on November 29, 2012
I have been a fan of Leica M7 with 50 mm Summilux for a decade. I have used a few digital cameras but nothing could replace my M7. My biggest discontent with digital cameras have been white balance and contrast -- no matter which camera I tried, I could never quite get the same perfect white balance and the natural and yet strong and beautiful contrast of film camera photography, especially those of M7 with Summilux. Digital photos almost always had the washed-out colors and weired color bias. I hesitated to invest in M9 because I did not believe, for right or wrong, it could quite deliver what M7 had delivered. Leica had never been known to be a pioneer in digital photography. I also tried the first digital Leica called Digilux some 9 years ago, which was a joke. Convenience means little if the quality is lacking; I would rather have 10 photos that I like than 100 photos that I do not like. So despite the efforts and costs of processing needed for a film camera, I kept on using my Leica M7.
Enter Fuji X-e1. After taking some photos, I blew them on my 60-inch PDP. Perfect. Perfect at ISO 4000. And what a contrast. Wow. As far as I know, this is as close to a film photo feel as a digital photo could get: white balance is impeccable, skin tones perfect, strong contrast, colors that sing, and no grains at ISO 4000! Hallelujah.
Another thing about this camera: JPG files are excellent. I hate keeping RAW files. They are big files taking up so much space and post processing is such a pain to me. With this camera, you can simply forget about shooting in RAW. JPGs are just as nice. Even after reducing the file size to a mere 40 KB for emailing purposes, your photo retains the color and beauty.
The EVF is awesome. OLED screen is so bright and beautiful that you may never want to go back to the LCD on the back to focus, although there is some lag in dark because of low refresh rate. The lag would matter more in manual focus but also in auto focus, because you cannot capture the moment properly. Auto sensor option will turn off the LCD if the EVF senses your eye is nearby, and vice versa saving the battery. This camera is also packed with nice features that you actually use such as horizontal line indicator on the EVF -- it tells you whether your composition is perfectly horizontal. Another useful feature is something called "color-mode bracketing" along with the usual other bracketing options. First, you can use a few very nice color modes with this camera, and, second, with a single click, you can produce multiple photos captured in different color modes. My favorite is the Velvia mode -- for those who remember the ISO 50 film with thick colors to be used with a projector, yes, this resembles its colors quite a bit. Mind you, they are not for some special effects -- they are still passable as "regular" photos because the difference is well within the boundaries of mainstream photos and the skin tones do not appear weird even in this mode; they are just a bit more vibrant and strong, that's all.
There is much to like about digital photography in general but also much to dislike. I like its compact size, convenience, ability to transfer files and view across different media, immediacy in viewing the result and ease of use. But I dislike the lens barrel that comes out with noise each time you turn it on. I dislike the menu buttons with labyrinthine structures. I dislike the touch buttons. Most of all, I don't like the color renditions and tricky white balance. This Fuji X-e1 has cured all or at least most such woes, while retaining the traditional forte of digital cameras and keeping its size well below that of a DSLR. Bravo. Now I am afraid my M7 may end up being a thing of the past, finally, although I will never part with it. A Leica is a Leica after all, but perhaps I will never buy a M9 as I feel I have found a worthy substitute at a fraction of the price.
As for me, I considered this one among the following contenders: Sony RX1 and RX100. I crossed out Lumix lines because somehow I could never be satisfied with its white balance. RX100 is very nice for its price and I consider it an ultimate P&S, but I do not like the lens barrel that comes out each time I turn it on. Also its sensor size is a bit too small for my liking. However, it is a great little camera to get and I may well get it someday for its extreme portability and HD video capability alone. As for RX1, although I love its full-frame sensor, having a fixed, not-that-fast (2.0), non-changeable 35 mm lens is the deal killer for me, along with having no internal EVF or OVF. For that kind of price, Sony should really have done better. If you are considering RX100, RX1 or even NEX 7, do yourself a favor and make sure you test X-e1 before making up your mind. Just demoing it through the LCD at the back of the camera is not enough. If your dealer allows it, bring your own SD card, take shots on it with all the aforementioned cameras, blow the pictures on your own computer at home while paying particular attention to the color qualities.
[UPDATE] As for the lens, so far I have only used the kit lens (18-55mm). I have not used manual focusing yet, so I cannot comment on it. This lens is quite light-weight and simply superb. Auto-focus is not the fastest but fast enough and accurate. You can make a shallow depth of field at 2.8 and the resulting bokeh is quite nice. This may not be the fastest lens (ie lowest F stop is 2.8) but certainly fast enough and since you can make perfect photos at ISO 4000, I think this lens is a lot more useful than the well-rated 35 mm 1.4, which I have never used but may buy some day.
[UPDATE 2] The flash did not work. Since it was the first time I tried, I guess it did not work from the beginning. I was thinking of returning the unit, but when I called Fuji service center, the person suggested me to "RESET" the unit from the menu button. I did, and it worked. I asked him if this was a well-known issue, and the person told that it was and Fuji was working on it. I asked again if this was something I have to do from time to time (ie resetting), and the person told me that so far it seemed to work fine with the first reset but they were not sure. So if you buy a unit, make sure you test the flash. If it does not work, reset the unit. Fuji is working on the fix. I was thinking of reducing a star from my rating, but since it is working fine for now after reset, I am leaving as is. But if Fuji does not come with a permanent fix or if this happens again, I will reduce a star.
