I have been shooting with the Fuji X-T1 for the past several weeks and I must say, I am just blown away by what this little camera can do. While I will be working my way to a review fairly soon, I wanted to provide a quick summary of my thoughts so far on the X-T1, along with some sample images using the 35mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses. Ever since I received the X-T1, I just cannot stop myself from taking it every time when I go outside. Pretty much everything about the camera feels right to me – from the amazing controls and dials on the top, to the fast and responsive autofocus and the huge electronic viewfinder (EVF), making the camera a pure joy to use.
I have been a harsh critic of Fuji’s continuous autofocus system when reviewing the previous generation cameras, so when I heard of the autofocus improvements on the X-T1, I decided to give AF-C another try and see if it has improved or not. Indeed, I am happy to report that the continuous autofocus capability of the X-T1 has been completely revamped. I photographed my kids running towards the camera in AF-C mode and although the hit ratio is still not the same as I would get with my DSLRs, I must say that it is far better than pretty much any other mirrorless camera I have tried to date, maybe with the exception of the Nikon 1 system. I was surprised to see that about 12 shots out of a sequence of 15 were in good focus using the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens, which is pretty remarkable. My only gripe is that there is still some weird “probing” of focus going on continuously in the viewfinder, making it look like the resulting images will be completely out of focus. Somehow though, the Fuji AF system changes its behavior completely when the shutter button is pressed – the camera goes into a quick focus change mode and instantly acquires good focus. This might seem odd at first, but it really does work! I think the continuous probing is necessary for the autofocus system, but I wish Fuji figured out a way to show less of that in the viewfinder and perhaps only go a couple of steps back and forth, instead of making it seem like the image will be out of focus.
If Fuji continuous delivering such improvements to the continuous autofocus mode, we could be pretty close to getting to the point, where mirrorless cameras become excellent alternatives to DSLRs for sports and wildlife photography! Obviously, native telephoto lenses are still practically non-existent, but we are seeing some great options for the Micro 4/3 mount and Fuji should be releasing some good telephoto lenses in the next year or two. Continuous autofocus is far from being perfect, but we are slowly getting there for sure…
As expected, the regular single focus (AF-S) mode works really well, even with the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens. If you have used Canon f/1.2L lenses, you know how hard those can be to focus. I expected the 56mm f/1.2 to be a hard lens to use, but boy, this lens is just amazing in terms of not just optical quality, but the speed and reliability of autofocus! Based on my 3+ weeks of testing the lens, I bet you will find it hard to believe that the lens actually focuses better than most Nikon f/1.4 lenses and way better than the Canon 50mm or 85mm f/1.2L lenses. Whether shooting outside in bright light or shooting indoors, the 56mm f/1.2 just locks on pretty much every single time – and that’s with me shooting it at f/1.2 90% of the time. Autofocus does get slower in low-contrast situations indoors, since it switches to contrast-detect mode, but it is still pretty amazingly accurate. If shooting people, you will be surprised by what the camera can do when Face Recognition is turned on. The camera locks on and tracks the subject’s face really well – much better than my Nikon DSLRs!
Here is an image of my daughter, who is constantly on the move (captured with the Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens):
And here is an image that I shot in AF-S mode using the same lens:
The subject saw me with the camera on the street and asked me to take a picture of him. I turned his way as he paused for a second and took a quick snap, focusing on what he was showing me. All this happened in a matter of a second, maybe even less. I thought the image would turn out blurry, but as you can see, it is perfectly sharp. Here is another shot, of our very own Charles Hildreth on a windy day, which I also captured quickly:
Amazingly, the camera knows that it has to focus on the closest eye of the subject, so I did not have to fine tune anything – the camera did that for me.
Here is a shot of two women talking on the street, which I captured while walking:
I think street photographers will be extremely pleased with the performance of the X-T1.
And one more shot of moving people:
If you are wondering what can be done with this camera when using creative lighting, here are some shots of a model that I captured using the Profoto B1 light and a medium-sized Profoto octabox:
I did not have an ND filter with me to get a more balanced shot with a proper background exposure, but it is still not bad for the slow 1/180 sync speed. I wish Fuji increased the sync speed to 1/250, since that would certainly make a difference for this type of photography. If you want to blur the background with flash though, an ND filter is a must!
Another area of potential improvement is the ability to shoot RAW when using ISO 100. I don’t particularly care for really high ISOs above 6400, but Fuji should definitely add that capability to ISO 100. I needed to really drop the sensitivity down when shooting at f/1.2 and completely forgot that the camera would only give me JPEG images! This has been my complaint with Fuji for a while, so I really hope to see RAW files beyond the base ISO of the camera in the future firmware updates and camera releases.
