Friday, January 22, 2016

I Love This Camera! Is it the Holy Grail?

Of course not. You can stop reading now unless you want to know why...

Still here? Okay. It is a FANTASTIC camera. I'll say that right up front. The sensor and images are absolutely magnificent. Of course, I shoot RAW, but I hear the jpg's are good too! With it, I bought the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 "kit" lens. I quote the word kit, because I have never had a kit lens that good. I'll write about that in another article. Here are my observations in no logical order...

Sensor is fantastic. On vacation, after owning it a few days, I took it out at night and just shot. No flash, mostly at 6400 ISO. Is it grain free? No, and I don't care. The noise is just that, grain. I dare say it is pleasant. My Nikon would through out a bunch of color noise, but this one keeps that under control. My standard processing went like this in Lightroom with my presets. Slight sharpening, lens correction then tweaking. Here's the kicker. NO NOISE REDUCTION at all! Sharpen a 6400 ISO photo and don't do noise reduction? Yup... You can see some of it on my Google + Collection here.

Because of the ever moving subjects and light, I ended up just putting it in auto aperture, shutter and ISO. (P)ro mode for the Fujifilm uninitiated. I still have to get more used to the controls and adjusting settings before I can do it as quickly as my DSLR, which I always shoot full manual. It does a pretty good job. There is one thing I noticed that I am not sure if it's me or the camera. In really bright sunlight, when brought into Lightroom, the highlights seemed to always be blown out. I got red flashes all over the place. Just a reminder, these are RAW files, so the in camera adjustments don't affect them. I could pull them back down, but I can say it was annoying to have to do. I wonder also, since detail was still in the highlights if it was just Lightroom not knowing that they weren't actually blown out, but was still alerting and appearing blown. I need more investigation about this one.

The Fuji is definitely slowing me down in full manual. I am not 100% comfortable with the controls yet, but at least so far, it is making me think a little more before I take the shot. I think when shooting the DSLR, but actually moving my fingers and physically changing settings on the Nikon is second nature to me. The dials on the X-T1 are in their natural places, but having to push the button to unlock the ISO dial was a bit of a pain walking in and out of light when I shot it for the week I was in Key West. I appreciate that that it can be knocked out of its setting, but that was a little disconcerting and it ended up in auto. We'll see over time, if I can get it working for me.

I haven't had any problems focusing. I usually stick to single point in the center on the second smallest size. I use manual focus and the AF/L lock to get it to focus and recompose. It reacts just like back button focus on my Nikon. I tried using zone and all of the other fancy focus modes, but I have just never liked them, on any camera. I rarely missed focus, even at night in areas barely lit by street lights. Absolutely no problems there.

Flash? On camera TTL is great with the included mini flash and with the Nissin. Lack of a trigger makes it a little difficult to be lazy and shoot TTL off camera. The Nissin makes it a little easier to shoot in manual due to the dials. I'll probably sell or retire my Yongnuo triggers in favor for the Cactus V6 due to compatibility between systems. Once that happens, I may just roll over and start using this full time when I can integrate all of my strobes with the X-T1 for manual flash work, but sometimes, I just want to be lazy and TTL away!

Aesthetically, this camera is gorgeous. I would have opted for the graphite version, but I couldn't justify the extra money for the same functionality. That said, this is a purdy camera.

Will I keep it? Yes. Am I happy with it? Yes. Does it do everything I want it to do? Almost! The gist of the whole thing is the images that come out of this camera, coupled with the low light, high ISO noise is so good, I can't pass it up! The only real downside for me is off camera flash capability, but I will work around that soon!

After a week of vacation and hundreds of shots, I'm very happy with this little guy, overall. Definitely a recommendation from me!
 Fujifilm X-T1