[UPDATE 3] I found out why the flash did not work. It had nothing to do with bugs or defects. Manner mode was on and that was why. When the manner mode is on, not only all sounds are muted but also flash and focus light are all disabled. Perfect for taking photos at classical concerts. (If you just want the sound off without disabling the flash or light, there is a sound option menu as well including complete off.) That explains why it worked when I reset the camera -- the manner mode is turned off at reset. Funny, even the experienced Fuji service man did not know this -- he told me they were "working on it." It shows this is such a new model -- so new that even the front field folks have not figured out all about it, I guess.
[UPDATE 4] Manual focusing a moving object through EVF in low light even when magnified is tricky. It does not give you a focus confirmation. I comparison-tested manual and auto, and there was always a discrepancy which makes me not to trust my eyes. Also the kit-lens' manual focusing feel is not superb, although certainly much better than that of X100. So I think this should be mostly used as an auto-focus camera when you use the kit lens. Make sure you push the "enlarge" button to help focus manually -- a big difference. By the way, you can always push AE-L/AF-L button to bring the object into immediate auto focus even when the camera is in manual focus mode, which I find very useful. You can also set this button's function AE fix only or AF fix only or both AE fix and AF fix in the menu settings.
[UPDATE 5] I think one firmware upgrade feature this camera desperately needs is Minimum Shutter Speed setting. Without this, Auto ISO is only half effective, along with aperture priority mode. Currently when set at auto-ISO and in the aperture priority mode, this camera is giving me a shutter speed close to the focal length, which, in the case of the kit lens, is 30 mm and hence 1/30th. This is obviously no good when shooting a moving object, which makes me adjust the ISO value up manually, rendering the auto-ISO not that useful. Fuji, please update and implement this firmware feature in a near future. Otherwise, people would simply have to shoot in speed priority mode mostly.
[UPDATE 6] I ordered Fuji M-mount adapter to use the body with my 50 mm Summilux. Now there are a few cheaper choices you have such as Kipon but the reason I ordered an official Fuji was because I read that it is the only one that shows all the information as Fuji lenses do. There are three things you need to be aware of. First, certain Leica lenses do not work with this adapter so you need to read about which ones work and which ones do not. Second, it does not show the F-stop information anywhere on the viewfinder (even though it takes photos with the F-stop you set on the lens) -- it shows "F0 (zero)" all the time. Less of a problem in the aperture priority mode since you know it anyway (since you are setting the aperture), but in the speed priority mode, there is no way of knowing the aperture. Third, the results are OK but certainly not any better than the kit lens. There is no Leica magic -- well-focused pictures look almost identical to those produced by the kit lens. So two conclusions: (i) I am not so sure about the advantage of buying a much more expensive official Fuji adapter; and (ii) your chief reason for buying the adapter must be to expand your photographic options and not to improve IQ. IQ will be largely the same even with the supposedly superior and certainly more expensive Leica glass.
[Update 7] I ordered Kipon adapter for Contax G2 lenses. For those who are not familiar, Contax long ago sold a film rangefinder called G2 with three Carl Zeiss lenses in the bundle: Biogon 2.8/28mm, Planar 2/45mm, Sonnar 2.8/90mm. Those lenses were beautifully crafted, sharp as a tack, and represented supreme value then (you may still find them at eBay). I once used and loved this Contax G2 extensively along with my Leica M7, but it has been sleeping in my closet in recent years. To get to the point, those Carl Zeiss lenses worked like charm on the X-e1 body. Sharp, sharp all they way. Particularly amazing was 90mm Sonnar's portrait performance under low light (with the crop factor of this body, it becomes a 135mm mild zoom). Wow! I could see my son's peach fuzz on face in a shot taken from quite some distance. On the X-e1 body (I cannot stress this qualification enough), I actually prefer Carl Zeiss glasses to the Leica glass. It is a match made in heaven, and you owe it to yourself to get an adapter to try those lenses if you happen to have them like me. I never thought I would be resurrecting those almost antique lenses from the film era in this digital age, not out of curiosity but for real field usage! One caveat: the Biogon 2.8/28mm could not be attached to this camera with the Kipon adapter -- it could not be locked and would not focus. I am not sure if there is any adapter you could use for Biogon 2.8/28mm available in the market.
[Update 8] I tried a "duel" among the three lenses again: Summilux 50/1.4, Sonnar 90/2.8, and the Fujinon Kit. I shot my bookshelf full of books on a tripod position (around 50 shots each) and tried to see differences. Because of the differences in magnification, Sonnar actually shot from a further distance. Again, the differences were minor but there was a clear winner to my eyes: Sonnar. Color renditions were very similar. But the Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH, although sharp in the center at every aperture, was softer and blurrier on the sides at the same F stop with Sonnar. Sonnar was tack sharp around all edges. I did not notice this when I mounted Summilux on my M7 body. That is why I said I do not particularly prefer Summilux at least on X-e1 body. Fujinon was not as sharp as Sonnar, but entirely acceptable and consistently good.
But since the results were so similar, I urge people to buy different lenses only to obtain different F stops or angles and not to obtain better IQ. I see it this way: if you already have a Summilux, you may want to buy a cheap adapter ring, but if you do not have one, forget it. At over $4,000, it is not worth the price at least on this body.