Lastly, the manual focus capabilities of the camera will simply blow you away. I love the ability to split the EVF into two and showing a zoomed in version on the right. Focusing is so darn easy – nothing like looking at the DSLR OVF and guessing! I showed this to Charles Hildreth and he was just blown away.
In short, the Fuji X-T1 is the best Fuji camera to date. Simply amazing! More to come.
Really, JPG Fine can produce images worthy to hang on any gallery or make the cover of any issue of Vouge.
If noted RAW shooters like David Duchemin and Zak Arias are using the X system in JPG Fine, so can most of you. I left RAW years ago and never looked back.
I can’t wait to get my X system and call it a day. Originally I was not a fan of the first X100 camera as I thought Fuji was just trying to appeal to the hipsters out there. But clearly the inovations and image quality of these cameras, and more importantly, the lenses easily rival the optics of Leica at a much reasonable price.
As Ken Rockwell said: “The future of Leica photography is in the Fuji X System”.
I’m curious to find out more about the Fujifilm X-T1 and the Profoto B1. Where you able to actually use TTL?
I currently have a Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 17-70 lens (very heavy with that lens) and am very interested in purchasing the X-E1 for the great reviews and price. I want to be able to use it on the street and take landscapes, but I also take close up shots of small mushrooms/plants. I read the the macro mode is basically useless on the X-E1, do you have any suggestions? I print my own work, up to 13×19 on my Epson r2880. I don’t know if I can spend the $$ on the X-T1. I want an all around, walking around, on the street and in the woods camera.
Thanks for your help!
Firstly, I have for some reason not been receiving e-mail updates, so missed this thread!
I have the X-T1 and can only say it is amazing. Coupled with any of the Fuji lenses it performs seamlessly. Now, I also have the 10-24mm f4 to accompany my 18-55, 18mm, 55-200mm, 60mm and I am one happy guy. Shooting also with the X-E2, my D800 stayed in the cupboard for so long I sold it. I am keeping my D7100 for wildlife as Fuji X still has someway to go to match the AF speed and tracking plus the EV lag is still too slow. For everything else Fuji rocks.
The one area I have trouble with is the brightness of the EVF (even when set at +5). I can not see anywhere nearly as well in the X-T1’s EVF viewfinder as I can with a Nikon DSLR. With the X-T1 I have difficulty discriminating details in the shadow areas to the point where I am not sure of the photo alignment for scenes with lots of shadow areas and a wide dynamic range. Any suggestions?
An enticing preview and interesting sample images. Thanks, Nasim. The sample images, especially of the young lady in the last 3, for some reason look unusually cold, calculating, unnatural, and artificial. I’m noticing more and more of this quality to digital images with successive releases of digital cameras, whether from Fuji, Nikon, or Canon. I’m curious about whether this is he direction that digital technology is going and whether consumers and digital photographers actually desire this type of artificial look to their photos.
Frank, that “cold” look is the result of using a large, soft light source, which creates very soft shadows and pops the subject. You can achieve any look with any modern camera, so it is not a certain “property” of the latest generation sensors :)
I am seriously considering the X system for the time I want to travel light.
But I had to re-read the line about the inability to shoot RAW at ISO100. You guys don’t see this as a severe drawback? If Canikon has this ‘feature’, I bet this thread will be full of judicious indignation, and how it is the final nail in its coffin. But not Fuji. Instead, it was brushed off as a mere inconvenience that was partly the fault of the user.
Why? Blinded by love?
AP, not at all – I have been criticizing the Fuji system for this for a while now. It just boggles me why Fuji won’t add the RAW support for the non-native ISO range. Nikon, Canon, Sony and Pentax can do it and I don’t know why Fuji cannot seem to figure it out!
It is a PITA as far as I am concerned. Not a huge deal, but still a PITA :)
Nasim great review! Do you think in next 2 years fuji will wipe out Nikon and canon market? I am afraid what will happen if Fuji brings FULL FRAME cameras!
Nasim, why bother to shoot at ISO 100 in RAW since it is not native ISO? ISO 100 only matter for JPEG shots because in RAW you could shoot ISO 200 and lower exposure in PP getting exactly the same image.
Hi Nashim thanks for this article. I wonder though what justify the high price of 56mm 1.2. If I had budget for that lens + X-T1 body, I could save money buy getting Canon 6D/Nikon D610 + 85mm 1.8 and I’d get better focus performance, better raw support for 3rd party raw editing and a full frame sensor. I will also get faster flash sync speed from D610 too. Why this camera? Its not MUCH smaller than those two cameras I mentioned.
