A few weeks ago I decided to take a short trip to Mount Rainier. The last time I was in the park was in 2012, but now that I live about three hours away I hope to make it a more regular getaway spot. When going on a “landscape photography” trip I would typically bring my Canon gear. I trust it, I get great results, and it works. I’ve had frustration with the FUJIFILM in the past, but the more I use the camera the more confident I become with it, so I decided to bring my full FUJIFILM X-T1 kit on my trip to see how I enjoyed it.
So here’s my report: I loved it! I had fun using it, it was light and easy to carry around (especially when it’s clamped onto my tripod with my 18-55), and I had no frustrations with it whatsoever. Sure, it’s not perfect, such as I would really, really appreciate it if they would add more than three brackets (I have to do my HDR images manually using the EV dial). But other than that, it was great. I actually brought along my Canon gear hidden away in my car, just in case, but I never even touched it. I was 100% FUJIFILM on this trip.
Now, let’s discuss image quality. I have never done any side-by-side tests of the FUJIFILM vs. my Canon, but from my experience using both cameras I have to admit that I’m not 100% happy with the quality of the landscape images I get with the FUJIFILM X-T1. The greens can get “smooshy”, and because it is only 16 megapixels, there’s not a lot of room for error. I know for a fact that there are cameras with “better” sensors, not necessarily because they have more megapixels, but because the quality of the pixels are just a little bit more clean.
And yes, I am fully aware of the hype that “Adobe doesn’t process FUJIFILM’s RAW files well”, etc. I use Lightroom, but I have also compared untouched straight-out-of-the-camera JPEG files to what I get with RAW files in Lightroom, and from what I could tell there is no noticeable difference. For me, I see zero reason to switch to another RAW processor just to possibly satisfy the pixel-peeper in my mind.
This is an HDR panorama of Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier, photographed with the FUJIFILM X-T1 and 18-55mm lens,
Now keep in mind that I am looking at this from a landscape photographer’s perspective. The X-T1 is widely used as a portrait and street camera, and I wonder sometimes if the quality differs depending on the subject. I know many landscape photographers who are flocking to Sony mirrorless because of the large full-frame sensors and excellent image quality. I’ve had a few opportunities to play around with the Sony, but I ultimately go back to FUJIFILM, primarily because of its form factor. I love the manual knobs and dials, and I also don’t mind that the X-T1 is a crop-frame camera (it keeps the lenses smaller and faster). I like the way the camera feels in my hands, and I like that it really looks like a camera.
I think that image quality is important, but I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything when using this camera. In many ways, I don’t really even care if the quality is not as good (which, for the most part, you have to pixel-peep to discover). Most of the images I share are going to be consumed on a phone or small screen anyways, and I would much rather use a camera I enjoyed instead of one I’m “supposed to use” because of it’s technical specifications.
“… I want to enjoy the experience of photography.”
What I am learning about myself and my photography is that I want to enjoy the experience of photography. I have been asked before why I use FUJIFILM (and not Sony), and my answer is always “because I like the way I feel when I use FUJIFILM”. I know, maybe it’s silly, but it’s the only answer I can come up with. I still have my Canon gear, and I still use it a lot. I don’t feel that I have to choose one camera or another and I’m not looking for any kind of sponsorship. I just want to use cameras that works for me. That’s all.
This little bird seemed to like my X-T1! He kept trying to land on the tripod legs (which are too slippery for his tiny feet), and eventually ended up on the camera itself, just long enough for me to get a few photos before he flew off again.