On February 15th of this year, I celebrate my 2nd year with my x-T1, and my third year with the X series as I had a X-E1 before the X-T1 that I bought on February 13, 2013. Both purchases were for my birthday. I will certainly try to keep this post short and concise but… Well, I’ll try to anyway.
I’m going to try to not be a “fan boy” here. There are plenty of them all over the web. However during certain points I may just sound like one anyway. I’m not going into the technical specs as you can find them everywhere. Basically what I wish to cover in this post is my experience and my impressions with my X-T1 over the last two years and 90,000+ images. I would like to talk about my gear, what I love, like, dislike, and whether I’ll upgrade not to the X-Pro2, but the X-T2 when the time comes.
So, where do I begin? Let’s jump right in. How do I feel when I grab the the X-T1? Free, light, full of confidence; and like I can make masterpieces. I feel I can go anywhere at any time. Just grab the camera with the 18-55 + the 16mm and go!
When I initially ordered the X-E1 in 2013 I purchased the 18-55 lens as well as the 35 f1.4. Since having purchased the X-T1 I have added the 16 1.4, the 23 1.4, the 12mm F2.8, and the 55-200. So far, I have nothing but positive things to say about all the gear! My most used combination and keepers are taken with the 18-55 and the 16mm F1.4.
First of all I’d like to cover the quality of the hardware- essentially the camera body. I have found the body to be extremely resilient to the elements. I’ve photographed landscapes and dogsled racing in extreme cold at the northern tip of Maine and landscapes all the way down to the Dry Tortuga approximately 75 miles south west of Key West. From dry cold, humid cold, snowstorms, Nor’easters to 100 degree heat, 90+ degree humidity, salt water, wet sand, hot sun, Thunderstorms, wet and hot sand and then some more heat on top of that.
Speaking of heat. For ten-days in late September I was in some serious heat and humidity. We are talking about Miami Beach, Key West, and further SW – the Tortugas. So hot, let me tell you how hot: So darn hot, that my first full day there I was physically ill. Ill to the point I had to get out of the sun, go back to the hotel and lay down until late in the afternoon, early evening after the sun set. That’s H.O.T.
During most of my time in Florida much of it was spent in and around salt water, tons and tons of sand, and extreme heat. Did I mention heat? Add to everything else the sudden but drenching Florida thunderstorms, and well you can just imagine…I’ve read about various issues that owners have experienced with the Fuji X-T1 – bulging doors, fading finish, peeling rubber, and memory card errors. I spent days and days rolling (literally) around hot sand, and saltwater. During this time my hands are soaking wet and covered with sand, then grabbing the camera to photograph something or other. At other times I literally had the X-T1 and the 16 1.4 (my only WR lens) sitting on the sand at the edge of the ocean attempting to capture waves coming up over some shells. I can’t even count how many times I had salt water all over the front element, lens and camera body because I misjudged the size of an incoming wave. Thank goodness for microfiber cloths. I also changed lenses several times, trying to make sure that my hands didn’t have too much sand on them when doing the lens swap. How did I accomplish that you ask? Well, by dipping my hands in good ole saltwater to wash much of the sand off then making the lens swap. How else? So in two years of exposure to heat and cold, salt water, humidity – to the point I had my camera and lenses in zip lock bags when entering and exiting my hotel rooms and car, I had zero issues. As of this writing in January 2016 I’ve had no issues with any of the lenses either. No bulging doors, no peeling rubber. Nothing. Zip. This leaves me wondering if the issues that X-T1 owners are experiencing aren’t caused by either a bad batch, faulty tolerances, or Fuji inspection failures. But I do know that either I got a good (read: great) copy, or some of the X-T1 owners out in the wild have kryptonite for hands.
Two small issues that bothered me for a while: I caused this problem: I managed to get some superfine sand underneath the on/off switch and that made it a bear to turn on. And bear is NOT the word I want to use here. I tried blowing it out in the field with my Giotto blower, I also tried a fine camel hair brush, nothing. Zero. That on/off button was seriously hard to turn. It’s much better now but man turning the camera on was a two-hand operation. Hold the camera with my right hand, and turn the switch, forcibly, with the left. It’s back to normal now but for about a month — wow.
The second minor complaint is still that whenever I change the ISO on the dial, my pudgy fingers would also move the camera setting below from “S” to CH, or to Panorama mode or to advanced. It looks like this was taken care of on the X-Pro2. As a matter of fact, I had this same lift and turn ISO type of dial that appears on the new XPro2 on my original 1974 Minolta SR-T101. I’d never thought I’d see this again!!
Add a small manufacturers niggle which I suppose is due to the weather sealing: Those hard to access 4-way buttons on the back of the camera. I can never find them when the camera is to my face and I’m looking through the viewfinder, they are way too recessed into the body. I know Fuji was repairing that but I never sent mine in. I figured I would just get used to it but it is an overall PITA.
