Like I was saying in the X100T post, Fuji Canada was nice enough to lend me a couple of cameras and lenses over the Holiday season. The first thing I did was to update the X-T1 firmware to get all the new goodies. Here are my observations after using the camera for the last 3 weeks.
First impression and ergonomics
You got to give it to Fuji, they know how to make good looking cameras. This thing is pure beauty. It is well built and feels so great in the hands. The grip is just big enough and there is a nice thumb rest for more stability.
There is a control knob for everything on this camera: ISO, Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation, Drive, Metering, AF/MF and the Aperture ring. It definitely is a photographer's camera. A beginner might be frightened by all those controls. For a guy like me, it's almost paradise. You build up muscle memory fast and after that, it's a breeze to setup the exposure and shooting preferences. You almost never need to go into the menus.
A quick note on Fuji's menu system. All caps? Bleh! You can do better than that Fuji. That makes it harder to read than it should be, and it's so unattractive. There are color inconsistencies too. The background jumps from dark grey to light grey to white. It's such a good looking camera, but the menu is so ugly.
There is one thing I hate on the body, and it's the diopter adjustment wheel. It is in a really bad place and way too easy to turn. Almost each time I get the camera out of the bag, I messed with that. I put my eye to the EVF and everything is out of focus and after a couple of seconds, I realize I must have turned that little wheel by mistake when I grabbed the X-T1. They should either move that control somewhere else, make it harder to turn or lock it like the two main knobs on the top of the camera.
Like the Fuji X100T, the X-T1 does not have a touch screen. Maybe on the next model? They are so useful when you want to switch the focus point fast. We are used to have touch screens everywhere now.
The EVF is big and there is no tunneling effect like on my Panasonic LX100 or GX7. There is no lag at all, even in low light. I don't get the switching problem that I get on the LX100 under bright sunlight conditions. I find the EVF and screen hard to see in direct sunlight though. The screen display is good and it can swivel up or down which is really useful for doing shots above the head or close to the ground.
Usage and Image Quality
Like I said with in the X100T review, Fuji's biggest strength is their sensor. They really know what they are doing. The files that comes out of this camera are great, although quite big. Bigger might mean better in this case. They contain so much information. I completely blown away a picture and I was sure all the highlights were clipped. I played with it in Lightroom to see what I could get out of it. To my surprise, I was able to save the picture. Here is the before and after. For the Lightroom settings, I went with -1.60 EV and -29 highlights to recover the information in the raw file.
At this point in the text, you are probably thinking: this guy is in love with that camera. Not quite so. As I was saying to a friend, I love this camera until I turn it on. What bugs me? The auto-focus. I know it is WAY better on the Fuji X-T1 than on the "old" X-Pro 1 but it is painful for someone who's coming from micro 4/3. With the Fuji 56mm f/1.2, it always hunt. Even if you were in focus, let go of the shutter and half press it again, the lens will go from one end of the focus scale to the other before getting back to the good focus point. We are talking in good light here. If you shoot in low light, it is slower. If you shoot against the light, at sunset for example, good luck to get a focus lock. It is a little bit better with the Fuji 23mm f/1.4. There are many rumors about new Fuji cameras this year. Please! Get a good auto-focus. For that reason, I would not consider that camera for a wedding. It is my personal opinion here. I know people who use it for weddings but it would be a stress factor for me.
A friend of mine came for breakfast on January 3rd. She's a professional photographer, and she was my wedding photographer. I handed the Fuji X-T1 to her without saying anything. She took it and started taking pictures. The first thing she mentioned was the crappy AF. She's using a Canon 5D Mark III at the moment.
The way I see it, it's a very good camera for a slow photographer. I don't say that in a pejorative way. What I mean is it's good for someone who have the time to go slow. For example, a landscape photographer who takes the time to set up his/her shot. Even a Portrait photographer who can work at a slow pace (forget the kids or pets photographers here). For event photography, I would look at another camera.
There is a thing Fuji has that Canon and Nikon does not. They listen to their customers and they upgrade their cameras. Fuji does an awesome job on firmware updates. Another very good (and important) point is their customers service. I can only talk about Fuji Canada here but those peoples are awesome. They answer inquiries really fast, they are very friendly, and they will do all they can to help you. The ones I met are really passionate about their job and their products. They are fun to talk with and they know their stuff. From what I get from friends around the world, it seems to be that way everywhere.
Wait! Let me get my raincoat! I know some tomatoes and eggs are already being thrown at me. Let me remind you once again that it's only MY opinion and not the end all, be all RIGHT opinion. As I said many times, photography is not a matter of specs but it involves a lot of feelings. Get the camera in your hands and try it if only for a few shots. You might fall in love with it. I did not. To be honest, I wanted so much to love that camera. It's one of the best looking one and I know the image quality it can produce. I also love Fuji colors. Unfortunately, it's not the camera for me. It would bring me a lot more stress than joy. You always have to remember, even if you are a pro, that photography is supposed to be fun.
I am not afraid for Fuji though. They already have good cameras and a lot of good lenses out, and they don't stand still (Hello Canon? Anybody home?). They are innovating and when they find good things, they try to update their existing cameras with it as much as possible. I don't like the AF of the X-T1 but it is light years ahead of their X-Pro 1. The X100T that came out in 2014 is already ahead of the X-T1 so I think they are getting there on that point. Let's not forget that the Fuji X-Pro 1 is only three years old (launched January 10th, 2012). Look at the system they built in only three years. THREE YEARS! That's incredible. Six cameras bodies and 15 lenses. Good quality lenses. That's not even counting the X100 serie and the X10-20-30. For me, they are almost there and I think this year will be a great one for Fuji fans.
I still had fun using the Fuji X-T1 and here are some of the pictures I made with it.
Here are the links to the gear used in this post and the one on the Fuji X100T.