Photographing Mount Rainier with the Fujifilm X-T1

Home|Fujifilm X-T1, Gear, Photography, Uncategorized|Photographing Mount Rainier with the Fujifilm X-T1

A few weeks ago I decided to take a short trip to Mount Rainier. The last time I was in the park was in 2012, but now that I live about three hours away I hope to make it a more regular getaway spot. When going on a “landscape photography” trip I would typically bring my Canon gear. I trust it, I get great results, and it works. I’ve had frustration with the Fujifilm in the past, but the more I use the camera the more confident I become with it, so I decided to bring my full Fujifilm X-T1 kit on my trip to see how I enjoyed it.

So here’s my report: I loved it! I had fun using it, it was light and easy to carry around (especially when it’s clamped onto my tripod with my 18-55), and I had no frustrations with it whatsoever. Sure, it’s not perfect, such as I would really, really appreciate it if they would add more than three brackets (I have to do my HDR images manually using the EV dial). But other than that, it was great. I actually brought along my Canon gear hidden away in my car, just in case, but I never even touched it. I was 100% Fujifilm on this trip.

Now, let’s discuss image quality. I have never done any side-by-side tests of the Fujifilm vs. my Canon, but from my experience using both cameras I have to admit that I’m not 100% happy with the quality of the landscape images I get with the Fujifilm X-T1. The greens can get “smooshy”, and because it is only 16 megapixels, there’s not a lot of room for error. I know for a fact that there are cameras with “better” sensors, not necessarily because they have more megapixels, but because the quality of the pixels are just a little bit more clean.

And yes, I am fully aware of the hype that “Adobe doesn’t process Fujifilm’s RAW files well”, etc. I use Lightroom, but I have also compared untouched straight-out-of-the-camera JPEG files to what I get with RAW files in Lightroom, and from what I could tell there is no noticeable difference. For me, I see zero reason to switch to another RAW processor just to possibly satisfy the pixel-peeper in my mind.

Tipsoo Lake

This is an HDR panorama of Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier, photographed with the Fujifilm X-T1 and 18-55mm lens,

Now keep in mind that I am looking at this from a landscape photographer’s perspective. The X-T1 is widely used as a portrait and street camera, and I wonder sometimes if the quality differs depending on the subject. I know many landscape photographers who are flocking to Sony mirrorless because of the large full-frame sensors and excellent image quality. I’ve had a few opportunities to play around with the Sony, but I ultimately go back to Fujifilm, primarily because of its form factor. I love the manual knobs and dials, and I also don’t mind that the X-T1 is a crop-frame camera (it keeps the lenses smaller and faster). I like the way the camera feels in my hands, and I like that it really looks like a camera.

I think that image quality is important, but I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything when using this camera. In many ways, I don’t really even care if the quality is not as good (which, for the most part, you have to pixel-peep to discover). Most of the images I share are going to be consumed on a phone or small screen anyways, and I would much rather use a camera I enjoyed instead of one I’m “supposed to use” because of it’s technical specifications.

“… I want to enjoy the experience of photography.”

What I am learning about myself and my photography is that I want to enjoy the experience of photography. I have been asked before why I use Fujifilm (and not Sony), and my answer is always “because I like the way I feel when I use Fujifilm”. I know, maybe it’s silly, but it’s the only answer I can come up with. I still have my Canon gear, and I still use it a lot. I don’t feel that I have to choose one camera or another and I’m not looking for any kind of sponsorship. I just want to use cameras that works for me. That’s all. :)

rainier-0342

This little bird seemed to like my X-T1! He kept trying to land on the tripod legs (which are too slippery for his tiny feet), and eventually ended up on the camera itself, just long enough for me to get a few photos before he flew off again.

By | 2016-12-18T17:00:46+00:00 September 12th, 2015|19 Comments

About the Author:

My name is Nicole and I'm a photographer, author, & educator living in Portland, Oregon, USA. When I'm not making photos I'm writing books and tutorials for my online store, Learn more about me and my story here.

19 Comments

  1. Ken Cannon September 12, 2015 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Nicely written Nicole.

  2. Dena September 12, 2015 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    All greaat, but I have to admit: I love this little bird at the end the best.

  3. George Martin September 12, 2015 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Nice article, I too like to use the “simple” Fuji XT1…..although when I do a studio portrait, my “heavyweight” Nikon D700 is my go to….but you won’t see me lugging it around a fantastic landscape opportunity..lol

  4. Lonnie Gorsline September 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Your article was great and you mentioned a lot of how I feel about my Fuji X-T1 when I’m using it too. I’ve been a photographer for over 30 years and of course started with a film SLR. The X-T1 brings back a lot of the feelings I remember from those days. I also was a Canon shooter since I started doing photography. I ended up selling all of my Canon gear, and went to the Fuji system. I love how light it is and how many lenses I can carry with out it killing me.

