First Look: Fujifilm X-T1

This year is kick started by the introduction of the Fujifilm X-T1 today. I will be frank. It just look like Nikon Df (thanks to the double lock dials) and feel like the OM-D EM-1/5 cameras (slightly thicker but I like).

The look is really more DSLR like mainly due to the fact that it houses a huge EVF in the fake prism housing. Do believe a bit of the marketing hype – the EVF reacts fast and shooting this camera continuously don’t have that black out effect that most mirrorless cameras are suffering. For the X-T1, I can actually keep track the subject pretty comfortably and I didn’t get disorientated.

The EVF do look super huge and it actually feels more full frame than Sony A7‘s which is a real full frame camera. Heck it even reminds you of looking through actual Full Frame cameras such as the D800 and 5DM3.  If you match with the right lens, I can comfortably open both eyes to shoot which I usually do for my Nikon DSLRs.

I won’t say much about weather sealing because I do shoot using cameras that has no sealing at all in all types of weather including rain and sand/dust in the desert. The X-E1 and D200/300 both survived so to me it is good to have but not really necessary. Think about this. You get a weather sealed body you have to buy weather sealed lens, if not this doesn’t make sense. Yup more money out of the pocket.

The new ISO dial with lock – not again.

However when making a camera more weather proof and that makes the buttons smaller/shallower and getting rid of the shutter button screw is just counter productive (a screw hole would mean you need to seal it when not in use). Yes ergonomics suffered lots in the X-T1 when it comes to button pressing which is quite depressing. The worst button even for Asian hands is the little Fn button to activate the Wi-Fi connectivity with the smartphone.

Add that to the two locks on the ISO and Shutter dials and the X-T1 is generally a less comfortable camera to use (so yes I couldn’t use the plunger style shutter release cable that I prefer over electronic cable release).

Similar to the X-Pro1.

I will be fair, the lock for the shutter only applies when you want to go out of ‘A’ mode and then it is free-wheeling again. But for the ISO dial it is not and it is something that I don’t like at all. Basically whatever Nikon Df has done, Fujifilm has used the same mechanics too on the X-T1 including the lever for the exposure advancement and exposure metering mode. If Nikon Df has done a great job with that, then great but they didn’t and X-T1 follows suit so what does that say?

Well the redeeming fact is that the shutter / aperture combination is still in use here which gives it a huge leg up over the competition.

Now using the User Interface Scale, this is where XT1 fare. Again, this scale is for my own usage. If your list is close to mine, chances are you use the camera quite similarly. If it is not, then the best way is to go to a shop and meddle with it.

  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1, E1/2
  2. Sony A7
  3. Pentax K
  4. Nikon D300/D200
  5. Canon 5D/7D
  6. Canon 700D
  7. Fuji XT1 (for me it is the locks that pushes it to here. I obviously hate it + the small and hard to press buttons got on my nerves)
  8. Nikon Df
  9. Nikon D5300

One thing I do appreciate is the fact that X-T1 is the first camera in the X series that has a vertical grip accessory and it makes the camera that much easier to hold and allows the use of two batteries. That said, the design of the grip’s battery compartment don’t make good sense. Why? One of the battery is still stuck inside the main body’s compartment and the additional battery is in the grip itself.

Contact points galore. There are 2 major contact groups.

Same batteries with the X-Pro1/E1/E2. However it houses only one battery and to replace the battery in the body, the whole grip has to be taken out. Just hope you don’t do that often but post shoot one has to take it out every single time.

Imagine this – what happens when both batteries are dead and you need to change both batteries at the same time? Yup you would have to take out the grip to replace the battery. A quick glance into the menu system and I can’t say for sure I did see a way for me to manage the battery usage priority (i.e. I choose to deplete the battery in the grip first) so that I can ensure myself that I won’t need to take the grip out just to replace the battery in the body first. At the end of the shooting day, one still need to take it out to replace the batteries for charging. Can we find a better way so that the vertical grip stays intact?

The same X-E2 16.3 MP X-Tran CMOS II sensor is used here with Phase Detection AF diodes built in.

Sample shot from X-T1 with 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS

Comparison shot using my own X-E1 (I may have kept it at Velvia and DR at auto). Generally sharpness/clarity is very similar so no surprises there.

Shot using the sunlight through the cafe’s glass roof as the main light source. A tad yellow/red even when using ‘Astia’ film simulation and the AWB may be the issue here which is not a good thing

In summary, the image quality afforded by the X-T1 is the same as the X-Pro1/E1/E2. Even if there is, it is pretty minute. The reason why people would buy the E2 then is the improved AF performance due to the phase detection diodes in the sensor to aid faster focusing.

