March 17

9 comments

More Fuji X-T1 AF Predictive AF Tracking Tests

By Dan

March 17, 2014

_DSF9142-2Having shot extensively with the Fujifilm X-T1 for six weeks now, I feel as if I’m dishing out the exact kind of use and abuse that Fuji had in mind when they designed this camera. Since returning from Iceland, where I shot a variety of landscapes and action photos with the X-T1, I’ve photographed dog sledding, winter snow bike racing, landscapes, aerial photos, the northern lights, and I took it on a bitter cold winter bike tour along the Denali Highway, where the camera was covered in ice and frost for much of the time.

In all cases, the X-T1 has continued to perform with flying colors. I have not experienced a single hitch with the camera, and I can say with full authority, especially after using the X-E1 and X-E2, that the new X-T1 has far exceeded my expectations. I would not hesitate to use it for pro work, and in fact plan to use it on assignment later this week.

Last month, I wrote a detailed post about how well the X-T1’s autofocus tracking system works. Today we look at a few more examples. As a longtime DSLR user who makes my living getting right in middle of the action and shooting things that move rather quickly, I was very curious to see just how well the X-T1 would stack up against the kind of performance that I’m accustomed to with my Nikons.

In order to do this test, I took the X-T1 out to photograph dog sled racing here in Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve shot these yearly sprint races numerous times with my DSLRs, so I figured this would be a very good benchmark.

Sprint dog racing isn’t especially hard to shoot, but the perfect subject to test your camera’s AF system. The dogs run at around 20 mph, either directly towards or away from you, and with 14-16 canine heads constantly bobbing up and down, there’s a lot for your AF sensors to grab (and miss). Usually, I try to grab either the lead dogs, one of the middle dogs, or the musher himself and see how well it tracks.

 

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As it turns out, with its new software motion prediction algorithms and higher buffer, the X-T1 did exceptionally well. Selecting my initial AF point, I was always able to lock onto whatever part of the frame I initially chose. Sometimes in the chaos of the action, the X-T1 was able to follow the same dog through the entire series, while other times, the sensors picked up another dog in the pack. Sometimes it lost a dog for a frame or two before locking right back on, but you know what? I pretty much get same thing when shooting with my Nikons.

 

My DSRL setup might perform a little better, but to be fair, I’m usually using a $1,500-2,000 f/2.8 or f/4 AF-S VR zoom lens. With the X-T1, I’m using the XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8. While this Fuji zoom is a very good lens, it’s not the same caliber glass as the Nikon lenses that cost three to four times as much. I know that Fuji has a couple of higher performing zooms in the works, according to their lens roadmap, so I’ll be very curious to see how well those do with the X-T1.

 

All of these images were shot in CH (8 fps) and AF-C mode as straight JPEGs with no EV compensation. Normally, I would set the EV to +1 stop or so to brighten things up in the white snow and overcast environment, but here I wanted to shoot straight and see how the  X-T1 would handle this kind of situation. They’re a little dark, but you’d get that from any camera.

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Combined with its rugged, high abuse-worthy, all-metal body and the host of features Fuji packed into this little gem, I continue be inspired and impressed with the X-T1. It’s an unbelievably powerful little camera that fits in your hands and doesn’t hold you back at all, and this from a 20+ year DSLR shooter. Years ago, I had resigned myself to forever having to carry a bag of heavy gear in order to get pro quality action/adventure shots. No more. I’m seeing my photography paradigm transform before my very eyes, and it’s quite exciting. I feel like I’m walking into a whole new world.

Check out my X-T1 full review and field test. It’s a very detailed post with lots of information and more full size image samples. You can also preorder the camera at B&H PhotoAdorama or Amazon. It’s slated to ship any day now. Also, you can save up to $250 on the Fuji XF lenses. This special deal ends March 22. Please consider purchasing through these links. It’s your way of giving me a free nod for writing these reviews. Thanks!

Preorder the Fujifilm X-T1 for only $1,299 (body only) at B&H Photo or Amazon

Preorder the Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-55mm lens for only $1,699 at B&H Photo or Amazon

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


  • I’ve been following your blog for the past few weeks ever since I started thinking about moving to Fuji. Thanks for sharing the photos and field reports!

    Quick question: since the lenses available now are not weather-resistant, did you experience any problem shooting in the snow? Did you have to use a lens pouch to protect the lens in that harsh environment?

  • I don’t have any problem shooting in the snow, even with non-weather sealed lenses. The biggest issue is keeping heavy falling snow off the front element, which is the same with any lens. The lens hood helps a lot, and I carry a cotton cloth to wipe off any snow or moisture if it gets on there. When not in use, I’ll keep the extra lenses in my closed camera bag to protect them from the elements.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Hi Dan. Please answer this if possible since you would have the most experience in this regard:

    What is the battery like in the extremely cold weather. I find my X-T1 to be disappointing (comparatively) as I am still adjusting having moved from a DSLR.

    As such I want to stock up on some batteries and was curious as to how it performs it the worst possible case (AF-C in the cold) which you obviously tested here.

  • Azhar, like any camera, battery life is greatly compromised in the cold. Last weekend, I shot all day outside with the X-T1 in sub freezing temps (single digits down to 20 below F) and was able to get just over 200 frames in a single charge. This is shooting mostly RAW+JPEG. Normally, when it’s not cold. I’m able to get anywhere from 300-1000 shots per battery charge. You’re right, it’s not as good as you’d get from a DSLR, that’s probably the biggest tradeoff, but the spare batteries are pretty small. I have 4 total.

    Aside from reduced battery life, however, the X-T1 performs just fine in the cold. Get some extra batteries and you should be fine.

  • I have been using an xpro1 and x-e2 along side my Nikon D700 for a couple of years. Last week I added the x-t1 with battery grip and hope to move away from my big DSLR. I tried shooting moving subjects yesterday, as test shots, and had no luck. I think the I had every thing set ok but could be wrong. I had high performance on, pre-af ‘on’ and was switched to Af-c. I am using firmware v4.0 so I used the zone focus mode ( not the wide zone mode though). The subjects were my dog running towards me and my wife walking towards me. I started tried both release and focus lock but neither worked. Like your tests, I was using a 55-200mm and kept the ISO reasonably high so that achieve a fast shutter speed. Maybe I have missed some in my set-up and would welcome your feedback.

  • Gary, as with any camera, I’ve found that AF performance on the Fuji cameras is largely tied to the lens you’re using. The 55-200 is good, but it’s not the best performer in the system. From my tests, lenses such as the 50-140 and the new 90 f/2 are indeed faster with regards to AF. It sounds like you have the correct camera settings. I’ve heard that Pre-AF “on” gives better performance, but I’ve never used it. Try switching it off. Just lock onto the subject with the thumb-pad AF selector and shoot bursts in either CH or CL mode set on the drive dial. Let me know how that works.

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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.