Fujifilm X-T1 Review
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Fuji X-T1 Image Quality
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Fairly vibrant color with excellent hue accuracy.
|In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare ISOs.|
Skin tones. The Fuji X-T1 rendered pleasant Caucasian skin tones that were just a touch on the pinkish side when white balance was adjusted to match the light source at base ISO, because of the moderate push in reds. Results were quite pleasing, with a healthy look. (Here, too, the X-T1's saturation and/or film mode adjustments may come into play for some users, letting them tweak the color on skin tones, if they find the default rendering a bit too saturated for their personal tastes. Note that Fujifilm claims their Astia film simulation produces "true-to-life" skin tones.) Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Fuji X-T1 produced only a few color shifts relative to the mathematically precise translation of colors in its subjects, and has excellent hue accuracy overall. Most noticeable shifts are in cyan toward blue, orange toward yellow, as well as some smaller shifts in yellow, green and purple. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Average "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation at base ISO was only 3.93, which is excellent, and hue accuracy remained better than average across the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the
The Fuji X-T1 has a total of five saturation settings available ("Low", "Medium Low", "Mid", "Medium High" and "High"), which the user manual simply calls "Color" for color density. That's not as many steps as most cameras, and as you can see the steps are pretty fine, making the effect very subtle except for reds. It had no effect on contrast, which is good.
|Saturation Adjustment Examples|
The table above shows results with several saturation settings including the default and both limits. Click on any thumbnail above to see the full-sized image.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance were quite warm, but very good results with the Manual setting. Negative exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Indoors, under typical incandescent lighting, color balance was warm using the Auto setting, with a fairly strong reddish cast. Results with the Incandescent white balance setting were very warm, with a strong yellow/orange cast. The Manual white balance setting was quite accurate and neutral, while the 2,600 Kelvin temperature setting produced a slight green tint. The Fuji X-T1 required -0.3 EV exposure compensation here, while most cameras need about +0.3 EV for this scene. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Very good color though slightly cool outdoors. Good exposure accuracy outdoors, but our "Sunlit" Portrait shot was overexposed.
|Manual White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Fuji X-T1 produced good color at default settings, just slightly on the cool side. The Fuji X-T1's default exposure was too bright in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, requiring -0.3 EV exposure compensation. This is better than average, though, as most cameras need +0.7 EV for this shot, but it did lead to a lot of blown highlights. Skin tones were pleasing, with a healthy-looking pinkish cast that's not too overdone with both Auto and Manual white balance. The Fuji X-T1 did a great job exposing our Far-field shot, producing relatively few clipped highlights at default exposure, though some shadows are quite deep. Very deep shadows were noisy and abruptly clipped, with green or purple color casts or posterization. Again, color was just a touch cool with the Auto white balance setting. See the Extremes: Sunlit section below to see how the X-T1's Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings deal with harsh lighting like this.
Very high resolution, ~2,300 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about the same from ACR converted RAW.
|Strong detail to
~2,300 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
|Strong detail to
~2,300 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
|Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,300 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2,300 lines per picture height in the vertical direction as well. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the 4,000 line limit of our chart in both directions. Adobe Camera Raw wasn't able to extract any additional resolution, however it did produce lower amounts of luma moiré near the limits of resolution. As expected, ACR produced very low amounts of chroma moiré even though it normally produces higher from Bayer-filtered cameras, because of the X-Trans sensor's irregular color filter pattern. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Very good detail and sharpness overall, with only minor edge-enhancement artifacts appearing around some high-contrast subjects. Mild noise suppression is visible in the shadows at base ISO.
Sharpness. The Fuji X-T1 captures very sharp, detailed images, with only minor edge enhancement artifacts visible on high-contrast subjects such as the relatively thin sharpening "haloes" around the lines and letters of the bottle label above left. Default sharpening seems to be a touch stronger than some prior X-Trans models, but still, very good results here. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows low levels of luminance noise suppression, as the darker areas of the model's hair still show a pretty good amount of detail. Some individual strands do merge together when local contrast is low and as shadows deepen, but performance here is very good. The Fuji X-T1 does a great job at keeping chrominance noise low as well, better than most Bayer-filtered cameras. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
Improved Demosaicing. As mentioned elsewhere in this review, the Fuji X-T1 doesn't use the standard Bayer 2x2 color filter pattern. The X-T1's X-Trans CMOS II sensor has a 6x6 pattern designed to reduce the occurrence of color moiré, which means a resolution-robbing low-pass (anti-alias) filter is not required. As you can see from the crops at right (magnified 2X) comparing the X-T1 to the earlier X-E1, the X-T1 does a better job rendering the fine italic text, with the X-E1 leaving what look to be small gaps and extra strokes in the letters, and some rough edges as well. The X-T1's rendering is still not perfect nor even as good as typical Bayer demosaicing, however it is noticeably improved here.
