Feb 082013
 

The Fuji X-E1 is awesome by Brian T. Adams

So, a little bit about myself… I became a camera enthusiast about one year ago. What I mean by this is I, unwittingly, purchased my first DSLR. Mostly, because I thought this is what you had to do if you wanted to get into digital photography and come up with “awesome” results. Aside from the past year, my photography experience is limited to my junior and senior years of high school some 18 years ago or so. While I did learn how to develop film and make prints – which were pretty rough – my efforts were mostly focused on shenanigans. Obviously, a lot has changed in nearly two decades of technological advancement and digital post processing. My point: I was the perfect consumer that fell right into the huge DSLR marketing trap. And, man, did I drop some of my hard-earned dough on DSLR what-have-you.

Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras certainly have their place in the world. I’ll never contest that. In fact I still love mine. However, for me, something wasn’t quite right. I genuinely don’t like carrying mine around with me in public. It’s huge, heavy, and I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb with it. In contrast, one of the reasons I bought it in the first place was to capture those seemingly random moments in life when you think to yourself “man, I wish I had a camera right now.” The other reason I bought it was in an attempt to get into landscape photography…which has proven to be significantly harder than I expected. I suppose that’s part of a different story, though. Either way, if I wasn’t on a planned photo outing, the camera stayed at home. I quickly realized I was at least partially defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place. Then I found stevehuffphoto.com.

Fast forward several months, and I am now the proud owner of the Fuji X-E1 teamed up with the Fuji 35mm F1.4. Sure, I’d like to score a Leica M9 or the new RX-1 but the cost was just too unreasonable for me. A couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I returned from a week and a half long road trip pulling our vintage Airstream trailer up and down the Northern California Coast. It turns out that trailer camping in the winter is barely fun. However, it gave me a chance to put my new rig to the test. Please don’t confuse this write-up as a technically based review of any sort. It isn’t. I aim to let everybody know what my experience with it has been like thus far. A quick recap: my camera experience is limited to approximately one year of DSLR work, much of which has been on the tripod. The X-E1 is the first camera of its kind that I’ve ever used. Here goes…

Compared to a DSLR, the X-E1 is tiny. I have girl hands and I still found myself fumbling around with it at first. I quickly got over this and, now, really like its ergonomics. Plus, I’d trade discreetness for a little fumbling any day of the week. Even still, I still sometimes accidentally end up pressing the AE-L/AE-F and Q buttons from time to time being that they’re located right where my thumb naturally ends up…not a big deal though. The X-E1 is very easy to use. The menus seem intuitive and straight forward and I can get into them and out again quickly without feeling like smashing the camera to bits because I forgot where a setting was located. Obviously, one of my biggest frustrations with the DSLR experience is all the menus and settings and adjustments and blah, blah, blah…sometimes I just want to take pictures. The X-E1 allows me to do exactly this. The only thing I typically adjust on it is aperture, ISO (I’ve assigned ISO to the FN button), and exposure compensation. Side note: I LOVE the little knob Fuji uses for exposure comp. I’m sure this isn’t exclusive to Fuji, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Perfect. I’ve tried auto ISO a few times, but in low light it tends to try to make the shutter speed 1/50 sec and then just adjust ISO around this. For 50mm focal length equivalent, this speed is marginal for those of us with shaky hands. So, I tend to sacrifice higher ISO to get a higher shutter speed. This just means I need to be paying attention to shutter speed. This was actually a challenge for me since I’m used to shooting almost exclusively at wide angles where you can get away with slower shutter speeds, especially if you’ve got Image Stabilization. Needless to say, I botched several shots do to slowish shutter speeds. My fault, not the camera’s.

Now the meat and potatoes of the camera…the image. I’ve put a few hundred shots through this thing and I’m still amazed at the sharpness of the images pumping out of this little animal. And I’m talking about out of camera (OOC) jpegs (image size set to large and resolution set to fine). Unreal. I suppose this is a good segue to discuss the RAW image issue. I’ve been using Lightroom 4 (LR4) for RAW conversion and I haven’t had any issues. It doesn’t have lens correction for this particular setup, but I find it to work pretty good. The only thing I’ve noticed is that with images that have a big, clear, blue sky will produce some weird blotchiness when converted to BW. It kind of looks like banding, but not quite. I can’t really explain it any other way. So, a couple of the images I wasn’t able to convert to BW. Others worked out just fine. Weird.

As far as image exposure goes, I kind of agree with what Steve said about it slightly over exposing. By “kind of” I mean that it sounds like it did it more for Steve than it did for me. There were a handful of times where I thought I needed to dial in some under exposure. Most of the time, however, I feel it nails the exposure. I have no empirical evidence to back any of this up, just my feeling on the matter. As you might expect, keeping the camera dialed to -2/3 exposure comp definitely gives really rich and contrasty results but sometimes it will be a tad too dark in the shadows for me — not clipped — just a little dark. So, I usually keep the exposure comp neutral unless it needs it or I’ve forgotten it’s there. For street photography, where seconds count, one might consider keeping a little negative comp dialed in to be on the safe side.

