After all the hype about the Fuji X-T1, I had the chance to play with it for 45 minutes yesterday. Here are my first quick impressions :
HANDLING: When I first held it, I felt it’s heavy with respect to its very compact size. It’s as heavy as my X-Pro1. But it’s very well built. Extremely well built. I felt it a bit too compact for my hands and for larger lenses like the XF60/2.4, XF56/1.2, XF55-200 and the upcoming fast f2.8 zooms. Although it can take an additional grip for a better balance with larger lenses but I felt its a bit too small in width. I prefer the size of the X-Pro1 by far.
AF SPEED: Well it’s not “the fastest AF in the world” as Fuji claims. It’s better than the AF speed on the X-Pro1 and X-E2, but it still hunts on low contrast areas. Honestly speaking, I was expecting a better AF performance.
MF FOCUS AID: This is where the X-T1 excels ; whether viewing through the EVF or the LCD, I can say that Fuji made a huge improvement in MF . The Focus Peaking is much better than previous X models, the peaking is very clear and now you can choose 3 colors for the peaking. The Split Screen MF works very well also.
TILT SCREEN: For some photographers , this feature is unnecessary. For me, I find it very useful for low angle shots and for street candid photographs.
EVF : Another strong point of the X-T1: the large clear EVF. It’s a joy to use it unlike the quirky EVF of the previous X models. You can set it to a split screen mode when using MF, and it’s really very useful and clear.
CONTROLS AND DIALS: All the dials are perfectly placed and easy to use. The A mode on the ISO dial and on the shutter dial is very helpful and smart. I wish Nikon designed the Df dials in the same way instead of the PASM mode dial. I find the ISO lock dial on the Df much smoother to use than that on the X-T1. On the other hand the Compensation dial on the X-T1 doesn’t have a lock (unlike the Df), which is great.
ISO PERFORMANCE AND SENSOR: Having the same sensor of the X-E2, We should expect the same IQ. So no improvement in this respect. I wished that we can shoot in RAW at 12,800ISO though … The limit is 6400 for RAW shooting.
VIDEO MODE: Here are the good news; Where it was difficult to use the video mode in my X-Pro1 as the focus keeps hunting, I found that an improvement was made with the X-T1: Now you can shoot video with a dedicated video button very smoothly and without AF hunting. Well Done Fuji… at last ….
1/4000s LIMITATION: Another feature that i was expecting to be upgraded. shooting wide open in bright light (especially with the 35/1.4 and 56/1.2) will require the use of an ND filter. I really hope that Fuji will give us a 1/8000s shutter in the next X-Pro2 .
PRICE: Priced at 1299$ body only, I find it very reasonably priced compared to other competitors. The X-Pro1 was priced $1699 at launch back in 2012 !
WHAT I LIKE:
- Very well built and compact
- Nice dial layout especially with the A mode on ISO and Shutter
- Tilt screen
- MF aid
- Video Mode
WHAT I DON’T LIKE:
- Same older sensor
- Central EVF; I prefer a X-E / X-Pro design
- ISO limitation to 6400 in RAW mode
CONCLUSION: 2 things that i really like in the X-T1: the tilt screen and the MF aid. Other than that, I still prefer to wait for an X-Pro2 with more advanced features: -1/8000s shutter – 12,800 ISO in RAW mode – New “Organic” sensor – a more advanced AF system – and more…
UPDATED May 13, 2014
WHY I DECIDED TO TEST IT AGAIN
I decided to test the X-T1 again as I wanted mainly to experiment the performance of the AF tracking , and to give the X-T1 a second chance. In my first trial (read above), I wasn’t impressed with the handling of the X-T1 (I tried it for 45 minutes only), but after living with it for several days, I can say that it handles very well, either with the XF18-55 or the XF10-24mm f4 without the battery grip. It feels very solid in hand, very compact and light, and it is really very well built. Actually i can fit the X-T1 and my X-Pro1 with couple of primes in a very small bag like the Think Tank Retrospective 5, instead of the Nikon Dƒ with a couple of primes !!!
I spent the first two hours testing the AF Tracking with no success , trying to figure out how to set up the cam in order to perform well … I was upset, because I thought it’s not working well. On the second day, I took it out with me with the XF18-55 and the wonderful XF10-24mm f4, I did several failing attempts with AF tracking until I succeeded . On the third day I was able to nail almost all the burst shots (95% in Focus) I took with AF tracking. So for fast moving subjects, the X-T1 can nail the Focus while tracking: very few mirrorless can do this, I’ve read that the only other mirrorless than can do this is the Sony A6000…. and the Nikon 1 of course (with a smaller 1″ sensor though).
You can see one of the bursts HERE taken with the XF18-55.
WITH XF 10-24mm f4
I spent one whole day playing with the wonderful XF10-24mm f4. It’s very well made, optically excellent, actually better than my Nikkor 10-24mm DX zoom lens. I was impressed by the lightweight and relatively compact size of this ultra wide zoom . Actually, This zoom lens can replace my XF14/2.8, XF18/2.0 and might make me skip the XF23/1.4 !!! For landscapes and ultra wide shots and street photography, the XF1-24mm f4 is a winner.
You can check some sample photos taken with the X-T1 and XF 10-24mm f4 HERE.
X-T1 vs Dƒ
I tried several shots with my Nikon Dƒ (you can read my full review HERE) and the X-T1 , head to head, and I can say that for the half price difference the X-T1 performs very well . I do prefer the skin tones and the Dynamic range of the Nikon though. All shots were taken handheld, with the X-T1 and XF35/1.4 at 1.4 and the Dƒ and the 50/1.8G at 1.8.
Check this Album HERE to see the comparison.
X-T1 Product Photo Gallery
I took several shots of the X-T1 by my Sigma DP3 Merrill (you can read my full review HERE) , with and without battery grip, and with X-Pro1 and X-E1.
You can check the Gallery HERE .
MY OPTIONS : WILL I GET IT ?
So now what ? I like the X-T1, it’s one of the most complete Mirrorless cams that I have tried over the last couple of years. It delivers excellent IQ, with very good low light performance, an excellent bright EVF, has one of the best MF focus aids, a very useful Tilt screen for low angle shots, and complete WiFi features, with an excellent collection of lenses.
A coming rumored Full Frame X-Pro2 will hopefully be launched at Photokina in September 2014. Personally , I don’t believe the rumors about the X-Pro2 being FF. Actually I wish it won’t be: Having an FF mirrorless systems will result in larger heavier lenses. I do prefer the handling and hybrid VF of the X-Pro2 although the X-T1 EVF is the best EVF available in any cam today. I hope that the X-Pro2 will be APS-C, with same if not better responsive Focus system than the X-T1, a new sensor (All the X models today have the same 16MP X-Trans sensor), a 1/8000s instead of the 1/4000s shutter, a Bulb View mode (like the Olympus EM1), the ability to shoot RAW from 100 to 12800 ISO at least, and more pro features.
So Will I get it? or shall I wait for the X-Pro2?
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