Why Fu­ji­film’s X-T1 Is Sim­ply Ir­re­sistible

FU­JI­FILM X-T1

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Not so long ago you’d have re­placed your old D-SLR with a new D-SLR with­out a sec­ond thought, but now pro-level mir­ror­less cam­eras such as the X-T1 are pro­vid­ing an in­creas­ingly ap­peal­ing al­ter­na­tive. Re­port by Paul Bur­rows.

While Fu­ji­film’s S5 Pro was one of the best D-SLRs of its day, us­ing some­body else’s plat­form was never go­ing to be sus­tain­able as the mar­ket got more cut-throat. Fu­ji­film even­tu­ally quit D-SLRs, but it’s not been alone here over the last few years as the prod­uct plan­ning em­pha­sis for a num­ber of cam­era mak­ers has switched to mir­ror­less in­ter­change­able-lens de­signs. Yet it’s also taken a while for any­body to come up with a truly cred­i­ble CSC al­ter­na­tive to the D-SLR, partly be­cause the early em­pha­sis was on up­grad­ing com­pact cam­era users and sec­ondly be­cause elec­tronic viewfinders sim­ply weren’t good enough.

Fu­ji­film’s so­lu­tion to the lat­ter was its hy­brid op­ti­cal/elec­tronic ar­range­ment, in­tro­duced in the orig­i­nal X100 and reprised in the X-Pro1. Sub­se­quently, there have been all sorts of im­prove­ments to ‘pure’ elec­tronic viewfinders – OLED pan­els be­ing one of them – so it’s now pos­si­ble to move away from the rangefinder-style cam­eras such as the X-Pro1 and Sony’s re­cently-dis­con­tin­ued NEX-7… the two mod­els most no­table for be­ing clearly aimed at en­thu­si­ast-level or even pro users. Then came Olym­pus’s OM-D sys­tem with, most sig­nif­i­cantly, the flag­ship E-M1 in­tended as a di­rect re­place­ment for Olym­pus’s last D-SLR, the E-5. Now Fu­ji­film is do­ing the same thing with the X-T1… it’s not just a high-end CSC, but also the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the S5 Pro. Iron­i­cally though, it’s even more SLR-like than its re­flex an­ces­tor thanks to its squared-off styling and a full suite of tra­di­tional con­trol di­als packed onto the top panel. If you didn’t know bet­ter, you’d haz­ard it was a 35mm SLR from the mid-to-late 1970s… there’s more than a hint of Con­tax’s RTS mod­els in the looks. All that’s re­ally miss­ing ex­ter­nally – at least from front-on – is the old-style ‘Fu­jica’ badg­ing.

New In­gre­di­ents

Es­sen­tially, the ba­sic in­gre­di­ents of the X-T1 are the same as those of the other higher-end X Mount mod­els – it has the same sen­sor as the X-E2 and X100S, the same AF and AE sys­tems as the X-E2, and the same retro-in­spired de­sign phi­los­o­phy that’s been ap­plied across the range.

How­ever, there are some im­por­tant new in­gre­di­ents which con­sid­er­ably spice up the recipe. Apart from the SLR-like styling – and, iron­i­cally, the X-T1 is bet­ter look­ing than any D-SLR on the mar­ket at the mo­ment, in­clud­ing Nikon’s Df – there’s a fully weather-proofed bodyshell, the dial-based op­er­a­tions are ex­panded, the EVF ex­pe­ri­ence has been fur­ther en­hanced, the AF sys­tem is up­graded and var­i­ous key spec­i­fi­ca­tions move up a notch or two – no­tably the max­i­mum ISO set­ting and the con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed. Im­por­tantly too, the lit­tle omis­sions which were nig­gling rather than se­ri­ous – but an­noy­ing nonethe­less – have been cor­rected. At the top of this list is white bal­ance brack­et­ing (at last!), but also no­table is that the fo­cus peak­ing dis­play can now be set to dif­fer­ent colours to work more ef­fec­tively with dif­fer­ent sub­jects and light­ing. The choice is white, red or blue with the op­tion of high and low in­ten­si­ties.

