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After starting at the top-end with its X-Pro1, Fujifilm has been steadily expanding its X-series mirrorless camera to appeal to a broader audience. With its X-T1, Fujifilm has moved back towards the high-end, offering a fully-loaded mirrorless camera in a weather-resistant, SLR-style body. There's plenty more where that came from - the X-T1 has one of the largest EVFs we've ever seen, numerous manual control dials and, for the first time on an X-series camera, an optional battery grip.

The 'guts' of the X-T1 are very much like those found on the recent X-E2. This includes the 16 megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor (with on-chip phase detection), EXR Processor II, built-in Wi-Fi, and full HD video recording. The main differences between the X-T1 and X-E2 are the LCD (tilting vs fixed) and EVF (in terms of magnification), the maximum burst rate (8 vs 7 fps, now with focus tracking at full speed), a flash sync port and, of course, the design. But more on that later.

Fujifilm X-T1 key features

  • 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • EXR Processor II
  • Weather-resistant body
  • ISO 200-6400, plus 100 - 51200 expanded (JPEG only)
  • 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.77x (equiv.) magnification
  • 'Dual view' in EVF shows regular view and focus peaking/digital split image at the same time
  • Top-plate ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, drive mode and metering controls
  • Six programmable function buttons
  • 3.0" 1.04M dot 3:2 tilting LCD
  • 8 fps continuous shooting with continuous AF (3 fps with live view)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi including remote control from a smartphone or tablet
  • Full HD movie recording (1080/60p, 36Mbps bitrate), with built-in stereo microphone
  • Clip-on external flash (included)
  • Optional battery grip

As you can see, that's quite a spec sheet. The highlight on the X-T1 is undoubtedly its huge electronic viewfinder, which is even slightly larger than the optical viewfinder on the Canon EOS-1D X. Combine that with its excellent resolution and it's truly a pleasure to use. The large EVF also allows for some neat tricks, such as 'Dual View', which shows the full scene plus a magnified view in a smaller window to one side, with focus peaking or digital split image for manual focusing. The EVF also has a portrait orientation view, which keeps the camera settings at the top and bottom of the image when the camera is rotated 90 degrees.

Another feature of note is the camera's weather-resistant body. Using more than 75 seals, the X-T1 is dust and water-resistant, and freezeproof to -10°C/+14°F. The X-T1 is also chock full of dials on its top plate, allowing for easy adjustments to ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. Under two of those dials are switches for drive mode and metering.

Fuji has made some big claims about performance, saying that the X-T1 has the 'world's fastest AF of 0.08 seconds'. Whether that's true or not, the X-T1 is certainly an impressive improvement over early X-series cameras, which haven't been as competitive in the autofocus arena as their peers. The X-T1 can also shoot at 8 fps with subject tracking - the best of any X-series model - and it's also the first camera to support ultra-fast UHS-II SD cards.

One thing that the X-T1 doesn't have is a built-in flash. Instead, Fuji has bundled a small external flash, which has a guide number of 8 meters at ISO 100. The camera offers a flash sync port, in addition to its hot shoe, for attaching studio strobes.

The most direct competitor to the X-T1 is certainly the Olympus OM-D E-M1. The X-T1 has a larger APS-C sensor, but lacks the E-M1's in-body image stabilisation that works with all lenses. Aside from this they're very similar, both in terms of design and features. But given its pricing and feature set, we suspect Fujifilm also has the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D7100 in its sights.

Kit options, lenses, and accessories

The X-T1 is priced at $1299 / £1049.99 / €1199 body only, or $1699 / £1399.99 / €1599 with the 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 lens (which is not water-resistant). It is available in black only (sorry, silver fans).

When Fujifilm released an updated lens road map at CES 2014, it kept something secret: that several of the lenses on it will be weather-resistant to match the X-T1. The lenses in question are the XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R OIS WR, XF 16-55mm F2.8 R OIS WR, and XF 50-140mm F2.8 R OIS WR. The bad news is that these lenses won't be available until the middle of this year.

The X-T1 with battery grip and XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 lens
VG-XT1 battery grip MHG-XT hand grip

One accessory that you won't find on any other Fujifilm X-series camera is a battery grip. The VG-XT1 holds an additional WP-N126 battery, allowing for 700 shots in total (CIPA standard). Naturally, this grip also comes with additional buttons for holding the camera vertically. But given the camera's reliance on its top-plate dials, this ends up limited to the shutter button (with encircling lock switch), plus AE-L, AF-L, and Focus Assist buttons.

If you just want to make the standard grip a bit larger, Fuji also offers the MGH-XT hand grip. Like the recently-released updated grips for the X-Pro1 and X-E series cameras, this has a cut-out to allow easy access to the battery compartment, and incorporates an Arca Swiss-type quick release fitting for tripod use. We think this will offer better handling if you shoot the X-T1 with larger zooms.