Meet the Fujifilm X-T1

Someone please explain the mysteries of retail marketing and sales, because they baffle me. Last week, I quite unexpectedly purchased the Fujifilm X-T1, which got clumsy break-in during San Diego Comic-Con 2015. The story I tell is true, a point necessary to emphasize because I wouldn’t believe it if not for my real-life experience.

Last November, I asked: “Fujifilm X100T or X-T1?” After making comparisons, seriously evaluating my budget, contemplating my past experience using the X100, and considering the benefits of nearly-silent leaf shutter and ND filter to compensate for the Southern California sun, I chose the fixed-lens camera. Besides, I have used only mirrorless digicams since Sigma DP1 in early 2008 and, with brief Olympus PEN sojourn, only non-interchangeable lens shooters. 

Not long after I purchased the X100T, Fuji announced a X-T1 firmware update that would bring forward features found on the smaller shooter that most affected my decision beyond budget, such as:

  • Classic Chrome film simulation mode
  • Electronic shutter for essentially silent operation
  • Shooting up to 1/32000 sec, which can composite for the imposing shadows and contrasting lighted areas that the San Diego sun imposes

Note: These capabilities came with the silver X-T1, which was out of stock most everywhere and exceeded my budget in autumn 2014. Still, as Fuji updated the black model to v3.0 firmware, I wondered whether the interchangeable-lens mirrorless would better suit my arguably advanced amateur shooting. The dedicated dials, particularly adding ISO, really appeals to my indoor-shooting habits. But I owned the X100T and adored the stealth street shooter.

Then came the incident as Comic-Con commenced. Amazon discounted the X-T1 kit with XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens by $250, bringing it within my budget’s reach if selling the X100T and adding in my birthday money. While heading down to the Convention Center for SDCC Preview Night, I stopped into Best Buy to physically handle the X-T1. The electronics store had cut the price, too.

The camera is considerably heavier than the X100T but has great balance. Overall handling made a positive impression. I left the store for Preview Night, wondering what if.

Four hours later, I returned to Best Buy to once again explore the X-T1. Between my visits, the store put out a second price ticket that so confused me I asked a clerk to confirm it: X-T1 kit bundled with the XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS for another $100, which worked out to $150 less than the regular price for body and single glass only. Last week, Amazon offered the telephoto for $499.99. It’s $699.99 as I write and the X-T1 kit is MSRP again.

What parallel universe did I enter eight days ago? I took the unexpected opportunity as fate and purchased the bundle, with some angst. Photo-shooting was my primary objective for Comic-Con 2015, and taking on a new camera presented risks. Fortunately, familiarity defines Fuji X-series digicams. Controls are laid out similarly enough, and menu systems are functionally identical for the two cameras.

I reasoned that with 14-day buyer’s remorse policy, I could give the X-T1 brutal field test, which if failing would end with return for refund. Among my concerns: The two Xes use identical sensors such that image quality should be comparable. Except:

  • In looking over reviews, X-T1 photos appear sharper to my eyes, and I have often felt X100-series pics are too soft.
  • The X100T, like its predecessors, consistently gets white balance, contrast, and other attributes right nearly all the time; it’s amazing!
  • I mainly shoot aperture priority, and the X00T’s dedicated ring is tactile, stiffly clicks, and offers one-third stops, while the 18-55mm lens ring is less obvious and can accidentally change.

Because the X-T1 is so new, and I haven’t had this much manual control ever, my field test was basic at best, but rewarding. Despite larger physical size and weight, I enjoyed shooting the Fuji more than its sibling. I captured JPEGs and RAW, also adapting my previous plan for the Con: Mainly use the digicam but grab some photos with iPhone 6 for social sharing. But being so satisfied with the X-T1’s pics, I downloaded Fujifilm’s wireless transfer app while onsite, occasionally transferring images to the phone then posting them to Google+.

Last night, I Craigslisted the X100T, making final decision to keep the more recent purchase. If I could afford to use both, I would; budget doesn’t allow. Some value will be lost in the sale, and there are plenty of stealth street shooting situations where the X100T would be the better carry-along. I can’t financially justify keeping both cameras.

There is always the option to return the X-T1 kit and telephoto, too, and six days remain to do so. But I’m thinking: Much as I really love the X100T, it is a camera I will grow out of, while the X-T1 is one I will grow into.

You can find more pics of both cameras at my Fuji X-T1 Flickr set.

5 thoughts on “Meet the Fujifilm X-T1

  1. I am a convert to Fuji from a full frame Canon. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The challenge now is to figure out which additional lenses I want to purchase for it.

  2. I moved from a Canon 5D Mk II to the Fuji X-T1. I bought it with the standard 18-55 lens that they sell as part of the kit. I got tired of the weight of the Mk II with the battery grip and heavy lenses. I’m an old film shooter and the images from this camera remind me of those done with film. It feels like an old film camera when shooting. I’ve been a Canon shooter for over 30 years and still have an older 30D that I’m keeping because it doesn’t really have much value.

  3. Being that the sensors are the same, any increase in sharpness in the X-T1 would likely be because of the lens chosen for those particular images. I would imagine that if you’re using the standard 18-55 you’re still going to see images that aren’t as sharp as you would like.

    1. Same sensors, subtle differences. There is something about the X100 series consistently producing pretty balanced pictures every time. But the depth of field is shallow on that f/2 lens, even shooting with smaller-size aperture. I tend to shoot aperture priority and really like the tactical ring around the X100T lens.

      But…I am impressed by the sharpness of the photos coming from the 18-55mm lens, and I am no fan of telephotos. Gimme prime and a good pair of legs to close the distance, any day. I love the X100 series, but it’s the camera I was growing out, while I hope the X-T1 is the one I grow into.

      What do you use?

Leave a Reply