The X-T1 is ac­com­pa­nied by quite a few ded­i­cated ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing a ver­ti­cal bat­tery grip – the VG-XT1 – which houses an additional bat­tery pack, ex­tend­ing the cam­era’s range to 700 shots. There’s also a ‘pas­sive’ hand­grip sim­i­lar to those

of­fered for the X-Pro1 and X-E2, plus a smart leather case for any­body who wants to go all the way with the clas­si­cal look.

Fu­ji­film’s first weath­er­proofed X Mount lens, the XF 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 R OIS WR is due any time now and will be fol­lowed by the XF 16-55mm f2.8 R OIS WR and the XF 50-140mm f2.8 R OIS WR later in the year. Fu­ji­film has been pretty dili­gent about build­ing its X Mount lens sys­tem as quickly as is pos­si­ble and the cur­rent Fu­ji­non line-up num­bers 12 (al­though two are XC type lenses with­out an aper­ture col­lar and de­signed pri­mar­ily for use on the con­sumer-level cam­eras). How­ever, the XF mod­els now in­clude the re­cently ar­rived XF 10-24mm f4.0 R OIS wide-an­gle zoom and XF 56mm f1.2 R su­per­fast short tele­photo. There are also the Zeiss Touit mod­els for those with deeper pock­ets.

With­out doubt, Fu­ji­film’s ef­forts with its X Mount lenses – and their im­pres­sive per­for­mance, both the zooms and the primes – has helped put some ex­tra pol­ish on the ap­peal of the X-E2 and now the X-T1. It’s also why the X-T1 is quite ca­pa­ble of breach­ing the D-SLR strong­hold… these lenses are as good as any­thing on of­fer from Canon, Nikon or Sony, even in the full-35mm for­mat.

Di­alled Up

In the flesh, the X-T1 is a lot more pe­tite than il­lus­tra­tions might sug­gest. It is, in fact, marginally smaller in ev­ery di­men­sion than the OM-D E-M1, but vir­tu­ally the same weight. It’s only slightly big­ger than the very pe­tite OM-D E-M5.

The con­struc­tion is all-metal – alu­minium cov­ers over a diecast mag­ne­sium al­loy chas­sis – with a to­tal of 80 seals to guard against the in­tru­sion of dust and mois­ture plus in­su­la­tion to al­low oper­a­tion in tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius. The di­als are all milled from solid bil­lets of alu­minium with en­graved mark­ings and now, as on the Nikon Df, in­clude one for set­ting the ISO, as well as for shut­ter speeds and ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion. As with these lat­ter two di­als (and the aper­ture col­lars on the XF lenses), switch­ing the ISO dial to en­able au­to­matic set­ting of the sen­si­tiv­ity is sim­ply a case of se­lect­ing its ‘A’ po­si­tion. In this re­gard then, the X-T1 is even more old school than the de­lib­er­ately

“With­out doubt, Fu­ji­film’s ef­forts with its X Mount lenses – and their im­pres­sive per­for­mance, both the zooms and the primes – has helped put some ex­tra pol­ish on the ap­peal of the X-E2 and now the X-T1.”

retro Df… and it doesn’t need an ex­po­sure mode dial; it’s just a case of switch­ing the shut­ter speed dial and aper­ture col­lar to what­ever com­bi­na­tion of ‘A’ set­tings is re­quired. The shut­ter speed dial locks on its ‘A’ set­ting while the ISO dial locks on ev­ery set­ting – which in­clude ‘L’, ‘H1’ and ‘H2’ for the ex­tended sen­si­tiv­i­ties – pre­sum­ably be­cause ac­ci­den­tal changes here could be more dis­as­trous.

With the top panel real es­tate fully taken up with di­als, and the need to keep the viewfinder hous­ing’s size in pro­por­tion with the rest of the com­pact body, the X-T1 does with­out a built-in flash, but Fu­ji­film bun­dles in a small ac­ces­sory unit. It has a met­ric guide num­ber of eight at ISO 200 and, once fit­ted, pro­vides all the same modes as the X-E2’s built-in flash (in­clud­ing re­mote trig­ger­ing of pho­to­cell-equipped units). Ex­ter­nal flashes sync via the hot­shoe or a PC ter­mi­nal.

