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Date: 20/01/2014 | By: Mathieu

Hopes, Thoughts and Trust: The upcoming Fujifilm X-T1

ILCE-7, 1/125, f/ 4/1, ISO 1600

Hopes, Thoughts and Trust: The upcoming Fujifilm X-T1

I apologise in advance for talking about something that hasn’t been released, let alone announced yet. But… I couldn’t resist! My enthusiasm for cameras is one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place and I’m actually glad to see that I’m not the only one on the Web who can’t wait to write something about the long-rumoured Fujifilm X-T1. But what’s all the fuss about, anyway?

Well, there are actually many things to be excited about it. I won’t comment on every spec rumoured these days. For that, you can always visit the excellent Fujirumors website, where you can also see many pictures of the camera. Instead of talking specs which haven’t been confirmed yet, I prefer to highlight the reasons why I think this camera could be a real whopper.


I’m looking forward to the X-T1 mainly because I am curious to answer one question:

Can the new Fujifilm beat the OM-D E-M1 on its own terrain – that is, autofocus speed and accuracy?

When the MILC market first started to grow and capture the attention of enthusiasts and photographers, it was found that they continued to lag behind DSLRs concerning many crucial features a professional needs from his camera, and one of them was autofocus. Then Panasonic and particularly Olympus showed that a fast autofocus was more than possible on a MILC and today the OM-D E-M1 has taken a step up to the next level: it is the first mirrorless camera that can rival mid and high end DSLRs for AF speed and accuracy. Note that I am saying rival, but that doesn’t mean that it performs better. I would say the E-M1 is pretty darn close to DSLR performance.

On the Fuji side of the story, autofocus has always been its Achilles’ Heel. Yes, the company has shown great dedication by listening to its customers and adding concrete firmware updates, but we aren’t quite there yet. When Fuji released the X100s, they claimed it had the world’s fastest autofocus, but in the real world this proved to be wrong. There is certainly a great improvement over the X100 but there still remains a lot of work to do. The same thing can be said for the X-E2 versus the X-E1.

So why should the X-T1 be different in terms of AF performance?

Well, because many other aspects of the camera that are being talked about these days point in a more professional direction: weather sealing, fast continuos shooting, dual SD card slot, SLR design, battery grip and the already confirmed f/2.8 constant aperture zoom lenses. Also, there seem to be new and clever dials that allow you to control all the main settings without having to access the menu.

In my opinion, there is only one reason to include all these impressive specs and design these new professional-grade lenses – Fujifilm is finally closing the autofocus gap. Photographers will likely use these new lenses for work assignment – think weddings, event reportage, dance or theatre shows, all situations where a fast and reliable AF is crucial. Fuji’s decision to change the design of the body is not a coincidence either. It is small enough to keep the system compact but with a solid grip and a more natural “DSLR” feeling. And let’s not forget about the EVF, which could be even bigger than the one built into the OM-D E-M1. All these elements in the equation can only lead to one result: Speed and Power.

Speed and Power are what I’m hoping for.


If speed is going to be the main feature of the X-T1, we may well be approaching a very important step in the development of the mirrorless segment.

The OM-D E-M1 has already proven a great alternative to DSLRs for many aspects with the addition of its unique 5-axis stabilisation. Sony, with its A7 and A7r, has also attracted many professionals to its side because of its full frame sensors.

And then we have Fuji, whose X cameras are probably the most popular amongst those who also photograph for a living. However, up until now, Fuji cameras have always been a different alternative to DSLRs than Olympus cameras. The rangefinder design and fast/high quality primes encouraged many photographers to update their approach to certain genres of photography such as street and documentary wedding. Some have already made the complete switch, whereas others have placed the X system alongside their main system for work (mostly DSLRs).

If the X-T1 is really that good concerning speed and AF, could it be the camera to trigger more ‘system switching’ than any other model?

After all, a camera with these specs would certainly be the next best choice below a DSLR. An APS-C sensor that many photographers can digest better than Micro Four Thirds (which, we must say, is often wrongly underestimated). A compact system with very high quality lenses. A body that performs like a DSLR or close enough to it. Yes, with a camera like this, Fujifilm is indeed bearing a great responsibility on its shoulders.


Fujifilm seems to have thought the X system through very well up until now. They started out with professionals in mind, and subsequently expanded the system to enthusiasts and amateurs after solidifying their name in the hearts of a community of photographers who honestly believe in the system and love to write about it.

When I wrote my X-Pro1 complete review, I titled it “A System that aims for perfection”. The updated lens road map and this new camera may surely be confirmation of this. I think Fujifilm knows what is at stake here. And up until now, they had proven to be a brand worth trusting.

Admit it, we are a fun couple :)
Admit it, we are a fun couple ;-)

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Mathieu

    Hopefully we will know it very soon 😉

  • karl bratby

    Lets hope the XT-1 will be all that is promised and expected from fuji…

  • Wing

    I agree with you, once again.

    Pure photography should be more a state of mind and approach towards photo making rather than some novelty design… one, in the Df’s case, which doesn’t quite measure up to the concept and hype.

    Mirrorless cameras are definitely a force to be reckoned with this year and beyond.

