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This is a trend I can get behind: weather-resistant interchangeable-lens cameras. ILCs have slowly been crossing out items on the list of dSLR advantages, and the sealed-build- quality trend started by Olympus is a key one for advanced photographers. Fujifilm's next in line with its latest X series entry, the X-T1, a more performance-oriented, weather-sealed redesign of the X-E2 with a beautiful new EVF and built from die-cast magnesium that's cold-resistant down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. While there are aspects of the camera I like less than others -- like controls that make me feel clumsy -- overall it's a well executed camera that's enjoyable and streamlined to shoot with most of the time.
The X-T1 delivers excellent photo quality. While the innards are similar to the X-E2, there are some differences. New, lower-noise circuitry has allowed Fujifilm to bump the maximum sensitivity to ISO 51200 up from ISO 25600. However, I really didn't see a significant improvement in the X-T1's JPEGs or raw files over the X-E2's at any sensitivity. Interestingly, although I couldn't get better results processing raw with the X-E2, I did find that there were times I could get sharper results and better exposure via the raw files. JPEGs look clean through ISO 800 and remain usable through ISO 3200, and depending upon scene content, ISO 6400. ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 shots might be good scaled down. Unfortunately, beyond ISO 6400 (or for ISO 100) the camera doesn't support raw, so, for example, I couldn't use an ISO 25600 shot which might have been printable had I been able to adjust the good-for-screen-but-not-for-print exposure.
I do find the camera's interface for the expanded high ISO range annoying. You access them via the H1 and H2 options on the ISO dial. But there are three expanded-range options -- ISO 12800, ISO 25600 and ISO 51200 -- which means you have to decide in advance which ones to assign to the slots or periodically dive into the menus to change them. On the bright side, at least the camera switches automatically between raw/raw+JPEG and JPEG when jumping between the expanded options and the "normal" zone.
|Click to download||ISO 200 ||ISO 1600 ||ISO 6400|
Fujifilm's default color setting renders relatively accurately. You do need to expose on the dark side to get good skies or clouds clip unrecoverably and the blue can look false and flat in the JPEGs -- raws are better. There isn't an extraordinary amount of highlight data to recover in blown-out areas, and as you'd expect you lose quite a bit of shadow detail in dark shots at high ISO sensitivities, but in the main ISO sensitivity range shadow areas can be brought out with practically no noise.
Unfortunately, the video is loaded with the same artifacts that plague the other X-Trans-sensor cameras, most notably bad moire and aliasing.
Fujifilm made news when it announced the X-T1 supported high transfer-rate UHS-II SD cards to facilitate longer bursts and faster burst rates. I tested the X-T1 with two UHS-II cards (the SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro and a 16GB Toshiba Exercia Pro) as well as my standard UHS-I 8GB SanDisk Extreme Pro and got extremely similar, although not identical, results for UHS-I vs. UHS-II. I also tweaked the methodology in a few ways to see if settings like shutter speed affected the results. (Our testing is currently constrained to shutter speeds of no more than 1/125th second because our digital timer updates in hundredths of a second, but I used a workaround.)
While both raw and JPEG bursts are effectively unlimited, the burst slows noticeably after about 28 shots, give or take a few: it runs at 7.9fps, then drops to about 1.5fps. Raw+JPEG runs at about 7.8fps then drops to about 1.4fps. It does vary, however, from about 7.7fps to 8.2fps with the UHS-II cards (and more with the UHS-I). Shooting at a faster shutter speed does seem to perform a little more consistently. And with both cards it saves pretty quickly at the end of the burst; most important, in never held up other operations. Overall, this is excellent continuous-shooting performance for its class.
However, the rest of the performance isn't quite as stellar -- it's similar overall to the X-E2 -- which leaves the X-T1 lagging the Olympus OM-D E-M1 in many respects. (Though the E-M1's burst speed is pretty good, its processing throughput isn't.) It takes the X-T1 a middling 1.5 seconds to power on and shoot, and around 0.4 to 0.5 second to focus and shoot; that seems more the slightly sluggish response of the lens rather than the autofocus system, though. Two sequential shots run about 0.8 second, which is significantly better than the X-E2.
In practice, the single-shot autofocus is pretty responsive, with only the occasional lock failure; continuous autofocus gets confused and pulses during video shooting. And while the battery isn't rated for a terribly long period, I didn't find it running down as fast as those in many display-heavy ILCs.
The huge, bright EVF is great. It refreshes quickly and its 0.77x effective magnification is higher than any 35mm or smaller sensored camera I can find, optical or electronic. Fujifilm puts the extra area to good use with a new dual display; during manual focus, you can see the full scene plus a magnified detail. It also supports the digital split image and peaking views of the X-E2.
The X-T1 shares the same aesthetic as the rest of the X series, with a sturdy feeling body covered in rubberized, textured material and metal. Thankfully, it has a larger, more comfortable grip than its siblings with a pronounced thumb rest. It ups the X-E2 on the dial quotient, with five: ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, exposure compensation, drive-mode and metering. A focus-mode switch sits on the front. Although unlabeled -- they're programmable -- the navigation buttons on the back default to macro, white balance, AF area and film simulation mode. You can access all other frequently needed settings using the Q button, and there are two programmable function buttons, one on top and one on the front right.
As with the X-E2, you select the 1/3-stop shutter speeds between the full stops by using the back dial. The camera is designed to be used with lenses that have manual aperture rings like the 18-55mm lens that comes in the kit, but it's compatible with the newer (cheaper) no-aperture-ring lenses. If you have the higher-end lenses, you choose between manual or automatic aperture modes by flipping a switch on the lens. All in all, quite the power shooters dream.
