Fujifilm X-T1 as a action/sports camera? The X-T1 review pt 2.

Earlier I've had success with the tracking predictive continous autofocus, nailing shots a 8 frames per second of a people running towards me. That seemed so impressive to me that I decided to take my X-T1 to some boxing matches, and as promised in part one - here a some boxing pictures and my impression of the X-T1 in such a situation.

Here are some samples with the X-T1. They are shot at ISO 3200 mostly shutter speed 1/500 sec, f/4 with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 lens. Since I couldn't get close enough, I had to crop these shots a bit - which of course degrades the quality somewhat. Especially when I'm shooting at ISO 3200. Also, it's hard for you, the reader, to really judge the quality of these rater low resolution shots. But take a look at them, and read under to see what I think.

On my 27 inch Dell monitor, at full resolution in Lightroom 5, (not cropped), and zoomed in it seems like the Fujifilm X-T1 managed to get the boxers in focus at most of the shots. I took many, many more than shown above. Now, this is perhaps not so impressive. I'm at f/4 which gives me a bit more depth of field to work with than perhaps f/2.8 or larger aperture which I usually like to use to isolate my subjects. And I'm sitting some distance away from the boxers, also increasing the depth of field a bit compare to being close - like I usually am when shooting boxing. But I'm at 55mm so...

So, let me tell you what speaks against the X-T1. With the tracking autofocus you have to have one of the nine center focus points placed ON the subject at all times, or it will not track. On my Canon 7D it follows my subject with more focus points at the same time so it's easier to keep focus locked on fast and non-linear movements. Also, with continous focus the focusing system seems to pump in and out a bit while you have the shutter button halfway pressed. The EVF blanks out a bit when the shot is taken, giving the impression that it's shooting slower than it actually is. Still, this makes it harder for you to follow your subject even though they are brief. So, it'sa bit hard to see what you are doing, and it feels laggy even though you're shooting at 8 fps.

So, is it better to use single frame autofocus? Well, the X-T1 locks on fast compared to the other cameras in the X-series, and I had some success with pressing the shutter button down in one continous move - and by that getting the picture in the exact movement you have focus lock. This technique seems to require that you have set up your auto focus Release/Focus Priority in the menus to "Focus". It will then actually not open the shutter until it has focus lock. If others have better success witht he opposite, setting it to "Release" priority and by that making the camera take the picture no matter what, please let me know. I haven't tried out that yet. Anyway, for Continous autofocus and with Continous shooting High, I highly recommend setting this menu item to "Release". You're shooting at 8fps after all, and having one or two out of focus, maybe even only slightly so, in a long series of shots - I think it's better to make the camera continue taking the shots and hope the subject will get back in focus.

So, what is nice about shooting action with the X-T1? Well, 8 pictures per second is nice. Very nice. And the autofocus seems to work well for objects in a more linear motion, but not so much for objects changing directions fast. This is hardly surprising for such a camera. But the blank outs in the EVF, even brief, makes it hard to follow fast moving objects.

So, can it replace my Canon 7D for shooting boxing. No. It cannot. First off, I need a longer tele zoom lens. Fujifilm's XF55-200mm would have been nice if it had larger aperture at the longer end. Still, I think my success rate would have been lower than with the Canon 7D. The 7D are made for this, and even that camera struggles. Actually I'm not sure what is the best technique even with that camera. But it's faster, much faster with the autofocus, tracks better, and there are no blank outs in the viewfinde when shooting. Here are som pictures from the same day, taken with the Canon 7D and the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS MkII lens:

One thing the X-T1 beat the Canon 7D in - and that was noise at high ISO. I wish the 7D was just as good as the Fuji X series.  Is it impossible to get good sports and boxing pictures with the Fujifilm X-T1? Certainly not. I could have done a few things to improve both my success rate and improve the picture quality, like getting closer to the ring and used a faster lens than the XF 18-55mm that maxes out at f/4 on the longer end. And remember - back in the old days there were no tracking autofocus or 8 frames per second. Still some of the most iconic boxing pictures are from back then.