Photography hasn’t been this fun

Stella McDaniel

If you’re in the photography scene at all, there’s no avoiding just how popular the Fujifilm X100V is. And even if you’re not, odds are you’ve at least seen someone on TikTok or Twitter sharing gorgeous photos all across social media. But if you’ve tried to get your hands on one, all of that popularity has made it nearly impossible to bring those signature vibes to your photography kit.

Last fall, Fujifilm released the new X-T5, a mirrorless camera that not only delivers on those signature vintage shooting capabilities and old-school form factor but packs even more professional features. As far more than just the next best thing to its famous brethren, I’ve been putting the new camera through its paces over the past few months.

Hands-on with the Fujifilm X-T5

The latest edition of Fujifilm’s higher-end mirrorless camera lineup, the X-T5, first hit the scene back in November of last year. It’s a predecessor to the 2020 X-T4, delivering a number of quality-of-life adjustments and improvements along the way. All packed into a smaller body than before, the new release still has that trademark retro flourish while also delivering a higher resolution 40.2-megapixel sensor backed by improved autofocus and so much more.

Here’s a quick look at the specs:

  • 40.2 megapixels X-Trans CMOS 5 HR sensor.
  • 7-Stop 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • Weather resistant structure
  • 4K 120p, 6.2K 30p, FHD 240p 10-Bit Video
  • 425-Point Intelligent Hybrid AF System
  • 3.69m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3″ 1.84m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • 20 fps E. Shutter, 15 fps Mech. Shutter
  • 160MP Pixel Shift Multi-Shot
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • ProRes & Blackmagic RAW via HDMI

For the past few years, I’ve been a Sony girl through and through. In that time, I’ve been rocking the A6400, which has served as the workhorse of my photography for 9to5Toys and beyond. As much as I loved the shots I could pull off with it, the camera just wasn’t that fun for use outside of my professional life. That’s really what drew me to the Fujifilm X-T5 in the first place, though I did learn that there’s more to the camera than its film-inspired features.

Physical controls and a solid build

Easily one of the most enticing aspects of any Fujifilm camera is its superb build quality, and the X-T5 is no exception. Everything from the metal body to the textured grip makes this one delight of a camera to hold, and the smaller body size means that it’s also more comfortable for extended periods of time.

On top of just looking like an old-school camera with the optional chrome finish, there are also the brand’s signature physical controls on top. It’s a design philosophy that I adored in theory before I actually got my hands on the camera and that I have really come to love in actual practice. Having quick access to all of the ISO, shutter speed, and exposure adjustments I need – without having to dig through settings or look at the screen – really makes shooting with the Fujifilm X-T5 such a blast.

It’s far easier to dial in settings in a pinch than the simplified control schemes from over in the Sony camp. There was certainly a bit of a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it, Fujifilm’s signature design isn’t something I am going to be ditching any time soon.

Not everything is perfect, though. As much as the Fujifilm X-T5 likes to think that it’s an all-arounder for general photography, there are some areas where the build falls short. The biggest of these is the touchscreen. It’s certainly responsive and makes it easy to get the autofocus dialed into the subject of your scene, but it lacks the articulation that even its predecessor had. I suppose that’s one of the sacrifices of the more compact design, but not being able to position the screen in-view to take selfies or vlogs or anything of the sort does limit its potential for me. It’s hardly enough to knock this out of my everyday carry, but it’s something that does make me yearn for what could have been.

Vintage features steal the show

Physical form factor aside, the biggest element of the Fujifilm X-T5 that drew my attention was its film-simulation technology. It’s something of a trademark for Fujifilm and isn’t exclusive to the X-T series. But combined with the massive 40.2 MP sensor, the promise of being able to take detailed photos with fun effects called to me in a way that previous DSLRs and mirrorless cameras haven’t.

Packed into the X-T5 are 19 different film-simulation modes that let you digitally replicate the look of classic film photography. There are so many options to recreate the look of old photographs, all of which are far from just adding filters on top of finished shots. And if the built-in monochrome simulation, motion picture recreation, and other ultra-vivid modes aren’t quite cutting it, you can also go in and fine-tune your own custom adjustments.

I’ve been particularly obsessed with the color priority mode that adds such a distinct flair to many of the photos I take. And if all of that wasn’t enough, you can even go in and add grain to your photos – you know, to really deliver on the vintage photography vibes that a film camera would.

Makes me feel like a real pro

The biggest praise that I can give to the Fujifilm X-T5 is that it makes me feel like such a pro. I might take photos for a living here reviewing gear at 9to5Toys, but I’m far from a “professional” in a more classic sense of the word. But this camera truly makes me feel like one. So many shots leave the camera without any editing and are instantly ready for sharing on social media. I bought the X-T5 to really start getting into more casual photography and enjoy shooting as a hobby, and the camera has already accomplished that. It’s just plain fun to shoot with, and more importantly, it produces results that give me more pride in my work than I’ve felt from almost anything captured on my old A6400.

That’s led the X-T5 to become an essential part of my everyday carry. Whether I’m going out on a Saturday morning to get some coffee or you see me heading out for the night in Brooklyn, Fujifilm’s latest has been glued to my person. In fact, it’s even become my preferred way to take photos – period. I’m a person of convenience through and through these days, and all of the ease-of-use features that are packed into the camera help make it worth taking the second to switch on the X-T5 and capture a shot. My iPhone 14’s camera has certainly been feeling a little neglected as of late, and please don’t tell it, but that’s likely not going to change anytime soon.

Over the past few months, I’ve been using the Fujifilm X-T5 for everything from product shots for reviews to just street photography, portraits, and other odds and ends. You’ve likely already seen countless photos that fit into the former category, and if you follow me on social media, then all of the others have certainly popped up on your feed here and there.

Product shots:

Street photography:

9to5Toys’ Take

Clocking in at $1,700, the Fujifilm X-T5 isn’t going to be for every photographer. But if you’re like me and are looking for a new addition to your kit or just your first serious camera, there is so much to love. It may even clock in at a higher MSRP than the X100V that has captured the minds of photographers all around the world and the Internet, but that difference in price is so worth it to me.

I personally picked up the kit version that includes the XF16-80mm lens and then went out to get an even more compact XF23mm lens from Fujinon, which is what you see in the review photos above. That secondary pickup has served me so well that I almost don’t even reach for the XF16-80mm anymore – especially not when I am using the camera to capture street photography. I’d easily recommend getting just the X-T5 camera body alongside the XF23mm lens and calling it a day. You won’t be disappointed in the performance, and one of the improvements over the X100V is that you can, in fact, swap the lens.

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