After watching My D700 lying in my camera bag almost unused after purchasing the D800, I felt i could spend my money otherwise. The D700 had to go, as i really don’t need 2 pro cameras. I was after something useful for everyday shooting, holidays and portraits. Tired of lugging around heavy equipment, I was really excited when I heard rumors about the Nikon Df. Hoping for something small, retro and with a full frame sensor. But the camera was not what I hoped for. To “Big”, expensive, and not that intuitive in the control layout that I hoping for.
But then the Fujifilm XT-1 was released. Just what I was waiting for….. except the sensor size. Having stepped up from APS-C sized sensors some years ago, I was so thrilled I never thought I would look back again. Full frame sensors provide an exceptional picture quality at high ISO. But after much reading, and a small test run at a local Fuji dealer, it was clear that this camera could deliver very good picture quality. The JPEG’s from this camera is gorgeous straight out of the camera. The skin tones are exceptionally well. But then again, Fujifilm is known for their great colors in both traditional film and digital cameras. The XT-1 sensor measures 23.6 x 15.6 mm (APS-C / 1.5 crop), and is the same size as most entry level dslr’s, up to enthusiast/pro cameras like the Nikon D300/Canon 7d. The XT-1 sensor is a X-Trans CMOS sensor that doesn’t use the conventional Bayer color filter (With it’s repeated RGB pattern). The X-Trans sensor have the RGB color filters spread out in a random manner. This eliminates the need for an anti-aliasing filter to reduce moire, that is used in most cameras that have the Bayer color filter (Some new cameras don’t have this, but it can lead to moire in repeated patterns). The X-Trans technology is claimed to produce excellent color rendering. The sensor resolution is 4896 x 3264 (16 megapixels), that is more than sufficient, unless you’re printing bigger than A2.
Being a Lightroom user, I was without a decent Raw converter for this camera until Adobe released the update to Lightroom April 7’th this year (Lightroom update to 5.4, which supports the XT-1) Many of the other Raw converter programs integrated the XT-1 compatibility very early on. So my experience so far is mostly based on JPEG’s and looking at RAW’s in the not so great Silkypix Raw converter that is bundled with the camera. Shooting with high color saturation (Like the Velvia preset) can render color and/or texture a bit to “water colored” or “smoothed” for my taste. Especially in fine details like trees and grass this is visable. (But then again we are Pixel peeping at 100% 🙂 For optimal control, choose JPEG’s+RAW.
“Reflections” (slightly processed JPEG)
My header says back to basic. Well, the looks, and the basic usability are retro. The rest of the camera is high tech, and has some great functions. The retro part consists (Except the very retro look and feel) of manual adjustment wheels for ISO, Shutter speed, and exposure compensation. The “sub command dial” under the ISO button is for bracketing, continuous high, continuous low, single, double exposure, advanced and panorama. The “sub command dial” under the shutter speed dial is the metering options (Multi, Average and Spot). The probably most retro, and welcomed for “the old boys”, is the aperture adjustment ring on the Fujinon lenses. Works great, and is a big thumbs up from me 🙂
Bringing us to the high tech stuff on this camera, has to start with the viewfinder. It’s huge. Maybe not that huge as people hype all over the internet, but its bigger than the full frame cameras like Canon 1Dx (0,76x) with its 0,77x size. There are 3 options how the EVF (Electronic view finder) can display the image. Being a mirrorless camera, there is no optical view finder. The picture below is the full image. This looks great, but if you wear glasses, you can have some problems seeing the absolute edges. Then i recommend the “normal”, that is just a little smaller.A lot of information is at your disposal in the viewfinder. The great thing being a mirrorless camera, is that all your adjustments are instantly shown in the viewfinder. This is a great way to check you exposure, and is a great way if you are trying to experiment or be creative with your exposures. DOF is diplayed as in the final image when you half press the shutter. The shooting info also rotates in the viewfinder when turning the camera in portrait orientation, that’s a great feature.If you switch to manual focus, there is the option to use “dual mode”. Here you see an enlarged portion of the area where the focus point is. You can then also select focus peaking or digital split image to further help you focus. This works great when manually focusing. (Sorry for the crappy iPhone pictures thru the viewfinder 🙂 )
“triangle” (slightly processed JPEG)
The back of the camera is quite basic. The focus assist button, gives you a 100% crop when in shooting mode (Great for checking focus). In playback mode, it zooms in 100% to where the focus point was when taking the picture. The “Q” button takes you to the quick menu, where you find the most used settings. Unfortunately, its not customizable to your own favorites. (Did i hear a software change Fuji?) (*Changed in firmware 3.0)
There is a great App for your phone or tablet. (iOs and Android). There is built inn WiFi in the camera. This lets you transfer your images real easy and quick (3 megapixel, or full resolution based on your in menu settings), or shoot with it as a remote. The remote function lets you adjust the most settings like exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, macro, film simulation, self timer, switch to video, and also a great feature tap in the picture where to focus. There is also the possibility to use the phones GPS to Geotag you shots.
