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In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera • PhotoTraces

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The Fujifilm X-T5 review is my attempt to give you feedback after shooting with the camera for 5 months.

It is not a technical review but rather a personal experience of how the X-T5 model affected my photography.

Fujifilm X-T5 Review

The X-T5 is a stepping stone in my search for a perfect camera for my travel photography. We all understand there is no such thing as a “perfect camera,” but the X-T5 is getting close for a type of photography I do. It took me 15 years, 3 camera brands, and a dozen camera models to get to the point where I do not have major annoyances in my camera.

I switched from Sony to Fujifilm five years ago, getting an X-T2 model. I put together a detailed article outlining my reasoning for the switching and my first impressions of Fujifilm X-T2 in particular and the Fujifilm ecosystem in general. Fujifilm vs Sony became one of the most popular articles on my website, and even today, it attracts a lot of attention.

X-T2 was and still is a very capable digital camera but as with any camera, it had some shortcomings. And with the X-T5, Fujifilm addressed almost all of them.

Please note I upgraded to X-T5 from X-T2, and even though I have experience shooting with X-T3 and E-X3, in my Fuji X-T5 review, I mainly compare it to the camera I used the most, X-T2.

Design and Ergonomics

Fujifilm X-T2’s distinctive retro design was one of the reasons I embraced the X-T series five years ago. It offered manual controls, compact size, and unprecedented power over customizations. It checked most of the boxes for my travel photography.

I liked X-T2 so much that it prevented me from upgrading to the Fuji X-T4 model. Over two generations, the X-T series became bulkier and heavier, starting to resemble full-frame models. I was not too excited about the direction the Fuji X-T line was progressing. 

In 2020 when I decided not to go for X-T4, I even entertained the idea of looking for my next camera from another brand.

I guess I was not the only one who voiced dissatisfaction, and Fujifilm noticed it and corrected its course.

And when I realized that Fujifilm decided to go to the original roots with the X-T5, I knew immediately that I would stay with Fujifilm.

The Fujifilm X-T5 is comparable to the size of X-T2. But they made it a bit deeper to accommodate IBIS and a bigger battery. According to the specs, it is only 50 grams heavier, even with the much bigger battery. It also has a slightly more pronounced grip.

I have no complaints about the ergonomics, but X-T5 feels different in my hand. I guess 5 years of muscle memories would let me notice even a tiny change.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: photo of Montreal in winter

AF ON and AEL Buttons

Another small change in body design that positively impacted my photography was the redesign and repositioning of AF-L and AF-L buttons. I understand that the buttons were redesigned and repositioned already on X-T4, but since I skipped it, it is a new experience for me.

Let me explain.

I use the Back Button Focus and Auto Exposure Lock with pretty much every shot I take.

First, I point the camera toward the scene I intend to capture and lock the exposure by pressing the AEL button. Next, I activate the histogram inside the EVF by pressing the button in front of the camera and use the exposure compensation to adjust the exposure, making it as bright as possible without clipping the highlights. The technique also is known as ETTR (exposure to the right).

When I am done with the exposure, I take care of focus. I used the hyperfocal distance focusing technique to maximize the depth of field of my landscape photos. I point the single focus point at hyperfocal distance and press AF-L (AF ON on X-T5) to lock the focus. 

In the final step, I recompose and press the shutter.

It might sound very cumbersome, but it takes me only a little time with practice. But it allows me to take properly exposed and sharp photos with 99% accuracy.

On X-T2, the buttons are tiny. Plus, the AF-L button is positioned in such an awkward place that I never used it. I had to program the Rear Command Dial to lock the focus on the press and use it instead of the AF-L button.

On X-T5, the AF On and AEL buttons are more prominent, tactile, and positioned in the right places to use when looking through the EVF.

Back to the Future with LCD

A long time ago, when shooting with Canon, I realized that I not only have no use for articulated screens but also despise them. As you can imagine that I am delighted that X-T5 went back to the old and proven 3-way tilt rear screen design.

To summarize, there are no dramatic changes in design and ergonomics in X-T5, but all of them are welcome. I could not spot any negatives so far.

