Fujifilm just celebrated their 80th anniversary as a company and released their flagship mirrorless system camera at the same time. The X-T1 continues the retro heritage of their X-series, carrying on in the tradition of the X100S and the X-Pro1.
While those two cameras were inspired by the rangefinders of old, the X-T1 is clearly inspired by film SLRs. The X-T1 doesn’t just look retro, the handling is positively lifted from vintage manual cameras. On top, you have the manual control dials for ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation, while aperture settings are set via aperture rings on the lens. Lenses without aperture rings can be set to manual or automatic via a switch, then aperture control taken over via the control dial on the camera, of which there are two.
And in one of the areas where mirrorless cameras are still leading DSLRs, there is Wi-Fi built in with a dedicated Fn button, plus a new Fujifilm app which can shoot photos and videos remotely.
In the hands, the X-T1 feels surprisingly light and good in the hands. The body weighs 440g or so (with batteries), the X-Pro1 about 450g. DP Review has comparison pictures which show that it’s more or less the same size as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (which weighs 396g with batteries), and comparable in size to the X-Pro1. It’s definitely one of the biggest mirrorless cameras around, but still feels compact enough (although the smallest of DSLR cameras are now coming closer to its dimensions).
According to a Fujifilm spokesperson who braved the Tokyo snowstorm to fly into Singapore, the "T" in X-T1 stands for both "tough" and "trust". The X-T1 is built with a sturdy magnesium alloy frame, and it’s weather-resistant because it's dust and water-resistant, as well as freeze-proof to -10 degrees Celsius.
However, the big talk of the town about the X-T1 isn’t its retro vibe or physical durability, it’s the large electronic viewfinder (EVF) out back. The 0.5-inch, 2.36 million-dot OLED display comes with a magnification ratio of 0.77x. If you don’t know what that means, all you need to know that in real life, the EVF is luxurious and vibrant, with a lag time of just 0.005 seconds (according to Fujifilm since we can't measure that). Unlike the X-Pro1 and X100 series, the X-T1’s viewfinder cannot switch between optical and electronic, but it looked so good that we think most will not miss it.
One of the things that Fujifilm’s X-series is known for, unfortunately, is its slow auto-focus (AF). During our brief time with the near final but not production models of the X-T1, the AF performance was intermittent. With some lenses, like the camera’s kit, AF speed was acceptable for still subjects. With the 23mm however, it struggled to find focus. AF speed and accuracy was definitely not on par with current Panasonic and Olympus mirrorless cameras, but we’ll wait to try out the final production models before judging.
Fujifilm told us to expect the camera in stores soon by mid-February. The X-T1 will retail at S$1999 for the body alone, and will come with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens for S$2499.