After a year spent expanding the X-series with enthusiast models, Fujifilm has returned to the premium arena by launching the X-T1. Is it the best X-series model to date? Read the Fujifilm X-T1 review...
Classic design is the first thing that you’ll notice when you see the Fujifilm X-T1. Its DSLR-style viewfinder gives it a distinctly film-like silhouette reminiscent of the Nikon FM2 – a move away from the rangefinder style of the other X-series cameras such as the X-Pro1 and the X-E2.
Squarely aimed at the advanced enthusiast and prosumer photographer, the Fujifilm X-T1 enters the market with a large 2.36-million-dot OLED EVF that delivers class-leading 0.77x full-frame equivalent magnification, which is immediately pleasing to the eye and boasts an almost imperceptible lag of 0.005 seconds, closely imitating an optical viewfinder.
Fuji has created an entirely new line in its range with the X-T1, slotting it in above the X-E2 and below the X-Pro1, but would like to believe that some photographers will adopt the X-T1 as a second body, particularly if they’re shooting potentially fast-moving subjects such as animals or athletes.
AP Technical Writer, Jon Devo, with the new Fujiflm X-T1
While it does share the same 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor and EXR Processor II as the X-E2, the X-T1 is compatible with SDXC UHS-II SD cards, which have twice the data writing speed of standard cards in continuous mode. Compared to the 7 frames-per-second burst mode of the X-E2, Fuji’s latest camera can put out 8fps with tracking AF and improved buffering. Although I only saw a pre-production model, I was able to fire off 47 frames of JPEG for six seconds and 23 frames in three seconds of raw.
Phase-detection AF has been built into the new X-Trans sensor, achieving focusing times up to 0.08 seconds, equivalent to the X-E2. Moiré is tackled by the same original colour array system also featured in the X-E2, but improvements have been made to the ISO performance thanks to a redesigned circuit board, making it extendable to 100, 12,800, 25,600 and 51,200. Expanded ISO settings can be assigned to H1 an H2 positions on the top deck ISO sensitivity dial.
Six customisable function buttons and two command dials placed around the front and rear of the X-T1 ensure that you can access the features you need, wherever you need them. While some may find the number of physical function options overwhelming, they’re subtle enough to ignore. However, it’s good to see such flexibility in a classically styled camera.
EVF and Viewfinder
When focusing through the EVF, a newly designed graphical user interface displays shooting information that rotates to remain clearly displayed along the bottom of the screen whether you’re holding it in landscape or portrait orientation, it’s a small touch, but it’s this kind of attention to detail that make this camera a joy to use. Digital Split Image assisted focusing in MF has also made its way into the X-T1, with optional focus peak highlighting, allowing you to maintain the composition of your image while a 100% crop of the selected AF-zone displayed beside it shows when the desired focus is achieved. Thanks to the generous size of the EVF, a function that sounds as though it would be cramped in practice, actually works very well.
The 1.04-million-dot reinforced LCD viewfinder can be tilted, which is a feature that won’t be popular with everyone but will make creative shooting options easier for those who choose to use it.
As is the case with most cameras being released these days, the X-T1 also comes with Wi-Fi capability but to coincide with its release, Fuji has also vastly improved the speed and functions of its Wi-Fi app, which is currently in development for Android. Although, we weren’t able to see a final working version, we experimented with its ability to remotely control all of the camera’s functions, including the surprisingly rapid touchscreen AF. A dedicated Wi-Fi connect button and straightforward confirmation process makes it possible to shoot stills and video via the app, as well as viewing and transferring uncompressed files from the camera directly to your linked device. Once linked to a GPS-enabled phone or tablet, the camera will also include geo-tagging information, ideal for travel and landscape photographers.
A small detachable pop-up flash unit that mounts to the camera’s hotshoe is included in the box, and although it’s not particularly powerful, it will still provide some decent fill flash for portraits.
Build and Operation
Weather sealed and built from magnesium alloy, the Fujifilm X-T1 feels as premium in the hand as its looks suggest, it manages to feel solid without being particularly heavy.
Fuji has included all of the necessary manual controls (ISO, EV, Metering, Shooting Modes, Shutter Speed) on five precision-milled aluminium dials. These are sensibly placed and operate with a firm mechanical click. Aperture can also be controlled via the lens aperture ring, saving you from diving into the menu while taking pictures. In short, the design genuinely allows for a film-photography experience in a digital body.
The Fujifilm X-T1 with flash and battery grip
This is a camera I should be able to use confidently in harsh environments, going further than simply being water and dust resistant, the camera will also operate in freezing temperatures as low as -10?C. If used with the compatible VG-XT1 battery grip and X-mount lenses – of which, three have so far been announced – the XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R OIS, XF16-55mm f/2.8 R OIS WR, XF50-140mm f/2.8 R OIS WR, the X-T1 will be fully weather sealed.
Fuji has clearly thought carefully about the function of each dial and how it will impact the user experience, for example, the placement of the exposure compensation dial on the right, as opposed to the left, as Nikon did on the Df, seemed more intuitive particularly when making adjustments while holding the camera to my face.
With the addition of possibly the most impressive electronic viewfinder I’ve ever seen on a digital camera, fast AF, weather sealing and intuitively placed manual controls, it’s hard to be anything other than positive about the new Fujifilm X-T1.
Traditional design and handling will make this a very attractive camera to anyone who appreciates the manual control of a film camera, it almost feels like the camera the Nikon Df should have been. Its sturdy but compact build also makes it a great prospect for travel and street photography. Joining the X-E2 and the X-Pro1, the X-T1 fills a gap in Fuji’s already strong line-up, and rather than replacing either of its existing cameras, it’s a decent potential option as a second body, even if you already own a DSLR.
If it delivers what it promises in speed, build and image quality, the Fujifilm X-T1 will warrant serious interest from enthusiast and pro-photographers alike who are looking for a high-quality all-weather CSC.