When Fujifilm released the X-T5 on November 25, 2022, I was one of the first in the queue as I wanted to experience a high-megapixel APS-C sensor. This was simply not GAS, as I had only months earlier purchased an X-T4, which was comfortably doing everything I needed. However, 40 megapixels for landscapes in such a compact and stylish design, I simply needed to see what it could do and more to the point, could do what I needed for my photography. Fast-forward 429 days later, has it been able to do everything?
Cameras can do almost anything these days, and yet we are drawn for whatever reason to certain manufacturers. This could be because of the lens choice, the format, the resolution, the familiarity, the list goes on. Ultimately, we settle down and see past all the bells and whistles and concentrate on the tool, in this case, a camera, and does it do everything we need for our photography?
I won't focus on the specs of the camera, as you can read more about them here along with some insightful reviews on X-mount lenses from Ondřej Vachek and Pete Coco's long-term review of the XT-5 here. I'll simply provide my opinion on the camera for the type of work I do, which is mainly landscape photography.
Performance and Handling
For landscape photography, fast focus is not a requirement in most situations, but returning sharp images is; however, the camera with my lens kit was able to do that better than I had thought. This was expected, yet naively I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. It performed better than the previous X-T3 and X-T4, not only in image quality but also in post-production where I could extract more detail and, of course, crop in when I wanted without losing too much pixel information, yet still provide a very pleasant outcome and file size for various uses.
I've photographed exclusively with the X-T5 over the past year, except when reviewing the GFX cameras, and in every situation so far, it's proved to be a capable tool. The return to the flip-out screen of the X-T3 for landscape photography is a godsend as I shoot numerous vertical orientations, so no longer was I lying on the ground or contorting my neck to see the back screen.
The grip could be larger on the body, but as the majority of the time, it's on a tripod, this isn't an issue. With a Smallrig L bracket attached, it's not an issue in any way at all. If you have larger hands, the Smallrig cage suits this perfectly but unfortunately, the cage doesn't work as an L-bracket, and you have to rig an Arca plate to the cage to make it so. If Smallrig ever manufactures an L bracket with a cage-size grip, I'll be one of the first to purchase.
The camera has been used in varying temperatures over the year from 38 degrees in Dubai to -7 in Scotland, and the camera never once let me down. I did have an issue when in Dubai as the camera frequently froze or wouldn't power on. However, this was down to a board issue and not the environmental conditions and was replaced by Fujifilm within a week upon our return.
The lens kit I've been using over the past year included FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS WR Lens, the FUJIFILM XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, the FUJIFILM XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR, and the FUJIFILM XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. I've also had the opportunity to test out a few more lenses, and I can say that the recommended lens list that Fujifilm released just after the camera was released was not a ploy to gather more money from us photographers. The list of lenses and the ones I've tried perform and use the sensor better, in my opinion. This may only be marginal, but they have been crafted to maximize the potential of the 40-megapixel sensor. The images were sharper when zoomed in 100% and even the SOOC JPEGs were crisper, yet not overly so.
All that aside, if you are considering purchasing or upgrading to an X-T5, the lenses you already have will still perform better with the new sensor, so I wouldn't worry about having to purchase from the recommended list. You'll know what lenses you need for your photography, and they will work great. However, for myself, I found that the 10-24mm, my favorite lens, performed better on the X-T4 and X-T3, so I sold it within a few months of purchasing the X-T5. It still produced great images on the X-T5 and is still a fantastic lens, but I felt something was missing, or I was expecting more with the new sensor; either way, I no longer own it.
The camera performs as it should and does everything you would need it to do for an APS-C, and it does it well, no doubt about that. Sure, the focus isn't as fast as, say, a Sony, and for me, that's not so important as mainly a landscape photographer. The size is pocketable in most outdoor jackets, depending on lens choice. The optics are great and again result in, if you do your job as a photographer correctly, sharp focus, well-exposed images. Heck, I even think I prefer the simulation-baked JPEGs for some of the street and architectural images, no editing, and the job is done straight out of the camera. So, what's the caveat?
For myself, as a landscape photographer, the raw files it produced were nearly exactly what I required after coming from a full-frame camera, namely the Nikon Z 7II, and then I tested the Fujifilm GFX 100S. That's where the caveat for me came from. Yes, the two cameras are not comparable in any way except that they are from the same manufacturer. And yet, I still found myself comparing the raw files and the detail-gathering capabilities of medium format, especially for landscapes. Did this make me think any less of the Fujifilm X-T5 camera? No, not at all. But it did set in motion whether the APS-C sensor would fulfill my needs as a landscape photographer moving forward.
The Fujifilm X-T5 is more than capable of landscape photography, but after testing the GFX, I'm now questioning whether this should be my main camera for landscapes. If I purchased the GFX, would that make me a better photographer? No, that's certainly not the case, and I am well aware of that. Have I made a bad choice for my landscape photography in the X-T5? Again, no, as it's more than capable. I've just been spoiled by the GFX.
With a 40-megapixel sensor, the Fujifilm X-T5 is a camera to be reckoned with in the APS-C arena, and so it should be. It's pocketable in a lot of cases and produces lovely JPEGs straight from the camera, great for posting straight to social media via the X-app if that's your prerogative. As a travel and street camera, it's discreet and lightweight, and you can rely on the image quality you get from it, that is, of course, if you get the settings correct. If you don't, you only have yourself to blame.
I've traveled up through the X-T range and am admittedly a Fuji fan; however, if it doesn't do the job it was purchased for, I'd quickly move it on as was the case for the X-T1 and X-T2 as they didn't hit the mark, in my opinion. Eight years later, from the X-T1, with the release of the X-T5, everything has come together, and Fuji has now created a 40-megapixel APS-C with features curated from the past 8 years of development.
There are many others out there, including the Sony a6700, the Canon EOS R7, the Nikon Z30, and, of course, the Fujifilm X-H2, to name a few, so it's not as if you are left without a choice in what to purchase. You simply have to decide what ecosystem to invest in for your own photographic needs.
The Fujifilm X-T5 is an excellent camera for nearly every type of photography, but especially for travel and street photography due to its size and capability. It's a great landscape camera, and again, due to its size and quality of images, I've hiked mountains with the camera and a couple of lenses, and with its size-to-weight ratio, I wouldn't even have known they were there.
I am glad I upgraded from the X-T4 to this because of the sensor and my photography as it's proved itself. Would I recommend anyone else upgrade? A wholehearted yes, but that's a question only you can answer as you know what you need for your photography, and a camera is simply the tool that enables you to practice it. If you are considering upgrading and purchasing, all the details can be found here.