It is great to hear Zeiss is coming out with auto-focus for X-mount (see the comment by Midnight Coyote below), but I fear the price! Manual focusing with Sonnar is actually quite fun, and there is one great advantage with manual focusing: once focused, you can shoot subsequent shots actually faster than an auto-focus and this is a great advantage in extreme low-light conditions in which the auto-focus hesitates and struggles for each shot.
on December 14, 2012
long story short...i shot with manual film cameras in the late 90's (im 34) just when the high and mighty, beastly, ugly laser canon torpedo-like gargantuan digital SLR's began to overtake the photography market...
I stopped shooting when film and developing materials became a financial burden...
the feel of dSLR's makes me feel like i'm going to blast anything and everything that comes into view when looking through it's viewfinder...i didn't care about the end result...the equipment (dSLR's) is EXTREMELY un-inspiring...for me.
If you've missed the feel of what a camera should feel like and act like...MANUAL CONTROLS!
aperture ring, shutter speed dial!!!! YES! Then this is for you!
who cares if it's slower than most in it's class and above and below...
art...takes time, understanding....it's a process...it's meditative....for me...
i don't know...so many people getting their first photography chops through dSLR's and the ease of use and the instant gratification...work less, produce more attitude...really know nothing about what camera felt like and did...
my good friend (NIKON D800 user) argued and fought with me tooth and nail when he said that the shutter speed dial on my X-E1 was the ISO...had no idea what a shutter speed dial was...never shot film a day in his life...been shooting for 7yrs weddings and all...
Listen...if you shot with film and want that physical feeling AND results...this is for you..
if you like to look like a pro and like all that technical BS with very little work and effort...NOT FOR YOU!
Thank you Fuji...after a nearly 15yr hiatus from shooting and photography...you have given me my love back...i'm a shooting again, learning again...
this is a beautiful camera inside and out...it makes you work...and that's what i love about it...
remember when you had a 35exp roll of film and had maybe 2exp that you really loved and actually printed and put up on your wall or gave as a gift or sold...that's special...
instead of having 500 photos of the same thing and figure out which you like best, you now have a select few to choose from and they are usually GEMS!
This is a great Camera...shooting is Inspiring and fun again!!!!!! for me...
this is not for everyone...then again...not everyone that owns a camera is a photographer either...
if you know anything about photography, film, cameras....this is a great camera.
been reading a lot of the recent reviews and complaints about poor auto focus...
it's clear that MANY MANY users are taking AMAZING photos with these cameras...no complaints about auto focus on my part nor other users...i think most of us that LOVE this camera know and love to shoot, i think we do the work and not let the camera do all the work for us. It took me about a month to learn how to use it and will continue to learn every time i pick it up...
like i said...all these photographers that get their first chops with dSLR's...not film. this is for people that love and enjoy photography...NOT for people who like to just take excellent pictures.
so, if you have patience, love photography, willing to learn, understand and grow...don't let all the autofocus remarks scare you...sure, you'll miss shots...but it's not really about quantity of keepers, but about the absolute amazing, unique film quality of just a few...when you nail a shot...YOU REALLY NAIL IT!
lots of people complaining because they don't know how to use the camera...
i'm not a 'photographer' nor do i strive to be one...or a professional one...i just really love photography and the inspiration that consumes me when i look at it and pick it up and hold it in my hands...hope to get all my photos processed from nepal...i missed a lot of shots, but...that's because i'm not that good yet...but the ones i got are pretty mind blowing...will update with a link to some of what i took soon!
do your research...see what people are putting out there...don't listen to all the bad advice...visit all the blogs...start at scoop.it/t/fuji-x-pro1
This French war photographer didnt give up his whole dSLR kit for nothing...enough said.
google eric bouvet
on March 26, 2014
My search for the 'perfect' camera ended with the X-E1.
It all started when I saw a glowing review of X100S in a post by Zack Arias. He was very excited about it. I found many other reviews for x100s all over the internet, and all of them said how fantastic the camera was. Comments like 'best camera in the world', 'wow', 'fantastic colors', 'what a camera' appeared in practically every review. The number of superlatives used were unprecendented and I could find only a few negative but tolerant remarks mainly on the AF speed. Many reviews were from well established photographers. I got very curious. What is this camera, which is igniting such a following? Could Fuji be 'salting' the reviews and paying famous photographers to give a positive review? But then, can they influence so many of them? Seemed unlikely. I went to Amazon, my favourite place for trusted and unbiased reviews and again found raving reviews. I was hooked.
But the price $1,299 intimated me. Was a fixed lens camera, how ever good, worth that kind of money? My budget is scarce and I have a T3i/24-105 L for my work. If I sell my Canon gear will it fetch me enough to buy the x100s? And most importantly, can the x100s do everthing my current gear can do? All the talk about 'zoom with your feet and you will become a better photographer' is fine, but in reality when you are shooting for clients, there is little time to waste. I decided to reserch the Fuji X product line and see if there are other alternatives.
I found the X-E2. This seemed to be God sent because it was similar to the x100s but with interchangable lenses. But at that time it cost $1,400, $100 more than the x100s. It put me off and I decided to wait. Then Fuji announced the X-T1 and after a week, the price of X-E2 dropped to $1,300 and it became the same as x100s (whose price refused to drop even after a year). Now X-E2 looked more attractive and I resumed my research. Again found many glowing reviews about the X-E2 (but not as glowing as those of x100s) and made up my mind to get it as soon as possible.