The autofocus abilities of the X-E1 seem to be a recurring theme being discussed all over the world-wide web. I think it’s fine. It’s missed on occasion but the lighting was pretty poor or really unbalanced. But, when it’s on, it’s on. Even at night. My DSLR, the few times I’ve used autofocus, was right maybe half the time even though the red deals in the viewfinder were blinking with great enthusiasm, never mind the “hunting” thing. When the X-E1 locks on, it just locks on. Sweet. Manual focus with it is weird. Normal convention would be to rotate the focus ring. Doing this with the X-E1 is an effort in futility, much like making a meal out of shrimp that haven’t been shelled yet, as it takes severe rotation of the focus ring for minimal feedback. However, you can just press AE-L/AE-F button and it’ll quickly lock on whatever the little square in the EVF is pointed at. Unless you’re doing tripod work with the X-E1, which I don’t think it’s really intended for, just run it in Auto Focus mode. I didn’t try AF on any moving targets so I can’t really comment.

On to the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The EVF works for me. It was definitely different at first but it doesn’t bother me. What I don’t like about it is that if you compose with your eye looking through the EVF, the camera will play back the image in the EVF versus on the LCD screen. However, if you take a picture by just holding the camera and composing with the LCD screen, then it will play back on the LCD screen. I’m not into this. I’d rather it play back on the LCD either way. Maybe it can be changed in the menus, but it doesn’t bother me enough to try to remember to figure it out once I get home. I’d never seen an EVF in action before, so it was certainly different. Everybody will have an opinion going one way or the other on it I suppose.

The lens: I think this little thing is unreal. Compared to what I’ve been using (I have three Canon zoom “L” lenses – no primes), this thing is amazing. I’m gonna say it…it’s better than my Canon L’s…handily. I’m not saying that Canon’s L Primes couldn’t compare as I’m sure they could. I’ve just never used them. This probably has something to do with a lack of an Anti Aliasing (AA) Filter as well…this is speculation on my part. I’m not going to get much more into than that, but I agree with what Ken Rockwell said about this lens. Love him or hate him (whether I agree or disagree with him I think he’s outrageously entertaining), I think his review of this lens is spot on except for one thing. He sometimes compares it to Leica lenses. I don’t disagree or agree with him on this particular issue. I simply don’t have any experience with anything Leica. In fact, I’ve never even seen a Leica in person. But, the fact that he does compare it to Leica lenses — and praises it heavily — should say something. Again, it’s unbelievably sharp and renders colors in righteous fashion. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I almost always convert images to black and white so I’m usually not impressed by color rendering. However, I am impressed with the 35mm F1.4.

This is getting long, but I’ll finish it up with a quick word on high ISO and in camera Black and White (BW). The highest ISO I’ve used yet is 6400. It’s awesome and controls noise very well I would say. Low light shots tend to lend themselves to black and white conversion so I don’t mind the noise in this case as I typically add a little grain to mine anyway. The in camera BW settings are OK. There’s standard BW, BW with yellow filter effect, and BW with red filter effect. I’ve used all three and the contrast levels increase with each setting respectively…as you might expect. However, even with BW/red filter, I think it’s a little flat. On one hand, it kind of reminds me of BW film. On the other, I feel it could still use a little zest. You might be able to adjust contrast levels in camera while set to “in camera BW”, I just haven’t tried it. For what it’s worth, I do all my BW conversions in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Whether photography for you is a job, a hobby, or both, it’s supposed to be fun. I find using a DSLR can sometimes be trifling and frustrating trying to muscle my way through all the bells and whistles in order to take a picture. The X-E1 solved this conundrum for me. It’s discreet, pumps out serious images, super easy to handle, and is just a hoot to use…exactly what I was looking for. Epic. In the end, just like you’ve probably heard before, it’s not the camera, but the person behind it. And that person should be having fun using whatever camera ends up in his/her hands.

One last thing, after constant prodding by my friends and family, I’ve put together a website for some of my images. I certainly wouldn’t mind having some guests. Here it is: www.silverspectrumphotography.com

Thanks for reading!

Brian T. Adams

This first group of photos are straight out of camera jpegs with zero adjustments other than slight sharpening after resizing.

xe-1.downtown.sanfrancisco

xe1.chinatown.lady.1

xe1.empress

xe1.billiards.1-

This second group of photos are after black and white conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2.

hoop.guy.bw.web

bike.santacruz.1.bw.web

five.windows.2.bw.web

chinatown.lady.bw.web

fuji.lightroom.bw.edits-4

camo.guy.bw.web-

This third group of photos  include two images made with a 5DMKII and two were from the X-E1 just for comparison.

1st two are from the fuji

fuji.lightroom.bw.edits-2

fuji.lightroom.bw.edits-3

-

2nd two are from the Canon 5D MkII

redwoods.fog.4.grain.web

point.reyes.fence.2.web

  102 Responses to “The Fuji X-E1 is awesome by Brian T. Adams”

  1. great shots! I’m saving to buy one myself.

    • Thanks! I think you’ll like it as long as you take it’s limitations with a grain of salt. It’s OOC jpegs are unreal.

  2. I own the x-e1 and lost too many shots due to the lackish AF. This is so much frustrating, i like the camera concept but I feel like a hardly paying tester. I saved some months for the money to purchase it, so I am deeply p*ss*d.

    • Really?? I rarely miss shots due to the AF with my XPro. Maybe it’s you:)
      I think people need to lower their expectations about the AF. This Fuji X-E1/XPro1 are NOT DSLR’s and the AF will never be as fast.

      I still own a 5D2 so I didn’t buy the Fuji to replace my DSLR…I bought it to replace my M8….which had no AF at all….so my expectations for the AF were not high:)

      • As for me, I compare the AF of the X bodies to other mirrorless, not DSLR’s and the Fuji’s are the slowest of the bunch (well, I am not counting the Sigma DP series which is the all time slowest). When I say the AF is dodgy on the X series bodies I mean it is not as fast or accurate as competing cameras..NEX-6, OM-D, etc. The latest FW helped accuracy but I swear the speed got a tad slower – probably to make sure it is more accurate. The X bodies – X-Pro and X-E1 are as fast s they will ever be for AF. When the new X’s come out they will be much faster.