Reduced Color Resolution? Although demosaicing has improved for some high-contrast subjects, the updated demosaicing algorithm also seems to have reduced color resolution in some cases. Compare (at right) for example our worst-case (for both Bayer and X-Trans filters) red/blue starburst target from the X-T1 to the older X-E1, a 16-megapixel Bayer-sensored camera (the Sony NEX-6) and also to the full-color (Foveon) sensor of the 14.8-megapixel Sigma DP1 Merrill, all at ISO 200 (mouse over the links). As you can see, the older X-E1 did a better job at resolving the alternating red and blue wedges as they become narrower toward the center of the starburst than did the X-T1. The Bayer-filtered Sony NEX-6 did better than the X-T1 as well, and of course, the Foveon-based Sigma DP1M easily bests all three cameras as it requires no demosaicing, capturing full color at each pixel. Click on the links to see how the four cameras did with other color combinations in our Multi/VFA test chart.
RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Fuji X-T1 produces sharp JPEG images with very good detail at default settings. Let's see if we can extract better detail from RAW files with Adobe Camera Raw without introducing additional sharpening artifacts:
In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 RC using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (250%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).
Adobe Camera Raw does a pretty good job here, but doesn't extract significantly more detail than the camera does, though contrast in the our red-leaf fabric is a little higher. There is a touch more detail in the mosaic crop and perhaps more accurate colors in the monk's garment, but nothing really to write home about. Bottom line: Fuji's in-camera processing is excellent, and there's very little advantage to shooting RAW in terms of detail reproduction, at least at low ISOs.
ISO & Noise Performance
Excellent high ISO performance for an APS-C sensor.
Default High ISO Noise Reduction
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600||ISO 3,200|
|ISO 6,400||ISO 12,800||ISO 25,600|
Like the X-Pro1, the Fuji X-T1's images are very clean and detailed up to ISO 800. Luminance noise "grain" is quite fine and tight, and there is very little sign of chrominance noise. At ISO 1,600, noise reduction efforts are little stronger as you'd expect, but fine detail is still very good. ISO 3,200 shows another slight increase in noise and blurring, but fine detail remains very good. 6,400 is the first ISO where luminance noise becomes noticeable, though it's still fairly fine-grained, and chrominance noise is still well controlled. Image quality drops off more rapidly at ISO 12,800, with more visible grain, blurring, noise reduction artifacts, and blotchy chroma noise in the shadows. Fine detail at ISO 25,600 is quite soft with heavy luminance noise accentuated by sharpening artifacts, and chrominance noise in the form of large yellow and purple blotches. Still, noise performance in high ISO JPEGs is excellent, among the best we've seen from a 16-megapixel APS-C sensor, and as expected, very similar to the X-Pro1.
We're pixel-peeping to the extreme here though, which isn't always representative of what you see in prints. As always, see the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.
Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Very high resolution with good overall detail, but poor dynamic range in JPEGs. Very good low-light performance.
|-0.3 EV||0 EV||+0.3 EV|
Sunlight. The Fuji X-T1 struggled with the harsh lighting of this test at default settings at the base ISO of 200 (which should be best case). We preferred the -0.3 EV exposure overall, because exposures at default and +0.3 EV exposure compensation were too bright with too many clipped highlights. Even at -0.3 EV, quite a few highlights were blown in the mannequin's shirt and flowers. There are quite a few dark shadows as well, and very deep shadows clip to black rather abruptly, likely in an attempt to hide noise. Overall, the Fuji X-T1's JPEGs performed below average here without any highlight and shadow adjustments, nor any dynamic range enhancement (see below).
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
The Fuji X-T1 does not offer a traditional contrast adjustment. Instead, it offers Shadow and Highlight Tone settings, which let you adjust contrast in highlights and shadows independently. There are five settings each: "Soft", "Medium Soft", "Standard" (default), "Medium Hard", and "Hard."