While I was deciding from which store to buy it, the price of X-E1 dropped to $799. This was getting more interesting and I compared the X-E2 with X-E1. Generally everyone agreed that X-E2 was a better camera in terms of AF speed and some other less critical fixes, but it was not a major upgrade from X-E1 (which is in my estimate is around 95% the same as X-E2 after the firmware upgrades). In that case, why not go for a X-E1 and save $500? Honestly, I was tempted also by the X-M1 which is much cheaper but gave it up because it did not have a view finder. Digging deeper I found that many people found the IQ of X-E1 more 'natural' than the IQ of X-E2. The noise reduction in X-E2 seemed to be very aggressive which made skin tones look like one of Madame Tussad's creations. I pored over the comparisons in dpreview.com and found that the reivews were correct. There was a tendency for X-E2 and X-T1 to smooth skin a little too aggressively for higher ISOs. I ordered the X-E1. I know I am maybe two geneations behind the latest Fuji cameras but I trust my instincts and don't think I will disappointed. Also, now perhaps I may not have to sell of my Canon gear (which I dearly love) to pay for the X-E1.
Reached home from work at about 6 pm and found the package waiting for me at the front door. Excited, I took it in and opened it.
After removing the packing, Adorama documents and their gifts, I found the black box containing the camera and the lens. I had built up so much anticipation over a period of time for this camera that I found my breath quickening when I opened the box. My first impression was one of disappointment. The camera looked a little worn out, dull and lifeless. The matt black covering of the body reminded me of my father's Rollie. My wife saw me looking at it and asked me if I had ordered a used camera. As I stared at it, I realized that it was not dull but understated. There was a quiet shine to the silver and the black and it looked dignified. This camera was built for someone who was mellow, cultured and sophisticated. The lens was all black and had a luxurious finish to it. I removed the covers and fixed the lens to the camera. Later when I left it on the dining table, it blended into the background and I realized that this effect was deliberate (I read somewhere that Fuji spent a lot of time deciding the colors and the finish) and this camera was not for the flashy photographer who liked to show off his equipment but for a sedate one who wanted to unobtrusively take good pictures without being obvious.
I switched on the camera and looked through the view finder. The view was very contrasty and bright. I did not like it too much but I dont think there is an option to tone it down, other than reduce the brightness. But then I realized it was in keeping with the general philosophy of the camera. Nondescript on the outside and bright and efficient on the inside. There is some WYSIWYG in the screen and it does approximately reflect the exposure of the scene. The screens dims and brightens when you place the focus frame on different parts of the scene. This is one of my primary reasons for buying a camera belonging to this genre. In my T3i, I have to guess how the final scene will turn out and frequently have to adjust after taking the picture and examining it on the screen. In the X-E1 (and similar cameras) you can actually see how the scene will look like before releasing the shutter. This is a great aid to composition.
I pointed it at things around the house and took some pictures. AF was slow and there was a distict shutter lag.The EVF could not keep up with the scene when I panned. But no surprises. The shutter seemed to make a grating noise and I was a little worried. I researched it later and found that my camera was not different. I was used to the crisp Canon shutter sound and found this one a little different. I attached the camera to my laptop and viewed the pictures. I was shocked. All were blurry and out of focus. Where was the much touted Fuji sharpness? I examined the camera settings and found that the ISO was 200 and shutter speed was 1/15. Relieved I realized that the blur was due to camera shake and not the camera's fault. I set it to Auto ISO of 6400 and shot some more. This time pictures were much better and sharp. But AF was slow and shaky. When I set the Auto ISO, I noticed that the options for setting the Minimum Shutter speed and Default were missing, and and realized that the firmware was not the latest. I went online and updated the body and lens firmware. Updating was pretty simple. Just copy the file to your memory card, insert the card into the camera and run update. Takes about a minute.
Again shot some photos and now it was much much better. Quicker response, better AF performance and seems altogether a different camera. I decided to test the skin tone rendition. I asked my wife to pose for a few photos. Since I started photography 4 years back, I have never been able to render my wife's and daughter's complexions exactly (or more importantly as they liked it). Hours in Photoshop, adjusting CMYK and white balance did help a little but I could never match the tone and complextion exactly. The skin looked either yellow or blue or too red. This has been a constant source of complaint from my wife, so much that she nowadays refuses to let me photograph her. I downloaded the photos from Fuji and showed it to her. 'What did you do this time?' she asked, 'this is exactly what I look like'. I could have told her that I had done nothing and these are the OOC jpegs from the camera, but why waste a good opportunity? I gave her a discourse on white balance and how I had used Photoshop to fine tune the photos. It seemed to impress her and she said 'At least you have got it correctly now'. What ever this camera cannot do, I am keeping it for this one great feature. Perfect white balance and skin tones, approved by my wife.
The color accuracy is remarkable. I have not used any other digital camera whose color rendering is so close to the actual. Almost felt like a film camera. The noise reduction is set to 0 but I hardly see any noise even at ISO 6400 unless I enlarge to 100%. The low light performance is so good that the camera can practically see in the dark. I no longer need be afraid of high ISOs.
