January 28th, and already we have the first major new camera introduction of 2014: the X-T1 from Fujifilm. Which has been on a roll. A romp, you might even say. Cameras are a hobby business at Fuji—a legacy hobby business, but still a hobby business—but a bunch of people there must be having just a whale of a lot of fun.
The cost is $1,299 for the body. I haven't seen anything about when it will ship [UPDATE: Ken Tanaka says March]. Available in black only.
The X-T1, which looks like nothing so much as a mini mirrorless Nikon Df, is to the SLR form-factor what the existing Fujis are to rangefinder-style designs. It has an EVF inside a faux central SLR pentaprism hump, and it's styled like an SLR. An old SLR—it's bristling with knobs 'n' dials. And it arrives with a complete complement of accessories, including a leather case, a vertical battery grip, an additional hand grip in case you wish the built-in handgrip were bigger, four flashes that will fit and work (one of which comes with the camera), a remote release, and even a stereo microphone. Did I mention the body is weatherproof? The body is weatherproof. (Matching lenses—three weatherproof zooms with optical image stabilization—will be along later.)
A friend with insider contacts in the business told me a decade or so ago, when Canon was the undisputed king of cameradom, that the only company Canon feared was Fuji—not Nikon, not Leica, not anybody else, just Fuji. And when Fuji throws its mighty might behind a project, you see it, brother. Note the speed with which the X100 morphed into the interchangeable-lens X-Pro1, or by which the line has proliferated (another industry insider told me in the '90s that that's how you tell when a camera has been particularly successful for a company—it sprouts variants), or by which the XF lens line has bloomed. Fuji even has an XF ~40mm-e pancake already, something I hadn't noticed before right now.
Anyway, what I was going to say is that Fuji has apparently taken pains to address some user concerns with its earlier cameras, mainly in the area of operational speed in various measures. And the team responsible for the X-Pro1's innovative Hybrid Multi Viewfinder has worked its formidable magic on the X-T1's EVF to make sure it's a great one. Dpreview says "its huge electronic viewfinder...is larger than the optical viewfinder on the Canon EOS-1D X."
We can talk about this more in days to come—let's be real, you're not coming here primarily for camera news—but it seems clear that Fuji has just filled another niche within its own niche in the industry. Somebody there loves cameras.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
BH: "This certainly looks like another nice camera from Fuji, but what people who haven't shot with Fujis recently might not realize is that while the bodies and lenses are very nice, the files are even nicer. Make no mistake, Fuji has some serious sensor and software magic going on behind the scenes. These are the first cameras I've ever shot JPEG with because, quite frankly, they can do a better job with their RAW files than I can—at least with regard to colors. There's also some highlight/shadow preservation magic going on behind the scenes; the cameras handle high contrast scenes extremely well.
"Fuji has definitely been working out all the bugs the last couple of years. They're paying attention to their customers and providing them with updated products and firmware that address concerns. If you're on the fence about giving them a go this new body may be worth checking into."
Kenneth Tanaka: "The X-T1 will reportedly begin shipping in early March, Mike. My own opinion of Fujifilm's cameras and lenses could not be higher. I am not especially enamored by the X-Pro1. Good image quality in an innovative but clunky package. But I have been extremely impressed with the X-100/100s and the X-E2. And my collection of Fujinon lenses is second to none in performance (yes, including those German guys' glass). They're each light, relatively compact, fast, sharp, and durable. (They also cost approximately the same as the sales tax on that German glass. Belch.) So I've eagerly pre-ordered the X-T1. Woof woof, baby!"
Kevin Purcell: "The 'hump' is needed because the EVF optics can get rather big especially if you want a 'high magnification' (i.e. large apparent field of view) viewfinder. Olympus has noted this too. The upcoming Olympus E-M10 EVF noticeably 'overhangs' in the same way the Panasonic G5 and G6 EVFs stick out. The Olympus E-M1 hump is even bigger. In previous cameras Fuji has folded the optics in the top left, but that prevents some dials and a flash from being added above them. So there is a tradeoff between 'rangefinder design' and 'SLR design' and the placement of retro dials. The 'hump' is also useful for marketing (especially in the US and Europe) where people know a 'real camera' looks like an SLR (i.e. it has a hump)."
Eli Burakian: "Ah Fuji. I like how they're willing to try new things. I used the Fuji S5 Pro, which was basically a fuji sensor in a Nikon D200 body, for years. The dynamic range of that was incredible and still ranks among the best SLRs from now, and it came out almost a decade ago! I haven't tried any of their new stuff but I'm tempted."
Gordon Lewis: "This is what the Nikon Df should have been, both in terms of size, weight, controls, and layout. Better yet, not only is the body compact, so are the lenses. Are you paying attention Nikon and Canon? (Uh...apparently not.)"
Claude Evans: "Wouldn't it be interesting if Fuji were to make a digital version of the X-Pan panorama camera? The lenses were great, so no development costs there."
GH responds to BH (above): "BH, it's the X-Trans sensor that keeps many shooters away from the Fuji system in the first place. The CFA [color filter array —Ed.] scheme trades low ISO color resolution for better high ISO files, and, despite trying several raw converters, I never got on well with the files of my now sold X100s."
Steve Jacob: "I have been a huge Fuji fan since the first X-Pro1 came out. I was an early adopter with firmware 1.0 and the first three primes. At the time they were quite troublesome. Adobe did a very half-hearted job on the RAW files, focus was hit and miss and slow, and the camera performance was sluggish. But I didn't care. I was having a blast with the mechanical handling and the images were different: Colour and tone wise they just didn't look 'digital.' Zack Arias commented that these cameras do something special in the 'blue hour' after sunset that's just special, and I agree. Though I would also extend that to just about every other hour too. And skin tones are just beautiful.
"Now all the serious issues have been fixed, many new features have been added and I have a brand new camera. Same camera actually, only with Fuji's latest firmware upgrades and its superb new lenses. Fast, accurate AF and a whole bunch of new stuff, including focus peaking, that was not on the original. Two years on, Fuji are still supporting my camera and enhancing its functionality. This is a rare thing.... Even Adobe got its act together and other RAW converters have appeared too. Rumours are Adobe are coming out with another improved version.
"The X-Pro1 was the first emotional camera investment I have made for a long time. I went, I saw, I purchased. My brain never had a chance. It could so easily have ended in tears, but instead I have ended up loving my photography again. I would just like to announce it here. Fuji and I are are getting married. ;-) "