Fujifilm X-T1 Review

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The Fujifilm X-T1 is Fuji’s newest and most mature camera to date. It’s the first mirrorless Fuji camera that I think is a viable replacement for a DSLR.

UPDATE,  May, 2015: I’ve now published a review of the X-T1 for Astrophotography. Check it out for a bunch of my favorite night photos with the camera.

I’ve been a Fujifilm X-Series user ever since the release of the X-E1. While I really enjoyed my 6 months with the X-E1, there were a number of things that held it back from being amazing, all of which I covered in my Long Term Fujifilm X-E1 Review. While I was able to take some great photographs and even some very successful astrophotos with the X-E1, ultimately, I decided to sell off the X-E1. I stuck with my Canon EOS 6D as my primary photo maker with the hopes that Fujifilm would respond to the shortcomings that kept me from holding on to the X-E1. Nearly every single thing I regarded as a shortcoming on the X-E1 have been addressed with the newly released Fujifilm X-T1.

Some may ask why I would even consider comparing a compact system camera like the X-E1 or X-T1 to a full-frame DSLR like the Canon EOS 6D. For me, it’s a simple balance between the image quality available from full-frame lenses versus the convenience of a more compact system. Smaller size imposes physical constraints on the capabilities of a camera system, and this puts the Fuji X-Series at a distinct disadvantage to its larger full-frame competitors. But the Fujifilm X-T1, along with the fast growing line of fast, sharp X-Series lenses, offers much more than just being conveniently smaller than most full sized DSLRs. It directly competes with them in all aspects of performance, ergonomics, and image quality.

This review documents my observations of this latest offering in the X-Series lineup. I like to use my cameras for real photography, so that’s what I’ll present here alongside my critical take on my experiences with the X-T1. Look for a future post on my experiences shooting astrophotography with this camera. Let’s start with the unboxing and take a look at some of the things that I like most about the form factor of the X-T1.

Form and First Impressions

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Its proportions make it look like a full size DSLR which makes it easy to forget that it’s about the same size as the X-E2. Note the addition of a new programmable function button near the grip underneath the AF assist light and a PC port for studio strobes just under the X-T1 logo. The AF mode selector (M/C/S Switch) is in the usual spot X-series owners will be familiar on the bottom corner of the camera, opposite the grip. The grip is more pronounced than the X-E1/X-E2 but not as large as a typical DSLR. For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at the X-T1 next to the EOS 6D to understand how small it really is:

Canon EOS 6D size comparison versus Fujifilm X-T1

The X-T1 is 330 grams lighter and 24mm thinner than the EOS 6D. The smaller X-Series system uses an APS-C sensor rather than a full frame sensor like the 6D and also has a significantly shorter focal flange distance as it uses no reflex mirror. This allows for everything in the system to be comparably smaller than the traditional DSLR design.

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While not new to any other Fuji users, the dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dial are still some of my favorite qualities of the X-Series of cameras. The button lock on the shutter speed dial only engages when on “A” for automatic control of the shutter speed. Once taken off this setting, it rotates without need to disengage the lock. The exposure compensation dial is now stiffened up from the X-E1 so it’s less prone to accidentally bumping.

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New to the X-T1 is the ISO dial which is a welcome addition for the photo purist. Now it’s possible to see every exposure setting without looking at a screen or having to press a button. It’s a subtle difference from most other digital cameras, but I have no hesitation saying that I much prefer a physical dial over a digital menu. There has been some criticism of the fact that the ISO dial has a lock button which prevents super fast changes.

In addition to the ISO dial, the frame shooting mode dial rests conveniently under it, where you can select options like bracketing, 8fps continuous mode (Continuous High: CH), and some of the other novelty functions like double exposure, panorama mode, and the so called “ADV.” or advanced mode which is actually a cheesy effects mode that contains things like “toy camera” effect and the “isolate color” effect. Not sure why Fuji bothered including such a mode on a camera targeted toward serious photographers but I guess it keeps things fun which photography should be.

Fujifilm-X-T1-Review-5Unique also to the X-T1 is the metering mode select dial just under the shutter speed dial which makes is super fast to switch from matrix metering to spot or center-weighted. I’d also like to mention that the new location of the AE-L and AF-L buttons is significantly more ergonomically friendly over the X-E1 and X-E2 and the separation of the focus assist function from the rear dial is a welcome over the awkward push click dial on my old X-E1. With those new button placements and a more substantial rear grip, my right thumb couldn’t be happier. Another welcome change is that the AF-L button now also functions as a back button auto-focus, similar to the AF-ON buttons found on modern Canon cameras. This is my personal preferred method of acquiring focus and it’s implementation on the X-T1 is great.

Fujifilm-X-T1-Review-11Finally! A tilting LCD screen! Some may associate this feature with small amateurish cameras but it’s a seriously helpful thing to have for low tripod shots. I couldn’t count how many times I have laid prone in the dirt to get the shot I wanted with all my previous cameras. It’s also worth noting that the LCD is no longer guarded by a soft plastic surface like on the X-E1 and now features a much more durable glass surface.