Be­yond the main di­als, there are se­lec­tor levers for the drive modes and me­ter­ing pat­terns… al­though Fu­ji­film still ac­tu­ally calls them di­als. The for­mer is lo­cated be­low the ISO dial and in­cludes set­tings for the auto brack­et­ing func­tions, a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity, the ‘Ad­vanced Fil­ter’ ef­fects and ‘Mo­tion Panorama’ shoot­ing. Front and rear in­put wheels do most of the set­ting in con­junc­tion with the main menus and a ‘Quick Menu’ con­trol screen. The shut­ter re­lease but­ton loses the ca­ble re­lease socket that’s been a fea­ture of all the higher-end X Se­ries mod­els to date.

In the hand, the X-T1 feels quite weighty and the hand­grip is very com­fort­able. As we noted with the Nikon Df, it’s a case of un­learn­ing some dig­i­tal cam­era habits such as find­ing the ISO but­ton or its menu. Com­mend­ably, the AE and AF locks have their own but­tons (just like in the good old days) and the ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion dial has some pretty solid click-stops to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of in­ad­ver­tently chang­ing set­tings. Six but­tons can be cus­tomised with user-as­signed func­tions; one each on the top and front pan­els, and the four nav­i­ga­tor keys.

Keeper Finder

Of course, un­der the X-T1’s top panel ‘bump’ is an elec­tronic viewfinder, but it’s par­tially more pro­nounced be­cause of the im­prove­ments Fu­ji­film has made here. It’s the same 1.3 cm OLED panel with 2.36 mil­lion dots res­o­lu­tion as is used in the X-E2, but the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is in­creased to 0.77x and the an­gle-of-view to 31 de­grees. Ad­di­tion­ally, lag is claimed to be re­duced to just 0.005 sec­onds. Put sim­ply, it’s big and very nearly beau­ti­ful.

Built-in viewfinders are a big deal for Fu­ji­film and be­yond its clever hy­brid op­ti­cal/elec­tronic ar­range­ments, it has worked to make the ‘pure’ EVF more ac­cept­able. Con­se­quently, the X-T1’s finder has a new dis­play de­sign which is more like that of a tra­di­tional op­ti­cal finder in that all the read-outs are lo­cated out­side the im­age area. These dis­plays also au­to­mat­i­cally re-ori­en­tate when the cam­era is held ver­ti­cally and there’s an in­ter­est­ing ‘Dual’ mode which, when fo­cus­ing man­u­ally, puts the ‘Dig­i­tal Split Im­age’ dis­play (or a mag­ni­fied im­age sec­tion) along­side the im­age area. Yes, there’s that much space in there. On both the X-E2 and X100S, the split im­age over­lay rather gets in the way so this ar­range­ment ad­dresses this is­sue (it can also be done with the fo­cus peak­ing dis­play op­er­at­ing in the mag­ni­fied im­age sec­tion).

The X-T1’s mon­i­tor screen is the same 7.62 cm LCD panel as is used on the X-E2, but with the

ad­di­tion of a tilt ad­just­ment and a re­in­forced glass face­plate. It also ben­e­fits from a faster re­fresh rate. Fu­ji­film still hasn’t em­braced touch con­trols, but the ‘Q.Menu’ con­trol screen pro­vides quick ac­cess to a wide se­lec­tion of cap­ture-re­lated func­tions.

A prox­im­ity sen­sor in the EVF eye­piece al­lows for au­to­matic switch­ing be­tween the dis­plays or it can be done man­u­ally via the ‘View Mode’ but­ton.

Colour And Con­trast

At the heart of the X-T1 is Fu­ji­film’s ‘X-Trans CMOS II’ sen­sor with its unique colour fil­ter pat­tern that’s de­signed to min­imise moiré pat­terns. The to­tal pixel count is 16.7 mil­lion (16.3 MP ef­fec­tive) which doesn’t look par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing by cur­rent ful­l35mm D-SLR stan­dards, but this sen­sor is a prime ex­am­ple of qual­ity over quan­tity, leading Fu­ji­film to claim a ‘big sen­sor’ per­for­mance from its ‘APS-C’ for­mat de­vice.

