Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

first impressions :: Fuji X-T1

I've been toying with the idea of buying a mirrorless camera for a while. Over the last month that thought became a constant companion.

I'm very happy with my Canon 7D but there are times when I'd like to wander with something smaller. At one point I used a point and shoot camera as that small wandering around camera but as time went by I was less happy with that solution. Over the last couple of years I stopped even thinking about using a P&S camera (other than my phone!). A small form factor camera that allowed me the control I have on my dSLR was moving forward as a must have; continuing development of mirrorless cameras made them much more interesting to me.

Sometimes I feel like I make purchase decisions in a snap. That's not the case since a lot of thought over days (or weeks) usually comes before the purchase. That was true of my recent decision.

Last week I ordered a Fuji X-T1 with two lenses, a walking around 18-135mm and a 60mm macro lens to help feed my need for flower photos. The camera and the 18-135 lens are weather resistant, sealed against dust and water and designed to work in temperatures down to -10C. That's a plus; I can continue wandering in wet and cold weather.

Fujifilm X-T1

My order was placed on Wednesday and the camera was in my hands early on Thursday. That gave me time to start to familiarize myself with the camera before two weekend days full of camera play.

My first before-shooting task was to update the firmware in the camera. I was especially interested in the new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes in the updated auto focus system. I thought I was following the instructions of the firmware update page but somehow the page I was on neglected to point out the very important step of holding the DISP/BACK button while turning the camera on. That missing point led to my first contact with the Fuji support line. After waiting on hold for less than 5 minutes I had a good conversation with a support specialist. My question on how to update the camera's firmware was quickly answered; as it turned out I needed to update the firmware in one of the lenses as well. I picked up some good tips on the camera and was sent a link to a frequently updated web page that links to the firmware updates for Fuji's interchangeable camera bodies and lenses.

For readers who own Fuji cameras and need to update the firmware in camera or lens, click here to access the firmware update page.

For access to Fuji's support center, click here.

The camera is beautifully designed, small, comfortable to hold and use.

It will take a bit of use for the controls to become second nature although my weekend wanders have left me much more comfortable with the camera. It will also take some experimenting to understand all of the options hidden in this small camera.

I love the eye sensor mode for the viewfinder. If I hold the camera away from my eyes the tilting LCD panel shows the image I am about to take along with the camera settings. When I place my eye close to the electronic view finder (EVF) the LCD goes blank and the image is shown in the EVF. It's magic!

It is possible to only show the image in the EVF but I like the flexibility of easily using either the EVF or the LCD. Given the tilting nature of the LCD I can see it being very useful to capture an image from different heights, with the camera held low or high.

The one negative I've noticed is that the battery indicator needs some tuning. I'm not surprised that the battery life isn't extensive given the electronic nature of the camera but I am surprised that the indicator shows as fully charged and then flips into a red almost depleted indicator with little warning. I always carry extra charged batteries but it would be nice to have a little warning.

My task for Friday was to become explore the camera, to start to accustom my fingers to making adjustments, to discover things that I'll need to know about later. I also spent some time skimming through the manual, downloading a PDF version that is much easier to read than the tiny print paper edition that came with the camera.

Over the next two days I went on multiple camera outings. I started at the Stevens-Coolidge Place where I played in the gardens, using both lenses to capture color. Later in the day I headed to the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary to walk in the woods. On Sunday my camera destination was the New Hampshire coast for a glimpse of the ocean. The three different environments allowed me to see the behavior of the camera under different conditions and with very different targets.

Here are a few photos to show what the camera (and I) can accomplish together.

petals in rust against a yellow background

curves, grass and water

a sunflower past prime bloom

I'm very happy.

More photos from weekend wanders with my X-T1 are scattered through a few galleries, all tagged with the keyword "fuji xt1 1st look". To see the first photos from my new camera, click here.

After initial play I realized that I really needed a wide angle lens as well. A Fufifilm XF10-24 joined my lenses for this camera, giving me a reasonable kit for traveling (and wandering near home too).