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Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition Review |What Happens In Vegas…

By Hanssie on January 20th 2015

I’ve had a month with the Fuji system and being only familiar with Canon DSLRs for all of my photographic career, my foray into the mirrorless world was a little bumpy. In fact, part of the time, I was ready to write a slightly scathing review on this little camera. And then came the firmware update, a fashion shoot and a little weekend trip to Las Vegas…

fujifilm-xt-1-graphite-silver-1

Photos From Fujifilm website – I didn’t want to put the X-T1 down long enough to pick up my DSLR for product shots…

Before we begin, what can I say about the X-T1 that hasn’t already been said before? I could give you a list of tech specs, but that you could find not only on the Fuji website, but in a quick Google search.

I’ll admit, I was dubious in trying out an entirely new system. I didn’t really care about the technical aspects of the camera (sorry, tech geeks). I was more interested in the image quality, the ease of use and the the overall experience of using a mirrorless system.It seems everyone has an opinion about this camera, and they are mostly complimentary, but is this the right camera for me?

Admittedly, I’d lost the joy of photography. Lugging around my heavy DSLR was no longer of interest to me, and it only came out of my bag for work. Being a wedding and portrait photographer, I was looking for something lighter, but more importantly, I wanted photography to be fun again. At 440g, the Fuji was unquestionably lighter, but did the Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition (GSE) provide the latter? Would I like shooting with it? Well, I didn’t, not at first.

The REAL test is if you can hand the camera to a non-photographer stranger and they can take a good shot of you.

ISO 200 10mm f/4.0 1/1000sec | The REAL test comes when you can hand the camera to a stranger and have them take a picture of you. The best part is the entire system fit in my yellow Kelly Moore bag.

The Learning Curve

The learning curve was rough as many learning curves can be. Switching to an entirely manual dial to adjust the shutter, ISO and aperture took some getting used to. Many times, I found myself wanting the option to being able to automatically dial in my settings via the command dial. But as time went on, and I began getting used to the knobs and dials, the process got faster and I began to like the quirkiness (if you will) of having to bring the camera off my face and set the exposure methodically.

Along with the Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition (GSE) body, B&H sent me the XF 56mm and the XF 10-24mm and I also briefly tried the very sexy XF 50-140mm. My initial impression of this setup can be read here and yes, I was dazzled. It was new and pretty and I was bored. In my mind, I kept telling myself that I would only have the camera for 4 short weeks, that I would not, COULD NOT, fall in love with it. The X-T1 was a temporary fling, any long term relationship with it would have to be far, far in the future when the budget gave more wiggle room.

**Note: Only minimal processing was done to the photos you see here. In most cases there was only slight skin smoothening to the model’s face and/or crop for compositional aesthetics.**

Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1

ISO 250 56mm f/2.8 1/180 sec

The Fuji Experience

I first held the Fuji X-T1 GSE at PPE in New York a few months ago. Standing there speaking to the Fuji rep and an X photographer, I could feel their excitement for the experience of owning a Fuji. That is a feeling I didn’t get from speaking with other mirrorless reps at the show (I’m a girl, I operate on feelings and intuition). This made me itchy to get my hands on the X-T1 just to see if I could, too, share this experience.

After having the camera in my possession for the month, I can finally see why there are fan boys and fan girls. You see, I own a Canon DSLR, but I am by no means a fan girl. My camera works fine and if someone were to ask me to recommend a camera, I usually shrug and tell them the benefits of a Canon or a Nikon and call it a day. I feel the same way about my Apple products. They work for me, I like having them, but I have never had the crazy, teenage girl screaming experience of being googly eyed over the latest boy band, or in this case, camera gear.

Much like Jay Cassario’s experience with the Leica M9, which ultimately had him choosing it over the Nikon D4s, my experience with Fuji led the a very similar conclusion, with me pricing out how much overtime I needed to work to ‘put a ring on it’ so to speak. (Actually, the truth was more like the postman prying the box out of my hands and then me calling our Gear Review Editor to see if I could get it back and at what price).

ISO 640 11mm f/4.0 1/60 sec

ISO 640 11mm f/4.0 1/60 sec

The road to true love can be a bumpy ride and this one was no different. I thought I loved it, then I really started disliking it, and finally, I realized all the quirks of the X-T1 made it endearing. After using it for work (a fashion shoot) and play (a little trip to Sin City), I was hooked. (I mean, who doesn’t fall in love in Vegas??!)

But, I’m not letting go of my DSLR just yet and here’s why.