Thoughts on Form

I really like the form and function of almost everything on the X-T1. While there are a lot more dials than most contemporary designs, nothing is superfluous. Every major function that a photographer would want to change on the fly without needing to dig through menus has a dedicated dial or button. For other functions that you might like to access quickly, it’s also possible to assign custom functions to each of the 4 directional buttons, the new front function button (Fn1) and the Fn2/Wi-Fi button on the top plate.

In my initial testing of the camera’s interface, I’ve been on the lookout for anything I don’t like. Here’s what I’ve found so far.

Notable Quirks

  • In Continuous Frame High Or Continuous Frame Low (CH and CL) modes, it’s nearly impossible to shoot only one frame at a time, it always shoots at least two. This means that if you wanted to keep the camera set to continuous “just in case you encounter a need for speed” you won’t be able to use a quick depress of the shutter to take only one shot at a time for “normal speed” situations, it will always take an extra frame. It’s like the camera is too eager to fill up the SD card. For comparison, on my 6D, particularly when shooting an event of some kind, I prefer to keep continuous frame mode enabled, even if I’m only snapping one photo at a time. Then, when an “action moment” happens, I can just hold the button longer to rattle off a quick sequence. This is not possible on the X-T1. Instead, it will alway be eager to rattle off at least two frames in CL or CH mode. The only way I’ve been able to get only one frame at a time is to fully depress and quickly release the shutter button before the camera has even achieved focus. Only then will the camera only take one frame. I’m not a sports photographer but if Fujifilm is touting this camera as a viable competitor to Canon or Nikon DSLRs for sports photogs, they should provide a firmware update to fix this behavior.
  • The video record button cannot be assigned to a custom function. This has already been requested by pretty much every reviewer so far, I think largely because use of the X-T1 as a video camera is pretty low on the list of most Fuji shooters’ priorities. Furthermore, it’s easier than it should be to bump the record button while trying to change the exposure compensation. I would very much prefer to be able to assign this button to a more used function and move the option of video mode to underneath the ADV. shooting mode dial as a selectable option alongside “Toy Camera.”
  • The ISO dial is locked on every setting and requires a press of the unlock button in order to change your ISO at all. This differs from the shutter speed dial which only locks when on the “A” position.
  • The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) will only show your custom display setting (under Screen Set-Up > Disp. Custom Setting). This means that you cannot quickly enable or disable the histogram, electronic level, or framing guidelines etc. in the EVF without needing to click through the menus to adjust what’s enabled or disabled. On the X-E1, the DISP/BACK button allowed you to do this. On the X-T1, when using the EVF, it only allows you to choose between “Normal” and “Full” sized views or “Dual” view mode when using manual focus. This is not a big deal, but sometimes I like to shoot through the viewfinder without any distracting information like the electronic level or histogram. It’s not possible to disable this quickly and instead requires a lot of menu button pressing. I would love it if Fuji could add similar display settings to the EVF as the LCD on the back of the camera with a future firmware update.
  • Shooting photos at ISO 51200 is slow. At least on my 45MB/s Sandisk Extreme SDHC card, when you enable ISO 51200, the camera gives a brief processing screen right after the shutter closes. It only lasts about 1/4 second, but that means that it’s not possible to use this very high ISO speed at a very high frame rate. This behavior is only apparent on this particular extended setting. ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 shoot photos normally. Other users have reported the same behavior. Maybe my memory card is too slow but I’m not sure why it should be any different in speed than shooting at ISO 25600. I don’t yet have one of those fancy new UHS-II cards yet but as soon as I get one I’ll see how it behaves at the extended ISO 51200 setting. If you want to push your photos to ISO 51200, (or any of the extended ISOs) I recommend shooting at 6400 in RAW, underexpose with the exposure compensation dial as necessary and compensate in post processing later.
  • Video mode only allows aperture and exposure compensation control. If you want to select your shutter speed or ISO, you’re out of luck. The camera will automatically set both the shutter speed and ISO based on your selected aperture and exposure compensation. You have a choice of 720p or 1080p and 30p or 60p frame rates in either resolution. If Fuji added full manual control and 24p to the video mode, it would actually be pretty nice. Manual focus peaking also isn’t available while recording video. I imagine these improvements are possible in a firmware update but I’m sure it’s pretty low on the list of priorities for most Fujifilm shooters. If you’re a hardcore video shooter, the X-T1 is not for you.
  • Early copies of the X-T1 have a possible light leak through the mic/HDMI/USB port if the cover is unlatched. This problem was just discovered on March 5th by photographer on the fujix-forum and Fuji has not yet responded how it will respond to the problem for us early adopters. The problem presents itself only when the port cover is unlatched and a bright enough light source is cast on the mic, HDMI, or USB port. This becomes a problem especially for daytime long exposures with a neutral density filter where users will be inclined to use a remote trigger in bright, sunlit conditions. I’m sure Fuji will respond with a fix but we’ll need to wait and see what it is. I’ll report back when a true fix is issued. In the meantime, users are adding some gaffer’s tape around the ports if they need to use a remote trigger. This is not unlike the light leaking from the viewfinder of a DSLR during sunlit long exposures. Most DSLRs come with a rubber cap for the viewfinder when shooting in this situation. The problem is concerning because the X-T1’s leak isn’t expected by design and it raises questions about the camera’s weather sealing capability. It’s likely that this is a problem only on some of the cameras shipped early. (Edit: Fujifilm has responded with a free repair to affected X-T1 owners.)
  • Continuous autofocus mode hunts while finding focus. This last quirk is a weird one because in practice it doesn’t affect performance as much as it would seem to. If you enable continuous autofocus and press the shutter halfway, the lens will hunt back and forth continuously and never stop moving, even when it’s “found” focus. This is really disconcerting when looking through the viewfinder and seeing your image constantly shift in and out of focus. It doesn’t affect results as much as you would expect in practice: once you take a photo it surprisingly is usually in focus, even if you put the focus/release priority to “release” in the menus.  This behavior is not present on the other X-Series cameras, only the X-T1. It’s one of the things that seems most “off” on the camera and I imagine would severely disappoint some action shooters, even if the results tend to be fine. I hope Fujifilm releases a fix to prevent this continuous hunting behavior. My recommendation is to set the focus release priority on “focus” just to ensure that it only releases when it has “found” focus.

