From the day I fell in love with photography, I've been a Nikon guy. I've had five Nikon DSLRs in the last 3 years (D80, D7000, D700, D3, D800) and I have an entire camera bag for my film Nikon SLR cameras as well. There's just a beauty in the way a Nikon feels in my hands, and the images I can make with one.
Then again, let's be real - I can do exactly the same with a Canon SLR. The only real difference is that Canon cameras are ugly as hell. #ohnohedidnt
A couple of months ago, Fuji dropped the X-T1. Fuji has been making waves in the photographic community for the last couple of years with their mirrorless cameras. I haven't considered them because they were either fixed at 35mm (which isn't my cup of tea), or they were said to be slow and clumsy (X-Pro 1 anyone?). Then the X-T1 showed up. Mirrorless, fast, interchangeable lenses, small, light, cheap, great in low light, amazing lenses, and sexy as hell. How can any photographer NOT be intrigued by such a system?
So I managed to get in contact with Fuji South Africa, and they agreed to hook me up with an X-T1 and some lenses a couple of days ago.
I've shot with the camera once, and boy, do I love it. And I'm saying that as an owner of a D800 and great lenses, like the 85mm 1.4G, the 135mm F2. Those two lenses are pretty much the best thing you can shoot portraits on, as far as 35mm cameras go, and despite that, I'm looking at all of this feeling a little confused.
Anyway, I made a video about my street shooting with this camera. There's some Fuji talk in the beginning, and again towards the end. Much of the middle is just some fun shots, some of me being threatened, some of me running into people I've shot before, and how I think and deal with shooting street, and why I don't photograph white people on the street.
Here are a couple of the shots I got in this street session:
So let me quickly get to the things that have blown my mind:
1) Obscenely accurate autofocus - This camera's AF is absolute madness. It's quick, it's accurate. I love it.
2) Lenses - I shot with the 56mm f/1.2, which is essentially an 85mm, and it's super sharp, and f/1.2 is completely usable. Fuji makes Hasselblad lenses, so that says it all.
3) The EVF. Holy MOLEY. I've hated Electronic Viewfinders since the beginning. I don't like the idea of looking at a screen in the viewfinder instead of actual reality. But in the Fuji, you won't even realise it. From the first moment I used it, it felt natural, normal. No lag, no delay, no nothing. I didn't ONCE miss the OVF in the D800. So, yay for EVFs. The days of "EVFs aren't good enough yet" are over. EVFs are here to stay, that's for sure.
4) Overall image quality. Seriously - after a session on the street with this thing, and looking at street images I've shot on the D800, I'm absolutely blown away by the image quality coming out of the Fuji. It would be really, really difficult for me to justify lugging my D800 and 85mm 1.4G out on the streets if I had an X-T1, because as far as image quality goes, I'm not seeing a difference. I'm sure it's there, but it's so small that I'm not seeing it.
Stuff I don't like:
1) 1/180th sync speed. Seriously Fuji, 1/180th? I light 99% of my photos, and 99% of my work is on location, where I'm balancing ambient and flash. Being limited to 1/180th is horrible. Added to that, the camera's lowest ISO is 100. It was ISO50 on the D800, and the D800 can sync at 1/320th. So I'm essentially losing almost 2 stops of control on this camera over the D800, which is a real pain in the rear for me. I know for SURE that there will be times in the coming weeks of testing the Fuji that I'll be thinking "I would've just dialled the D800 to ISO50 here, instead of slapping an ND filter on the lens". I have, fortunately, managed to get the camera to sync at 1/200th with my YN lights and triggers, so that's a fraction better, but I miss the 1/320th, ISO50 goodness. As far as I know, the X100s has a built in 3 stop ND filter, and it's leaf shutter allows really high sync speeds. I want that in the X-T1.
2) The ISO dial. I love the dial, but I hate this little button in the middle of the dial. In order to change the ISO settings, you need to press this button in. I don't like that.
3) 1/4000th maximum shutter speed. Ok, I don't hate this, but 1/8000th would've been great. I don't shoot that high often at all, but it's a nice to have. Of the 56 000 images in my current Lightroom library, only 228 of them were shot at 1/8000th, so it's really not that big a deal. I'm sure, though, that for people shooting only natural light, 1/8000th would've been great.
Now I know the D800 has a much higher megapixel count. That's obviously one department we can't compare the two cameras. But as a portrait photographer, I seldom need to print images the size of the planet earth, so high MP count doesn't mean much to me anyway.
That's all I've got to say, so far. This isn't my final assessment of the camera. As I said, I've pretty much just shot with it once, and these are my views so far. I've got the camera for 3 weeks, so I'll see how I feel at the end of that. Let me also mention that I wasn't asked by Fuji to write or say any of this. All of this is my honest, personal opinion.
Again, I love my D800. Let me emphasise that. It's a beautiful, magnificent camera. This isn't a situation of "I hate the D800, so I'm looking at Fuji". I'd encourage everyone to buy a D800 if it fits their need. It fits mine and I love it. The Fuji just catches my eye because it's so small, and producing image quality similar to that of the D800.
Let me know what you think!