Yeah, it looks sexy and all that jazz. Sure, Zack Arias has sold all his Canon gear for only Fuji bodies and lenses. And, yes everyone is trumpeting on and on about how LIGHTWEIGHT the Fuji is and how tired they (Fuji fans) are of carrying 50lbs of camera gear everywhere they go. And yes, I've heard some photographers claim it reignited their passion for photography which makes me scratch my head. My question is this: are you a photographer because you have a passion for making images or because of the gear?
If you pay attention to any social media or podcasts targeted toward photographers in the last year or two, you hear so much from everyone (seemingly) how amazing and transformative the Fuji X system has been for them. I have been sucked into all the talk (and its sexiness) about how the Fuji is the Holy Grail of.....well I'm not quite sure what I was hoping for but after my recent rental of the Fuji XT1 with the 35mm 1.4 lens and the 18mm 1.4 I am no longer interested in the camera for myself. I never expected the camera to be so amazing that it would drive me to sell my Canon gear in exchange for a mirrorless setup, but I did expect to be sufficiently impressed to at least add the camera system to my arsenal for "fun" or convenience when I wanted to be lightweight or to easily wifi my images over to my iPhone 6+.
My conclusion? I'm not interested in Fuji XT1 and here are my Top 4 Reasons along with what I hope is some detailed review of how the camera works. I would like to add a slight disclaimer that everything in life is a trade off (in photography and in life) and this is no different. You, as a photographer, have to consider the tradeoffs in light of what are your expectations for mirrorless cameras.
1. DIALS ARE SEXY - JUST NOT CONVENIENT
The appeal for me (and I would assume most photographers) about the Fuji XT1 system is the retro nature of its styling; dials. I love that. It reminds me of the old film days when cameras weren't simply functional but also were pieces of art. Herein lies my Number one problem with this camera (and presumably all mirrorless systems but I haven't tried any others): Dials aren't built for ease and convenience. The use of dials don't support the way I shoot.
I shoot manually for aperture and shutter settings and I pay attention to my meter readings and settings while I am composing my subjects inside my OPTICAL viewfinder (OVF) (yes that is a hint for another of my reasons for not purchasing). If I want to adjust something while I'm looking through the 5D MKII's OVF, I can easily and quickly change aperture or shutter (or both) with my right hand and still have my index finger resting on the shutter button waiting to make the next shutter click. I can do all of this quickly without having to take the camera down from my eye to look at a dial which then causes me to recompose and potentially miss a moment. I can even change the ISO with the same hand.
The Fuji XT1 system places the shutter dial on top of the camera and a dial for the aperture of the lens in on the lens near the mount. Because of this I could easily miss a moment and have to recompose my shot. I can hear someone suggesting that like anything else, I would get used to the dials and eventually could change them without moving my eye away from the viewfinder....but I couldn't do it even then with only one hand.
2. WIFI IS A GREAT IDEA BUT FUJI'S IMPLEMENTATION IS NOT CONVENIENT
This didn't live up to the promise in my opinion. I did finally get the images to transfer via wifi (similar to how GoPro does it) but it required a lot of steps. First I had to press the "wi-fi button" on top of the camera, then press "OK" on the back of the camera (which is not documented anywhere that I can find and the prompts on the LCD were vague about what to do next - I only discovered that pressing "OK" at this point is required by one single discussion board post); I then went to my iPhone to select the camera under my wifi settings; then open the app on the iPhone at which time a camera prompt shows the phone is requesting access to which I pressed "OK". After all those steps I got to view small thumbnails on the Fuji app (one of about 3 different apps that I found in the AppStore that all have different names and ostensibly have different functions?).
Why not BlueTooth?
3. IT FEELS LIKE A TOY
One of the reasons given by people in favor of the Fuji (and micro 4/3rds cameras) is that they are small and lightweight. I'm a big guy and have big hands so holding this camera felt like a toy. It's too small for me and the buttons are tiny. The LCD screen is also small. Give me my big Canon 5D MKII and vertical battery grip. Big camera for a big guy and all the buttons right where I want them.
4. DIGITAL VIEWFINDER | NOT A FAN
What is the big deal about a DVF Digital ViewFinder? I felt like I was removed from reality and removed from my subjects when composing my shots. It is really hard to convey the experience. Imagine you are looking in your rearview mirror when backing up your car vs. having only your cars rear mounted video screen and that is somewhat similar to the differences between and OVF and DVF. It made me feel further removed from my subjects and coupled with the tiny size of the camera was just not a pleasant experience for me.
I'm sure I am the only photographer who isn't jumping on the bandwagon for mirrorless cameras but I have to true to myself. Perhaps I will change my mind one day but as of now, I'm sticking with my Canon!