14-design-5-stars

The Look

Confession: If they didn’t come out with the Silver Graphite Edition, I probably would never have given the Fuji a second glance. Call me vain (and I’ll admit that I am), I am one of those people that like to have trendy things that make me look cool (honestly, I need all the help I can get). The regular Fuji X-T1 was nice, but nothing I would write home about, but the Silver Graphite, that’s like looking across a dark, smoky club, the DJ spinning the latest pounding beat, people dancing all around and having the room stand still.

It’s all a matter of taste, I suppose. I’ve read in some reviews of this camera that the Silver Graphite makes the camera look “flat and plasticky.” Those same people probably wear Uggs with shorts, but personally I think the matte finish against the magnesium body makes it stand out from many of the camera options out there.

The Dials and the Knobs

The knobs on the top required some getting used to. In fact, I would venture to say that it made me a better photographer. It made me stop and think about my settings, the basics of photography and what I was trying to accomplish with my shot. This is a benefit in portrait situations, where you have time to consider your shot, but in the case of wedding or sports photography, if you stop to think, you may miss an all important moment. More time with the camera should help in this area.

One major issue I had was that I kept bumping the exposure compensation dial accidentally and switching it. I also found the D pad buttons in the back a bit on the small side.

The Size

Pffffttt…of course size matters. Anyone telling you differently is lying. The X-T1 is small and I was never really concerned with the grip (I have small Asian hands after all) until I held it. I’m used to a Canon DSLR with a hand strap; it’s bulky, but it feels secure. With my long fingers though, the X-T1 was almost too small. Almost. The small size is both a blessing and a curse, but if you have big hands, you might want to buy the battery grip too.

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ISO 400 10mm f/4.0 1/250 sec

03-performance-4-stars

Whether it be in a dark club or a sunny afternoon, I had no trouble with the Single AF focusing. It was super fast and oh-so-very sharp! (In my usual workflow, the last step for my images from my Canon 5D Mark II is to throw a sharpening action on it. The images that came straight out of the Fuji was almost *too* sharp. They were perfect, actually).

Fuji-XT1-Las-Vegas-1585

ISO 640 56mm f/2.8 1/180 sec

ISO 1600 24mm f/4.0 1/60 sec

ISO 1600 24mm f/4.0 1/60 sec

I used the 56mm f/1.2 lens about 90% of the time on this camera – a focal length that I don’t normally use. My Canon 50mm 1.4 sits in my bag most of the time in lieu of the 24-105mm, but for some reason, I found myself constantly choosing the 56. I took the Fuji out for a fashion shoot and the image quality was superb; the model’s skin color had a creamy texture and the images were super sharp. The colors that came from the camera were clean and lovely. Image quality at 1600 was nice (I don’t go above 1600 all that often).

One of my only issues was with the Continuous AF, which pretty much sucked. In Continuous AF mode, the camera would search constantly and when it would lock, the AF was far from where I wanted it to focus. Chalk it up to user error or that the photo was too busy or ghosts were messing with the aura, but here are a few of the images in my attempt to use Continuous AF – not one of them hit focus on the model’s face.

Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1481

Damn you continuous mode….

09-features-5-stars

Silent Mode

You have the option of turning off the sound on this camera, making it virtually a ninja. It is completely silent; so quiet that I found myself missing the sound of the shutter and turning the sound back on. It’s a great feature for a wedding ceremony, though; or if you’re a super spy.

The Tilting LCD

At first, I thought this was super cool, until I returned the camera and realized I never had the opportunity to use it. I can see it being very useful in tight spaces where you need to contort your body and practice your photo-yoga poses to get the shot or perhaps at XS on the dance to get cool angles in a crowd of shimmying bodies.

Video Capabilities

I use video maybe .05% of the time, so having solid video capabilities is of no real concern for me. For those that do use video seriously, I definitely would not recommend the X-T1. It is definitely not a strength on this camera and people looking to do video would fare better looking at the GH4 or the A7s.

ISO 250 56mm f/3.6 1/180 sec

ISO 250 56mm f/3.6 1/180 sec

EVF

The viewfinder is ginormous and lovely. It’s fast. The images are clear and detailed. It’s everything I never knew I wanted in an EVF. The EVF has a few options including, Portrait Orientation View and Dual View. In Portrait Orientation View, the camera setting can be located at the top and bottom when you rotate the camera. It’s a small feature, but more handy than you would think. Dual View shows you the image and in a smaller window on the side, which magnifies your image. Both handy.

