When I first started using the Fujifilm X-Series last summer I didn’t realise how helpful electronic viewfinders (EVFs) can be. Being able to see a live view of the exposure and then adjusting this via the exposure compensation dial means that I am more efficient. When using SLRs it is often difficult to get exposure compensation exactly right the first time around, this often means you take a photograph multiple times to get it just right. With X-Series cameras you are able to see how an exposure adjustment will effect the exposure of the image before you take the photo. This is especially helpful for fleeting moments, especially in quickly changing light.
The exposure compensation can be adjusted in post-production but I feel the live view produced by EVFs has helped me improve my photography. This makes my editing workflow shorter, which is always an advantage.
I found this feature particularly helpful when taking silhouettes, such as the images of Chesterton windmill in the gallery below.
EVFs are also very helpful with non-Fujifilm lenses or using Fujifilm lenses in manual mode as they can accurately show when the focus is correct. Even with the X100s and X-Pro1, which have hybrid viewfinders, I use them almost exclusively in EVF mode instead of OVF mode because, for me, it offers more benefits.
A friend and I decided to go camping in Wales, which perfectly coincided with the passing of the ex-hurricane Bertha! To many this is a bizarre time to choose to go camping, but from a landscape photography perspective, angry weather equals exciting weather.
At the moment I am trying to train myself to only use prime lenses as Fujifilm offers such a wide variety covering lots of helpful focal lengths (the announcement of the XF90mm f2 R and XF16mm f1.4 R being added to the lens roadmap is very exciting). The reason for this is that to me they inspire creativity, using the fixed focal length makes me think more about composition and simply take more time with each picture. However, the thought of changing lenses in high winds and heavy rain atop a cliff wasn’t particularly appealing so the ever-camera-bag-present XF18-135mm came into its own. Having previously used a prototype version of the lens on the Farne Islands (see my initial impressions here) this was the first time I had really put the production version through its paces and I have to say it passed with flying colours.
Because I was generally taking landscape photographs I didn’t miss the wonderful wide aperture capabilities of prime lenses. The other bonus of using the XF18-135mm was the fast auto focus and probably, more importantly, the weather sealing. Once mounted to the X-T1 the weather resistance system left me with one less thing to think about while battling the hazardous conditions.
I wasn’t the only thing out enjoying the powerful winds though, a few fulmar were flying around the cliffs, putting on a very impressive aerial display. This was a great opportunity to try the continuous focus in mirky conditions with a very fast moving subject. Once locked on the keeper rate was very high.
Enjoying the conditions
Fulmar in the scene
The other very helpful feature of the XF18-135mm lens is the 5-stop image stabilisation which proved very helpful in countering the blustery and often dark conditions.
Setting Welsh sun
Going further against my plan to use only prime lenses, the other lens used extensively was the XF10-24mm R OIS on the X-Pro1. Again I went with the practicality and versatility offered by this wide angle zoom lens. Despite this being a zoom, I loved using it at the ultra wide 10mm end to capture as much of the impressive scenes in front of me as possible.
Overall it was a great few days for photography, but before you go off camping in inclement weather, make sure you check with others you drag along, as the X-T1 – XF18-135mm set up is weather resistant and ready for anything, but they might not be so obliging.
About two weeks ago a special package arrived from head office in Japan. The special package contained a bunch of pre-production X-T1 cameras and was duly raided by the team. Being part of the initial raiding party, I managed to bag one to play with – I mean, thoroughly test – for a few days. This post will take you through my first thoughts as I got to grips with this lovely new camera.
As it’s a pre-production camera, it’s hard to judge the image quality itself so that’s not really covered here. What is covered is how it feels to use it, and my opinion on the new features that are unique to the X-T1 compared to the other cameras in the X series range.
