Friday, August 29, 2014

Can the Fuji X-T1 really replace a full frame DSLR?

This week my Nikon D810 was in the shop having the thermal light spot issue fixed. I had been using it almost exclusively for my lifestyle photography as a result of its new improvements. Instead of going back to my mainstay lifesyle camera, the Nikon D4, I decided to use only the Fuji X-T1 instead. There were a few times when I had to resort to the D4, usually when I needed the super fast shutter speed, and also when I was using a Nikon SB-910 flash outdoors and I needed a high synch shutter speed.

One of the weaknesses of the Fuji X system is that it doesn't have the sophisticated flash units of pro level DSLR cameras. For instance, I have no trouble integrating a Nikon SB-910  into a bright outdoors setting with a Nikon camera because the shutter speed can synch at very high levels. When using the same flash -- or any flash -- with my X-T1 I have to resort to the maximum speed of 1/185 second, and that is with a low ISO of 200. This doesn't allow much in terms of exposure maneuverability. In these circumstances I am stuck compensating by stopping down, or, if I want to keep the lens wide open, of using ND filters.

Aside from this one weakness, however, the Fuji X-T1 came through with flying colors. The lenses I used with it were the 56mm f/1.2, 35mm f/1.4, 23mm f/1.4, 10-24mm f/4 zoom, and Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 macro. That was it.

I did use the X-T1 with the Nikon SB-910 flash units for quite a number of situations, triggering it with the Yongnuo RF-603NII  flash transmitters I tested with a Fuji X-camera in a previous blog post. The flash units will only work manually with the Fuji X cameras, but I normally use camera flash manually anyway so this was not a problem.

For this photo and the one below, the Nikon flash was placed behind the model's head and triggered remotely using the Yongnuo RF-603NII . For this photo the flash was hidden behind the model's head. In the shot below the flash was off to the left of the model and shining directly into the camera to cause the flare. Both photos were taken in a shadowy area of a parking lot, and all the bright light was supplied by the flash unit. And, yes, the motorcycle was stationary. 

It is obvious where the SB-910 flash was placed in the photo. It is shining directly into the camera lens, the Fuji 10-24mm zoom. 

Here I placed the flash unit in the refrigerator. The Yongnuo RF-603NII  had no trouble triggering it. Unlike using the Nikon flash units with a Nikon camera, line-of-site is not an issue. 

Yongnuo RF-603NII flash trigger for Nikon flash units sits on top of my X-T1. The Nikon flash unit is then mounted onto a second flash trigger. This system was used to fire the flash used to take all the photos above. The flash units only work in manual mode due to the limitations of the Fuji X camera. The system is relatively inexpensive at $35 for two units. Best place to pick these up is from Amazon where you can get immediate shipping. 

No flash used here, only a very strong back light. 

Extreme backlighting with no front fill. The X-T1 had no trouble focusing or dealing with the light in this harsh situation.
Bottom line results for this week's experiments is that I would have no trouble using the Fuji X-T1 as my principal camera. It focuses fast and accurately, and once you are accustomed to the nuances of working mirrorless instead of through the lens, some of the benefits -- like being able to actually see what how the exposure will look -- make up for the limitations.

One thing I did notice after completing my edit and post-processing of these shoots is that they seemed to require the least amount of post-processing correction compared to my normal workflow from other cameras. In fact, I was surprised when some images required literally nothing at all. Considering that I usually work -- intentionally -- under difficult lighting conditions, this was even more surprising.

Fujifilm has been doing a yeoman's job of supplying a new type of pro-quality mirrorless camera accompanied with exceptional optics.  Eventually, the company is going to have to turn its attention to the producition of a fully integrated flash units to round out the system.


  1. Very interesting pictures- Thanks for sharing them with us.

  2. So what's the answer to the question posed in the title?