Fuji Nordic were so generous as to give me a present back in March 2014 – a Fuji X-T1. During summer in Copenhagen I worked for about 20 commercial music events and concerts using the X-T1 (and my old trusty Fuji X-pro1). How did the X-T1 fare with music, mayhem and me?
Music event shoot setup
For most of the events I used both my Fuji X-T1 and X-pro1. I can and have shot many events with just one camera, but since I had both cameras available I figured, why not bring them both. It is nice not having to swap lenses in a dark very crowded nightclub. So my setup usually looked like this:
- Fuji X-T1 (90% of the time with the 35mm f/1.4 lens mounted)
- Fuji X-Pro1 (90% of the time with the 14mm lens mounted on it)
- Lenses: I always brought the 35mm f/1.4 lens and the 14mm f/2.8 lens. Often I would also bring the 23mm f/1.4 lens, and sometimes the quite awesome but slightly big and heavy 56mm f/1.2 lens (the 14mm, 23mm and 56mm lenses on loan from Fuji Nordic)
I use the X-T1 maybe 75% of the time and then grab the X-pro1 whenever I need an overall wide angle shot. It is a really nice way to work and I can work 8 hour events with a camera on each shoulder easily, they are so light it never gets tiring.
Music, mayhem and a Fuji X-T1
I have already written my general opinions on the X-T1 back in March 2014 so this is a follow up. My X-T1 has shot 10,000+ images over the Summer and been through some serious bass music, sweaty dancefloors, beer and drinks spillage, bumped into people, speakers, mixer desks, door frames, tour bus doors, dropped on floors and it never missed a single beat. It has been at outdoors events and in dungeons, basements, night clubs, raves on a train, raves in a strip club. It is quite a performance beast. So is the X-pro1, it did not miss a beat either.
Actually the cameras performed a lot better than the photographer, I had my share of bad luck, managing to almost break a toe, bend a few ribs falling off a van (camera was fine, me not so fine, it appears my parkour skills are in need of sharpening) and I got a nerve stuck in my shoulder for a week. So not a bad word about the cameras performances, me on the other hand, getting a bit old!
Slideshow of images
A small selection of Fuji X-T1 images from events in Copenhagen:
Random notes about the Fuji X-T1
- The viewfinder. I mentioned it in my first review, but it is seriously amazing in a dark enviroment. It sees better than the human eye, I have shot in environments so dark I could barely make out what was happening. The viewfinder gives me night vision.
- Focus peaking. I shoot most of this work on manual focus and the focus peaking coupled with the viewfinder means I can focus in dark environments where I cannot see and autofocus has given up a long time ago.
- Performance. There is a huge difference in performance from the X-pro1 to the X-T1. The X-T1 is fast, snappy, responsive and that just means it “gets in the way” less than the X-pro1.
- High iso performance. It is nothing short of amazing. So good I don’t even think about it and happily shoot an entire event at 3200 and 6400. Iso6400 shots are so good they’re delivered full size to Red Bull Music etc.
- And it means…I never have to use flash. I hate flash. That’s just me. But you know what, a lot of the performers hate flash too. I see people setting off a big flash right in the face of an artist. That is so disrespectful to the artist. You try doing your job with a flash going off in your face all the time. It is not about you nor your shot, the performers always come first.
I never use flash and my cameras are small, the performers love this as it never gets in the way of their job.
- Stability. 20 events, 10,000+ images and not one single issue, no breakdowns, no errors, no hiccups, not a single problem ever. A tool to trust, completely.
- ISO dial. This is a very handy dial to have in the darkness, although I still really wish it could be just turned without having to push down on that darn little button as well. My big fingers are not ideal for this. About half the time when trying to turn the ISO dial I manage to change scene mode as well. Then follows a scene of me, in the dark swearing at the camera as I can’t see what the heck I changed it to and how to change to it back.
- Size and weight. My fingers and hands have become used to the X-T1 and I find the size just fine and ergonomical. I shoot it for 8 hours straight with no problem. Especially as the camera is so light, much lighter than the X-pro1.
- View mode button – which I sorely missed on the X-E2 works very well. For the ideal view mode button I would like in the menu to be able to decide which view modes to cycle through as I never use the eye sensor. Just 2 settings for me please, EVF only or LCD only. That’s just me being a bit greedy. It would be nice though!
- Back button focus. My thumb has learned the position of the AF-L button. But I would love to be able to assign the AE-L button to back button focus – firmware update request.
- LCD screen. The flip feature is really cool, I quite often forgot that it was there being so used to the other Fuji cameras, but when I remembered I could flip out the screen it worked really well. And I haven’t broken it yet. Also the LCD screen is so exceptional in quality. Actually almost too good! The screen makes everything look perfectly in focus, even manual focus shots from the 56mm f1.2 look like a masterpiece (then I get home and view the RAW file and discover my Jedi manual focusing skills are not all that good, not really the fault of the screen!)
- Battery lifetime. It’s not bad and it is improved on the X-T1 but…well it’s not good either. I carry 4 batteries, 2 for each camera and that gets me through the event. For events that last days, that’s a lot of batteries to have to recharge before the next day.
- The coolness factor. Ok it’s a silly thing, but it’s fun. Fuji’s are cool. Small, light weight, retro looking – and cool! Makes for many fun conversations from interested artists and audience.
A few random notes about lenses
- The 35mm f1.4 lens has become my main lens. It is small, light weight, super sharp even when used wide open, fantastic image quality and the 1.4 aperture is perfect for beautiful shallow DOF and fast low light photography in night clubs. The autofocus is slow but no matter, do not use it much anyway.
- The 14mm f2.8 is quite good for event photography for the big epic crowd shot or getting shots in extremely small spaces. It is slow at f2.8 though and the upcoming 16mm 1.4 lens looks incredibly exciting for my work.
- The 23mm f1.4 is one outstanding lens and I wish I owned one. It is often not quite wide enough for the purposes of event shooting though so I look forward to that 16mm f1.4.
- The 56mm f1.2 is a brilliant lens, incredible image quality and beautiful bokeh. I used it at some events but it becomes a bit heavy to carry and is not quite as versatile as the 35mm lens of course. The 56mm is great though for putting on and making something different after I have covered all the must-have angles.
Return of the light and the music
If only I could perform as well and stable as the X-T1. It is an almost perfect camera for music event shooting. The main part of my commercial work takes place in Copenhagen during the mad summer festival season where every weekend seems to have at least 2 festivals taking place. Then everything hibernates during the long cold Winter – where this gypsy chooses to chase the sun somewhere warmer. See you next year when the weather is humane again, the light and the music – and I – return.