My first impressions with Fuji X-T1 as a wedding photographer and m43 owner

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My first impressions with Fuji X-T1 as a wedding photographer and m43 owner
4 months ago

Today I managed to play with the X-T1 and the 23mm f1.4. I wanted to get some preliminary feel for the brand and the best camera it offers.

I'm a professional wedding photographer and also shoot real estate, custom cars with one of a kind interiors, portraits, virtual tours and so on. I used to shoot with Nikon D3 + D3s with a whole range of Pro lenses and flashes. I switched entirely to micro 4/3 and I currently own an Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GX7, Olympus E-PM2, Olympus E-PL5 and lenses in the 35mm equiv focal lengths like: 24mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.2, 90mm f1.8, 150mm f1.8, 24-80 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 15mm fisheye, a Lensbaby and a 28-84 f3.5-5.6 pancake-type kit lens.

My main goal was to see if the Fuji system is worth considering switching to whether now or in the near future.

I have no intention in starting an argument or trolling. Instead I wish to express my findings as a photographer who shoots with whichever brand suits my current needs. I could just decide to switch to Fuji if I like it.

I must admit that the camera is well thought with all the options it has. The most valuable thing for me on that camera is the setting for minimal shutter speed when using Auto ISO. I miss it on my GX7 so much that when I saw it in the third row in the menu it felt like it was saying "In your face!". Indeed, all my Olympus bodies have that option (although more limited in terms of available minimal shutter speeds) but I'm now getting rid of my E-M1 and I'm about to buy a second GX7 body. This is simply due to the explosive AF speed the Panasonic has compared to the E-M1. So this feature is very important for my convenience and ability to concentrate on important things like framing, acquiring focus properly, nailing the right moment and not killing a child that's running around my feet.

I liked the manual dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation. What I hated about the ISO dial was that I always had to push hard on the button in the middle in order to unlock the dial every time I wanted to change ISO. This made me use more fingers and more force than I like. The E-M1 is a lot better designed with the clicking lock on its mode dial.

The exposure compensation dial is too stiff and doesn't offer enough grip to turn it with only your thumb. You have to grab it with two fingers and apply more force than you need on the E-M1. Well, I did manage to turn it with my thumb only but I had to press quite hard on the not so grippy side of the dial.

The viewfinder is really good - high resolution, huge, good clarity. I liked it a lot compared to my GX7. I tend to think that it's nicer than E-M1s too. It also feels quite quick in relaying information from the sensor. This was no surprise since the low delay was presented in some reviews I read about it. This is great for nailing some quick action at its peak.

The shutter is very quiet and pleasant. Unfortunately there's no electronic shutter to activate when in silent mode. This isn't a big problem due to the already quiet shutter. Still it does matter since I had the displeasure of watching the video from a Christening ritual I had photographed with my old Nikon D3s and it was so crazy annoying to hear the slamming of the mirror that I wished there was absolutely no sound from my camera. The Panasonic offers that (having in mind the disadvantages of the electronic shutter).

I didn't test all settings for the dials so I may have missed the option to switch AF points in any way other than pressing the down button first. It appears that the Panasonic GX7 (and as I hear not only that model) offers the best option to choose AF points - while looking through the EVF you can use the touch screen as a touch pad to place the point precisely on the frame or move it around by sliding your finger somewhere on it. This is such a pleasure that I no longer want to do it any other way. I have set my E-M1 to change AF points by a single press on one of the cursor buttons. Still this isn't as nice to use as Panasonic's solution.

The AF speed with the 23mm f1.4 was not impressive at all in slightly low light (f1.4, ISO 400, 1/240"). The AF took its time for fine adjustments after it had found the object I wanted it to focus on. I was shooting still objects that were easy targets. When you point the camera at a person things get many times more difficult for the AF. That's why my initial impression is that I cannot rely on quick and secure AF from that camera/lens combo during a dynamic social gathering like a wedding reception. The E-M1 with the 45mm f1.8 and 75mm f1.8 lenses is similarly poor although faster. Still the E-M1 is any good for such occasions only with the shorter lenses like 12-40 f2.8 and PL 25mm f1.4. Currently the Panasonic is so much faster than the other two cameras that there simply isn't a competition. I find this unfair because the AF is one of the few advantages it has. The GX7 is the camera I least want to drop on the ground.

The IQ is very nice. When I was comparing noise at high ISO (3200, 6400) here on dpreview the three cameras looked quite similar. When I finally took a few shots with them it looks to me that the Fuji has about 1 stop or more better high ISO performance compared to the E-M1 and GX7. I need to try again in more controlled environment, light and equal lenses.

One of the things I wanted to see is whether the X-T1 starts loosing color depth at high ISO in a lesser degree than the E-M1. The issue I have with the E-M1 is that at 1600 ISO and up the camera interpolates the color for smaller surfaces from their surrounding areas - like if you have the eyes as a small part of a full length shot, the E-M1 makes the whites in the eyes into a color that matches the skin. The same goes for the teeth. The skin under some see-through hair also becomes discolored with the same color as the hair. In this quick and dirty test that I did I couldn't see that serious color errors both on the X-T1 and GX7. I need to try again with different subject sizes in relation to the whole frame.

I also couldn't make the WiFi connection with my Iphone work. I installed the Fujifilm camera app, started the WiFi on the camera, connected the phone to the WiFi network, started the app and it constantly refused to connect as it said something like "cannot connect with this". I didn't check the firmware version of the camera. Perhaps this may have been the issue. The E-M1 and GX7 connect in a very similar way and I have no issue with either.

These are my quick findings about that camera.

My conclusion so far is that the camera is very good. It is capable of great image quality, it has all the options one may need to create great images. I like the looks (although I'd like a rangefinder-styled body more). It feels sturdy and well built. It shows that photographers have been consulted when creating the camera although it appears that we have different preferences for handling. I still wouldn't consider switching to Fujifilm because I don't like the AF performance. Wedding photography is what I shoot most often and AF speed is among my main priorities. I hear that more Pro lenses are about to come out and will make the whole system more capable. I could shoot weddings with two bodies with 23mm f1.4 and 56mm f1.2 but I'd still like to have more lens options.

This is my honest opinion. I don't care about brand names. I'm simply expressing my thoughts when comparing systems for my personal needs - lowest possible weight, good quality, fast autofocus are most important.

Thank you for bearing with my English!

 Bots_Revenge's gear list:Bots_Revenge's gear list
Olympus PEN E-PL5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS +5 more
Bots_Revenge's score
3.5
Average community score
4.5
bad for good for
Kids / pets
bad
Action / sports
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Landscapes / scenery
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Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
good
Flash photography (social)
unrated
Studio / still life
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= community average
Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D3 Nikon D3S Olympus E-M1 Olympus PEN E-PL5 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
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