No, you would get worse AF performance.
The Fuji will let you use the lens at f/1.2 with perfect focus accuracy. This doesn’t hold true with traditional DSLRs using PDAF. It’s very likely your D610 or 6D will require AF micro adjusts.
Here is a quote from dpreview’s which summarizes very well (review of the XT1, page 10):
“One huge advantage of mirrorless cameras like the X-T1 over SLRs is autofocus accuracy with fast primes. Almost all SLRs struggle to focus fast primes sufficiently accurately to make the most of high resolution sensors, because the autofocus system is entirely separate from the image sensor itself. But mirrorless cameras determine focus by looking at the actual image projected by the lens onto the sensor, which is an inherently more accurate way of doing things. Enthusiast SLRs offer focus microadjustment settings as a workaround, but even this isn’t always sufficient to overcome their limitations.”
So 6D and D610 are better for those points I raised other than focus performance with fast primes? 56 1.2 is more than double the price of 85 1.8 canikon lens, so I just can’t see why XT1 can be preferable for this instance.
Huh? Did you read what I wrote? What’s the point of a super fast prime when your DSLR can’t focus it properly? That’s my point.
“56 1.2 is more than double the price of 85 1.8 canikon lens, so I just can’t see why XT1 can be preferable for this instance.”
Because an f/1.2 lens is still an f/1.2 lens in terms of light gathering ability. Yes, DOF on the Fuji is about the same as f/1.8 on the full-frame camera, but the difference in bokeh depends on many things, and is critical only for the the pixel-peeping camera geek crowd — who are generally more concerned about how something looks on a test chart vs. how something looks as a *photograph*.
And BTW, I’m have both a Nikon D600 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G and a Fuji X-T1 + Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 sitting side-by-side, right here in front of me — and sorry, the Fuji combo is significantly smaller than the Nikon combo.
If you still think a Nikon or Canon FF combo is not much larger than a Fuji combo: let’s use Toyota vehicles to visualize a rough size comparison: Nikon combo: Toyota Sequoia. Fuji combo: Toyota FJ Cruiser. Sony RX100 point & shoot (just for comparison fun): Toyota Yaris. Hope that helps.
Great points and comparison. Please answer this since you have both. @ISO6400, same subject/lighting etc, which camera can produce better IQ (D610 vs X-T1)? If they are comparable, when one should get D610 over X-t1. Thanks
Hard to tell huge differences between the two cameras @ 6400 ISO. Take a look at imaging-resource.com’s Comparator page and have a look:
Here are direct links to the ISO 6400 ISO sample shots:
Nikon D610 @6400 ISO
Fujifilm X-T1 @ 6400
Check the EXIF data as the exposure values aren’t exactly the same (both f/8. X-T1: 1/800 sec. D610: 1/1250 sec.); that said, these ISO 6400 shots look pretty close; I personally think the X-T1 file here looks slightly better at (what the camera says is) 6400 ISO.
When should one get the D610 over the X-T1? Off the top of my head get the D610 if you:
– already have a lot of Nikkor lenses (although I’ve sold most of my Nikkor lenses)
– regularly make very large prints (24MP on the D610)
– don’t like EVFs (look through the X-T1 yourself first though — its EVF is great)
– regularly use strobes outdoors (higher flash sync speed on the D610)
– need any weather-sealed lenses *right now*
– need very long focal length lenses (anything greater than 300mm FF equivalent field of view)
– shoot thousands of shots per day (D610 battery life is 3x better than any other mirrorless camera. That said, X-T1 spares are small and relatively cheap.)
– are OK with larger overall gear (I wanted to carry less weight when I’m out and about so I generally prefer the X-T1; I take it [+2 lenses] with me almost everywhere I go. My D600 + anything other than a 50mm lens… No so much.)
And the biggest reason to choose the D610 (if photography isn’t your main source of income):
– you want to “look like a *pro* to everyone”!!! Don’t forget the external battery grip though; not only does the D610 + battery grip combo “look pro” — it can also be used as a skull-smashing self defense tool.
Totally kidding on that last point… I have a battery grip too. It was a gift… Really! ;-)
Fujifilm cameras has fake ISO numbers according to reviews so it’s not fare to compare the same ISOs, you must compare the same exposures. In such comparison D610 wins hands down. Also it wins significantly in low ISO images (better resolution and DR).
@Eddie: I forgot to also say to choose the D610 if fast focusing speed, especially in low light, is extremely important. I tried to take some photos of a basketball game (in a gym) with the X-T1 this weekend and… The X-T1 is NOT the right tool for those conditions. :-)
@ Stepan, Yes D600/D610 photos of course have higher resolution than X-T1 photos. (Ummm… Just look at the MP specs… (?)
