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FUJI X-T1 REVIEW – Canon VS Fuji

Fuji X-T1 review gif 2

The FUJI X-T1 was released back in February 2014.
It has won a bizillion awards.
Now I bring you the Max Milne take on this little pocket rocket.

FUJI FOMO(Fear of missing out) :
 When I first heard all the trumpeting about the Fuji X-Trans line I decided to purchase the XE-1 as a travel around camera. Great idea for image quality – terrible idea for usability for events or quick shooting. As I work a lot with moving subjects a decent auto focus system equivalent or better than the 5D Mark II is all I needed. Regrettably the X-E1 didn’t match this in real world operations. The auto focus was too slow and EVF(electronic view finder) was super jittery to experience a seamless integration between the real world and the digitally represented world.

So yes – Zac Arias had sucked me in through fear of missing the boat of the cameras to have, the Fuji Cameras.

Fast forward 8 months and chatter of the XT1 was getting hot! Heralded for a super EVF, 7fps, tilt-able screen, fast auto focus, dials and blah blah blah. The FOMO was building again as I gleaned news from Fuji Rumours daily. Deep down I wanted to replace my hefty zoom advertising Canon 5D kit with a full prime lens and smaller body kit. So i bought the Fuji X-T1 with the 56mm f 1.2 and brought all the 35mm f 1.4 from my X-E1. All I desired from the X-T1 was equivalent quality and usability to the Canon 5d Mark II and I’d be happy.

Below is what I love, question and out right dis-like in the XT1. And a side note… to this day I still have my Canon 5d Mark II and that is hopefully about to change.

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How do I use the XT1 day to day?
My Lightroom photography catalogue is based around three main sections: Advertising, Personal/Holiday and Fine Art. As a percentage I use the X-T1 on about 30% of my advertising shoots, 80% for my personal shooting and 20% for my fine art shooting.  This is due to the X-T1s great travel size and weight, limited application in advertising is due to no true tethering functions and that I trust myself with the Canon to get THE image due to experience. I would bring the X-T1 along to a party, music event, when I’m shooting around a city or on holiday. Seeing a theme here? The X-T1 is portable to the extent a Lecia is portable. Fits in a day pack with enough space for a days worth of supplies to be packed as well. 

Does it split even with, better or lag behind the Canon 5D Mark II?
They are two very different cameras. Firstly I believe the Canon is a more versatile advertising camera. Whilst the Fuji excels in street and adventure shooting. Fuji win’s on portability, weather sealing, tilting screen, dynamic range and being able to see those dials. You’ll love the dials. Where as the Canon 5d Mark II takes the points for tethering, shooting in a studio with flash and looking like a total professional with mad massive lens.

FUJI Xt-1 mad lensMe looking pro with a mad lens.

Whats to love about the X-T1?

Fuji_X-T1_screen          FUJI X-T1 Review rotate

Size+Weight
The small and light size of the X-T1 is to love. I feel less conspicuous, the weight means a wedding shoot doesn’t fatigue your arms, people are charmed more than imposed upon by the size and it is brilliant to travel with. For example previously I might just be shooting a landscape with my Nexus 5 for instagram, meaning I won’t be able to use the image in a commercial or fine art context, though the XT1 is light enough to have on hand whilst travelling and the quality of the image will still allow for it to be implemented into a advertising job.

Pew pew pow – frame per second
I love, love, love, love the high frame rate this camera can knock out. I’m a gif queen! Shooting events and movement doesn’t get any better!

FUJI XT-1 review GIFBand Total Giovanni

EVF
Shooting during the day is a dream and at night very doable. Drawing the viewfinder to the eye you see exactly what your image is going to look like – it is constantly in live view.  The EVF has what I call a “dark studio mode” where the image presented is balanced to be viewable and different to what the cameras exposure is set to. This makes it a lot easier to see your subjects in a room if your exposure is based upon flash. The live view mode is brilliant so that I shoot more like film now , I see the frame in the EVF take the image and don’t review until on the computer. Stay in the real world right? This allows for a greater connection with subjects and story your wishing to tell.

Style and design
Fuji is very consistently delivered quality design and style in X-Trans line up of cameras. The lenses and body all merge together in a minimal visual aesthetic that is very pleasing to me.

Dials
The ability to look right down and see what your settings are brilliant for developing a knowledge of what settings are needed for what light. As I’m continuously working towards a film approach anything that takes me away from digital interfaces excites me. Below is the ISO, aperture and shutter speed dials with the obsolete to me exposure compensation dial.

X-T1_review Shutter Dial X-T1_review dial aperture XT1_review ISO Dial

Lenses
Sharp! Just for the hell of it I usually zoom in to 200% and show off to my friends to communicate how sharp these lenses are when combined with the X-Trans chip.

Sensor
Beautiful rendition very different to the Canon line. Because I know how the canon images look I’ve tailored my shooting and post production style to them thus I cannot say much except I enjoy the film-ish look of the X-Trans sensor. If you zoom in 100% on the Canon 5d Mark III it always looks digital and razor sharp edged and yet without life.