        • Hi Steve

          Hi do agree with you about the AF speed improvement the next versions will bring, with phase and contrast. Therefore, I think people dramatize too much the behavior of present cameras, even if there are a lot of opinions around in praise of the changes brought by the last firmware updates.

          My experience is limited to the X100 and I must say it’s AF was never a problem for and as a matter of fact I usually set it to MF and I use the AF/AL button. But I say this because I never expected X100 AF to be as fast as the one of a DSLR and for fast AF I just use a D700.

          Nevertheless, I was considering to buy a X-E1 or a X-Pro1 and I think my decision will be on hold until Fuji extends the new sensor and manual focusing possibilities to these models and maybe we’ll see it sooner than later as a lot of people may behave the same way and this can affect their sales.

        • Wow, I keep reading these comments on how slow the af is on these cameras. I own the x pro and x100 and find them both nearly instantaneous. Are you people shooting in the dark? As for quality my x pro is flawless. I also have a voigtlander 15mm the original version with no filter thread and I read about smearing issues. MINE IS PERFECT. I think some people read this stuff and just mimic what others say without knowing what they are talking about.

          • No, I happen to know what I speak of. It is when you actually shoot and compare everything else out there that the focusing quirks become irritating. If you do not know any better then it will NOT bother you. So to all of those who have not shot with the other cameras, it is not a big deal at all. It is what it is. It is not a bad camera at all, it is a beautiful camera. The results can be stunning. But they are also stunning with the OM-D, NEX-6 or 7, etc.

            I always tell people to go with their heart. Shoot what makes YOU happy and forget the rest.

            • No offense intended Steve. My x pro focusses as fast as my 5D I just sold. I’ve had lots of Canon slr’s and except for action shots it the equal of most of them except the 1D. And the files from the x pro are clearly superior to my 5D.

              • Are you talking about the original? Well the original 5D is a SLOW AF camera :) The original 5D had many who complained about slow AF, so this sounds about right. The Canon 7D, 1D, 5DII and III are all faster than the original 5D.

              • I own an X-pro1 and I have to admit, even my Nikon D40 with a zoom or prime lens focuses way faster. One thing I notice about the Fuji with the most recent firmware for the body and 35mm lens, half press of the shutter release results in pretty fast focus. However, when I press the shutter release all the way without pre-focusing using half shutter press, it seems to take longer.

              • Steve is right. I currently have a Canon 5D III and a OM-D E-M5. The Canon autofocus is incredibly fast. The hardest test was photographing my grandson playing soccer with a zoom telephoto while sitting right on the sideline. It nailed the focus almost every time even though the kids were running as fast as they could. The tracking focus was right on, not just close. The Olympus is also fast. Quick and useable in good light but slower than the Canon especially in low light, and right on most of the time but not as consistently as the Canon. I have used other mirrorless cameras and found them useless for kids or other moving things even in good lpght because the focus was so slow. The worst was the Canon G1X. The Canon DSLRs are also very poor at focusing in live view. If you have to shoot fast things close you will really notice the difference, if you only shoot static things or moving things at a distance the difference will be less noticeable.

              • I own both the 5D and X100, my 5D beats the X100 hands down AF wise, both in accuracy and speed. (not to mention IQ) if the sluggish xpro1 can’t even beat the X100, how in the world can it be faster than the 5D?? (btw the 5D2 has the same AF system as the original 5D)

                Being blinded by your purchase is one thing but don’t talk crap please.

              • As much as I loved the x100 for the great IQ and the looks, i could not justify keeping it. I shoot weddings with my cameras- (even the EPL1 + panny 14mm which I won on ebay for $175 goes to weddings….it has a few tricks up its sleeve :) ) and just too many AF misses on X100. The slow AF is not a problem, the not so accurate AF is the problem. The damn thing missed AF even on center AF on dead centered subjects. Missed by an inch or miss by a mile doesn’t make a difference. it missed so many times.Not acceptable for a 2010 camera.

                I sold it and bought a 5d MkI ( yes the old one in amazing shape ) and I’m over the moon. Beautiful smooth images ( I like its files better than the MkII which is my main camera 12MP files feels just right! ) and amazing BW with just a little work. The classic 5d is a great companion for my Sigmalux and probably the craziest deal on a FF DSLR ever!

                I am not shooting Motorsports so AF speed is fine for me although slow, the center AF point on 5d is accurate so I am a happy camper.

                I grew up with manual film cameras – Yashica TL Electro, Canonet 28, Minolta XD7 etc – so I can live with slow AF or no AF. But it has to be either accurate ( Nikon V1 or Olympus OMD Accurate! ) or give full mechanical MF override- both of which the fujis do not provide currently. I know a lot of people swear by their x100 but maybe you guys got a good sample and I got a lemon.

                But I have high hopes for X100s and will definitely buy it if its AF is at least as accurate as my el cheapo EPL1+ panny14mm. Dont care abt AF speed or new and improved fly by wire MF etc.

