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Review of the X-T5 after a season of Weddings

Disclaimer: I don’t really get bogged down in the technicalities of my cameras, so often when people ask me questions about them like “how many megapixels is that” or “what’s the sensor readout” “How many AF points”… I don’t actually know most of the time. Sorry. (Technically that makes me a bad choice for reviewing Fujifilm cameras – but people keep reading these reviews and coming back for more)

On the other hand I have now made tens of thousands of images with the Fuji XT5, so I have a pretty good idea how they feel to use and how these cameras react in the real world. I’ve been using these little cameras for documentary wedding photography, microweddings, family photography and engagement shoots for the last few months and this is where we’re at in our relationship. (I’m primarily a wedding photographer with an alternative, documentary style)

It’s been quite a ride getting here though (see below for the full story).

TLDR

The Fujifilm X-T5 is basically a small, tactile, retro looking camera that’s still quite frustrating in a few ways (rumours of autofocus improvements are greatly exaggerated, still pretty noisy at High ISOs) but is overall a fun and creative tool for an alternative photographer like me. And they’ve fixed a few of the niggles of earlier generations.

Buy the Fujifilm XT5 From Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

My ongoing affair with Fujifilm

As you know if you’ve checked out any other photography gear pages on my site – since the release of the Fuji Xpro2, I’ve been using Fuji cameras and lenses. I like to travel light as I feel that being able to be nimble and move fast is more conducive to capturing the moment than better autofocus or bokeh.

They’re tactile, small, discreet and give me a chance to throw an analog or instant film camera in the bag too. Their lenses are also top notch, so I never have to worry about quality issues in that department either. For me, the system is pretty durable, fun to use and lets me climb trees and get on the bouncy castle and not worry about the cameras I’m using too much.

Having said all that, I have a confession.

Initial Impressions of the Fujifilm XT5

When the XT5 first came out, I rented it for a few days, and we didn’t get along. I’d heard all this wonderful stuff about it’s eyefocus and autofocus and everything being state of the art – and it really wasn’t. I took it out on a family photoshoot and was leaning into these expectations of the  autofocus actually nailing it – and it really didn’t.

Luckily, I’d done a lot of shooting at f/8, so it was only me who really knew where the field of focus was meant to be and the important things, thankfully, were within it.

Also, I kept knocking the dial to video. I don’t want a camera that shoots video at all (although I know that’s pretty much part of owning a camera nowadays) – but a camera that keeps accidentally becoming a video camera is guaranteed to piss me off – and it happened very regularly.

(This latter thing is a solvable issue. And doesn’t require either the duct tape or Sugru I’ve been using on previous models to keep things still – but we’ll come back to this later)

But, long story short, it went back to Fujifilm and I started shopping around for another camera to fill the gap.

 Cue a lot of nights researching the pros and cons of Nikon, Canon, Sony and even Leica systems for picking up where the XT3 left off (For me, the XT4 didn’t count, it was a videographers camera, so as far as I was concerned at the time, Fuji hadn’t really nailed a camera body for a photographer since 2018)

And I bought the Sony A7iv

Yes, you heard right. I bought a Sony A7iv and initially a 24GM lens. I tried it out for a day and we really didn’t get on. The lens was unwieldy, the distortion was more than I was used to (although maybe because I prefer 28mm) and there was some crazy aberration going on. And it struggled to acquire focus in low light (which, in that short time was probably user error). So I returned it.

But

Because I’d taken over 200 shots, the camera shop wouldn’t accept the return – I’d knocked £500 off the camera just trying to figure out how the autofocus worked. So I returned the lens and got a much smaller set of Batis lenses and a flash and headed out to shoot a wedding with my new, lighter Sony set up. I sort of saw it as a push from the universe – saying come on, give this a proper go. You’ve barely tried.

It wasn’t the universe giving me a push. We didn’t get on. I think I can have a large, tactile Sony set up, or a small one that feels awkward (I usually set the camera up way before it’s at my eye, it means I can unobtrusively get the photo when needs be) and the lack of aperture dial / top display meant that I felt like I was photographing with boxing gloves on my hands.

