It’s been a while since I’ve done full on camera review. I think camera reviews are some of the hardest reviews to do simply because the only thing that really matters is the final product. Are the pictures good and did the camera capture the scence the way you saw it or better? When looking for a backpacking camera I usually even take in to consideration how good is the camera in comparison to other cameras of similar weight and features.
In a backpacking camera I am looking for a few of these essential aspects:
- Picture quality – how good are the pictures and what is “good enough” for the desired trip
- Weight – I would never bring a big full frame Nikon or Canon with me as the weight doesn’t justify the end results (in my opinion)
- Water proofing – Some waterproofing is usually a good idea as the longer I am out the less I care if my gear gets wet.
- usability – This perhaps effects me more than it might others; I come from a background of analog cameras – in face I still use a prefer analog for just about everything. So usability for me is very important, I want a camera to be fun to use.
- Battery life – The longer the battery life the less batteries and recharges I need to bring i.e much less weight.
In my book Ultralight and comfortable I have a chapter just on cameras and what is important for me and what cameras I have used.. So I wont repeat that here. In anycase I have used a few cameras while backpacking and the Sony A7R was the predecessor to the Fujifilm X-t1 in my camera bag. I had the Sony A7r for roughly over a year and was never really impressed with the picture quality, the colors or the feel of the camera. I had it because it was a fullframe camera in a (near) pocket format. I traded my Sony A7R for the Fujifilm X-T1 as it was a little smaller and seemed a little more “inspiring” to use. On top of that I was tired of Sony as a brand altogether and their constant shitting on me as a consumer. I will leave that for another discussion but lets put this into perspective: The fujifilm X-pro1 was released I believe in 2011 and is still updated today. Sony might release one firmware update and 5 new cameras in the same time frame – leaving the camera you bought completely obsolete in a just a few years. This isn’t just cameras that sony has this mindset with – I would say it pretty much reflects their business model: Make everything half-assed and release hardware upgrades every year.
Anyway, now the background of my why I went over to Fuji is a little more clear I will discuss the camera itself. I have owed the Fujifilm X-t1 for over a year now and have used it thoroughly during that time.
What is the Fujifilm X-T1:
The Fujifilm X-T1 is a digital mirrorless SLR APS-C sensor camera. APS-C simply means the sensor is smaller than fullframe (35mm) and in theory should produce lesser quality pictures than fullframe and higher. I won’t go into too deep details about the innards of the camera, what I can say is that I avoided Fuji altogether for a long time simply because they are not fullframe.
I will start with the looks because it’s the looks that sold me on this camera. I decided it was ok for me to “downgrade” from the Sony because this camera looked amazing and my hope was that it would inspire me more than perhaps the sony has. A year later I still love the looks of this camera, and in my opinion it is still the best looking camera available. (for those of you that know me I even own and have owned several different Leicas.. this camera is sexier than those)
From the retro dials to the full analog controls – this camera is hard to beat. Not only does it look good but every button and knob has a useable function. I use this camera almost entirely in manual mode, I just love being able to turn all the knobs and settings before hand and click away. I have to compare this to the Sony, as the sony in my opinion was just boring as hell to use.
The layout, functions and ease of use of this camera really does inspire. Having it strapped around my neck while in town or out in the woods is simply amazing. It’s hard to explain but it’s pretty close to the old analog SLRs of the past (Nikon F3, Canon AE-1) and so on.. in feel, miles ahead in function.
The Fujifilm X-T1 with the kit lens 18-55mm, at 778grams, is by no means heavy. However it is of course very heavy in comparison to compact digitals and so on. Maybe for hobby backpackers and photographers it could be a bit overkill. Though when compared to other cameras that offer similar picture quality – (sony A7R with zeiss 24-70lens, Canon Full-frame and Nikon fullframe) it is considerably lighter. And that’s kind of my point here – this camera cannot be compared to other APS-C cameras or compacts, this camera has to be compared with premium fullframe cameras and lenses simply because it blows everything else out of the water in terms of weight and quality.
If you are however like me and do public galleries of your photos than compact cameras simply won’t do. This camera gives me results better than my Sony A7R ever did.
This is something I honestly don’t really care about as long as it exists and works. The Fujifilm in my experience holds up very well in wet conditions. It’s not unusual for me to be stuck out in heavy wind, rain and altogether shit weather and take pictures.. I love the atmosphere those conditions create. The fujifilm is still holding strong.
This is for me the Fujifilms biggest weakness – the battery life is pretty bad when compared to the other premium fullframe cameras from Nikon and Canon. I once wrote that mirrorless cameras eat batteries like as fat kid eats big macs: they swallow them whole – that is definetly the case here. On paper the Fujifilm X-T1 gets around 350 pictures. I suppose this holds up though I honestly haven’t counted for myself. I can say that if I’m out for a week I have to bring about 4-5 extra batteries. (these weigh 30grams each so it’s not killing me). Still, it’s a hassle.
I left the most important factor for last, the truth is nothing about a camera matters if the pictures it produces suck. For me, if I have to spend hours behind a computer to get the colors and feel that I want, than the camera sucks. I have used many cameras over the years, and many full-frames cameras to boot. To be honest I see no difference from the little Fujifilm sensor when compared to the fullframe monsters. If nothing else I actually find the files this cameras produce are far better than anything I ever got out of my fullframe cameras. Most of the pictures on display here under are barely re-touched in anyway, maybe a slight adjustment in certain aspects but for the most part many of them are jpgs from the fujifilm X-T1:
I was sceptical to buying the Fujifilm X-T1 simply because it wasn’t fullframe, so it took me awhile to make the transition; I can say now that it will take something really special for me to leave fuji. The quality of the camera, the colors, files and lenses just puts this camera on pedastol above anything else on the market right now.
If you want a professional lightweight camera to bring with you on trips whether backpacking or tourists, this is the only camera you need.