And I’ve found plenty of nice surprises about this camera too:

The Goods

  • The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is amazing. Believe the hype. The view that the viewfinder provides is grand and the refresh rate is nice and smooth, even in low light. It makes the camera feel like a full frame SLR, but with the benefit of a true exposure preview and all the information you can feast your eyes on. The dual view focusing aids are great, particularly manual focus peaking, which you can now choose Red, White or Blue as the highlight color. Too bad you can pick all three colors at once (‘murica). At times, especially with the most of the optional display features like gridlines and the electronic level are disabled, you can forget that you’re looking at an electronic viewfinder and take it for an optical one. Finally, and most of you probably already know about it, but the EVF will rotate the text in the frame to match the camera orientation, why hasn’t this been done before? Now all we need is a firmware update to allow it to do the same with the LCD.
  • It’s slightly quieter than the X-E1/X-E2. This is likely attributed to the beefier build quality of the body as I understand the shutter mechanism should be identical between all these cameras. It’s not X100s quiet (which is silent), but it’s definitely not a loud shutter. Here’s an audio clip of what the X-T1 shutter sounds like:
  • It’s possible to turn off both the LCD and the viewfinder at the same time. In this mode (EVF ONLY + EYE SENSOR), the viewfinder only comes on when you raise the camera to your eye. This should be great for keeping the camera on continuously without killing your battery.
  • The camera now remembers your “T” mode long exposure setting perpetually, even when you pull the battery. This wasn’t the case with the X-E1 which would reset as soon as the camera went into power saving or was turned off. I really like this for astrophotography because it means I can set it to my desired shutter speed and leave it that way for the remainder of the night.
  • The grip is extremely comfortable.  It’s not as substantial as a DSLR, but I have had no hesitation carrying the camera around all day with nothing but a wrist strap. The ergonomics are greatly amplified by the rear thumb protrusion on the back of the grip. It’s much more comfortable than the X-E1/X-E2 in my opinion and I don’t really see the need for the additional MHG-XT Grip.

Canon EOS 6D size comparison versus Fujifilm X-T1

Canon EOS 6D vs. Fujifilm X-T1 Size Comparison

Despite its small size, the X-T1 is very comfortable to hold. The grip is reassuring without being monstrously large like a full-size DSLR.

  • The arrow buttons are less easy to press accidentally. Some reviewers have pointed out the more recessed buttons as a negative point but I love it. With the X-E1, I too often accidentally would press the up arrow and unintentionally enable macro mode. I think the X-T1 directional pad buttons are a welcome change over the all too easy to bump buttons on previous X-Series camera.
  • The intervalometer works great and is super easy to set up. I shoot a lot of timelapse sequences. Once the X-T1 was announced with an intervalometer, it made the camera that much more attractive. I hate using an external intervalometer. I’ve had too many of them fail in the field (especially in the cold), run out of batteries, and just take forever to set up properly. The only reason I see for keeping my accessory intervalometer is for use with “Bulb” mode for exposures longer than 30 seconds. That actually leads me to another point, why don’t they implement a programmable bulb mode into a firmware upgrade? That would make an external intervalometer completely unnecessary. Furthermore, the option to disable both the LCD and the viewfinder, along with disabling image review will keep all the screens off while shooting a timelapse which should be great at conserving battery power. I imagine that when combined with the optional battery grip, it should be possible to make some very long time lapse sequences on the order of 6 or 7 hours long with ease. Here’s an example timelapse taken with the X-T1:

