The versatile Fuji Xt1

June 11, 2014  •  7 Comments

It's been 4 months since I plonked the money down for the new Fuji Xt1 and the 18-55mm lens combo. After my first gushing appraisal, I have now been able to appreciate it fully.

The (EVF ) viewfinder is sublime, seriously it is flipping awesome, akin to watching a widescreen TV, and compared to the X Pro 1 the difference is massive. Though the X pro has the very nice Optical viewfinder. The dioptre control on the Xt1 is a real bonus for me as I wear glasses, so being able to dial in the right dioptre is a bonus. On the X pro it takes screw in ones, be aware these fall off eventually I've lost 2 of them. Although a little nit-pick is how easily the dioptre can be moved on the XT1,  out came the Sugru and a little dot on the wheel and body stops any rotation.

Shooting with manual focus lenses is made much easier with this new evf and you can choose to have either a split image view or to have the focus edges highlighted in a colour, you can change this option in the menu. I found the split image a little disappointing, it seems to lack the ground glass clarity you find on a 35mm film camera, I use the edge highlights and the focus assist button, you can zoom into the image to check the focus. It works very well especially useful in low light. I found using the blue colour option to be particularly good for showing the edge sharpness.

Controls and dials are well placed and are easy to alter, some can be done whilst the camera is at the eye, shutter speed, metering mode and exposure compensation can be altered easily whilst seeing the effect within the viewfinder information panel. Care needs to be taken if adjusting the exposure compensation dial, as sometime you can hit the video on button. Hopefully this feature will be given a disable choice when the firmware is updated.  The dials to the left of the viewfinder namely ISO and frame rate selection cannot be easily done without taking it away from the eye, especially the ISO button as it needs to be depressed before the housing can turn. Some find this an issue, personally I generally shoot auto ISO so leave the dial in the A position most of the time. At least it cannot easily be knocked out of position. The remainder of the buttons are easy to access though I do wish there was a 2 button quick reformat card option. This brings me to the D pad, many have found the operation of this to be a little tricky, feelings are the buttons don't seem responsive or a feel a bit mushy, personally I have found them to be OK, however they are slightly recessed so folks with fingers like sausages will find them uber annoying. Don't fret you have a friend in sugru, within five minutes you can have your buttons as big as you like, without any damage to the camera. For the cost of a Fiver I used only a tiny amount on mine, believe me it's awesome stuff.

The menu system is pretty easy to navigate and gives you a plethora of options as usual, I will deal with individual items as my review goes on , suffice to say it's pretty comprehensive, and a read of the manual is needed for some aspects.

Focus focus focus, lots of issues and conversations all over the web about this, but for me the focus was the key to me buying the XT1, and I am seriously impressed with it. Last weekend saw me shooting a wedding for 12 hours, in torrential rain, in low light and bright sunshine, I can honestly say with hand on my heart the focus speed was never an issue. My go to settings are usually AFS on focus, whilst my AFC setting are on release. In a fast moving environment, I usually switch to AF continuous, this may appear to be a little unnerving as the camera seems to be constantly focusing leaving you with the impression that it cannot lock, it's not meant to lock its tracking. Just mash the shutter and have faith it does work. Several situations at the wedding found me switching to AFC especially the confetti run, out of 9 frames only one was out, just keep the focus box on your subject and hit the trigger. I have also found by making the focus box bigger it gives a much increased chance of keeping the subject in focus.

Much has been said about changing the performance mode (Found in the menu spanner2 power management) to High performance to gain faster autofocus and faster camera response, for me I leave it off and never had an issue, I prefer battery longevity. If your shooting fast moving action then I would use this option. The biggest issue to me is what lens is attached to the camera, governs how fast focus is achieved for me the slower lenses are the 55-200 and the 35mm, the 14mm 18mm and the 18-55 are very speedy, the 18-55 especially is superb. Reminiscent of the superb Nikon AFS lenses, updated motors I guess. The problem for Fuji in the Af speed is that you need to ensure you understand the system and how things work, best settings etc to get super fast AF, whereas on the Nikon D3 just stick a fast AFS lens on and it just nails pretty much everything.

Understand the settings, and its limitations, the little Fuji set to full motor drive, and the right lens can pretty much hit most things. Superfast wild life or sports action may show up its limitations. Battery life is really just so so, I have the battery grip attached fulltime to my Xt1 and bought extra batteries, shooting the wedding for 12 hours saw me go through six batteries in total, 2 for the X pro 1 and 4 on the T1, my view is using the IS lenses certainly takes some juice from the batteries. The only gripe is the battery meter on the Xt1 like the X pro 1 sucks big time, you go from half full to empty in the blink of an eye. It seriously needs addressing.  My only other major gripe is the flash system, is poorly implemented. I know you can use it in low light without flash, but I think its a serious drawback to a system, that Fuji does not take flash, and lighting control seriously. Wake up guys !!!

Image Quality as ever is superb, I confess to being a jpeg shooter, have been since the onset of digital, concentrating on getting the correct exposure is most important to me, I'm not getting involved in the raw debate, its a case of each to their own, But I don't pixel peep, I print large. being a gallery owner is about printing, and usually large. The largest Fuji file I have printed and sold  was 4 feet by 3ft, I usually print either archival matt or onto canvas, trust me when I say file quality is not an issue. From my early adoption of the X100 to the X pro 1 and now the Xt1 I love the fuji colour and file rendering. Some will point out smeary foliage or high noise reduction in the Xe2 Xt1 files, TBH I see very little difference between the Xt1 and the X pro 1 in printed image quality. I have shot several paid jobs with the XT1 from Weddings to Family portraits and it has never let me down in anyway. After years of lugging round pro glass and pro bodies and one bout of severe RSI, I love the mirror less system, its not perfect but for image quality, form factor and operational ability, it's a killer camera and never fails to impress me.

My recent images from the weekends wedding. Taken with the Xt1 Xpro 1 14mm 2.8 35mm 1.4 50mm 1.4 zuiko and the 55-200 mm


Comments

7.Richard(non-registered)
I handled an X-T1, and OM-D1 and an OM-D5 mk II in the shop today. I couldn't get the X-T1 to focus well for me at all. I love the feel of the camera and I love the viewfinder UI. I think the difference is the much tidier fonts and the neat level line. Some things remind me of why my existing Nikon kit is nice, but it could be a case of adapting.

So how can I get it to focus well? As that really is the killer at the moment. Olympus really has great focus, though I found tracking when looking out of a shop window into a busy street to be more a pain than a help. Do you use fixed area with the D pad? Do you focus/compose/shoot? I'd like to move away from the latter and get composition before focus. Olympus seems to give me this, but I don't find it as nice to handle as Fuji.

Thanks
- Richard
6.Andrew(non-registered)
Yes, really great shots, very impressed. Have just addedX-T1 to my kit and am encouraged to see the quality you can deliver with the kit.
5.Bob T.(non-registered)
Good eval and very nice images
4.WilliamBanzai7(non-registered)
Very nice indeed
3.T. Chow(non-registered)
Terrific images, I especially love that shot of the bride giddy with excitement!

Which specific 50mm 1.4 zuiko lens are you using? Is there one native for Fuji or are you adapting the Olympus?
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