Making Portraits with the Fuji XT1 in Dubai

When I was out at Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai I was fortunate enough to get to meet some of the folks from Fujj ME. The guys were beaming at the release of the new Fuji XT1 – the new 16MP mirrorless camera. Business was brisk, and after a few minutes of chatting w the reps there, I handed over my license to ask to borrow one for the day. I was chomping at the bit to see if this iteration of the camera would live up to the expectation (and desire) I had to check out this form factor.

You see, several years ago I was a pretty vocal critic of some of the limitations of the ( at the time. ) newly released X100. I got my hands on that camera busting w excitement to try out a camera that I stylistically thought was going to be a great fit. Man did I really want to like it.

I found it problematic to focus. When the camera locked a focus- it was razor sharp.  It was just that I couldnt get that to do it often for what I was shooting.

When Fuji announced the X100S – you started seeing cameras that included both contrast detect and phase detect focus.  As this happened, you were blessed with some sharp shots!  I was pumped in that I had been renting (through Borrowlenses) the XPro1, and loved the form factor.  Was just waiting for what would technologically come next.

So now I was staring at a camera that spoke to me on several fronts.  I -loved- the analog design of it – dials for every major thing i’d want to do.

Tale of the tape?  16 Megapixel – APS-C, small, Lightweight – GREAT viewfinder, weather sealed magnesium alloy body?  Oh.  And fast to focus.  oOnly camera in the space thats shooting to the new UHS-2 SD Cards.. which are really fast.

And accurate.  Very accurate.  “This is Finally what I was Waiting For” accurate.  I have been looking for a system to complement my DSLR – and man, this looked good.

Id love to sit and chat about the technical details of it, but I think Gordon Laing did a great job of digging into all of the tech.  I agree with his assessment on almost all parts – you can check out Gordon’s XT1 review on the Cameralabs site.  At this point, I just wanted to see how it felt in my hands shooting a couple of different things – put it through its paces (as best I could with the time)

First Night Out

I ran out and tried to shoot a couple of shots with the time I had.  Obviously being deep into the 2nd Edition to the #HDR book, that would be the first thing i’d try.

Camera handled very well!  The + – on it only hit three frames at 1 stop apart.  Easily wished that was more (in steps and frames).  I came back and told the folks, who (to their credit) took immediate notes on that.  I had been told from the folks in Dubai on how attentive the Fuji group was here.. so that was kinda neat.

This isnt an HDR.  Most of the shots that I was able to work on were on JPG.  I shot Raw, but Lightroom had not had an update to the Raw processing yet.  While I was there, the Adobe Labs site did come up with a Photoshop Release Candidate for Camera Raw 8.4 with support for the XT1 . so that was kind of cool.


Second Time Out: Portraits

Back at GPP, I started playing around with the camera in between classes that I was teaching.  My buddy Steve from Phottix was supporting the event there, and I started fiddling around with his lights and modifiers.  I figured I had gone out and done some HDR work, I may as well treat my other side of the brain with trying out some portraits.  I setup the Phottix Luna Beauty Dish with a 14×56 Strip Softbox   on a pair of Phottix Mitros flashes.  We setup a black VFlat inside of a storage room and made a mini portrait area – so small we shot the BTS with an Olloclip Fisheye  for the iphone.

I totally blanked on switching the camera to RAW and just got to shoot these as JPG.  When I went back to Lightroom, I noticed I was a little under.. but other than that… I was pretty pleased.  The level of detail and sharpness was awesome!  Click on the image above to see the full res shot.

I was so excited about how the setup came out and that I dragged the Fuji folks into the storage closet to make some shots of them.  I figured it was the least I could do for taking their camera out on loan.  Below I am adding the pictures of them individually.  All JPG shots from the camera, with slight crop/exposure to taste.  Clicking on them will bring the full size up. What I loved about the shots is that they all had a great look to them.  You could tell they were proud of what they were doing.  Double bonus!

Kunio Aoyama – Fujifilm Japan


Yuta Kawamura – Fujifilm Middle East


Keitaro So – Fujifilm Middle East


Mohamad Al Moumani – Fujifilm Middle East


Jidal Mouna – Fujifilm Middle East


Eslie – Basson – Fujifilm South Africa


Naturally, I couldnt leave well enough alone.  While the detail on screen was nice… I had to check. How well would the file print? I took the opportunity to make a 29” high print of the one of the JPG’s and was very pleased with the quality.  Just looked good coming out of this little camera.

As I explore more with the camera, I will post my thoughts- shooting with different lenses.. that sort of thing.

That said, I could not have been happier with the couple of days I spent with it.  I wanted to thank the Folks at Fuji for the opportunity..

You guys have a real winner with that XT1 there..


  1. RC, I have been kicking back and forth doing the same thing. I have been going back and forth between a Fuji and Sony A7R. This might have been just what it take to push me over the fence towards the Fuji.

  2. Excellent “mini-review” capturing the highlights of your time with the XT-1. It looks like Fuji has polished up its focus system and has a winner on it’s hands. I’m going to have to try one of these out!

    Your impromptu portrait studio is an outstanding example of working with the tools on hand and not needing to use thousands of $$ worth of studio gear. The portraits look like they were done in a studio, of some VERY happy people.

  3. Excellent review, RC! I really loved the portraits. I can’t wait to see what you think of the lenses.

  4. Great review and I really love the portraits. I’m looking forward to my portrait shoots w/ my X-T1. Absolutely adore this cam!

  5. Dear RC,

    I attended and thoroughly enjoyed your April Washington DC workshop on Ps for Lr users. I was especially interested in your thoughts about this camera. Well, a bit more research, and I’ve ordered one from B&H. no telling when it will arrive, though.

    George Stone
    DC Metro Area

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