Body & Design

While the other cameras in Fujifilm's X-series look like rangefinder cameras, the X-T1 is the first with an SLR-style design. The main things that make it stand out from things like the X-E2 are the pentaprism 'hump' on the top and a more substantial grip.

The X-T1 has a solid feel to it, with its magnesium-alloy body accented by a rubberized texture on the front of the camera. All three dials on the top of the camera are made of machined aluminum, though their placement makes them hard to adjust with your eye against the viewfinder. The plastic door over the SD card slot feels a little flimsy compared to the rest of the camera, like it could snap off with relative ease when open (of course most of the time it will be closed).

The controls on the rear of the X-T1 are all flush with the body, so you'll have to build up some muscle memory to remember where they are (and, for that matter, what each button does). These buttons are all rather small, and don't have as much 'travel' as we would've liked, either. The four-way controller in particular is a little spongey, with closely-spaced buttons that are flush to the back of the camera. It's a step backwards compared to the X-Pro1's or X-E2's.

Top of camera

While the X-Pro1 and X-E2 offer shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, the X-T1 is the first to offer a third dial for adjusting the ISO sensitivity. It runs from ISO 200 - 6400 in 1/3-stop increments, and has a central locking button that must be pressed whenever you want to turn it. There are also 'Auto', 'Low' (ISO 100) and a pair of 'High' options (which are customizable - choose from ISO 12800, 25600, and 51200). Note that the L and H1/H2 options are for JPEG only, which means this dial will turn off Raw recording if you set them.

At the center of the photo is the X-T1's hot shoe, which is one of two ways in which you can use an external flash (the other is via the PC sync socket on the front). A pair of stereo microphones straddle it on the sides of the faux pentaprism. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a couple of extra hot shoe contacts compared to previous X-system cameras - these are used to power the X-T1's little slide-on flash (see below).

At the far right there are dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation. The shutter speed range runs from 1 - 1/4000 sec, and there are also 'Auto', 'Bulb', and 'Time' positions. The T setting allows you to use longer shutter speeds from 2 to 30 seconds. There's also a '180x' spot on the shutter speed dial, which gives quick access to the X-T1's X-sync speed for shooting with studio strobes. The shutter speed dial locks only at the 'A' setting, rotating freely between the other positions.

Below both of the aforementioned dials are switches that adjust the drive mode and metering mode. These are marked at the back, showing their current settings at a glance. Several of the positions on the drive mode switch turn off Raw recording, namely multiple exposure, Advanced Filters, panorama, and most of the autobracketing options.

The next dial over is for exposure compensation, which covers a range of -3EV to +3EV in 1/3-step increments. This dial is rather large - arguably larger than it need be - and Fujifilm has stiffened it up compared to previous models, to minimize the risk of accidental movement. Unfortunately it's now too stiff to be easily turned by your right thumb with the camera to your eye, so you have to use forefinger and thumb together.

In-between the shutter speed and exposure comp dials is a customizable Function button, which activates the camera's Wi-Fi feature by default. Above that is the power / shutter release button, which does not support a screw-in cable release, unlike the X-Pro1 and X-E2. But both the USB and mic ports accept electronic releases, and the camera is controllable from a smartphone over Wi-Fi, so you're not short of options in this area.

The dedicated movie recording button can be used to start video recording at any time (the X-T1 no longer has movie recording as a distinct drive mode), but one downside of this is that it's less easy to engage a 16:9 preview for movie recording. You can turn on 'HD Framing ' lines in the Screen set-up menu, but this comes at the expense of other grid lines. The other option is to select 16:9 for stills shooting, but then (of course) you get 16:9 stills.

Along with all of the control dials on the top plate, Fujifilm has equipped the X-T1 with front and rear electronic dials. By default the front dial is used to fine-tune the shutter speed between the marked positions (in 1/3 stop steps), and also sets longer shutter speeds with the dial in the 'T' position. The rear dial, meanwhile, sets the aperture when using Fujifilm's XC lenses, which don't have their own aperture ring. These functions can be swapped if you like. The dials also have roles in playback mode - the rear dial magnifies the image, and the front dial jumps between images (while maintaining the current magnification level).

In your hand

Fuji has done a nice job of giving your thumb enough room on the back of the camera, without having it sit on any buttons. The grip is larger than on other X-series cameras, though it's not large by any means (and noticeably smaller than the one on the Olympus OM-D E-M1). If you want something a bit more substantial to hold on, Fuji offers an optional hand grip.

Compared to...

The X-T1 is quite large for a mirrorless model, but not a big camera by any means. It's remarkably similar in size to its most obvious competitor, the Olympus OM-D E-M1, which is also weather-sealed and has a large EVF and tilting rear screen. Compared to its sibling the X-E2, the X-T1 has essentially the same footprint, but is a bit taller due to its large top-mounted EVF.

The X-T1 is almost exactly the same size as its closest competitor, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (shown here with the 12-40mm F2.8 lens). Both cameras are weather-sealed, feature hybrid AF, and have large EVFs and tilting screens. The Olympus uses the smaller Four Thirds sensor, but offers excellent in-body image stabilization which works with every lens.
Here's the X-T1 in between its X-system siblings, the rangefinder-esque X-Pro1 and the smaller X-E2. The X-T1 has a similar footprint as the X-E2, and the two cameras' top-plates are about the same height, but the X-T1 adds on the big central EVF housing and more dials. Compared to the X-Pro1, the X-T1 is narrower but taller, and has a very different 'feel' in terms of ergonomics and shooting experience.