A Fuji Lover’s Fuji XT1 Review

Fuji X-T1
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Before I get into this Fuji XT1 review, I’d like to speak a little about my history with Fujifilm cameras. I didn’t fall into the Fujifilm X camera system right away. It took time and several cameras to persuade me. First, the Fujifilm X100 caught my attention. The (very) slow AutoFocus was a pity but that little gorgeous looking camera had great features and a huge potential.

Then came the Fujifilm X-Pro1. Killer look, interchangeable lenses,(check out the best Fuji XF lenses), bigger and better AF (still pretty slow at that time) but Fuji was on the right tracks. This was two years ago.

Next, I had to try the Fujifilm X100s. Far better than the X100. The AF was so much better/faster. Same look, different camera.

January 2014, I bought the Fujifilm X-E2. It was small, cool looking, it only had an EVF (Electronic ViewFinder), and it had faster AF.

I started with personal work such as the “Lazy afternoon” series. I was so surprised by its performance that I’ve decided to take it on professional jobs. It performed like a champ every time. I was hooked!

Shotkit_Frederic_Frognier_011
ISO 800, 35mm @ f/1.4, 1/180s

I finally decided to test the Fujifilm X-E2 on a wedding (always with the Nikon D4 as backup). Once again, the Fujifilm X-E2 held up 100% and the Nikon D4 remained quietly in my bag more than 90% of the time. I then realized that having heavy and bulky equipment bothered me more than anything. The idea of moving me to a “mirror-less” camera continued to make its way into my little head. This is a big decision and it requires reflection.

All the Fujifilm X cameras have something in common. From the X100 to the X-E2, the image quality is simply awesome. Just look at the JPG files and you will know.

Then came the brand new Fujifilm flagship camera…

The Fuji XT1

Fuji X-T1

You have to know something : I’ve been a Nikon user for 6 years. Three months ago, I owned a Nikon D4 with prime lenses. Today, there’s no more Nikon, just two Fujifilm X-T1 with four Fujinon prime lenses.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE USER REVIEWS OF THE FUJI XT-1 AT AMAZON

You’re probably asking yourself why. Well, I was simply fed up carrying so much weight with the Nikon gear. I wanted a simple and easy camera with great image quality. The Fuji XT1 responds perfectly to my quality criteria.

Shotkit_Frederic_Frognier_014
ISO 640, 35mm @ f/1.4, 1/500s

My calculations…

I crunched some numbers and this is how I made my decision:

My Nikon Set Up

Nikon D4 + Nikon 35mm f/1.4G + Nikon 85mm f/1.4G + Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 + Nikon 105mm f/2.8 + flash + battery + 2 batteries for the flash + bag

My Fujifilm Set Up

Fuji XT1 x2 + Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 + Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 + Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 + x4 + flash + batteries for the flash + bag 1. Weight Nikon = Approx. 7.9kgs (17.5lbs) Fujifilm = Approx. 2.5kgs (5.5lbs) Winner: Fujifilm! The weight difference is quite obvious between the two types of equipment.

For 1 or 2 hours, this does not pose too many problems, but over a day, the difference is painfully obvious. 2. Price Nikon = Approx. $25,000 Fujifilm = Approx. $6,800 Winner: Fujifilm!

I don’t deny at all the Nikon D4 is a great device and will always remain one. I simply asked if I really had the need for such a machine. I very rarely need this “machinegun”.

In terms of image quality, the Fujifilm X does as well if not better for ¼ the weight and ⅓ the budget. However, this radical change involves concessions and new habits.

Fuijfilm X-T1 + 23mm
ISO 800, 23mm @ f/3.2, 1/1000s

What the Nikon Df should have been

The Fujifilm X-T1 is radically different from other devices in the X series. It is, in fact, what Nikon should have done with the Nikon Df . A device with a retro look, small and light, where the main settings are right at your fingertips and at the correct price. $1,699 for the Fujifilm X-T1 vs $2,996 for the Nikon Df…

When I got the Fujifilm X-T1, I decided to do a field test – a quick shoot in a car dealership, which had blue light everywhere and a very dark atmosphere. The AF didn’t slip up except for a few rare exceptions (even the Nikon D4 would have struggled), but the jpegs straight out of camera were amazing!