    I know you’re kidding about smartphones, but, I admit a lot of smartphones are getting quite impressive with photo & video, but no matter how good they are…. even if they can match a “real” camera in IQ, I would not use one in a professional setting… not in the foreseeable near future, anyways. Clients simply won’t take you seriously with a point & shoot phone.

  • Mathieu

    I agree as well with your thoughts. The X-T1 is certainly aiming to a new segment, which is different than the rangefinder segment. I think it is Fuji’s strategy to compete stronger against DSLRs. This is why it is an important step. I agree with you, I prefer to use an X-Pro/E2 with primes. The X-T1 will have an ergonomics more suited for zoom lenses.
    About the Nikon DF, I don’t know exactly what Nikon tried to do honestly. They launched a campaign that was leading to a camera like the X-T1, and they actually delivered a kind of “steampunk” DSLR as someone called it :)
    Personally, I don’t mind the design, it is original in a way. But it is just a DSLR masked in a “kind of” retro design but that’s it. There is nothing about pure photography in there. And I don’t think that “pure photography” products is something that you can improvise, and that seems to be the case with Nikon, but maybe I am wrong.
    The X-T1 can potentially be an E-M1 competitor. That makes things very interesting, because that will force brands to implements concrete improvements every time they release a new product. 2014 could be a very interesting year for mirrorless cameras from a professional point of view. And eventually, Nikon and Canon will have to react if Olympus and Fuji cameras sell a lot in the years to come. And there is also Sony… These are definitely interesting time, if smartphones don’t take over everything…kidding 😀

  • Wing

    I agree with your thoughts on the new X-T1.

    Excuse me if the following sentences go off on tangents a bit, but I’d like to chime in with my thoughts on the X-T1 as well..

    I think the X-T1 will be the new flagship, but for fear of alienating or pissing off current X-Pro 1 users, they may not mention this status change.. actually, I think the X-Pro 1, even with latest firmware upgrades, I would not consider the flagship anymore.. I think that title currently belongs to the X-E2 as it has the latest hardware and firmware and greatest functionality of all the X cameras, imho. The X-E2 is essentially the improved X-Pro 1, minus a few $100’s and the cool, but completely novelty and not so useful hybrid OVF. But, I digress…

    It just makes sense with all the X-T1’s specs which are rumored and leaked (weather sealed, best largest EVF, fast performance, pro battery grip, dual card slots, etc…) that it should hold flagship status.. very true if it has finally obtained what no other Fuji X camera has done in the past, true, fast, accurate and reliable/consistent AF.

    Although I also love the original X cameras’ rangefinder-style design, it ultimately isn’t a true rangefinder and I don’t think it makes sense or practical to make a true rangefinder also geared towards sports or action photography. It’s traditionally has, and should still remain, a camera for stills. That’s the style and way of photographing that go hand in hand… my opinion, ok?

    But, I really dig the new retro slr style for the X-T1. They have done a better job at getting the proportions and size right, compared to the Nikon Df. An old retro slr style camera should be pretty flat, and compact, still.. Fuji got it right, the Df, unfortunately going with a mirror and wrapping retro pieces around dslr components still left it a bit too fat and bulky… it has it’s cool form factor.. if you like rough old school Star Wars designed spaceships and tech, you will like the Df’s looks. Anyways, I’ll restate again, Fuji X-T1 looks right for the role.

    I like the Df, but I’m not a Nikon shooter and don’t have any Nikkor glass (or the like) to justify buying into a FF camera like that. To start from the ground up, the X-T1 makes more economical sense for my style of shooting which doesn’t require or missing anything from not using Full Frame. The APS-C sensor in Fuji X cameras are very good.. but, I always wished they had better AF, and because I missed enough shots do to poor unreliable focusing, I gave up my X100 & X10 for an OM-D E-M5.

    Also, the controls and functionality for the X-T1 appear to be much more intuitive and streamlined with less confusion or redundancy compared to the Df… I won’t get in too deep about it, but I will try and keep it short by stating it seems there are a lot of settings and presetting to consider when switching between lenses (new & old) and shooting modes and exposure controls have a bit too many ways about them to simply set them and get the work done. A camera geared towards pure photography and supposedly simplifying the art of taking photography has a number of design/function issues which frankly seem to retard the process and make it not so straightforward as it is supposed to be. A tilt screen is definitely welcomed, too, but not on the Df… So, thanks X-T1! for a tilt screen!.. I primarily like to shoot through the VF, but there are moments which being able to frame the shot from high above or down below quickly would have benefitted from a tilt screen in previous X cameras. And, compared to the Df again, it was smart to keep video capability in the X-T1. Simply having that option available, be it not often used, is better than not. Really… how is keeping a video record button and movie mode going to get in the way of “pure photography”?… just don’t think about using it, done!

    Anyways, the X-T1 is exciting news and I look forward to the official announcement with final specs and pricing in about a week from today (1/22/2014). I have a OM-D E-M1 and love using it everywhere, but I do miss the IQ, nice dynamic range and particularly the color that Fuji X camera’s produce. IF the X-T1 is as good as it looks AND the hope to have a more fully rounded and functional pro-level camera, namely in making a real accurate and reliable AF, it may be hard not to consider trading up my E-M1 for the X-T1 in the near future. The X-T1 really has the potential to be a new class leader… or a very strong contender.

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