Image Quality

When I learned that Fujifilm X-T5 would be equipped with a 40MP sensor, I was initially very skeptical.

After shooting for so long with APS-C cameras, I was convinced that 24-26MP sensors were a sweet spot for crop sensor cameras. A higher megapixel count would not benefit but might even jeopardize image quality.

My concern was that tiny pixels of the 40MP sensor would negatively impact the dynamic range and increase the noise level through the entire ISO range.

Plus, I was not too excited to deal with bigger RAW files.

But once again, Fujifilm proved me wrong. The new X-T5 40MP sensor is a giant leap forward compared to older 24MP and 26MP Fujifilm sensors.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: foggy winter day in Montreal

Sharpness and Details

I switched from Sony to Fuji mainly because of the unprecedented image quality and the high level of detail that Fujifilm X-Trans sensors produce. I was shocked that photos taken with X-T2 were sharp and even usable at 100% magnification.

Since I did not expect much from the new 40MP sensor, I hoped to get at least the same level of image quality comparable to X-T2. To my surprise, the new X-T5 sensor exceeded all my expectations.

The new sensor produces much cleaner, sharper images with exceptional levels of detail. The RAW images taken at ISO 125 are usable even at 200% magnification. 

It is unbelievable.

I love the new 40MP X-Trans sensor.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: sharpness and detailUnprocessed RAW photo. The image is overexposed. I used the technique Exposure to the RIght (ETTR)

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 1100% crop

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 2200% crop

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 3Processed photo

Dynamic Range

I cannot accurately measure the new sensor’s true dynamic range, but what I have is experience dealing with digital images as a professional graphic designer and photographer. Plus, I process RAW photos daily.

Based on my observation, the dynamic range of the X-T5 sensor is on par with the X-T2 when shooting at ISO 200 and up. But X-T5 produces a wider dynamic range when shooting at a base ISO of 125. Since X-T2 has no native ISO lower than 200, it is probably not a fair comparison.

But if I had to summarize, the X-T5 produces a wider dynamic range at the base ISO.

And since most of my photos are taken at base ISO, it is a massive positive for my photography.

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 4

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 5

New RAW Compression Option

Fuji X-T2 has two RAW compression options: Uncompressed and Lossless Compressed. The Uncompressed file size is around 50MB; add Lossless Compressed is about 28MB.

After analyzing both versions, I could not see the difference in quality, even at 800% magnification. I did not see the reason to use uncompressed RAWs, and for 5 years, I’ve been shooting with the Lossless Compressed option.

Now, Fujifilm added another compressed option. Next to the Uncompressed and Lossless Compressed, we have a Compressed selection.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: RAW compression options

The new compressed option produces the following file sizes:

Uncompressed – 87MB

Lossless Compressed – around 45MB

Compressed – around 29MB

As before, I am sticking to the Lossless Compressed option. But I would not hesitate to use the Compressed option if I am pressed on space on the memory card because it still produces outstanding RAW images.

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 6The photo was taken with the new compression option, Compresse. RAW file size is 28MB.

Noise and Low Light Performance

Since I take most photos at base ISO, low light performance is not critical for my photography. Most of my high-ISO images are family photos.

But what I can say about low light performance based on my observations is it is on par with my old X-T2.

But the level of digital noise is different.

Across the entire ISO range, X-T5 produces much less digital noise. In general, the RAW images taken with X-T5 are cleaner.

It is especially noticeable at lower ISO. 

When you have underexposed areas in the shadows and try to recover them in Lightroom, you get some level of digital noise, even at base ISO. The X-T5 is different. You get little or no nose at lower ISO (125-400) even after aggressive shadow recovery.

When you shoot at high ISO (1600-3200) you can see image degradation but with a much lower digital noise level. And when you combine X-T5 high ISO photos with AI Denoise noise reduction in Lightroom, you end up with extremely clean and sharp photos with a high level of detail.

My conclusion is new X-T5 sensor handles digital noise differently in a very positive way.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: high dynamic range photoHigh dynamic range image with extremely underexposed shadows.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: photo demonstrates the level of digital noise 100% crop of the recovered shadow area. It has no digital noise.

IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization)

IBIS is another aspect of photography I change my opinion drastically about.

In the past, I took most of my travel photos using tripods. And I did not feel the need for IBIS in my photography. My position was that IBIS makes the camera bulkier, more expensive, and less reliable, with minimal benefits for my style of photography.

What changed my mind was the effectiveness of Fujifilm lens stabilization. I realized that my 2 main lenses (Fuji 10-24mm and 18-135mm) allowed me to take sharp photos at a much lower shutter speed. 

To change my old habits, I intentionally started leaving my tripods at home, trying to learn to take better handheld images. The whole experience liberated me, allowing me to be more creative with the composition. I did not have to carry a full-size tripod everywhere, especially during long and demanding hikes.

Now with the X-T5, I can take my handheld journey even further because of the effectiveness of its IBIS. I do not think it is effective up to 7 stops, as Fujifilm claims, but if I had to estimate, it is rock solid up to at least 5.

When shooting with X-T2, I extensively used the Auto ISO feature, trying not to go below 1/80s of shutter speed with my handled landscape photos.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: Auto ISO settings

Now shooting with X-T5, I hardly use Auto ISO at all. I set my ISO dial to 125 and feel comfortable shooting at wide angles up to 1/6s. It is liberating.

I plan to continue reducing tripod use and concentrate on handheld techniques. I realized that if I want to blur water in my landscapes, it is easier and faster to take two shots at different shutter speeds handheld and combine them in Photoshop later than setting up the tripod.

To summarize, the IBIS (in-body image stabilization) in X-T5 is scary effective and no longer a useless feature for my photography.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: photo of park in Montreal after ice storm of 2023Montreal after the ice storm of 2023.

Battery Life

For me, the biggest shortcoming of switching to mirrorless systems was poor battery life. X-T2 was not an exception. Over the years, I have learned many tricks for extending the battery life in my mirrorless cameras and remembering to charge and bring at least 3 batteries during my travels.

I remember during my trip to Utah, after an hour of hiking, I realized I had left spare batteries in the car. I had to hike back. 

Now with the X-T5, it feels like I am back in my old DSLR days. I stick one battery in the camera, which is good for at least a day. I average from 580 shots to 600 shots per charge.

The only negative here is the camera does not come with a charger. You need to spend another $100 for a spare battery and charger.

Wireless Connectivity

I consider the Fujifilm Remote App the weakest point of the entire Fujifilm ecosystem. It is understandable since Fuji is not a software company.

I was so excited when I switched from Sony to Fujifilm to finally be able to geotag all my photos at the time of capture. But I realized later that X-T2 would tag all the images with the same coordinates of the location where you activated the app. Whether you walk for 5km or drive for 100km, you will get the same geotagging as the original location. 

The implementation of geotagging in X-T2 was utterly useless.

Now with the latest remote app in combination with X-T5, the geotagging works flawlessly. Finally, I can enjoy automatic geotagging without even thinking about it.

When I import new photos into Lightroom and jump to the Map module, all images are automatically mapped to the right locations.

Geotagging is an important feature for my photography. Now I can pinpoint the exact location of my travel photos without wasting any time.

Fujifilm X-T5 Review: In Search of a Perfect Travel Camera 7Lightroom Maps module with geotagged photos.

Besides geotagging, I do not use other features of the Fujifilm Remote App.

Autofocus Accuracy

Fujifilm has been lagging behind Sony and Canon concerning Autofocus system performance and accuracy for years. The new X-T5 was supposed to reduce the gap. But I am not the right person to give you an expert assessment of X-T5 autofocus improvements. In most cases, I shoot static scenes, manually selecting a point to focus on.

But even I can see the substantial progress.

One of my favorite lenses is Fujifilm 35mm f1.4. It is one of the oldest Fuji lenses. I like it for the distinct images it produces, but it has an outdated focusing system. The focusing motor is very noisy and slow and tends to hunt constantly, trying to focus in low-light conditions.

Now when attached to X-T5, the lens acts differently. It is much faster to focus and snappier, even in poor conditions.

