Fuji X-T1: first impressions and analysis

Fujifilm seems to have gotten in trouble with the Fuji X-T1. They have announced a model that seems much more “pro” than the Fuji X-Pro1pero, which in terms of price range it’s between the Fuji X-E2 and the former queen of the series. Right now, the Fuji X-Pro1 only offers a unique viewfinder. In other fields such as autofocus speed, resolution, LCD screen, availability of physical controls and overall performance, it’s clearly inferior to the Fuji X-T1. Now we just have to wait and see what Fujifilm will with the X-Pro2. Meanwhile, the X-T1 has become the best the X series has to offer.

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The secret presentation took place at the old brewery Moritz Barcelona. There were many people and few units of these cameras available, sadly. Luckily, Photographer Ignasi Raventos could get his hands on a camera and accompanied JG Damlow of FujiXperience and me on a quick tour around the MACBA, in which we had the opportunity to try the Fuji X-T1.

The aesthetic issue divided many Fuji enthusiasts but personally, I think Fujifilm has been brave to discard the usual design. The construction of the Fuji X-T1 is similar to a classic SLR, with the viewfinder aligned with a central axis of the lens, which can be more attractive to DSLR users. This design also allows less strict in the use of control dials and thus we have 5 dials on the top to control shutter speed, exposure, ISO, light measuring modes and burst speed. This is the first outbreak of satisfaction when holding the camera: the feeling of power and control it gives you physically, allowing you to witness the shooting parameters without relying on indicative menus and panels.

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The Fuji X-T1 feels more robust that the Fuji X-E1, without being noticeably heavier. Along with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm R LM OIS it weights about the same as the X-E. Its SLR-like design has a much more pronounced grip that helps stability when shooting with slow shutter speed. I was particularly delighted by the firm grip of the camera, something I always look for mirrorless cameras and a feature that s sure to be welcomed by many users who wanted something “bigger” and more robust in the X series.

A few months ago, we talked about the benefits of the electronic viewfinder of the Fuji X-E2, which many naively considered unbeatable. Fujifilm has once again proved them wrong: if the Fuji X-E2’s viewfinder is comparable to a SLR’s, the Fuji X-T1’s is truly out of this world. With a 0.77x zoom and 2.36-megapixel resolution, it is huge, especially when you activate the full display mode. But what really determines its quality is its impressive refresh rate. Even in the darkest situations, it was impossible to see a hint of lag between what was in front of me and what it was reflected in the viewfinder. I can assure you I am not exaggerating one bit.

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Focal Length: 35mm; Aperture: F1.4; ISO: ISO200;
Shutter Speed​​: 1/500s; Exposure Compensation:-1EV; White Balance: Auto

Mow it was time to check the autofocus, which performance is similar to the Fuji X-E2. But in practice I was surprised, not because the faster 8 FPS, but by the AF Tracking. I’m not an action photographer and maybe that’s why my previous test of the Fuji X-E2 in this field has not been 100% successful. But with the Fuji X-T1, with good lighting though, there has not been any moving subject that was out of focus in the half dozen pictures I took. Similar to the old Canon EOS 50D? I would have to do more extensive testing. Now I remember only the legion of bad reviews of the autofocus of the Fuji X-Pro1 before the first firmware updates, and I realize just two years passed and the difference is massive. The same can be said about the performance of the X-T1: three seconds of “constant” clicks and it shows no sign of fatigue, ready for the next action. Comparisons are nasty and I can’t stop looking at my Fuji X-E1. The last test I made was to use the Fuji X-T1 with the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R, the “harder” lens of the X series, trying to work with in difficult lighting conditions. The focus is three times faster and the doubts that were caused by the Fuji X-E1 disappear. Impressive.

Just using it for little more than 20 minutes can hardly be called a detailed review. I could enjoy the magnificent hinged LCD screen, a devalued characteristic among high-end cameras but that has its particular usefulness. This camera features extreme customization, as it has six configurable buttons. These and many other details are stories that will be told another time, hopefully very soon.

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