After viewing the images on a computer screen, my decision was made. I left Nikon for Fujifilm!

I’m not going to describe all the technical details of the device, as many others have done this before me. This review will simply be my feelings on certain aspects of the Fujifilm X-T1.

Fuijfilm X-T1 + 23mm
ISO 200, 56mm @ f/2.8, 1/2000s

What I like about the Fujifilm X-T1

Size: the Fujifilm X-T1 is quite small, somewhere in between the X-Pro1 and X-E2, and yet it fits perfectly in hand. The handle is thick enough for normal hands.

Weight: Approx. 15,8 oz  (445g) with battery and card. This is in my opinion, neither too much nor too little. I did not feel like it was a “compact” camera or a toy in my hands. The X-T1 looks sturdy and durable.

Looks: I love the dials on top of the unit. It’s very convenient to have the main settings right at your fingertips. The function you need is right there, without having to enter the menu – very convenient. The dials are solid and easy to use. Admittedly it was a little confusing at first (as with any new camera), but I quickly got the hang of it.

The EVF (electronic viewfinder): This is probably the main strength of the X-T1! What a joy it is to put it to your eye! All the relevant information you need is displayed in there (ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc..), and the information adjusts vertically when the camera is used in portrait mode too, which is brilliant. Another big advantage of the EVF, is that it’s possible and even easy to take pictures in the dark. What your eye does not see, the camera sees. Some people still swear by an optical viewfinder (OVF), and I respect that but they should absolutely try the EVF of the Fujifilm X-T1. In short, I’m super happy with it!

The AF (autofocus): This was my biggest fear. Fuji announces the world’s fastest AF (which sounds a lot like marketing bulls**t…) In just 2 years, Fuji has managed to eliminate the biggest fault of its devices: snail-paced AF. Luckily, in the Fuji X-T1, the AF is quick and responsive. This can vary slightly depending on what you’re shooting, but in general the AF is great. I don’t think the X-T1 is ready to shoot F1 races (leave that to the big expensive cameras) but I did some tests on my daughter and the Fuji nailed it every time. My daughter is difficult to keep up with but the Fuji managed to do just fine!

Image quality: Another huge benefit of Fujifilm cameras, their famous sensor and incredible image quality. Whether RAW or JPG (I can already hear the “real pros” insult me in Swedish or German for shooting JPG), the images are stunning. High ISOs are great. Nice looking noise starts to appear at ISO 6400. What could be better?

‘Back to Basics’: no frills (except the video which is totally useless), well-placed dials. For me, the Fuji X devices are “back to basics”.

Price: $1,699 is the perfect price point for me. Of course, this is purely subjective. Some say it is too expensive for a compact, but I disagree. It is much more than just a compact camera.

GET THE BEST PRICE ON THE FUJI XT-1 AT B&H PHOTO

Memory card access: Fuji had the great idea to place the door to the memory card on the side of the X-T1 and not below as is the case in the X-E2. Much easier to access and more convenient, particularly when using a tripod. Just be careful handling that little door!

Configuration: it is possible to configure six shortcut buttons on the X-T1 according to your needs or desires. This feature is really convenient.

Interactivity: the iPhone app is very well made, easy to use and allows you to control the main parameters of the device.

Lenses: All Fujinon lenses I’ve tested were excellent. The only lens that I’m not convinced by is the 18-55mm zoom, despite all the good reviews I’ve seen of it. All the lenses feature a decent price, they’re great wide open, light, small… to sum it up, they’re wonderful!

