Retro Done Right? It’s No OM-D, Not a Df, It’s a Fujifilm!

It boasts hints of the OM-D and has the distinct flavor of Nikon’s Df. This rugged piece of machinery resists water, dust and temperature, sports an impressive 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder (claiming to possess world’s highest magnification for a digital camera), the shutter time lag of 0.05 seconds is absolutely negligible and a whole new range of all-weather lenses is on the way to supplement an already impressive lens selection: et voilà the Fujifilm X-T1, a fine blend of some of the industry’s most impressive cameras and imaging features.

Fujifilm's new flagship performer, the all-weather X-T1 | Fujifilm
Fujifilm’s new flagship performer, the all-weather X-T1 | Fujifilm

Nice, nice, nice. As often said here, the people at Fujifilm are photographers. They make cameras for photographers — and with the X-T1 a camera the market seems to be yearning for. This latest X series is certainly the best performing X body to date and Fujifilm’s new flagship camera, marking a determined departure from the former Leica-lookalikes.

The X-T1's new dual mode EVF display.
The X-T1’s new dual mode EVF display.
Retro, tough, stylish, an impressive slam dunk. Just the right size, with the manual controls one needs (but hell that ISO button is locked by default like the Df’s?). It even has a good old aperture ring like good old cameras (hello Nikon Df special edition 50mm F1.8G…), and on top of it, as a sweet slap in the face of the diehard retro aficionado, it has video and a tilting LCD.

The viewfinder seems a class of its own, with a new dual mode EVF display — right, that’s a digital split image manual focusing screen (see the video)! H-e-l-l-o Nikon. Heck I really love the Df’s big bright grandpa pentaprism optical viewfinder. Fujifilm hits a home run with real retro manual focusing aids and if the X-T1 EVF’s brightness and clarity come close to the Df’s.

And let’s mention it again because it’s so nice: the camera’s size is just right. Not that the Nikon Df is too big, size is always relative. It’s just bigger, which allows for decent ergonomics and solid grip.

Maybe the X-T1 is a borderline case regarding optimal size. Both Fujifilm’s and Olympus’ flagships look a bit like twins:

Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M1 |
Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M1 |

Now let’s have a look at the über-retro Df, a camera I adore if you bother to read my Df review:

Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Nikon Df
Fujifilm X-T1 vs. Nikon Df

Whereas the OM-D is a bit too smallish for my taste (and I got small hands), the X-T1’s fewer flimsy controls might make up for the size disadvantage (or advantage, however you look at it).

Sensor-wise? Fujifilm’s acclaimed APS-C X-Trans II is bigger than Oly’s Micro Four Thirds and smaller than the Df’s full-framer. But in case you haven’t noticed, in this the year 2014 anno Domini you can take a camera for real even if it doesn’t have what many spend a lot of money on — and not always improves one’s photography. BTW, which camera was named camera of the year more often, the OM-D E-M1 with its “quarter full-frame” or the “realer” Df?

Precision photography -- the Fujifilm X-T1. | Fujifilm
Precision photography — the Fujifilm X-T1. | Fujifilm

Attitudes changes, so does the photography market, but proven values stay the same. That’s where the X-T1 comes in, the culmination of Fujifilm’s imaging technology: a smaller camera with nice controls, great looks and sturdy body. And at $1,299 the camera’s price is not only nice, it’s half of the Df’s — whose heart and soul are its sensor.

The Df’s sensor performance is certainly way above the smaller Fujifilm’s in terms of low light sensitivity, and the Df’s DxOMark score truly is impressive. But many other factors matter not less: skin tones, color rendition, dynamic range, these are all qualities where the Fujifilms shine. With maximum ISO bumped to 51,600, the X-T1 is one of those cameras you can use for reasonably clean ISO 12,800. Unfortunately no ISO 50,

I don’t really care about super fast autofocus — Fujifilm boasts a burst rate of 8 fps in continuous mode! The faster the machine, the less I’m engaged as a photographer… But it goes without saying: this X-T1 hits many nerves. Will get my hands on one on February 6 and take it from there. Stay tuned!

+++ You can order the Fujifilm X-T1 from Amazon (body / kit), B&H (body / kit) and Adorama (body / kit).

  • David Holliday

    I like the look of this camera too. I have X100S ,Fuji XE1, and the DF on order. Not sure where this fits in. I want to remain with Fuji and have a SLR. Also really like the style of XPro 1 . The DF for me is the closest digital SLR on the market to my FG20, FE2. And the XE1 is kind of my poor mans Leica. I do like the lack of buttons on the XE1. But if this has faster focusing and such a good EVF? EVFinders seem to be more accepted as state of art. But that is before I look into the OVF of the DF.

  • This is definitely one for my collection – all in mirror less now, no more mirror for me.

  • X-PR

    Well, jkspepper, my feeling is precisely the opposite. I love the X-Pro1, but my D800 even more. This last one is still capable to do a lot the X-Pro1 just can’t. And I’ve become very sceptical now – every Fuji-release has been overhyped, even the X-E2, wait another month and the first reports about still not solved quirks and al kinds shortcomings start coming in. Not to speak about the missing pro-flash line and the battery-misery you’ve got with this kind of camera. I’m not going to buy a new camera each 16 months just because the manufacturer claims he can do the right job now. With Nikon = 55 years of F-experience, nothing can replace that.