There are some improvements over the X-E2, such as the dedicated movie record button and the placement of the SD card slot on the side rather than in the battery compartment, and the large, comfortable eyecup for the EVF, the X-T1 does sacrifice an on-camera flash and the threaded release socket in the shutter button.
|Fujifilm X-E2||Fujifilm X-T1||Nikon 1 AW1||Olympus OM-D E-M1||Olympus OM-D E-M5||Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II||16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II||14.2MP CMOS |
|16.3MP Live MOS |
|16.1MP Live MOS |
|16.1mp Live MOS|
|23.6 x 15.8mm||23.6 x 15.8mm||13.2 x 8.8mm||17.3mm x 13mm||17.3mm x 13mm||17.3mm x 13mm|
|Focal- length multiplier||1.5x||1.5x||2.7x||2.0x||2.0x||2.0x|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/25600 (exp)||ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/51200 (exp)||ISO 160 - ISO 6400||ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 25600||ISO 200 - ISO 25600||ISO 180 (exp)/|
|Burst shooting||3fps |
unlimited JPEG/8 raw
(7fps with fixed AF)
47 JPEG/n/a raw
(60fps with fixed focus)
|6.5fps (with IS off) |
unlimited JPEG/60 raw
(10fps with fixed focus and exposure, IS off)
17 JPEG/11 raw
29 raw + JPEG
2.4 million dots
2.4 million dots
|None||OLED EVF |
1.3x - 1.48x/ 0.65x- 0.74x
1.7 million dots
|Autofocus||49-area contrast AF; phase-detection AF||49-area contrast AF; phase-detection AF||73-point phase detection, 135-area Contrast AF||27-point phase detection, |
|35-area contrast AF||23-area contrast AF|
|AF sensitivity range||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Shutter speed||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync||30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync||30 - 1/16,000 sec; bulb; 1/160 x-sync||60 - 1/8000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/320 sec x-sync (Super FP to 1/8000)||60 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash-dependent)||60-1/4,000 sec.; bulb|
|Metering||256 zones||256 zones||n/a||324 area||324 area||144 zone|
|Metering range||n/a||n/a||n/a||-2 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV||n/a|
|Flash||Yes||Included add-on||Yes||Included add-on||Included add-on||Yes|
|IS||Optical||Optical||Optical||Sensor shift||Sensor shift||Optical|
|Best video||1080/60p H.264 QuickTime MOV||1080/60p H.264 QuickTime MOV |
|1080/30p H.264; up to 1200fps slow motion at 320 x 120||1080/30p QuickTime MOV @ 24 Mbps||1080/60i QuickTime MOV @ 20, 17Mbps||H.264 QuickTime MOV|
1080/60p/ 50p @ 50Mbps; 1080/30p/
1080/60p/ 50p @ 28Mbps; 1080/24p @ 24Mbps
|Audio||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input||Stereo||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input||Stereo; mic input; headphone jack|
|LCD size||3-inch fixed LCD |
1.04 million dots
|3-inch fixed LCD |
1.04 million dots
|3-inch fixed |
|3-inch tilting touch-screen |
|3-inch tilting touch-screen OLED |
|3-inch tilting touch-screen OLED|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||Optional WU-1b |
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||350 shots||350 shots||220 shots (est)||350 shots||330 shots||500 shots (est)|
|Size (inches, WHD)||5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5||5.0 x 3.5 x 1.8||4.0 x 2.4 x 1.1||5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5||4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7||5.2 x 3.7 x 3.2|
|Body operating weight (ounces)||12.7||15.4 (est)||7.5 (est)||17.5 (est)||15.1||19.4 (est)|
|Mfr. price||$999.95 (body only)||$1,299.95 (body only)||n/a||$1,399 (body only)||$949.99 (body only)||$1,299.99 (body only)|
|$1,399.95 (with 18-55mm XF lens)||$1,699.95 (with 18-55mm f2.8-4 lens)||$749.95 (with 11-27.5mm lens)||n/a||$1,199.99 (with 12-50mm lens)||n/a|
|n/a||n/a||$949.95 (with 11-27.5mm and 10mm lenses)||n/a||$1,099.99 (with 14-42mm lens)||n/a|
|Ship date||November 2013||February 2014||October 2013||October 2013||April 2012||September 2012|
Except for the missing flash and a wish for NFC -- connecting to my Android phone was more finicky than I'd like, though connecting to my iPad was pretty painless -- I have no complaints about the X-T1's feature set, which also includes an intervalometer mode. Fujifilm's Camera Remote app is one of the more full-featured control and transfer apps available. For a complete accounting of the X-T1's features and operation, download the PDF manual.
The company has three forthcoming weather-resistant lenses on its 2014 roadmap -- the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R OIS WR, XF16-55mmF2.8 R OIS WR and the XF50-140mmF2.8 R OIS WR -- and the 18-135mm lens is slated to ship in May. Keep in mind that the 18-55mm kit lens is not sealed, however.
If you're going to spend $1,700 on a kit, there's a long list of alternatives available, from full-frame dSLRs and ILCs like the Nikon D610, Canon EOS 6D and Sony Alpha ILCE-7 to fast APS-C models like the Nikon D7100 or the Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M1. I think the X-T1 offers the nicest shooting experience without sacrifices, but still like optical viewfinders for fast action, and the E-M1 performs generally faster overall. It's a tough call, but the X-T1 does deserve a place on your short list.