with the cam­era and card. My D800E with bat­tery and card weighs more than dou­ble (994 grams)!

Comparison between the new Fuji XT-1 and the 30ish year old Nikon F3. Hat tip and © Wendy Kennedy for this image.

Size com­par­i­son between the new Fuji XT-1 and a 30ish year old Nikon F3. Hat tip and © Wendy Kennedy for this image.

 

2 — Over­all sharp­ness — Aside from sharp­ness on fast mov­ing sub­jects, you will love the sharp­ness of this camera!

The XT-1 gives you lovely natural colours. Images are sharp straight out of the camera.

The XT-1 gives you lovely nat­ural colours. Images are sharp straight out of the cam­era. Exif — ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/100. Note:  I did NOT try to get the birds sharp in this image, I was fram­ing the peo­ple on the bench and the mov­ing birds were a happy coincidence.

 

3 — Auto­matic elec­tronic viewfinder  - You can frame your scene by look­ing at the back of the LCD screen or through the viewfinder. The cam­era ‘knows’ when you bring the viewfinder to your eye and all inte­rior con­trols become instantly vis­i­ble — It’s very cool.

4 — Hori­zon line — This appears auto­mat­i­cally in order to let you know if your cam­era is par­al­lel to the sub­ject for dis­tor­tion free images. I really like this but you can shut it off if you don’t.

5 — Shoots in RAW for­mat, Jpeg and RAW/Jpeg

6 — Although I already ragged on the aut­o­fo­cus being infe­rior for mov­ing sub­jects when com­pared to a DSLR, it does a bet­ter job than all other non-DSLR cam­era that I’ve tried. In addi­tion it has focus points that you can move around your screen fairly eas­ily to allow the aut­o­fo­cus to focus where you want. I use these focus points all the time when I’m fram­ing a scene.

In order to assure sharp eyes (or sharp anything) I am always moving the auto-focusing square to exactly where I want the most sharpness to be. In this case, I moved it right over my boy Baci's eye. The Fuji XT-1 does a decent job at this! (Not as good as most DSRs mind you, but MUCH better than most mirrorless/point and shoot cameras I've tried). As an aside, this was a relatively low light shot with EXIF data at ISO 6400, f/4.7 at 1/80.

In order to assure sharp eyes (or sharp any­thing) I am always mov­ing the auto-focusing square to exactly where I want the most sharp­ness to be. In this case, I moved it right over my boy Baci’s eye. The Fuji X-T1 does a decent job at this! (Not as fluid as most DSRs mind you, but MUCH bet­ter than most mirrorless/point and shoot cam­eras I’ve tried).
As an aside, this was a rel­a­tively low light shot with EXIF data at ISO 6400, f/4.7 at 1/80.

 

7  - Low light shoot­ing. This cam­era does a killer-good job in low light!  It’s a low light maven! This image below was shot/pushed at ISO 12800. I never shoot at this ISO because nor­mally you get tons of noise (pixelization/grain) at this speed. But look how accept­able this image is! I have even included a 100% crop of a por­tion of the image with shadow detail as noise is most vis­i­ble in the shad­ows. Yes there is noise in those shad­ows but it’s accept­able noise, it’s not a hail­storm. Most mirrorless/point and shoot cam­eras (and most DSLRs) on the mar­ket today are infe­rior to the Fuji X-T1 with regard to their low-light and low-noise performance.

This image was shot at f/3.5 at 1/110 at ISO 12800! Look how acceptable the noise level is.

This image was shot at f/3.5 at 1/110 at ISO 12800! Look how accept­able the noise level is.

Here’s a 100% crop from the same image.

Noise is its nastiest in the shadows but look at how well the noise is handled at ISO 12800 - Very, very impressive!

Noise is its nas­ti­est in the shad­ows but look at how well the noise is han­dled at ISO 12800 — Very, very impressive!


X-T1 Gripes

As hinted at pre­vi­ously, my main gripe with the X-T1 (and every other point and shoot/mirrorless cam­era that I’ve tried) is that it can­not aut­o­fo­cus fast enough to cap­ture fast mov­ing objects as sharp as I like them. Here is a shot of a squir­rel. I admit it’s very good for cam­eras in its class but my DSLR and most oth­ers I’ve tried does better.

This is a 100% crop detail of a squirrel. I focused on the eye for about 15 images and the eye is good but it is not tack sharp. My DSLR has a much better ratio of keepers for difficult shots like these. EXIF data was ISO 800 f/5.6 1/850

A 100% crop detail of a squir­rel. I focused on the eye for about 15 images and the eye in this image is good but it is not tack sharp. My DSLR has a much bet­ter ratio of keep­ers for dif­fi­cult shots like these. EXIF data was ISO 800, f/5.6 @ 1/850

 

The main other gripe would be the price as $2100. for a mir­ror­less cam­era and lens is quite a chunk of change when DSLRs with lenses can be had for many hun­dreds of dol­lars less. That said, we should be used to pay­ing more for devices that are phys­i­cally smaller; it’s the trend across so many con­sumer prod­ucts. To tem­per the price blow a bit, this cam­era is very ver­sa­tile and can accom­mo­date many dif­fer­ent lenses of vary­ing focal lengths. It’s solidly built and it seems like it will last.

In con­clu­sion, if you have the bud­get for this cam­era you will love its size, shape, feel and its weight. The qual­ity and sharp­ness of the files are superb and as long as you don’t expect tack sharp eyes from mov­ing sub­jects, you will love this cam­era. To date, it’s the best non DSLR cam­era I’ve tried.

Comments

  1. Honorio Braga says:

    I’m an ama­teur pho­tog­ra­pher in my 74 years. My first cam­era was a Fujika ST-701, got it in 1970. I was crazy about pho­tog­ra­phy at that time. i still have the 701. Today I have a Finepix S1800 . Thanks for your review, I’ll try to find the xT-1 here in Rio. I’ m on face book with my com­plete name Hon­o­rio Car­los Pereira Braga.

  2. Gaston Laval says:

    Per­fect tim­ing on the review Marko as I am con­sid­er­ing buy­ing this cam­era from a short­list of pos­si­bil­i­ties. You may have just steered me to Fuji.
    Thanks for the review.

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