WiFi Capabilities

I thought I would really love this feature and use it all the time. I did not. For the first 2 weeks, I could not connect the camera with the wifi no matter how hard I tried. Turns out, there are numerous Fujifilm apps, three that look very similar – both green with camera icons on them. The one you need is Fujifilm Camera Remote. Once I downloaded the correct app, and updated the firmware to 3.0 (2.0 was still a bit touch and go), the wifi features worked wonderfully. I was able to selfie the heck out of it, without having the ugly selfie stick. :)

I still found that if I wanted something instant, I used my iPhone though, where I didn’t need to mess with knobs and dials and finding something stable to sit my very expensive camera on.

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ISO 250 56mm f/2.2 1/180sec

Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1529

ISO 250 56mm f/2.2 1/180sec

Battery Life

The battery life is an issue with the X-T1. I don’t have the confidence that it will last a full wedding day. Also, the battery gave almost no warning. One minute I was shooting, the other minute, the entire system shut off. You might want to look into buying the battery grip and additional back up batteries if you’re going to be using this camera for lengthy periods of time. It lasted just fine through an hour long portrait session. One last thing about the battery, the charger itself was bulky. It had the actual charger which was connected to a cord, which then connected to another cord…I know, I know, it’s a small thing that has nothing to do with the camera, but worth a mention.

19-quality-5-stars

The cast magnesium alloy gives this camera a very solid feel. It not only looks like a retro camera, it feels like one. It’s dense, but not cumbersome – like a cross between a linebacker and a ballerina, if you will. I didn’t feel a need to baby the camera (other than the fact that it wasn’t mine). In addition, there’s 80 points of weather sealing, making it water, dust and freeze resistant – for all those inclement weather days that SoCal is known for.

Fuji-XT1-Las Vegas-1606

Fuji-XT1-Las-Vegas-1607

23-value-4-starsIs the additional graphite silver worth an extra $200 over the regular Fuji X-T1? After the recent firmware update, the differences between them are negligible. Well, that depends on you and your pocketbook. Why do women buy a $2,000 Louis Vuitton when a $12.98 purse from Wal-Mart serves the same purpose?

Since I’m in the in-between crowd, in line at the COACH outlet, I gave the X-T1 4 stars, instead of 5 for value.

Conclusion

I went into this reviewing thinking that I may jump the Canon ship altogether, and there are two reasons why I am keeping my Canon kit. For now. I’d like to see more lenses from Fuji and a better flash system before I’d feel comfortable enough to make the switch entirely. As they’ve just announced the 16-55mm, which is awesome, and the 50-140mm just released, I’m thinking I may only have one reason (besides cold hard cash availability) for not switching at this time. I feel like with the 56mm, the 10-24mm, the 50-140 and the 16-55mm (coming soon), a wedding photographer would have all the focal lengths they would need.

For me, this camera is a must have. For you, though, I highly recommend that you rent it for a week and try it out before you sell all your gear to see if it fits your photography needs.

33-overall-score-4.5-stars

Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1535 Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1555 Fuji-XT1-Fashion-Test-1565

It’s going to cost quite a bit of money to purchase everything I need for a complete Fuji set up, even if I sold all my Canon gear. But it is inevitable. As I looked through photos from a photo shoot with my Canon 5D Mark II the week after I returned the Fuji, I realized just how sharp the Fuji was and how enjoyable it was to shoot with the little beast. Rubbing my sore shoulders from carrying the heavy equipment from my last shoot, I headed over to B&H.com and priced everything out once again.

Soon, Little Fuji, you will be mine.

To buy yourself a Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, click here or save yourself $200 and buy the plain ole’ all black X-T1 here.

CREDITS : Photographs by Hanssie have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

27 Comments

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  1. Paul Blacklock

    i love mine, love the feel of it, the weight with lens is just perfect for street photography, and the colors are beautiful!

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  2. Brent Ross

    Thanks for the great review! I’m getting back into photography after a long lapse. Haven’t shot an SLR since my film Canon A1. The X-T1 and the Pentax K-3 are at the top of my list for consideration and yes. X-T1 probably wins out lenses, but the K-3 may win on capabilities and lenses that are much better than good enough. Haven’t had chance to shoot with either, but I’ll get there.

    I’m trying to get a clear response from someone about low light AF performance on the X-T1. Apparently it slows down quite a bit. The other thing is the EVF in low light. Some reviewers I’ve watched on YouTube have demonstrated a ‘snow-like’ static effect in the EVF in very dark conditions. Can you comment on either of these by chance? Any input you can provide would be appreciated.

    Love your writing style by the way. I look forward to reading more of your stuff. :-)

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  3. Vince Arredondo

    I tried this camera over de weekend and I was surprised of the way it performed. Its a serious camera for a serious photographer.

