The Fujifilm X-T1 video feature is often overlooked. For many years X-T1 was Fujifilm's top dawg in the high-end, mirrorless camera market. It features a weather sealed body, robust autofocus, analog dials, superb image quality and brilliant color rendition. It's been highly regarded as a pro-level still camera. The video capabilities are certainly limited, however, you might be surprised with the video quality you can achieve with just a little effort. I'm going to break down my tips for shooting top-quality video on the Fujifilm X-T1.
First off, you definitely want to be aware of the firmware release that came out in 2014. With version 3 you get full manual control over your shutter speed and your aperture during movie recording. You also have manual control over your ISO. You have to set that before you hit the record button though. You can set it to 400 on the low end and up to 6400 on the high end.
With a bit rate of 38mbs, the quality is on par with the Canon 5d Mark II. The ISO performance is quite good all the way up to 3,200. At 6400, the quality is somewhat usable but the grain becomes much more noticeable. You'll want to avoid high contrast scenes and keep a close eye on your histogram. It's really easy to crush your blacks or blow out your highlights if you're just going off the live view.
These films simulations are the only way to control how your image quality is recorded on camera. You want to choose wisely by selecting a simulation that is flat and not to contrasty. I've found the Standard Provia and ProNeg Standard simulations to be the best. These allow you more control over the image quality and color grading in post-production. Note that the highlight, shadow, sharpness, color settings in the quality (Q) menu have no effect on the video.
These are my recommended settings: 1080p, 24 frames a second and 1/50th shutter speed. Frame rate is a matter of personal preference. I like 24 fps because of the cinematic quality. Whatever you choose it's a good idea to use a shutter speed that's double your frame rate to achieve a smooth playback that's not too choppy. Keep in mind that on bright sunny days you can only achieve a slow shutter speed by attaching a neutral density filter to your lens. These are great to have on hand because they will also enable you to shoot at a wider aperture. This will create a softer, more appealing image and help reduce moire.
Fujifilm's X-Trans sensor does not have an anti-aliasing filter. This isn't necessarily bad because it helps create the rich color fidelity that Fujifilm is known for. Unfortunately it also means that you can easily get a nasty moire pattern in your video if you're not careful. Just steer away from patterns like brick walls and people with striped shirts.
As for the focus, I'd recommend using continuous for action and for subjects that are moving. Use the zone or the wide tracking auto focus in the continuous setting. It's also worth mentioning that Fujifilm's latest lens additions to the X system are going to provide the smoothest, fastest, quietest focus. For instance, the XF35mmF2 (released in late 2015) is much better at autofocusing during video than the XF35mmF1.4.
When your subjects aren't moving, manual focus is definitely the way to go. Professional cinematographers use manual focus 99% of the time. It will eliminate any chance of focus hunting at inopportune times. Nothing ruins a video clip faster than the autofocus jumping all over the place. So whenever you can, lock off your shots (use a tripod). Especially for landscape video and interviews.
For great sounding audio you definitely want to use an external mic. The mic input control is in the movie recording settings. You need to set it before you start recording and you can't monitor the audio levels while recording but at least it gives you a little input control. Keep the gain as low as possible for the best quality. I recommend a shotgun mic like the Rode or Fujifilm also has a small mic that fits onto the hot shoe. Keep in mind that the X-T1 has an irregular input jack size (2.5mm) so you will likely need a step-down adapter like this one.
Another great option is to use a lavalier which is what I used to record this video.
Even though this camera is built primarily for still photography, don't overlook the little, red, movie record button on the Fujifilm X-T1. Shooting video can be a lot of fun and you might be surprised how good the quality can be when you incorporate this tips. Happy shooting!
My complete travel photo setup can be seen here.
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