A little over a year ago I was out in Dubai for the Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) training event, chatting to Zack Arias over a morning coffee. I can't remember where the conversation started - pre-caffeine conversations are not ones that I can easily bring to mind - but I do remember we ended up talking about his Fujifilm X100S.
I played around with it for a few minutes, liked a couple of the features, but ended up feeling smug because I had a Sony RX1 instead: 24MP instead of 16, a full-frame sensor, and an f/2 Zeiss lens on the front. I did agree that the X100S had better autofocus, I liked the built-in hybrid viewfinder (the EVF for the RX1 is good, but it's an add-on), and it's certainly a much better looking camera than the RX1, but I couldn't see why it had generated so much hype.
To be honest, I viewed the X-Series as a great exercise in marketing: The X100S, the X-Pro 1 and so on are all competent cameras, but I kind of thought that some of their success could be put down to Fuji mystique: hipster appeal, retro styling and the fact that they're promoted by industry gurus such as Zack and David Hobby.
In short, I can't say I had anything against the X-Series cameras, but I did think there was a bit of a fanboy thing going on.
Wind forward a year and I'm back in Dubai, for another GPP event, trying to negotiate a good price with Sony MEA on an A7R: which at the time I though was pretty much the ultimate in small cameras - 36MP, full-frame sensor, no anti-aliasing filter - the ideal camera for the type of stuff I shoot. While I was waiting for Sony to get back to me I ended up chatting to the Fujifilm guys who asked me if I'd like an X-T1. "To borrow?", "No, to keep. We'd just like some feedback". I'd love to tell you that I took the time to seriously consider whether I should take them up on their offer, but I didn't.
At worst I'd have a competent little camera to play around with, and at best I'd find it genuinely useful. They gave me the XT-1, battery grip and the 18-55mm XF f2.8-4 kit lens. They also loaned me the 14mm XF f/2.8 (equivalent to a 21mm lens on a full-frame) and the 56mm XF f/1.2 (85mm equivalent), which I also got to keep.
When they gave me the camera I began to worry I might succumb to the Fuji mystique as the serial number of the one they gave me is 00008. They also told me that David Hobby has 00001; Arias, Zack Arias has (00)007; and my good friend Bobbi Lane has 00005, so I was up there with some illustrious and more or less trendy company. I'd joined the Fuji club. As I was still sceptical at this point I resisted the urge to buy a cool leather strap (pretty much de-rigour for any serious Fujifilm shooter) and didn't feel the need to invest in a small retro-satchel for the assortment of tiny lenses I'd no doubt be tempted to buy, so went off to put the XT-1 through its paces.
To summarise, I started out thinking that the XT-1 might prove to be a useful addition to my camera bag but after a few weeks of using it, as you'll see, I've ended up somewhere I really didn't expect, ... more of which below.