Fuji XT-1 Update Part I

For those of you that might have had the notion that I’ve gone around the bend, or maybe had some sort of EVF induced catastrophic seizure while using the Fuji XT-1 I’m here to offer a first real update. Real in the sense that I spent the last couple of weeks shooting the living hell out of it. Consciously or subconsciously I chucked subject matter and scenarios at the little Fuji that are difficult by any measure. I pulled no punches my first time out using an EVF only cam. I treated it exactly like I would my Nikon Df — even worse in most cases.

NSFW

Sorry for the NSFW stuff but I didn’t set out to make demo images or StupidCrap™. I did that for the better part of a week when the camera first arrived. Instead I jumped in the deep end. I’ll explain briefly. My biggest gripe with EVF only cameras is I quite literally cannot use them for the vast majority of what I happen to be interested in making. I’ve tried. In real world light that I find myself in the viewfinder is so, so, off in terms of lag that it not only makes me seasick but even more importantly throws my timing off. For those of you that make pictures of static subjects most of the time I guess that’s no big deal. Not at all what I’m interested in at the moment.

So, jumping right in the very first thing I did with the XT-1 was extremely timing dependent. I hosted a workshop titled Painting With Motion. Making pictures of people and stuff that are moving at various shutter speeds to achieve various effects. Some really slow shutter speeds with woosh-y fabrics and colors along with reasonably fast shutter speeds of very fast moving objects/people. It was fun. As usual for this sort of thing I only made a few shots each setup as demos and examples. Contrary to what would have happened if I used the X100S EVF or other older cameras I’ve tried I didn’t completely embarrass myself — hey, when hosting a workshop you need to look like you know what you’re doing…

A little Bettie Page inspired action. Take my word for it when I tell you that the stuff shot at 1/125 that has fast moving stuff is far more difficult to get right timing wise than the slower fabric woosh-y kinda artsy-fartsy setups prior to this. I have to rate the XT-1 as adequate for my purposes on this kind of thing — that’s a huge thing in my book and something I expected to be lacking. Beyond doubt I could not do this with my XPro-1 EVF nor the X100S EVF and definitely not in 4 or 5 shots.

So with that out of the way what else did I throw at the little Fuji? Well without really planning to do so I shot a ton of stuff for on-going personal projects that don’t see the light of day here most of the time. I probably shot more in the last two weeks than I did all winter for a few of those projects. When I’m finally done there will be a book and a print showing but that’s down the road a bit. It just so happens that opportunities presented themselves in the middle of the night. The whole project just doesn’t work with a bunch of gear, lights, setting up strobes, etc.

The shot at the top is a semi-random selection representative of the whole feel. What’s the big deal? Well nothing except I shot it with three 25watt light bulbs. Twenty-five watts, as in incandescent bulbs rather than LED or florescent. That’s damned dark. One in the lamp you see, one bare on a stick without a shade, and the other in a paper globe high in that room. Translation in terms of exposure was 1/125 f/1.8 ISO 1600. That’s definitely EVF no-go territory in my previous lousy experiences. I had no issues with timing to get what I was after in a fluid situation.

Pushing it even further I went to a single 25watt bulb on a stick. Even that was fine. No issue timing what I wanted at all.

Or…

This kind of scenario is pushing just about any camera to it’s limits. I’m talking really dark as in 1/60s f/1.4 ISO 6400. For me timing, gesture, fleeting moment in a dynamic situation is everything. I was shocked that I found the XT-1 EVF adequate for my needs in these kind of conditions.

It may not be clear that gesture and timing is important in the above images. From my point of view it’s everything. It might not be clear how fluid the scene was. Okay, here’s a few more shot with a 150watt bulb at 2 or 3am one night. These might be more illustrative…

or this?

All of these are pretty much similar in terms of the dynamic it’s just a matter of when I decide to hit the shutter…

or…

or…

All pretty much the same dynamic, I can tell and from my POV far different then a subject in stasis. Hope that sums up why things that throw off my timing are a show-stopper.

I’ll be the first to shout it from the rooftops that the XT-1’s EVF is technically adequate for my needs. EVF’s in Fuji’s before that — nope. I’ve tried them under similar conditions. Truthfully even under far better conditions in terms of amount of light and less fluid scenes. I’m going to stick to my six month commitment and have no hesitation that I can make the pictures I’m interested in making under challenging circumstances with the XT-1 and it’s EVF. Does this mean I like EVF’s more than OVF’s? Not a chance. I still like OVF’s better, they’re still more comfortable but I’ve put the question of if I can use them to bed. The bigger question now is if I want to. The six months of EVF only should give me adequate time to get used to them. It will also give me enough real-world experience to determine the upsides and downsides that I care about along the way.

I’ll let this update stand for a bit even though there are a dozen other findings I made while using the crap out of the camera for the last two weeks. I’ll save that for a little later this week.

RB

blog comments powered by Disqus