Top positive review
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Fujifilm's strongest offering to date, a serious contender
on 14 April 2014
I'm not invested in the Fujifilm X system, but I have been using quite a few bodies in the last few months and some of their lenses.
The X-T1 is the newest I've used and it's by some margin the most anticipated body yet from the company. I had to beg to borrow this for a few days testing.
The retro looking old school SLR type body, houses an ILC mirrorless design with a high quality EVF
On balance this is a very strong offering from Fujifilm, though there are a few niggles and areas that could be improved.
My quick fire summary is as follows:
+ Very nice build quality, Magnesium alloy shell feels solid and sturdy
+ Excellent EVF, the best I've used to date 2.36 million dot OLED and a very large 0.77x magnification, think good FF DSLR size
+ 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor delivers very nice tonality, good dynamic range (in the highlight areas and pulling shadows) impressive low light performance
+ Exp compensation dial is stiff and not easy to move (was a problem on previous models)
+ Has built in wi-fi and supports Fuji's remote camera "app" which is quite good allowing remote control of the camera and most important settings (iOS and Android supported)
+ Weatherproof body, dust and water resistant
+ Autofocus is fast, good accuracy, and can track moving subjects well, speedy burst rate at 8fps with a large 20+ shot raw buffer
+ Reliable, consistent metering and mostly on target auto white balance (a tad cool with some daylight shots though)
+ Very clear and impressive 3.0-inch, 1.04 million tilting LCD screen
+ Good customisation, the 4 way pad can be set to a variety of functions (eg AF, WB, AF mode etc etc) as well as 2 other buttons (total of 6)
+ Excellent jpeg output, I set -2 NR (noise reduction) there is some film like grain at high ISO levels, but very well controlled and natural looking. Good details
+ EVF can display dual images (for manual focus/peaking) or split image (like a rangefinder) and rotates information for vertical shots (novel but it's really quite useful)
+ PC sync socket for studio lights
+ Supports the latest UHS-II SD cards (ie the very fast ones)
+ Good handling overall, I love the ISO dial, the drive mode selection under it, and the metering mode under the shutter speed dial
+ Light and compact body, discreet low noise shutter
- Video mode is basic, no manual controls and output is not overly impressive (lacks clarity and detail) lots of moiré in footage
- I'm not entirely sold on the need for some controls, the shutter speed dial does seem somewhat less useful for SLR users (who are used to PASM modes) I do like the ISO and drive mode dials though
- No built in flash, some might argue it's pointless but it can be useful at times and for triggering off camera flashes, you do get a bundled EF-X8 small flash (Gn11), but it's another item to carry around with you
- Fuji's flash system is limited (at the present time), it does not support HSS (useful for daylight fill in flash) and it does not have wireless control. I expect this to be addressed in time, but it's one of the weakest elements of the X system to date and falls far short of the main 4 DSLR makers. You can work around the flash sync in daylight at faster apertures with ND filters, and radio triggers take care of the wireless aspect. Still it needs looking at
- Flash exposure compensation is buried in the menus
- Raw limited to ISO 6400 (jpeg only above that). Raw files have very low Chroma (colour noise) though Fuji are overstating their ISO values by around a stop compared to other cameras I did controlled testing on this, ISO 6400 is close to ISO 3200 on other makers
- Battery life isn't great, around 300-320 shots that's quite a bit below expectations (there is a grip option to extend battery life, I've not used that)
- Some buttons a bit small (AEL, AF-L) would prefer larger more rounded buttons - not so easy to use with your eye to the viewfinder. Buttons and main 4 way controller are quite flush with the body and don't stick out much
- Jpegs too much contrast at default though can be adjusted. Noise reduction can over smooth areas in jpeg
The strap is similar to previous X models some call it "Pleather" a pretend plastic leather effect. I have one on my XS-1 too it's ok but some might not like it at all (bit stiff)
For raw processing ACR 8.4 (and LR 5.4) are much improved over older versions. Fuji's sensor is quite unique and different to normal bayer sensors, this has taken time to get up to par for raw workflow.
There is a lot to like about the X-T1, it's a very solid fun camera to use. The retro styling might appeal to people, I like it but it's not a major feature...though the extensive controls are welcome and make settings easy to make and very visual too (ie you can see if you're in cont drive or what metering mode, ISO, shutter speed just looking at the dials) Quite the reverse of Canon's mostly button only settings (I can live with it but Fuji are stronger here)
AF speeds are impressive with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 (I have only tested it with this and the 35mm f1.4) it's certainly up there with DSLR's that I've used (I will have to test further though for tracking performance) In low light though it seemed slower and not quite as good but the accuracy was there.
More than anything the Fuji is a fun camera to use, one you want to shoot with and enjoy the experience (mostly) it's certainly the best X series model I have used to date. For Fuji users invested in the mount it's a must have. I am on the fence for the moment as I have 2 DSLR mounts supported. I have a few concerns, not optics wise the Fuji lenses I have used have all been very strong performers. But I will wait to see how the system grows, and it's quite important Fuji address the weak flash system (in terms of current functionality and the flashguns on offer)
I'm also a bit disappointed Fuji decided to use electronic focus by wire on their lenses, it's not the worst I have used but it's simply far inferior to a good mechanical focus lens, and not in keeping with the "retro thinking" and design of their other bodies.
As for the X-T1 on it's own it's a strong offering that will appeal to still shooters (video users should look elsewhere) dare I say the purist shooter who is looking to get back to basics (manual setting of exposure, and the controls) The price isn't bad really, something of a bargain if you compare it to the OM-D EM-1 (which is a good few hundred more) It's a lovely camera, and recommended, likely to be a camera many users will get quite attached too (which is good, if you enjoy shooting that's a good thing)
Then you have the "fuji colours" aspect too, some people dismiss the differences in cameras as minor, but it's hard not to like the charms of the Fuji cameras I have shot with (across many types of camera) I personally feel it's not a myth, though very much down to taste. Fuji does know how to make appealing, yet not overcooked images that I just like.
Not perfect, I'd love to give it 4.5 stars, few cameras are but Fuji continue to mostly impress with their forward thinking and ideas.
Update Dec 2014:
Fuji have released an extensive firmware update for this model (Version 3.0) some of the features added are:
High-speed electronic shutter
Classic Chrome Film Simulation
Natural Live View function
EVF / LCD Colour Control
AF/MF function can now manual focus after AF confirmed with shutter half press
Direct selection of AF area via 4 way pad
Q. Menu customization
New Video Frame rates
Manual shooting control for video (ISO and aperture/shutter)
PC tethered shooting support
There are other changes that's some of the main ones