I have been a happy X-Pro1 owner for 2 years and I grab my X-T1 as a sensible upgrade.
The X-Pro1 was fantastic in IQ as a non-DSLR: its X-trans sensor offers great details that feels natural, without over sharpening, accurate color balance, warm organic “fuji color”, and great primes to go with. More on this from my previous post here.
Of course, it so well-known about its focus speed problem. I lost some shots due to this issue of X-Pro1, and X-T1 comes to my wish as a more usable version of X-Pro1.
So how does it hold up my expectation?
In my first 2 days of shootout. I must say the new AF speed is much improved. not as fast as OMD-EM series nor DSLR for sure, but in day light, it locks right on most of the time. And it actually depends on the lens you use too. e.g. the 35mm/f1.4 is slower, the 56mm/f1.2 and 27mm/f2.8 is faster.
To describe how fast and usable the AF is – The cover photo of this post: the butcher is moving around and in low light. The scenario is beautiful but the man on the right doesn’t look friendly – typical street photography struggle. Without deliberate thinking, I instinctively held up the camera, focused and shoot in one continuous motion, before the man on the rightmost started telling me off. I knew I probably would have missed the shot if i shot with X-Pro1’s slower speed. On the contrary, again don’t expect goes as snappy as your DSLR nor Olympus EM series.
The continuous AF also improved in my brief test. In an average lighting of interior, a person is walking towards me and the C-AF mode with high or low continuous settings produces 80% focused shots. For me it seems at least usable. Of course I’m not a frequent C-AF shooter nor sport photographer to write fair assessment on this.
The EVF is GREAT. The “visual size” feels almost the same to LCD ! No lagging when i turn around to aim. Its a pleasure to use that i almost want to use it all the time, except doing low or high angle shots. Oh yes, the tilting LCD is useful for that. and in street photography sometimes its useful to look less aggressive, by lowering a bit the camera while viewing the subject on the tilted screen, some shots are made possible. The portrait mode’s simple rotation of info is simple but cleverly done. Fuji really has been quite thoughtful about user experience as a photographer. The dual mode for manual focus is the best solution i ever saw, while without it. manual focus assistance always means blocking the main composition no matter u blow up the screen or peaking. It also offers a new “digital split image” mode resemblance of rangefinder way of focus, although personally i still find the standard magnified way of manual focus to be the most precise than peaking and this new mode. All these EVF/LCD features makes my upgrade from X-Pro1 meaningful.
In terms of IQ/ high ISO, not surprisingly i don’t see a noticeable improvement, which i don’t mind cus i have been quite satisfied with X-Pro1 IQ already.
The grip is GREAT. meaning i can hold it firmly with my right hand hanging down when I’m not photographing and walking, without any fear it will slip out of my hand, like how i used to hold my 5D mk2 when im in standing by. In X-Pro1, when i was hands down, i will have to grab the whole camera inside my hand and i will have to change my hand position when i want to shoot.
The size feel similar to X-Pro1, weight is similar. but with the grip, u feel the X-T1 is subjectively lighter and just feel right in my hand. Its quite an optimum weight at optimum size. Of course, the X-E2 is around 100g lighter than both.
The ISO wheel is a welcome addition. But like other reviewers, the lock is just annoying and taking out half of its intended convenience. Another annoying thing is the up down left right button. In X pro1 its very comfortable to press. now in X-T1, its too shallow. Usable but need some time to get used to. Other than this 2 pitfalls, ergonomics and controls are great, especially now you can change the metering mode directly. Bottom line, when supported by the handy Q button, I nearly seldom need to dive into menus in most shooting situations, which is a real pleasure.
Lastly, the added Wifi is a welcome addition to me too. It can serve me two functions that would otherwise to hard for X-Pro1: 1) I can remote control it for e.g. product photography. The iphone app is quite usable and with tap-to-focus capability. 2) I can directly send them to my phone for share on social network, without going back to my computer and send emails to myself.
Video? Haven’t tried that extensively. The manual mode works. The wifi activation works. Haven’t really look at the IQ video codec compression part. Won’t expect for pro control nor audio part neither.
Other upgrades of X-T1 i don’t really have big awareness of them nor do i bothered by any. e.g. the faster SD card support and weather / freeze/ shock proof (i’m not a frequent shooter in extreme outdoor conditions)
Overall, the X-T1 is one of the best you can get for street photography and vast variety of serious usage. Fuji has done it right in just 2 years.
The only direct rival will be Olympus OMD-EM1, which i found equally, if not more, attractive as well: primarily its unbeatable, close-to-DSLR snappy focus and responsiveness. its 5-axis IBIS which effectively allows you to use lower ISO, compensating the higher ISO noise and lower resolving power disadvantage of m43 sensor. (some reviews said it’s similar but I still quite convinced Fuji is better, and for sure better in terms of high ISO performance)
For me, the one overriding reason of choosing X-T1 over EM-1, is the much bigger size of bokeh using its great primes with APS-C sensor, unbeatable by any combination of m43 lens. The closest is the new Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH. Still, when compares to the 35mm eqv. Fuji XF 56mm/f1.2, it produce considerably smaller bokeh due to sensor size. (Fuji 1.2×1.5 VS m43 1.2 x 2) The Leica is also bigger, heavier, and MUCH pricier.
What about the FF Sony A7/A7R? well its another gorgeous camera too, but as a lot will agree the lens lineup seems behind the others (except for the 55mm/ f1.8) and overpriced. Yes the 36mpix is breathe-taking, like a Nikon D800E in a small/cheaper body. but there are other weak spot compare to EM1 and X-T1. I personally find it more worth the investment if i had a brunch of good old lens in the shelf to use on the Sony. Anyway, if you are really into bokeh like me, Fuji is the sure choice for mirrorless, unless you are into the world of manual focus lens to use with Sony.
More perspective on this:
SteveHuff – great review as always
Fujivsfuji – side-by-side spec table of X-Pro1, X-E2, X-T1
DPreview – solely on X-T1 but very thorough as always
OnlinePhotographer – review with different testimonials
Zackarias – detail review 1st impression of X-T1
TechRadar – another detail review of X-T1
Finally, my flickr album for more photos here.