Conclusions and Decisions

Downtown Charlotte, NC from light rail overpass on Trade Street
Downtown Charlotte, NC from light rail overpass on Trade Street

I mentioned in my last post that I had rented a Fuji X-T1 for this past weekend. The last post set the stage for this one. I’ll cut to the chase and save the suspense, and say that I haven’t decided to make any changes, but I was very impressed with the camera. You can stop reading here and look at the pictures, or you can read on. 🙂

Parking garage, downtown Charlotte, NC
Parking garage, downtown Charlotte, NC

My intentions for trying out another kind of camera were simple. I had heard many good things about the compact cameras but had not had a chance to really experience one for myself. I don’t like to have multiple choices when it comes to equipment, preferring instead to have and use whatever camera I feel best suits my needs, and to use that camera for everything I shoot. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have to constantly choose between different cameras, especially where there was a clear first choice. Why, I reasoned, would I ever want to shoot with anything less than my best equipment? It just didn’t make sense.

Painted brick wall, Charlotte NC
Painted brick wall, Charlotte NC

I have been very happy with the results from my current equipment, to the point where I never really think about the gear, I just use it and it works. But I knew that if I ever did decide to change formats or brands that I couldn’t do so without trying out different options. As hard as it is to believe, the 5D Mark III is three years old, and while it isn’t close to being obsolete, that seems to be about the point in the product cycle where there is probably something new on the horizon. All of my lenses are first generation Canon lenses, and while they are certainly not obsolete, I can’t ignore the fact that three of my five main lenses have been replaced by newer technology. At some point it is likely that I am going to need to look at that, and possibly make some changes. It seemed as good a time as any to try out something new.

Lynx Blue Line light rail and Charlotte NC skyline
Lynx Blue Line light rail and Charlotte NC skyline

I decided to rent a Fuji X-T1 because I had narrowed my choices down to a Fuji or an Olympus. I have heard great things about both, but have read some really good things about the Fuji, and especially their evolving lineup of excellent lenses. I still cling to the opinion that a larger sensor is better, and reasoned that all else being equal the APS-C sensor in the Fuji would make it an attractive choice. So I plunked down my money and took my bet.

Electric meter, Charlotte NC
Electric meter, Charlotte NC

I went through LensRentals for the rental, and the whole process could not have been smoother. I reserved the camera and lens online and provided my payment and shipping information. The package arrived at my work address on Thursday as scheduled. I had the camera for the weekend, then packaged it up and dropped it off at the FedEx store on Monday. Done.

Guess what? Another brick wall, Charlotte NC
Guess what? Another brick wall, Charlotte NC

The following is not a review, and I am still evaluating as I go. But several folks have expressed an interest in my thoughts, so here I go.