First impressions – look and feel
Fujifilm X-T1 – its a thing of beauty
Fujifilm X-T1 ISO selection dial with added Drive
Fujifilm X-T1 with vertical grip and supplied EF-X8 flash
I’d seen plenty of pictures of the camera before this point, and even a mock-up “real” camera a few months ago, but I was still surprised with how small it was. Even so, my hands fit the grip very well and I felt that all of the controls were laid out in easy to reach places from my fingers with minimal hand readjustment. The grip makes it very comfortable to hold with one hand and being a “lefty” with my eye, having the EVF in the middle rather than on the left makes it feel a bit more comfortable to shoot.
Personally I could live without the ISO dial because I change it fairly infrequently anyway, but no harm in it being there, however moving the “Drive” menu onto a dial at the top is pretty cool and useful for switching between normal and continuous shooting.
I think it’ll take a few more hours of shooting to unlearn my muscle memory that using an X100S for the last few months has given me but obviously the crucial things are still in the right place.
Fujifilm X-T1 EVF
Fujifilm X-T1 EVF
Fujifilm X-T1 EVF
Prepare to be amazed. This thing is seriously good. It was sunny when we got them so I took the camera out into the natural light and was seriously impressed. Yes you can tell it’s an EVF as you move around fast but only because you’re trying to tell. The response is something else and it really is seriously close to an OVF. When you turn the camera vertically, the GUI automatically changes to always display your settings the right way up and the fonts and vectors that make up the display are really clear and legible while not disturbing the view of your subject. And the level of detail is amazing. Definitely get yourself into a camera store and have a go at this thing if you don’t believe me.
The tilting screen
I’ve used the X-M1 a few times and although the lack of viewfinder makes certain things difficult, I always seemed to find a use for the tilting screen. Whether I’m shooting kittens skittering around my kitchen floor and don’t fancy laying down there with them (see image to the right), or trying to shoot over the top of a bunch of people’s heads, the tilting LCD is a nice feature and I’m pretty sure it’ll get a lot of use.
It’s fast. I have an X100S and I’m used to how it focuses. I also have a pair of jet black kittens that don’t exactly sit still and wait for me to shoot them. The X-T1 locks onto the kittens very fast, even in fairly low light and definitely felt better than my X100S, despite on paper being pretty much the same. Could’ve just been my wishful thinking so I’ll keep an eye out to see how other people find the focusing.
Manual Focus – Focus peaking + dual screen mode
Being able to change the colour of the focus peak highlight is a nice option. Hopefully we’ll see it added to previous models via a firmware update. There’s also a nice feature that lets you use dual screen to frame your shot while also accurately focusing. The focus peaking feature still works but obviously it’s not as clear to see as if you were using the full screen with the “focus assist” button pressed. Although my images above are of the screen, the EVF does the same and is more effective.
Here’s a video published by FujifilmGlobal that demonstrates the dual screen:
According to the specs, this thing will shoot 47 shots in FINE jpeg mode while in High Speed Shooting mode. According to my rough and ready “see-how-many-times-you-can-count-to-ten-and-start-again” method of trying to count the frames, I think this is pretty darn accurate. Also, in RAW mode it seems to take about 36 shots before it slows down. Impressive stuff.
Setting the multiple function buttons
This is a lovely little UI feature to go with an amazingly good usability feature. The X-T1 has SIX (not one, not two, yes six) function buttons and they can all be customised to do whatever you want (within reason). This lovely little menu system lets you easily see which button you are changing to help you set up exactly how you want. I imagine once you’ve been using this camera a while you won’t need a visual key to show you which button is which, but certainly a nice little touch to help you get to grips with it at first.
I tried a dev version of the app but this feature is something special. Install an App on your SmartPhone (I was using an Android), link the devices together and you then get a live view of what the camera is looking at on your phone. All of the dials on the camera and then ignored and you change change shutter speed, aperture, sensitivity, white balance and film simulation. Just like on the screen/EVF of the camera when shooting normally, the brightest of the live view image updates to reflect what the exposure is likely to be like based on your settings. You can also touch anywhere on the live view and the camera will use that as the focus point for autofocus – nifty! I can imagine a lot of people will love this feature.
Time lapse photography
You can set the length of interval, number of shots, and how long until it starts to shoot. You then set it on its way and the camera does the rest. The camera powers down after each shot to conserve the battery. It’ll wake up if you press any buttons and display how many frames it has captured and how long until the next frame.