A key as­pect of this is the 6x6 fil­ter pat­tern de­signed to re­duce the oc­cur­rence of moiré pat- terns, but Fu­ji­film is also start­ing to tie to­gether all the other el­e­ments it’s been re­leas­ing with sub­se­quent X Se­ries cam­eras into a more co­he­sive mes­sage about su­pe­rior im­age qual­ity. These in­clude the ‘Lens Mod­u­la­tion Op­ti­miser’ (LMO) pro­cess­ing – a power-hun­gry func­tion de­rived from the ‘EXR Pro­ces­sor II’ chip which de­tects and cor­rects for dif­frac­tion blur – and the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pic­ture pre­sets. These have been around from the very be­gin­ning, but Fu­ji­film is start­ing to make more of them, ex­ploit­ing the com­pany’s long ex­pe­ri­ence in colour man­age­ment and re­pro­duc­tion.

One com­po­nent of the Aus­tralian press pre­view of the X-T1 was a very en­light­en­ing ex­pla­na­tion of how the colour pro­cess­ing is specif­i­cally tweaked for the Provia, As­tia and Velvia pre­sets; and the con­trast for the Pro Neg Stan­dard and Pro Neg High pre­sets. It’s all about bal­anc­ing col­ori­met­ric – or real colour – with ex­pected or ‘mem­o­rised’ colour. So, for ex­am­ple, the sat­u­ra­tion of blues and greens are

boosted – i.e. they’re made de­lib­er­ately higher than the col­ori­met­ric value – be­cause that’s how we tend to re­mem­ber them. In gen­eral, the As­tia pre­set is shifted slightly to yel­low and Velvia is shifted to cyan (i.e. bluish­green), but Provia stays close to the col­ori­met­ric val­ues. The Pro Neg pre­sets are all about ac­cu­rately re­pro­duc­ing skin tones, par­tic­u­larly when us­ing con­trastier light­ing such as stu­dio flash.

Up to seven cus­tomised ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets can be cre­ated via ad­just­ments for colour, sharp­ness, dy­namic range and gra­da­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, for RAW shoot­ers, the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ profiles are now sup­ported in the lat­est ver­sion of Adobe Cam­era Raw.

The ef­fec­tive pixel count re­mains at 16.3 megapix­els, giv­ing a max­i­mum im­age size of 4896x3264 pix­els. There’s a choice of 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1 as­pect ra­tios with three JPEG im­age sizes in each and the choice of Nor­mal or Fine com­pres­sion lev­els. RAW cap­ture is at 14-bits per RGB chan­nel and the RAW+JPEG cap­ture can be set to JPEG/large/ fine or large/nor­mal. There’s a sin­gle card slot for the SD for­mat, but im­por­tantly, it’s sep­a­rated from the bat­tery com­part­ment and lo­cated on the hand­grip so changeovers are easy to do with the cam­era on the tri­pod. The X-T1 is the world’s first cam­era with sup­port for UHS-II speed SDXC cards.

Quick Smart

The Mark II ‘X-Trans’ CMOS sen­sor in­cor­po­rates ded­i­cated pixel ar­rays for phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing which is em­ployed in con­junc­tion with con­trast de­tec­tion mea­sure­ments depend­ing on the sub­ject or sit­u­a­tion. A key up­grade here is a ‘Mo­tion Pre­dic­tive’ ca­pa­bil­ity when us­ing the con­tin­u­ous AF mode which mon­i­tors a sub­ject’s speed and rate of ac­cel­er­a­tion/de­cel­er­a­tion to bet­ter de­ter­mine the fi­nal fo­cus­ing point.

Con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing with AF track­ing is pos­si­ble at up to 8.0 fps – com­pared to the E-X2’s 7.0 fps – and burst lengths are in­creased with the new UHS-II speed SDXC mem­ory cards. The fo­cus­ing modes are selected via a switch on the front panel which has set­tings for man­ual, con­tin­u­ous AF and sin­gle-shot AF. Ad­di­tion­ally, a ‘Pre-AF’ func­tion can be en­gaged from the shoot­ing menu and this main­tains AF op­er­a­tions at all times rather than just when the shut­ter but­ton is pressed to its half­way po­si­tion.