First Impressions
  • While small, this feels like a well-built camera and lens. Heavier than I expected for the size and heavier than it looks, but very light compared to my Canon.
  • The top dials are laid out in a way that really makes sense, and I liked being able to adjust shutter speed, ISO and aperture with a dial instead of a menu.
  • I had a little previous experience with Fuji’s menu layout from using my X-10. The menus are very similar, and for the most part I was able to figure everything out without looking at the manual.
Roof of transit center, Charlotte NC
Roof of transit center, Charlotte NC
In Use
  • Because the camera is so small relative to my hands, I felt like I could never really get a comfortable grip on the camera, and I kept hitting buttons I didn’t mean to hit.
  • The biggest issue I had was that the battery died after about 200 frames. In hindsight I think it might have been because I had IS set for continuous (had not thought to change it) and even though I had the EVF set up for eye detection, I hadn’t thought about the fact that hanging around my neck that it wouldn’t know the difference between my chest and my eye and be on constantly.
  • The second biggest issue I had was trying to use a polarizer with the EVF. I’d be interested to hear some feedback, but I had a really hard time judging the effect of the polarizer because the camera kept adjusting the exposure – as reflected in the EVF – in real time.
  • My rental came with a standard neck strap, which was too short for me and not nearly flexible enough. It would not stay on my shoulder securely and kept getting in the way. I would definitely buy an Upstrap or a wrist strap.
Shadow on a brick wall, Marion, NC
Shadow on a brick wall, Marion, NC
  • The first photos I looked at were from walking around my neighborhood at dusk, and were taken before I learned how to set up the camera. The files from the shoot on Saturday, and more from Sunday and Monday, were quite impressive.
  • The in-camera JPEGs are very nice. So nice that I could almost shoot JPEGS all the time with this camera, if it wasn’t for the next point.
  • Lightroom does an excellent job with the RAW files, and even offers the ability to mimic some of Fuji’s in-camera film profiles. This gives the ability to get the results of the in-camera processing with the flexibility of RAW files when needed. I like this very much. I could easily create a Develop preset in Lightroom and would take care of 95% of the adjustments I would make.
  • The RAW files are SHARP and show very little noise. Using the Adobe profiles for the Fuji RAW files, I needed to do very little additional adjustment. I used virtually no noise reduction on the files, even at higher ISO, and they take sharpening very well.
  • The camera seems to have an exceptionally accurate metering system, and it nailed the exposure just about every time. The only adjustments I made were for completely personal preference.
  • I did not make any prints yet, but am convinced that the files will make a 16×24 print with no problems.
Brick wall, Marion, NC
Brick wall, Marion, NC
  • If I were to own one, I would need to buy one of the accessory grips.
  • This would definitely be a worthy “first choice” camera when I decide that it’s time to replace what I currently use.
  • The Lensrentals experience was a good one, and I would not hesitate to rent from them again, either to try a lens I intend to buy or to just try out something I’ve heard about
  • I didn’t expect to be so “wow-ed” by a camera that it would convince me to banish my Canon gear to the closet, and I wasn’t. But it was very nice, and if I was starting from scratch I wouldn’t hesitate to consider the Fuji, although I would probably try out some of the competition.
  • I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but the files from this camera have a certain “look” that I really, really like. It isn’t sharpness or color or contrast, but something. I’m still working on it and will explore it some more and report back.
Another brick wall, Marion, NC
Another brick wall, Marion, NC
  • I’m sticking with the Canon for now (as of today at least!), but it wouldn’t take much to convince me to buy an X-T1.  If I were to buy another camera, there is a very good chance that this might be it.
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC

More to come, as I continue to process more photos and think more about my experience!

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Charlotte NC

18 thoughts on “Conclusions and Decisions”

  1. Cool photos and a great read. Somehow I’m not surprised that you’re not jumping ship to the X-T1. It doesn’t sound like you have a need to change and you seem exceptionally satisfied with your current gear. It seems to me that there is very little to gain in terms of improvements between brands or, for that matter, between models. There used to be a few years ago but those differences are diminishing. If you’re not looking at reducing the size and weight of your gear then might as well stick with what you know. Anyway, I’m envious at being able to rent gear as easily as you guys can in the US. No such luck for us here in Australia.

    1. Sounds like an opportunity for you to open up shop, Cedric! I can help finance you … well, maybe enough to get one camera to rent out, but hey, you gotta start somewhere! 🙂

      1. Don’t think I haven’t thought about it Paul. But there’s a reason why we don’t have camera rentals here: a total population only slightly bigger than New York City. By the time you broke even from the rental fees on a camera, you’d be three or four models behind 🙂

    2. Thank you, Cedric. Reducing the size and weight of my gear is really the only reason I would consider changing, and at some point that is going to be a big enough priority to justify the switch. What I wasn’t certain of was how the image quality measured up, because if it didn’t I would not even consider a change. I must say that the files from the Fuji stand up quite well in a comparison with my Canon files, so while I have no immediate plans to make a move, I feel like I can do it confidently when the time comes. I still haven’t ruled out trying the Olympus cameras, and would likely do so before I committed.

      You are right, it is very nice to be able to easily rent cameras and lenses, especially as pro-level camera stores are harder and harder to come by.

      Sounds like fodder for another post on the subject!