              • I guess this must all boil down to what you take pictures of and the time of day you take them. I have been a photographer for about 40 years. I started in 1073 shooting weddings with two mamiya C330 bodies. I did brochure and sports work with a Nikon Ftn. My first digital camera was a Canon 5d for weddings and a 1D the 4.6 megapixel one for sports,specifically night football games with a 200mm f 2.8. THAT is a sharp lens. So i would not expect my x pro to do the sports, but at the speed it focuses it would be in my opinion aspectacular wedding camera, but again if I were doing night concert photography it would be ill suited for that. So as with all things its just having the right tool for the job. To me a quarter of a second to focus whether in daylight or wandering the streets of my city in the evening is fast. I guess that is slow to some folks,

          • I own both X-E1 and Nex 6 and X-E1 is very slow. X-E1 takes good photo but it has slow AF. it is just a fact.

        • Due to the slow AF, the X-E1/X-Pro 1 are really beta-like cameras with very nice image quality. If the new sensor and features in the X100s are efficient and accurate, the next-generation of interchangeable lens X-Series cameras will be hard to beat. If they can improve the AF significantly with the hybrid AF system, the replacement for the X-E1/X-Pro 1 will likely be one of the best choices, if not the best, below full frame…Hopefully they are smart enough to introduce them soon!

      • Really? M8 is so fun to use though in a good light though with a fast lens :P. Plus 5Dmk2 is not a speed demon in the AF department so I am sure the XE1 focuses a tad slower only.

      • You post landscape and stills and one blured out old man – sry man, all you post is not the area where the fuji AF shows its real fat problems. Go shooting a kids Birthday or maybe your not still standing but slowly moving friends. hunting, hunting, hunting – 20%keeper rate at a maximum. This camera is positioned in a price range for amateurs that want to dig deeper, they get a really frustrating camera, tell the average user about zone focussing after they spent a load of money for a bleeding edge technology. Just sucks to death.

        • That guy spinning around in the hoop was, well…spinning. Pretty fast too and at night. Took about five shots of him. Didn’t miss once.

        • You need some lessons on how to use your camera. Mine focuses instantaneously, and I mean INSTANTANEOUSLY. This camera focuses fast enough for anything but sports. Have you loaded the latest firmware? Lets be honest about all of this. This camera is becoming popular with wedding photographers who charge people thousands of dollars for a once in a lifetime event. If it were what you say it is this would not be the case. I bought my X100 specifically to take pictures of my squirly grandaughter and I might miss 5% of the time. Hyperbole accomplishes nothing.

        • X-Pro and 35mm may not be as fast as the OM-D or NEX-6 but it is just as fast as the RX1 (faster from my comparison) and it gets the job done just fine. Less whining and more picture taking please.

          http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8384/8460963281_92ab651810_b.jpg

          http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8111/8462062036_2786d51a4a_b.jpg

          http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8107/8462061518_974f89e54b_b.jpg

          • RX1 has been far more accurate than X-E1 with 35 1.4 – I have had both as well. RX1 is a little quicker to lock as well. In fact, I have a video comparison I posted a couple weeks back showing both AF in lower light, Sony was a tad faster. But the more important thing is Sony has a 99.8% hit rate for me, the Fuji had far far less. Again, as always, I am talking about the 35 1.4 lens in lower light. In bright light they are just as fast as each other and the Fuji locks much better.

            • Point is, it is in the ballpark, you say the RX1 is faster, I found the X cameras to be a tad quicker (that was before the latest FW update). With the latest update, the 35mm is very accurate but maybe a little slower? I really can’t tell.

              For the shots that Brian posted, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two cameras in terms of how the AF would perform.

              Funny, how no one gripes about how slow the RX1 is but the Fuji’s are supposedly dogs compared to the OM-D and NEX. Give it a rest folks. Any of these cameras are more than capable.

              I’ve shot indoor basketball, outdoor lacrosse and low light concerts with the X-Pro and while it may not have given me the AF performance of a 5D or D800, it did wonderful and it had its own redeeming qualities.

              Kid’s birthday party? Piece of cake!

              • It’s funny isn’t it how many complain about AF speed on the X cameras. I’ve never really seen them as being materially different from the Sony NEX cameras in terms of AF speed (e.g. aside from low light, the E-mount 50mm has terrible AF IMO) and in some cases (the 14, 18 and 18-55) the X lenses are faster. I think people always pick on stuff with cameras. The whole nonsense about the clicking with the NEX-5N (a fine camera by the way) was the same, as is the current noise about the EVF in the GH3.

            • btw, I am a Sony shooter as well, A900, A850 and NEX-5N, so I’m not being a Fuji fanboy here.

              I’ve almost pulled the trigger on an RX1 but I’ve decided to wait and see what the FF NEX offering will be next year and hope for a truly pocketable large sensor camera in the new Ricoh GRD (rumored to have an APS-C sensor).

              The RX1 is, no doubt about it, amazing, but I think for most of us, the X-E1, NEX and OM-D cameras offer more value and flexibility for the dollar.

    • 50mm fast lenses will always be harder and slower to focus than zooms at 2.8 or above. With the 55mm f1.2 manual Olympus wide open breathing would affect the few mm plane of focus and a nikon 50 1.4 autofocus is slower IMO than other lenses on Nikon D600 and D 300 So what is a nominal 50 mm lens for – I would suggest careful considered photography not snapshots, sports etc. If you want a camera that does everything for you instantly and never misses a shot you might also want it programmed to tell you ‘I’m not taking that image because … ‘ Ok I am getting older, but slow down, take your time and come back with one or two really good images.

      One discipline some photographers use is to have an old film camera loaded with their favourite film and take one image each day and only one… And aim for 36 good images.