Sim­i­lar to the X-E2, the AF sys­tem uses 49 mea­sur­ing points ar­ranged in a 7x7 ar­ray which cov­ers a good part of the frame. The points are in­di­vid­u­ally se­lectable in both the sin­gle-shot and con­tin­u­ous modes. Ad­di­tion­ally, there’s a choice of three fo­cus frame sizes – des­ig­nated 50, 100 or 150 per­cent.

We’ve al­ready men­tioned a cou­ple of the changes made to the man­ual fo­cus­ing as­sists. When us­ing the mon­i­tor screen, the dual mode is also avail­able for both the ‘Dig­i­tal Split Im­age’ or a mag­ni­fied im­age sec­tion. As in the EVF, the lat­ter can be com­bined with the fo­cus peak­ing dis­play. Al­ter­na­tively, full screen mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is avail­able along with the fo­cus peak­ing dis­play which is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive when set to red and high in­ten­sity. Be­cause the main im­age area be­comes smaller in the dual mode, the real-time his­togram (if ac­tive) is lo­cated out­side it, but the grid pat­tern and level dis­play re­main as be­fore.

Ex­po­sure And Pro­cess­ing

The X-T1’s ex­po­sure con­trol fa­cil­i­ties are pretty much the same as the X-E2’s, but with the ex­cep­tion that the ISO ex­pan­sion now steps up an­other stop to 51,200 due mainly to in­her­ently lower noise in main cir­cuit board (the na­tive sen­si­tiv­ity range re­mains at ISO 200 to 6400). The Auto ISO con­trol can be set to de­fault ISO, max­i­mum sen­si­tiv­ity and min­i­mum shut­ter speed.

Like its im­me­di­ate sib­lings, the X-T1 sticks with a stan­dard set of ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure con­trol modes and the usual se­lec­tion of over­rides – pro­gram shift, an AE lock, up to +/-3.0 EV of com­pen­sa­tion and brack­et­ing with up to +/-1.0 EV ad­just­ment per frame. Me­ter­ing is based on the 256-seg­ment multi-zone sys­tem Fu­ji­film has been us­ing since the X100 with the op­tion of cen­tre-weighted aver­age or spot mea­sure­ments. The ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion dial, by the way, is click-stopped in one-third stop in­cre­ments.

The X-T1’s fo­cal plane shut­ter has a speed range of 30-1/4000 sec­ond as plus a ‘B’ set­ting with a max­i­mum time of 60 min­utes. The shut­ter speed dial is marked from 1/4000 sec­ond down to one sec­ond, so the slower speeds are ac­cessed via a ‘T’ set­ting and selected via the left/right nav­i­ga­tion keys. As on the X-E2, there’s a set­ting for the max­i­mum flash sync speed of 1/180 sec­ond (marked as ‘180x’). There’s a choice of eight ‘Ad­vanced Fil­ter’ spe­cial ef­fects which, as on the X-E2, are ap­plied at cap­ture. These are called Toy Cam­era, Minia­ture and Pop Colour, High-Key, Low-Key, Dy­namic Tone, Soft Fo­cus and Par­tial Colour (which can be set to red, or­ange, yel­low, green, blue or pur­ple).

The white bal­ance con­trols are also the same as those pro­vided on the X-E2 with the au­to­matic cor­rec­tion based on scene recog­ni­tion anal­y­sis. There’s a se­lec­tion of seven pre­sets (in­clud­ing for day­light, warm and cool flu­oro light­ing types), pro­vi­sion for mak­ing one cus­tom mea­sure­ment, fine-tun­ing and man­ual colour tem­per­a­ture se­lec­tion over a range 2500 to 10,000 de­grees Kelvin. The fine-tun­ing is avail­able for ev­ery­thing and ap­plied over nine steps in the colour ranges of red-to-cyan and blue-to-yel­low. Ob­vi­ously this can be pre­viewed both in the EVF and on the LCD mon­i­tor. As noted ear­lier, white bal­anc­ing brack­et­ing is now avail­able and joins the other auto ad­just­ments for ex­po­sure, ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’, dy­namic range and ISO. All op­er­ate over a se­quence of three frames.

