Observant readers, or at least those who look at the little grey block that appears below the photographs I post here might have noticed a new name appearing over the last week or so. Could I have abandoned my X-E2 and X-E1 in favour of a new toy? Well, yes, I have. I did dither for a while – which was useful, because in the intervening three months, Fuji have responded to customer comments and made a couple of small fixes, so yay, I’ve got a better camera.
At the time (err, just over a week ago, as I hinted at the time), there was no real difference in price anywhere, so I was quite happy to buy it in Jessop’s in the MetroCentre. Partly for the immediate new toy gratification thing, and partly because I like having a shop that sells this kind of thing locally, so encouraging them seems like a Good Thing. Of course, the Amazon price has dropped since then, but never mind, such is life, etc…
So, what’s the big deal? Surely it’s just a minor refinement in the X series? Well, yes and no. In terms of image quality, it’s not hugely different from the X-E2, but it does have faster autofocus, more manual controls than you can shake a memory card at, and a bloody enormous viewfinder. Yes, it was the viewfinder that made my mind up. Jessop’s are doing the sensible thing and leaving (securely attached) cameras on display for customers to play with. The display X-T1 had a lens fitted and a battery installed, so I picked it up, turned it on, and looked. And Oh. Good. Grief. Any lingering doubts about the merits of electronic viewfinders are hereby dismissed, demolished and made to look silly. The size of the image presented to the eye is (or so it appears) much bigger than any smaller camera I’ve seen. It’s right up there with full-size DSLRs, only with all the fancy tricks they can’t do, such as showing the effect of exposure settings before you take the photo. Oh, and you know when you turn the camera sideways for a portrait format image? And you know how all the information is now sideways and not quite so easy to read? Well, not with the X-T1 – it rotates all the data, so things that are normally at the bottom are still at the bottom. It’s a small change, but another sign of Fuji’s attention to detail.
And those manual controls? Well, it’s surprisingly pleasant to be able to change the ISO setting, or the shooting mode without having to delve into menus. There are also a load of buttons that can have features customised to your liking.
Aaaaaand, it’s got an articulated screen. While I’m the kind of photographer who prefers a viewfinder to a screen almost all the time, there are occasions when the live view screen is really nice. When you’re shooting something very low down, or shooting over a barrier (or people’s heads), for instance. And a screen that can be tilted up or down makes that just a wee bit easier.
Unlike its predecessors, the X-T1 is weather sealed – not actually waterproof, but sealed enough to resist most weather conditions. There is a but to that, though. The lenses currently available are not similarly sealed, so use with caution. Fuji have announced that a new 18-135mm lens with full sealing will be out soon, and they’re giving X-T1 buyers a discount of £250 off the lens when it’s available. That’s a really useful zoom range, and could easily replace the 18-55mm as my general purpose walk-around lens.
Unlike the X-E1 and X-E2, there’s no pop-up flash with the X-T1, but there is a small flash included which fits into the hot shoe in the usual way. It’s not a hugely powerful item, but good enough for fill light where you might need it.
The X-T1 uses the same battery as the X-E1 and X-E2, which is handy (I have two spares already), and while it does have some more dials and thingies to get to grips with, the menu structure will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s used any other X-series camera.
My early impressions are very positive, so much so that I’ve done what I thought about doing when I bought the X-E2, and arranged to sell the X-E1 and X-E2 to those nice MPB Photographic people.
While I was at the coast on Saturday, I gave my Samyang 300mm mirror lens another try, including comparing it with the Fujifilm 55-200mm. And I came to the conclusion that the mirror lens is really only useful in really good conditions with really easy to focus on subjects. Here are two images taken in moderately rapid succession. There was no change in the light, and both are untweaked JPGs (Ok, I did straighten a wonky horizon on the first one):
|Taken||14:12, 14 June, 2014|
That’s a bit dull (the fixed aperture of f/6.3 didn’t help here) and the limitations of manual focus at 300mm with no tripod are obvious. But this one is better:
|Taken||14:17, 14 June, 2014|
The colours look more like what I actually saw on the day, and it looks a lot sharper. Of course, the ship is much smaller in the frame, but with a bit of cropping we can improve on that:
|Taken||14:17, 14 June, 2014|
So I think the 300mm will be retired. The good news is that Fuji will be bringing out a longer telephoto lens, possibly before the end of the year, Rumours vary – it could be 300mm at the long end, which would be useful if combined with a decent aperture and image stabilisation, or it could even be 400mm, which would be very interesting indeed….
No doubt more Fuji fun will follow.
 Under certain circumstances, long exposure images could suffer from a light leak, and the buttons around the Menu/OK button were reportedly a bit squishy. The light leak apparently no longer happens, and I can confirm that the buttons on mine are nicely clicky
 This wasn’t the case when I looked a few months back. If it had been, I’d probably have been posting this in the past
 If you see what I mean