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01-10-2016, 07:21 AM   #1
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Humble experience in event shooting

I have shot an event recently (family anniversary party) with Fujifilm X-T1 and I would like to share my impressions.

My kit is: Fujifilm X-T1 camera, FUJIFILM FUJINON XF 16-55mm F2.8 R WR lens and EF-42 flash.
I also have experience with Olympus (E-M1+M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12‑40mm 1:2.8 PRO+ FL‑600R flash) and Pentax (K-3+SMC PENTAX DA* 16-50mm f/2.8+AF 540 FGZ II flash) so my short review is comparative.

In general my impression is disappointment, especially taking into account all enthusiastic opinions I have read.
Let me go item by item.

1. Autofocus.
X-T1 came from the store with 4.00 firmware preinstalled so it has all AF improvements.
AF is not superfast definitely. AF speed is on par with E-M1 and K-3, it seems X-T1 AF hunts a bit more especially in the case of focus confirmation (focusing on previously focused object).

2. Ergonomics/controls.
I like it. Separate wheels for ISO, shutter speed, aperture are great. I have to note that Pentax style of setting these parameter is not worse. E-M1 is less comfortable.
With X-T1 I accidentally changed position of shutter speed dial and drive dial several times. Three times diopter adjustment control changed its setting, do not ask me how.
Next day we went to ski walk and I discovered that it is not easy to operate with selector/functions buttons (5- button group on the back side of the camera) in gloves. I have absolutely no any difficulties with even smaller E-M1 body.

3. Ergonomics/hold.
X-T1 does not have hand grip and it is very uncomfortable taking into account heavy XF 16-55. Optional attachable grip will not fix the issue because shutter button have to be placed on the hand grip. I got pain in my hand in 30 minutes of shooting. I never get any pain with heavier K-3.

4. Flash.
It was a nightmare. TTL is very unreliable. Sometimes flash gives strong overexposure without any visible reason. Pentax is infamous with its imperfect TTL but it tends to underexposure and it is better because even RAW will not save overexposed shot. I used to thought Pentax has worst flash TTL but Fujifilm managed to make it even worse.

One moment the flash refused to fire although it was fully charged. The camera 'saw' the flash: appropriate menu items were available. I tightened the flash lock ring the issue has been fixed. It seems that central pin have lost the contact while other pins were in contact with the camera's hot shoe. I never faced with such issue with Pentax, Olympus and Metz flashes. So screw the flash lock ring very tightly.

EF-42 does not provide focus assist for X-T1. X-T1 has built-in AF-assist lamp but it is shaded by large XF 16-55 lens so you do not have any AF assist.
According to flash performance Olympus is clear winner. Yes, FL-600R is not very powerful but at least you can buy more powerful third-party flash.

01-10-2016, 07:53 AM   #2
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Well that sounds painful.
01-10-2016, 09:41 AM   #3
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I know a couple of people who shoot the X-T1 and X-Pro for weddings and events. I don't know how they do it. The camera is just too small for me to use for extended periods without hand cramps. I had the same issues with the original A7.

Pentax has the best ergonomics in the industry in my opinion. For Ricoh the future needs to be about autofocus. Nikon is definitely raising the bar on performance.
01-10-2016, 10:22 AM   #4
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I found a formula to find actual camera performance from advertised especially from Fuji. Divide market-speak by 2 and you'll get engineered performance.

01-10-2016, 12:43 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
Pentax has the best ergonomics in the industry in my opinion. For Ricoh the future needs to be about autofocus. Nikon is definitely raising the bar on performance.
I am quite satisfied with Pentax AF performance, I do not shoot fast actions and birds.
Folks say than Nikon's flash TTL is very good. Ricoh targets Pentax cameras to landscape photographers so we will barely see any progress in flash performance.

I have read a one man's message that he uses X-T1 with Nikon flash in manual mode. I do not understand how it is possible to use manual flash for event shooting because it is necessary to react rather quickly.
01-10-2016, 01:02 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ayrat Quote
...
I have read a one man's message that he uses X-T1 with Nikon flash in manual mode. I do not understand how it is possible to use manual flash for event shooting because it is necessary to react rather quickly.
You'd do it the same way I set my studio strobes that do not have TTL integration with my camera. A trial-n-error approach. So naturally you couldn't snap a good exposed shot from the seat of your pants easily. You'd have pop off a few in advance for the scene your in. So while the ambient conditions are pretty much the same you can snap away and adjust as the conditions change. So some things that works okay while not so good in a really dynamic or spontaneous conditions.

Look into getting a Thumb Grip for your Fuji. It's helpful for holding the camera without inadvertently pushing buttons on the back when you're not using a mounted flash.
01-10-2016, 02:22 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ayrat Quote
I do not understand how it is possible to use manual flash for event shooting because it is necessary to react rather quickly.
You can set the ambient beforehand, then start at 1/8 power on the flash and adjust from there. If chimping shows it's okay, you can probably get away walking around the room shooting other groups of people at the same distance.