    • Personally I don’t find the Fuji X cameras slow and set up right they will match or exceed a NEX-7 (I own both a X-pro1 and a X100). For example, you need to use the default AF point size – do not shrink it (which is counterintuitive, but just try it if you have struggled with AF in the past). If you do that the 14, 18 and 18-55 are fast.

      The 35 and 60 are not fast, though the 35 is a lot better than when it started out (the 60 is also perfectly useable for portraiture – I’ve even used it to take pictures of cyclists and motorbikes on the move)).

      My X-Pro1 +35mm isn’t noisier and is more accurate in low light after the latest FW upgrades. I consistently find the Fuji X-Cameras more accurate in low light than my (now sold) NEX-7, which wasn’t great in those conditions (MF was the only option in those conditions).

      To anyone who says you cannot shoot Fuji X-Cameras in low light or the AF is rubbish, take a look at these pictures I took of a charity launch (all under low artificial light using flash): http://wp.me/p2wMAg-mt

  3. Great pics! I echo your experience with the Fuji (but in my case an XPro-1). My only small critique with respect to your photos is that I think the colour shots could have used a little less exposure. Normally I shoot my Xpro in AP with exposure compensation dialed in at -1/3. With that said I am at work on an uncalibrated monitor…Great pics though!

    • Thanks for the feedback. I agree with you…in even lighting situations during the day, I now have been using -1/3 to -2/3 dialed in all the time. When we were in San Francisco, the lighting was changing too much between shadow and bright light so I left it neutral. I lost a few shots because I forgot to go back to zero in the shade and they came out too dark. For what it’s worth, the monitors where I work are horrible, the make everything look overexposed!

  4. Brian,

    You find landscape photography harder than expected? Hard to believe when looking at the last two photos. I absolutely love them!

    We have a Fuji X-pro1 in out household. Unlike some users, I have nothing but praise for the AF, and it just keeps getting better with each firmware update. When reading write-ups from other users, it is like reading about a totally different camera.

    • …and done with the MkII DSLR. They are not all bad for the right use case.

    • Thanks for the nice comments! What I mean by “harder than expected” is that my keeper rate is pretty low compared to how often I go out with camera and tripod in hand. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast and why so few “make it” doing landscape work. I just did the AF firmware update but haven’t had much time to take the camera out. My opinion on AF of the X-E1 is clearly different than everybody else since I have nothing to compare it too…mirrorless wise anyway. Possibly a good thing?

      • Well, I do. I have a Sony nex and the Nikon 1 V1. The X-pro1 focus speed falls somewhere between those two. And the manual autofocus rocks! Instantanious snaps for street shooting.

        On an other note: I looked at your website. Stunning photos. You should enter the competition to win a Leica, that was announced here earlier. You would really have a shot imo.

        • Thanks Jan. I did…just got done entering them actually. :) Hard part is deciding which ones. The past winners of the BW competition both involved people. That’s a tuff one for me. I have very few people shots and they don’t have a ton of “impact.” Either way I’d be pumped to win that monochrom!! Probably have to sell my fuji just to afford a lens, haha! Anyway, thanks again for the comments, seriously.

  5. I’ve noticed that some of your images are taken in Santa Cruz CA! Nice!

    • You are correct! It was my first time there since I was a teenager…so almost 20 years. We had a great time!

  6. Thanks for your thoughts. Contrary to some reports here on Steve Huff’s website, to my eye, the X-E1 under-exposes – not over exposes. I’d say by about 1/4 to 3/4 stop, averaging about 1/2 stop under-exposed. I have been shooting jpeg and adjusting slightly with LR 4, as I was not happy with the RAW conversion in LR and SlikyPix has a terrible user interface. This compares to my Nikon D700, which seemed to over expose by 1 full stop in Raw. Those images required a lot more adjustment in LR.

    • The two X-E1 and three X-Pro 1′s I have had here seriously OVER exposed 80% of shots. Maybe there are differences between some of the bodies? Odd.

    • Yeah, possibly just differences between copies? Mine infrequently overexposes just a smidge. The majority of the time, though, the histogram is centered. Nowadays, I usually keep -1/3 to -2/3 dialed in just because I like the way it renders and to prevent the occasional overexposure.

  7. Just keep doing what you have been and you should no problems. Great set of images.

  8. Good article. Though I have to highly disagree with you on the fact that X systems lenses are better than Canon Ls or Gold Ringed Nikkors. Let me ask you this question… How come MAJORITY of professional photographers still use Nikon or Canon?! I owned M4/3rds systems, Leica M system, and NEX system and I still find my Nikon lenses sharper, practical, faster, and more rewarding. Well with exception of my Leica M8 & M6 shoot and experience is worth the admission ticket.

    NEX system comparable to X line of cameras. Was nothing to look at. If I wanted to higher image quality for larger prints, or high ISO performance I took my Nikon out instead of Sony.

    Than I got the OMD to replace the NEX. It was good but than again I went from D700 to D800. And image quality of a D800 blows the doors of any camera I have shot with. Requires great technique and top lenses. OMD wasn’t rewarding to use like my M cameras, and when I want digital practicality I reach for my D800, and higher ISO performance. I can make large prints and still have them be noise free.

    So I came to a conclusion. None of the small compact camera systems will replace the DSLRs not in the next 8 years at least, and Leica M cameras are timeless. My 6-7 year old M8 still chugging along and produces fine images.

    • DSLRs are light high performance cars. They are unbeatable in terms of performance. Also the control you have over DOF with a FF cam cannot be replicated with a crop sensor cam.

    • “So I came to a conclusion. None of the small compact camera systems will replace the DSLRs not in the next 8 years at least, and Leica M cameras are timeless. My 6-7 year old M8 still chugging along and produces fine images.”

