After my recent blogpost I got a lot of questions about shooting the XT1. Do I shoot the Fuji’s at weddings? Yes. Do I exclusively shoot them? On an eSession, yes , for a wedding, not yet.
After getting to know the XT1 (and XF56) for a couple of weeks I felt confident enough to challenge myself to try and use it as a primary body. I would still use my 5DIII but I didn’t want to give the XT1 the role of backup/secondary. I wanted to see if it could perform as the primary-body in the near future.
The main reason why it is difficult to just change camera’s is that the couple has booked you more than a year in advance based on a portfolio shot entirely with full frame bodies & fast primes. So I wanted to be careful not to have a different style or feeling towards my pictures just because the camera has changed. Yes, the photographer makes the picture, not the camera , yada yada …. but there is no denying that the XT1 is a different animal and it has an impact on your photography. It also takes some courage to leave behind what you have loved & known for all these years. Yet, that is part of the excitement of the X series. It challenges you!
So, the evening before the wedding I selected & packed my gear with the goal of being able to take everything in just one shoulder bag (instagram pic):
- 5DMarkIII with 35mm / 50mm / 100mm
- XT1 with XF35, XF56 & XF18 & lots of batteries.
The canon gear was a no brainer. I’m very much in my comfort zone in every situation with just these 3 lenses. I don’t feel the need for an ultra wide zoom or long zoom anymore. For the Fuji gear I decided not to take the XPRO1 with me because I wanted to focus a bit more on what I could do with just the XT1 instead of doing a lens dance between bodies all day. I even had space left to throw in the X100S.
I can pack lighter. There are some overlaps. I’m sure my gearlist will change over the next couple of months.
The pictures I’m sharing with you in this blogpost are a small selection of every part of the day shot with the XT1 so I can share my thoughts on the camera and how it performed or why I chose not to use it. To have a good understanding of my final product, you can see the complete slideshow as it was delivered to the client here. (The ratio Canon vs Fuji here was 98 – 63)
I love this part of the day, the atmosphere, the tension. It wasn’t hectic, it was relaxed, I had time. It was the perfect start of the day with the XT1. Some details, the make-up, some candits, … When the house filled up with people Inge took refuge in the back room, not much elbow space there, the size & unobtrusiveness of the XT1 make this the perfect camera for these situations. The focus was only hunting a little bit when shooting the bride in backlight, but since make-up isn’t exactly fast-paced: manual focus came to the rescue. This is the first time for me with any camera ever that I actually use manual focus and have success with it. The focus peaking (introduced a while ago) and the new split image view are great tools to have. There is really no noticeable difference between the camera’s.
A “moving” situation …. Honestly , I’ve always shot my 5D’s in single shot without any form of focus tracking. I’ve been testing the XT1 tracking at home, and it does a good job. But I still don’t feel comfortable enough with it so I used my 5D here. I did “snap” a couple of pictures once I got my safe shots. Quality was up to par, but I had the better pictures with my 5D. I feel that in this situation I would always grab the 5D as long as I have it with me.
I still have the feeling that I’m generally a bit slower with the controls on the XT1. The D-Pad really sucks. I miss having a vertical grip (but then I add weight again). But a civil ceremony in Belgium is rather predictive, there was enough light so I didn’t expect focus issues and I generally felt very comfortable & stealthy with the XT1.
Exiting city hall I used the 5D… I shoot full manual on a dSLR, it’s a second nature to me. So in theory, with the dedicated dials for ISO, shutter speed & exposure comp this should be really easy on the on the XT1. But it is not … if I have to change the shutter speed I can’t keep my camera very steady … that dial is not in a comfortable position for me. Fortunately, the exposure compensation dial is so I find myself shooting in AV mode while constantly adjusting the exposure there … I would love to be able to put the shutter on bulb and being able to use ALL shutter speeds under 2″ as well…. This is a request I haven’t heard a lot so lets all shout out for this and hope for a firmware update! I must say the the exposure that the camera gives is pretty damn good to begin with. I like my images a but light so I’m mostly at +2/3 standard. Seeing the “live” exposure in your EVF before you actually take the image helps you if at any time the camera meter messes up. (backlight / a white dress / etc….)
I think habbit took over here. I did most of the shoot with my 5D. Strange because I already use the X system exclusively on an eSession and we did have a stress-free shoot with lots of time. So most of my “keepers” are from the 5D and (for my doing) I got some more “classic” portraits with the XT1.
In good conditions the XT1 can’t let you down much. In bright light conditions, (and I wear glasses) I prefer the viewfinder of the 5D over the XT1 EVF. I have less light leaking in.
One annoyance I have is with the ISO dial. When you keep your camera bodies dangling around your shoulders you can easily change that dial underneath.
I hate it when all the sudden it’s on bracketing or panorama when you put the camera to your eye. I don’t have an issue with the ISO lock itself but I can’t seem to change my ISO without bumping into that dial underneath when I’m not looking.
Another thing about the D-Pad. I configured my XT1 as such that every one of them activates the AF point selection. It would be great if the first click could already move the AF point so you don’t need two clicks each time. (The buttons are rather hard to click by accident …)
BTW, if you are looking to make those buttons a bit easier to reach, check out this sugru fix
From the ceremony onward I used the XT1 more and more. I just love some of the shots I got here, great colour, no issues with focus and the XF56 is such an amazing lens, it’s so bloody sharp everywhere , and even wide-open , so so so impressive. Even with all the L lenses, this is easily one of the best lenses that I own. I feel that I get more in focus shots wide open than with my 50mm 1.2. (also considering the fullframe DOF difference). Do watch out that when shooting fast primes with a shutter limited to 1/4000 can get you in trouble, I’m getting a ND filter.
This many hours into any wedding and you are very happy you can shoot everything with the X camera’s. The weight factor is something you can’t deny. You feel less tired, your back doesn’t hurt. You blend in. I even shot all of the formals (except the larger group shots) with the XT1.
(No, I didn’t say a word to pose those kids. They are just all natural like that!)
I didn’t stay until the opening dance so I didn’t get to use it in very low light. And I know I would have taken a safe shot of the opening dance with the 5D first. Next couple of weddings I’ll do some experimenting on the dance floor. (Note: you can configure your TT1 + AC3 zone control & TT5 to work on top of you Fuji!) I took some venue overview shots & table details , the indoor reception (dimly lit) & the opening speech with the XT1. No complaints there. The ISO performance is brilliant
Design of the camera
My feeling here is that for professional use it should perhaps be a bit bigger. I have big hands, I didn’t get cramps or anything but the XPRO1 just feels a lot better for me. As a right-eyed shooter, the rangefinder layout clears the camera from your face so you can access all of the buttons a lot easier (especially the D-pad)
The XT1 can deliver, It’s more a matter of feeling confident with it in handling than it is a matter of performance or quality. The are still some minor issues, it’s not perfect yet but for me personally I feel that Fuji is damn near to close to that.
I was happy to see that in terms of keepers it was a close match between the 5D and XT1. This will help feeling more confident in using the camera during a wedding day. I’m also very pleased that in the final slideshow the images from both camera’s blend in together nicely. I also want to thank Inge & Rav for an amazing day and the awesome feedback I got from them. In the end, as long as you make your clients happy, the camera shouldn’t matter much.