Fujifilm Week - Day One - The X-T1

on July 03, 2016

This week I have brought home five Fujifilm products to photograph and analyse. some of them have been on the Fujifilm product list longer than others, but they all have a place for the modern photographer.

Today's selection is the Fujifilm X-T1. It's one of the models that has no optical viewfinder, and can therefore have the viewing eyepiece in the centre of the camera - rather reminiscent of the old-fashioned DSLR. That configuration is further echoed by the way Fujifilm have disposed the controls, but apart from appearances it is the only retro thing about the camera.

I selected the luxury model to photograph - Fujifilm refer to it as the Graphite Silver finish. You can get them in black finish as well, but the challenge of photographing this colour intrigued me. It was also difficult... I didn't realise how many surfaces would reflect in different directions.
I also found out that Fujifilm have designed slightly different silvery finishes for some of the control rings to help differentiate them.

The basic camera is APS-C of course, with a 16 megapixel sensor and immensely high ISO capability. The firmware version is up into the 4.0 area so you also get a very quick and accurate AF mechanism and the full range of Fujifilm colour film simulation presets. On a related note, there is provision for the individual user to fine tune the colour and the white balance mode off into minute shades. I wonder how many people make use of this facility?

I also wonder how many people make full use of the choices they have in the light metering system. You basically get three choices - average metering, centre-weighted matrix metering, or spot metering. I'll bet most people toggle between the first two and never actually use the averaging system. I know I am mostly sticking to the centre-weighted matrix, though recent experiences at the hot rod show when there are intrusive spotlights glaring back at the lens have convinced me to shift to spot metering in some cases. Thank goodness the camera designers decided to put the control on the outside of the camera instead of a menu setting - it encourages you to make quick judgement changes.

The design idea of bringing the controls for the basic variables outside has also extended to making use of the ( cough, cough ) 35mm film rewind crank position for an ISO dial. It is a button-lock dial as well, so that you cannot be caught with an off-setting if you brush past it roughly. The drive dial is concentric with this. Note that the ISO goes from a modest 100 with 100% dynamic range through to the full 6400 with 400% DR and then you can dial 12000 and 25000 after that if you can accept the inevitable noise.

The shutter dial is also where you expect it to be instead of hiding in a menu or under a thumbwheel. This in itself may make this camera more comfortable for the traditional shooter. Again - if you want to lock it into the Automatic position, there is a central button. I'm happy to say that Fujifilm have provided the full range of slow speeds down to 1 second here - My Fujifilm X-E2 only goes down to 1/4 second. It is amazing how useful a 1 second setting is in night tripod shots.

No on-board flash as the "pentaprism housing area" doesn't house one - it carries the extremely fast and detailed electronic viewfinder and there is no room for anything else. Fujifilm do provide a clip-on flash that takes its power from the main camera battery and can lock into the main hot shoe. You're not going to be to light up Mammoth Cave with it, but it is a good closeup and fill flash for faces. Note for the buyers: do not lose the slide-on cover for the hot shoe, as it is machined and coated metal and would be mucho expensivo to replace...

The feature that makes me most envious when I handle this camera as opposed to my X-Pro1 and X-E2 is the tilting LCD screen. I think it has more detail than the previous ones and the fact that it lays out flat makes this the ideal studio or macro machine. After a full day today shooting in the studio - bending down to check the screen on the X-100 - my legs are going to be jelly tomorrow. Another small detail I appreciate is that Fujifilm have finally decide to standardise on where they put their playback button - the northwest corner. I instinctively expect it there but again with the X-Pro1 they shifted it to the right, and I am always absent-mindedly poking the wrong one.

So - What do you get with the little knot of controls at the front? Well, one's the AF assist light, of course and ones the button for the lens release. There is a finger wheel that you can program to do aperture or shutter changes, and the extremely neat little silver button below that is actually black...it's just the light reflection. It is is analogous (should that be digitalous in the modern world...?) to the depth of field button we had on film cameras. Press in to stop down and see what you're actually going to get.

Speaking of button pressing - I am told by Mr Leigh Diprose, who knows, that the X-T1 can have the buttons locked by a clever ruse with the central MENU/OK button. You can initiate a control lock so you can't accidentally shift important settings in the dark. A wise thing.

A final image of the device sans the auxiliary flash. It is definitely in the luxury-look part of the market with that Graphite Silver finish. You can mate it with a battery/control grip, a plain grip and tripod mount, and with any of the fine Fujinon lenses. It's a pro body in the mirrorless world.