Overall I am not used to the handling as yet. My T3I was much bigger and I had put on the Snug It case over the camera which gave it a soft feel and was very comfortable in the hand. Compared to that I felt a lot of sharp edges on the X-E1. The thing is small. Unless you have handled a SLR for 4 years and suddenly handle one of these, you dont realize how small. It felt like a toy and the in the beginning I was unconciously handling it gingerly, perhaps in the fear of breaking it. But then I had opted for the Fuji because I had wanted a smaller and lighter camera, so cannot fault its size. The camera is not delicate but the size makes you feel it is, and it take some getting used to. The shutter button is not comfortable and lacks a nice feel and tactile feedback when you half press and then shoot. I decided to buy a third party soft release button. The On/Off switch is thin and sharp. Should be bigger and more comfortable to use. The dials are excellent and smooth. The flash is well concealed and adequate. The connector cover inadvertently flips open if you brush you hand against it.
The button placement is very convenient. I really liked the AF and AE button on the left side. With the AE button I can quickly change the metering mode to suit the scene and the look I want.I dont know if I will use the AF button much to change the focus point because I am primarily a lock focus-recompose-shoot kind of photographer. But it will be interesting to use.
The lens is very well made and solid. Beautiful lens, as good as my Canon 24-105. Smooth zoom and manual focus. The aperture ring clicks satisfactorily. The lens cap is atrociously bad and seems cheap. So does the lens hood. I wonder why Fuji compromised on these two items when they had built the camera and lens so well. The camera strap is inadequate and thin. Another compromise. When handling the camera, I found that there was no comfortable position to place the thumb without accidently changing the Command dial or the Selector switches. Due to this the grip on the camera is precarious at best and my recommendation is to wear it around the neck or hand to avoid dropping it accidently. I think I will buy one of those Thumb Grips. The screen is a print magnet and needs a screen protector.
Another disappointment is the Exposure brackting. I shoot HDR sometimes and +1 and -1 is not sufficient. I need at least +2 and - 2. I guess I will have use the Exposure compensation and adjust according to the scene or shoot 2 sets of images after setting different exposure compensation values.
Used it for a few days now. The battery life is very bad. Yesterday when I had taken it out for a street photography run, half way through it ran out of juice. I did not have a spare on me and I had to return home unfulfilled. I later found out that you can increase the battery life by
1. Shutting off the LCD and using only EVF. In this mode, I wish the camera has a feature where by the EVF comes on only when you lift the camera to your eye. This would further save some power.
2. Switch off the Quick Start mode.
3. Reduce the auto switch off time.
4. Reduce EVF brighness to minimum.
5. Diasable the image review option after every photo. You can always press the review button to review your shot if needed.
Also, the Lithium batteries would take 4 ot 5 full re-cycles to acheive full power.
But it is perfect for street photography. When I try to use my Canon for shooting on the street, more than once I have been stopped by stares and even a few angry comments. But, when I used the Fuji, the camera is so small and looks so harmless, that nobody pays any attention and one person with dogs even invited me to take his photograph.
I tried the camera in various conditions indoors and outdoors
1. Color are very accurate. It depends on the film simulation you choose but very accurate.
2. The auto exposure is perfect. In very contrastly scenes too, it somehow is able to reduce highlights blow out and also bring out some details in dark shadows. Of course, it does have 3 levels of DR settings which would further help in reducing contrast. But, higher DRs increase the noise. The highlight mode and shadow mode settings further help in bringing out details in shadow and highlights.
3. The number of customization possibilities are incredible. T3i does not have the facility to save custom settings and I found this feature very useful to quickly change the setting depending on the scene. Combined with the film simulations, the flexibility of the settings lets you set it exactly as you need.
I have not used Silkypix as yet but I downloaded an opensource RAW convertor called Lightzone. Works well.
Altogether, as many people have said earlier and which I had then swallowed with a grain of salt, the camera is a joy to use. It's like driving a sports car or using a precision instrument. The satisfaction from using it comes from its predictability. You can predict how the final picture will come out. This, I think, is the X-E1s greatest strength.
on July 28, 2013
OK, first off - before you buy it with the protective lens filter, confirm that it's a 58mm filter and not the 52 that Amazon is still (as I write this) pairing it with. That's wrong. You want a 58mm clear lens protective filter.
Fuji has nothing to do with this mistake: it's all Amazon's fault.
Now, about the camera: as you can see if you look at earlier reviews by me, I bought an X100 a couple of years ago and my wife simply adores that camera. Her only complaint: no zoom. And by only, I mean Only. In all other ways the X100 is amazing.
The X-E1, however, is better. A lot better, actually. OK, so it doesn't have a composite viewfinder... actually, that's fine. We were never sold on it, anyway. The eyepiece now shows you precisely what the sensor is seeing - how is that anything but great? If your eye sees it, the sensor sees it. Perfect - particularly given all of the information available in the viewfinder, if you want it.
Automatic mode is incredible. Take a photo of a black dog - routinely impossible for most cameras - and see what happens. The fur comes alive. The subtleties of the dog's eyes and black nose leap off the screen. Instead of a black shadow, you see a dog - even in pretty low light conditions. The picture depth is amazing. Bokeh is awesome.