Also, I wouldn’t call Fujifilm camera metering “fake” — the exposure is just slightly different from other cameras. Actually, many cameras won’t meter the exact same lighting and subject conditions (even in a lab) exactly the same way for every ISO value.
If you don’t believe me, go to the imaging-resource Camera Comparator site, download some files and see for yourself:
I just randomly picked and viewed the EXIF data from the “Still Life 1600” photos for the Nikon D610, Canon 5D Mark III, and Fuji X-T1. Theoretically this is supposed to be a controlled environment, so all the exposures should be the same, right? Well let’s see:
The D610’s “1600 ISO exposure” is f/8 and 1/320 sec
The 5D Mark III’s “1600 ISO exposure” is f/8 and 1/200 sec
The X-T1’s “1600 ISO exposure” is f/8 and 1/200 sec (same as the Canon’s!)
So I guess both the Canon 5D Mark III and Fuji X-T1 must have “fake ISO numbers,” right???
Of course they’re not fake… Just slightly different.
This amateur just sold off his Nikon gear for Fuji x-system mirrorless. Currently on the xe2. Just picked up the newly released Fuji x f4, 10-24 mm. Loving it for what I need. And I cut my gear load and size by 50%.
Nasim. You may not like it but most respected photo review sites from photozone.de to dpreview specify lens dof full frame equivalent for lenses these days. Dpreview even has some articles demonstrating how different things are depending on sensor size. Photozone for every lens immediately afterwords lists full frame equivalent. For 56 1.2 it would be 84/1.8. So top photo sites in the world must be wrong. I know for a fact from owning m43 12-35 and 35-100/2.8 that they won’t blow out background like a full frame 24-70/2.8 lens. It’s a fact.
David, I am not questioning the fact that smaller sensors affect the image differently than larger sensors – physics are physics! If you were to change the camera to subject distance, of course the DoF would be completely different, that’s a given. I do not have a problem with this at all, I understand that it is often an easy way to present information. My problem is not the information itself, but HOW it is presented. A smaller sensor NEVER changes the focal length of a lens – that’s a physical property of a lens. A 50mm lens is a 50mm lens no matter what camera body it is used on. What changes is the field of view due to the crop, that’s really it. Saying that a 56mm f/1.2 lens is an 85mm f/1.8 equivalent is ONLY true for DoF, it is not true for the exposure.
For example, say you and I are shooting the exact same scene – I am shooting with the 56mm f/1.2 lens on a Fuji and you are shooting with the 85mm f/1.8 on a full frame DSLR. When taking a photograph of the same scene, our exposure would be 1 full stop apart. If say mine is 1/100 @ f/1.2, yours would be 1/50 @ f/1.8 – the exposure would not be the same on both! So stating that a 56mm f/1.2 lens is equivalent to a 85mm f/1.8 is only true for one thing – DoF. The exposure won’t be the same and once you change the camera to subject distance, many other things might not be the same either. For example, the quality of background blur / bokeh does change at different focus distances. A 56mm lens has a very different optical construction than an 85mm lens, so the way they render foreground and background elements might be different as a result. So once you start moving around, the idea of “equivalence” starts falling apart from a number of different angles…
A more appropriate way to state equivalence would be something like this:
A 56mm lens on an APS-C sensor would have a similar field of view as an 85mm lens on a full-frame camera. As long as the field of view is the same, the 56mm f/1.2 lens on a smaller sensor would produce larger depth of field, because the camera and the lens would have to be moved further away from the subject. In such setting, the DoF of the 56mm f/1.2 lens on APS-C would be similar to what an 85mm f/1.8 lens would yield on full-frame, but purely from the DoF perspective.
I don’t think anyone wants to explain it all in such detail, but based on what most websites have been doing, it leads people to make incorrect assumptions. For example, Mr B from comment #1 thought that if a 56mm f/1.2 is equivalent to a 85mm f/1.8, then it probably explains why it focuses better than a Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens. But that’s not true – designing a fast f/1.2 lens is a challenge, no matter what sensor format it is used on!
There are many examples like this. And then we have people that want Olympus/Panasonic to release a f/0.70 lens so that it is equivalent to a f/1.4 full-frame lens, with full AF capabilities! How are you going to explain them that designing such lenses is either impossible or impractical?
I am fine with equivalence, as long as the term is used and applied correctly. I can totally see why it makes sense to use equivalence to approximate field of view between different sensor sizes. However, the rest of the stuff is where things get pretty tricky. Once you throw CoC, DoF, print size, sensor generation, pixel pitch and other things into the mix, things get pretty ugly from there.