On this ten-day adventure and stock trip I took all my lenses with me, except the 35mm 1.4. The 12 2.8, 16 1.4, 23 1.4, 18-55, and 55-200, plus all the filters, seven batteries, and miscellaneous hardware were in my Amazon Basics Camera Backpack. I also packed a separate messenger style Lowpro sling bag where I could fit the camera body, and two lenses plus accessories for when I was wondering around town moving fast. The one lens that got the most use on this trip: the 16mm 1.4! This is an AMAZING, and I can’t stress that word enough: AMAZING piece of glass. It feels so so solid on the X-T1; it balances the camera out very well. It’s got some heft to it which I also like. And the close focusing capabilities? Holy Smokes Batman! it is a mini-macro lens! I just love it. Even today I still snap that on instead of the 18-55 which is my other go-to when I just want to pack the camera and one lens. I don’t care about anything but the magical images it generates. Most of my life I’ve been a zoom shooter – and I will say my copy of the 18-55, and the 55-200 are so darn sharp it’s unbelievable. But the 16, and 23 are just amazing and they both produce a certain look that I love that the 18-55 just doesn’t produce.
Speaking of which: The image quality of the X-T1. Oh my… In early 2015, I can’t remember exactly I sold off or gave away what remained of my Nikon gear. I was shooting with a D700, D300, D800, and a bevy of all Nikon lenses. I sold off everything except the D700 which I passed along to one of my kids with a couple of Nikon lenses. Fleabay got the rest. I cannot stress enough what a great decision that was! Traveling light, enjoying each and every time I had that Fuji X-T1 in my hands, or on my tripod; it was, and still is a perfect shooting experience. I have never felt like that about ‘any’ camera I’ve ever used film or digital. The images, granted not not as fully detailed as my 36MP D800, are still large enough to pop some 24 x 20 inch prints out. That is about as large as I go, but 13 x 19″ prints I print regularly as that is my default size, and they also look fabulous. I usually print from Raw processed and converted to tiff; I’ve never actually printed a jpeg at that size. Something I may try in the future. The Fuji colors – my favorites are Astia as a general purpose default, with Velvia set for Landscapes. Classic Chrome is growing on me though; for a certain mood in some images it just can’t be beat. I’ve only used the b&w modes a few times but as I shoot both Jpeg+raw I’d rather convert to BW in SilverEfex.
Processing: I own Silkypix (as LR did not support Xtrans at the very beginning), Iridient Developer, LR5.7 and LR CC6. My favorite so far is Lightroom. Period. Using Pete Bridgewood’s process for XTrans Files is da bomb! My images live or die based on Pete’s algorithm and I humbly thank him for developing it (pun intended). I have created LR presets with his settings that I use when I import all my X-T1 images into LR.
This can be found here courtesy of Mr. Bridgwood: http://petebridgwood.com/wp/2014/10/x-trans-sharpening/
The one and only item I miss from my Nikon system is the flash. Oh those wonderful Nikon flashes, the ease of use, my Pocketwizards, etc. When I sold off my Nikon gear I did keep the flashes; During the year I had my X-E1 I was able to actually use my SB700 right on the hot shoe. I’ve attempted this with the X-T1 a few times, tried different options, but it was just too cumbersome and time consuming for me. I do own the Fuji EF-42 and it does the job but it is too slow for me. That’s just my opinion though.
Now that the XPro2 is out I’ve been praying that Fuji ports over most of the features to the X-T2. My wish list has been and still is: 24-28MP, Dual card slots (I was spoiled by the D800 and it’s dual slots), +/- 5 stop bracketing. And boy, that new Acros sure looks sweet from what I’ve seen so far. Will I jump all over the X-T2? Yes, but I think I’ll give it a few months or so just to be sure. I learned my lesson from jumping on the D800 bandwagon too early and using the pre-order on the day it was released; my initial D800 experience was a disaster to say the least and quite frankly soured my relationship and how I felt about Nikon. In over two years of using the D800 in all honesty I never, ever felt confident I would get the image I was after. I did manage to do so, but that thought, and feeling would just cross my mind; I guess I was just gun-shy from my initial experience with the D800 and Nikon. That, plus shooting 50-75mb raw files, then making them look good in Capture NX, and LR was just too much for me whereas with the Fuji’s, the JPEG’s come out looking great, and the raw, if needed are amazing. So yes, I will purchase the X-T2 shortly after it comes out and I will keep the X-T1 as my backup.
So, in wrapping up: I’m THRILLED with my gear! I am a camera geek, and it really says something to the image quality of the X-T1, and the lenses when in over two years of ownership I have not looked at another
woman camera! I’m so happy with this setup. It’s the first time in many years where I feel confident that the gear I have with me will serve all my needs. I’ve added a couple of images taken with the X-T1 and the 16mm 1.4 to show it’s usefulness and it’s utility for anyone on the fence about this magnificent piece of glass. Making these images and many others at the waters edge required some serious patience due to the water and sand action either washing away the shells, burying them, and just playing havoc with the setup and exposure. I can’t tell you how dirty and sandy my hands were as I was literally laying belly down on the sand taking these images and moving objects around. Enjoy, and if anyone has any questions, let me know.