X-T1 vs. X-E1 for long exposure photography

One thing I love about where Fujifilm are with their cameras, and where I really hope they continue to take them,1 is that almost their entire line of X Series cameras have the same 16 MP X-Trans sensor. All we have to do is choose the body that’s right for us. Want a super compact street shooter? Grab an X100S. Need to change lenses? The X-E2 is probably right for you. Shooting in poor weather or need continuous AF? X-T1. As you move up or down the line, there is no improvement or, more importantly, compromise in image quality. I love that. Even crazier, the same image quality reaches back to cameras that have already been replaced.

Fuji Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E1 long exposure.jpg

Case in point, I made the images in this post just this morning. Three are made with an X-E1, one with the new X-T1. If you can tell which is which without looking at EXIF data, you’re lying.

Being able to just grab the right camera and go, without any regard for the kind of image quality you’re going to get is awesome. This makes switching between bodies trivial as well.2 You can have two bodies with different styles and capabilities, but the same image quality. Got your 35mm f/1.4 on your other body? No problem. Grab that body and shoot.3

Fuji Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E1 long exposure.jpg

Now, this doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to tell the difference between the two bodies while shooting. The X-T1 comes with features and niceties that can’t be had on the X-E1 (or X-E2 for that matter).

Here are just a few ways I noticed how the X-T1 is a little nicer to use for long exposure work:

  1. The tilt screen: This is actually my first camera with a tilt screen. It is so nice to have my tripod almost at ground level with the screen tilted up and easily viewable. If you do a lot of low shooting, the tilt screen might be reason enough to go with an X-T1. No hyperbole. Your back will thank you.
  2. The dials: When I have my shutter speed set to Time (“T”), being able to change the shutter speed with the dial is great and easier than multiple presses of the D-pad. I couldn’t imagine having to use the X-T1’s D-pad for that.
  3. More dials: Switching from ”T” or ”B” directly to “A” without having to go all the way round the dial is nice too.
  4. Dual screen mode: I said in my review that I like this mode more the more I use it and that hasn’t changed. I love focusing manually with this camera.

That’s just what I can remember consciously noting while I was out there today. I’m sure there are more, but one way the X-E1 still tops the X-T1 is the threaded hole in the shutter release. I really wish the X-T1 had one of these. We’d probably be hearing a lot less about the light leak issue if it did too.4

Fuji Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E1 long exposure.jpg

The most important take-away from this post is, no matter what Fujifilm camera you own, you have the potential to make as good images as anyone with any other Fujifilm camera.5 That’s really what it’s all about.

Fuji Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E1 long exposure.jpg
  1. The obvious implication here is that if the X-Pro2 arrives with a better sensor as it’s rumoured to, Fujifilm should refresh the rest of the line as quickly as possible. There has to be serious economies to fab’ing the same sensor of every camera in their lineup.
  2. Strictly from an image quality perspective. There are odd inconsistencies between the bodies, but hopefully they will be brought more inline with one another with firmware updates.
  3. I also realize not everyone has the luxury of owning more than one body, but as more and more pro photogs switch over, this is an important thing to consider.
  4. Sadly, I am a recipient of an X-T1 that leaks. I’ll have more on that soon.
  5. I am intentionally avoiding the fact that a few MP one way or the other makes little discernible difference in final image quality.

Buy a Fujifilm X-T1

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, B&H Photo

“Should I buy an X-T1?”

The age old question. Brand spankin’ new camera comes out with a brand spankier new one rumoured to be on the way. Do you buy the new X-T1 hotness or wait for the next new hotness?

The answer to this sort of question ultimately comes down to what you can afford—no to mention your appetite for the constant torrent of upgrades, which we’ll mostly leave out from this post—but one thing I find slips the minds of a lot of photographers (and their Significant Others) is the real cost of any camera gear.

Your cost - What you sell it for = Actual cost

This brings me to a question I was asked on Twitter shortly after posting my review of the X-T1 that I imagine many Fuji fans are pondering as well:

If I have an X-Pro1, should I (buy the) X-T1 or hold for the X-Pro2?

For me, it’s an easy question to answer, but let’s talk it through for fun. The earliest of X-Pro successor rumours say end of 2014 for an announcement with a ship date in early 2015. That’s a full year away. A year of enjoying the very best Fujifilm has to offer before you decide if the X-Pro-Whatever is actually the camera you want. The X-T1 is a massive upgrade over the X-Pro1 and X-E1, even with the firmware updates Fuji keeps throwing at them.

Of course, there are two ends of the spectrum in how you approach upgrade cycles with a bunch of variances in the middle:

  1. Upgrade early and often: You’ll always have the latest and greatest, which is nice, and the best1 your chosen camera platform(s) has to offer.
  2. Stick with what you know: Upgrade only when you absolutely have to. Your camera will be an extension of your hand and eye, and you will attain omnipresent supergalactic oneness with your photography.

Both are valid. I’m ever trying to find the right balance between the two. I think there’s a special case to be made for at least two Fuji bodies:

  1. The X-Pro1: It has been out an awfully long time, and was their first interchangeable offering. A great deal has changed since it came on the scene and Fujifilm cameras have improved significantly. Conventional wisdom is to skip a generation when upgrading, but I doubt many people who owned Nikon D1’s passed on the D2 line of cameras. Thus, I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking an X-T1 steppingstone along their path to the X-Pro2.
  2. The X100: It, and the X100S share a lot of functionality. Selling an X100 to fund the purchase of an X100S will not leave you fumbling with controls as you struggle with a learning curve. You’ll just have faster focus and better overall image quality. Not to mention a black version for the same price.

The one upgrade I think some people could have passed on is the X-E1 to X-E2. I imagine those who waited for the X-T1 are feeling pretty good about their decision right now, and they still have a very capable camera that will produce the same image quality2 as the new(er) X-E2. As a matter of fact, all my tripod-based photography is still done with an X-E1 because I haven’t wanted to pay the exorbitant shipping costs to get a Really Right Stuff L-plate. You see? Balance.

Back to the question at hand

Should you buy the X-T1? If you have an X-Pro1 or X-E1, my answer is, if you can afford it, yes. No question. It’s a massive upgrade over what you have and the glowing reviews are well earned.

If you have an X-E2, that all depends on whether or not you need a weather sealed body. If you don’t, the X-E2 will continue to suit your needs very well. Even better pretty soon it would seem. Focus is quicker on the X-T1, but it’s pretty darn swift on the X-E2 as well.

Whether you have an X-E2 or X-T1, if you think the X-Pro2 is what you’re really going to want, sell your current body when it comes out and buy it. Surely the couple hundred dollars you might lose on the sale is worth a year of use. Think of it as an extended rental. The bottom line is, it’s tough to make a bad decision with Fujifilm’s latest body lineup. They’re all going to produce great images. Your choice comes down to performance. And remember:

Your cost - What you sell it for = Actual cost

  1. Save for launch bugs and lemons like the D600. But those are the minority and largely avoidable with how thoroughly reviewed Fujifilm’s gear is before it’s been released.
  2. Particularly those who shoot RAW. JPEG shooters will miss out on the Lens Modulation Optimizer benefits of the X-E2, but in my experience, it hasn’t been anywhere close to a deal breaker. I’m still holding out hope that Fujifilm will open these up to Adobe along with their Film Simulations.