Color and Dynamic Range
Unlike most cameras, the image quality on the X-T1 is actually one of the least interesting things about it. Of course, I’m not saying that as a bad thing necessarily, just that the X-Trans II sensor is the same one found in the X-E2 and only slightly different from the one found in all the rest of the X-Series cameras. If you like the image quality from those cameras, you’ll like the X-T1 just as much. If you don’t like it, there’s nothing new to see here.
The 16 megapixel sensor in the Fuji X-T1 has a very wide dynamic range, allowing you to capture plenty of detail in the highlights and shadows even in high contrast situations. It’s rare that a situation arises that will truly exceed the dynamic range of the sensor.
Likewise, Fuji has always excelled at color, with accurate white balance and excellent color response. RAW files tend to be muted upon import, but take adjustment extremely well. JPEG files have among the best color of any JPEG engine in the business. Currently, the RAW conversion situation is limited for the X-T1. Iridiant Developer on the Mac and Photo Ninja (Mac and PC) both have support for the X-T1 as of this writing. Adobe has released a release candidate of ACR 8.4, and in the color department, they’ve given a big boost to Fuji shooters. Adobe’s color profiles for the X-Series have always been lacking a bit…making reds orange and such (which is why I’ve always used a custom color profile from X-Rite’s Color Checker Passport). With ACR 8.4 (and presumably Lightroom 5.4), Adobe now includes camera profiles that mimic the film simulations on Fuji cameras. These help the color in ACR quite a bit.
The X-T1 has very good noise control, with JPEG images showing very low noise up to ISO 3200 and even somewhat usable images up to ISO 25,600. The X-T1 includes support for ISO 51,200 for the first time, but it needs to be enabled from the menu and assigned to one of the H settings on the ISO dial. In my opinion: don’t bother. ISO 51,200 is frankly just a checkmark on the spec sheet, as it’s definitely a step too far on the X-T1. Files at that ISO show visible banding and blotchy noise throughout.
RAW files show a little more noise than the JPEGs but also much more detail. Noise remains quite low up to ISO 1600 and very usable at ISO 3200 and 6400. I rarely worry about the ISO I’m shooting with any of these cameras, as quality shots can be had at any of the native ISOs.
It is worth noting that like all the X-Trans camera, the X-T1 does overstate ISO by about 1/3 to 1/2 stop.
Overall image quality on the X-T1 is right in line with the other X-Series cameras, and even though this sensor and its variations are around two years old, it still compares very favorably with any other APS-C sensor. As I’ve stated before about other X-Series cameras, I feel the low noise, great color and excellent dynamic range as well as an excellent tonal response really give the images from the X-T1 an intangible depth.
As I mentioned already, Fuji has some of the best JPEGs in the industry. X-T1 JPEG output is low in artifacts and has good detail and excellent dynamic range, especially when using more gentle highlight and shadow settings.
Fuji has unique ‘film simulations’ that seek to emulate some of their more popular films, such as Velvia, Provia, Astia and so on. I generally shoot with the Pro Neg High film simulation (though generally in RAW), and change as needed when processing JPEGs in camera. There are also multiple black and white settings with color filter effects. In all, it’s quite easy to get the look you are after out of camera.
Fuji is still the only camera company where I will sometimes prefer a JPEG I’ve made in camera to a processed RAW image, and that’s a nice thing to fall back on. While I still prefer the flexibility and added benefits of shooting RAW, if you are a JPEG shooter, the X-T1, as well as any other Fuji camera, should be on your short list.
As I noted at the beginning of the review, I am not a videographer and don’t feel fully qualified to discuss the ins and outs of video shooting and video quality. However, I know enough to tell you this: While video quality appears to be quite nice to my eye, if you are buying a camera and plan to use video often for serious work, don’t buy the X-T1. As I mentioned, quality is fine for general shooting, but there are woefully inadequate video settings and controls. You have the choice of shooting 1080p 60 or 30 fps and 720p 60 or 30fps, and beyond that, there’s not much else to choose. Manual control of video doesn’t really exist. Fuji has added a 1/8″ mic input jack that can be used for audio recording but make no mistake: This is a stills camera that can shoot some nice video if you have a need to capture a moment, but don’t expect professional video production work out of the X-T1.
