Thoughts on the Fujifilm X-T1 + Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS


Kit

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Jan 19, 2002
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#1
Introduction

For a few years, I have been searching for a lightweight alternative to the DSLR. I’ve used a few Micro 4/3 , Fujifilm X cameras and even Sony’s A7R. I thought Sony’s full frame cameras will be the closest alternatives to my DSLRs. The lack of reliable wide angle lenses for that system suggested otherwise. Then came the X-T1 and the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS. I bought the X-T1 in March 2014, in anticipation of the ultra wide angle zoom lens. The latter became available in early April 2014 and I bought that too. Here’s a review based on actual usage. Do take note that I am using the X-T1 for architectural and cityscapes mostly and what I find matters a great deal might not be so to you.

Likes and dislikes

The built of the X-T1 is definitely good, better than Sony’s A7R, my previous lightweight alternative to the DSLRs. There are no squeaky noises, rattles or lose flappy parts to talk about. Both the MHG-XT and VG-XT1 attached to the X-T1 as if they were an integral part. No squeaky noises or rattles either.

Most of the critical controls on the X-T1 are accessible via a few dials on the top plate, just like an old school SLR. The settings I often change are the ISO and exposure compensation settings so having dedicated dials is convenient. However, all three dials use different (locking) mechanisms and I do not see the point for this. ISO dial - Push lock button down and turn dial to desired ISO value. Shutter speed dial - Push lock button down to switch to shutter speed mode from A mode. You do not have to push the lock button if you are switching between shutter speeds. Exposure compensation dial - No lock. This dial is located closest to the edge of the camera so why a lock button is left out eludes me. Come on Fuji! Make up your mind!

The four way controller buttons are a pain as well (I am echoing other reviews). They (especially the right and down buttons) are unresponsive and often require a few tries to make them work. I wish for more functions to be assigned to any of the six customisable buttons i.e. format. Other than these, the X-T1 is a camera with decent ergonomics and intuitive controls. The tilting LCD appears to be well built like the rest of the camera. mechanisms require some effort to operate, unlike the tilting LCD on the A7/R, which is a little flimsy.

No surprises for the menu interface. The entire menu is organised into different sections and is straight forward with no unfamiliar or funny terminologies (unlike some others trying to reinvent the wheel). Being able to remotely control the X-T1 via an app on a smart phone is cool but I’m not sure if I will use this function at all. I wish to have a few more customisable white balance settings instead of one though.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is the largest I’ve ever seen. Its extremely clear and useful for working out that composition in bright sunny days. In low light conditions, I actually prefer the EVF over the optical viewfinders (OVF). The EVF is brighter. Probably one of the most useful tools I get to view in the EVF is the built-in electronic leveller. Even though its a single axis leveller, I find it useable and precise enough for quick snaps. A dual axis leveller would be nice though.

Battery management on Fujifilm cameras is primitive! Not only the % of remaining battery life is not shown, the bar indicator is not even proportional to actual battery usage. For those who are new to Fujifilm cameras, you might be surprised to see that the camera go from two bars to one bar and to a complete flat in just thirty mins! Fuji! What were you thinking?! Have spare batteries ready and change them when the indicator turns red. You will need spare batteries anyway since battery life isn’t that great on the X-T1. A fully charged battery will usually give me about three hundred shots.

Not really into measuring autofocus (AF) speed but I feel the X-T1’s AF is sufficiently quick for my work but its not as decisive in low light conditions. Its definitely a step above the X-E1 and X-E2 though. Currently, I am using three lenses with the X-T1. Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS, Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 and Zeiss Touit Distagon 12mm f/2.8. AF with the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 is a little slower compared to the other 2 lenses. I suspect this is because the lens is not using an internal focussing system.

I am never a big fan (or an expert) of manual focussing, especially with lenses which do not come with a distance scale. On top of that, Manual focussing with wide angle lenses while looking through the viewfinder is never easy. These lenses have way to deep a depth of field. As such, I seldom manual focus with mirrorless cameras unless I absolutely have to. Like the previous X cameras, the X-T1 has two manual focus assists. The split screen and focus peaking. The split screen focussing is useless, to me at least. The shift in focus is very minute with wide angles lenses. Focussing at wide open helps a little though. Focus peaking is better in determining the area in focus. However, I feel this is where Sony’s A7/R excelled where the area in focus is much easier to identify through the viewfinder. Peaking on Fujifilm cameras have lots of room for improvement.