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    Great review!

    I went over to B&H and looked at X-T1 and the form factor looks like a traditional SLR and not a rangefinder. I compared the size of the X-T1 to my Canon A-1 that I bought new in 1980 and still use and they look comparable; I supplied the metric numbers since that’s what Canon Museum provides:
    Fuji: 129.0 x 89.8 x 46.7 mm 440 g with battery and memory card (B&H)
    Canon A-1: 141 x 92 x 48 mm 620 g (Canon Museum)
    But I have the motor drive for the A-1 and that adds heft to the camera.

    I also had lost the joy of photography, but checking off a 30 year old bucket list item rekindled my interest in photography. Finding Kodak Ektar 100 film for the final Space Shuttle launch turned out to be a scavenger hunt in my metro area. I was there for the launch and also the landing. Since it was a predawn landing, color would’ve been wasted. I choose B&W for the landing and underexposed 2 stops. But I rediscovered the classic look of B&W and for 2012, I shot the entire year exclusively with B&W film; at an air show, I used six rolls of 36 exposure B&W film.

    Manual controls
    – I wish that were available on Canon DSLRs like Canon’s film cameras of the past. I know my A-1 and F-1N, but I haven’t mastered the 5D Mk III.

    Silver Graphite
    – Yea, that looks cool; I think they had a gunmetal gray that looked awesome. But my Canon A-1, F-1N, and 5D Mk III are classic black.

    The image performance in low light situations looks great. With film, I’m limited to B&W ISO 3200 or 12,800 pushed 2 stops.

    What about shutter lag?

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  5. Lissette Garcia

    I have been a faithful Canon shooter for 15 years. I have a 5Dm3 and a serious collection of L lenses, including upgrading early last year to version II of the 24-70/2.8L and 70-200/2.8L. In April of last year, after reading numerous wonderful reviews of the Fuji system from Zack Arias and others, I purchased an X-T1 along with a 35/1.4mm lens. I was immediately impressed by the jpegs coming out of the little beast. Sharp with lovely color, specifically skin tones. The focus was fast and consistent. I hated the recessed D-Pad but fixed that a month later with a tiny sliver of black Sugru on each button (found that suggestion on fujix-forum.com). The Sugru is still in place and I absolutely love the rubbery feel of it. I use my D-pad constantly as all four buttons are set to toggle my focus points. I also use the wifi function quite a bit to transfer photos to my phone and immediately share with others. This is a favorite at my numerous family events since my kids, nieces and nephews are able to immediately post their photos to social media.

    It has now been 9 months since I first received my X-T1 and I am absolutely head over heels in love with it. Sadly, my 5Dm3 only comes out to memorialize my son’s high school basketball games because the X-T1 just can’t focus quickly enough for sports photography. Believe me, I have tried numerous times but can only get about 1 perfectly focused shot for every 3 I take. The 5Dm3 and 70-200 focus instantly and rarely miss a shot, but it is heavy and now seems even heavier after spending so many months taking my X-T1 everywhere. I have yet to try Fuji’s brand new 50-140mm/2.8. I would love to but the price is high and I can’t justify the cost at this time.

    For Christmas last month, I purchased myself an Undfind One Bag 13″ with black leather cover and can fit my X-T1, 56/1.2, 35/1.4 and 23/1.4 lenses along with 5 batteries, a battery charger, the tiny Fuji flash, memory cards, my iPad and my iPhone. I had been using a Shootsac for the past 6 years but wanted something with padding on the bottom. The Undfind bag has been a wonderful surprise and I am enjoying it immensely.

    Fuji flashes are not an issue for me at all. I use my Canon 600EX-RTs in manual mode and trigger them from my X-T1 with a Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Flash Speedlite Transmitter. The transmitter works on my X-T1 and my 5Dm3 perfectly.

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    • Hanssie

      Thanks for your input! I just sent all my Canon gear to be appraised…I may never see it again. Weird how scary this process is.

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  6. Tanya Goodall Smith

    OMG, dying to try this. P.S. you are so hilarious!

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  7. Arnold Ziffel

    Gorgeous camera. Great shots too.