The push-pull focus ring works great from my point of view. The lens is also crazy sharp wide open. And It also looks and feels great on the XT-1. It’s my only lens so far to this system (Still waiting for my back-ordered 56 f1,2) Still in doubt if I’m to go the 14, 23 and 56 prime route, or the 23, 56 and 16-55 f2,8 when its launched. I passed on the 18-55 kit, as i hate variable apertures (f2,8 to f4). But still its a great kit lens from what i hear.
The 35mm equivalent field of view is relay versatile
Nikon D800 (With 24 f1,4) and Fujifilm XT-1 (With 23 f1,4) There is a huge difference carrying these cameras around. The bulk and weight of the D800 is quite different. But still, my D800 will be my go-to camera for motorsports and “serious” shoots.
There are 6 customizable buttons. But as the focus point selection in the D-pad doesn’t let you change the focus point directly, i have set the 4 to directly change the focus point. You could set one of them to activate the focus point selection, but then you have to press one specific button, and then use the D-pad to get to the direction you want to move the focus point. Not that intuitive, and i don’t like working that way. (*Changed in firmware 3.0) That only leaves me with 2 more customizable buttons. The one on top i left for the WiFi, and the one in front i use to go directly to the auto-ISO adjustments. The D-pad (4 way control button on the back) is recessed quite a bit, so it is not so easy to find and use. This has been mentioned all over the internet. Maybe its designed this way so you wont press it accidentally when having the camera hanging by the camera strap. But i am getting more and more used to this.
Regarding the auto focus, remember to set “High performance” to ON in the power management menu. Otherwise the auto focus will not be as responsive as it could. Be aware that the smaller you make the focus points, the more it will hunt if low light or low contrast. But overall I’m very pleased with the auto focus on this camera. It even has continues focus in the center points (AF-C).
Remember to buy an extra battery, as the estimated battery life is only 350 shots. But this is quite normal for small cameras (Small camera, small battery’s, limited battery life)
JPEG Straight out of camera (Only resized)
The controls are very intuitive. If you are an experienced photographer, the dials and knobs will be easy understandable right away. There are auto options also. Put the ISO, shutter speed and aperture to “A” and you have “P” mode. The camera finds an appropriate shutter speed, aperture and ISO for the “correct” exposure. Put the shutter speed dial to A, and you have “A” mode. Put the aperture to A and you have S mode. Or use M mode, and select your own settings. This camera screams for manual M mode 😉
(slightly processed JPEG)
f1,4, 1/125 sec, ISO 1000, RAW (RAF) edit in Lightroom 5.4 and Photoshop
i Could go on writing about this camera for ages. But my general feeling is, that its so light and small (compared to what I’m used to) that i want to bring it everywhere. The feel, and the functions is really encouraging. The XT-1 drive me to go out shooting again. My DSLR kit have become so big that i rarely bring it to the streets or everyday life anymore. The small size make this camera less obstructive when using it at general street photography. The XT-1 really brings back the joy off photography again!
Click picture for full resolution. JPEG from camera, Provia color profile, sharpen +1, NR-2, straightened in Photoshop. No other adjustments. F2,8, ISO 1600 1/80 second exposure, handheld.
My summary of good things:
- Great look and retro feel
- Good picture quality for an APS-C based camera
- Easy to check you basic settings at a glance on the camera
- Fujinon lenses have great quality, and the X-lens lineup is growing fast
- Light and good handling even though the small size and grip
- Focus points spread out in almost the whole picture area (Compared to Dslr’s this is a big thumbs up)
- Weather sealed (Only camera, weather sealed lenses are coming)
- Tilting LCD
- Great EVF (Minimal lag, size, view modes etc)
- Great color rendering, and super nice skin tones
- Auto white balance is good
- Shutter sound!
My summary of not so good things:
- D-pad feel and feedback isn’t that great compared to other cameras i have owned.
- Only one memory card slot
- Water colored look in fine textures , especial at high saturation (Pixel peeping)
- No RAW at ISO over 6400 or under 200 (Only JPEG)
- Limited manual options in video mode*
- No button illumination when used in dark areas (Few cameras have)
- Auto ISO should be able to set in 1/3 step ISO values (not only 1600-3200-6400 etc.)
RAW edit in Lightroom and Photoshop
This was not meant as a review (Even though if it became rather comprehensive) , and are only my personal comments regarding this camera. Please feel free to ask questions, or add your comment if something is way off accuracy.
Hope you enjoyed, and feel free to use the share button if you did 🙂
Update:* Fuji made a lot of changes and added features in the 3.0 firmware update. Check it out here: http://www.fujifilm.com/support/digital_cameras/software/firmware/x/xt1/index.html