When you are stricken with the incurable disease that is photography you find yourself on a mission to own the perfect camera. I have owned everything from Leica M and R’s to Hasselblad 50o CM and everything in-between. But with digital the world is upside down and sideways and it seems as if you are standing on the shifting sands of rapid changing technology, which can be both good and frustrating. Then sort of out of nowhere (remember their S5 Pro) comes Fuji and their cute little “X” systems cameras, (as if my lust for the holy grail of cameras needed to have the their embers stoked) first the X100 and now the newest creation the XT1!
My first impressions are admittedly biased, but they are honest nonetheless. I will give you my straight up view of the Fuji XT1 as I see it:
BUILD QUALITY: As soon as I unboxed the camera and picked it up the differences were immediate and pronounced. The hand feel is solid, as in rock solid. The texture is reassuring without being obnoxious. The buttons move with in a solid, reassuring way. The dials are just firm enough to make accidental adjustments a thing of the past. Am I right you XE-1 users! Can I get a Amen! But one awesome feature are the dials themselves and what they control and how brilliantly laid out they are. No more riffling through confusing menus to change the ISO or shutter speed. Nikon DF tried the retro dial thing but failed in their execution, whereas Fuji XT1 succeeded. For me I will need the grip ASAP because the camera is still small. I would dare to say X Pro-1 size. And for adding a second battery to insure longer shooting before battery changes. Speaking of the battery. It is the same as the X Pro1 and the XE-2, which is great. In addition the battery has it’s own compartment and so does the SD card slot, FINALLY!
The dial, doors, hatches, portholes and every other orifice is weather sealed. Not water proof but sealed enough so the next time I am shooting a wedding at the Texas Renaissance Festival and it decides to rain as if we are in the Costa Rican rain forest I will not fret as much. In order to truly take advantage of this weather sealing you need the lenses to be the same, which as of now, are nonexistent. With that said great job on the build quality. The first real, “DSLR like” body from Fuji in the X mount system and hope this is a trend from Fuji.
VIEWFINDER: This is going to be a super short review of the viewfinder. Think IMAX when looking through this viewfinder. It is brilliant, responsive and most of all 100% coverage and color accurate. I crave a WYSIWYG viewfinder, hence my love for the Canon 1V HS. Told ya it would be short 🙂
IMAGE QUALITY: Boy, am I spoiled! I have the X Pro-1, X100s, XE-2 and now the XT1 and to be honest they all produce the same stunning, detail rich, sharp images day in and day out. Fuji XT1 did not deviate far from the sensor and processor that is in the XE-2, and nor should they. The control you have over the images in camera is perfect and the JPEG’s are as good of a JPEG can get out of camera. White balance is very good and of course the B&W are, as usual, simply stunning. Never mind the crazy good, and I mean CRAZY good low light performance. Fuji done got this one right!
AUTO FOCUS: The thorn in the side of Fuji X system has been their auto focus. The X Pro-‘s auto focus on day one was miserable. Now, it’s not bad at all. I am a wedding photographer I must have fast, accurate auto focus and so far I can say the XT1 delivers. The XE-2 is pretty darn good but I needed better than good. I needed really good and a really good focus tracking system. Hey, the Canon 5D II aint no track star in the auto focusing department. I missed as many or more shots with the crappy 5DII AF system than I care to admit. But, that’s all there was in Canon until the 5DIII, which I REFUSE to pay $3499.00 for! Arrrgg, the arrogance of Canon!!!!
Anyway, back on topic. The XT1 auto focus is snappy and seems to be spot on accurate. I need to do more low light testing to see how it truly performs. If the single shot and focus tracking performs the way I think it will I might be able to finally dump all my Canon gear for good! I do wish Fuji would add two thing to their focusing, one is multiple point focusing. Not like a zillion focusing points but 9 to 12 would be perfect. I would love to see Fuji change the color of their focus peak highlights to red like in the Sony A7 and A7r.
FLASH: This is the one glaring failure in the Fuji X system. I say failure because I use flash and for me the ability to take flash off camera is paramount and down right mandatory. Yea, yea, yea I know you can use Pocket Wizards with strobes. What I mean is the ability to take my EFX-20 and EFX-42 off camera and retain TTL functionality. Or at the very least be able to adjust flash output off camera wirelessly. EVERYONE else does this why can’t Fuji? This is a big deal to me because I (and many other pro’s) invested heavily into the Quantum Qlash system. When I use my Canon there is no problem. But with the Fuji, this is a big problem. If Fuji is going to delve into the pro market I feel they need to address this glaring weakness. The lack of ability to use any Fuji flash off camera is very limiting and almost debilitating. The nice surprise is the little flash that comes with the camera. It is rather nice and is powered off your camera batter so no need to carry extra batteries for the flash!
VIDEO: I do not do video and neither should you 😉
In conclusion, the Fuji XT1 is exactly what I was hoping it would be, well almost. The lack of off camera flash issue is the cactus in my Speedo. However I am willing to deal with that glaring deficiency to get a light weight, fast, well built and beautiful image producing work of art. The Fuji XT1 is the only camera where I declared prior to its release that regardless of my situation I am buying one the day they are available in Houston. If you are debating on if it is worth it $1,299.99 price tag. In one word; oh hell yes! This is the Fuji that has been needed for a while. The XT1 is a real working photographers camera. Yes, it will piss off the hipsters because it’s not “ironic” and “retro” but who cares. Plus pissing of hipsters is FUN!
Thanks to Craig at Houston Camera Exchange looking out for me and putting one aside until I could get their to pick it up, big man hug to you Craig!