So the X-T1 has the same sensor and along with it, the same speed in focusing. What’s the main thing I would get it over the E2 would be the huge EVF and with it, a fast refresh rate while doing continuous shots such as for sports or nature shooting is certainly a boon. Coupled this with the Ultra High Speed UHS-II SD cards and this camera do perform really snappily.

But would I buy one over my X-E1 which is a generation older? In short I won’t.

For most, the weather sealing is not really necessary – just ask yourself how many times did you take out the camera to shoot in drizzle, never mind the pouring rain. How may times did your camera freeze up shooting in sub-zero temperatures if you keep the camera warm in your jacket?

The bad thing about weather sealing is that there are changes to the usability of the camera just to accommodate it. The size of the buttons became smaller and harder to press and the removal of the shutter screw thread all of which are disappointing.

I am still ok with the EVF size on the X-E1  and the focusing speed without the Phase Detection. Put together the X-E1 and X-E2, are certainly more enjoyable to use.

If you are someone who has lots of issues with the previous top end X-series’ EVF, the X-T1 is simply a god-send, more so when you need spectacles to see the EVF as the size is simply unbeatable at the moment.

Even though I do sometimes shoot fast moving subjects, I am still using the DSLR for such jobs. I may want to give the X-T1 a more thorough test shooting sports or birds to conclude its suitability. Who knows it may replace the DSLR? But I don’t shoot sports full time so having the X-T1 with good EVF refresh rate is nice to have but not essential at the moment. If one can wait for this EVF to mature and improve, I don’t see the harm in using the DSLR for that little bit wee longer.

The Fujifilm X-T1 will come in two flavours at the end of February- S$2499 full kit with the excellent 18-55mm f2.8-4 kit lens and for those who already have X Mount lens, S$1999 just for the body alone.

From the price perspective alone, the Full Frame Sony Alpha 7 do give more bang for the buck at this moment and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is no push over as well (though I would still prefer a larger sensor because of my lens need).

At the end of the day, all three contenders are producing images that not even film cameras can achieve during their hey days. If push comes to shove, I will still prefer the Fujifilm skin tone any time (though the value proposition of Alpha 7 is quite attractive only if they have better lens that gives more bang for the buck).

And I would still ask – since X-T1 should be the X-Pro2 as the T1 is obviously aiming at the professional shooters, then what has happened to X-Pro2? For the X-T1 not having the ‘Pro’ moniker do look out of place given the specifications and the feature set. Looking at the product chart from Fujifilm, the X-T1 is now at the top of the pile, even eclipsing the X-Pro1. So why a Pro camera not given the Pro moniker? So what would happen if the X-Pro2 comes into the scene?  That’s something to look forward to and speculate. Or is it going the way of the dodo just like the Nikon D400?

My test shot and product folder for the X-T1


  1. I didn’t like this X-T1 from day 1. Tell me: what kind of camera is this? A new wave DSLR where you’re not looking on a mirror but on pixels? Why suddenly the need for this weather sealing while even the best DSLRs in this world have never been like that until some years ago? The X-Pro1 was with its revolutionary hybrid viewfinder a concept, the X-T1 is an imitation. Because they want to compete with Olympus, Sony,… maybe cut-off a bit of the D7100-7D market and thus just want to take another narrow niche in the market. There stops my interest in the camera maybe even Fujifilm, I’ll put my X-Pro1 and Fujinons on e-bay. Because this is how they are and have always been – come with a beautiful prelude to bright future, to end some years later with very false notes. Something in stars tells me this is the way the X-series are going to end one day just as the S Pro did, if the sales are not pleasing the management, 700000 buyers is 100x less than Canon. Up for something else, then. The serious part of the market expected a FF X-Pro2, not a fake crop DSLR with about the same look, form factor and even worse, battery-eating concept.


    • LCNA. Single Lens Reflex (hence we call it the mirror camera) is actually a pretty new concept only started around 1949 (actually a Zeiss).

      These new cameras just look like DSLRs but they are not.

      I agree with the weather sealing. It is as though Nat Geo photographers cannot shoot without weather sealing. If they can do without, why are we so engrossed in something that is not really that necessary?

      I would say, the X series has 2 huge advantages – their X-Tran sensor and their JPEG film simulation both are top of their league.

      I think they are trying to churn some numbers to get people to buy but they have to find reasons to do so. For me EVF size in the X-T1 is desirable but does it make it necessary for me to upgrade? Nope. X-E1 is a great camera to begin with.

      So just use the Fujinons because there are no lens like it out there that gives a cost value benefit that other brands do not have (save for the excellent Sigma 18-35mm f1.8).

