Fujifilm X-T1 User Experience By Kelvin Ng

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Fujifilm X-T1 User Experience

By Kelvin Ng

I never do a review for any camera. I also never know how to write a proper review for a camera that I used. I am going to make an exception for this Fujifilm X-T1. I want to share some of my “user experience” about this camera. It is not a technical “review”, but it is rather an “experience” to share. Anyway, I was one of your Daily Inspiration #439 with the Fujifilm X100s.

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Some History About the Gears I Owned…

My first Fujifilm mirror less camera was the X100. That was the time (2011) I sold all my DSLR gear, and bought the X100 to pair with my Olympus EP3. I have never regretted and missed my DSLR since then. I just hate the size and look of a DSLR. I found the X100 and EP3 was really suited for a non-pro photographer like me. I enjoyed traveling with the lightweight and small size of these cameras in a small camera bag.

I know most of the people complaint about the autofocus of Fujifilm X100. I was the one who complaint it too. When looking at the retro out look of the camera, and also the photo came out from the X100, I tried to compromise the slow autofocus with the retro look and the photo quality.

I purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro1 in 2012, but I sold it after a month of usage. I just can’t justify the cost that I invested into this system with a very slow autofocus in return. Hence, I got myself an Olympus OMD EM5 instead. I also have tried the Fujifilm X-E1 in a short period of time, and sold it with the same reason I found with the X-Pro1.

I bought the X100s in 2013. I skipped the X-E2. Until recently in 2014, I got myself the Fujifilm X-T1.

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What I found?

I will not talk about the full X-T1 specification here. I find no point to talk about it since the camera specification can be easily obtain from Fujifilm official website. I am quite satisfied with the Fujifilm X-T1 performance, but several points I wanted to share here. I found this are the point worth mention.

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a) Autofocus of X-T1

I think the autofocus of X-T1 is the main concern for many people who want to buy into this system. I have tried Fujifilm X-Pro1, X-E1, and Olympus EP3, EM5. If I rate the autofocus of Olympus OMD EM5 as 10 out of 10, then the X-T1 will be 8.5 out of 10. The X-Pro1 is much lower than that. I would say the autofocus of X100s are on par with the X-T1. I have full confident on OMD EM5. It never misses when I press on the shutter. The X-T1 pair with the 35mm f1.4, I still miss some shot. The lens tends to hunt a bit before lock into the subject. It could be the 35mm f1.4 lens characteristic? Other factor? I found the same with the 14mm f2.8 too. However, it is not being hunt at very horrible stage, it has improved very much since the X-Pro1. If you have come from the Olympus OMD EM5 family, you will get frustrated and feel less confident about the autofocus of the X-T1. I believe time will help to get use to the X-T1 system. You will be very happy if you are upgrading from X100, X-E1, or X-Pro1. For me… I just hope the autofocus of this X-T1 can be improved further to compete with the Olympus OMD.

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b) Button & Menu

I found the button is nicely place on the camera. Once I set up the camera, I have not looked into the menu for other setting. I can change the setting with simple turn of the dial. Even the in camera advance filter, it can be access by turning one of the dial.

c) EVF

The EVF is large and clear with a lot of information. No complaint except the EVF can be very noisy under dim light condition. Make focus peaking a bit difficult.

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d) Battery Life

Not a good one. The battery dies suddenly without warning, even though the indicator shown half of the battery life. I would say 350 shot average per charge.

e) White Balance

It can be very hard to control the white balance. The output tends to be very pinky or magenta in some occasion. I notice the red color on the subject never be the red. I might be wrong, but I have noticed it since the X100s.

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How I Process the Photo from X-T1…

There is no RAW support as of this writing with Lightroom 5. This is how I set up the Fujifilm X-T1, when I want strait JPEG photo out from the camera. Here are the settings:

Highlight -1

Shadow -2

Color 0

Sharpness 0

DR Auto

Noise Reduction -2

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The entire photos shown on this page were shot with the above setting. I made some adjustment in Lightroom for Saturation, Contrast, White Balance, Dodge & Burn, and Sharpness. The black & white photo was converted using the pre-set in Lightroom 5. Several reason that I have the X-T1 set to the above setting. This is the experience that I have gotten from when using the X100s. I found the X-T1 produce decent and unique JPEG output with this setting.

• The noise grain. The grain is so nice at ISO 800 and above. I just hope it will be completely turn off the noise reduction. I have the noise reduction set to -2.