Fuji XT1 review Shotkit
ISO 640, 35mm @ f/1.4, 1/500s

More About the lenses

I mainly use 4 Fujifilm prime lenses. The Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 is one of the best lenses I’ve ever used, up there with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G and the Canon 135mm f/2.0. It’s freaking sharp even at f/1.2 and very well built. A piece of jewellery! The second lens I’m using the most is the Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4. Sharp, fast and so well built aswell. It’s a ‘do-everything’ lens. The Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 is another good one. The oldest of the series but I like it. Not as sharp and good as the 56mm nor the 23mm but a very decent lens for everyday pictures. The Fujifilm 14mm f/2.8 is a killer wide angle. Sharp and amazing focusing speed.

Fuji XT1 review Shotkit
ISO 400, 56mm @ f/1.2, 1/500s

What I dislike about the Fujifilm X-T1

Buttons: Some buttons are too small and poorly placed, in particular the “video” button. This is a detail that can sometimes be annoying. Also, the Multi-directional buttons which are used to move the focus point around in Single Focus Point mode (amongst other things) are set too deep in the camera, making them hard to use. Then there’s the Lock button – Fuji has placed some sort of lock to prevent the ISO wheel from turning but it’s very inconvenient and hard to use.

Strap: Like the X-E2, the X-T1’s strap is ugly and cheap looking. Why didn’t they go “full retro” with a beautiful genuine leather strap? A detail I know,  but still a shame …

RAW files: The X-T1 RAWs are readable on Adobe Lightroom but I find them very slow to import and even slower to export. I use Lightroom 5.5 on a MacBook Pro. Nikon D800 RAWs import and export much faster and I can’t explain why.

Battery cover: It’s located under the unit, which makes it difficult to access and the cover seems quite fragile. We’ll see over time how it fares.

Fuji XT1 review Shotkit
ISO 100, 23mm @ f/2.5, 1/60s

A new philosophy, a new gamble

What a crazy gamble, to sell all my Nikon gear for a Fujifilm ‘compact’ set up. This is what many may think. However, I don’t regret my choice for a single second. I have carefully considered my decision and am sure of what I’ve done. Using these small Fuji X devices, I ‘ve discovered what I love about photography. Simplicity. A true homecoming, the basic roots of the art form.

The size of your camera does not make you a better photographer.

Personally, I don’t care what cameras other people use or what they think. For me, only the results count, regardless of the tool. Currently, the Fujifilm X-T1 is the device that best suits my needs as a photographer. Small, lightweight, discreet, fast and efficient in low light.

Fuji XT1 review Shotkit
ISO 100, 23mm @ f/1.8, 1/2000s

Conclusion

For over three months now, I’ve been using two Fujifilm X-T1 ‘s for my professional work. I’ve shot 7 weddings with them, plus various corporate jobs (portraits, events, etc) and I’ve never been disappointed.

The Fujifilm X-T1 is small and discreet and it performs like a champ! Image quality is stunning, even in JPG. Do I regret selling my Nikon D4? Not for a second!

If you liked this review, please support Shotkit by clicking one of the links to purchase the Fujifilm X-T1 from Amazon.

[Update: read the review of the brand new Fuji X-T2]

Guest Review by Belgium Wedding Photographer Frederic Frognier | www.k-pture.com

Shotkit_Frederic_Frognier_014
ISO 640, 35mm @ f/1.4, 1/500s

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9 Build quality

8 Ergonomics & handling

10 Viewfinder / screen quality

9 Features

8 Metering & focus

9 High ISO performance

10 Image quality

10 Value

9.1
    • Peter, thank you for writing this piece. I feel the exact same way as you about my Fuji gear. I haven’t sold my Canon stuff yet but it gets a lot less use now that I have the XT1. I also took my XT1s on paid jobs. The 5D3 has stayed in the bag or on my hip 90 percent of the time. Better yet the XT1 has already paid for itself.

      I’ve even had our company buy XT10s for the marketing department.