      As for battery, I can’t say for sure but with huge EVFs come great power consumption I assume to be.


    • Why would anyone need to know “what kind of camera is this?” What’s it matter? Its a camera with a given set of features and capabilities. If it works for you/me then that’s it.

      Strikes me more of a personal image issue than photography.


      • You’re right. But I’ve got some difficulty to accept the immense hyping around every Fuji release. Do you really think that an X-T1 is delivering a better RAW and jpgs than f.i. the new Nikon D3300 – equipped with one of the better Nikon F lenses? I don’t. Pure perception. Not to mention what happens if you compare the X-trans with the f.i. D800. Where it goes wrong, in DSLR land everyone buying a non pro grade level camera just goes with the a-few-bucks-worth-in-value kit-zoom. Fuji is looking more premium – but is it truly more premium? I don’t know, I’m confused, I’ve got experiences in both directions. Some pictures I made were breathtaking. But having technical issues with one lens and Fuji’s extremely poor response didn’t make me more confident. With the major three or four in the market, I can built easily upon an immense historical experience than there is with this 2 years ago announced X-series. And I note: Fujinon has been a long time around, but the X-series not. It’s a system too much in the hands of the software-boys, that’s my feeling and this kaizen-stuff is just a pain in the a.. to get the FW debugged on our back. If I would reinvest, Fuji would NEVER be on the first place again, I’m sure.


  2. Same here. I don’t think I will be moving up to an X-E2, or this new one anytime soon. I’d rather invest in the lenses than a body at this time. I don’t do sports. I do landscapes, travel, and shoot a lot of stock images and the X-E1 is a killer at it, coupled with my D800 if I need to shoot some sports (doubtful) or super hi def images.


    • Jorge. Looks like we are thinking the same thing since we shoot the same stuff. The X-E1 is an excellent camera (in some ways better than X-Pro1) and so the upgrades are not so compelling.

      With D800 around basically you have all bases covered.


      • I had the same feelings at first. A weakness my xe1 has for me is the evf. It’s tiny, I’m a full time eyeglasses/sunglasses wearer and live in a very high contrast light area, south Florida. So the evf is a major calling card. The rest of the body, I’d rather have the form factor of my xe1.

        In the end I preordered one. But without the desirability of the evf, the xe1/xe2 bodies would have been my choice.

        There are probably very few who will buy just for the evf. For pros using the X system, this camera is a major step up. Unfortunately, I believe the rest of the buyers will be largely influenced by the sudo dslr look. That’s what sells, worked for Oly, I wish Fuji my best. For whatever reason it sells, its good for all of us as more development will be done on theses fine little cameras.


      • Hi Ray, going by your needs, the EVF centric X-T1 will be a perfect match for you. I do shoot with my specs on and since i am short sighted in one eye only, I do have the option to change to my left eye to shoot.

        As for the form factor, it is really a little hump. Yes doesn’t look as nice as a RF but it gets the work done.

        For saying if this is a major step up for Pros, I am not so sure about that statement. Yes, the ISO dials coupled with the exposure forwarding mode lever and exposure mode lever does make it snappier to change the settings, just like top of the line DSLR but I have made do with the X-E1 with the function button on the top right corner being my ISO settings button. It is not as fast but fast enough to get things done.

        So is it a major step up? I have yet to test it on sports activities. Once it passes that test, I will reconsider it as Pro.

        Then again like I mentioned, if it is so Pro centric why not called it the X-Pro2?


  3. I have my first doubt when I saw the XT1 but it seems to grow on me. I changed from Xpro1 to XE2 mainly because the provision of a proper diopler correction! Yes, you can buy correction lens to Xp but for me, it was never dead on and I hate to look through EVF with a vision that is not perfect to me.
    At first, I thought what is the purpose of defeating the small foot print of mirrorless with a suedo SLR look? I guess I am intrigued by the ease and enlarged EVF that XT1 offered. I can’t wait for my upcoming business trip to Japan to stop by Fuji Tokyo center to hand tested the ergonomics of XT1.
    XT1 with the handgrip, not the battery grip, looks like a nice combination, especially I plan to shoot more with manual focus lenses in the coming days.
    I do agree with the lock on ISO being stupid…..


    • Hi Paul, for your case the X-T1 EVF will be a life saver. I really like it a lot though not at the level when the Hybrid Viewfinder came about.

      As for grips, I think you will do better with the vertical grip even though changing the battery in the body will be a chore. However, the battery in the grip is fairly accessible and using X-E1 as the standard, I believe it can last a day of intermittent shooting. If it is sports then all bets are off.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.