The X-T1 does not have an integrated pop-up flash like the X-E1 and X-E2, but rather opts to provide a clip-on flash unit. The supplied flash is actually pretty nice. When not in use, it folds down, keeping a low profile on the camera, and when raised into operational range, the flash sits significantly higher than other pop-up or clip on flashes, providing a little more flattering light than flashes that are closer to the lens.
It’s not a crazy powerful lens, but it does a good job in a pinch and works really well for very close up work with the 60mm Macro lens. It’s nice to have in your bag when you need it.
Other Items of Note:
- Fuji continues to put the tripod mount off-axis and very close to the battery door, so unless you are shooting with the MHG-XT battery grip or a custom tripod plate, you won’t be able to access the battery door when the camera is mounted on a tripod. At least the SD card is now on the side.
- The X-Trans sensor can have some odd painterly artifacts from time to time depending on the RAW converter you use. This has been minimized considerably as RAW conversion has matured with the X-Trans demosaicing algorithms, but Adobe ACR still shows these artifacts in certain circumstances. Many of the RAW files for the images you see in this review were done in Photo Ninja 1.2.3, which does an absolutely outstanding job with the X-T1 RAW files. I did not see these watercolor artifacts using Photo Ninja at all, even in situations that were prime for it in other converters. Photo Ninja does a great job extracting tons of detail while suppressing any artifacts. Adobe take note!
- The viewfinder diopter adjustment, which is located on the left side of the viewfinder, is a little too easy to knock. I accidentally changed the diopter setting two or three times in the week I shot with the camera.
- Speaking of the viewfinder, Fuji has added back the View Mode button, after removing it in the X-E2. There is also a new setting that allows you to shoot with the EVF only and uses the eye sensor so that it only turns on when in use, thus saving battery. This mode exists on the X-E2, but unlike the X-E2, the X-T1 will still play back on the rear LCD if you press the play button.
- The ISOs outside the native range are still JPEG only, including the new ISO 100 (L) setting. I don’t understand why Fuji can’t simply provide extended ISOs for RAW like every other manufacturer.
30 thoughts on “Review: Fujifilm X-T1”
Thank you for the review.I am torn about whether to go for the XT-1 and the OM-D EM-1. I think the ergonomics of the two cameras is what will decide it for me as otherwise they seem very comparable. I have a question about the top shutter speed dial since it only changes in full stops. From what I read you have to do fine adjustment using the rear dial. If you want to change shutter speed quickly can you override the top dial using the rear dial? How difficult is it to adjust the shutter speed dial with the camera at your eye. Thanks.
Karl, like you I think the Olympus E-M1 and Fuji X-T1 are comparable cameras. The in-camera processing and output are slightly different. The Fuji RAW files look soft and processed and the Olympus files look noisy but detailed. You can can easily make photos from both systems look the same in post processing. The Micro Four Thirds sensor in the E-M1 is not a miracle, but neither is the Fuji X-Trans sensor (although some people wrongly believe it is).
I did experience serious shutter shock with the E-M1 combined with the 12-40mm and the Panasonic 25mm. Something to keep in mind and test. Fuji lenses are larger and heavier then the MFT equivalents. If you decide to go for a Micro Four Thirds camera, I can highly recommend the Olympus OM-D E-M10 (with the ECG-1 grip). You get a lot of camera for your money.
Wow, extremely different cameras, the X-T1 and the E-M1 — despite body size/shape and the mirrorless thing.
Better high ISO and dynamic range — at the _top_ of the APS-C crowd;
Old school dedicated controls; less need for menu diving
Not _as_ snappy AF in low light
Somewhat chunkier lenses — closer to DSLR size; improving selection, but still limited; not all are fast aperture — which slightly detracts from the advantage of an APS-C sensor size.
