Fuji X-T1 and 18-55mm zoom - talking sense about the X-Trans sensor

All images - Fuji X-T1 18-55mm zoom lens

In a recent exchange of comments on Google+ I was given this link. http://www.sansmirror.com/cameras/a-note-about-camera-reviews/fujifilm-camera-reviews/fujifilm-x-t1-review.html This is Thom Hogan on the Fuji X-T1. When I clicked it I realised that I'd already seen it. However I read it again and realised what a good, sensible, unblinkered assessment of both the X-T1 and the X-Trans sensor it was. I have a lot of time for Thom on Fuji, since when I was writing post after post about the raw processing problems with Fuji files and Adobe, he was making the same points. Both of us got some pretty nasty abuse as a result of that, which when you think about it is peculiar, since both of us were only attempting to get better results from the cameras.

Re-reading this, there is much I agree with and it's important to get a sense of perspective about what a camera / sensor / lens can do. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't require huge levels of sophistication and maturity to be able to see the virtues AND the faults in the gear we use and still enjoy using it and what it offers us. Too often, however, there is a somewhat strange 'My camera right or wrong' attitude on the part of some purchasers.

There are several things I think that are 'right' about the Fuji X system.
  • The sensor allows for low noise high ISO results.
  • The lens range is superb
  • Personally I think the cameras handle beautifully.
  • The 'old-school aesthetic' looks good and is well implemented.
  • Fuji's efforts with firmware to keep all cameras 'current' is refreshing and makes long-term ownership possible without having to constantly upgrade.
  • Fuji pricing is realistic and generally good value for money.
  • They have a range of deals that allow adding to the system less painful financially than with other systems.
 However there are several things that I think show 'room for improvement.'
  • Raw processing via Adobe software (Lightroom and Photoshop) is still unsatisfactory for many types of shots. Particularly green foliage.
  • It seems, for whatever reason the Fuji sensor needs between 1/2 and 1 stop more light compared to other sensors at the same shutter speed / aperture setting. As a result of this the high ISO performance is not quite as good as it seems.
  • Battery life is awful.
  • Out of camera jpgs. are overrated by many and are in fact somewhat soft and lacking in detail.
  • Video bitrate (and therefore quality) is significantly lower than competitors. 
Now despite all this I still keep on using the cameras and lenses and no matter where my 'equipment cull' ends I will still have Fuji on my shelf. I like using the cameras and it's really as simple as that. Plus I can get excellent image quality from raw by using either Photo Ninja or as in the above shots Iridient Developer and can carry spare batteries, so some of the above isn't that much of a problem for me.
Personally, what I would like to see, though I have no expectation whatsoever that it will happen, is for Fuji to either dump the X-Trans sensor or keep it for cameras like the X-100s to be used as low-light workhorses. For the X-T2 I would love for them to buy in the current APS-C sensor in the a6000. This is a superb sensor, easily the best APS-C I've ever used in terms of combination of sharpness, low noise and colour it produces. Imagine bolting your Fuji lenses in front of one of those and getting 24MP of superb image quality. And the fact is that you would loose much less low noise, high ISO performance than you might think. 
The reason I stick with Fuji is actually not because of the X-Trans sensor, but in spite of it. Yes I can get decent results, but not as quickly and easily as I would like. It still takes me around twice as long to process a Fuji X file as it does a m/43 or Sony file. However, I don't see this improving and Fuji seem wedded to their sensor, no matter how many opinions are expressed about how poor the Adobe raw processing is. 
So, not all good, not all bad. But then that's exactly the same as for any other camera system.

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