The form factor

Mum had taken a serious shine to my X-T1. Uh oh.

When I got back to Singapore at the beginning of October, my mother’s point and shoot had expired, and she was on a mission to get a new camera.

“Get a new Fuji,” I told her. “Here, try mine.”

Two minutes later, I’d lost my camera for the night… and the next day. She couldn’t see it lying around without picking it up and fiddling with it.

Me, by Mum. Fujifilm X-T1, XF 27mm f2.8
Me, by Mum. Fujifilm X-T1, XF 27mm f2.8

I needed to take action before I lost it for good.

Conversations ensued about what and how much she wanted to do with a camera. I was adamant that she get something small enough to chuck in her bag at whim, which would give her the creative control she was after, without too heavy a price tag.

She ended up bringing an X30 home.

I haven’t used it at all. Looking at it gives me pangs.

I’ve mentioned several times in passing that my favourite camera is the X-E2.

It was the one body I’ve used, that met all my ideal-camera criterias:

  1. Great image quality & performance
  2. Low key enough that I can forget about it on the job

Fellow Kage Collective mate Robert Catto reminds me that not too long ago, innovative digital cameras utilized floppy disks for ease of sharing, and that his first digital SLR cost over five thousand New Zealand dollars and boasted low noise “all the way up to ISO 400.” A 256 Mb Fuji Compact Flash card cost a jaw dropping NZD $800 then too. Ouch.

These days, I’m spoilt by the X-T1 that is my main workhorse. It fits my hand well and is exceptional in so many ways: performance, low light handling, image quality, and has that unholy freaking electronic viewfinder, among other outstanding features. It also gets better with every firmware upgrade, including manual video functions in firmware 3.0 (which I use), and swanky new AF tracking options in firmware 4.0. Today, I download an application from the Fujifilm website into my SD card (SGD $28 for a modest Sandisk 16 Gb one that writes at 90 MB/s), flick an on-off switch, and my camera is reincarnated.


The X-T1 is a camera that looks every inch the mean technological machine that it is, demanding to be noticed both when you’re in front of and behind it, which some photographers enjoy. Here’s where I’m still not entirely comfortable with it, as I don’t like thinking about equipment when I work (or play, for the matter). I enjoy using gear, but giving attention to things that have nothing to do with function, like flashiness, interrupts the process of making stuff with self consciousness. I loved that I could completely forget about the X-Pro 1 while I used it, something which was even easier with the X-E2.

My flashy beast allows me to do things I would not otherwise be doing though, so I’ve gotten used always being aware of its presence. This particular camera has been a huge technological enabler in many areas of my creative and professional life, as have Fujifilm Nordic, the good folks who gave it to me and continue to advocate for, and support my work.

Being in proximity to Mum’s new X30 though, I’m awash in nostalgia for unimposing little black boxes that call no attention to themselves. From me or anyone else.


  1. David Goold says:

    I think your mum made a great choice. I remember when I bought my X10 about 4 years ago – my creativity was suddenly liberated. It just felt so right in my hands. Such a cliché, I know, but its haptics made me want to use it – something I hadn’t felt before and rarely since.

    That’s a lovely photo she took of you. I hope she’s as inspired as I was :O)

    1. Charlene says:

      I felt the same about the X-Pro 1 / X-E2 after years of using DSLRs. They felt right – to have, to hold, to use (haha).

      It would be excellent to have an X-T1 in that same chassis!

  2. Greg says:

    Well, they keep saying an X Pro 2 will show up one day, surely it’ll do all the “tricks” you like with the T1 and have a more understated presentation.

    I just shot for several days with an XT 1 and the kit 18-55 eventually concluding it would not suit my “needs” (hard to say that with a straight face when you’re as drastically amateur as me). It was just too big to be a “side-kick” to my Df and just too inferior at very low light high ISO to replace it (since that’s what I got the Nikon for in the first place). I may opt for a used Typ 109 (yeah, I know the LX100 is cheaper and the same, but when you hold both…) with it’s fast fixed lens in the casual second fiddle role (that sound you hear is the Leica fanboy club howling in outrage). I find it similar in form factor to that X30, and if you tape the “you know what”, completely stealth. Somehow (I’m sure its my ineptitude) the X trans sensors just don’t process nicely for me in lightroom. So many other folks do so nicely with them, but I just seem to fight it. Oh well, perhaps I should try knitting…. ;-)

    1. David Goold says:

      Greg, I suppose you tried the nifty X-T10 with the 18-55 as an alternative to the X-T1? The high-ISO capability of the X-Trans is second to none in APS-C size – I think you’d be very disappointed by the ISO capability of the German 109 (unfortunate numbering) with its smaller, pixel-crammed sensor. For the RAW X-Trans files In Lightroom, have you tried increasing the ‘Detail Sharpening’ to 80 and reducing ‘Color noise’ control to 0?

