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Did Fujifilm Get Retro Camera Design Right?
Bearing a remarkable (and likely, deliberate) resemblance to a classic film SLR, the new Fujifilm X-T1 exploded onto the scene today as an interchangeable-lens compact with a built-in eye-level electronic viewfinder, a 16MP APS X-Trans II sensor, a weather-sealed body, and knobs and buttons controlling its basic exposure functions. The camera simultaneously looks retro while being completely functional and ergonomically laid out. The X-T1 is targeted at both advanced amateurs and professional photographers who need to travel light.
Note: The Fujifilm X-T1 is expected in February, but may be pre-ordered now from Adorama. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. Credit cards will not be charged until orders are shipped.
Let's take a first look at this digital, but mechanical-looking, marvel:
Fujifilm X-T1 Key Features
- 16MP APS-C (23.6x15.6mm) X-Trans CMOS Sensor II
- 2.36K Eye-level EVF
- 3-inch LCD
- Claimed start-up tine 0.5 sec, shutter lag 0.05 sec
- 8fps with AF tracking
- Weather-Sealed Body
- ISO Range 200-6400, pushable to ISO 100, 12800, 25600, 51200
- TTL 256-zone metering
- Focal plane shutter
- Shutter speeds 30-1/4000 sec
- Flash sync 1/180 sec
- 8fps burst rate
- Tilt Screen
- External Mic Jack
- 1080/30p HD Video
- Optional vertical grip
Hold the Fujfilm X-T1 in your hands and you may be forgiven if you feel you've just picked up an old Fujica SLR. In many ways it is similar to the X-Pro 1, but with a more DSLR-like form factor. All of the main exposure controls—shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO—are controlled by dials on the top plate. Aperture is controlled via an aperture ring on the lens, just like the good old days. But for the digital age there is a dual SD card slot, and the camera is capable of shooting RAW and JPEG images. At a resolution of 2.36 Milion dots, the EVF should give a fine enough image to satisfy many of those who were expecting an optical finder.
- 75 points of weather sealing
- Dust resistant
- Freezeproof to -14 degrees F
- Tempered Glass LCD Monitor
The camera is said to be fast, with a shutter lag time that's claimed to be 0.05 seconds, which is for all intents and purposes, instantaneous. Startup time is half a second. The Fujifilm X-T1 is the first X-series camera to have an optional vertical grip. The grip, along with the camera's magnesium alloy body and several soon-to-be-announced lenses, are ruggedized against inclement weather. (The current 18-55mm kit lens, however, is not weather-resistant.)
The camera offers 10 film simulation modes that mimic classic Fujifilm emulsions such as Provia, Velvia, Astia, and others. Focus highlight peaking, digital split image, and electronic level, multiple exposure, release and focus priority settings, and dynamic range are among its many photography functions.
Earlier this year I predicted that many camera companies would unveil retro-styled digital cameras, but the key is to make them both functionally as well as asthetically pleasing. Did Fujifilm get this right? By the looks of things, they may very well have done so.