Having loved the little X-E1 for the past year and a half I decided to get the XT-1 to add functionality and redundancy to my mirror less system.
My reasoning is that having 2 bodies opens up the possibility of using the system for paid work like weddings and adds protection against loss or failure for travel. It also gives the convenience of packing 2 small bodies with lenses mounted for any photography, meaning less faffing with lens changes and less chance of missing a moment.
I had to wait weeks for both my X-T1 and the Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens I ordered, as supplies are limited. They finally arrived and I have not had much chance to play but feel I already have a good basic overview of the camera. This is because its layout is functional and logical but also because I have familiarity with another X body.
The camera looks and feels gorgeous. It adds to the already great feel and joy of viewing and handling the X-E1 with improved solidity and simple, clean lines that give it the appearance of a mini SLR. It certainly isn't tiny and is similar to a small film SLR body in size, which makes it a lot smaller than a current high performance DSLR. I was surprised that it is pretty much the same as the X-E1 in all but height where the hump and dials add to that dimension a bit.
X-T1 with 56mm f1.2 lens mounted (no hood)
X-T1 showing rear with DSPTCH wrist strap
With DSPTCH neck/shoulder strap
Finally, fully pimped with battery grip and included accessory flash (lens hood attached)
First user impressions are that autofocus is a considerable improvement over the X-E1 in that it is faster and less likely to hunt before gaining focus and less likely to fail altogether. In all honesty it is only occasionally that I now get frustrated by the X-E1 focus system after excellent firmware updates. Even so, the X-T1 clearly has far greater potential for action shooting and for dim lighting scenarios such as weddings.
The major highlight is perhaps the EVF which is nothing short of stunning. Its a Tardis experience....you put your eye to the viewfinder of this small camera and a huge view lies before you at least as good as on any full frame camera. Manual focus implementation makes DSLRs seem quite frankly, crap! The dual image view lets you see the overall composition while the detail view allows wickedly accurate focus using peaking or split image. No more trying to judge contrast with ageing eyes or relying on the barely useful AF confirmation in SLR finders. The information in the display can be customised too and moves with the orientation of the camera....neat.
Much of the existing X-series shooting and control experience is here and the extra dials and rotary switches that suit us traditionalists largely work well. While a good idea in principal the ISO dial perhaps does not add much true functionality over a button push and scroll wheel and can cause a minor issue that adds an extra step. For example, on the X-E1 if a "Q" menu custom setting preset used DR200 as part of its setting, (which also requires 400 ISO to be set), then the preset would allow 400 ISO to be set by default within that custom setting, so it would just work without an extra step. In the X-T1 you can set DR200 as part of a custom setting preset, but as there is an ISO dial, the ISO option is not in the Q menu any more. If you select the custom setting (that contains the DR200 setting) in the Q menu when the ISO dial is on say 200, then DR 200 cannot work properly. Insead the DR icon is highlighted orange to show you that you need to change the ISO dial to 400. In other respects the dial is fast and useful, especially when changing between auto and fixed ISO settings. The upside of the system is that now, auto ISO can easily be switched on to use with any of the 7 custom settings with a quick twist of the dial, whereas before it was limited to those custom settings you had programmed it to, or meant a trip into the menu to set it.
Auto ISO is useful but still not up to Nikon's excellent implementation, where the camera uses the focal length of the lens to adjust the minimum shutter speed. As I do not use any long tele lenses its no big deal to me as I just set 1/125, which means I should be able to hold the 56 and 60 steady enough and have enough speed to avoid subject motion blur in normal shooting.
The 6 function buttons are great and mean less need to enter menus. You have a wide choice of settings. The moving of bracketing to a dial and function button rather than a drive menu is perhaps a bit more intuitive for those used to SLRs.
Some of the buttons and the knurled, recessed control dials are perhaps on the slightly small and fiddly side of ideal, but I am sure they will be fine with familiarity. When I checked the 4-way controller of the display sample at the photography show I was not happy with them at all. The ones on my camera seem more springy and positive in action, with a small but distinct click, which is a good thing.
I haven't had time to evaluate IQ much but it seems pretty much the same as the X-E1, which is hardly surprising and again a good thing. I think technical tests show a slight improvement in some processing and a stronger tone curve on some film simulations. Being that I found the shadows too clipped on the X-E1 in Astia mode, I opened them in the custom settings even more on the X-T1.
The on-off switch is stiffer and better recessed so it does not keep getting knocked on all the time when moving the camera in and out of bags. This is an annoyance with the X-E1.
The big high resolution rear screen is a huge asset as it allows judgement of critical sharpness and assists when reading the info or composing using the LCD. A neat touch is that a press of the focus assist button in playback zooms into 100% on the focus point. The tilt has huge potential for low or high angle or covert street shooting.
The WiFi looks interesting. I perhaps have little interest in some aspects as I never need/want to upload or share images fast to trash sites like Facebook. However the camera control app for iPad is superb. It gives full control over the camera including touch screen focus. I see some potential here for self portraits, shooting timid animals, shooting from an inaccessible position like a boom or pole or sneaky street shooting.
The accessory flash may be an extra thing to carry around or lose, but it works well and is more powerful and flattering that the normal built-in type. This simple snap illustrates a good quality fill flash with no in-camera adjustments to the default. There are no nasty highlights on skin or hair, nice catchlights and fairly gentle shadows. Nice result.
The DSPTCH strap system is brilliant. Short sections of loop strap go into the normal strap eyes of the camera and either a neck strap or wrist strap can be attached by cinch clips. The straps are beautifully made and complement the style and size of the camera perfectly. If I can source just the loops I may get some so I can use the X-E1 on the same straps.
The Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens seems to be pretty awesome and is fully usable wide open due to its optical quality and the excellent AF accuracy of the system.
Above all, in my limited time with the camera so far, I am loving it and it makes me want to take it out, which after all is what its all about.