      I will partially disagree with this. I DO agree that a professional or anyone willing to buy the “top-of-the-line” DSLR bodies and lenses (and know how to use them) would probably be disappointed with how the mirror less cameras perform compared to the top DSLR offerings. Where I disagree is when it comes to someone new to photography that would most likely start off buying an entry-level DSLR. For these entry-level photographers, I think today’s mirror less cameras offer a respectable alternative.

      • I do agree there too Jim I think most new photographers there is no point in a DSLR…especially buying one with a consumer zoom etc. One could get MUCH better experience with one of these Fujis and the very nice zoom that comes with it.

        • I just talked a good friend of mine (the one shooting pool above) out of buying a DSLR. He was going to make the same mistake a lot of beginners make – myself included. When a new person is searching cameras for the first time, it’s hard to beat the marketing beast. Especially when you have no idea what’s going on. To be fair, I’d have still ended up with my 5dMKII. A good friend of mine was selling it on the cheap!

    • I figured some folks would disagree with me on that claim I made about lenses. I can only speculate why the majority of pros still use Canon and Nikon. One thing I can think of is that these new mirrorless system are too new still and changing A LOT every year leaving pros not wanting to take the plunge since their incomes rely on their trusted and reliable gear. Durability would also be a concern. These things are tiny. The X-E1 definitely seems fragile to me compared to my 5DMKII. Let’s not forget about full frame sensors either! If I were a pro working in the field or on assignment, I would almost certainly stick to my Canon stuff (nothing against Nikon…just never used it). My claim was aimed at the lens itself, not the system. If I were to do it again, I would still get a DSLR but I’d put primes in front of it instead.

    • “None of the small compact camera systems will replace the DSLRs not in the next 8 years at least”

      That is exactly what it has done for an awful lot of people. Don’t you read the internet?

    • The main difference between the NEX system and the Fuji X system is that NEX has more lenses but the Fuji X system lenses that are available are of a greater build and image quality (I’ve owned both systems and am in the process of selling my NEX gear). IQ wise I would put the Fuji 35 up there against any 35 for APS-C or 50 for FF. The new 14 is also excellent and the 18-55 is one of the sharpest kit zooms there is.

      As to the point about DSLRs, I do think APS-C DSLRs are going to fall away over the next 5-10 years. Mirrorless cameras are smaller, have the same image quality and are more convenient. Nothing yet available has persuaded me that FF DSLRs are on their way out though (though you wonder if they’ll eventually shift to a “mirrorless” design while retaining the body shape).

    • As a working photographer, the absolute MOST important thing is the reliability of the bodies and how easy and quick is the turnaround if something does need repair. A Leica might take weeks to come back. Rangefinders are slower more contemplative cameras,and may need the rangefinder adjusted frequently for fast lenses but in the hands of skilled photographer who sets the hyperfocal distance to zone focus can be used for quick grab shots. But if you want shallow depth of field then focusing speed is of the utmost importance. That is where SLR’s like Canon or Nikon excel. Any modern camera is sharp enough for anyones needs. I print a lot and up to 16X20 which is normally as large as a typical wedding client would want something printed, pretty much any 10+ megapixel camera will do a professional quality job, as long as the sensor 1.6X or larger.

  9. I agree the XE-1 is a great cam. I would find it nearly perfect if the following:
    1) AF is as described. DSLRs are blazing fast compared to it.
    2) I worry about long term support of the XTRANS processor in terms of RAW support.

    I’d still like the same package with a FF sensor as well. Don’t think it’s possible but hey I can ask for it. Subject isolation with a FF sensor and an F/1.4 lens is much different than an APS-C with an f/1.4.

  10. I think Steve is right on (as usual) re the next iteration of X camera bodies. Fuji apparently has a very clever marketing strategy of improving just about everything, along with breaking some new ground (split image MF, etc) on their forthcoming X100s, and later letting these improvements “trickle up” to their interchangeable lens models. I suspect that a very large % of owners of the current versions will feel compelled to buy the much-improved bodies to go with the great Fuji glass they already have, so Fuji will get to sell lots more bodies to their old customers, and to lots of new ones who are waiting for faster AF and other improvements before plunking down their cash. ….. Smart moves, Fuji, sign me up for an XE-2 !!.

  11. Who needs autofocus if it causes so much stress.
    Prefer manual focus selecting the point of focus myself personally , but to each his own.

    • ditto! re the AF issue, I guess it depends on how one’s shooting habits are and how one defines the ‘useability factor’. I bought my xe1 with the 18-55 zoom to replace a canon 1Ds2 and recently acquired some great deals of a leica summarit 50 and 75, voigtlander 50 1.1 and a zeiss zm 21. never gone back to AF lenses. for the most of the times, i found myself never even used the magnification function and just focus right on with manual lenses. But again, for future FW update, I certainly can use focus peaking, if available.

      btw I’d highly recommend a thumbs up grip I found on ebay, which costed about 30-40 bucks.

      • I still think a lot of people never try the old or new MF lenses, like Leica, Voigtlander etc. All of their life are using AF lenses & cameras, I wonder why they never said Leica is no good, no AF, right, may be they just love the fame of Leica :o) For me, I like my X Pro1 more than my Nikon D600. I love Leica too, but cannot afford one yet.