Many years ago the SLR makers were finally getting "auto" right. I owned a Pentax that would truly take an awesome picture if I bought 400 (or faster) film, and ran it on Auto. From then until now I've never owned a digital camera that could do the same. Auto always resulted in great outdoor (full light) shots, but indoor shots were murky or - worse - washed out by a flash that was way too strong.
Not this camera. This is the camera that will take interior shots of that cathedral you are visiting. This is the camera you take into the caves during a winery tour. This is the camera that you macro-set and take a shot of a flower, even in low-ish light. It has a built in panoramic function. Go to the beach or the mountains and take your panoramic shot. Let that huge-sensor absorb every detail, while Fuji's brilliant electronics stitch the image together flawlessly.
Most people are using their smart phones to take photo's, and I do too. Those are analogous to what Kodak was doing in the 1970's. Cheap cameras taking absolutely OK photo's, easily. There's a time and a place for that.
When you take a photo with this camera you remember: there was a reason that people turned to 35mm SLR's. A photograph *can* be art. There are subtleties that your camera-phone will never see, because the aperture is simply too small on a phone. Not with the X-E1. Big lens, big aperture, uber-dense sensor, and magnificent electronics - all in a camera that fits in your hand. Remember that: this camera is significantly smaller than the DSLRs out there. It's bigger than the small point-and-shoot's that you buy at the Big Box, but not by much.
The build quality is superb. The camera is light without being flimsy. There's a heft to it that says "well built." What appears to be aluminum is used in a lot of places - where others would use a cheaper, and less durable, plastic. Lenses insert with exquisitely accurate tolerances. Insert, turn, "click."
The picture quality, even on Auto, is stunning. At least as good as the X100, and likely better.
With a *zoom.* And swappable lenses!
This is, absolutely, the finest camera I've ever owned. It finally will do everything my old SLR would do, without me having to learn all about the settings - without film, and at half the size.
We love this camera.
on December 7, 2012
I am an amateur who primary shoots photos of my family. I love, love the performance and versatily of my D90 with Sigma 18-50 F2.8 lens, however always secretly wanted a lighter, smaller kit. After trying out various 4/3rds cameras, high end compacts (think Canon S95) always came back to my DSLR kit.
Now I believe I finally found what I was looking for - Fuji X-E1 + 18-55 F2.8-4.0 kit.
1. Very light and small kit overall when compared to DSLR kit. Very solid and well made.
2. Great JPG quality out of camera (colors, sharpness, WB, contrast, shadow details, inter alia)
3. Amazing ISO performance for the camera of this size - better than my D90 by more than a stop.
4. There is a reason why it is called "Sexy One" in Japan. It certainly is.
5. DSLR-like features (bracketing, wireless flash control, etc.)
6. Fuji film modes are great (Provia / Astia / Velvia / B&W / Sepia, etc.)
7. Kit glass is incredibly good given it's a zoom lens. Shockingly good.
1. AF performance indoors is not great. Spray and pray seems to be the way to go.
2. EV indoors is somewhat jerky, on the borderline of being annoying
3. Versatility is not there (yet). Nothing like 11-16 F2.8 Tokina / 70-20mm F2.8 Sigma options for Nikon system, although Fujinon 56mm F1.4, 55-200MM F3.5-4.8 OIS and 10-24mm F4 OIS options are forthcoming in 2013.
4. No min shutter speed setting while in AutoISO feature
5. No focus peaking feature (while focusing manually)
Is it perfect? No. Is it as versatile as my Nikon D90? No.
Is it good enough for my needs? It's better than good. It's great.
on June 3, 2013
The days travelling with a DSLR is over!!!
I've been a long time DSLR user. FOr the past 8 years, every time I traveled, I carried along my DSLR with me. I have been using Rebels, D80, D90, and all the way to 5d MK II. I spent quite a lot on lenses. I am not a pro photographer. I just love travelling and taking pictures. I've traveled to many places around the world carrying a DSLR with a huge lens on it, plus few more in the backpack. Last time I went out was few months ago during a trip to southern France. I remember the pain on my shoulders at the end of the day, caused by carrying the camera and lenses. My wife kept on saying to me that she won't help me taking a picture because she always have trouble steadying the camera due to its weight.
Now she wont have any excuses since I bought the little gem. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much. Coming from full frame sensors and L lenses, I am used to sharp pictures, high ISO performance, great OOC image quality, buttery bokeh, bright view finders....etc. But lugging them around, the weight, the attention I get, are stopping me from taking the camera out on more often or on a casual base. The little X-E1 has changed everything. All that DSLR offers, X-E1 got them all, except the optical viewfinder of course. But I don't find myself missing it. After purchasing it, I've taken it to the restaurant, the beach, the golf courses, pool, dog walk, walmart, even a trip to the dumpster. It's a camera that you would love to take it out shooting.
You can take it anywhere, and the image quality just never disappoints. Oh, I stopped shooting raw since I got this camera, RAW files took up too much disk space and PP has been a huge time sink. The JPEG out of this camera is stunning. You need to familiarize with it first though. Tweak its settings to your liking. Well thats what I did at least. Dont slack off on studying it but it really doesn't take much effort or time. Make use of it's film simulations, it's surprisingly good. The menu is very clear and purposeful. Functions are listed very logically. The controls are very intuitive, a bit small but very sturdy feeling, unlike the nex I had before which felt flimsy and plastic. Everything seems to be well thought off, nothing more, nothing less. I also like the retro silver top, more than the black one. I will be purchasing the leather half case to compliment its retro appearance.
