Mirrorless Cameras are getting better with every new model that is released. The fujifilm X-T1 is no exception. I recently went on a trip to the Cahuilla Creek Motocross Facility in Anza, CA to test out the new Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f2.8 Lens. The weather was beautiful with the exception of the wind that was causing it to be quite dusty on the track at times. I was not worried about the dust because the X-T1 and XF 50-140mm f2.8 offer weather sealing that protects against dust, water, and cold weather.
You can only get so close to the action, so a decent range zoom is needed. The XF 50-140mm f2.8 lens is the best lens suited for the job, however the XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 lens and XF 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 can do the job if you are unable to afford the XF 50-140mm f2.8 lens. The XF 50-140mm f2.8 lens features a high speed, quiet autofocus system that works beautifully because it features the worlds first Triple Linear Motor. The autofocus performance on the XF 50-140mm f2.8 far exceeds the ability of the two lenses which makes it the best option. The XF 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 is going to be the next best option because like the XF 50-140mm , it features the weather sealing and 5-stop image stabilization. The XF 18-135mm lens has the second fastest autofucus speed out of the bunch and should out perform the older XF 55-200mm lens. The XF 50-140mm and XF 18-135mm both feature image stabilization up to 5-stops while the XF 55-200mm offers 4.5 stops of image stabilization.
The Fujifilm X-T1 is going to be the best option for shooting sports, however the Fujifilm X-E2 is going to the next best thing. In order to fully capitalize on the fast autofocus system in XF 50-140mm f2.8 you will need to use a body that is has Phase-Detection autofocus. Currently the X-T1 and X-E2 are the only cameras that currently have the Phase-Detection autofocus. When using the X-T1 I found that using the vertical battery grip attached to the camera with the zoom lenses balances out the system quite well.
With the latest firmware update for the Fujifilm X-T1 , the camera gained the ability to use an electronic shutter instead of a mechanical shutter. However you will never want to use an electronic shutter when shooting a moving subject as it is vulnerable to rolling shutter Effects. The X-T1 is capable of shooting 8 frames per second when set to continuous high, and pairing that with the autofocus set to continuous, you are able to effectively capture the shot.
Continuous autofocus has always been a problem for mirrorless systems, they lack the hardware that SLR's use to autofocus. With the addition of phase detection autofocus on mirrorless systems , their ability to track a subject has dramatically increased. In order to track a moving subject properly, the camera will need to be set to continuous autofocus via the switch on the front of the camera. Your camera should be set to area mode autofocus, so that you can choose your focus point yourself. You are able to change the size of the focus point by spinning the back dial while selecting a focus point. Depending on the size of the subject will determine the size of your focus point . I did have the best results when setting the focus point to its largest size.
The camera will naturally hunt back and forth when the autofocus is set to continuous while the shutter button is half pressed . This can be misleading at times, as the camera appears that it is continually hunting for focus. When the shutter button is fully pressed the camera will find focus as it takes the picture.
This camera is very capable of sports photography when shot with the XF 50-140mm f2.8 Lens. Is this a competitor against a D4 or 1DX? Not even close, but it is getting there. I would like to see a better tracking system added into the camera similar to nikons group area AF. One of my problems I was running into was trying to keep the focus point hovering over the subject while shooting on continuous high, this will only get better with time.