  • Back button focusing and true auto focus lock (AF-L). I love being able to focus with a the AF-L button on the back of the camera. It’s my primary method of focusing on the Canon EOS 6D (AF-ON button) and it’s a welcome feature on the X-T1. This feature allow the photographer to separate their metering and focusing operations by first using the back button to focus and then pressing the shutter button halfway to meter. The AF-L button behavior functions a little bit different than some may expect. It’s not an autofocus stop button it instead is an autofocus start and lock button and it actually does function as a true autofocus lock. This means that it’s now possible to focus once with the AF-L button and then take multiple consecutive photos without having the camera refocus. This is a distinctly different behavior than the autofocus behavior when holding the shutter button half-pressed while shooting which will always re-acquire focus for each consecutive shot even if you keep it half depressed.
  • Auto ISO is customizable and very useful. For most handheld shooting, I almost always base my decision to adjust ISO on how slow a shutter speed the meter chooses for my exposure. If it’s below about 1/125th, I’ll increase my ISO. The X-T1 allows me to do this automatically with auto ISO. You can customize what minimum shutter speed the camera must use and the available ISO Range.  I set it to 1/125 with a target ISO of 200 and a maximum ISO of 6400. It would be nice if the shutter speed could be set as a function of focal length, but as is, it’s currently useful for my limited range of lenses (my longest lens is the XF 35mm f/1.4). My favorite method for exposure is to use aperture priority with auto ISO: I set my desired aperture (usually wide open at f/1.4 for low depth of field or stopped down to f/5.6 for maximum sharpness) and let both ISO and shutter speed to “A” automatic modes. If I’m shooting in a situation that requires faster shutter speeds like action or from a moving car (rare), I’ll switch to shutter priority by moving the aperture ring to the “A” automatic mode and then select the appropriate shutter speed (say 1/1000th when shooting from a moving car).
  • Wi-Fi remote control works great. It’s better than the EOS 6D’s wi-fi. The refresh rate and responsiveness is faster than on the 6D and the wireless range seems to be good as well. One of the things I like most is that the camera exposure settings can be overridden with the app. So even though you may have manually set the shutter speed, you can force it to a new one without having to touch the camera. Remote control might seem like a gimmick to some people but it’s especially helpful when taking self-portraits or when I need to record a video lesson.
  • It’s possible to directly select your focus point with the four way controller. Holding down any of the arrow buttons lets you customize its function while shooting. I assigned all four of the of the arrow buttons to “FOCUS AREA” so I can quickly change the focus point just by pressing the arrows a couple times in the direction that I desire. Below is the control scheme I have chosen so far for the 6 customizable buttons:
    • Up, Down, Left, Right = FOCUS AREA
    • Fn2/Wi-Fi (Top Plate) = SELF-TIMER
    • Fn1 (Front Grip) = PREVIEW DEPTH OF FIELD
  • Manual Focusing is very easy thanks to the many different choices of focus assist available. My prefered method of manual focus is to enable focus peaking highlight (White, Low) and use the focus assist button on the rear of the camera to quickly zoom the view to check detailed focus. You can also hold the focus assist button to cycle through the different modes which include standard zoom, focus peaking and digital split image. This is much nicer than a digital SLR which requires you to enable live view mode in order to do a similar critical focus check. For astrophotography, a simple click of the focus assist button will allow you to zoom to 100% to check focus, furthermore, the the infinity marks on the lens barrels or LCD distance scales are actually damn accurate in my experience, even wide open.
  • It’s possible to completely lock focus on XF lenses with a manual focus clutch. For example, the XF 14mm f/2.8 and XF 23mm f/1.4 both have manual focus clutch designs which allow me to lock the lens at critical infinity focus when I shoot astrophotos by setting the focus selector to “M”, rotating the focus ring to my desired focus distance and then engaging the focus ring clutch to stop the ring from rotating. In this configuration, the lens focus will not move from your desired setting and will be locked, preventing you from accidentally changing the focus. To make it even better, the camera will remember your focus point even if your camera is powered off. So theoretically, this means that the camera should be able to hold critical focus on the stars throughout the night when shooting astrophotography. It’s not a perfect lockout however, if you press the AF-L button in this configuration, the camera will try to perform an instant autofocus and change your focus. But overall, I think this is a great undocumented “feature” as it adds a function not found on any other series of camera. When shooting on the 6D for example, I need to be very careful to not accidentally bump the lens focusing ring or even tape the ring to help keep it set.
  • It’s very quick to change metering modes with the new selector switch underneath the shutter speed dial. I like using spot metering. Especially in backlit situations. It’s super easy to change from matrix metering to spot metering by just flicking the switch nub towards the viewfinder. This registers very quickly in muscle memory and makes it easy to select your desired metering mode while still holding the viewfinder to your eye.
  • The exposure compensation dial is properly stiff. Despite what you may hear on other review sites, I believe the exposure compensation dial isn’t too difficult to turn, it’s just the right stiffness. It’s still possible to actuate with the flick of your thumb but not so stiff that it’s easy to accidentally bump out of adjustment (like on the X-E1).
  • The front and rear control dials are nice to turn. I don’t always use the dials but when I do, they work great. The X-E1 control dial is not very good. It is too difficult to turn. I’m happy to report that the dials on the X-T1 are much nicer to turn without fuss. I only usually use the dial when adjusting settings via the “Q” quick menu or if I’m in “T” time exposure mode for setting a long shutter speed for astrophotography.
  • The tilt screen is great. I love shooting with the camera positioned low on a tripod. This is particularly common with astrophotography when trying to frame as much of the sky as possible against your foreground subject. Without a tilting LCD, it’s really annoying to have to get down on your stomach in the dirt just to check your framing. The tilt screen will be a welcome tool for astrophotographers since it will allow us to get those super low shots without swimming in the dirt.
  • Operation with gloves is quite good, despite what you may have heard from other sources. Sure, if you’re super thick and heavy gloves, any camera will give you difficulty. The X-T1 has surprisingly good tactile feedback on all the most essential controls: aperture, shutter and ISO. I still wish the ISO dial didn’t need three fingers to change between settings but it’s still doable. Certainly no harder than pressing a spongy button and then rotating a dial as with a traditional DSLR like the 6D.
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The X-T1 is the first weather sealed X-Series camera. The XF 23mm f/1.4 isn’t weather sealed but that didn’t stop me from shooting in the rain. I’m also quite happy with its operation with gloves on. Cell phone pic.