• The highlight clipping. I found it is much easy to blown the detail of highlight. I have the Highlight set to -1 or -2.

• The lost of detail in shadow. I notice when the shadow is set to 0, some of the shadow will become very dark, and cause lost in detail. I have the shadow set to -2, and increase the contrast during post processing in Lightroom 5. I found this approach is much more satisfied.

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Worth to Upgrade?

If you ask me about my opinion, I would say the following:

If you need an X system with interchangeable lens, then it is a yes. If you are X100, X-E1, or X-Pro1 user, then it is a yes. But, I don’t see the need to upgrade if you are a X-E2 user, unless you need a weather shield camera body. For X100s user, if you can live with the fix lens, then no point to upgrade. For other mirror less system user, please check on the autofocus of X-T1 before jump into it.

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Am I satisfied with Fujifilm X-T1?

Certainly, there are more pros and cons. Overall, Fujifilm X-T1 is quite suited for my style of shooting (Street or Vacation). The autofocus is improved very much compare to the X-Pro1 that I had two year ago. With the uniqueness of Fujifilm photo rendering, it is good enough to justify the investment into the X-T1 system. I always build my system with focal length equivalent to 21mm, 35mm, and 50mm. Similar to my Leica MP system, the Voigtlander 21mm f4, Leica Summicron 35mm f2 ASPH, and Leica Summicron 50mm f2. Now I have the Fujifilm 14mm f2.8, 35mm f1.4, and X100s to complete the range of focal length that I needed. I would skip the Fujifilm XF 23mm f1.4R lens.

The Fujinon lens is excellent. Not only in build quality, the Fujinon lens produce sharp image even shooting wide open. I tend to use the 14mm f2.8 quite often on the street, and the 23mm focal length on my X100s next. The Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 is less, only one or two occasion for portrait shot. The photo that I share here is not the best, but it represents what the X-T1 is capable to produce. JPEG out is nice, with Fujifilm color signature.

I am sure the RAW file from the X-T1 will be the same as other X Trans sensor. Some people hate it and some people like it. I found the RAW file can be very flat or dull sometime. As what Steve mention before about Fujifilm X Trans Sensor, the file can be nice with good light. I don’t want to comment further on the X-T1 RAW file yet, but I believe it will be the same for all X Trans sensor. However, it is not a problem for me.

Yes, I am satisfied with the Fujifilm X-T1.

My blog: www.kbphotographyblog.com

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42 Comments

  1. Great article, unlike those just advocating how perfect the camerae is … Really enjoy in reading it.

    By chance if you read this comment, when I am looking at pictures taken by X trans cameras, I always feel that for smaller indoor and city scenes, or portraits in these scenes, pictures taken by Fuji cameras are really pleasing, with great colors. However, for many daytime landscape pictures, I feel colors are sort of flat or dull. What do you think based on your experience?

    Thanks very much!

  2. hello! thx for the input and pictures. you mention the settings for the jpegs out of the camera. what picture style do you use for these adjustments (astia, std neg high etc.)?

  3. How’s the shutter sound? Louder than the EM-1/EM-5? I like the Fuji colors. I wish someone would post some OOC JPEG where the Fuji has the “flat” look vs the Olympus EM series. I’d like to see the difference.

    This will be my first camera since I sold my NEX-5N; I’m leaning toward the XT-1 with the 23/1.4

    • The shutter sound is louder than EM5, but I don’t have a EM1 at the moment. About the flat look of the Fuji file, it is more like a personal preferences. Some like it, and some don’t.

  4. I have a basic question. This camera does not have IBIS like the E-M1. Did you have difficulty working with the camera because of that ? How can we compensate for hand shake with this camera in low light ? Thanks
    Vivek

    • Definitely with IBIS is better. I normally bump up the ISO to achieve the minimum shutter speed, 1/(focal length x 1.5). It is not a problem for me without the IBIS. For low light, I either use flashlight or move on to find other subject with better light condition.

  5. You’d have a different AF experience with the 23, 18-55, et al. Anything but the original three lenses are very quick to AF. The 35 is not super fast to begin with (but better than my Nikon 50 1.4 G for those who care).