        • true! I cannot agree more. I wouldn’t try leica if I hadn’t come across a deal I cannot overlook (paid roughly US$750 for a mint copy of the summarit 50). And absolutely love using MF lenses. Psychologically, I guess no one would say leica’s no good, as the name costs thousands of $$. Optically, I cannot say for all, but my experience is that zeiss biogon zm 21 is just as good as the leica elmarit 21 on the xe1.

    • People have taken great photos of their kids always ,maybe without autofocus we had to be a little more involved to be able to focus and click the shutter at the same time but its easy enough.What’s 100% sure is that manual focus is much more successful than slow autofocus and its much easier than you think and you might have more fun!

  12. Just wanted to leave a quick THANKS to everybody for all the nice comments. I was pretty nervous putting my images up on a public forum. You never what you’re going to get.

  13. My experience with the X-E1 has been really positive. I am new to mirrorless, and really started feeling my DSLR weighing me down. At age of 22 I was traveling the world with a Nikon Film camera and a pair of 2.8f zooms. Needless to say, as I aged I stopped enjoying that extra 10lbs of gear.

    My X-e1 seems only limited by my lackluster ability. I am sure there a faster machines out there, and I know fuji will catch up. But Generally, I have not been taking photos which require extreme speed. I guess growing up with film – originally using a Nikon Ftn/Canon AE-1 I was used to manual focus. Later, with my D200 and a broken auto focus I again used manual. For me, I think the subject matter I shoot tends to reflect the way I was brought up shooting.

    I find, that composing, getting f-stop right, choosing proper exposure, accounting for the variable light in the subject – and of course dreaded white balance, seem to take me a much longer time to set up than the focus itself. So in the end, I do love the idea that on my D200 I could just quickly snap snap snap. But I seem to not get particularly frustrated with the focus on the X-E1. When compared to all the other settings, it seems the fastest one to get on point.

  14. Hello Brian, The forest scene is enchanting! If you have only been doing this for one year, my hat’s off to you!

    • Thanks Bob! We got to that particular Redwood Grove with about an hour and a half of light left in the day. I was able to walk away with four or five comps I’m proud of, the one above being one of them. The light was soft and it was foggy. Couldn’t have asked for more!

      • It’s a beauty. Redwood groves in the afternoon and morning are as lovely as anywhere on the planet. Unlike many other lovely places, they also photograph well. I’m lucky enough to live in San Francisco so can get some redwood therapy in regularly. A good session makes me feel better for days. The giant sequoias of the Sierra have a different magic, more muscular, less misty and calm. They make me feel tiny. I find them harder to photograph.

  15. I have X-Pro 1. The two lens I have a the 60mm F2.4 and the new 14 F2.8. Along with my three Leica lens. As far as the speed of the AF, it is alot better with the lastest Firmware up grade. Believe me the 60mm F2.4 just would hunt around like mad and under low light, bad. But the new firm ware has cleaned up a lot of the focusing short coming from the 60mm F2.4, which is worist of all the lens for speed. For me it focuses faster then my old Canon 5 D 11 with the 100mm F2.8 IS Macro. My 14mm F2.8 focuses very quick, even under low light. Bottom line. Cameras are tools. Uses the best one for job. Or if you cannot afford more the one camera get something that is the best over all. In film a view camera is best for IQ. Very poor at 5FPS and messy. P.S. I really like the 14 MM F2.8 Fujinon lens-just got it a few days ago. If they come out with an X-Pro 11 or X-E11, I would still keep my X-Pro as a second body.

    And the pics, Nice!

  16. Hi Brian

    I really liked your article, and I read Rockwell’s site everyday. I agree with you – he is entertaining. I started with a Nikon D90, blew my brains out and got myself a Nikon D3X and spent a bundle on lenses. I got rid of all it to get an M9, and I have a 50mm prime. I find my pictures are better for it. I know exactly how you feel – I felt like a knob walking around with the D3X.

    A small camera is so much easier to walk around with.

    I really liked your forest pic and your 4 windows pic. If you’ve only been at it for a year – you’ve got a strong sense of composition. Thanks so much for posting!

    cheers

    jc

    • Yeah Rockwell is pretty outrageous. You gotta take him with a grain of salt. I do like his reviews of old vintage gear though (i.e. large format, medium format, old leica and canon gear) which is how I found his site in the first place. That old stuff is cool. Steve’s site is way legit for practical reviews though which is why I read it every day. Plus people put up a lot of rad images.

      I feel like a tool walking around with my 5dmkii in public. I love having a small camera, no matter the brand. I take it everywhere.

      Thanks for the nice comments! I’ve put countless hours into all this over the past year — it’s a shock my fiance hasn’t left me! It’s nice to hear that it isn’t all for not!!

      • A tool is a tool Brian, whatever he’s got in his hands. In other words, it’s all in the mind. I’ve never felt like a “tool” carrying my D700 with a 24, 28, 35 or 50 prime, and that old dog of a camera never gave me any of the worries I keep reading about with mirrorless. AF is a funny phenomenon; it’s not just when but also whe the focus is.

        I do admit a smaller camera (lets’s say FM2 or F3 size) has a strong attraction. But there is no substitute for full frame. The RX1 seems to come very close, but has no viewfinder. End of story.

        I like your take on photography and how you view your photography tools.

  17. Brian

    After looking at your images I will say that you have a sharpness issue. At this time I can’t say if it is focus related, camera shake, or defraction. So I will make a couple of suggestions.

    First, adjust your exposure so you are using a faster shutter speed. You probably remember the old rule of thumb to use a shutter speed that is 1/focal length. With modern auto everything cameras you will be better served with 1/2xfocal length. As there is a lot of delay built into many cameras once you press the shutter release.