  • The X-Series lens lineup is excellent. One of the hesitations any photographer would have with switching to a new system like the Fuji X-Series is the availability of high quality lenses. Luckily, every lens in Fuji’s system is awesome. There are a number of useful walk around zooms and every single one of their prime lenses is fast and sharp. Even the 18-55mm zoom lens that comes in the kit is a premium lens with a fast 2.8 aperture at the wide end and a nearly all metal construction. Compare that to the kit lens that comes with the Canon EOS 6D (24-105mm f/4L) and the Fuji is actually a full stop faster at the wide end and less than half the size and weight. The advantages of a smaller mirrorless system are exemplified by the Fujifilm line up when you get to see the weight and space savings you get with lenses that rival the bigger DLSRs. Furthermore, this is done at a very reasonable price point, especially when comparing with options from Canon and Nikon. All these excellent traits make the X-Series a serious option for professional photographers who travel. I’m actually doing just that with a 3 month journey through Europe with the X-T1 as my primary body. My travel kit consists of the following:
  • I would love to try the new Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R when it becomes more widely available. Everything I’ve read about it seems to indicate that that it’s the lens everyone has been waiting for to complete the Fuji X-Series lineup. I imagine that it will make its way into my bag sometime in the near future to round off my setup.

Sample Images

As of the release of the X-T1, Adobe has not yet released a version of Lightroom that supports conversion of the X-T1’s RAW files so I’ve been playing around with JPEGs from the black and white film simulation mode built into the X-T1. Shooting in RAW + JPEG allows photographers to see instant JPEG results in the selected film simulation mode and then can subsequently re-convert those RAW files into additional JPEGs with any of the desired film simulation modes. This means that even if you shoot all your photos in a particular film mode, you have the option to go back and choose any of the other film simulation modes. I am particularly fond of the various black and white film simulations modes and the weather I’ve had available to me has been particularly dark and grey which has been great for monochrome images.

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Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8 @ f/11, 1/60th, ISO 1000, Black and White with Red Filter

Santa Monica had some unusually dark and rainy weather for the image above. The photo was taken with the red filtered black and white simulation mode which darkened the blue hues of the late day storm. This photo was taken with manual focus using the the 14mm hyperfocal distance scale which makes it really easy to maximize depth of field for shots that don’t require careful focusing.

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Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/125th, ISO 400, Black and White with Green Filter

Above is from my first outing in the rain in Stord, Norway with the X-T1. The XF 23mm f/1.4 does a great job with selective focusing for such a wide angle lens. I think the bokeh quality is top notch, especially for a lens this short. A detailed review of the XF 23mm f/1.4 is definitely coming soon.

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Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/480th, ISO 400, Black and White with Green Filter

The green filtered black and white mode is particularly great for portraits, especially when combined with an overcast day. This is Diana on our walk in Stord, Norway. The brown earthy colors of the forest made for a great backdrop, particularly with the green filter black and white conversion.

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Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4, 1/320th, ISO 400, Black and White with Green Filter

Rainy weather really saturates greens and reds and so a green filter makes creates some nice contrast in otherwise low contrast situations. These trees fenced in a large grassy field just behind the house we are staying at on the island of Stord, Norway. It going to be a bit rainy for the next few days so I won’t be able to present any astrophoto results right away but they will certainly come in a future post. 

Leirvik Marina

The marina in Leirvik, Norway after midnight. Fujifilm X-T1, 14mm f/2.8 @f/22, 4 minutes, ISO 400

This image of the marina in Leirvik, Norway is a 4 minute exposure using the Bulb (B) function and an intervalometer. The XF 14mm f/2.8 lens has a 7 bladed aperture which makes for some awesome 14 pointed highlight stars when stopped down. Great for night time shots in town.

More Sample Images

Below are more sample images from the X-T1 that I’ve appended to the original review above.

Brandasund House and Milky Way - Fujifilm X-T1 - 14mm

Fujifilm X-T1, 23mm/1.4, 2 x 13s, ISO6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/1.4, 1/180th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/1.4, 1/180th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/150th, f/2.8, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/150th, f/2.8, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/.14, 1/680th, f/4.0, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 35mm f/.14, 1/680th, f/4.0, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 20s, f/2.8, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 20s, f/2.8, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 30s, f/11, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 30s, f/11, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/180th, f/1.4, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/180th, f/1.4, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 30s, f/16, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 30s, f/16, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 25s, f/2.8, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 25s, f/2.8, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 1/4000th, f/5.0, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 1/4000th, f/5.0, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 1/2500th, f/11, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 14mm f/2.8, 1/2500th, f/11, ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 100x20s, f/2.0, ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 100x20s, f/2.0, ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/210th, f/1.4, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/210th, f/1.4, ISO 200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 0.5s, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 0.5s, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/30th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/30th, f/1.4, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/2.0, ISO 5000

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/2.0, ISO 5000

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 3200

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/90th, f/5.6, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/90th, f/5.6, ISO 6400

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/2.8, ISO 320

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/2.8, ISO 320

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 2500

Fujifilm X-T1, XF 23mm f/1.4, 1/125th, f/1.4, ISO 2500

 

Conclusions

The Fujifilm X-T1 is the most well rounded X-Series camera so far. Finally, a mirrorless camera is well polished enough that I have no hesitation replacing my entire full-frame Canon set up with the X-T1 and a small collection of fast XF primes.