    But I am a pixel peeper and I have been very frustrated with the quality that I get from the X-T1 the fine details as well. I love to use Lightroom and I have been using it from day one when it first came out. I have been very disappointed with the results I get. So I started trying out other software to see if I could solve the problem going that route. I looked at Capture One Pro 8, and it did an excellent job bringing out the details I thought should be there. The only downside was that I thought it was too expensive for the software. So I tried Photo Ninja and I have to say it also does an excellent job bringing out the details that are really there with out over processing the raw file and it’s not as expensive.

    But now I’m at the point where I think I need to make a decision. I started playing with a Sony A6000, and I have to say that the quality I get in the fine details in the picture are very good and a little better than the Fuji. But I don’t have as much fun with the Sony as I do the Fuji. I’m not sure why, but I am thinking it’s something to do with how the Fuji works and feels while your using it.

    So the decision I have to make is, do I continue to use the Fuji and always have the feeling that the image quality isn’t quite there, and hope that Fuji comes out with a better sensor and hope that Adobe comes out with an update that will solve the problem. Or do I move to Sony A7RII that I have my eyes on? And even it has it’s own problems. There is no perfect camera as far as I know of.

    Sorry for the long post.

  5. Rudiger Wolf September 13, 2015 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Today’s cameras are all terrific, especially compared to camera of just a few years ago. Personally, I have use Nikon, Sony, Leica, Olympus, and Panasonic. Just sold or gave away all my Sony gear, including the A7s and A7ii. Yes, they take wonderful images. To me… they feel like I am using a computer. The XT1 is a recent addition, and I am absolutely loving it. It is why I sold my Sony’s. Like Nicole, I simply want both a wonderful image and a wonderful experience capturing the image. The XT1 brings the image capture experience much closer to the film SLR experience. I still use my Nikon and Leica cameras. But if I ma headed out for a quick trip, most of the time, I find myself reaching for the XT1 bag.

    • Lonnie Gorsline September 13, 2015 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Rudiger,
      What software do you use to process your Fuji X raw files, and what do you like to photograph the most?
      Thanks
      Lonnie

  6. Bryan Sparks September 21, 2015 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Gave my X-T1 a good landscape workout last month in Colorado. I printed one of the images at 16X24 and it looked fantastic. I think I could go to 20×30, or maybe even higher, and be just fine.

    • Bill Fortney October 19, 2015 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Bryan,
      I’m getting 4×6 images, that’s FEET!!!!

  7. Eric Bier September 24, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    I still use my xe-1 which has the same bracketing feature as the xt-1. I am holding out to upgrade until Fuji comes out with a better bracketing feature. I am getting to the point where I can no longer carry my 5 pound tripod, so it is becoming more important for me to be able to fire off 5 or 6 bracketed shots without having to manually adjust the shutter speed and lose the precise pointing of the camera.

  8. Anton October 16, 2015 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Hi, Nicole…I am a follower of your food photog book, I really learned a lot from it, as at first I am a food photog and a foodie. I am an all Fuji user & converted my Canon gears to Fuji. I have both the X100T & the X-T1. I enjoy these cameras so much & just I appreciate what you said “…I want to enjoy the experience of photography”. I also agree with you that the X-T1 is not a perfect camera and I believe that Fuji is still at an infant stage compared to DSLRs, but I think it will get there sooner than later. But the most important thing really is…to enjoy the experience of photography now.

    I have the 18-55 too, it is my walk around lens and even use it for events. Since you are taking landscape images here, I would be interested what would be your thoughts and experience using a different lens like the Fuji 16mm f/1.4, or the Fuji 14mm f/2.8, or the 10-24mm f/4.

    Thanks, & hope to hear from you with any of these lenses.

    • Nicole S. Young October 16, 2015 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Hi Anton! Thanks for your comments. I don’t have any of the three lenses you mentioned, but I do have the Zeiss Touit 12mm. I use it as my wide-angle landscape lens and I really like it. The 10-24 is also appealing, mostly due to its flexibility in focal length, so I can see myself adding it to my collection in time. :)

  9. Flash October 16, 2015 at 9:22 am - Reply

    I agree with most all that’s said here! I also have a Canon 5D Mark II & III.
    I have newly found inspiration using the Fuji, can’t wait to try their prime lenses…
    The jpegs are right on and a great guide for the raw images when processing.
    I really love the skin color when in the Provia mode, right on! A slight learning curve getting use to all the functions. Easy to carry your gear when out riding a motorcycle.

  10. Lyle October 16, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

    The “little bird” is a Gray Jay or, as it is commonly known in some places, a Whisky Jack.

  11. Floyd October 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Belongs on a magazine cover. Once in a lifetime shot.

  12. Terri Q October 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Good article, Nicole. I recently purchased the Fuji X-T1 and three lenses. I love the system. I love the color, image quality may not be perfect but it’s close for me. Size and weight are big factors because, like you, I need to enjoy my photography. I’ll never give up my Nikon D800, but I love my Fuji!

  13. Bill Fortney October 19, 2015 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Nicole,
    Loved the images and your post, as a Fuji X Photographer I’m all in on the X System and only shoot JPEG! Please talk to Brian and consider joining us at next year’s Great Smokies Nature Photography Summit! Would love to have both of you!

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