But yes, like manual focus sports shooting, it's theoretically possible but is a horrible way to do it in this modern age - missed shots, lower keeper percentage, etc.


Last edited by clackers; 01-10-2016 at 03:50 PM.
01-10-2016, 03:18 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ayrat Quote
I am quite satisfied with Pentax AF performance, I do not shoot fast actions and birds.
Folks say than Nikon's flash TTL is very good. Ricoh targets Pentax cameras to landscape photographers so we will barely see any progress in flash performance.

I have read a one man's message that he uses X-T1 with Nikon flash in manual mode. I do not understand how it is possible to use manual flash for event shooting because it is necessary to react rather quickly.
If you are shooting an indoor evening event, chances are the lighting is not changing significantly as you move around and the flash is over powering ambient light. Certain venues you can simply set it up and go. Your shutter is always set to the fastest sync speed and you stop down your aperture so that the flash is the only important source of light. Wat too many people depend on TTL and auto modes. I always shoot manual since I don't own a TTL flash for either my Pentax or Sony A7II.

I don't think the Pentax K-3 or Sony A7II AF is very impressive. I was shooting infants for Christmas portraits with just Christmas tree lights for that ambient light effect and both my K-3 (31mm LDT) and Sony A7II (90mm f/2.8) were hunting way too much. When trying to capture the expressions of babies you need fast AF. That was a stages shot, so I switched to manual focus since they don't move much, but I was disappointed in the AF performance of both. The Sony Eye-AF is really good for portraits when it works.
01-10-2016, 03:57 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
. Your shutter is always set to the fastest sync speed and you stop down your aperture so that the flash is the only important source of light.
Yeah, I often find that combination leads to a floating head on a black background.

I'd rather go 1/30 even 1/15 if needed to get a feel of the area or the sunset or whatever.

But sometimes, yes, the environment's awful and with HSS you can go to 1/6000s and just obliterate it! ☺
01-13-2016, 01:19 AM   #10
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Not to sound condescending but you could have walked into an event like that with a basic Nikon/Canon setup costing a lot less than the Fuji and it would have been as easy as pie with probably 100% keepers.

I've never let emotion decide which camera to buy - as when you do stuff like that it is now a tool and that tool needs to get the job done with zero stress.

I don't want to walk into an event, stressing is my camera is going to focus proper, is the flash going to expose correctly - especially at what the Fuji costs

Lastly I cannot believe that a poster believes the K3ii to be primarily a "landscape" camera - this is Pentax's flagship aps-c camera - which as your chosen "tool" should be able to do everything as easy as lets say a Nikon D7200
01-13-2016, 12:50 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote

Lastly I cannot believe that a poster believes the K3ii to be primarily a "landscape" camera - this is Pentax's flagship aps-c camera - which as your chosen "tool" should be able to do everything as easy as lets say a Nikon D7200
I am not, at least I would like to see Pentax cameras as universal tool.
'Landscape' is from interview with Pentax representative. And as I can deduce from K-3 -> K-3II evolution Pentax goes this way: built-in flash has been removed but GPS module and Pixel Shift Resolution have been added.
01-13-2016, 01:19 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by dylansalt Quote

Lastly I cannot believe that a poster believes the K3ii to be primarily a "landscape" camera - this is Pentax's flagship aps-c camera - which as your chosen "tool" should be able to do everything as easy as lets say a Nikon D7200
I have no argument that Nikon D7200 or any of the high-end Canikon models can do a decent job in event-photos with or without using flash. But I hate to disappoint you that I have been using k-5/IIs/K-3 successfully in all my events that left my other photographers (using Canikon models) wondering what they did wrong. TBH, you just need to know the limitation of your system and knowing your camera system well goes a long way.

Last edited by aleonx3; 01-13-2016 at 02:25 PM.
01-13-2016, 03:03 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by aleonx3 Quote
I have no argument that Nikon D7200 or any of the high-end Canikon models can do a decent job in event-photos with or without using flash. But I hate to disappoint you that I have been using k-5/IIs/K-3 successfully in all my events that left my other photographers (using Canikon models) wondering what they did wrong. TBH, you just need to know the limitation of your system and knowing your camera system well goes a long way.
I was doing that with a K10d to ;-)

So the K3 should easily be up to the task - its less expensive than a Fuji XT 1
01-13-2016, 04:17 PM   #14
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It's funny... I was just about to pop in here and go over my recent "switch" to my Fuji X-T1 kit. Coming from my D810/D800 and K3/K5 kits, and a long time ago EM5 kit. My experiences are a bit different than the OP's though...

I bought the X-T1 primarily because I'm getting a bad case of arthritis, potentially even of the rhuthemoid variety. Needless to say this is very painful and if you have ever shot a gripped D810 with 70-200mm f2.8 for a 4 hour event before and felt tired... try feeling like you have been beaten up, dragged, and drugged. Last event I did with that kit I couldn't use either arm for anything more than extreme light duty for days, and even then had shaking for a week. Something had to be done... and in my answers I'll explain my position on the K3. So my Fuji is primarily for these events... but it's become much more than that.

