Last weekend my brother had an MSV M4 Masters driving day at Brands Hatch, a fantastic circuit that was once the home of the British Gran Prix, and still home to many fantastic racing series. This was the very first day that they had the new BMW 425bhp, twin-turbo V6 M4’s out on track for customers to drive, so I thought I’d tag along and take some photos for my brother.
This was a good chance to test out my Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 18-135mm lens I purchased with the camera in a fantastic bundle from Jessops here in the UK. This was also a great opportunity to test out the continuous auto focus, and the continuous shooting mode of the X-T1, and compare this with my Canon 7D which is well known for its fast frames per second shooting.
Now this is not my normal photography subject, the fastest thing I’m normally trying to capture is a particularly lively guitarist, and even then I normally wait for the shot in Single Auto Focus. Shooting fast moving objects is something I probably do less than once a year, so I’m no expert in this field. In fact the last time I must have shot racing cars was back in the early 90s, as a kid, at Brands Hatch for the British Touring Cars, with my trusty (cheap) Ricoh camera (I think it was the FF-70). I expect when I got the film developed most of my shots were nice and blurry, this is at least one problem the digital era has fixed for us!
First off I should mention my X-T1 is running with the current latest firmware, v3.11. Later this month V4 will be released which includes improved AF.
Straight away I was impressed with the continuous AF. It kept on target pretty well, with only a small amount of seeking every now and then. Fairly similar to performance to my 7D (with non-pro lens) really, so I was more than happy with that. When it came to the continuous shooting drive mode this feels very different in use from a DSLR. This is mainly down to the electronic view finder (EVF) as compared to a DSLR with optical view finder (OVF) shooting at 9fps like my 7D, it seems to stutter a little with each shot. When you release the shutter the camera is the busy writing this all to the SD card, if you then go to take more pictures you get a very slow fps and very jerky display as they take. With the 7D, all the writing to the CF card is done in the background, so this was the biggest change of behaviour I’ve seen using the X-T1. Now I was using the Exposure & WB preview in the EVF so this may well have been altering the way continuous shooting was working. I will give it another test someday with the Exposure & WB preview turned off. When shooting without a flash I’ve been always using the Exposure & WB preview since I go the camera. This is a great feature when shooting in full manual, which again I’ve been doing ever since I got the camera. You really get a great, if not perfect idea of what is going to get captured before you press the shutter release
Exposure & WB preview is especially helpful on a lens like the 18-135mm I was using today as it’s got a variable aperture of F3.5-5.6 so as I zoomed in I could instantly see the change of exposure, without having to remember to look at the exposure meter.
All the things on the X-T1 that are right in your face, reminding you, makes shooting full manual so much more natural. You don’t have to spend every shot double checking you’ve remembered everything, it’s all in front of you!
So how does the X-T1 stand up against the mighty DSLR for shooting things that move quick? As I said, this is not my usual photography subject by far, so I’m far from an expert in this field and came at this more from a reviewing the experience…. and after the day of chasing BMW M4s and Julian Palmer single seater race cars around the track, trying my best to catch my brother (in M4 no. 8 and single seater no. 4) I can say that the Fujifilm X-T1 really delivered in performance. From my newly gained experience with the X-series I was already expecting quality in sharpness and colour rendition, but today was very impressed with its abilities with high speed continuous shooting. To be honest I wasn’t expecting a Compact System Camera to match up to my DSLR experiences with high fps shooting, and the X-T1 certainly did. It took a bit of getting use too, but soon became very natural just like you would expect from Fujifilm X-series.
(I also didn’t expect to be so jealous of my brother and really wanted to be out their racing with him!!!)