Monday, 23 February 2015

Fuji X100S & X-T1 Review

DISCLAIMER: Everything in this post, nay this site, is my point of view, unless we're talking about specs and for that, they are what they are. if i say i like the look of a processed image more than another, no one can tell me i am wrong as it's just a matter of taste and entirely subjective :) i am not a professional photographer but have taken my fair share of watch shots(see the rest of this site) and have had my watch pics in magazines. i am mostly a jpeg shooter and prefer to do minimal post processing. what is acceptable differs from one to another and what one shoots differs from one to another so this is just based on my standards and what i shoot. thanks. 

'poised' [X100S, A=2.8 ISO=200 S=1/80" ]
original pic size is 4896*3264 and i have resized it to 800*534 here. 
original settings for this pic: A=2.8 ISO=200 S=1/80"
and crop from around the centre at 100%
another original pic from this set resized to 800*534 here. 
original settings for this pic: A=2.8 ISO=200 S=1/75"
and 100% crop not from the centre but close to it
so after reading loads of rave reviews of the fuji x100s and none more entertaining than this one by Zack Arias LINK and some great pix and thoughts of it here LINK i decided to rent it from camera rental centre LINK which has a pretty sweet deal of renting it for a week for S$67. this is great to find out just how good it is and if i want to spend $ to pick up one used which is going for about S$700-900 on clubsnap forums right now[feb/mar 2015]. oh and after the X100s rental i also rented the XT-1 to see how it stacked up to the X100S and if it could be a replacement for my current gear.


all the settings you need... well except iso... 
not so for the X-T1 which has most everything you might need to shoot on easily accessible dials

Other gear i own for taking pics(in order of ease of carrying): 
- Phone Camera: iPhone 5s 
- Compact: panasonic lx7
- Micro four thirds: Panasonic gx1 and 20mm f1.7 (a wonderful pancake lens) & a kit zoom [in mar 2015, added the 45mm f2.8 leica panasonic macro lens ]
- DSLR: nikon d90 and range of lenses [key ones being Nikon 35mm f1.8D and Nikon 105mm f2.8D]

i took some shots and some head to heads of the Fuji vs the gx1 and d90 over the course of the rental windows to draw some of my conclusions. most of these comparo pics aren't shared as they're not great and boring static shots. anyhow, some of my preferred shots from the X100s follow.

tea for two
(note: i am not buddhist just that i chanced upon a Buddhist temple)
see food
have a break
art imitates life
lovely Diya, meter maid
original pic size is 4896*3264 and i have resized it to 800*534 here. 
original settings for this pic: A=2 ISO=400 S=1/100"
and 100% crop not from the centre. this is a bit soft at f2
but still pretty good. u can pull the number from the plate
a stroll (af didn't do the job for this or it could be me :)
why can't i ever get a cab? 
original settings for this pic: A=5.6 ISO=200 S=1/480"
and 100% crop not from the centre which looks pretty sharp to me

Key Personal Findings - Plus
  • The sensor is pretty amazing to me. sharp, great amount of details captured and high ISO shots are very usable. very good dynamic range and the noise with NR turned down low on the camera produces usable to me 3,200(native) ISO pics. Actually the 6,400 is quite ok as well which is pretty cool. 
  • It's almost totally silent. It won't make a racket for both the focusing and taking shots. the electronic shutter is silent but is subject to rolling shutter considerations. can be used in quiet places and where u don't want a loud sound when taking pics(eg concerts, libraries and such)
  • 35mm is a great fixed focal length to me :)
  • good lcd screen, ovf and evf
Minus (or stuff if they added would make this an immediate buy)
  • BIGGEST MINUS: AF is not the best(doesn't hit the mark all the time) or fastest [Understand the X100T has the fastest accurate AF vs X100S and XT-1]
  • fixed focal length is limiting but we already knew that picking this up... 
  • the exposure dial gets moved easily. i bumped it a few times and was wondering why my shots were over or under exposed each time... 
  • when in auto, shutter maxes out at 1/1000 for f2.0 which is not too good and requires you to turn on the ND filter in bright sunlight. i may have not learned all the settings though so this might be an issue that i could have rectified going through manuals and menus. [upped to 1/32000 in X100T which is kinda overkill but if you want to shoot the sun wide open :) ]
  • no display of the enlarged focus area on the optical viewfinder [Introduced in X100T as ERF]
  • Wifi to smart devices [Introduced in X100T]
  • there's a bit of a lag with the evf so what you take may not be what you get but you can use the ovf if needed [Understand the X100T has minimal lag]
  • not pocketable for this(and the XT1) ~ if this could be miniaturised to fit a work pants pocket it would be off the hook! A LOT of folks out there recommend the ricoh gr if size is a main consideration for an APS-C sensor camers. [what i don't like about the Ricoh GR just based on what's out there (i) not too hot AF in low light (ii) may be a bit too wide (iii) heard the jpgs aren't that great which is a problem for me (iv) not pretty like the X100T ;) ]
Other Considerations & Conclusion
  • Interchangeable lenses would be a bit of a stretch and having a range of cheap & fast & light & excellent quality primes ;) - I guess the X-T1 is meant to be this but it is lacking in some respects vs the X100 series impo]
  • Touch screen & touch screen focusing, LCD that can flip all over :)
  • What is great about this camera is that it makes you want to go out and do street photography. DSLR gear will just give people more cause for concern. this is small and silent.
  • It makes me want to try the X-T1 which is why i went out and rented that and that then made me think about the X100T... 
ISO Test: My GX1 at 1600 
vs the X100s at 3200... they look almost the same