"Sunlit" Portrait Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison
Shadow and Highlight Tone. Above you can see the effects of three of the five settings for Highlight and Shadow Tone control on our high contrast "Sunlit" Portrait shot. Mouse over the links to load the associated thumbnail and histogram, and click on the links to visit the full resolution image.
Note how the Highlight settings mainly affect the brighter portions of the image, while the Shadow settings impact the darker areas. Both settings can be used simultaneously, giving more flexibility to tune the tone curve at both ends compared to a single contrast setting, though we wish the range of adjustment toward lower contrast was greater as highlights and particularly shadows are still clipped with the "softest" settings.
|Far-field Highlight and Shadow Tone Comparison|
Above, you can see the effect of the same Highlight and Shadow Tone settings on our Far-field shot.
D-Range is Fuji's name for their dynamic range enhancement technology. D-Range designed to preserve hot highlights, by exposing for highlights and then boosting mid-tones and shadows. There are three levels: DR100 100% (default), DR200 200%, DR400 400%, as well as an Auto mode which can select DR100 or DR200. DR200 is available at ISO 400 and above, while DR400 is available at ISO 800 and above, so all four examples above were taken at ISO 800. Mouse over the links above to load the corresponding thumbnail image and histogram. Click on the links to get to the full resolution images.
As you can see the images above, the Fuji X-T1's manual D-Range settings were very effective at retaining clipped highlights in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch: if you look closely at the full resolution images, you'll see that improved highlight retention comes at a cost of increased noise. This is because the camera's sensitivity needs to be raised to take advantage of the D-Range feature, though that's not much of penalty because the X-T1's high ISO performance is so good. (Note that the Fuji X-T1 does not offer a multi-shot in-camera HDR mode.)
Above, you can see how the various D-Range settings affect our Far-field shot. Here, 100% is ISO 200, 200% is ISO 400 and 400% is ISO 800.
Face Detection. The Fuji X-T1 offers face detection which optimizes both focus and exposure for faces. As you can see, it produced a better exposed image than the default exposure (left), which is overexposed. It did so by increasing shutter speed slightly from 1/34 to 1/42 second.
Dynamic Range Analysis
A key parameter in a digital camera is its Dynamic Range, the range of brightness that can be faithfully recorded. At the upper end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is dictated by the point at which the RGB data "saturates" at values of 255, 255, 255. At the lower end of the tonal scale, dynamic range is determined by the point at which there ceases to be any useful difference between adjacent tonal steps. Note the use of the qualifier "useful" in there: While it's tempting to evaluate dynamic range as the maximum number of tonal steps that can be discerned at all, that measure of dynamic range has very little relevance to real-world photography. What we care about as photographers is how much detail we can pull out of the shadows before image noise becomes too objectionable. This, of course, is a very subjective matter, and will vary with the application and even the subject matter in question. (Noise will be much more visible in subjects with large areas of flat tints and subtle shading than it would in subjects with strong, highly contrasting surface texture.)
What makes most sense then, is to specify useful dynamic range in terms of the point at which image noise reaches some agreed-upon threshold. To this end, Imatest computes a number of different dynamic range measurements, based on a variety of image noise thresholds. The noise thresholds are specified in terms of f-stops of equivalent luminance variation in the final image file, and dynamic range is computed for noise thresholds of 1.0 (low image quality), 0.5 (medium image quality), 0.25 (medium-high image quality) and 0.1 (high image quality). For most photographers and most applications, the noise thresholds of 0.5 and 0.25 f-stops are probably the most relevant to the production of acceptable-quality finished images, but many noise-sensitive shooters will insist on the 0.1 f-stop limit for their most critical work. A full discussion of all the data Imatest produces is really beyond the scope of this review: Visit the Imatest website for details of what the program measures, how it performs its computations, and how to interpret its output.
Note: Recently, we've switched to using DxOMark's dynamic range results because some cameras were exceeding what could measured with a Stouffer T4110 step chart, but DxOMark does not publish results for Fuji X-Trans sensors, probably because they don't support RAW files from those sensors which require more complex demosaicing than standard Bayer-filtered models. So, here we're showing out Imatest results at base ISO. Note that Imatest's Quality Level threshold of Low corresponds to DxOMark's dynamic range signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1.0.