Someone that follows DxOMark’s score system religiously could state that a larger sensor receives overall more light. I have seen comments from people that state that a full-frame lens performs better than APS-C because it receives more overall light. Well, if that were true, why do we have some modern DX sensors that perform extremely well when compared to the first generation FX sensors? Suddenly it is not all about the pure size, but also about the generation of the sensor as well! In 5 years, the noise performance of a DX sensor might get really close to the noise performance of the current FX sensor. Then what are we going to say about larger sensors receiving more light? Or take medium format CCD sensors that look like garbage beyond ISO 800 – see DxOMark’s ranking of the “Sports” category: www.dxomark.com/Camer…ngs/Sports
If larger sensors received more light just because they were physically bigger as some people argue, wouldn’t MF CCD outperform full-frame? Well, apparently not…
Too much headache with all this. I really wish we never got into the whole “equivalence” debate, because it can create endless discussions and valid arguments on both sides.
Thanks Nasim. I obviously understand that it is a DOF difference only, and there are many caveats (i.e., the distance to subject, etc). Further, I understand that F/1.2 lenses are expensive because you are designing a F/1.2 lens period. It is not the same as to design an equivalent F/1.8 lens. You do have to design F/1.2 lens that gathers light at F/1.2. I also understand that there is such a thing as a quality of background bokeh, and it is not necessarily dependent on how thin the DOF is. Some lenses have magical bokeh like Nikkor 85 1.4D for example.
Nevertheless, it is I think important to let people know, and many sites now do, that look, other things being equal, and you don’t have space to step back, a full frame 85 1.2 lens mounted on a full frame body, in terms of its ability to THROW THE BACKGROUND BLURRY, will be UNMATCHED currently by any lens designed for a smaller sensor, because it is impossible/impracticable to do so. That is one of the privileges of owning a full frame camera – you can buy a 85/1.8 lens which, for Canon costs less than $400, and for Nikon, currently, often goes on sale for under $400, and you will match in DOF a APSC F/1.2 equivalent, and for m43, you will match a F/1 equivalent. Furthermore, it is much easier for a full frame manufacturer to make a 1.8 lens that is sharp wide open, than for a manufacturer of a crop sensor camera (or anyone for that matter) to make a 1.2 lens that is equally as sharp wide open. Yes it is possible, as Fuji demonstrated with 56/1.2 or Panasonic Leica with 42.5/1.2 but it is difficult. And these F/1.2 lenses, because you are making a F/1.2 lens, command higher prices because they are hard to design optically.
David, I totally get what you are saying here and I do agree with your underlying logic. However, everything becomes relative in the same sense – medium format cameras can also be unmatched for the amount of blur you can achieve due to extremely shallow depth of field, even compared to a full-frame. But the big question you must ask yourself is, how much blur do you truly need? If you are an f/1.4 photographer and that’s the aperture you are at 90% of the time (say doing portraiture work), then a full-frame would be a better choice than smaller formats. And there are some people like that – Charles Hildreth (one of our writers at PL) is such a photographer. But for 90% of the photographers out there, they tend to stop down the lens to f/2 and smaller when shooting, or they should with slower primes / zoom lenses. Consequently, that super blurry background is not as important for them in comparison. So for those folks, a mirrorless system would be more than adequate for their needs and the difference in blur would only appear marginal to them.
I totally agree with your comments on designing an f/1.8 lens vs f/1.2 – very different designs and obviously price points as a result. Give it a few more years when the price of mirrorless drops lower than APS-C DSLR and I think the economics will start making more sense then…
Nasim can you explain why in Andrew Van Beek comparison between Canon 85 1.2 and Fuji 56 1.2, when shot from the same distance, Canon 85 1.2 at F/1.8 still gives more blur and thinner DOF than Fuji 56 1.2 at 1.2? It is very clear from the second set of photos of a bride against the wall andrewvanbeek.com/fuji-…on-lenses/ Shouldn’t the DOF be approximately the same?
That is because 56 f/1.2 has a much heavier vignetting wide open than 85 f/1.2 at 1.8. Vignetting affects background blur amount. Also I want to notice that shooting 56 f/1.2 APS-C lens is almost equivalent to shooting 85 f/1.8 on FF not only in terms of DoF, but also in terms of noise potential and consequently dynamic range. Though maximum possible DR (read IQ) with Nikon D600 is higher because of XT-1 base ISO of 200.
What an interesting argument Nasim! You couldn’t make it any clearer than this….
Many thanks for your generosity in knowledge sharing.
James, thank you for your feedback. Sharing is what it is all about at PL and I am glad that you enjoyed reading this discussion!