Accessories

The accessories I’ve bought for the X-T1 are the MHG-XT handgrip, VG-XT1 battery grip. Why buy two? Well, they serve different purposes. The MHG-XT is a hybrid of a deeper finger grip with Arca Swiss compatible groves for mounting the camera onto a tripod head - Arca Swiss compatible of course. When you have short battery life, it pays to have the VG-XT1 where you can fit an additional battery for that extra "range". The battery grip will give you a deeper finger grip (not as deep as the MHG-XT though) and an addtional set of vertical controls i.e. shutter release buttons, dials and focus assist/AE-L/AF-L buttons. I've also bought the RR-90 wired remote release, a no-brainer if you take photos in Bulb mode. Note that the older wired remote releases will not work with the X-T1.

 

Kit

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#2
Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS

Initial impression

I've had this lens for about 3 weeks and have used it for cityscapes photography mostly. Prior to this lens, the one and only wide angle X mount lens I was using is the Zeiss Touit Distagon 12mm f/2.8. Its a great lightweight lens but the XF 10-24mm f/4 provides a wider perspective, which is useful for interior photography. The lens has a 72mm filter thread, the largest of any XF lenses so far. Initially, I thought it would be oversized when mated with the X-T1. However, the XF 10-24mm f/4 is pretty well balanced with the X-T1 (with MHG-XT attached). The built of the XF 10-24mm f/4 is like the other XF lenses, which is good. Most of the real estate on the lens barrel is taken up by the aperture ring, focussing ring and zoom ring and they come in two flavours. The aperture and focussing rings are made of ribbed metal. The zoom ring is mage of rubber with similar ribbed pattern. The lens comes with Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS). Quite frankly, I don’t see the need for OIS on wide angles but since its there, I’ll just use it for handheld shots. A dedicated plastic lens hood is included with the lens. So far, initial experience with the XF 10-24mm f/4 is positive.
 

Kit

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#3
The things which matter

If you are into architectural and cityscapes photography, a lens with good control in curvilinear distortions is always welcomed. Though most of these distortions can be corrected with lens profiles, some complex distortions are not as straight forward to deal with. Always appreciate a well controlled lens. The XF 10-24mm f/4 is one such lens. It appears that this lens does not display any or have no curvilinear distortions at all, even at the widest focal length. I didn’t have to correct any curvilinear distortions on my photographs so far. The following photographs illustrate my point. No curvilinear correction was used.

 

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Kit

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#4
Colours - Out of camera JPEGs

The XF 10-24mm f/4 is capable of producing very vivid colours under the right conditions and settings. I probably am being a parrot since Fujifilm is famous for colours - think Velvia. Talking about that, X cameras come with a series of film simulation modes and Velvia is one of these. I tried it out. Colours are more vibrant compared to the Standard/Provia mode. The photographs below were taken at -1EV to achieve more saturated colours. With the Velvia mode, I find the colours to be a tad too strong. I would pull back the exposure by 1/3EV in this instance. There are B&W filters too. I didn't like these too much as I prefer more control over my monochromes. So its Silver Efex for them.

 

Kit

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#6
Image quality

The XF 10-24mm f/4 is commendable. This lens, going to 10mm is invaluable for wide angle photography, with a relatively compact barrel thrown in. Image quality is good in general, expecially in the centre of the frame. Corners suffer a little on the wider end. I find the XF 10-24mm f/4 to be comparable to my Zeiss Touit Distagon 12mm f/2.8 at 12mm edges to edges. The Zeiss is very good so that says a lot about the cheaper zoom lens. However, at 10mm, we seem to be losing a little micro contrast in the corners. Hey! At that wide, at that price and in that size, something's got to give right?

The round up

The X-T1 + XF 10-24mm f/4 is probably something which is closest to my usual working setup. One major drawback for me is that there are no options for me to correct perspectives optically. This is probably a unfair comment since I know there are no tilt/shift options for Fujifilm cameras before I bought the X-T1. Having a Nikon D800E also means that I have access to high resolution photographs for big prints, cropping, more complex post editing work flows, etc. So can I use the X-T1 for my work? Nope, but it sure is a very capable camera. Just not something I need.

 

stuck

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Mar 12, 2010
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#7
Thanks for taking time to do this helpful review. I've also recently got my paws on a copy of the XF10-24mm, but haven't had the time to really test it out. Some initial thoughts are that the starbursts from pointed light sources are mildly disappointing from this lens. All the lights seem to turn out as mushy blobs, rather than crisp starbursts.

Is this consistent with your experience as well?
 

Kit

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#8
I did not use the lens for night photography so am not sure if my copy will behave the same. However, like I mentioned , micro contrast seems to be taking a hit at the widest end. This is especially so at the corners. Details might appear mushy at times.
 

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