The X-T1’s dy­namic range ex­pan­sion pro­cess­ing can be set to Auto or to one of three man­ual set­tings – 100, 200 and 400 per­cent – with the lat­ter two be­com­ing avail­able pro­gres­sively at ISO 400 and 800 re­spec­tively. DR pro­cess­ing can’t be com­pletely switched off. The auto cor­rec­tion is based on the bright­ness range in the scene and ad­justs both the ex­po­sure and the tone curve as nec­es­sary.

Noise re­duc­tion pro­cess­ing can be man­u­ally set to one of five lev­els (Low, Medium Low, Stan­dard,

Medium High and High) while the long ex­po­sure NR is sim­ply switched to ei­ther on or off.

The X-T1 also has an in­ter­val­ome­ter for shoot­ing time-lapse se­quences and in-cam­era cor­rec­tions for lens dis­tor­tion (both bar­rel and pin­cush­ion), colour shad­ing (along cyan-to-red and blue-to-yel­low ranges) and vi­gnetting (a.k.a ‘Pe­riph­eral Il­lu­mi­na­tion Cor­rec­tion’). The ‘Mo­tion Panorama’ mode men­tioned ear­lier cap­tures mul­ti­ple im­ages while the cam­era is be­ing panned. There’s the choice of 180 or 360 de­gree pans in ei­ther the left/right or up/down di­rec­tions.

Mov­ing Pic­tures

Video clips are recorded in ei­ther the Full HD 1080 or HD 720 res­o­lu­tions – at ei­ther 30 or 60 fps with pro­gres­sive scan – in the MOV for­mat with MPEG 4 AVC/H .264 com­pres­sion. At 1080/60p, the bit rate is an im­pres­sive 36 Mbps. The X-T1 has built-in stereo mi­cro­phones and a non-stan­dard 2.5 mm stereo au­dio in­put for con­nect­ing an ex­ter­nal mic (it’s other­wise the re­mote con­troller’s socket). Au­dio record­ing lev­els are man­u­ally ad­justable.

Among the func­tions avail­able for shoot­ing video are con­tin­u­ous AF, the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets and +/-2.0 EV of ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion. There’s now a ded­i­cated record­ing start/stop but­ton (a first on an X Mount cam­era). Aper­tures and shut­ter speeds need to be pre­set. The X-T1 isn’t alone in terms of CSCs of­fer­ing fairly limited video func­tion­al­ity and, con­se­quently, it isn’t go­ing to chal­lenge the lead­ers in this area, headed by Pana­sonic’s Lumix GH4 and Sony’s new Al­pha 7S.

Fu­ji­film continues to im­prove the func­tion­al­ity of its wire­less con­nec­tion which was pretty rudi­men­tary at the start. It now ex­tends be­yond sim­ple file trans­fer­ring – both stills and video clips – to live view and cam­era con­trols us­ing the new Fu­ji­film Cam­era Re­mote app on a com­pat­i­ble smart­phone or tablet. This func­tion­al­ity in­cludes ‘Touch AF’ and the ca­pac­ity to ap­ply set­tings such as the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets.

Mak­ing A Dis­play

Both the EVF and the mon­i­tor screen can be switched be­tween stan­dard and cus­tomised dis-

“Built-in viewfinders are a big deal for Fu­ji­film and be­yond its clever hy­brid op­ti­cal/ elec­tronic ar­range­ments, it has worked to make the ‘pure’ EVF more ac­cept­able.”

plays, or all info can be switched off. The cus­tom dis­play is pre-con­fig­ured from a check­list (ac­cessed via ‘Screen Set-Up’ in the Set-Up Menu) which in­cludes ex­po­sure pre­view (in man­ual mode), a dis­tance/depth-of-field scale, a real-time his­togram, su­per­im­posed grids (ei­ther 3x3, 6x4 or HD video), a sin­gle-axis level in­di­ca­tor, plus a big choice of read-outs or icons for, among other things, white bal­ance, the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­set, the DR set­ting, ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion, me­ter­ing mode and bat­tery power level. All the items in the cus­tom dis­play are switch­able so any de­sired com­bi­na­tion can be cre­ated.