    2. Charlene says:

      HA Greg, I reckon you need to pick the camera you like the most, and forget about all the others. There’s way too much tech angst happening!

      Although… maybe give David’s Lightroom tip a go before you give up on it completely? ;)

  3. Greg says:

    Well, that wasn’t a very useful comment from me, sorry. I really liked the T1. I was experimenting with replacing my Nikon set up. To be fair, I should have shot the T1 with a couple of the stellar Fuji primes (since that’s my normal MO) instead of the zoom, no matter how capable it is, but camera and lens came to me as a package, so…. In the end, I decided not to make a switch. I still love the files out of the Df and the Fuji’s advantages in other areas just weren’t enough to tip me into a whole new system (just no way to have both).

    My mention of the D-lux was more about the X30 stealthy reference. It is not a competitor of the T1, T10, or the Df, and is something one might own for a completely different reason/purpose. To David’s inquiry, if I could afford it, my “second” camera would, in fact, be the lovely little T10 with a 23/1.4 and 56/1.2 combo which, in many ways, I lust after like Charlene and the XE 2.

    I surely didn’t mean to, in any way, disparage the wonderful Fuji products at all, nor wander down that twisty, crowded, narrow alley of gear angst. It was more that it was a quite recent experience and I didn’t really think through what it was that I was about.

    1. Charlene says:

      I think it’s a little too late for gear angst, Greg ;) As for disparaging Fuji products, they’re not for everyone. I love them because they are ideal for everything I do, but my requirements and preferences would be different from yours.

      P.S., the X-T10 is just a smaller version of the X-T1… If you’re not satisfied with the kind of files you’re getting out of the X-T1, skip the T10.

  4. Erin Wilson says:

    Okay, so recommendation request: Fuji with interchangeable lenses, good in low light, good video capabilities (preferably that will shoot at 60 frames/sec). Is there such a creature?

    1. Charlene says:

      That would be my ideal camera too! I don’t think Fuji has one at the moment – not in their X-series line up anyway. The X-T1 does fabulous stills and passable video, but the compression of the latter still leaves quality to be desired.

      I can’t image it would be very far away though (I hope not, anyway!) – the Canon Mark II that made a compact hybrid stills and video machine a reality is a few years old now. I reckon we’re just waiting on Fuji to catch up with their particular technology.

    2. Steve says:

      Fuji is NOT known for its video capabilities. I can shoot it, but other cameras can handle that job much better. If video is a major concern, I would look elsewhere. Myself, I am a retired photojournalist and have shot still photos all my life. The only video I shoot is occasional shots of my Lab. :-)

      1. Charlene says:

        I too am looking forward to what Fuji does with video, Steve :)

  5. Robert Killips says:

    Charlene you have touched on something that makes sense to me. I wasn’t sure why I am hesitating on buying an X-T1 but your comments on form factor and cameras that don’t call attention to themselves and just get out of the way hits the mark – at least for me. I have been using my X-100 and X-pro 1 and some prime lenses for a few years now as a photojournalist and even though my newspaper provides me with all the Nikons and lenses I need, I gravitate to the Fujis. It is their form factor and the unobtrusiveness that gets it for me. (That and I am a “gentleman of a certain age”) I feel I just wouldn’t have that with the XT-1. But as others have stated, I would love to have the capabilities of the XT-1 in an X-pro1 body. But for now, form factor wins the day. Thanks for straightening that out for me.

    1. Charlene says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Robert. People definitely look at me more with the X-T1 than they do with anything else I’ve used, even if it’s just a glance to acknowledge a person with a camera. The X-T1 is such a look-at-me luxury-item. That never happened with the X-Pro 1. Per-Anders nailed it when he said the X100 series did what he needed cameras to do for him, intuitively, and with a minimum of fuss.

      The X100 series and X-Pro 1 continue to hit a nerve with a lot of people though, so I’m sure Fuji isn’t done with their plain-black-box cameras, if Fuji Rumors is anything to go by!

  6. James Arturo says:

    Great reviews and photos Charlene,Just picking up my Fuji X-T10 today to add to my X-E2 and X-T1 .I use my Fuji cameras and lens mainly for landscape and street photography .With the new X-T10 my next trip to Cuba I will use for street photography because of the quality,weight and especially its size. I find Fuji makes high quality products and the lens are especially sharp.Again I thank you for your work and continued success with your passion in photography.
    All the best, James

    1. Charlene says:

      Thanks James. I’d love to go to Cuba myself one day – it sounds incredible.

      Enjoy your X-T10!

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