Is this new-category “mirrorless” camera comparable to the good old Canon & Nikon SLRs? Could it be used for weddings and other professional work? Or is it just an expensive travel toy? Here’s what I think..
I was on a train to Scotland when I first tried the Fujifilm X-t1, when my friend David handed me one.. How could such a small camera shoot so fast, with beautiful depth of field? How can it shoot images comparable to those of professional high-end bulky dSLRs such as the Canon 5d mark III, at a third of combined size and weight?
After reading many reviews, I bought my first Fuji and shot travel photos with it. (you can see some here)
I have then used it along my Canon 6D at a wedding, and I was so impressed I decided to switch.
In almost every respect, the Fuji is just as good or better than a Canon 6D, with a few exceptions.
If you are considering switching from conventional full-frame dSLRs, this review is for you. You will find out why I now love taking photographs more than ever.
I love the X-T1. All exposure controls are mechanical, on its body & lenses. This means you don’t have to look into the screen to change simple settings. It feels like shooting an old film camera. I think this is why it is a better choice than its main rival, the Sony A7.
How is the image quality? A lot more like film than any combination of presets and softwares I ever tried. (I no longer need VSCO & ASE to get the look I want). Especially with the Classic Chrome preset, the tones and colours look a lot like film.
It is not full-frame (more on this later) but the lenses are so good it does not show. Many of them start at ƒ1.4 and their sharpness and blur is superb.
The Fuji excels in day light: colours, depth of field, focusing & sharpness are all outstanding.
I take fewer photos now but they are better.
The difference between shooting with a Fuji instead of a Canon or Nikon is like the difference between primes and zoom lenses. I would call those ways shooting slow and shooting fast.
When you are shooting slow you are thinking more about composition .. You adapt yourself to the photo you imagine. It takes more effort. You walk to get the right framing instead of zooming in and out. The photos you get are usually better.
If you love to take 3000+ pictures a day or shoot in burst mode I am afraid this camera is not for you. This is one for quality over quantity. For taking as few photographs as possible while conveying as much as possible.
When I import my photos (after waiting ages for Lightroom to render), I still feel like going WOW every time! That Fuji Classic Chrome camera profile is so good I do not use any VSCO filter anymore. That’s right - just one raw camera profile does everything I ever wanted a preset to do. A few tweaks and I came up with just the look I want.
Here is a comparison between an image shot with a Canon 5d III + VSCO and ASE (what used to be my normal processing workflow), and a Fuji picture on the right (with the 56mm ƒ1.2).
Wait a second! The Fuji does not have a full-frame sensor. How can it look so good? If you compare the light bokeh behind Rich’s back you’ll notice the Canon one is twice as big. That’s cool but not necessary. I think the Fuji gives plenty enough.
I honestly don’t think more lens blur would make those photos any better:
Finally I can shoot all day without feeling any pain.
Another great feature of this camera comes with being so light & small: I actually take it with me on a daily basis. Whereas before I would barely ever shoot any personal work with a bulky Canon Slr. It was just too heavy, too noticeable.
A few things could be improved..
The battery life sucks. It’s crap, and the level indicator goes from full to dead way too fast. I now carry 8 batteries with me and a charger just in case. I also have to turn off the camera when not in use as there is no clever battery saving mode.
The controls can be easy to knock about, and the buttons in the back don’t “pop out” as nicely as they do in any dSLR. Ergonomics could definitely improve.
And finally we come to the Electronic Shutter.. It can be amazing because it offers a completely silent mode, but that comes at a price.. Weird distortions, or “banding” effects when shooting with artificial light can ruin a picture. Here are a couple of messed-up photos to give you an idea.
(settings allow using Mechanical Shutter, only the Electronic, or a combination of both)
Is it good enough for weddings?
Absolutely. Have a look at some sample photographs.
Only when it’s almost pitch-black at receptions it can sometimes struggle with autofocus, but in those cases I just use manual focus and keep mindful of my distance with the subjects. ISO to me becomes barely usable at 3200, even though it can go way higher, but when it’s dark I can play with the available light or just use flash anyway.
My biggest disappointment was finding out my Canon Speedlite 530 EX II is not compatible with the Fuji unless used in Manual Mode, so no ETTL or multiple flashes are possible. I have since bought a Nissin flash which is pretty good really but not as strong and fast as the good old Canon.
So when it comes to almost pitch-black situations I would have a much easier time shooting with the Canon, though what the Fuji can capture is not bad at all.
One little tip if you’re getting one: do only use very fast SD cards otherwise the camera could occasionally slow down. It took me a while to realise why one of my cameras was slower than the other. It was the SD card.
It took a while to get used to it but now I am very happy to have made the move. I feel like there’s nothing this little camera can’t do. I now think the weight and bulk of normal dSLRs would be just a hindrance to how I shoot. The little Fuij can shot spot-on sharp shots with beautiful creamy blur. It focuses real fast. It is quite responsive and it feels good to shoot with it.
I definitely recommend it.
In future versions, I look forward to better ergonomics, longer battery life, and faster startup. Here are a few more photos I took with it over 2015..