Video Performance

Unfortunately, I have no feedback for you concerning video capture specs and performance.

I use X-T5 exclusively for photography purposes. I never even once switch the camera to video mode.

During my travels, I use GoPro as a video camera. Separating video and photo tasks makes the process faster with fewer complications.

Lenses and Accessories

The lens I use most often is Fujinon 10-24mm. It is an outstanding wide-angle lens with excellent image quality, well-built, and effective image stabilization.

My second most used lens is Fujinon 18-135mm. Even though I like it, I was looking for alternatives because of its shortcomings:

It is big and heavy

18mm is not wide enough at the wide end

When it is hanging on the leash behind my back, the front element tens to extend under its weight 

I wanted to test it against the Fujinon 16-80mm for a long time, but I never had a chance to do it.

This time I decided to go for it. Instead of buying an X-T5 body only, I got the kit, getting the camera and 16-80mm lens together.

I had time to test 16-80mm for 5 months, and I can see it is on par in image quality with 18-135mm. I decided to sell 18-135mm and keep the 16-80mm. It is smaller and lighter; 16 mm on the wide end is much more useful than 18mm, and I am willing to lose 50mm at the long end.

photo shot with Fujifilm X-T5 camera and Fujinon 16-80mm lensFujifilm X-T5, Fujinon 16-80mm f4 – ISO125, f8, 1/30s

Many fellow photographers suggest I get 16-55mm f2.8 to replace 18-135mm, but it would not work for me. The 16-55mm is big and heavy and does not have image stabilization. Plus, I do not need an f2.8 aperture since I take most of my photos in the range of f8-f11.

Thumb Grip

If I had to choose only one accessory for my Fuji X-T5, it would be the thumb grip.

Even though the Fujifilm X-T5 has a compact body, it is not lightweight. It weighs 557g. But since it does not have a deep greep, it feels unbalanced. And it takes unnecessary effort to handle it.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: thumb grip improves ergonomics

The thumb grip fixes the issues by distributing the weight between four fingers and the thumb. For me, it is a game changer concerning ergonomics. 

Quick Release Plate

Since I am a hybrid photographer shooting handheld and on a tripod, I needed a quick-release plate to make it comfortable to carry the camera on a leash and mount it on a tripod in seconds.

It took me probably a year to find the universal universal quick-release plate that I liked, and it happened to be the cheapest I tried.

Fujifilm X-T5 reviews: Universal Quick Release Universal Quick Release on X-T2. I’ve already moved it to X-T5 but don’t have a photo yet.

Unfortunately, you can not get it from Amazon or B&H, but it is still available on AliExpress. It cost only $10.

The Negatives of Fujifilm X-T5

I do not see too many issues in X-T5 that negatively affect my photography.

Probably the biggest shortcoming that separates X-T5 from being a truly professional camera is a shallow buffer. If your photography depends on continuous shooting, you probably need to consider the Fujifilm X-H2 and X-H2s.

The camera does not come with a dedicated charger. But you can still charge the battery inside the cameras.

There is no battery grip available for X-T5

The X-T5 is made in China. I guess Fujifilm had to move manufacturing from Japan to stay competitive. But it allowed them to keep the same price of the T-X series for 7 years.

Fujifilm X-T5 Review | Conclusion

My first impression was that the Fujifilm X-T5 model was not a revolutionary update but rather incremental. But after shooting with it for 5 months, I think it is more than a boring refresh.

Fujifilm improved image quality by introducing a new high-resolution sensor unique to APS-C cameras. 

Fujifilm managed to improve IBIS, making it more effective and compact.

Fujifilm reduced the camera size compared to the previous model (X-T4).

Combining the new sensor and processor allowed the camera to use more sophisticated auto-focus algorithms. And with such a modern and powerful duo, there is plenty of room for autofocus improvements through firmware updates.

From my perspective, the Fujifilm X-T5 is the ideal travel camera. It is durable, weather-sealed with professional-level features, and produces outstanding images.

And honestly, I am struggling to come up with my wishlist for the next XT model. 

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