Johannesburg-based photographer Neill Soden reviews Fujifilm’s hotly anticipated X-T1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Review and photos by Neill Soden, a Johannesburg-based photographer.

Please note: The Fujilm X-T1 is currently only available for pre-order. We’re expecting stock to arrive by the middle of March 2014.

Fujfilm X-T1 Interchangeable Lens Camera Review

It feels a bit like I am cheating on my much loved X-Pro1, but the X-T1 is such a huge leap for Fujifilm. It has so much value in its appearance and usability.

It looks just like a baby SLR with all the controls out of the golden era of photography. Following in the footsteps of all the other Fujifilm models, the X-T1 has the emotion and nostalgia, adding on the extra dial for ISO and the more modern switches right under the shutter speed and ISO dial. They have now added the Fujifilm text on the front of the camera, so it is made very clear that this is a Fujifilm camera.

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The camera certainly is beautiful. It’s weather-sealed and has the ability to add the optional battery pack.

The battery pack only allows for one extra battery, while the other lives in the body. I am guessing there will be some who will not like this. A nice touch is that the battery indicator displays the charge of each battery independently. The controls on the battery pack pretty much cover what I have seen on your current DSRL battery packs.

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When I hold the camera in my hand it absolutely has the right feel. It fits nicely, its weight feels right and the extra thumb and hand grip is perfect. The weight and size is very similar to the X-E2, but it is smaller than the X-Pro1. I also love that they decided to put the slot for the memory card on the side now, and not squashed into the bottom with the battery anymore. Hopefully this becomes the norm for all future models.

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Most of the function buttons are placed in the perfect spot for me and I was able to customise it precisely to my needs. The focus assist has been moved to a dedicated button on the back, where in the past you used the back command control wheel to zoom in on your picture or for manual focus. Each directional button is also customisable. There is a love/hate relationship between me and the Fn-button on the front of the camera. I have set it up to quickly change my custom settings, however while this makes changing it easy, it is also very easy to bump, and I find it accidentally changes back to Custom 1 very easy.

The sub-dials right under the shutter dial allow you to quickly set the metering type, while under the ISO you have an array of options that used to be in the DRIVE menu: BKT, CH, CL, S, multiple exposures, advanced filters and pano.

The ISO dial is great, even though initially I wasn’t sure I liked the lock that you have to press to move it. But as I got used to it, I found it was not too much of an annoyance anymore. They did add an ISO “L”, which makes it 100. I have not tried this out yet, guessing it may come in handy when you need to go beyond the 1/4000 limit on the shutter.

The EV-dial is the one thing I absolutely don’t agree with or understand why they felt the need to make it so much bigger than any of the other models and requires two fingers to adjust. I personally think they should have used the one on the X100/s, to me that size and rigidness is perfect.

Like the X-E2, there is a top Fn-button for WiFi, which can be defined, but has been moved to below the shutter button.

The shutter button can not be controlled by cable release anymore, but there is a very cool remote control app available on Android or iOS, more on that later. Right next to it is the record-button for movies, but I’ve found this placement a little annoying, as it used to be the place of the well-used Fn-button for ISO, and there’s been a few times I’ve actually put it in movie mode accidentally. The people that are into making movies, might find this placement useful.

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The View Mode-button is back and sits on the right site of the EVF hump, while on the other side is the adjustment dial for your eyesight.

The EVF… it’s just beautiful. Filling the eye with a very wide view and it’s nice and bright. I can compare it to my experience of upgrading to a retina screen on a MacBook, there is so much wow factor and it puts a smile on one’s face. They also decided to move away from the rangefinder position on the left, that I personally loved. It is now more to the centre, like your traditional SRL. The frame rate is fast and I could not pick up any delay, even in low light it is smooth and clear. All the information you need is there and out of the way.

Lastly, the image quality is just breathtaking, and the AF is a huge, huge improvement, even over the X-E2, but I think they’ve still got a bit of a way to go before one can use this for shooting things like sport. It is not impossible though, as you can see by some of my MX and bicycle shots in the brochure of the X-T1 and advertising.

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There is a lot more I can talk about, but there are a lot of other detailed reviews out there. For now, I want to use my time with this camera and try the 2 lenses I have on review: the very much anticipated 56mm f/1.2 and 10-24mm f/4 and will cover more on the AF-performance accompanied by these lenses.

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Review written by Neill Soden, and republished on Orms Connect with permission.