The Screen Set-Up menu also al­lows for chang­ing the high­light or back­ground colour for the menus, and the choice is sil­ver, gold, blue, yel­low, green or white. This also changes the colour of a few other dis­play items such as the level in­di­ca­tor.

The mon­i­tor has a third dis­play mode for info only and is mainly de­signed to be used in con­junc­tion with the EVF. It pro­vides an AF point grid and a se­lec­tion of cap­ture func­tion in­di­ca­tors, in­clud­ing an ex­po­sure un­der/over scale.

The re­play/re­view screen can also be set to con­fig­u­ra­tions, in­clud­ing a thumb­nail ac­com­pa­nied by cap­ture data, high­light warn­ing and a bright­ness his­togram. There’s also a set of ‘Photo In­for­ma­tion’ screens – sim­i­lar to those pro­vided on Nikon’s D-SLRs – which are viewed via the up/down nav­iga- tion keys. The slide show func­tions in­clude fades, zooms and mul­ti­ple im­ages dis­played to­gether. The play­back modes in­clude a va­ri­ety of mul­ti­im­age dis­plays as well as straight pages of nine or 100 thumb­nails, zoom­ing on the fo­cus point and Fu­ji­film’s ‘Pho­to­Book As­sist’ fea­ture which al­lows for up to 300 im­ages to be or­gan­ised for re­pro­duc­tion in a photo book.

Speed And Per­for­mance

With our ref­er­ence mem­ory card – Lexar’s Pro­fes­sional 600x 64 GB SDXC UHS-I speed de­vice – the X-T1 recorded a burst of 34 JPEG/l arge/fine frames in 3.973 sec­onds which rep­re­sents a con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed of 8.56 fps. This is slightly faster than the quoted max­i­mum and, al­though slightly off the quoted burst length, the re­al­ity is that few users are ever go­ing to want a

se­quence of over 30 frames. For the record, the test file sizes were around 6.4 MB on aver­age. The buf­fer mem­ory emp­ties very quickly in­deed with a UHS-I card so pre­sum­ably it’s light­ning fast with a UHS-II de­vice as the data writ­ing speed es­sen­tially dou­bles.

Given the X-T1 has es­sen­tially the same dig­i­tal ‘drive train’ as the X-E2, the im­age qual­ity is com­pa­ra­ble which means it’s very good in­deed. There is lit­tle doubt Fu­ji­film’s ‘X-Trans CMOS II’ sen­sor is one of the best ‘APS-C’ imager in the busi­ness, if not at the very top of the class. It continues to sur­prise us with just how well it per­forms even com­pared to big­ger sen­sors.

Def­i­ni­tion and de­tail­ing, the colour fidelity across the whole spec­trum, the con­trast and the tonal gra­da­tion are all ex­cel­lent. The best qual­ity JPEGs look sen­sa­tional straight out of the cam­era, es­pe­cially with the Velvia ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­set which beau­ti­fully repli­cates the dis­tinc­tive ‘punch’ of the much-loved Fu­jichrome trans­parency film. The low light per­for­mance is equally im­pres­sive and noise sim­ply isn’t an is­sue even at ISO 1600 where the colour sat­u­ra­tion and sharp­ness ac­tu­ally look no dif­fer­ent than at ISO 200. Ev­ery­thing still holds to­gether pretty well at ISO 3200 and 6400, but with some colour noise ev­i­dent in ar­eas of uni­form tone.

Both the push set­tings ex­hibit in­creased noise, but are still use­able if only small-sized re­pro­duc­tions are needed.