  2. A great write-up, Tom. You do have an eye for that architecture. I was standing right beside a number of times and I’m a bit envious of some of the shots that you took. 😉

  3. Thanks, Paul. That’s the great thing about shooting with friends. Everyone has a different eye and comes up with individual results. I’m looking forward to seeing what you and Don came up with. I’m sure you both got some shots that I’ll be envious of, too! 😉

  4. Switching cameras certainly was better justified some years ago – meanwhile we are at a level that the improvements become smaller and smaller. So become cameras, but that alone is rarely a reason to switch from a functioning system – the level of fingertip knowledge when working with the camera is a great asset. Therefore I myself ogled only for a short with an additional camera but learned before buying that I would loose confidence in handling when constantly switching between camera systems.
    In the end, viewing, reception, reaction to a given scenery, an idea of what we want to transport are all more important than the specific camera. So if there’s not a specific reason to change (as my broken DSLR was years ago), the mature and familiar camera you have is the best device and might best be left unchanged as long as possible.

    1. I think you’re right, Marcus. As tempted as I am to make a change I know that there is going to be a tradeoff – perhaps a number of them – to get the smaller size. And then I read Paul S’s comment below and I’m even more sure that staying put is right for now.

  5. I certainly agree with what seems to be the consensus here – that switching for the sake of switching is not a good idea. It’s usually best to stick with what’s comfortable and familiar.

    Having said that, I’ll also say that it’s just a matter of time before the “switch” becomes less of a choice and more of an imperative. That’s especially true if you do a lot of walking around in your picture-making endeavors. I loved my Canon gear and I certainly was familiar with its operation. But the weight finally got to me. Hell, I carried less weighty stuff around when I was in the army all those years ago………

    Maybe it’s just me, but some of these images seem just a wee bit on the bluish side. I wonder if that’s a Fuji thing. My Olympus, on the other hand, often appears a little warm to me.

    1. You’re undoubtedly correct about the inevitability of an eventual change, Paul. It’s probably just a matter of time.

      Regarding the blue color – good question. They look and feel right to me, and I added a touch of warmth to a couple of them. But we had a couple of clear blue sky days here, and those uptown buildings tend to reflect a lot of that sky.

  6. A good report, and again, excellent images. The reason I have the x-e1 is the smaller footprint due to all the travel I was doing. It now seems like the weight of my D300 has doubled, so I use them less. The quality of the JPEG image meets all my needs as seldom make 16 x 20 prints. I’m glad you enjoyed the experience of the camera and LensRental. I would hesitate to abandon York Canon gear, also.

    1. My friend Don that went along with us had a couple of X-E2s, and that’s a sweet little camera. In some ways I like it better than the X-T1. We’re probably one generation away from the camera that puts me over the edge, but for now I’m probably going to stay put.

  7. Tom,
    Like you, It was getting to the point where carrying all my heavy Canon gear everywhere was making think about getting a lighter camera. I sold all my Canon gear and purchased the Olympus OMD EM 1 with several lenses . I really liked using it and liked the fact I could carry and take everything in a smaller camera bag. It was a great camera,but it just seemed it didn’t do everything I was used to my 5D mark2 could do. maybe it was having the full frame. It could of been that i was so use to using Canon gear.I just can’t put my finger on it. I ended up selling it and purchased the 5D mark 3 and new lenses few months ago.

    1. Hey, Paul. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. That’s probably the first time I’ve heard that but I’m not surprised. I know that you make and sell a lot of prints and would imagine that you’d really see the difference in that context. Very interesting perspective!

  8. My first impression is that these are very nice images but I attribute that to your skill and talent more than to any piece of equipment. I like the idea of renting a camera just for the fun of it, too. I may give it some thought myself but only after the weather gets a bit warmer. I like the Fuji and Olympus lines but I really would like to try one of the Sony cameras but for now I’m very satisfied with the Nikon system.

    1. You’re too kind, but thanks anyway, Ken!

      I agree that it is a great opportunity to be able to rent equipment, if for no other reason than to know what is available. I also have some interest in the Sony, as they are producing “full frame” compact cameras that ideally should be the best of both worlds. The knock on Sony among the reviewers is that their lens selection is lacking. But that shouldn’t stop any of us from trying one out and seeing for ourselves.

  9. Once again I’m late visiting those blogs I like to follow. Nice write-up, Tom, and the photos from the X-T1 look good. Still, you’ve got a great camera with your Canon. There will always be tomorrow and new options.

    1. Thanks, Ear…er Brooks. 😉 No worries, you have been just a little busy. Good luck with the sale and upcoming closing. We’d love to meet up with you and Bonnie if you have time before you hit the road.

Comments are closed.