I’ve had the XT-1 for nearly a week now and have been putting it through it’s paces in a variety of situations. Here are my findings so far ( if you want the short version – it’s awesome ).
I’ve had an XE-1 and and XE-2 ( which I will be using as a backup body for weddings now ), and I really like the ergonomics on this camera. It’s fantastic to be able to change almost everything without going into the menus. I personally love the ISO dial and have no issues with the exposure compensation one being a little stiff. I’d prefer to take a few more seconds to adjust it than have it adjusted by mistake. As has been widely pointed out the menu buttons are the main weakness. I’ll have to stop biting my nails so that I can actually use them. I suspect they will become easier with practice and they are not a major issue for me. All in all, I prefer this to the XE-2 ( which I liked alot anyway ).
Test cases – AFC speed
So I’ve been testing how good the AF-C mode is, because on the XE-1 and XE-2 I found it pretty awful and never used it. I tested it at a local running event shooting with the new 56mm 1.2 ( review of that to come ). Just to make life difficult for the camera I was generally shooting at 1.2. Here are some of the results…( the young boy is my son before anyone gets concerned !).
The speed and accuracy really surprised me, it was close to using a DSLR for me, it just felt FAST and it nailed so many shots even at 1.2, it was amazing. My next test was this weekend when some friends of ours came to stay with their three children. Getting candid shots of kids running around playing is always a challenge. I put the camera on high speed burst mode and again used the 56mm 1.2. Again, it did spectacularly well, nailing shots I’d never have gotten with the XE-2. I thought I didn’t need AF-C mode..I was wrong, it rocks! The light leakage is deliberate, it was very bright and I wanted to create the flare effect. It was easy to avoid the flare, I just chose not too ( I was curious about how it would come out anyway ).
My next test was the weather sealing. I was doing a fashion shoot last week and it was raining quite heavily. I wouldn’t have considered using the XE-2, but I wrapped the lens in a plastic bag around the seal where it meets the XT-1 and went out in the rain. I coped fine and we got some great shots. I also shot some natural light portraits with it inside and this one is my favourite, it shows how wonderful the colours right out of the camera are. The fine detail in the jpeg made editing this image a pleasure and I barely had to do anything.
Time for the next test..extreme low light shooting! I tested the camera in a dimly lit pub at a photography social. Unfortunately I forgot to turn the noise reduction down and was shooting jpeg ( I’ve not bothered finding a raw converter yet, I’ll wait for RPP and lightroom to get updated ). So the skin on the ISO 6400 images ended up a bit mushy. I remember having this issue on the XE-2 when it first came out, although it was much worse ( on the XE-2). Having tested it again with NR set to -2 it seems to be much better, but I would prefer to do this type of shooting in RAW and then sort out the noise reduction in post. Anyway, again, the camera was a pleasure to use in this environment, focussing was fast and accurate although it did hunt occasionally ( pretty sure even my D800 would have as well ). Here are a few images.
Finally, I took the kids to the park yesterday and decided to test the AFC a bit more and get some birds in flight. I’d tried this with the XE-2 with zero success ( I’m sure some people have managed it, but I’m not an action photographer so I need some help from the camera! ). Results are below, another success for the XT-1. These were taken with the 55-200, which on this camera seems to me to get a new lease of life and really feel fast and responsive.
Overall I couldn’t be happier with this camera. I’m selling my D800 and all my nikon kit, this camera now does everything I need it too and I’m confident I can shoot weddings with it ( and the XE-2 as a backup ). I’ll do a review of the lens soon, but lets just say, its incredibly sharp and a beautiful portrait lens.