It’s EVF is finally good enough for serious work in nearly any condition; it has a view larger than my Canon EOS 6D. Invisible improvements like weather-sealing and improved build quality add a lot of value to a relatively affordable camera body. Shooting speed is extremely fast and AF accuracy and speed is top notch. It handles faster than the EOS 6D and small improvements like the tilting LCD and built in intervalometer make it more enjoyable to shoot, especially for astrophotography.

After all my scrutinizing of the X-T1, it hasn’t failed to treat me to some excellent surprises like a truly useful wi-fi remote control (better than the EOS 6D) and the ability to quickly re-assign custom functions to 6 different function buttons. The X-T1 is a brilliant camera for still photographers. Video enthusiasts will find more value in other options as the X-T1 only offers limited control over video capture. If you’re looking to shoot primarily video, look elsewhere.

It has a few small quirks like not being able to shoot in continuous mode at ISO 51200, limited video control, and an ISO dial that locks on every setting but overall, these are relatively minor blemishes on an otherwise brilliantly good camera. Fujifilm has built at great reputation amongst Fuji X-Series owners, not just because they’ve been releasing some great quality hardware, but also because their support and commitment to improving those products is top notch. Fuji camera firmware upgrades have become more than just bug fixes, they often make improvements that directly reflect the desires of the Fuji-X community and even on camera models that have been discontinued. For the X-T1, while it has no serious shortcomings, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fujifilm actually issues some firmware improvements to the X-T1.

Fujifilm is the only camera manufacturer offering something truly new and attractive for photographers. The styling of the X-Series cameras is more than just a look, it’s an excellent control scheme that makes for a shooting experience unlike that offered by any other cameras on the market. The image quality from these small cameras is top-notch and the X-T1 is no different. The lens offerings are fast enough to push image quality to the level of most full-frame cameras and in a much smaller package. While the X-T1 offers only small and incremental improvements over the previous X-Series cameras, all of these improvements as a whole make it the first mirrorless camera that has me willing to part with my DSLR.

Where to Buy the X-T1

Amazon.com
B&H Photo

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If you would like to support Lonely Speck, consider using the links in this article. Using the links here won’t cost you anything extra but I’ll receive a small commission to help me run this site. Thanks! –Ian

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Ian Norman

Creator at Lonely Speck
Ian Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Ian is a full time traveler, photographer and entrepreneur. In February 2013, he called it quits on his 9-to-5 to pursue a lifestyle of photography. Follow Ian's photography adventures on Instagram.

46 Responses

  1. Lukasz June 30, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    Excellent review! Very helpfull! almost convinced me to buy . .. I wanted to 6D / 5D mk3 :) Any change to the 40D it will be a pleasure ; )

  2. Steve Solomon February 28, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    Ian, I forgot to mention in my previous post, that the tripod I find quite handy for travel is the MeFOTO A2350 GlobeTrotter, because not only is it relatively light and compact, the big advantage is that it can convert to a monopod! One of the legs unscrews and then screws into the removable threaded center post, to become a full-size monopod, when a tripod is impractical. Quite a solid and ingenious design for the traveling photographer! I believe they also make a carbon fiber model, which is a bit more expensive than the aluminum model. Also, since the leg sections can be disassembled and cleaned, they make for good tripods in wet or sandy environments. Thank you.

  3. Steve Solomon February 28, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    Excellent review, Ian, and I agree with your conclusion! For your readers considering this excellent system, I wanted to mention the following additional advantage of a mirrorless system like the Fujifilm X-System…I was a Nikon and Pentax guy before realizing the major advantage of mirrorless, (for me, at least), is that the image is focused directly off the sensor, thereby eliminating the front/back focus issues I sometimes used to find in my DSLR days. (Even with the option to micro-adjust AF in-camera for each lens, I just didn’t trust my old eyes to be able to acquire optimum focus, hence my move to the superb Fuji X-System. I find that each of my Fujinon lenses (even the 16-55 f/2.8 XF WR Zoom is tack sharp, with minimal post sharpening required!). Thanks again for this excellent review!

  4. Markus Müller October 21, 2015 / 7:38 am

    Can you be so kind to show me a picture which wasn’t possible with the Canon 6D, but is with the Fuji X-T1?

    • Ian Norman October 21, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      Any of these images would be possible on a 6D.

  5. nelson September 10, 2015 / 4:58 pm

    i sold off my Nikon D610 for a fuji xt-1… it was a great decision! this camera delivers fanastic image quality, has superb lense system and is light! it just gets out of the way and doesnt hinder creativity. this is the future. Leave DSLRs for studio work… for everyday use, a lightweight ML camera really makes a big difference. now my camera is with me far more often. you dont get better at photography by leaving your camera home or in a bag!