Somewhat more control of depth of field (for bokeh lovers), with the right fast lens
Fuji releases firmware updates regularly — so your X-T1 will get better!
The epitome of modern modal control; hugely configurable
Snappiest mirrorless AF out there
Fantastic selections of lenses — and very compact ones; range of fast primes
Respectable high ISO for 2014, though not exceptional
Best stabilization in the industry — in-body, works on any lens you attach
The body+lens compactness makes for one of the best image-quality-to-size ratios available
Both cams make beautiful, professional images!
I would imagine most people could pick their personal priorities from the points above.
But you’ll have a blast no matter which you choose!
Great points, I think it comes down to the dial vs. modular controls for me.
I think the Fuji sensor is better (looks like half a stop to a full stop better when you take into account Jordan’s point about the ISO misrepresentation), but honestly I think both are good/acceptable from a technical perspective. If I need bokeh I can borrow my wife’s 5DIII. I just need something small and “good enough”. Honestly a XE-2 or OM10 is probably good enough but I want “the cool” camera too ;-). Lenses appear to be a wash; looking at the 12-40 PRO it looks like it is the same size as the 18-55 kit lens. Maybe the Fuji f/2.8 constant zoom will be bigger, it hard to tell.
I still use an old fully manual film camera and really dislike the knobs and aperture rings. I mean its good for certain types of shooting (I guess you would say considered shooting) but when you get used to a professional D-SLR it really feels slow. After reading Jordan’s review I basically spent the entire day trawling the internet for nearly every review about the XT-1 camera, the ones that speak the loudest to me are cameralab.com and luminous-landscape.com. They both love the files and manual dials but at the same time they found that it slowed them down from taking a shot.
That would annoy me. I am worried that after using the XT-1 for a few weeks, I’d get frustrated and put it in a closet. Still thinking about it though.
As an admitted Fuji X System “newbie” (having used the XT-1 and some superb Fujinon lenses for about a week), I can say this with certainty: While sports and “action” photography aren’t this camera’s “forte”, with its’ new electronic shutter capable of up to 1/32000 second, the ability to use it in full “Auto” (“Program”) mode, and a max burst rate of 8 FPS, I’m confident that it could handle the occasional “action” shot with ease! The extreme configurability, extensive customization, function buttons, Quick menu customization, continuous firmware updates, robust weather-sealed build, gorgeous EVF, and perhaps most importantly, superb lenses, sharpness and image quality, are what led me to this system. That, plus the fact that with mirrorless, there is no need for an AF Microadjustment function as there is on a DSLR, since the system acquires focus directly off the sensor! (With my Nikons, I no longer trusted my eyes to be able to adjust for optimal sharpness if needed, and I’m a sharpness fanatic. Plus, I’ve found that one can read all the articles, reviews, and blogs they want about a system, but until they actually FEEL the camera in their hands, they will have no real clue about the ergonomics or build quality! This system absolutely exudes QUALITY! Anyway, please feel free to contact me via my website (totalqualityphoto.com), if you have other specific questions. I’d be happy to help you make an informed decision! Good luck!
If you prefer the Olympus modal controls (and tons of configurable buttons), go for it and don’t look back.
So long as you make your choice armed with awareness of the different design compromises of each camera, I don’t see how anyone could be disappointed with whichever they pick. These are fantastic, powerful, highly evolved machines!
From what I’ve read, there is not much to pick between these two cameras, but I mainly decided on the XT-1 based on the fantastic primes that are available, as well as the roadmap on weather sealed lenses and high quality constant aperture lenses that resemble the Nikon trinity.
Fuji also seems the listen well to their users, so I think is is reasonable to have some trust that they will release fix and enhancement firmware releases down the road as necessary.
If I however did prefer the Olumpus, I would wait until their next update to this camera unless I was bargain hunting.
I think you mean constant f-number lenses as the aperture physically gets larger with the focal length (just a quibble).
I understand your logic. Great lenses will outlast a few generations of bodies. And Fuji’s performance on firmware upgrades has been outstanding (although I previously believed that they were charging people a lot of money for beta products and subsequently developing them to acceptable levels of performance).