  • Hi, i own the X-T1 too. After six months of enthusiasm for the quality of the EVF, the lightness and lens quality, now I’m feeling the need of a return to a full frame body, without sacrificing gear weight.
    If you have to choose between nikon df (I read your review) and XT-1 what would you choose (including also the optics in the evaluation)?

    • Hey,
      Nikon Df (I had one) and Fujifilm X-T1 are very different cameras. The Df’s a great camera but still a lot heavier than the X-T1. To me, as I said in the review, the X-T1 is what Nikon should have done with the Df.

  • Great review! Thanks!

    The last threshold keeping me from leaving my behemoth Nikon bodies (D4, D3s) behind is the issue that all the mirror less bodies are single card bodies. This just makes me nervous. How are you dealing with this?

    • Thanks. :-)
      I don’t really care about the two cards. I use my iPad to backup the pics if I feel the need.
      I always switch memory cards and never use the same cards two times in a row. That simple. ;-)
      I’ve never had issues with memory cards. I take a good care of them.

      • Yeah, it’s simple until you lose one of those tiny little SD cards. :) The more you swap cards the more apt one is to lose one especially during a wedding. Yet at the same time it’s not wise to put all your eggs into one basket with really large SD cards. I’ve had one card fail in 13-14 years of shooting digital, fortunately it was personal images. My far greater fear is losing one of these little buggers.

        • Yeah I can’t get over the lack of two cards slots either. I’d be so down to switch over to a system like this, but once you go through a card failure you will never shoot single slot bodies for paid work. It’s just too big of a gamble for me.

          • The two cards syndrome is here since DSLR started to offer 2 card slots :) When I was shooting film there was only room for one roll at the time. Did it bother any of us? Well, I do shoot D3s and currently purchased Fuji X series for weddings and I do not mind 1 card cameras at all. In 12 years with digital I had ZERO card failures and even if there was one, I would have to live with it and clients would have to survive it too :) things can happen to anyone… So far love fuji x series maybe a bit better AF-viewfinder response and I am without Nikon….

  • I have used the Fuji X-E1 and also have the Fuji X-E2. I have enjoyed both greatly and appreciate the ease of use. But also want to point out that neither of the two Fuji’s is perfect. At time I have a difficult time using the EVF in bright sunlight and find it difficult to see. I greatly appreciate the IQ and am very happy with the portability of the equipment.

  • Frederic-

    Great review man. I recently picked up a used X-e1 and set of primes to play around with for personal work. I’m really falling for the Fuji system and have considered selling some my Canon system to go all in on Fuji with a pair of X-t1’s but the one thing the holds me back is the lack of a real quality telephoto… you noted that in your Nikon setup you had a 105mm and 70-200, do you miss having those options? For me (I shoot weddings as well) I don’t want to be a distraction to guests by being right up front in the way during the ceremony, I prefer to hang back a little with a 135 or 200. How do you handle this?

    • Thanks, man.
      Even with the D4, I rarely used the 70-200mm. I prefered the 85mm. So, with the Fujis, I use the 56mm (=85mm) for the portraits.
      You should check the Fuji lenses roadmap. A 50-140mm 2.8 is announced.

  • Hi Frederic, I also sold all my Canon gear and I’m using a XT-1 (14mm 2.8, 23mm 1.4 and 56mm 1.2), and I’m in love with this! But I need to buy a flash and a RT for it, what do you reccomend?

  • Unbelievable how this camera has captured the imagination and money of photographers. The m43rds system never caught on this way, a shame given the quality they offer. I’m still awaiting reports on the longer term durability of the XT1, and can’t help thinking the XT2 will be even better, as is Fuji’s way.

  • I made the switch from DSLR to mirrorless recently. I went from Canon to Sony. Currently using Sony NEX 7 with a NEX 6 as backup. My kit now weighs about ⅓ what it did before. If anything the image quality is better than with the Canon. Still debating on whether to go with the full frame a7r. I shoot mostly landscape and nature so the crop factor is a big help at times.