So the X-T1 is next to have to put through it's paces... i got it with the 35mm f1.4 and the 18(f2.8)-55(f4) kit zoom over the Chinese New Year period so it's mostly family shots as i was too busy to do much of anything else other than house visits and reunion dinners and such. Some of my fave family shots with the X-T1 follow: 

Chinese New Year Family Shots: Wife and Sis
Chinese New Year Family Shots: Sis-in-law and Nephew
Chinese New Year Family Shots: Dad and Nephew
a pano i took on the weekend... it(or i) didn't take it well. small sized file and u can see lines(banding?) across the image
some lights for the heck of it
  • Lots of knobs on top for setting stuff which is great. stiff and some with locks so you won't knock any of them to different settings too(unlike the exposure knob on X100s) which is good.
  • Electronic shutter is silent (but there is a rolling shutter issue which interestingly i didn't get on the X100S). regular shutter is louder than X100S.
  • Wifi connection and app is very nice. i had some issues connecting initially but after 5mins got it up.
  • Good for non-flash portrait/people photography in good light.
  • Good for street photography to a degree... except for the focusing noise ~ tilting lcd and phone app control could help in more challenging shots though
  • Focusing is noisy unlike the X100S (and X100T)
  • Autofocus for me had a fair number of misses. This in bright sunlight. AF wasn't consistent and I am not sure if it could have been a body or lens issue for the rental set i got.  
  • Rolling shutter issue happened on a fair bit of shots I took and i have a fair number of warped shots(see an exaggerated eg pic below)
  • Sharpness and high ISO doesn't seem as good as the X100S 
  • the fast lenses are big. the small-ish pancake primes are the 27mm f2.8 (which is not as fast as the great lens on the X100S/T) and the more promising pancake 18mm f2 which costs Us$400
X-t1 rolling shutter... rolling rolling rolling...

My Conclusion
  • For me, the Fuji X-T1 wasn't as fun as the X100S and didn't feel special somehow even with the 35mm f1.4 prime and the versatility of the kit zoom lens. it feels like a lesser camera overall due to points above especially noting the AF issues.  
  • The XT1, in my view, can't match up to a do-it-all versatile DSLR that can do sports(bodies with blazing AF and good quality captures with high fps), flash photography(based on what folks have mentioned about it's flash system) so that takes out product shots, studio shots etc, wedding day photography with a lot of differing lighting situations. It is not a Canon/Nikon DSLR replacement impo and so the question is, is it a good complement for certain types of photography? For me the answer is 'no' especially considering the prices of getting the body with decent set of prime lenses. it will burn a decent hole in the pocket. just referencing b&h the price of XT1 body alone is US$1.4k. the 23mm f1.4 is US$749, pancake 27mm f2.8 is US$300, pancake 18mm f2 is Us$400. [unlike some pro reviewers who get free gear to keep after their reviews, i fall into the bucket of the majority of folks who actually pay for these things and have to assess the costs vs alternatives]
  • The X100T is most likely the Fujifilm camera for me as it improves on some of the niggles that i have for the excellent X100S but I'm in no rush to get one and will pick one up when they drop to a more wallet friendly price on the pre-owned market. Note: Retail price for X100S is S$1,599 and X100T is S$1,799 (not factoring any retailer discounts if any). For the X100S as noted, it's selling for S$700-900 in the secondary market. 
  • My advice(for this n most/all pricey camera gear): Rent and try it out and decide for yourself before u buy this vs gear u hv or alternatives u r considering. Everyone enjoys  different stuff when it comes to photography so give it a go before plonking down good money for it. [i will be renting the X100T at some stage to assess if it's a definite buy but no rush on this as i wait for prices to become more wallet friendly :) ]
i did do some walkabout shoots with the GX1 and the fantastic 20mm f1.7(which is just about work pants pocketable which is a HUGE plus for it) and i do like some of the results(some mixed shots of stuff) maybe i'll just stick with what i have and do a lil rehab for the bad case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) i seem to be afflicted with ;) 

the eye
life finds a way

signing off then and hope this was of help to hobbyist photographers like myself :) cheers, raph


Anonymous said...

I also love your non-watch related articles! Great photos! You should include more 'man gear ' related articles! Don't get me wrong, I love watches just like everyone else. I also love diversity in subject matter . Keep up the great work! --Bro. Anonymous

raphael too said...

Thanks Bro Anonymous! Glad you think the photos are nice :) hear you on the diversity part and will continue to post what catches my attention. time is a factor though of course so will see what the rest of the year brings. cheers

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