Fujifilm X-T1 Review
The feature on the X-T1 that has garnered the most 'oohs and ahhs' around the office is its electronic viewfinder. While it uses the same high resolution 2.36 million dot OLED panel as the X-E2, the comparison ends there. With a magnification of 0.77x (equivalent), this EVF is slightly larger than the optical viewfinder on the Canon EOS-1D X. In addition to being large, the 'lag' of this viewfinder is one-tenth of that of previous models. It has both an eye sensor for auto-switching with the rear LCD, and dioptric adjustment.
|The X-T1's giant OLED electronic viewfinder sports 2.36 million dots and an amazing 0.77x magnification. The eye-cup doesn't protrude very far from the back of the camera, which may let in some incident light if you're wearing glasses. The eye sensor has just the right sensitivity, and won't turn on accidentally when you're taking waist-level shots with the tilting LCD.|
Fuji has taken advantage of the giant EVF in a number of ways, all of which enhance the shooting experience. They include your choice of 'full' or 'normal' views, with the latter using a smaller area of the EVF to display the image, as it can be difficult to see the edges of the frame in full view. There are also 'dual' and 'portrait' views, both of which are best illustrated below.
While full view on the EVF is spectacular, it can be a bit difficult to see the edges and corners of the frame. A quick switch to 'normal' view using the 'DISP' button takes care of that problem.
|Full view uses the entire area of the EVF to display the image you're composing, as well as shooting data.||If you're having trouble seeing the edges of the frame in full view, you can switch to 'normal'.|
From the 'why didn't I think of that?' department is the X-T1's portrait view. Simply put, when the camera is rotated 90 degrees, so does everything in the EVF, in contrast to most cameras which have the same view for portraits as they do for landscapes.
|When shooting in the portrait orientation, the view in the EVF adjusts accordingly, so shooting data is easy to read.
This is a quite a contrast to other cameras, which leave all shooting data in the same place as when you're shooting in the landscape orientation.
If you don't like this behaviour, you can disable it in the menus (Set-up Menu 1, Screen set-up, EVF Autorotate Displays).
The final unique EVF feature is Dual Mode, which is designed for manual focus. As shown above, a smaller window is shown to the right of the main view, which is displaying Digital Split Image in this case (focus peaking or basic magnified view are alternative options). This allows you to fine-tune focus without losing sight of the image as a whole. The Digital Split Image display only works in the centre of the frame, but for the other two modes you can select which area of the frame is enlarged.
|Dual Mode puts an enlarged view (shown) alongside the overall image, to make manual focusing easier. This can also show either peaking or the Digital Split Image display.
One slight oddity is that the magnified focus check view disappears when you half-press the shutter button prior to taking the picture.
Viewfinder Size Comparison
In case you needed another illustration of just how large the X-T1's viewfinder is, here it is compared to the Canon EOS-1D X, which has the largest optical finder of any current DSLR. The X-T1's EVF offers a fractionally larger view, which means it's substantially bigger then the optical viewfinder of a typical APS-C format SLR Such as the Nikon D7100. The X-T1's finder is notionally a little larger than on those on other mirrorless cameras like the full frame Sony Alpha 7 or Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M1, but in practical use you'd be hard pushed to see the difference.
The X-T1 has the same LCD panel as the X-E2, but with the added ability to tilt upward by 90 degrees or downward by 45 degrees. This lets you easily use the camera for overhead or waist-level shots, but only if you're happy to shoot in landscape format. Like all tilt-only screens it becomes essentially useless the moment you turn the camera to the portrait orientation (but this does help keep the camera body slim).
One very nice thing about the tilting mechanism is that it doesn't sit 'under' the camera when the display is aimed downward. This keeps the camera level, rather than making it front-heavy, and means it won't foul a tripod head or quick-release platform either.
The display itself is 3" in size and has 1.04 million dots (720 x 480 RGB pixels). The refresh rate is excellent, as is screen brightness and color reproduction.
As you've probably noticed, there's no built-in flash on the X-T1. Instead Fujifilm has included a small external flash (EF-X8), which has a guide number of 11 meters at ISO 200 (8m at ISO 100). It's powered from the camera, using a couple of extra contacts that Fujifilm has added to the hot shoe. It locks onto the camera automatically using a sprung pin, which is released by pressing a button on the back.
The flash has all the usual modes, including slow sync for balancing with ambient light, and second curtain sync. It also features Fujifilm's 'Commander' mode, which allows it to be used to trigger studio strobes by disabling the usual metering pre-flash (note that Fujifilm has no dedicated wireless strobe system of its own). The flash flips up high above the lens axis, but can't be tilted back to bounce off a ceiling.
It's worth noting that flash exposure compensation is strangely inaccessible on the X-T1. It's buried deep down in the menus (Shooting Menu 4, Option 5 to be precise), and can't be assigned to a function button. This seems an odd oversight in a camera that's otherwise so user-friendly. So if you're planning on taking a lot of fill-flash shots with the clip-on unit, this could be a concern.
While other Fujifilm X-series cameras have built-in Wi-Fi, the X-T1 is the first to support smartphone remote control out of the box. Using the 'Fujifilm Camera Remote' app, you can preview your photo, adjust settings and, of course, take the shot.
|The Camera Remote app lets you adjust shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation, depending on the exposure mode the camera is set to when the connection is made.
Once connected, the phone overrides the camera's external controls. You can set ISO, Film Simulation, White Balance, Macro Mode, Flash Mode, and Self Timer from the app, and 'touch focus' almost anywhere in the frame. Unusually, you also can start and stop movie recording over Wi-Fi.
The live preview image is somewhat small, which means it's best to compose your shot on the camera's screen first. Oddly the app doesn't rotate if you turn your phone to the landscape orientation, so you can't get a larger view. This also means that if you have the camera in portrait format you have to turn the phone round to get the correct preview.
The Camera Remote app has absorbed the features from the previous Fujifilm Camera App, which means that you can browse (and then download) photos on the camera, or submit location data from your smartphone (for geotagging). As with previous versions of the Fujifilm app, though, this geotagging function only tells the camera where you are right now; it can't record a track of your movements using the phone's GPS, and use that to retrospectively sync location data to your images. In practical terms, this means it's pretty useless.
If you just want to send an image or two to a friend's phone over Wi-Fi without giving them any control over your camera, you can this too. You have to get them to install 'Fujifilm PhotoReceiver', which is a small (1 MB) app that, as its name implies, is designed purely to receive image files from the camera.