  6. Ugo Cei June 17, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    Great post, Ian. I am sure the audience of The State of Mirrorless (https://fstoplounge.com/category/tsom/) would de delighted to hear you talk a bit more about them.

    If you don’t know about TSOM, it’s a series of interviews I host with photographers who use ML camera systems. I would be honored if you accepted to be our guest on one of the next episodes to tell the story of your switch.

    Best Regards,

    Ugo

  7. Stefano Gabriele March 28, 2015 / 4:41 pm

    Thank you for your review and your website and blog full of information. I just got a used xt1, a brand new 35mm f1.4 and just ordered the Samyang 12 mm after reading your review of the latter. I have a Canon 6d to and I love it, although its lenses are quite bigger and heavier than fuji’s ones. However, I don’t feel ready for a complete switch yet, still keeping the canon with the 135l and the wonderful 16-35 f4 is. Should I sell my 6d?…………

    • Ian Norman May 6, 2015 / 7:39 pm

      I would hold on to the 6D and see what you ended up using more. If it starts collecting dust, sell it. Otherwise use it if it still fits your needs!

  8. Luca January 19, 2015 / 7:51 am

    Great review Ian! I’m in the process to buy a new camera (my 7D got stolen last year in Saigon…) and I fell in love with mirrorless. I narrowed down to the XT-1 and the Alpha 7 (no R and no S); any advice in the choice?

    • Jay January 19, 2015 / 6:03 pm

      If you decide to get the x-t1, buy mine! I’m selling it. Like my 6d too much. :)

    • Ian Norman January 20, 2015 / 2:01 am

      Either really. I personally have a soft spot for the X-T1. It’s lenses are amazing, it’s a joy to use and it makes you want to take photos. The a7 is also good with a little bump in resolution and some better video quality but less desirable handling and a more limited native lens selection. I still say that the X-T1 has the better overall system but if you can live with the younger system and want that extra bump in image quality for stills and video alike, the a7 delivers.

  9. Emily December 1, 2014 / 7:13 pm

    I’ve been researching a few camera options for a while, including the X-T1, and this was by far the most useful review I have read. I especially appreciate the audio of the shutter noise, as this is an important factor for me. Thank you!

  10. A guy from Spain September 15, 2014 / 9:08 am

    I suppose that you’ve been able to use the X-T1 for night landscapes by now. I would love to see some examples of thatand your opinion about this camera. How does it compare against entry-level full frame cameras like the Canon 6d? Best regards and thanks for your informative articles.

    • J J December 14, 2014 / 4:19 am

      Yes I second this.

      Would be nice to get an update on your opinions around Fuji :)

      Especially given the pressure Sony is putting on the mirrorless world! (luckily they are higher priced!)

      I do love the X-T1.

  11. Harman Dhani September 7, 2014 / 7:42 pm

    Hi ian, i’ve been reading your posts for sometime now. Love your review on Fujis and Canon 6D as I own both systems. Btw, I’m thinking about selling my 6D and replace it with XT1 and couple of lenses. In your opinion, will I regret this decision? I’m not a pro (an avid enthusiast i am :)

    • thejaydub September 7, 2014 / 7:44 pm

      I have both, and I have not actually considered selling my 6d yet. I thought I might, but I have not found the xt-1 *quite* good enough to displace the 6d. For travel, sure. For paid things, no way.

  12. jaydub May 30, 2014 / 8:12 am

    Do you process with Lightroom, or do you use the Fuji software? (or something else entirely?)

    • Ian Norman May 30, 2014 / 9:51 am

      I process in Lightroom. Despite what has been said about how Lightroom handles the demosaicing of the X-Trans files, I think it works great, especially since the release of LR 4.4.

      I tried the trial of Iridient Developer 2.4 and compared it to Lightroom 5.4 but found that it was no better. Plus the extra work required to process outside of Lightroom is not suitable for my workflow. I have gotten great results with a sharpening amount of 50 with a radius of 0.5 and a detail setting of 25. I leave it there and forget about it. All told, its sharpness levels are on par if not better than the Canon 6D.

  13. jay May 28, 2014 / 1:31 pm

    Sorry for a very basic question, but: How easy will this be for a non-manual shooter to pick up and go with? I use a Canon 6d in manual but my wife does not. Will she be able to set the x-t1 to any kind of P or A mode and get me in a shot with my kids once in a while?

    I get the impression that this camera will not provide that.

    • Ian Norman May 28, 2014 / 6:08 pm

      It’s a little more intimidating than a standard SLR as there are 4 main dials that control exposure but all that would be required is to make sure that the aperture, shutter speed and ISO dials are all set to “A” (Auto) and that the exposure compensation is set to 0. Then everything will be full auto.

  14. Marshall Machado May 18, 2014 / 4:08 pm

    Would you recommend getting the Vello (Canon – mini jack) remote to make accurate Bulb settings? I see myself shooting more longer exposures that interval exposures. I too would like Fuji to up the auto exposure bracket to 5 or 7 exposures with greater EV range. Hopefully they are reading these blogs!

    • Ian Norman May 18, 2014 / 5:16 pm

      I use the Vello remote for my Bulb Exposures for about a year now with both Canon and Fuji cameras and it’s still working great. I recommend it. It’s also essential for day-to-night timelapses as the X-T1 won’t let you change the T-mode exposure settings during interval timer shooting with the built-in interval timers.

