X-vinTage1: My Fujifilm X-T1 review part two

Check out part one of the review here

Using vintage glass is something that I really enjoy. Given the contents of this blog, it might not come as a huge surprise to some of you.

I started shooting vintage glass on the X-Pro1 a couple of years ago when I got a cheap Fujinon 50mm f/1.4. Since then I’ve ventured through a lot of vintage primes. Mostly in my favorite focal length of about 50’ish mm. Since these vintage lenses only uses manual focus, you need som help achieving critical focus when coupled to a digital camera. When Fujifilm added the Version 3.0 of their X-Pro1 firmware last summer, it finally came with Focus-peaking. Something that made the whole vintage-lens-thing much more enjoyable to use. The X-Pro1 still only does white highlight edges, which can be less that stellar in bright light conditions.

XT-1 improvements over X-Pro1

What Fujifilm did with the X-T1 makes shooting vintage lenses an experience of a totally different caliber.

1: That HUGE, lovely, stellar, fantastic EVF

2: A new focusassist mode which makes focussing a breeze.

3: The firmware now has different selectable colors for focus peaking highlights

So lets brake them down.

1. That EVF!

I wrote a little bit about the EVF in my part one of this review, but allow me to revisit this nice little (big) screen. Compared to using the X-Pro1, the sheer magnified size of the EVF actually makes ALL the difference. The added resolution is another huge difference point. Resolution and size combined produce a much clearer image with much more detail, which allows you to gain critical focus ALOT faster, because you don’t always have to use the magnified mode to check your focus. This is a huge plus for my style of street photography where I use wide open lenses for subject separation (unlike the classical way of setting the lens to f/8 and then zone focussing.) For this style, I need confirmation of focus to be quite fast. This is EXACTLY what the X-T1 EVF’s added size, resolution, clarity and speed gives me.

For low light, the very high refreshrate is very pleasing to work with, and again adds to clarity when trying to achieve critical focus.

2. Magnified Focus Assist

In the x100s you get splitscreen focus assist,  focus peaking, and magnify x3 and x10 (The X-Pro1 doesn’t have the splitscreen, since it required PDAF on the sensor). What Fujifilm did with the X-T1 was adding another focus assist mode to the above. The Magnified focus assist! What it does is, it gives you your 100% picture area in the EVF, but in addition it places a little cut-out of your focus-rectangle magnified to 3x to the right. THIS. IS. GENIOUS!! No need to press a button to go into 3x confirmation mode, its all right there. And even when you have a divided EVF realestate like that, the 100% view is STILL larger than on the X-Pro1. One word: Phenomenal!

EVF

This is the single biggest reason why using Vintage, manual focus lenses on the X-T1 is so damn pleasing!!

3. Selectable colors for focus peaking

This is something that is very firmware specific, and I have a feeling that this feature will be added to the X-Pro1/X-E1 with the next firmware revision. It gives you the opportunity to select either red, blue or white for outlining the in-focus objects in your viewfinder. This can be very nice, when you set your camera to b&w simulation presets and then have red or blue highlights for in focus. (I always set my camera to RAW+F, and then use the B&W yellow filter preset. That way I “see the world” in black and white, while always getting a colour copy in RAW format.)

Again, this little feature gives extra contrast and clarity for achieving critical manual focus fast!

Adapters

When using vintage lenses you have to use adapters. I have the Fujifilm M-FX adapter for my Voigtländers, some cheap M42 and Minolta MD adapters, as well as the Mitakon Lens turbo in MD-FX mount. These all work just the same on the X-T1 as they do on the X-Pro1, so you can read all the reviews on this blog on how to use these adapters. I will say that the Mitakon with MD lenses feels right at home on the oldschool SLR look of the X-T1, where as the voightlanders look much more at home on the classic rangefinder look of the X-Pro1

Samples

Below are samples taken with different manual focus vintage lenses. Some taken during fast paced scenes involving children at play, and some in more still surroundings. The description under each image contains lens information etc. These are all shot in RAW and have been processed using Lightroom 5.

Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 55mm f/1.7 w/ Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Helios 44m 58mm f/2 w/Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 50mm f/1.2 w/Lens Turbo
Minolta MD 50mm f/1.2 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo
Takumar 50mm f/1.4 w/Lens Turbo

Conclusion

Simple. If you shoot manual focus vintage lenses on a fujifilm camera, this is the camera to get. The EVF, the new magnified split view as well as colored focus peaking makes this camera a fantastic experience for shooting vintage glass!

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