I see this question alot on the facebook groups in particular. And there is always a lively response. There seem to be a small crowd of people in these groups whose lives have no meaning unless they are bashing the fuji cameras and comparing them to their high end DSLRs. Then there are the fuji fans who take the opposite tack of course. It’s very tiresome so I thought I’d post my thoughts here on the subject. The fuji X-T1 is not as powerful a tool as the 5d3 or D800. There is no doubt about that. However, most of us do not need all the power these cameras bring, and the tradeoff in weight and expense may mean the X-T1 is a better camera for you ( or it may not ).
The fuji haters tend to bang on about certain things in these comparisons so I will deal with my take on them here..
Autofocus…I’ve seen some pretty outrageous claims from the pro DSLR crowd about how bad the Fuji autofocus is. One guy claimed he could only shoot still life with the fuji, for everything else he needed his DSLR. Well I’m sorry, but that guy just fails at using the X-T1. Of course its not as fast as a pro DSLR..people expecting it to be are, frankly, deluded. But unless you are a professional sports or wildlife photographer, or just suck at taking photos without machine gun speed autofocus, its fast enough..here are some of the shots involving movement that I’ve taken.
The key points to watch when shooting movement..
- high performance mode must be enabled, its off by default. I personally find it makes a huge difference to the camera.
- use the central nine AF points, those are the phase detect ones.
- I set the autofocus to release priority. It sometimes is a little slow getting that initial lock on, but with 8 frames a second, you will get a few frames anyway in my experience. Some people put this on focus priority but I find it slows me down too much.
- turn off the EVF image preview
- do not use the smallest AF focussing area. The 2nd or 3rd smallest ones ( the mid range ones ) are best.
Overall I find the AF perfectly useable for all the tasks I need it for, but of course it won’t be as fast a pro DSLR, anyone who buys one expecting that has not done their research.
Next up..image quality. How does this camera compare to a high end, full frame DSLR. Well obviously there will be less detail..but…
- I find the jpegs better than either the out of camera jpegs on a D800 or Canon 5d3.
- I find the colours more pleasing as well, and it produces better results out of the camera in tricky lighting conditions.
- I rarely need to sharpen images, and in general do less post processing than I used to.
- the dynamic range in the RAW files is better than my 5d3 used to be, but not as good as the D800 ( not far off though ).
A lot of us shoot for web use, very few shoot for billboard size posters. Even printing up to A1 the fuji holds it own. Obsessing about pixel peeping seems very strange to me, but there are people who loathe the X-Trans sensor look. These people are the minority, but its best to test the waters with the camera before ditching your DSLR, in case you are one of these people. There is nothing wrong with being one of those people, they just don’t like the look the camera gives. But there are some big things to watch out for if you are having issues…
- the jpeg processor in this camera applies very aggressive noise reduction, even when you switch NR to -2, in low light. These can lead to really smeary skin textures. If you are shooting in low light I would recommend shooting in RAW.
- different RAW converters give very different results. A lot of landscape shooters in particular seem to have issues with the way Adobe process the RAW files, so its worth checking the other ones out if you don’t like the way Adobe does it. Personally I find the latest version a lot better and fine for me, but it seems to leave some people incandescent with rage. For greater detail I use Photoninja.
Here is a portrait that has had almost no editing, shot on the 56 1.2, which is the sharpest lens I’ve every used.
Full Frame vs APSC…well I’m not getting into that one too much. Full frame gives you shallower depth of field and of course a wider field of view. Personally I don’t need it, with lenses like the 56 1.2 and 35 1.4 I have no problem getting shallow depth of field when I want to. But this leads nicely to..lenses…
Fuji of course does not have the same breadth of lenses that the big DSLRs do. So you need to decide if the lenses they do have are enough for you. The lineup is growing rapidly though and the ones so far have all been amazing in terms of image quality if not always in terms of speed. The lenses I own are the 55-200, 35mm 1.4, 56mm 1.2 and 14mm 2.8. They are all superb, equivalent in quality to Canons L lenses and much cheaper and lighter. I think the lens line up is a real strength of this system, and it will only get better. But if you need a fast 70-200, or a super zoom, then hold on to your DSLR, because Fuji are not there yet.
Its quite possible to use flash wirelessly on manual mode, but if you need a ETTL wireless flash system ( I don’t ), hang on to your DSLR. I hope this is an area Fuji addresses soon.
As an all round camera system the X-T1 is not as good as a pro full frame DSLR. But that does not mean its not good enough for you, and there are huge benefits to the system that for many people will outweigh the gains of a big, heavy, pro DSLR.
- size and weight
- jpegs are beautiful
- much more fun to shoot with ( in my opinon )
- amazing lenses at much lower cost than full frame
- looks way cooler!
I kept my DSLR until I was sure I could rely on the fuji for all my work, and I think if you can afford it, this is the way to go. It’s not a complete system or a DSLR killer..yet. But for me, and for a lot of people, its now good enough to use without having a DSLR there as a backup.