Thanks for reading. If there’s any specific features of the camera that I’ve not covered here and you would like to know more about, please feel free to post a comment or send me a Tweet and I can update the post in the future. Check out the Fujifilm UK website for further product information and specifications.
One photographer, one Fujifilm X-series camera, a whole lot of great images
X-series cameras are perfect for street photographers. Combining light weight and portability with fantastic performance and a great range of lenses makes them the perfect combination for shooting on the move. Rob Mitchell is a commercial photographer and X-Pro1 user based in Belgium, but he took these shots on a dedicated day of street photography in the Shoreditch area of London. Along with his friends, who were also shooting with X-series cameras, Rob used the X-Pro1 along with 18mm and 35mm lenses and most of his pictures were shot from the hip in a true documentary style. Continue reading to find out why the X-Pro1 was a perfect companion for a walk around London.
MARKET STALL NEAR COVENT GARDEN
“This was just a passing snapshot of the market stall. With the combination of low light and large contrast range, I didn’t expect for one moment that the X-Pro1 would deliver a good shot, but it did. This was taken at ISO 800 with the 18mm lens at its widest aperture of F2. This helped me to get a fast enough shutter speed to successfully hand-hold the shot, and the X-Trans sensor took care of the rest. A truly impressive result with digital noise virtually non-existent.”
MIND THE GAP
“Anyone who has travelled on the London Underground will know that the ‘Mind the Gap’ slogan is everywhere. I don’t remember the exact station that it was taken, but it was on the way from Epping to Liverpool Street. This was a real shot from the hip, which the X-Pro1 is perfect at. The train pulled into the station and as the doors opened, I saw the opportunity to grab this image. Using the rear LCD, auto exposure and rapid focusing, I was able to compose and get this perfectly exposed image before the doors closed again. I don’t think I would have had the time to capture this with a DSLR.”
MAN ON PHONE
“The X-Pro1 is very subtle in use, a DSLR is just too imposing and I simply wouldn’t have been able to get this shot. As I walked past this man in Shoreditch, I had the camera hanging over my shoulder, so I just held it in position and fired off this image without lifting it to my eye or looking through the viewfinder. Although the man is looking at me, I’m pretty sure he didn’t know he was having his picture taken. With the 18mm, you can easily approximate the focusing point and with such a large depth-of-field I could shoot at F2 and still be confident that almost all of the image would stay in sharp focus.”
THE ORANGE BUFFALO
“Taken at the Truman Brewery car park in Shoreditch, this is a sort of mismatch of the US and London. An Airstream caravan, Chevy truck and Buffalo Wings stuck in a rather hip area of town with just the sole client. The four picnic tables would suggest it gets busy there – not at that moment though. What I’ve noticed with the X-series is that I experiment more; I feel less constrained and if I only have a 18mm lens on the camera I just work around that. I could say it’s almost like going back to the roots of innocent experimentation and the discovery of photography.”
PUSHCHAIR, ELDER STREET
“Typically anonymous flats are made up of a pattern of window-door-window-door. I spotted this pushchair in front of one and thought that it broke up the pattern to give a glimpse into the lives of the people who live there. I love the Fujifilm image quality – the fact that I still own and use my old Fujifilm S3 Pro is testament to that fact. The X-Trans sensor in the X-Pro1 certainly hasn’t lost any of the quality of colour accuracy of that older DSLR – I’ve already used it on a couple of commercial projects.”
COFFEE SHOP WINDOW
“This was shot from inside a coffee shop, overlooking Pancras road – I deliberately wanted to get an obscured portrait of someone sitting outside, complete with an iconic London symbol in the background. The X-Pro1’s metering and sensor have combined to get a great result here. With the large shadow area in the foreground, I expected the camera to overexpose the main subject, but it’s dealt with the contrast well and got detail in both the dark and light areas.”
Robert Mitchell is a British commercial photographer based in Belgium. To see more of his work you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or follow his blog.