However, there are two issues about the lenses. While I am sure, based on the Fuji primes and the reports of the XT-1 kit zoom, that it will be optically excellent, it doesn’t exist yet. However, right now I can get a Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40 f/2.8 PRO which is, according to reports, optically very good. Maybe the Fuji will be a little better but right now it is an uncertainty. Second, even if it is a little better, its probably not enough to change systems (for example the new Canon 24-70 f/2.8 is better than the current Nikon version but I don’t see Nikon shooters defecting en masse to get access to the lens). Bird in the hand etc…
Second, I am concerned about the size. According to what I read the Oly 12-40 f/2.8 is 2.75″ in diameter, 3.3″ long and weighs 0.84 lbs. And I thought it was a substantial lens for such a small body. I am assuming that at minimum the Fuji will be similar size to the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 lens which is 3.3″ in diameter, 4.4″ long and 1.84 lbs. Considering that the EF-S lenses I’ve handled are quite plasticky and that Fuji will probably use metal and wide glass in the front element (for optimal sharpness) plus weather sealing I expect to be a bit heavier and bigger than the Canon version.
So now I am starting to lose smallness and maybe handling balance (not sure this is true, my Dad has a Canon A-1 with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 FD mount and it balances well). But anyway its a concern.
To my mind, if I go with the Fuji, I’d probably stick with the primes (for indoors) and the kit zoom (for daylight outdoors) because of the weight. Anyway, I am going to test spin an XT-1. Maybe I’ll fall in love 😉
I was thinking about the X-T1 with the 50-140mm f/2.8 lens for sports.
It seemed as though it was on the edge of being good, but I don’t photograph slow sports. When I tried the X-T1 a little over a week ago, I found it about the same size as the E-M1 and the grip was just as uncomfortable, unfortunately. I don’t understand why either camera maker can’t put a decent sized battery in the grip, as Panasonic does with the GH3 and soon, the GH4.
I think you’ve convinced me that the X-T1 is another great casual mirror-less body…that isn’t for me.
Honestly, the X-T1 has many good qualities and a few great ones.
But it would be just about the last camera I’d consider for fast sports!
And if you need a grip but find the E-M1 grip to be lacking, why don’t you just get a DSLR? The best of them are taylor-made for sports.
Fuji always tempted me, but I decided for an OMD EM1 and so far never regretted it. The decision was based on, at that time, slower and IMO less capable FUJI models in terms of responsiveness, ergonomics, speed, etc., for me.
The T1, aside from too small buttons and less direct way to store and change custom settings (not aperture or shutter speed, but I think Reichmann at Luminous-Landscape has it right here) could change that. At least all reviews rave about it.
But although lenses and cameras are certainly great I still have problems concerning the hype regarding image quality. It looks great, but how are we supposed to deal with the tons of reviews comparing only JPG (every manufacturer has different engines and settings, Fuji probably one of the best, but sharpening, NR etc need to be as close as possible to be able to compare), use different lenses, or looks at RAWs which are still probably not similarly interpreted. I usually like to look at RAWs only, but studying sites explaining interpolation algorithms I have the feeling that Fuji RAWs still show noise reduction since that are not interpreted/processed in a similar fashion as SONYs sensor for example. This means using a NEX7 or the new A6000 or a D7100 should lead to similar maybe slightly worse results when a small amount of noise reduction is applied in post (and FUJIs 2/3 stop overstated ISO value is accounted for). As I follow this site a long time and the reviewer here shows great skill in using cameras, I would value his opinion regarding this issue. Is the high ISO behaviour really up to full-frame level? Maybe all this is just exaggerated as mostly differences show up at 100% only and in the end it is just about ergonomics lens selection… Maybe another problem is that DXOMark is not testing the camera sensor itself, so scientific values are missing.