  • I just don’t get the comparison to Nikon. Why on earch did you need to buy Nikon D4? Based on that you say Fuji is better than Nikon. It is like to say that bike is better then a car based on that your Hummer is impossible to park in the town. So why did you buy the Hummer? Do you really need to go through the minefiled regularly? So how do you manage using the bike?
    E.g. when Nikon D750 came out, everyone was complaining it is a disapointment, because it is too small. WTF? When Nikon saw, people want their gear smaller and lighter, they made it smaller and lighter and capable of anything. Personally I think Nikon D750 is best SLR for everyone who does not need big prints (they buy D810) and recent objective reviews confirm that.
    But don’t get me wrong, I am Nikon shooter who is gradually leaving to Fuji too (in some areas of photography is it honestly not possible). I’m just saying it is ridiculous that people are always comparing APC-C Fuji to biggest, heavies and most expensive SLRs. Why did you not compare Fuji T-1 to Nikon 7100?
    But otherwise, it’s a good article and I agree with you – Fuji make great gear.

    • I have to agree. Comparing the XT-1 — an APS-C camera — to the largest FX camera doesn’t make any sense. Why not move sideways to the D610, which is just a little bit bigger than the XT-1, but still a lot lighter than the D4? The D610 is full frame and has dual card slots. I have tried the Fuji X system. The camera bodies are indeed small — and the XT-1 is the best of them, to me — but the lenses won’t save you much (financially or physically) over competing Nikkors. It doesn’t matter to me — I still shoot Nikon on film, using digital only for videos. But comparisons such as “Fuji XT-1 beats a humongous DSLR!” makes no sense when it should be compared to the smaller DSLRs in its price range.

  • Great article. Traded my Canon 5D MKII and 3 L lenses for an X-T1, 10-40 F4.0, 35 F1.4, 56 F1.2 and the 50-140 F2.8. No regrets.

    As to why compare it to the D4? Um, maybe if you read the article you would have noticed that it was the system he owned. Just sayin.

  • Hi Frederick!
    I really loved your review. I have been thinking about getting a Xt1 for quite a while now, and reading this review felt just like if I was opening the box and using it for the first time. :)
    Thanks, merci beaucoup!

  • Nice review…seriously, it took me 6 months to decide before purchasing the x-t1. I sold all my fx dslr & gears and replace with this tiny beast.

    One thing I’ve noticed while exploring the x-t1 is the evf and lcd are almost blackout if it is set to manual mode and an ef42 is attached. It’s a little difficult to focus on your subject and need to half press a couple of times. But like you’ve said, even your eyes can’t see a thing, the x-t1 does. And once you got the shot, you’ll be amazed with the result.

    Do you have the same experience? Do you have any suggestion to fix this?

    Thank you and wishing you all the best.

  • Thanks for the review. Like you I loved my Nikon kit having been a Nikon user for 20 years. But I took the plunge and bought the Fuji XT1 and 10-24 and 18-135 lenses. After 6 months use I have now sold my Nikon kit and absolutely no regrets. The two recent firmware upgrades also added valuable features to this camera, including electronic shutter (still can’t understand how a firmware upgrade can turn a mechanical shutter into an optional electronic shutter but who cares it works beautifully especially for street photography)
    Joe

  • Thanks for all the comments. Wow
    By the way, it’s a price / weight comparison, not a cameras duel.
    Some of you seem to have jumped some lines during their reading.

    • Thanks for sharing that Sebastian. I’ve actually seen that article before! It’s definitely a very versatile little camera :-)

  • My husband and I sold all of our pro Canon gear to move to Fuji. Like you we needed less weight without sacrificing image quality. I keep two Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket SD card holder wallets and one is labeled used cards. I take a card out of the camera and put it in the labeled holder & easily grab a new card from the unlabeled holder & switch out. No re-use of a card, nor a loss yet-but loss of either will be due to me not paying attention.

