The Internet burst into histrionics the other day, as a forum poster uncovered that Fujifilm's new critical darling, its flagship mirrorless X-T1, has a light leak problem.
Now people are picking up their phones to leave complaints with Fujifilm's various customer service centers worldwide. This is the second PR flub for Fuji in the last few years, after a particularly nasty issue where highlights in night photos would become ugly white orbs.
So what's the problem this time? Basically, if you open the port door on the side of the camera while shooting, light can get through the gaps around the ports and land on the image sensor, ruining your shot. Normally, this isn't an issue, but for long exposures of around 30 seconds and high ISO shooting with the port door open, you get something like this:
Of course, we got that result by shining a flashlight directly into the side of the camera. Unless you're J.J. Abrams, you're not often shining flashlights directly into your camera. But, it's clearly an issue and it will show up for some users.
People who shoot long exposures for timelapse photography often use a cable release that stays in the camera while shooting. The X-T1 is compatible with both 2.5mm cable releases like this one, and micro-USB releases like this one. This problem could also affect video shooters who have mics inserted into the 2.5mm port. In testing, we found that the issue is the worst with the 2.5mm port and the HDMI port. An uncovered micro USB port didn't leak light at all, and while the issue is mostly solved when a 2.5mm cable is inserted, it's not completely gone.
For posterity, here's the result we got when shining the same flashlight over a 30 second exposure into other parts of the X-T1, as well as the ports and viewfinder of the Olympus E-M10, the Panasonic GX7, and the Canon Rebel T5. (Get ready for the most wonderful gallery of all time. I swear this isn't broken.)
Riveting stuff. But, based on our first shot, it's clear there is an issue here. We were able to confirm it in our review sample and it isn't showing up in similar cameras, even those with mirror boxes like a traditional DSLR, where light easily gets into the camera. So, what to do?
Well, given that this only happens when the port door is open, and it only shows up when shooting long exposures, and it's only really bad when you shine a flashlight directly into the camera, we simply don't think most people should be worried about it.
And if you use mics or shoot long exposures with a cable release regularly? We actually have a fix! It's called gaffer's tape. As far as we know, most cameras on the market are not air-tight and would let some light in. Manufacturers sometimes get around this by placing gaffer's tape on the inside of the camera. Want to fix the Fuji X-T1's light leak issue? Just apply gaffer's tape over the open ports.
If you're using a 2.5mm cable release, just place some tape over the HDMI port and you'll be fine. If you're using a micro USB release, put a piece of tape over both the HDMI and 2.5mm ports. Voila, problem solved:
Yes, this is a bit cumbersome, but if you're going to go to the trouble of shooting long exposures with a cable release, you can probably also afford to place a two-inch piece of tape over the side of your camera. Crisis avoided, and you can enjoy the wonderful images that the Fujifilm X-T1 is capable of.
You're welcome, Internet.