Op­er­a­tionally, the X-T1’s hy­brid aut­o­fo­cus is both fast and ac­cu­rate, and the track­ing works very ef­fec­tively. Fu­ji­film quotes a speed of just 0.08 sec­onds with the 14mm f2.8 lens, which is claimed to be cur­rently the world’s fastest for a cam­era with an ‘APS-C’ size sen­sor (or larger). Start-up is vir­tu­ally in­stan­ta­neous and shut­ter lag is quoted at just 0.05 sec­onds which, not en­tirely sur­pris­ingly, is the same as the X-E2.

The Ver­dict

The X-T1 is re­ally the sum of ev­ery­thing Fu­ji­film has learned since launch­ing the X-Pro1 – par­tic­u­larly in terms of AF oper­a­tion, im­prov­ing the ‘pure’ EVF and re­fin­ing a dial-based op­er­at­ing sys­tem for the dig­i­tal age. Still a very fine cam­era two years on, nev­er­the­less the X-Pro1 is an ac­quired taste while the X-T1 is de­signed to have more main­stream ap­peal with its SLR-like con­fig­u­ra­tion.

The styling and de­sign ex­hibit a lighter touch than that of Nikon’s Df, helped of course, by the fact that the X-T1 is much smaller, but there’s a co­he­sion and bal­ance here that makes this a very spe­cial cam­era in­deed. Add the in­tu­itive con­trol lay­out, a best-in-class EVF, a solid fea­ture set, strong cam­era per­for­mances (AF, shoot­ing speed, etc) and the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the ‘X-Trans II’ sen­sor, and Fu­ji­film’s X-T1 is the most com­pelling and co­he­sive ar­gu­ment yet for ditch­ing the D-SLR.

The X-T1 is the first Fu­ji­film X Mount cam­era with a weather-proofed bodyshell, in­clud­ing in­su­la­tion to al­low shoot­ing in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures.

Hot­shoe is sup­ple­mented by a PC flash ter­mi­nal.

The Fo­cus As­sist but­ton en­gages the var­i­ous as­sist dis­plays for man­ual fo­cus­ing plus a mag­ni­fied im­age aut­o­fo­cus­inHot­shoe­view when us­ing g.

Front (right) and rear in­put wheels – Fu­ji­film calls them ‘Com­mand Di­als’ – per­form a wide range of se­lect­ing and set­ting du­ties.

Test im­ages are best qual­ity JPEGs taken with ei­ther the XF 14mm f2.8 wide-an­gle or XF 18-55mm f2.8-4.0 zoom. Im­age qual­ity is ex­cep­tional all the way up to ISO 1600. The Velvia ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­set in par­tic­u­lar de­liv­ers lus­cious look­ing im­ages. Fu­ji­film’s ‘X-Trans CMOS II’ sen­sor very much il­lus­trates the point that IQ is not so much about the num­ber of pix­els, but what’s done with them. De­tail­ing and def­i­ni­tion are su­perb, as is the colour fidelity and the smooth­ness of the tonal gra­da­tions. The cam­era per­formed flaw­lessly in tem­per­a­tures as low as -25 de­grees Cel­sius.

The four nav­i­ga­tor key­pad’s but­tons can be cus­tomised to activate other func­tions. The X-T1 has a to­tal of six cus­tomis­able but­tons.

The X-T1 doesn’t have a built-in flash, but comes bun­dled with a small ac­ces­sory unit which, when folded down, is quite com­pact.

The cus­tomis­able but­tons – this is Fn1 on the cam­era’s front panel – are as­sign­a­ble from a huge se­lec­tion of func­tions, in­clud­ing brack­et­ing, the ‘Ad­vanced Fil­ters’ spe­cial ef­fects and the ‘Film Sim­u­la­tion’ pre­sets.

Wire­less func­tion­al­ity is ex­panded to in­clude re­mote con­trol of var­i­ous cam­era set­tings.

The X-T1’s menu is clearly laid out and easy to nav­i­gate. Pro­gres­sive right-clicks ac­cess sub-menus and set­tings.

Live view screen can be con­fig­ured to show a re­al­time his­togram, level dis­play, guide grids and a va­ri­ety of read-outs

‘Quick Menu’ con­trol screen pro­vides di­rect ac­cess to a wide se­lec­tion of cap­ture func­tions.

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