JPEG. The graph at right (click for a larger version) was generated using Imatest's dynamic range analysis for an in-camera Fuji X-T1 JPEG file with a nominally-exposed density step target (Stouffer T4110). At default settings and native base ISO of 200, the results show 8.77 f-stops of total dynamic range and that score remains all the way to the "Medium High" quality level, dropping to 8 f-stops at the "High" quality level. From the chart in the top left, we can see roll-off at the highlight end of the tone curve is gradual, but for shadows it isn't as well-behaved with abrupt clipping to black as well as steps which are spaced further apart, which could lead to some visible gradation in very deep shadows. The lowest light level detected is also a little higher than we see from most camera, not quite reaching -2.5 when we often see -3.0. Overall, these scores are below average for an APS-C model, but keep in mind we didn't enable any of the Fuji X-T1's dynamic range enhancement features for this test. Note, that this measurement has a margin of error of about 1/3 f-stop, so differences of less than 0.33 can be ignored when comparing results to other models.
RAW. The graph at right is from the same Stouffer T4110 stepchart image captured as a raw (.RAF) file, processed with Adobe Camera Raw using the Auto setting, then tweaked from there for best results. As can be seen, the score at the highest quality level increased significantly compared to the in-camera JPEG, from 8 to 9.58 f-stops, and total dynamic range increased even more from 8.77 in the JPEG to 13.1 f-stops. At the "Low" quality level (matching DxOMark's threshold), total dynamic range is still available (13.1 f-stops). This is very good performance for an APS-C sensor, if not quite as good as the best which can approach 14 f-stops. It's worth noting here is that ACR's default noise reduction settings reduced overall noise somewhat (see the plot in the lower left-hand corner) relative to the levels in the in-camera JPEG, which would tend to boost the dynamic range numbers for the higher quality thresholds.
Low Light. The Fuji X-T1 was able to capture bright images at the lowest light level with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). Color balance looks quite good with the Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool but warming up a bit at lower light levels. Noise is quite low up to ISO 3,200, and at higher ISOs, noise grain is very fine and tight so detail remains very good, though chroma noise gets a little blotchy at the highest ISOs. We didn't notice any uncorrected hot or overly bright pixels except with NR was turned off where you'd expect to see some (though there were very few). Some minor horizontal banding (pattern noise) can bee see at the highest ISO particularly when NR was turned down, as well as some heat blooming from the bottom edge of the frame, but nothing to be concerned about (and we don't recommend using such high ISOs anyway).
The camera's contrast-detect autofocus system was able to focus on the subject down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted, which is fair, but not as good as most DSLRs in its price range. With the AF assist lamp enabled, the Fuji X-T1 was able to focus in complete darkness (as long as the subject was in range of the focus assist lamp). Keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to its larger sensor and Hybrid AF, compact system cameras like the Fuji X-T1 tend to do better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.
Very nice 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100/200; a nice 16 x 20 at ISO 1600; and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.
ISO 100/200 produces very good, accurate images at 24 x 36 inches with excellent color reproduction. Wall display prints are possible at these settings up to 36 x 48 inches, looking quite good if viewed from the customary several feet away given the size of the print.
ISO 400 prints are still quite good at 24 x 36 inches, with no noticeable softness in the red channel, and wall display prints look good at 30 x 40 inches.
ISO 800 images look great at 16 x 20 inches. Wall display prints are possible up to 24 x 36 inches, which is terrific for this ISO on an APS-C camera.
ISO 1,600 yields a good 16 x 20 inch print as well. There is the first sign of softness in our target red swatch here but it's not bad at all, and just a hint of luminance noise in flatter areas. Overall, a very good image for ISO 1,600.
ISO 3,200 prints at 13 x 19 begin to lose detail in our difficult red swatch, but are otherwise quite good with only mild, film-like grain in shadows.
ISO 6,400 is where the red swatch and a few other areas, particularly reds, start to become too soft to be called good, even at 11 x 14. 8 x 10's print quite well here though, retaining very good color reproduction.
ISO 12,800 makes a nice 5 x 7 inch print, which is still quite good for this ISO.
ISO 25,600/51,200 prints are too soft at any size to be called good and are best avoided except in cases where a noticeable watercolor effect is desired.
The Fujifilm X-T1 performs admirably in the print quality department, as expected. Base ISO (200) and the extended setting of 100 each make very nice prints at 24 x 36 inches, and even larger for wall display purposes. And at ISO 1,600, 16 x 20 inches is still a very respectable size. The remaining 1EV step settings all turn in solid performances until the highest two, which are best avoided. But all-in-all, the X-T1 delivers the goods here for sound print quality.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm X-T1 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm X-T1 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.