The Fuji xt-1
The classically designed little piece of kit that is the Fuji XT-1 is one of the reasons I’ve completely ignored the site for the past few months and for that I apologize. The lack of content, not the camera. But this little retro inspired device reignited my passion for photography and made me forget about things such website and social media. Which while being a good thing might not have been such a smart thing. Anyway a review of this camera might be redundant by now since its successor was released a few months ago but I thought I would share a few brief things that made me fall in love with the Fuji X-T1.
The DMC-GM5 was as mentioned in a previous post my introduction into the world of mirrorless cameras. The reason for that choice was that it filled my main need at the time, which was size. It’s small size made it possible to carry it in my pocket and thereby always have it with me, which I still do when I’m not out specifically to take photos. But along came the Fuji X-T1 with all it’s nobs and dials and knocked me of my feet.
To be clear this is not a technical review, for more detail on image quality and other technical stuff there are tons of in depth reviews around. If you’re interested in the nitty gritty check out dpreview. This review will only be about the feel and usage of the Fuji xt-1. But if there is anything in particular you’re wondering about leave a comment and I’ll do my best.
Specifications of the fuji xt-1 IN short
- 16.3mp X-trans CMOS II
- 3inch 1040k-dot LCD
- Electronic Viewfinder 2.36 millin dot oled (oh what a viewfinder)
- 1080/60p video
- Hotshot with Bundled Flash
- Magnesium alloy body with aluminium top/bottom
- ISO 200-51200
- Shutter speed 60sec to 1/4000 (1/32000 electronic)
- Size 129x90x47
- Weight 440g (battery included)
The lens mount is Fujifilm X-mount. For more detailed specs and features on the Fuji XT-1 see here.
Retro design & stunning good looks
The designers at Fujifilm certainly went away from the norm when they designed their entire X-series. From the rangefinder style X-Pro and X100 cameras to xe and xt series. The retro style of these cameras will either make you hate them or love them. But be sure that the retro look can be a real conversation starter. It seems as most people have grown accustomed to the dslr style of camera and as such are quite curios about the cool old school thing around your neck. As for me I think the X-series cameras are pretty much the coolest looking cameras out there. The Fuji xt-1’s retro looks and design makes it more discreet than a dslr. And the physical dials makes it, to me, more fun to use. So if you’re into street photography this camera will do nicely with its discreet looks and non-threatening demeanor but also because the addition of an electronic shutter, which can make shooting noiseless.
Sizewise it fits me really well bigger than my Panasonic DMC-GM5 but still a lot smaller than my old Nikon dslr. So to me it hits that sweet spot when it’s comfortable for an entire day of shooting but still light enough to make me want to take it along on those occasion when I’m not sure what the day will bring. If you have large hand the grip might be somewhat shallow but there are accessories that extend the grip. The build quality of the Fuji XT-1 really solid and the camera is weather resistant (but beware that not all Fuji glass is). The screen is bright and clear but there is no touch feature. The lack of touch is no biggie to me but it would have been a nice addition when when changing focus points. The battery life is, as with all smaller mirrorless cameras, fairly short (official 350 shots), but it is to be expected since it is a smaller battery and the EVF needs a lot of power. So you’ll definitely need a spare or two.
Nobs and dials
The retro look of the Fuji XT-1 includes a bunch of nobs and dials for you to fiddle with. Separate dials for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation as well as knobs for drive mode, focus mode and metering. As if that weren’t enough the aperture is adjusted on the lenses themselves. But if you know the exposure triangle the camera is fairly logically set up and quick to learn. I thoroughly enjoy having all the elements in form of physical dials and knobs on the camera itself. It makes me feel more in tune with the craft so to speak. Having said that I know that they might slow me down in certain situations which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Slowing down when doing landscapes and the like might not be a bad thing since it makes you think more about the image. On the other hand while photographing moments it might be a disaster, but then I often opt for aperture or shutter priority depending on the situation.
I do believe that the Fuji XT-1 is a good choice for beginners that are interested in learning photography. Because having all these physical adjustment dials makes concepts like ISO and aperture more tangible, specially when combined with an EVF that shows what each adjustment does without the need to snap a shot and chimp (check the shot on the back lcd).
The Electronic Viewfinder
The EVF (electronic viewfinder) in the Fuji XT-1 is a thing of beauty. Big, bring and with a good refresh rate. It’s not perfect mind you, no EVF is (yet), but Fujifilm is getting much closer. And from what I’ve heard the EVF on the XT-2 is even faster. Since the EVF on the Fuji XT-1 is both one of the largest there is and features a 2.36 million dot bright oled display there is plenty of room for any information you would like to include like histogram, guidelines etc without it getting in the way of the scene. If you appreciate manual focus lenses, which there are plenty available to play around with second hand, the EVF has great focus aids such as focus peeking and split image. Coming to the XT-1 from first dslr cameras through micro 4/3 the EVF was a relevation. I can see exactly what I’m going to get and now through the biggest brightest viewfinder I’ve ever seen (clearly I’m sold on this thing).
I am in no way an expert in lenses but from what I’ve read and watched online as well as from shooting with the Fujinon lenses I have (which seems to be an ever growing collection…) I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much all Fuji lenses are nice pieces of glass (baring the 18mm/f2). The lenses are almost all made in Japan and the build quality and feel is superb. Judging from the range on lenses available from Fuji today they cover most needs from the wide zoom 10-24mm f4 to the 100-400mm f4.5-5.6. With lots of fast glass ranging from the 14mm f2.8 to the 50-140mm f2.8.
The Fuji XT-1 with it’s x-trance II sensor produces beautiful images with great color. And if you ask pretty much everyone that has used one of the Fuji X-series cameras for a while they will say that the images has a certain something special that’s hard to describe. But perhaps that’s because they’re all converts as I am =). Another feature is Fuji’s film simulations, a feature I believed to be of little interest when I read up on camera. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. The simulations provide great shortcuts in my post processing and at times remove the need entirely.
My favorite simulation for color images is classic chrome and monochrome+ye for black and white. The jpegs come out great with these film simulations which makes it’s easy to share a quick jpeg through the WiFi without much need for processing on your phone or tablet. A few sample images follows, all images are edited according to my taste.
For me it’s not only about the technical aspects of a camera but also about how it feels to use, and the Fuji XT-1 both looks great and feels great. Is it perfect? No, but no such camera exists and probably never will. This is the closest I’ve come to find a perfect camera, a camera that fits me and my needs. Now I’m only waiting for the next bout of G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) to see if I can fight the urge to upgrade to the Fuji XT-2 or perhaps get a X100F… I’ll probably give in to one or the other, but who knows.
Price point and Where to get it
The Fuji XT-1 is available in black or black/graphite silver. Hard decision to make but as I bought mine second hand, black it became. As for lenses the kit lens is a Fujinon 18-55mm but the kit is available in other configurations. For a beginner I would recommend the 18-55mm/f2.8-4 lens which covers about 27-82mm in full frame terms and features image stabilization. The Fuji XT-1 is available most places you can buy a camera for example here at Amazon.