  6. The color is unmistakably FujiX, but I’m afraid that the color might be a bit overpowering to the contents.

  7. Brilliant set of photo’s. Gear aside, the composition, framing and processing is handled fantastically and the subtle approach to your B+W shots are terrific too. Not to spark a war here, but if there was anyone balancing between a M43 and APS-C Fuji camera, this is a reason enough to swing towards Fuji. You can see the smack-in-your-face difference in microcontrast and dynamic range even from the resized web pictures in this article

  8. Beautiful shots and nice article – about some of the issues you encountered, I’m confident they wil be solved by firmware updates.
    I’ve never considered Fuji, tought, exactly because how it renders the colors… see, when someone says “vibrant colors that pops out” I usually think “fake colors”… sorry but for me fidelity is paramount (more so when shooting a paid assignment!), and IMHO Fuji sensors never seems to render a scene exactly how it is…
    But YMMV.
    Keep up with the good work!

  9. Nice work Kelvin, I’ve been following the Fuji thing carefully for the last couple of years, they keep ironing out the wrinkles with each new offering. I now think they’re running third behind Leica and Sony/Zeiss in mirrorless IQ department and closing in pretty fast, to me this is more important than speed and technical issues. In the XT1 and XE2 files i’m seeing a lot more pop and vibrancy, “life” for lack of a better word, this draws me in and that’s what a photograph needs to do beyond the artistic side of things. Transcending the great wall of flatness is now in the reach of mortals.

    cheers

  10. I feel the need to speak up here. I own an Omd EM5 with the oly 12mm oly 45 and the panny 25mm and I love that set up. Recently I bought a used Fuji X Pro 1 with the 35mm and all I can say is that the images that come from the Fuji have caused the OMD to just sit and collect dust. The way Fuji renders images is second to none. I’m sure most of you haven’t shot the X Pro 1 with the most current firmware updates… Believe it is so much faster then when it first came out. It was horrible when it first came out. Granted the OMD with the 3 lenses I have is lighting quick but I enjoy the X Pro 1 much more because I feel like a photographer with it. This is the only camera I’ve owned that makes me become a better photographer.

    • Michael,
      That’s correct. Comments on AF in the article seem to be directed at when he tried the x pro 1 when it was released. It has undergone numerous firmware upgrades in the past 2 years. And settings in the x pro 1 are very determined on focus accuracy. I shoot an oly em-10 also. The Oly is still faster, the menus a giant PITA, but I love the camera for travel. My x pro still remains a faithful tool due to the OVF and image quality.

  11. Thanks for sharing your photos. The settings you gave work very well.
    What type of film setting did you use. ? Velvia ?

  12. The photos look a bit soft for me, maybe something happened during the upload, or something very wrong with the camera,my xt produce much sharper images for sure

  13. Good review – thanks Kevin. Great photos too – well done.

    Like you I bought and sold the original X100 and XPro1. Have always agreed with Steve Huff that those cameras were simply not good enough – AF was appalling. To their credit Fuji have now got AF into a competitive state, but your observations suggest a bit further to go to be up there with the Olympus offer, so it was good to learn of your thoughts – thanks for sharing.

  14. This has to be the only realistic review of this camera I have read!! The internet is busy with praises of XT1 for its knobs and improvement in focussing.
    Your views very much match what I experienced when I tried this in Selfridges (London) with my memory card. For me the slower autofocus was a disappointment. Highlights were blown in the picture. It is still way behind micro four thirds.

    Thank you.

  15. I tried out the X-T1 at B&H today and my impression is that:
    a) It doesn’t fit my hand well. The front dial is awkward, and the grip isn’t shaped quite right.
    b) The viewfinder is pretty big, but not HUGE like an old analog SLR.
    c) Tracking autofocus (tested with my hand) is okay but still not up to dedicated-phase-detect-sensor.
    d) During the instant of autofocus, the EVF ceases to update entirely. It’s a little jarring.

    • BTW those are only my negative impressions.

      I was impressed by the buffer depth, for example…

  16. This kind of articles are probably inspiring a significant number of readers to buy the XT1 (including myself). Very nice article and great shots!
    John

  17. Nice write-up and pictures!

    Coming from the X-E1 I’m very happy with the X-T1. Of course it gave me a sudden boost of GAS and a few new lenses, but it’s worth it. Love the feeling/ergonomic of it as well. The 23mm is excellent on it even if you have the X100S (I’d rather skip the 27mm).

    Agree with you on the AF. It is is not as fast as I would wish for, being a DSLR user too, and the battery life sucks on all mirrorless cameras I’ve had (GF1-3, E-M5, X-E1, X100/X100S). I can get 1000-1500 out of my DSLR but must carry spare batteries for my mirrorless (rarely get more than 200 shots even without chimping). Also, i wish the video button was programable. Never use video so it is wasted. Other than that the buttons are tight an not easy to move by accident.