Regarding everyone's doubt on its focusing speed, it's a non-issue. Turn off the focus assisting light, you are golden. Make sure you update your firmware too. It's not hard at all. The battery life is better than I expected. But I still ordered 2 more from Amazon. I am not big into shooting videos but this camera's video capability is more than what I ever needed. Comparing to Nex 6, its direct competitor, the only thing I MIGHT miss is the wifi function. It's fun to load the image straight from the camera to my ipad. But it's a gimmick I can live without. It's much much faster just pull out the SD card and let the card reader do the job.
Future improvements? A little thicker grip would definitely help, a tilt screen perhaps, oh yes, the Wi-Fi.
With the price reduction, which made the whole package even a closer price match to the nex, stop (re)searching, buy it, go out and start taking pictures!
P.S. I have to give props to Amazon, 10 days after I bought the camera with the kit 18-55, the price dropped. I called them in the middle of the night, they agreed to refund the difference right away. Total time spent on the phone, 3 minutes.
on February 20, 2013
Like many owners of Canon SLR systems (in my case a 5D MKIII with a variety of L lenses) I wanted something that I could carry around and not break my back. The Fujifilm X-E1 fits that role beautifully.
I purchased the camera, "kit" zoom (18-55 f2.8-4) and the 35 mm f1.4 from Amazon. Delivery was prompt.
The camera and lenses are solidly build. The user interface is as good as I ever encountered. I was up and running immediately without even looking at the manual. I love the combo of the X-E1 and 35 mm f1.4. Reminds me of my old days when all I could afford was the 50 mm lens that came with the camera. The lens is first rate, sharp wide open and below. Comparing the same picture taken with my 5D MKIII and 85 mm f1.8 (distance adjusted for FOV), the results are nearly identical.
The "kit" lens is solid and a good performer. However, in pixel peeping mode it is not quite as sharp as the 5D MKIII with its kit lens (24-105 f4L) lens attached. However, when printed in any sort of reasonable size, I doubt you will be able to see the difference.
A lot has been written about the high ISO performance of the X-E1. It is remarkable for a cropped frame camera. I shoot routinely at ISO 3200 without noise reduction. 8x10 inch prints at ISO 6400 show no noise.
The camera has an electronic viewfinder. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it works quite well. In a sense what you see is what you get. That is, the picture that comes right after it is taken looks like what you saw in the viewfinder, just before you took it. I rather like the idea of being able to see the picture right after taking it without taking the camera away from the eye. The refresh rate is quite good, but it is an EVF not an optical viewfinder.
So much for the good. Now for the not so good. We have become spoiled by dSLRs with rapid follow focus. Since I have a 5D MKIII, I would not use this camera to photograph my grandsons' soccer games. Were I to shoot action, I go back to basics and anticipate the action and prefocus.
The focusing is slow compared to my 5D MKIII and other dSLRs I have used. In general this is not a problem, and the latest firmware upgrades have gone a long way to correct the issue. However, I tried the camera out in a studio situation with a live model and found the autofocus painfully slow. Nonetheless, it was usable.
More serious for me is the lack of high speed sync on any flash made by Fujifilm for this camera. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the 60 mm f1.4 lens. This should be perfect for portraits. However, I like to use fill flash when taking outdoor portraits. Taking advantage of the very wide aperture offered by that lens will make it impossible to use fill flash (max sync speed = 1/180 sec) without resorting to neutral density filters.
Much has been made of the "Water Color" effects and color running in the RAW images. I have not fussed over this so far, and I hope will get this sorted out.
With the caveats above, I would recommend this camera. It is a lot more discreet that my 5D MKIII with an L lens attached. IQ, especially with the 35 mm f1.4 is outstanding up to ISO 3200, and I find it really easy to use.
on December 17, 2012
If you're looking for a completely perfect camera, it doesn't exist. The X-E1 loses 0.3 points for some quirks, which still rounds up to five stars...
1)autofocus - it is not lightning fast, and can be fooled in low light close-ups
2)EVF appears magnified - when you look into it, it feels like you're using a magnifying glass at very slight magnification. The screen is clear and detailed though.
3)Slow refresh rate - it's true what others have mentioned. If you pan left to right, you will see the screen image is not keeping up.
4)Memory card is hard to reach - To remove the memory card, you have to pinch it on its sides. The compartment cover's placement is causing clearance problems.
5)No lens cap strap - The lens cap is hard enough to use, it is also easy to lose because it has no strap
Having said all that, I still think this is one awesome camera. I bought the silver unit with the 18-55mm kit lens. When you order, I recommend you buy at least one extra battery. I personally wish I bought two extra batteries. I get eye strain from using EVFs in general, so I use the main screen more. But since it uses more energy, the battery life is just as short as any prosumer camera. Speaking of main screens, as someone else mentioned, it's a pretty good screen. I don't think it could have used more pixels. Personally, I would trade not having an EVF for a bigger main screen or the X-Pro1's better screen.