My X-T1 kit: 28-55mm f2.8-f4, 35mm f2.0 WR, 90mm f2.0 WR, 50-140mm f2.8 WR, and grip. I sold my 56mm f1.2 and 35mm f1.4


The thing about the X-T1 AF is.... you need to look at it differently than a DSLR, and this was my problem to start too. I kept thinking it would work like on my other cameras. But no... We need to choose the right mode and adjust as needed for the environment. For my P/N bodies I only used continuous servo and back button AF. I select my focus point and go. You can't do that reliably with the X-T1 even though you can set it up to operate that way. For fashion runway for example I set it up for continuous AF tracking, but with face detection. For studio sessions I set the AF point very small and single shot. It's just trial and error to see what works best for your situation. I can say this... the 35, 90, and 50-140 are lightning quick and the 90 specifically is dead accurate every time, even in low light conditions. It's amazing.... I'm not getting D8xx keep rate for in focus shots, but its no where near as bad as my K3 and DA*50-135, which not only can't track the models walking down the runway properly, but can't snap focus like the Fuji can. not to mention the comparatively limited AF point array.

This is also why I sold the 56 and 35 f1.4. They are dogs for AF. the new lenses are lightning quick.


Ergonomically speaking, this is the most enjoyable camera I've ever shot on. In general terms I find the body very comfortable to hand hold and work with. It does force you to work a bit slower, which is fine, but when you do need to change something like iso or shutter quickly...you just can't do it as fast as you can on a DSLR. Unless your controlling shutter from the front dials. Now I prefer it without grip unless I'm actually "working". so for day to day, I run it without the grip. Shooting events or in studio I run it with the vert grip. I also find it not bad to use with gloves. But I use finishing carpenter winter gloves. I found them a few years ago, they are awesome for camera operation. Part of that is that MOST features I need are found on physical dials. like the drive mode and metering mode.

For the dial pad, I actually set it up for AF point selection. I then customized the "Q" menu to have less used features in it like white balance and color profiles/film simulation modes. My function buttons are setup for WIFI and wb/exposure preview on/of. I originally had them both in the Q menu and setup for color profile and white balance, but I'm in the habbit of menu diving to set those at the start of the shoot already. The Wifi and preview modes I use way more often for the work that I do. This makes it a lot easier to use for me and I find it pretty seamless now.

I've done a 4 hour event with the camera, grip, and 50-140 pretty much in shooting position the whole time. Some shakiness from my arms at the end of the day, but I could use my arms with full movement the next day. It's actually more comfortable than I thought.


Flash... well yea, Fuji's is arguably worse than Pentax's. AT LEAST I can fire my flashes when above the sync speed, faking HSS with slow duration heads. But yea, TTL on Fuji is crippling bad. I set my Nikon SB700 in manual and adjust as needed. I usually start with proper exposure at f4.0 and then will open or close the aperture instead of changing flash power. Faster and easier, and usually DOF means less for the events I do.


Each camera is a tool. It's a matter of the right tool for the right job. As of this writing neither Pentax or Fuji can hold a candle to what Nikon can do flash wise. It's not even close. The options Nikon's CLS, HSS, and TTL systems give you are just incredible, and until you use it... you have no idea. I used to say Pentax was fine... after spending a few years in Nikon land... it's far from fine.


This is how it stacks up for me:

Ergonomics - controls - Nikon D8xx, X-T1, K5, K3
Ergonomics - weight and handling - X-T1, K5, K3, D8xx
Autofocus - D810, D800, X-T1, K3, K5
efficiency - D8xx, X-T1/K3, K5
flash - D8xx ----------------------------------- X-T1, K3/K5
color and rendering - X-T1/D8xx, K3/K5

Pentax is in a strange place to me now... don't get me wrong, it may sound like I'm pooping on them hard, but I got a soft spot for the brand. The FA Limiteds are still 3 out of 5 of my favorite pieces of glass. but at the end of the day... I just feel like they are in stone age when it comes to auto-focus and flash systems. I'm sure the upcoming K1 and new lenses are going to fix this. After handling the DFA*70-200mm f2.8 I'm 100% sure they will, at least with that lens, have caught up for AF speed and accuracy. The tracking and AF point spread will still need to be tested and revealed. I primarily do portraits now, so my needs have changed. It can still do portraits very well, but there are much better tools for the job, especially if your a strobist. What would I use my Pentax for now that I have the X-T1 in my stable? honestly.... nothing. I'd reach for the Fuji every time over the Pentax unless I wanted to use my FA Limited glass with AF, or my fisheye. oh, or if I knew I wasn't going to be near anywhere I can charge my batteries. To me Pentax is a jack of all trades, master of none. I think thats why as a hobbyist I loved it so much.
01-14-2016, 12:14 PM   #15
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I recently injured my wrist and I can see how a lighter smaller system would be very helpful. I'm using my k3 but sparingly. I have a Panasonic GX7 and Lx7 and both are getting more looks when I feel like picking up the camera purely from a pain perspective.
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