  18. After fighting three years with Fuji X, I’ve had my part. When I read about the problems with the AF, I feel another pain in my stomach – yes so much suffering and even with the X-T1 Fuji is still not where they should be. More and more I believe there have been initial design decisions taken by the R&D dept, that appeared to be wrong and that are causing problems, not easy to solve. Too much electronics in the lenses is likely one of them. It explains why each lens required a new FW update, completely ridiculous. And in the worst case, Fuji X will always remain below par with competition. Excellent review, I love my Pro-DSLR stuff with the day more and regret how all this far too expensive Fuji X-gear remains in my bags lately – could it be I made the wrong decision?

  19. Thank you for your honest review without trying to be a fanboy. I’ve owned Fuji X100, X100s, XE1, and XE2 and find the autofocus still not there even with XE2 in order to get my 2 year in focus each time (He always moves and never stay still and moves his head too even if he is still for split second). I am not talking about continuous AF, I am talking about single af initial acquisition and by the time it acquires focus he is gone. X100s AF after extensive use I found to be even behind XE2. It is usable but requires a lot of effort to get AF correct at high rate. But I also own Sony A7r so I am kind of used to subpar AF. I’ve taken close to 20,000 shot with Olympus EM5 and more with other m43 cameras and I agree AF is better, but still does not rival DSLRs especially in low light. Great photos by the way.

    • If I need fast af on my X100 (for fast moving objects or night shots where af is difficult) I switch to AF-C. It seems this is just a cross type af and therefore much easier to attain focus. Does hunt around when not pre-focusing (ie; when just holding the camera) – so battery life will be even poorer.
      Normal focus points are are vertical lines only so need a horizontal object with a change of contrast eg a dark edge. Cross type af means that edge can be vertical or horizontal.

  20. These are really nice shots. I’m just curious, did you bump up the saturation in some of them in post? You’ve got nice, vibrant colors in some of these shots, and I’ve found that sometimes the colors are not as punchy as I’d like from the Fujis.

  21. Nice work. One of the reasons that one Fuji lens will hunt a bite more then an other is the motor. Fuji made great improvements in motor technology with their newer lens. The 14mm and the 23mm does have the newer motor. The 60mm macro, is a macro and has the older motor. It is the slowest, but it is accurate.
    Nice work on fine tuning images. the 35mm just has the old motor.

    • You’ll buy everything from Fuji at least twice before you’ll have a set of gear that can cope with the MLIC competition. I even guess three times before it will be behaving similar with true pro DSLR stuff. I’m not sure I’m still prepared to do that. In a camera there is a lot more that matters than just the sensor and great optics. Leica also stopped there. Fujifilm may look more advanced, but all the FW in between is just not feeling solid enough for me and the X-series have a rather complicated and not very intuitive interface to take pictures. Yes, they are improving from model to model. But not as much as all those fan-blogs want you to believe. After each release we read too much ‘yes, but…’ between the lines. The improvements are just not enough I’d leave my DSLR for any Fuji X on the shelf. Precisely that is the problem. Let me put this way, after two years the reality is they are at 60% of what this concept should be but I need the full 100% or I’m no longer interested.

      • LCNA, I am not sure what your point is. No camera is going to prefect! Buy what is good for you. Fujion lens lens are excellent lens, not everyone is prefect. The made well in a world of plastic lens bodies and some lens makers lens just plane bad, good companies. The point is go with a company that has what you want. My point is that are a lot of Fuji haters out there.
        When the realty is that Fuji as of late has come a point and shoot CO., to becoming a major player. The bottom line is not judge a camera poorly to just make what you have or want seem better. There cameras that I do not like, but in the right hands and with care produce fine photo. Revel in the large field of choice. By the tool for you and shoot photos. 20%, 30%, 99%….you’ll never have 100%.Kodak and Fujifilm created digital photography.

  22. Great documentary photographer! I like your compositional eye and instincts. I don’t have ant experience with Fuji’s cameras but your preset camera settings, for refining both the highlights and the shadows, are right-on. Thank you. Fuji’s cameras sure have a color palette all their own, and your photography sure shows off how good the Fuji look can be. Fujifilm should hire you (Kevin Ng) to demo their products.

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