FUJIFILM X-T1 REVIEW PART 2

When I penned my review of the Fujifilm X-T-1 camera several weeks back, I based my thoughts on a few months worth of shooting with the camera. I've kept at it and now I feel the need to follow up on my review with some additional thoughts and some honest adjustments to my previous opinions. First off, I want to address the issue I found with the foliage "smudging" in Adobe Lightroom. I found something interesting when I began looking at my raw files in both LR CC and Capture One Pro. Let me step back a couple of years first... When I began using Adobe Lightroom, I watched a video by Adobe evangelist Julianne Kost. In the video she made a strong case for converting raw files to DNG when importing into LR. I began doing just that and whenever I imported from my Canon camera I would convert the raw CR2 files into DNG. I could not find any obvious drop in image quality and I liked the idea that the file format would remain future proof. Fast forward to the Fuji. I set the camera up to shoot raw + JPEG and when I imported my files into LR I converted the raws to DNG like I always did with my Canon files. When I tried to open any of the converted DNGs from the Fuji in Capture One Pro, they were unusable. They simply looked like sepia toned junk. I then began to import directly into COP from the Fuji and retained the native Fuji raw format. The files looked great and processed well. To maintain my LR catalog, I then imported from the memory card to LR and converted to DNG on import. I then compared the raw files side-by-side in the two programs and the COP files looked much sharper with no smudging of colors. The LR DNGs looked smudgy and dull. I then tried importing from the SD card into LR and skipped the conversion to DNG. Behold! The files looked great. I think Capture One Pro does a slightly better job with sharpness, but Lightroom is what I would prefer to use and the difference isn't enough to warrant me using COP as my normal processing engine.

So, by keeping the Fuji files in their native raw format I get great results in Lightroom. They aren't prefect, but neither is my photography.

My other gripes about the X-T1 were tactile ones. I don't like the way the unmarked aperture rings on the Fuji XF zoom lenses spin too easily, but I have to say I have learned to accept them. I trust the brilliant minds behind the XF lens line have their reasons for the unmarked free-spinning rings. As for the mushy buttons on the back of the camera... my camera was one of the first sold and they have since fixed the issue. I now have a second X-T1 and the buttons on that unit are clicky and nice. I still used some Sugu to build up the buttons so I could find them without looking, however.

That leads me to a new observation. The more I use the X-T1, the more I find myself adjusting it on the fly, often without taking the camera away from my eye. I think the manual controls on the camera like the ISO and Shutter Speed dials, are intuitive and once you get the hang of them, they become effortless. For a camera that looks retro and "old-School", I am finding the ergonomics of the thing very progressive and simple in their elegance. I can change focus points, exposure settings, and even deeper settings like white balance and face-detection AF with a few simple button presses and spins of dials. Coming from the Canon system with their awesome thumb ring on the back, I am thrilled that a camera like the X-T1 has proven to be so easy to manage. I really wasn't expecting that.

Now let me talk about some of the features of the camera I hadn't fallen in love with when I wrote my review:

First off, let me set the stage for this story. It's my back yard and I have three Canon speedlites rigged on stands with umbrellas and a softbox. I am looking to take some family portraits to give to my grandfather on his 100th birthday. I have the X-T1 on a tripod with the 56mm lens. I have the Yongnuo Speedlite Wireless Transmitter YN-E3-RT on the camera. The YN-E3-RT is a clone of the Canon radio controller for the 600 EX-RT speedlites, but unlike the Canon, it works great with the Fuji. I have the speedlites on manual and I can change their power from the radio trigger. With my wife standing in for a minute, I get the lights dialed in and it's time for the family picture. This is where it gets good. You see we have two kids, a 3 year-old and a 4 month-old. I wanted a tight portrait, so I wanted to have my wife and I holding the kids. That means dad has no handsĀ free to trigger the camera and running back and forth across the yard for the 30 or so shots I will take is not going to work. So I set the X-T1's interval timer for 5 seconds and the number of frames to 30. I hit the shutter button and went over and stood with my family as the entire setup fired away every 5 seconds. It worked very well. It worked so well, I tried it again a few minutes later for some self portraits. Only this time I set the camera to use face-detection AF. I stood in front of the camera for a few minutes as it fired off shot after shot in interval mode.

When I imported the images into my computer I was thrilled to see that my self-portraits were all tack sharp and because I set the interval at 5 seconds, all of the speedlites had time to cycle. If you have a X-T1 and some speedlites, you really need to try this! Even if you aren't trying self-portraiture, the freedom you will have to engage with your portrait subject because the camera is focusing and firing for you will allow you get out from behind the camera. It's pretty cool.

That brings me to the crux of why I like this camera so much. I bought the first one to get me out of a rut. I wanted a camera that would make me think differently and try new things. The X-T1 is such a shift from the curvy world of DSLRs and the smaller size and lighter weight make carrying one or two of them a no-brainer. I find myself wanting to go out and shoot more because I can without dragging along a heavy kit. A friend of mine (Hi Patricia!) asked me yesterday if I still liked the X-T1 and the answer is a strong yes. She mentioned that she is finding herself carrying hers more and more because it's so easy to do. She isn't a big fan yet of the controls, but I bet she will come around in time.

I am excited about the Fuji camera and lenses. I love the 56mm F1.2 and 10-24mm F4.0 that I have. I have been sorely tempted to buy the new weather-sealed zoom, but I see on Fuji's lens roadmap that they will release a 50-200 F2.8 weather-sealed lens this winter. With that lens, I will find even more reason not to haul out the big Canon kit. I'm still not ready to sell off my DSLR gear, but I can now envision a day when I will.

And after shooting Canon for 30 years, that is saying something.