    Looking at the current and near future of the lens line-up, I am not worried about the quality of the glass. It is excellent.

    We do nature, landscapes, portraits, events and my husband covers some of the slower sports (golf and such things) as a stringer sometimes. We shoot LeMans racing for our own pleasure but have not tried that yet-but since the bulk of our shooting is panning to get a sharp detailed car and blurred motion, it shouldn’t be an issue. We both shoot with the full Lensbaby lens/optic system and they are due for a June 2015 release of a Composer Pro in a Fujifilm X mount as well as the Circular Fisheye and the new Velvet 56. We both have adapters (they were machined well and fit perfectly and they were inexpensive) and they allow us to easily use some very cool vintage lenses with beautiful glass that work so well with the mirrorless system.

    I understand your post! It is not really a this camera vs that camera-it’s more of this camera now fits my lifestyle better and hey-it performs equally as well as my pro rig did before! I just lightened up without losing anything important-glad I don’t have “mine’s bigger than yours” syndrome and can now work more efficiently.

    One thing that drew us is something that Canon was not keeping up with and that is Fujifilm’s willingness to listen to the customer and use firmware to update the full line of X Series cameras and lenses as needed. I shot Nikon years ago before Canon & they just offered improved cameras then like Canon-but neither offered to truly go the extra mile with firmware to add some of the extra features of a new release. That attention to the customer means more to me that bigger megapixels that I don’t really need.

    Beautiful images! Thanks for the well written post.

    • Hey Jesper, they’re totally different cameras with totally different sensors, and it will depend on what lenses you use too. It depends on what you want to do really! Having said that, they’re both excellent cameras that can produce first class photos in the right hands ;-)

  • hello Fred i sold my D800 today. one my thing before i let you go :).

    if u have the time to look at my site http://www.Aztian.dk i done it all but right now i am only in portrait and street and what i find on my way. stoped makeing studio photos and sport etc .

    my problem is . i not sure what lenes to get alot says 35 and 23 and 90, i nomal come from a FX line i know the crop factor . and its ok . i use to be a Sony A77 guy long time ago :D

    the thing is if i buy the 35 and X-T1 its like a 50mm but reading what u say the 56 is really nice but i don’t have the cash for 56mm 1.2 apd but may have it for the 56 R. in denmark things cost alot but i also hear from other dudes and from jonas rask that the 90mm is really really nice, and after see some of hes 90. it kinda remind me what i need to do .. but i like to ask around and hear what other people say .. and i really like you things mark.

    but i am in for 35 or 90 or 56R but i like to get as much out of my money as i can .. :) thanks again

  • Looks like a nice camera, but to be honest – the only true enemy for modern dslr is sony a7. This fuji is not good for weddings at all – even nikon d610 is better.

    • I guess it depends on what you want to use it for. I agree that the Fujis aren’t great for weddings, or anything when you need to capture moments rather than static images.

  • Love the site! Just stumbled upon it recently. Looking forward to the newsletters. I’m not a pro by any means, but certainly appreciated quality photo gear. I’ve owned several Nikon DSLR bodies, but never really connected with the menu-dominated controls. I considered the XT-1, but opted for the Df to *save* money. The 4 lenses you list in the article total about $3000. I primarily shoot with MF primes which are considerably less expensive and abundant on the used market. I haven’t weighed it, but I can carry the Df with a 20/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.2 and 105/2.5 around all day long in a small shoulder bag and be ready for just about anything (except fast moving objects :-) ). I may reconsider the XT-1 in the future, but for now this setup suits my needs perfectly.

  • I have had an X-T1 one (purchased here in Australia) since May 2014. I loved it and the 23mm, 35mm, 56mm and 90mm up until yesterday when it started giving me the ‘f0’ error on any lens that is attached.

    I am so disappointed with this camera. I would switch in a heartbeat if not for the investment in lenses. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Fujifilm Australia helping me out either.