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.
- Fujifilm X-Pro1, E1/2
- Sony A7
- Pentax K
- Nikon D300/D200
- Canon 5D/7D
- Canon 700D
- 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)
- Nikon Df
- 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