Fujifilm X-T1 – Best digital camera for 35mm film replacement

Promised at the end of November 2020, but due to the pandemic had not had enough time to thoroughly test it, but here it is finally the Fujifilm X-T1, not a real review because there are enough to be found, but an overview of its qualities and why it still an interesting camera to buy in 2021 – 2022 – 2023 …
There are also many blogs and video clips on Youtube about this, so there must be something true, right?

Yes, it’s a great camera, and the colors are great and so on.
But you don’t read or hear much about actually buying and using this camera today in 2021, unless you already have the camera, or you are one of the many reviewers who borrows one somewhere.
So why would you buy the X-T1 and not another second hand camera, or why not buy a newer camera?

I sometimes dare to make quite strong statements like the title of this article, many will have objections, yes a digital camera cannot replace an analog film camera.
However, if there is one digital camera that comes closest, it is the Fujifilm X-T1.
But is this a camera for you?
If you meet one of the following requirements, perhaps:

  • You are looking for a camera on which you can set shutter speed, aperture and ISO with a dial and not in a menu (typical Fujifilm)
  • You don’t mind working with a 16MP camera, you rarely crop your pictures
  • You are a photography student, or someone who “really” want to learn photography, or an amateur/pro who has nostalgia for the 70s / 80s – but working with real film is a bridge too far
  • Or you are just someone who wants to shoot completely manually and only pure for photography – no need for 1000 auto focus points, no 30MP, no 5K, not 35 fps – just a simple manual camera, but a very good one.

Then the X-T1 may be the camera for you.
To further enhance the “real film” feeling you could also photograph RAW (in the sense of “developing” the film afterwards), and the use of a fully manual lens with manual aperture is actually a must.

Are there no other cameras that meet this requirement?
well, the dedicated dials are really typical Fujifilm,
and yes, a Fujifilm X-T2 or X-T3 would also be a good choice, but they will be a lot more expensive.

Big dials for shutter, exposure compensation and ISO, switches for metering and drive, and a dedicated focus assist button. What more do you want ?

As an accessory, I can recommend a half case for the X-T1, which offers both improved handling and a certain amount of protection.
Furthermore, battery grips are very popular, but I must say that I would rather advise against this. One of the reasons mirrorless cameras are popular is because of their lighter weight and because they are more compact than their mirror-equipped cousin, so why make the camera unnecessarily heavier and a whole lot bigger? a spare battery in your pocket is much more convenient, can be changed in seconds and during winter you have no power loss due to the cold because your battery stays warm.

How I set up my X-T1’s viewfinder to emulate an analog camera :

  • For both normal and manual use, it is best to set the EVF to full instead of normal. At full you have a substantial bigger view in your viewfinder. You activate this setting with the DISP/BACK button on the back of your camera.
  • In addition, when the camera is set to manual focus, M-C-S switch front or camera, you can also choose DUAL view with the DISP/BACK button.
    As a result, in addition to a slightly smaller regular view, you also have a detail split-focus screen, comparable to the split focus on an analog camera from the early days.
  • To shoot manually with adapters, you also need to activate this in the menu: press MENU – navigate to menu 3 – scroll down to “shoot without lens”.
    Then in the same menu 3, just above shoot without lens, you can set the used lens on your adapter. There are 4 fixed lens choices: 21, 24, 28 and 35 mm, and you can also enter 2 focal lengths yourself. Entering the lens has one important advantage: this means that the focal length is included in the EXIF of your pictures, which makes it easier afterwards to know which lens was used with which picture.
  • Deactivating the rear LCD screen also enhances that analog feeling, you wouldn’t have that on a real film camera either + it saves a lot of power, so that the camera can shoot a lot longer

When I bought this camera it came with the Fujinon 27mm lens shown in the photo, setting the aperture via the wheel on the back of the camera is really different from the feel and visual confirmation of a manual aperture on lens. That is why I would advise investing in a fully manual lens.

In manual lenses you have many options, and most of them are also very affordable.
First you have the original Fujinon lenses, which can of course also be used in autofocus but the types we are interested in are the ones with a dedicated aperture on lens, and unfortunately this is the more expensive category.
Then you have the higher quality manual lenses made by Viltrox, Samyang, and maybe some others but still quite expensive.
The lenses of Meike, 7Artisans and several other Chinese or Korean brands with better and less good – but cheap lenses.
Finaly, after purchasing an (and usually cheap) adapter, you have access to a range of vintage lenses from different brands such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and a massive various M42 range.
If you already have a number of lenses from an earlier SLR, chances are that you can continue to use them on the X-T1.
If not, with a little research you can put together an extensive lens kit for less than the price of one good Fujinon lens.

27/11/2020 First day that I took the camera outside, Whoow, what a camera ! looking through the viewfinder is almost like looking through the viewfinder of an SLR – Huge!

Finally, even without the above conditions, the Fujifilm X-T1 will of course always remain a great camera, and give many photographers a lot of pleasure.

In summary:

  • it is a camera build for shooting completely manually (of course auto to)
  • the 16MP are more than enough in 99% of cases – if you have any doubts about the 16MP please read the comments on this forum: https: //www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57267198 – with a bit of google searching, there are also optical studies proving that the 16MP can sometimes deliver better results than higher megapixel sensors
  • the camera is comparable in size and weight to a 35mm analog camera of the past, and it is slightly lighter and smaller than its bigger brother the X-T2
  • the dedicated “focus assist” button makes it very easy to work with adapters / vintage or other manual lenses with X mount, also the split focus and large viewfinder all help to focus smoothly
  • you can find it really cheap second-hand, and because many photographers always want a better model, they are almost always in very good and little-used condition.

Perhaps it is precisely because it is the first model of the X-T series, and lacks many unnecessary improvements and gadgets, that this camera really shines when you use it manually.

A better camera doesn’t make you a better photographer,
but a camera like this can help you become a better photographer.

Published by Marc R.

Belgium Based and Retired Photographer, IT specialist, Technician and Bushcrafter - not necessarily in that order. A few years back I got a message on my PC : "The box said 'Required Windows 11 or better'. So, I installed Linux Kubuntu 20.04 LTS" :-) - My Photography software : RawTherapee, Darktable, Digikam, Luminance HDR, Hugin, Gimp and many other. My camera Gear in 2022: Fujifilm X-H1 for architecture, landscape, ..., and Olympus E-M5 Mark II for bird and wildlife photography.

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