And then when I took the images home I far preferred the files and colours I was getting from my Fuji Xpro 3. They didnt’ require editing so much, and they had a nice softness whereas the Sony files were quite clinical.

I ended up selling the Sony A7IV cheap to a videographer I know to use as a beater body and went back to the drawing board.

Other Fuji Options


I’ll be straight up with you: what my heart really wanted was a nice collection of Leica cameras, but I’m not a millionaire, so I went back to the drawing board to look at what Fuji was offering.

My experience with the Sony just clarified more that I still didn’t really want to have a bulky, technical feeling camera. You may have read my previous article about the XH2s

Although I considered it (because the prices were falling at a crazy rate at this point) – I still was not drawn to the XH2 or XH2s. They may be great cameras and I may someday eat my words on that one.

What I really want is an Xpro 4 with the rough edges smoothed a bit (Please Fuji?), as the XPRO3 was such an excellent (if a little flawed) camera (Because it needed some lockable dials. I was in the minority of photographers who loved the fact it had no screen).

Long story short, I ended up right back where I started. I decided I was just going to get used to the X-T5. I was going to manually focus it if I had to

Well that’s not wholly true. I thought I’d give it another whirl – I initially planned to use it alongside my Xpro3 bodies for a while and see which stayed. Which seemed like a good idea until I saw the images.

Fujifilm Colour Science and The XT5

There was an issue with that plan though, when you switch Fuji sensors. All the colours totally change round on you. The white balance between cameras doesn’t stay fixed and neither does the handling of things like skin tones, colour tones. Each generation of sensor does it’s own thing (the XT3 generation had a completely crazy thing going on, but once you’d corrected they made lovely photos). And it makes the cameras a handful if you plan to use one generation’s sensor with another.

I’d really like to cuss out the XT5 for this – but truth is it’s such a huge leap forward in colour science. It may be the single thing I love most about this camera. Colours come straight out saturated and poppy. Skin tones are spot on and the camera is unwaveringly good at nailing white balance.

A couple of shoots later I had two XT5’s and one Xpro3. I didn’t want to be spending all that extra time balancing the colours between the two bodies and the XT5, and the XT5 was knocking it out of the ball park in this regard.

High ISO Noise

This is one of the major reasons that pushed me to change camera systems – Fuji is really trailing behind other camera manufacturers in this regard and I always feel that noise reduction software (despite the claims of AI genius) just makes images look smushy. I’ve learnt to live with it as I’ve always embraced some grain and noise in my images – but this is a negative against Fujifilm cameras – the high ISO seemed to peak back at the Xpro2 generation.  I guess there’s only so far you can go with a 40MP crop sensor.

Improved Autofocus?

My early impressions of the camera convinced me not to rely on the face / eye detection. They may work quite frequently, but I don’t believe you can rely on them.

Also though, using a camera like this and trying to compose around the face eye detection made me feel like I was trying to pin down a hyperactive child all day. I felt that way when I used the Sony A7iv as well (which did have reliable eye/face AF). So maybe I just don’t like working this way. I find I get my more creative shots when I slow down and intentionally focus. And that increases even more when I completely slow down and manually focus. Although having been there, worn the T shirt –  I wouldn’t recommend it or your average wedding couple (save it for the cool ones who’ll give you some artistic licence)

When it gets quiet at weddings and there’s not much going on,  I experiment with the other Autofocus modes. But I always return to using single point single and continuous. Maybe a firmware update will sort it out and maybe, just maybe I’ll give it another try one day.

Having said that, although Fuji’s focusing system can be a bit frustrating, when the lights go out and the system should be falling apart completely it’s still just….. a bit frustrating. It’s consistent in that way. I think it can actually keep up that middling performance way down into the depths and darkness in a way that other cameras can’t – and this is actually the strength in the system

A word on Low light photography

I am a harsh critic when it comes to low light photography- but that’s because when the lights go down and the DJ starts up I tend to ride his lightshow. I love to capture the atmosphere of the dancefloor and I’m happy for the images to break up a bit when doing so.

And I’ve been doing this quite happily for the past few years on Fuji cameras. So please take my criticisms in that (lack of) light. I do really push these cameras.

