X-T1: Rented and Reviewed

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
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bmschrad
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X-T1: Rented and Reviewed
4 months ago

First off let me preface my review with my current shooting styles and equipment. I mainly shoot 75% commercial product photography, 10% lifestyle, 10% events, 5% studio portraits and 5% action photography. My current workhorse is a Nikon D7000 w\ Nikon 85mm 1.8G and a Sigma 17-55. I also have a Nikon F3, Fuji X100 and a Rolleiflex 2.8C that I use for personal projects.

Ever since I got my X100 I fell in love with what Fuji was doing with digital cameras. I've been hesitant to use the X100 for paid work because of it's inconsistent focus but it's my number one camera for personal use. I've been reading about the X-T1 and how improved the focusing was on it so I took the plunge and rented one. I also rented the 85mm 1.2 lens and a friend let me borrow his fuji 18-55 lens.

So here's my pros\cons I had with the setup:

Pros:

- The EVF, I could write pages to profess my love for this but I'll try to sum it up, it's huge!! Just as big as full frame viewfinders, perfect for manual focus assist, reviewing images (especially in bright outdoor situations goodbye hoodman) and checking focus.

- Auto-focus. For what I shoot it was super accurate. Even the little bit of sports I shoot (mainly mtb racing) it's more than adequate.

- The body. I have big hands so it was a bit on the small size for me but I think with the battery grip it would be perfect. I always shoot gripped bodies so this wouldn't be an issue for me.

- The tilt lcd on the back. Why most pro bodies don't have this blows my mind. For product\lifestyle shots I shoot a lot at waist level or lower. It's no fun having to lay on your stomach in the street to get a shot. It's also nice to be able to hold it over your head, aim down at the crowd and actually see what the camera is seeing. Hat's off Fuji it works beautifully and is super solid.

- Wi-Fi app. This was a game changer for my product photography. Being able to setup the camera and frame remotely was awesome. I use a lot of remote strobes so when using my D7000 I have to position the strobes how I think they should be then click, walk over to the camera and review the playback, walk over to the strobes to preposition and repeat. With the X-T1 I could just walk around with the ipad and keep positioning the lights and remotely trigger and monitor the output without having to keep going back to the camera. I've been playing with an Eye-Fi card and my D7000 but Fuji really streamlines the process.

- Image reviewing\playback. I really like the interface for reviewing the pictures. I was especially impressed with hitting the Focus Assist button to zoom in 100% on focus area to make sure picture was in focus.

- Out of camera JPG. Beautiful just like the X100. For non paid photography this is probably the only camera I've shot that I'd be happy with SOC pictures.

Cons:

- Image exposure preview in viewfinder. I switch back and forth between natural light and strobes quite a bit and it's a pain to dig through the menu to turn it on and off. I wish they would let you assign it to a Fn button or at least put it in the Q menu.

- Buttons on the back of the body. I actually really like their placement but they are too flush with the body. When you're eye is up to the viewfinder it's hard to tell where\what they are. To be fair I started figuring it out just by muscle memory but I still wasn't confident that the Q menu might pop up at any moment. I also wish the playback button was Fn button assignable. It would be my dream to start review my images without taking my eye from the viewfinder. The current playback button makes you remove your left hand and eye from shooting position to hit it. My other big button gripe is having to press down on the pad to initiate focus point selections. I switch points constantly during a shoot and that extra press get old real quick. The D-pad on my nikon sticks out way farther than the X-T1's and I never accidentally hit it.

- SD card slots, only one come on Fuji I thought this was a pro body please add one more for redundancy.

- No bounce TTL flash options. Not really a problem with the camera but the Fuji system and it's a show stopper for my event photography. Yes I know how to use manual flash and it's all I'll use in a controlled environments but for events I'm on the run bouncing the flash all over the room. The Nikon does this beautifully, please give me a pro TTL flash with a swivel head Fuji.

- Post processing. This was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I use a Windows Lightroom workflow and it was a pain. Took me forever to tweak them and I never felt fully satisfied with the end product (more on the in the verdict).

- ISO dial. I didn't realize how much I adjust ISO on shoots until I had to constantly move my left hand and try to press the ISO release button and spin the dial. It's not an issue in studio or controlled environments but when your somewhere changing light conditions it's not fun. You could always use auto ISO but I'm a big fan of shooting manual. This is another function that would be nice to be able to hit a Fn button and spin the command dial like the X100.

Verdict:

One thing I didn't mention were the lenses. I really like both of them and actually feel they were nicer quality than my Nikon lenses. The 56mm was great and really affordable for a 1.2 lens. I was also impressed by the quality and image stabilization of the 18-55. If I were to buy into the Fuji system and could only pick one lens the 18-55 would be it hands down. For my kind of shooting I usually like to stop down a bit and the stabilization works so well I wouldn't hesitate to use it in low light.

Long story short I shot with the setup for three days straight and honest to god I was about to run out to our local camera store and pick one up. I was really happy with the shooting experience and it was truly a step up from my D7000 for most of my shooting but then I tried to process the Fuji RAW files on the fourth day. Before that I was just looking at\using the OOC files and they looked great. Now I'm locked into Lightroom 4.4 because I use Paddy and a custom slider setup (which is heaven when developing RAW files). So needless to say I couldn't import these directly so I had to download Adobe DNG Converter to process them into DNG files so I could then import them. After doing that I still couldn't get the RAW files to look good. It's like the fine details were mushy and I just couldn't get the photos to pop like I could my Nikon Raw files. So I setup a controlled studio shot with my D7000 and the X-T1. Both camera's were set to the same setting, shot off a tripod with remote release and studio strobes. I got my D7000 RAW file exactly how I like it in a few minutes (to be fair I work with them all the time) but I struggled to work with the X-T1 file for about an hour and in the end the D7000 file still looked more crisp no matter how I tried tweak\sharpening the X-T1 files. Even my X100 RAW files look great right on import and I had to sharpen them way less than my D7000 files. I was expecting that since the X-T1 didn't have an AA filter they would need very little sharpening. So in a last ditch effort I downloaded the latest version of PhotoNinja and tried to process the X-T1 files. I got them to look better than Lightrooms version but still not as good as my D7000. On top of that PhotoNinja's interface was terrible and slow. I'd literally rather stab my eyes out than try to process RAW files in PhotoNinja. That was the deal breaker for me.  I actually just found a blog today that explains the RAW conversion issue I was having much better than I could here

So Fuji there's only one glaring issue that's keeping me from dumping all my Nikon equipment and switching, fix your RAW workflow. Either go back to a normal sensor (I love the RAW files that come out of my X100 and Lightroom, even better than my D7000) or get Adobe to correctly process the X-trans files.  As you can see in the linked blog post, the sensor get's awesome details but Adobe just crushes them in the conversion.

The lenses and user experience are great, but in the end if I can't tweak the photo's to how I like them whats the point All the other cons are much less sever and I can work around them.

To everyone else if you don't have a set RAW workflow, have a Mac or just use the SOC JPGs the X-T1 is a great camera!!

Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D7000
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