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  8. Holger Foysi

    For me, at least, the Fuji isn’t the right system. I find it too slow right now (esp. with C-AF AND control dials: too small buttons for me, takes too much time for me to change settings fast compared to Pro Nikons) and not much different in size and weight to the Nikon system when chosen such that equivalence is met (use D750 with 20/1.8g,35/1.8g,50/1.8g,85/1.8g, 70-200/4, compare that to Fuji + grip for better ergonomics, spare batteries, 14mm,23mm,35mm,56mm,50-140). Price and weight are similar (where I live the Fuji package is more expensive), you have similar DOF control (slightly in favour of FF, the f4 instead of f2.8 zoom light gathering capability can be circumvented by increasing ISO one stop). Files are often still larger than the Nikon 24MP files (I had the XT1 and found the files much too large for the 16MP). For optimal IQ I need to resort to alternative Raw converters (PhotoNinja,CO7,…). I found the IQ of my Nikon better (subjective, I know, but I have higher resolution and better high ISO (Fuji’s ISO 3200 required twice longer shutter speeds compared to my D810)) with more options for DOF control (I can always use Sigma 1.4 art lenses or 2.8 zooms if I want to). So right now, I can’t imagine going back to Fuji, but who knows how that changes in the future when AF-C gets improved, as well as body ergonomics. I now use the A7ii as a my mirrorless backup system due to the IBIS. Complements well and I can use all Nikon lenses easily. Nevertheless, Fuji seems to have developed a system being very attractive to many. So they have certainly done s.th. right.

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  9. Ian Clark

    I’ll put a blog post together of a complete Fuji X-T1 wedding and see if the nice guys at SLR Lounge fancy featuring it!

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  10. Ian Clark

    Hanssie is right, it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s not as fast to focus as the Canon 5D system and low light is a slight issue for the camera too. If you can live with the quirks though, its well worth the jump.
    My Canon gear was way too heavy and was crippling me after 12 hours at a wedding, I can carry 2 Fujis all day long now and not even know they’ve been there. And when you get it right, the images are easily on par with the Canon, even better in some cases.
    I bought a Fuji and used it alongside my Canon for about 8 weddings before finally taking the plunge. You got to get that second nature feel with it first ;)

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  11. Jason Boa

    Really good review !
    I am thinking of downsizing and this is looking like a good option.

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    • Hanssie

      Thanks Jason! Try it out for a few days before you decide. I mean, it’s not for everyone, but many people are headed that direction.

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  12. Ian Clark

    Great review, and some great shots.
    Having used the Canon 5D Mark III and a plethora of L glass, I finally switched to a complete Fuji setup and recently did my first wedding with it. I’m more than happy with the results and post production times were a lot less than I’m used to shooting Canon.
    The X-T1 is far from perfect but neither is the Canon. If you just get to know the camera and work around it’s faults, you can achieve some amazing results.

    By the way, its 50-140mm lens not 55-140mm as stated. I bought the 50-140mm and it is stunning. The Image stabilisation is almost magical. Far better than the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS Mark II.
    The 56mm is better than the Canon 85 1.2 II in my opinion too.

    Looking forward to this summer and putting the Fuji to the test in a busy wedding season!

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    • Hanssie

      Thanks for talking about how this thing performed for a wedding. I’m very curious to try it out in that situation!

      Thanks for catching the 50-140mm too! I never get that right. The Fuji focal lengths will take some getting used to, but yes, what a beautiful piece of glass it is.

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  13. Greg Silver

    Hands down – my favorite looking camera on the planet!!!

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  14. Jean-Francois Perreault

    Thanks for the great review! I’m glad you talked about the feel and image quality of the camera instead of all the spec numbers. In the end, that’s what really matters.

    Now since Sony’s A7II with kit lens is practically the same price as the XT-1 with kit lens, how would you compare the two? Would you recommend the XT-1 over the A7II?

    again, thanks for the review!

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    • Hanssie

      Since I’ve never tried the A7II I can’t say based off of personal experience, but from what I hear, the a7II is incredible. As always it depends on your personal preferences. I happen to love the Fuji experience and the look of the camera. I love how I felt using the X-T1 and I loved the output. Sony has a wonderful product and the performance is out of this world. So it’s really down to what you need it for and personal preference. I’m willing to bet 9/10 photographers will say get the A7II. The specs are very impressive, but I’m not that interested in specs.

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  15. David Hill

    Hey Hanssie! Thanks for that. I have ventured into Fuji X world with the X100s loving the retro looks but primarily the weight issue like you! I too wasn’t taking the DSLR out for pleasure shooting. I think it will be important to select the right time to ‘jump ship’ to mirror less otherwise I can see the market being flooded with pro gear which may de value it when, not if we all move to lightweight gear! Thanks again. Dave

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    • Hanssie

      Eeek! Good point! Maybe I need to sell my gear right this second!

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  16. J. Cassario

    Awesome review of a camera that I have yet to try, but now want to try even more.

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    • Hanssie

      It’ll give your Leica a run for its money – haha. Just kidding.

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