Fuji X-T1 Review -- Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Solid body exudes quality, feels like a precision photographic device
  • Weather-sealed and freeze-proof (but almost all lenses aren't, yet)
  • Logical, photographer-focused design and controls
  • Auto positions on dial are more intuitive for experienced shooters than a separate Mode dial
  • Excellent electronic viewfinder with minimal lag (except when burst shooting)
  • Tilting display is handy for awkward compositions
  • Display visibility is quite good even in bright light or direct sunlight
  • Generally excellent image quality straight out of the camera
  • Wide sensitivity range
  • Class-leading high ISO performance with very fine noise "grain" and low chroma noise
  • Improved demosaicing of fine, high-contrast subjects
  • Excellent hue accuracy
  • Very good dynamic range in RAW files
  • Useful film simulation modes
  • Separate highlight and shadow tone settings
  • Very fast autofocus, but see cons for some additional thoughts
  • Fast burst mode with good buffer depths
  • Very good kit lens
  • Already-decent battery life can become great with optional battery grip
  • In-camera Wi-Fi makes it easy to get photos online, has good remote control range
  • Fast card access makes the camera feel very responsive; playback is blazing fast
  • Third-party support for Fuji X-Trans sensors is now quite good, with the exception of DxO
  • In-camera film profiles are great fun, and even for raw, supported by some third-party apps
  • Exposure compensation dial is easily bumped
  • Four-way controller buttons are too small, hard to press and have poor button-feel
  • Dichotomy between fly-by-wire lenses with Auto aperture switch, mechanical lenses with Auto position on dial
  • Significant viewfinder lag for burst shooting
  • Stock viewfinder eyecup is very shallow, doesn't block light well. (Optional eyecup is available, though.)
  • Continuous autofocus not quite up to the best DSLRs in terms of tracking accuracy
  • Some lenses (particularly 55-200mm towards tele) rack through focus range even when already focused
  • Somewhat muted color by default
  • Very limited dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings
  • Color resolution is lower than predecessor in some cases
  • RAW files not available for extended sensitivities above ISO 6400
  • Warm white balance indoors with Auto and Incandescent settings
  • Saturation ("Color") setting had little effect except on reds
  • Camera occasionally power-cycles if discharged battery left in portrait grip
  • Menu system is a bit disorganized
  • Panorama function doesn't handle moving subjects or changing subject illumination seamlessly
  • Interface for Wi-Fi remote control is very awkward and illogical
  • Geotagging relies on your cell phone, and is clumsy to use

 

With the Fuji X-T1, Fujifilm has a clear goal in mind. The company wants to persuade DSLR shooters to move to a more compact mirrorless camera, and it's put forth a very strong reason for doing so. Unlike some of its retro rivals, the X-T1 manages to blend old and new very successfully, putting an extremely intuitive control system into a body that's much more compact than the typical enthusiast or professional DSLR. The lenses, too, are less bulky than their mirror-oriented rivals.

Once you pick up the X-T1, you can't help but smile -- almost everything about its physical design simply screams "high-quality photographic device". This doesn't feel like a modern, plasticky camera or a computer with a lens. It feels like something you want your hands on, want to shoot photos with, and just don't want to put down. But perhaps the biggest argument for the Fuji X-T1 is its viewfinder, which has incredibly minimal lag. Bring it to your eye, and you're not faced with the delay that you would with most EVFs. You feel at one with your subject, and that's how a great camera should make you feel.

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But that's not to say that the Fuji X-T1 is perfect. While it's great for framing single stills, the viewfinder has quite significant lag when shooting high-speed bursts. It seems, as some cameras do, to simply be showing a slideshow of the photo just taken, and not to be showing the real live view. That's a bit disconcerting and makes it harder to frame, although with subjects that move predictably you can account for it. Tracking autofocus is not quite as responsive and accurate as in a high-end DSLR, either. There are also a couple of quirks to the physical controls: an exposure compensation dial that's too easily bumped, and a four-way controller whose tiny buttons have little feel, and are hard to press with your thumb.

But be that as it may, this is a camera that's just plain fun to shoot with, and it takes some really great photos as well. And perhaps more importantly, since it's less bulky than your DSLR, you're more likely to have it with you when you need it most. At least, if it isn't cold or raining: it's a bit of a shame that while the camera itself is weather-sealed and freezeproof, its lenses aren't. That will, thankfully, change very soon, with the introduction of the first weather-sealed X-series lens in July 2014. Two more sealed optics are already on the roadmap for the following 18 months or so, as well.

If you're the kind of photographer who likes to take on the elements, you may want to pause a little while, or purchase in the knowledge that your options may be limited until Fuji can bring more glass to the table. And sports shooters might want to rent or borrow an X-T1 before putting the money down, so they can see if the autofocus and viewfinder performance will work with their particular sport. For everyone else, though, this deliciously-styled retro camera is an enthusiast's dream, and a clear Dave's Pick! Just remember to check that exposure compensation dial frequently...

 

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Comparison shopping? Clicking on any of the following will take you to our new comparison pages where you can see features, pros and cons listed for vitually any pair of cameras you'd like to compare. Here are a few obvious choices to compare to the Fuji X-T1:

Fuji X-T1 vs Sony A7

Fuji X-T1 vs Fuji X-E2

Fuji X-T1 vs Nikon D750

Fuji X-T1 vs Sony A6000

Fuji X-T1 vs Canon 7D II

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