FUJI XT-1 full crop
A 100% crop using the 35mm f 1.4

Kai-Zen
Kaizen (改善), Japanese for “good change”. wikipedia
Fuji takes on the Japanese motto to continuously improve and applies it to their camera firmwares. I believe that Fuji has released a beautiful sensor in the X-Trans and with bold ambitions has released some clunky bodies for example the X E-1, X M-1 and even the X PRO-1. The firmware updates show they are interested and responsive to their consumers to make changes. As a business FUJI shows along with the normal telling of companies that they are listening to their customers.  Kaizen is being thrown around in a cultish way, a band of people so excited about good change. An who doesn’t love feeling part of making a change to a product? Perhaps if many of us petition, as I have, for a MAC tethering solution we will all have that Kaizen feeling.

Mobile phone tethering
Super handy for when the camera is in hard to reach spots where it is impossible to see through the view finder – for example three metres in the air shooting a flat lay(include example) or on the ground shooting towards on the sky. I’ve used the features predominately in long exposure situations at night time where I can trigger the camera remotely (human hand camera shake free) to snap the exact moment some is moving through the frame. Rather than guessing my timing with the built in camera timer.

Questions? I had a few. The X-T1s idiosyncratic issues I have found answers for…

File size
The X-T1’s image files (.raf) have a large 34mb file size for a 16 megapixel sensor I’m sure there is a technical reason for this occurring though I’m not interested beyond how to work with this fact. My hard drive started to fill up quicker than the Mississippi around Katerina so I went looking for answers and I found one in Lightrooms DNG conversion. Using Lightrooms conversion to DNG function my 34mb .raf files become about a 20mb .dng file. A major space saver. Also available is a free stand alone Adobe DNG converter and here is a how to guide from youtube for it.

A bag within a bag
I usually take the X-T1 with two lenses and a charger and drop them into a small ebay bag and drop that into my day pack. Good bye ‘steal me’ big camera bag. I bought the below black camera bag from ebay for about $20 and it fits X-T1 the 50mm and 85mm and a Black Rapid strap. The bag comes in many interesting colours and textures.

Camera bag Fuji XT-1 reviewThe ebay special

What to strap on?
Well Zac Arias – yes I’m a fan boy – lead me to the Blackrapid line. I picked up a classic edition for $70 to use with my Canon’s and X-T1’s though I now use an old canon hand grip one for the X-T1. Blackrapid make a wrist strap($44) ,though I cannot vouch for it, Blackrapid’s quality is usually top notch. My wrist grip It is super fun and doesn’t have that “look at me getting my camera from my side to take a photo of you” vibe.

Black Rapid XT-1 Wrist Strap XT-1

The land of unhappiness
Tethering
One does imagine a camera of $1.4k to have the ability to tethering straight out of the box. An well my dream of switching over from the Canon line straight into the Fuji line with the ability to tethering seems to be, well, cut short as none of the Fuji cameras at the time of my purchasing had the ability to tether. This has changed of recent with an application to be released for Windows to tether the XT1, at a cost though. If I’m to make the final move all over to Fuji it is going to need a solid and consistent tethering option. Currently it is purely a run and gun camera rather than a studio work horse. Being an up standing photographer I’m part of the Apple Mac eco-sphere and the straights seem dire until our friends at Adobe or Phase One integrate the Fuji system into their applications.  Until the day a tethering solution comes in I won’t be changing fully to the Fuji system meaning less money for them spent on lenses, bodies and accessories. Get with it Fuji! At least for your sake.
UPDATE So fuji has released a tethering software plugin for Lightroom. Which is annoying for all those whom don’t own Lightroom or know how to use it. Your looking at a $10 a monthly subscription price or $150 for out right cost. Also, Fuji has decided to charge for the plugin $29 US and is selling via the Adobe add on store (LINK). Once it has hooked up it works just as normal. The downside is that the camera only shoots to the computer not the card as well. No redundancy.

Conclusion:

The XT1 is no doubt lots and lots of fun with a sensor that delivers images worthy of walls and magazine spreads. Built to a size to be portable with a growing array of prime lenses I highly recommend the X-T1 camera to professional advertising photographers as a travel companion and back up camera. For wedding and portrait photographers this could be a go to. With the addition of corded tethering or quality wireless tethering to both PC and MAC I cannot recommend this as a replacement to commercial and advertising photographers who require all the functions a Nikon or Canon will bring. I would recommend starting out professional photographers to the work horse Nikon D750 as the place to begin a professional career. This here X-T1, whilst beautifully designed, does come with idiosyncratic elements that I’m sure with Fuji’s Kaizen approach and X Pro 2 on the horizon will fix. Does it replace my Canon 5D Mark II? Bring the tethering in and I’m fully on board. People have whinged about the auto focus not being fantastic

UPDATE: I am now a solely dedicated Fuji shooter. After travelling for 5 months with only the XT-1, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm prime lenses I notice that the resolution matches that of the Canon 5d Mark II.

Images shot with the X-T1

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Fuji XT-1 samples review-1-2

Fuji XT-1 samples review-2-2

 

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Just for funFUJI X-T1 review

Thank you to my creative family for helping make this happen:
Total Giovanni, Aviva Endean, Min Manifold and Daniel Astorquiza.

All of my views and recommendations on this site are based upon personal experience and I have full creative control over the content. Any products linked to are there for your ease of finding them. Nothing is sponsored. I intend to link to Australian websites as that is where I’m based. 

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