The Good, the Bad and the unbelievable
Size: Numbers and words can’t do it justice! If you are a long time pro DSLR user and get the chance to use the X-T1 for one week and then switch back, the first thing that will definitely shock you is the size and weight of your DSLR. Even now, I can’t believe how I actually thought all those years that a D700 sized camera was a good and “lite” kit!
Ergonomics and Looks: The traditional SLR design with the viewfinder hump placed on the lens axis together with its beautifully machined analog dials make for a sexy retro looking camera. I only wish that Fuji would bring us a black and silver model as well.
Build quality: Retro look but definitely not a retro build. The X-T1 is built on a pro level magnesium alloy body that is then weather sealed at 80 places so when combined with a weather sealed lens (coming soon) the whole package will be able to withstand most harsh environments that the photographer may find himself in. Thankfully, the light leak issue found on the first batch has now been rectified and if you happen to have one of those affected units, please send it to your nearest dealer for repair.
Tiltable LCD: After 2 months of solid use I have come to really appreciate its tilt-able capabilities and fully trust its construction which at first looked sort of weak. I only wished it was a touch screen.
Wi-Fi: Fuji has a couple of good apps that still need some refinements but overall it does the job and is much more than what I ever got from Nikon. The “Fujifilm Camera remote” for both iOS and Android enables the user to not only trigger the shutter remotely, but control some important aspects of the camera but not all. With my Samsung Galaxy III, I can sit protected from the elements in the comfort of my car while my weatherproof tripod mounted camera is laboring along in the cold. Unfortunately there is no Bulb and your longest exposures are limited to 30 sec. For longer exposures the Fujifilm RR-90 Remote Release is needed or you can opt for a very affordable Chinese Canon RS-60E3 compatable remote which i'm currently using with great success. I can also use the GPS feature on my phone to add geo-location data to images and also transfer JPEGS as well. Such WiFi capabilities should have been a standard option for all cameras, so thank you Fuji.
EVF: What I really like about the X-T1’s EVF, apart from size, is that it’s so very WYSIWYG, I mean you can tweak the exposure and the EVF responds in a precise manner – this is totally new to me coming from a DSLR with an optical viewfinder. Glad you still get a histogram and thankfully you can switch WYSIWYG off for strobe / flash use. And for my DSLR friends out there, even with a 10-stop ND filter attached, you can still see enough of the scene to able to frame your shot! EVF rocks!
Shutter: The sound of the shutter, which I pay a great importance on, is soft and pretty subdued compared to FF DSLR’s and is a big reason for me to like this camera even more. Just the other day I was shooting a friend and he swore that I didn’t take the shot because he didn’t hear my camera go off.
Dials: All the important dials and knobs you’ll ever need are on the top deck. You set them up and are ready to shoot, no need to dig into menus. Some don’t like the lock on the ISO dial, and there is a solution coming but for the time being I find it OK. The dial I use the most is the Compensation dial and I find it easy to use and a nice size.
Max shutter: Again, the X-T1 disappoints by offering a maximum shutter speed of only 1/4000sec. It’s a shame that sharp and fast optics such as the XF 56mm f/1.2 cannot be mounted on a body offering the industry pro standard of 1/8000sec. Its only 1 stop, but why not Fuji?
Base ISO: Base ISO is a high 200 which is a bummer for landscape photographers. I myself would have loved a base of ISO 50 - it would make using those great fast primes much easier in bright conditions.
RAW: Coming from the Nikon world, I found it "horrifying" that i couldn't get RAW files for the boosted ISO's including the low option of ISO 100.
Battery: If there is one thing I miss from my Nikon kit, it's the long lasting batteries. Unfortunately, the standard Fuji battery is only 1200mAh and i would guess that the X-T1 with its EVF would most probably require more juice than a typical DSLR. Even though the Fuji battery is rated at 350 shots, so far I'm getting better mileage. Note though that i am constantly using the ON/OFF switch plus i don't use auto preview after each shot and I rarely use the rear LCD during a shoot. What I have also found, is that the batteries have a quick discharge rate even when not used. Unfortunately, if the camera has been sitting for a number of days, i will have to charge all batteries the night before to make sure that they all all 100% full.
Spot metering: It’s a shame that such a camera so close to being perfect doesn’t have a movable spot mode capable of following the AF sensor.
Video: Video is not wanted by most, and the video button is easily activated by mistake so I can’t think why Fuji didn’t give us the ability to disable it all together!
Pad & buttons: As mentioned by most of the reviewers on the net, the rear control pad is a bit awkward to use, especially when in a hurry or under time pressure such as on a paying job. So for pro use, the butthons need to be more pronounced.
At the moment Fuji offers two nice zooms, the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS (27 - 84mm) and the XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS (84-305mm) which are much better in terms of image and build quality when compared to the plastic zooms offered by Nikon and Canon. Thankfully, pro specked fast zooms are expected this summer. The real attraction though at the moment, are Fuji’s great lineup of high-performance primes such as the 14mm, 23mm, 35mm, 56mm and 60mm Macro. Fuji also has two great performing pancake lenses for those times when you want an “invincible” lens for street photography.
For me the X-T1 is a game changer (I and plenty of other pro photogs have already switched) and I personally believe that it will go down in history as the camera that first rocked the boat – and if Nikon and Canon don’t answer soon, the next Fuji incarnation may actually sink both giants!