The Fuji XT-1 One Year Later

May is right around the corner. I'm shocked that in two or three weeks I'll have been working exclusively with the Fuji XT-1. I still look at that camera and new. I've shot the living crap out of it as evidenced by the avalanche of photos that Lightroom calls up when searching on metadata marked XT-1. I've chucked everything I could at the little guy and have not found a situation where I've cursed the EVF. That's a big surprise for me and far different than any past experience with what used to be my nemesis.

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Sure I have a bunch of stuff I'd like to see improved, some of which may never be as good as my favorite optical viewfinders. Beyond the viewfinder I have to say that this camera definitely feels like home and it's upsides certainly overshadow all of my niggles.

The EVF

While overall refresh rate may have a little to do with why it works for me, I've come to the conclusion that it's far more about the consistency. Here's what I mean; In the past every EVF I've ever tried to use has thrown off my timing to frightening degrees. I used to think that was entirely due to the lag between what I saw versus what was actually happening in front of the camera. Maybe not, as I've come to a different conclusion. Some of those EVF equipped cameras were most definitely "faster" in terms of overall shutter response than film cameras that have never given me timing problems.

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A good example might be my Hasselblad 500 series cameras which definitely have shutter lag but no viewfinder lag. In other words the Hasselblad showed me real-time what was in front of the camera but introduced a serious amount of time between when I hit the release and when the actual frame was captured. EVF cameras I've used before probably had less shutter lag — release to frame capture time that was quicker. The problem with those was consistency between what I was seeing, hitting the button, and frame capture. It was all over the map depending on lighting conditions and phase of the moon. The XT-1 feels more consistent, no issue in timing.

Size And Feel

I love the size of the camera and just as importantly the lenses. They feel like my 35mm film cameras and manual focus 35mm lenses. I've mentioned it before, the XT-1 is exactly in between an Olympus OM-1 and a Nikon FM which has to be about perfect. Speaking of feel, the density of that camera in terms of size vs weight feels right as well. I never quite liked the XPRO-1 as it felt somewhat hollow with about the same weight but larger body.

The Downsides

Cameras have to balance a lot of factors and all of those factors matter differently to different people for almost infinite reasons. For me here's what I would love to see changed a bit when it comes to the Fuji X cameras and lenses.

  • Controls, generally workable and for the most part the really important ones to me work well and feel right. They are nowhere near as good as say any of the Nikon pro-ish bodies if you are into fast and fluid modern controls. They are also not nearly as good as the Nikon DF if you are into simple classically styled controls. They're also not as good as a lot of classic 35mm film bodies either. It's a toss up as to weather the drive control is going to get randomly changed when you use the ISO dial. Don't know how but the metering switch seems to get knocked to random positions constantly. In terms of digi-shit, the back buttons are horrid. Focus point control is cumbersome. The placement of AF-lock/AF-on is utterly hateful behind the thumb rest, thank god you can switch them.

  • Fuji does goofy shit when it comes to software. I'll give just one madding example but you can extraplate as you will find many more gems like this. Hmmm, cool, a new feature; Natural view. Wow, that's my cup of tea for sure. Would love to see what's in-front of the camera without effects and contrast applied. In many cases it's distracting to me. Especially when I want to shoot black and white jpegs. Just don't like looking at B/W video while I'm trying to take pictures. What? WTF? The only thing "Natural view" cannot turn off is black and white? WTF? WTF? WTF?

  • Can someone please tell me why in what is definitely the best APS-C lens line-up out there and overall a great feeling, working, sized bunch of lenses that are not cheap all of the primes (except the 90 which I don't want) use what feels like horribly cheap plastic toy motors? Okay, maybe there is nothing technically wrong with them but god they feel terrible. They are noisy and I can feel the grinding noise thru the lens and camera body. The "LM" motor lenses feel fine as in you cannot hear or feel them. Hey, same goes for like ALL the Nikon lenses with motors in them. Why the fuck can't Fuji put silent, silky motors in all the lenses. Why?

Are any of those things going to push me away from the Fuji X-System? Nope, at this point I would rather have the huge size of the XT-1 EVF than I would a smaller DSLR OVF. The lens line-up suits me very well and I love the way the Fuji glass looks. Further more I have no burning desire to upgrade my XT-1. I've all but decided that the XPRO-2 is not for me as a primary camera.

I might jump on the XT-2 assuming it has control improvements like the little Leica SL inspired focus point joystick-y-thing. I still don't have a back-up camera which scares the crap out of me, a conversation for another day. I also don't have a 50mm prime equivalent which is just my flip-flopping between the 1.4 and the 2.0 every time I go to buy one or the other. For now I'm very happy with where I'm at with the exception of that back-up camera issue.