Burst speed is very good. I paired this with my SanDisk Extreme Pro Class 10 UHS-1 95MB/s SDHC card. On the specs, it says the buffer is only good for 6 shots but I actually don't notice it slow down until 11 shots of raw and high quality jpg. The 6fps is very nice. If you shoot in Fine jpg only, once the buffer fills up, it flushes the backlog to the card in not so much time.
Like on many other reviews, it praises the film modes. I now understand why. I set mine to Velvia all the time now, and I don't see any need to run the pics through Lightroom at all. The pictures are great out of the box.
Low light performance is excellent. A few years ago, using ISO 800 and not having noise was quite an achievement. With the X-E1, you can go up to ISO 25,600 with not much worry.
Lastly, the simplicity of the controls is excellent. No other Compact System Camera is this simple. Yes, the dial on the right is for shutter speed. Mainly, I just set the shutter to A (Auto), the ISO limit to 6400, so the camera will adjust those for me. What I do control is the aperture using the aperture ring like any regular DSLR. This has worked well for me. I've had several slr and prosumer cameras, which you just click click your way hoping a few will turn out well. With my settings, I now get to think about framing and controlling depth of field. Those two have the most impact on the final product. Think of it this way. For a long time, most cars have automatic transmissions. The newer performance cars have dual-clutch transmissions that shift lightning fast and give you significant control. Using the X-E1 is like driving a performance car with a dual-clutch transmission.
Anyway, if you can put up with the cons, you'll have one extremely good camera that takes excellent pictures.
on March 13, 2013
I have got this camera for only a couple of days and owning it reminds you the feeling of being in love. =) Remind you that being in love does not mean everything will be easy and perfect... this camera is not perfect, and it can take quite a lot of efforts sometimes (compare to Olympus E-M5 and Sony NEX). It's not a camera that you can just point and shoot and pray, but all your efforts will be rewarded at the end.
People have written much better and professional reviews that I will ever be able to, I am just going to jog down a few points that I can think of.
No complaints. Comes with the "Fuji" color that a lot of people love. Compare it with a Sony NEX or Nikon DSLR, you will love Fuji's color. It doesn't have a lot of fancy filter presets like Olympus and Sony, but I think all those "artistic" and "HDR" effects are just gimicks, people serious in learning photograpy will find Fuji's color effects, e.g. Velvia, Astria, etc good enough. Also worth mentioning that the Auto WB is very decent and always seems to be able to pick a good color profile.
Love love love the creamy Bokeh. If you like out-of-focus shots with creamy bokeh, you will be in love.
You have to know what you are getting into, this is a mirrorless camera (so will be much slower than DSLR), and this is not the best mirrorless in terms of focus speed. You will likely not able to focus in time for shooting any kind of moving objects like airshow or sports event, this camera is for street photography, portrait shots and still shots, and its focus is definitely good enough for above scenarios.
This is the area I feel cheated a bit. I think Fuji is overstating their ISO, by a lot. I think X-E1's ISO3200 is roughly comparable to Sony NEX's ISO1600, hence the supposedly superior ISO performance. But if you put both camera at ISO3200 with same aperture, Fuji's shutter speed will be almost twice at Sony's. Noise at ISO3200 is definitely usable, but it's not amazing as the numbers suggest.
I have the 18-55mm "kit" lens and there is nothing kit about that lens. It's a good solid good lens with very bright high-quality glass, I would recommend everyone to start with that lens. Just to think it's twice bright than the garbage kit lens Canon and Sony give us! It also focuses faster than the prime lens. And in 2013 they will have fantastic wide angle and a 200mm zoom lens. It's surprising that Fuji already has a better lens line-up than the whole NEX series... are you listening Sony?
Not very good actually... the camera is large, the kit lens is almost same weight as the body so it's a bit front-heavy. Paired with a rather flat hand grip, it's a bit hard to get comfortable with it. On the other hand, I love the location of the aperture ring and exposure dial.
Build quality: 8/10
I have read some famous, but rather unprofessional reviews online saying that this camera is all metal and build quality rivals Leica. Errr... no. This camera feels exactly like a $1000 camera. Solid, good quality, but not Leica in anyway. In fact I think the lens is much higher quality than the body itself. The black portion of the body is plastic, and the body feels less solidly linked together than NEX.
on January 8, 2014
I suppose I'm a photography enthusiast having been playing with cameras since a child. This is my favourite camera of all, from over five decades, most recently having owned the Lumix GF1 and GX1 and the Nikon D7000.
It's not just that the camera produces great photos with subtle colour, excellent exposure, fast sharp focus, but most of all it's just a pleasure to use. Fuji has put back manual controls, such as aperture rings on lenses, exposure compensation dials, etc. Fuji has produced and extraordinary sensor, and shrunk the whole thing in a way that makes my heavy Nikon D7000 seem like a relic from another era, which it is.
Added to that comes a choice of superb lenses and the best after sales support from any camera manufacturer I've ever encountered. Fuji has practically reinvented its X100 and XPro-1 since being first released with significant firmware upgrades. The same too, to a slightly lesser extent, with my XE-1. Fuji is updating cameras in the same way Apple updates its iPhone, bringing new benefits to its customers and building loyalty. I feel you can invest safely in the Fuji system.
I'm not inclined to write reviews, but Fuji has produced such superb cameras with its X series, followed up with great firmware improvements, kept it all light, small and price competitive. Fuji's cameras really do deserve the highest praise so frequently given them.