Having been a huge fan of Olympus (PL1, EM5 and EM1) I went hole hog on their setup with their top lenses and flashes. I was pretty content except for one issue that wasn’t going to go away. Ever shoot outdoors with skies in the shot? You’ll notice at ALL ISO’s there is a mottling or noise in the sky as there is in most darker solid colors. This did grate on me after a bit and I longed for that buttery smooth clean sky look once again I had when using DSLR’s like the Nikon D700 and D7000. I took a leap of faith on the X-T1 ordering one with the grip, 18-55, 55-200 and 23mm f1.4 lenses as well as the EF-42 flash.
What I can say after several weeks of working with a Canon 6D, EM1 and X-T1 side by side and shooting all manner of subjects from landscapes to low light the X-T1 won out in several areas. 1st by far the finest color rendition, 2nd the lowest noise (yep even better than the 6D as it retains more detail). I actually like the interface and the buttons suit me just fine. I am not one that goes crazy changing settings all the time. I stick to Aperture priority and on occasion make a small change in EV which is right there on top with the T1. Solid as a rock and that gorgeous viewfinder is hard not to like. Shutter lag is non existent. I can, in single shot mode, nail the shutter and get nearly 100% success rate on moving subjects where the EM1 didn’t cut it there, as fast as it’s focus is supposed to be. Focus tracking on the X-T1 is simply superior in every manner. The Fuji lenses are reassuringly solid and butter smooth, where the mft lenses other than the expensive 12-40 f2.8 are less robust. I’m finding I’m getting virtually the same slow shutter performance with the OIS lenses as the IBIS of the Olympus. So in the end if ultimate IQ is your quest I’d say the X-T1 is the one that really delivers the goods.
Just wanted to update after making my choice.
I just bought an E-M1 and 12-40 F/2.8 kit from Korea at price of $1858 and basically the next day picked up an XT-1 with 16-55 F/2.8-4 in the store to play around with around (at a price ~$150 cheaper here in the UAE). The Fuji is a very nice camera and if you like old-style controls then you should go for it.
I was very concerned about the Fuji lens size but having looked at the primes I would have to say that they are very small when compared to Canon/Nikon full frame equivalents. (For some reason, I remembered them being quite large on a X-Pro1 but I think it had the long zoom mounted). They may be bigger than the m43 lenses (I’m not sure as I didn’t have any m43 primes to compare) but the difference appears minimal in the real world. Based on real hands on with the current lenses, the WR lenses are probably not going to be as large as I feared.
Both cameras need grip extenders in my hand to be really comfortable one-handed (I’m 6’3″ and can palm a basketball). The Fuji really feels like an old 1980’s SLR (like an A-1). The E-M1 has slightly better shooting ergonomics from a button falling naturally in the right place perspective and the profiled grip. The Fuji felt very familiar to me (I still use an FD mount camera on occasion) and very easy to get to grips with. The Oly is very intimidating from a user interface perspective.
To be frank I was surprised how much I liked the Fuji XT-1. Not sure if I had been buying them side by side which one I would have taken on first impression – I really, really under-estimated the familiarity/nostalgia factor. OTH the shutter sound is much nicer on the Olympus and the autofocus is silent. The Fuji is not such an aural pleasure (if such things matter to you).
But I personally do not think the XT-1 is aimed at the E-M1. To me it is better compared to the OM-D E-M5 from a build quality perspective (the M1 is built like a jeweled tank and the XT-1 doesn’t *feel* as solid). Further, when you compare the flash sync speed, 1/4000 shutter and the RAW ISO limitations it more closely lines up as a “better” M5.
Still it is a great camera and probably more than I needed. Again, I am kind of glad I bought M-1 first before I had a hands on with the XT-1 because I probably would have dithered between the 2 for another 6 months!
Very nicely written review, thank you. I’ve been thinking about this camera since it came out, due to the retro control design and apparent robustness. I currently use Canon, which I like very much, but I am getting tired of bulk and weight. I upgraded to the 5D mark III for the AF system, which is great for keeping up with my kids as they get faster. My older 50D missed focus much of the time. Now it sounds like the AF of the mirrorless systems is catching up (or has it caught up?).