Battery life

This is a major step forward for me. (Bearing in mind that I skipped the XT4 for all sorts of reasons.) Not having to carry around 12 batteries, and getting through half a wedding day on a single battery is a complete gamechanger. Love it. I know some people who get through on one, but they’re obviously far more effiecient than myself.

Knobs and Buttons and Dials

How did it take so long to get to knobs and buttons and dials? This is probably a key feature for any fuji shooter. I always said that my ideal digital camera would just be a Nikon FM with a digital sensor – and the Fuji comes pretty close to nailing that experience.

It’s also probably the thing that the XT5 nails in a way that its predecessors got pretty close with. Do I want a video dial? Hell no. Would I want a photometry dial instead…well, yes. But am I glad I can dive into a menu and turn the dial off… hell, yes – because I was trying to fix it with Sugru and duct tape and it wasn’t working out too well.

Generally though, most things I need are at my fingertips, are lockable and generally much harder to knock (Previous Fujifilm cameras I’ve owned have all needed some level of modding to keep dials still – this is my first that hasn’t).

I think this is an aspect Fuji nailed a long time ago – you have what you need, but nothing you don’t (The Nikon ZF for example – Nikon’s 2k knobs and dials camera – has all the essential dials and then a PASM dial on top, for people who don’t know what the first set of dials do)

IBIS

As a photographer, IBIS isn’t really an essential thing, but a nice treat  when I can slow down and take room shots with a really good depth of field, or a picture of a venue at night that retains a really nice dynamic range.

I’ll often use it to get some intentional blur in the whilst the scenery remains still. And sometimes I forget it’s there and try intentional camera movement (Not sure how much that messes with the IBIS mechanism , I shall have to google that)

Overall thoughts on the Fujifilm X-T5

Overall, I think I’m sticking with Fuji X-T5 until I win the lottery. I love the tactile nature of the camera that just gets out of the way. It’s never going to look as gorgeous as the Xpro3, but it does everything Fuji cameras do and it does them well without any extras (OK, maybe video) to complicate the experience.

I really do believe that how you feel and the energy you bring to photography is reflected back in the photos. So when I hear people say they use their Fuji’s for fun but they have a much bigger camera for professional use I do actually feel they are missing out.

So, lots of minor tweaks that add up to overall usability. 40 Megapixels is quite nice, as is IBIS. High ISO is a bit noisy for a modern camera and the Autofocus does seem to be mainly marketing hype (fingers crossed for an update that really improves it though)

What Presets do you use with the X-T5

I have custom presets built by Amy-Leigh at Northern Presets. I have tweaked these a bit, both to match the X-T5 better and to add a little bit of warmth, grain, halation and fuzz where I want it. I may approach Amy-Leigh again in the near future to have them professionally tweaked.

Can We see a complete wedding shot with The X-T5?

Yes – there’s Rebekah & Philip’s West Mill Wedding here.

What lenses do I use with the XT5

If you’ve seen my previous articles, you’ll know this. I keep it very simple for easy carrying / movement, but this is my current line up.

Fujifilm 18mm F1.4 WR

For my money – The best lens Fujifilm have ever made. It’s sharp, vibrant, focuses very fast. It’s the perfect focal length and is on a camera 100% of the time.

I used to never know whether to use the 16mm (24mm equivalent) or 23mm (35mm equivalent) Fuji lenses for any situation, and would dither about and always feel I was using the wrong one.

When I got the 18mm it all made sense and now I just have the one focal length.

Buy the Fujifilm 18mm 1.4 WR at Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Fujifilm 33mm f1.4 WR

This has the same qualities as the 18mm, it’s a very fast to focus and sharp and a lovely “normal” lens. The old 35mm had a more film-like character, but you often watched your watch whilst waiting for it to focus, so it was give and take. This one is so much faster and weather sealed to boot.

Buy the Fujifilm 33mm f1.4 WR from Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 WR


This is often used for speeches or portraits or any time I’m a bit further away. A good solid Fuji lens. But one I’ll often avoid using as I like to work closer and not feel like I’m spying on people through binoculars. It is always in the bag though.

Buy the Fuji 56mm 1.2 WR from Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

 

Buy the Fujifilm XT5 From Amazon (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)