  15. Matthieu Oostveen May 11, 2014 / 2:12 pm

    Excellent information here! Quick Q about LE handling.. how well does the camera deal with exposures in the 4-5 minute range without noise-reduction/dark-frame subtraction? I can work with ‘some’ noise as that’s inevitable on such lengthy exposures, but my EM-1 is beyond horrible in that respect so I still lug around a 550D with glass when going out.

  16. QBNY May 11, 2014 / 6:37 am

    So, are you getting rid of the 6D? Will you do a image quality comparison between the two?

  17. Mike Tuomey April 19, 2014 / 7:13 am

    Excellent, detailed review – thanks for the hard work. Helpful to me especially as my decision for a travel, take-everywhere camera is between a small(er) dSLR, an expensive dRF, and the X-T1.

  18. c1asia March 10, 2014 / 11:37 am

    I just got my X-T1 the other day. Nice camera, but… one thing I discovered was that you cannot get RAW files when shooting in Bracketing mode. Why the engineers designed it that way, I have not a clue. Seems like a basic and mandatory requirement. Now I have to manually adjust exposure on each shot. Which means I have more post processing work to do to line up pixels. Is there a work around on this issue that anyone know of? Looking forward to a firmware fix.

    :-(

    • Ian Norman March 10, 2014 / 1:25 pm

      Bracketing still works in RAW for normal autoexposure bracketing.

      It’s only in ISO, Film Simulation, Dynamic Range and White Balance bracketing that the camera forces you to shoot in JPEG. I think this is OK by design because most of these parameters, save for ISO, can be changed in post processing with the original RAW file.

      Even with ISO, the X-Trans II sensors are relatively “ISO-less” meaning that if you were to shoot at ISO 400 and push or pull exposure one stop brighter or one stop darker, your results would be similar to ISO 800 and ISO 200 respectively.

      For example, here is a series of images from the X-E1 via Snapsy on the Fredmiranda Forum. The first is at ISO 200, the middle at ISO 200 and pushed 4 stops (ISO 3200 equiv) and the last is at ISO 3200. The middle image still looks pretty close to the ISO 3200 image, despite it being shot at ISO 200 and pushed 4 stops. This means that it’s technically possible to shoot at one ISO and just push in post processing to get another ISO.

  19. Alexander Evensen March 8, 2014 / 5:31 pm

    I first heard of this camera when The Camera Store had a video up on YouTube about it, and I’ve been reading about it and seeing videos, and I think I’d like this camera a lot. I’m a Pentax user and have fallen in love with manual focus photography, so an EVF with focus peaking is a great tool. Now I use the K-01 with an LCDVF over the screen as this camera has focus peaking (I have the K-5 as well, but no peaking there), so it’s not ideal as the LCDVF is kinda loose, but it works well enough to be used.

    There is some info about the X-T1 I haven’t found anything about:
    – Is there focus peaking for video, is it active while recording?
    – Can you connect a monitor to it for when you record video?
    – I’ve seen in the menu for focus peaking that there are two options for all three colors, what is the difference between these two options?

    Thank you for a good review of this camera :)

    • inorman March 8, 2014 / 5:55 pm

      – Is there focus peaking for video, is it active while recording?
      focus peaking is not active while recording video
      – Can you connect a monitor to it for when you record video?
      The X-T1 has an HDMI mini connector output but it’s only for playback, not recording.
      – I’ve seen in the menu for focus peaking that there are two options for all three colors, what is the difference between these two options?
      There’s peaking available in High or Low modes. It’s basically just a sensitivity level. High means higher sensitivity but it’s more prone to false positives in high contrast situations. Low is fine for most situations.

  20. Jon March 2, 2014 / 1:09 am

    I’d be very interested in handling and ergonomic comparisons between your 6D and the X-T1!

    • Bobby B May 22, 2014 / 2:43 pm

      I sold my Canon 6D and 24-105 lens and bought the XT-1, and the Fuji is just superb, the Canon was so heavy and with the lens, walking around with that around my neck was really uncomfortable.
      I have large hands, but the Fuji is really great, I have no problems from an ergonomic point of view.
      I can have it around my neck with the standard lens and it is really comfortable, no strain at all like the Canon. I am a keen amatuer, and for me the picture quality difference is not noticeable, infact I love the Fuji film colours, the Velvia in particular.
      I do not regret selling the Canon at all

    • Ian Norman May 22, 2014 / 4:05 pm

      Bobby, thanks for your feedback.

      Jon, I feel the same way. The handling of the X-T1 is excellent. Unlike Bobby, I actually don’t even use a neck strap. I just have a small wrist strap. I’ve used it for 3 months through Europe now, carrying it with me nearly everyday for hours on end. Even with the 23mm/1.4 (my heaviest lens), it’s much more reasonable than the 6D for extended use.

      Resolution and image quality is directly comparable in almost all situations, particularly when used with the fast Fuji prime lenses.

  21. Chris February 27, 2014 / 2:25 am

    X T1 is really Great camera. Thanks for review!

  22. Don February 27, 2014 / 1:53 am

    Looking forward to seeing your new astro shots!

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