As a serious hobbyist, I do a bit of everything. Canon has a very robust lens system, good image quality, good AF. But it is big and gets heavy, even with a great hiking pack. I recently paired down my gear to essentials (3 lenses) but I would still like to go smaller and lighter.
I have not pulled the trigger on Fuji yet due to the lens lineup. I’d like to see them add a 100-400 (not equivalent, I’d like the reach from the actual 400mm length. There is no getting around weight for that one, I realize). I can use my old Kiron 100mm macro (I value the working distance). Otherwise, the lenses available look solid.
Focus peaking intrigues me. I have never used an EVF. Is it accurate enough in the X-T1 to easily get good focus in portraits and in closeups?
Autofocus is catching up, though not quite on the level of the top DSLRs at the moment. It’s good for certain things, but doesn’t do the more challenging stuff as well in the continuous AF department just yet.
The EVF is briliant. Coming from a 5D III, the X-T1’s finder is larger. It’ll be dimmer in bright light, but much easier to see in dim light. In my opinion, even without focus peaking, manually focusing with the X-T1 is way easier than with a DSLR. Super clear, able to see at actual lens aperture instead of being limited to f/2.8 depth of field due to the focus screen…you can magnify the view for absolutely critical focus (and on the X-T1, you can do it simultaneously to viewing the full image with the dual-view. ) I don’t tend to use focus peaking on the X-T1 because the viewfinder is so big and clear that it’s easier without it. Peaking is generally accurate, but not pixel level accurate with really fast glass.
Thank you Jordan. The nostalgia factor is strong here. 😉
Thank you, Jordan, for this very good review. I especially appreciate you mentioning the inconvenience of making flash exposure compensation adjustments. I try very hard to use a light (excuse the pun) hand when using the flash, and find having to continually dive into to the menu set-up to make changes a real pain. Speaking of pains I really hope Fuji gets their flash act together soon: more powerful light output, remote trigger with output variation control, and flash units that are NOT prone to accidental turning on (I have a piece of gaffers tape covering my EF-42 flash on/off switch). I just order the XT-1 this morning to add to my EX-2 body and lenses.
As somebody who is about to move from Canon 7D to Fujifilm X-T1 I was very interested to read your review. For me geo-tagging is very important and I used the excellent Canon GP-E2 units with my Canon bodies. However I now have to use the Fujifilm Remote Control app to get my images geotagged and I haven’t read any detailed reviews of how successful this is with the Fuji. I tried it in the camera shop and it seemed to work but I’ve read elsewhere that the updating of the location data is not great unless you re-sync the smartphone to the camera again.
Do you or does anyone else have any thoughts?
A great review and a great website. I’m so glad I came across it.
Overall, I’m wery happy with the XT-1, and that camera could be indeed used on professional level.
However, for me, there’ s only one thing that drives me crazy, and thath’s the shooting speed leaver, wich sits under the iso dial. Why? If you shoot for news / press / agency , when s… hits the fan, you want the highest possible fps your camera can give. And naturally you increase the speed by pulling the leaver to the far left position. And what vaits at the end? BRACKETING !!! When I realised the situation I allready lost at least 3 seconds. By that time the moment is gone. Got the picture?
I got an XT 1 and found the focus to be unreliable compared to my XE 1. I have never had so many blurry photos. Very disappointed.
I have a feeling something is malfunctioning with your X-T1.
It is possible it is malfunctioning. It is proving difficult to pin down. Getting a combination of blurry shots and ones that don’t quite hit. I have had shots where part of the frame is crisp and part is blurry. Tracking or continual focus is proving impossible but I never expected that it would be able to track.
Thought it might be the stabilisation on my 50-140 but it seems fine on my XE 1. Only difference seems to be the phase detect points.
Must be something with your XT1. I used mine with 50-140 and it works just fine. Similarly with my XE2 too.
I had an XE1 previously and I know it is significantly inferior to my xt1 and xe2, I would be surprised if XT1 performed worst than XE1 in AF.
Call your fuji support and maybe send it in.