20 Jun Testing the Fujifilm X-T1
Source: Fujifilm X Blog
Maybe I’m an old dog, but the must choose sides thing in the DSLR vs. mirrorless debate, in my cantankerous opinion, is pointless, manifestly boring and would only be cool if you gave me popcorn and the opposing sides guns.
I like DSLR’s and think they’re pretty highly evolved now and do what they’re supposed to do without much fuss or fanfare. I’ve been working with them since they were the new thing and being unfavorably compared to film cameras.
That said, a lot of what I see happening in the new world of mirrorless and Fujifilm in particular, is getting hard to ignore and I’m intrigued by the possibilities of both lighter weight and the electronic viewfinders.
So, has the mirrorless come of age?
Really, having never touched one, the best way to find out is to try one and after a little shameless begging for a camera to review for my blog, Leigh Diprose of Fujifilm Australia hooked me up with a Fujifilm X-T1 and lenses for a four-week test.
Fujifilm, with the X series, may seem relatively new to all you hipster kids from the internet land, but a lot of us old codgers know the name well thanks to some brilliant film cameras of the past like the mighty medium format 6×9 range finders, 6×8 studio cameras and the epic, wish I never sold it, X-pan that Fujifilm made for Hasselblad in the 90’s.
I’ve also pounded thousands of rolls of Fujifilm through various 35mm SLR’s and medium formats with ASTIA being a favorite for magazine portrait work, VELVIA for landscapes and the at the time revolutionary 800 ISO NPZ colour neg for anything low light that still needed nice colour.
Out of the box, and after a few tentative test frames the X-T1 is already living up to that heritage.
Initial photos have great colour and sharpness, and I’m well on my way to being smitten all over again.
The best thing about mirrorless, in my opinion, is the electronic viewfinder and this is where mirrorless systems and the X-T1 in particular really set themselves apart from a DSLR. It’s so vast looking in there, I found myself looking around as much as through and after a little customization in the menu’s I had everything set-up and singing.
Yes, it takes a minute to get used to the electronic view after a lifetime and millions of photos through an optical finder, but I can already imagine that this is the way all cameras will be heading given all the amazing possibilities of the technology.
There are two things that really stand out with the vast viewfinder of the X-T1. The first is seeing your exposure, as set, before pressing the button. In manual shooting, this is a revolution compared to the old exposure scale in an optical finder and FAR more accurate. I also found myself doing far less chimping once I got confident that what I saw WAS what I would end up recording. This was doubly so when I was shooting in black and white mode where the viewfinder reflected this.
Having the actual picture flash up in the finder after taking the shot took longer to get used to, and initially I turned the mode off a couple times out of frustration, but by the end of my test I became a real fan of the feature and found myself shooting less and chimping much less to get the same results.
The second stand out is manual focus.
Generally, I always shoot landscape stuff off a tripod, in manual focus and have been using Live View to get the proper depth of field I need to cover front to back sharpness. This works very well on a DSLR, but is slow, because it means I need my glasses on to see the rear screen and off to compose through the viewfinder. Tedious.
On the X-T1, I set-up the viewfinder to give me the smaller magnified side box with focus peaking in red and found it a very fast and very accurate way to get proper focus without bothering with the glasses or rear screen.
As a bonus, once the diopter was calibrated for my vision (or lack thereof) I could also check the accuracy of my focus on the finished shot through the viewfinder without touching my glasses.
This is a really cool feature in hard sunlight where the screen can be hard to see.