    Second, avoid stopping down too much or too little. While it is apparent in some images that you are shooting wide open, others appear to be suffering from defraction which says you are stopping down too much. Most lenses perform best stopped down 2 stops from wide open, and once stopped down more than f8 all lenses are pretty much equally bad.

    Third, if you are shooting mostly hand held, brace yourself and the camera. When shooting wide open the slightest body motion will move your image plane from where you intend it to be. Wrapping your arms in your neck strap like a rifle sling will help steady your camera and be sure to hold your position until well after the shutter has closed. oh course, using a tripod is the best thing you can use for landscape and set up images.

    Finally, pay attention to how you press the shutter release. Many people are in the habit of moving their entire hand when they press the shutter and do not realize it. Some clench their hand tighter, others move their hands down or twist, and others do two or more different things.

    PaulB

    • Did you open each of the images individually or did you just look while scrolling down the page? If while just scrolling, I agree, they look a little soft. If you open them up individually, I feel they look much sharper. Also, they’re pretty low resolution since I sized them for Steve’s site although I did add modest sharpening after resizing. I did have a couple where the shutter speed was a little slow (ex: the lady walking by the Chinatown mural – this image is VERY slightly soft)…I usually try to go for a shutter speed of 1/2x(focal length) to be sure (1/2x50mm = 1/100). As far as stopping down goes, I rarely go higher than f11 to avoid diffraction. Without checking exif for all the images, I’m going to say I didn’t go over f8 on the images I posted above due to lighting. Thanks for taking the time for the advice! Turns out I use most of your techniques.

      • Brian

        I did open them to view the larger image. In fact I did it twice, once on a 24in monitor and on a Retina display. So aside from me needing newer glasses, which I do, it’s probably ok to chalk what I was seeing up to the down sampling and the unknown number of servers necessary to connect to the image.

        Concerning the Chinatown image, I liked that image and thought it was one of your strongest. I also like the bicycle and pool player images for your use of shallow depth of field, though it seems that something was not quite there; at least from this end of the wire.

        PaulB

  18. I am a X-Pro1 user, doesn’t face any miss focus issue after using it for 3 months. Learned and break through within the limit of this camera. Once you have understood the behaviour of this camera, you will appreciate it very much despite the superb IQ.
    Just purchase a XF 18mm f2.0 rather than zoom, i am more on Prime lens shooting experience.

  19. Hi everybody,

    i’m a XE1 user, but i still have a 5D MkII and a Leica D Lux 5: three different camera for three different use and so i really don’t understand all these discussions about AF velocity. I think that photographers, expecially non professional photographers, should be focused about images, subjects, projects and remember that HCB or Bruce Davidson or a lot of the greats didn’t have a perfect camera but just “their camera”.

  20. i dont care what camera you use mate, these shots are really nice.
    but i love the fact that fuji is so good with their compact cameras, and that made me to pre-order x100s.
    awesome!
    that even lead me to this great site.
    cheers.

  21. Thanks for sharing. Great images! Only one Q: where are the balconys and the 20someting-stories-building taken? Simply stunning.

  22. X is for eXciting and excited is how I still feel about my X-E1 three months in. Your photographs tell me how much you enjoy yours :)

    • Yeah Andy, I’m really happy with mine so far. It’s got shortcomings, I new it would. But they are minor in comparison to how fun it is to use.

  23. Brian, enjoyed your article very much. I have not seen many 1st hand reviews so thank you.

    Have the 35 1.4 and agree, very impressive. What other lenses have you considered?

    Thanks again,
    Brad

    • Thanks Brad. I loosely considered the 18mm f2 to maybe get some wide angle stuff going. Then I was thinking about that new 24mm (or whatever it is that’s about that focal length) that’s supposed to come out some time this year which will put it right at the 35mm equivalent. But, after using the 35 f1.4, I’ll probably just stick with it and call it a day. I primarily got this rig to get out into public and maybe get some street photos going. After using it for a while now, I like the 50mm equiv. focal length. It’s worked out great for me. And, I don’t want to get to where I’m lugging around extra crap and changing lenses all the time. I’m gonna fight the gear acquisition syndrome and just be happy with what I’ve got…and so far, I am!

  24. I too am in the minority who thinks that Fuji 35mm is not as sharp as some people say. I don’t have Canon and L lenses but I tested the Fuji against my D700 with 50 1.8G and 105 DC. Wide open Fuji is Sharper but stopped down just a bit and Nikons pull ahead by a quite noticeable margin, especially the 105 DC. My 105 DC is sharper at 2.5 than Fuji at 4.6. I tried AF and manual on a tripod to make sure that AF is not misfocusing. One advantage I found on Fuji over Nikon is that Fuji retains better colors at high ISO’s and has less noise(less noise however is because even at negative settings Fuji still applies noise reduction)

  25. Very capable camera indeed. I love the straightforward and simple composition of image 9. Your series makes us forget all these theoretical pixel-peeper discussions about demosaicing problems with the X-Trans sensor. Just get out and take pictures!

    Best regards,
    Wolfgang

    • My main intent was to try to remind everybody why we take photos/make images in the first place…because it’s fun. I sometimes use an old AE-1 Program I got off ebay a while back…no histograms, no auto focus, manual advance, manual focus, no frills photography. It’s fun. If we spend all this copious time bickering over “issues” we’re missing opportunities to get sweet images and ultimately the point. Like you said, just get out and take pictures! Thanks for the compliments (image 9 is the building and bush?), it’s one of my favorites!

  26. Brian

    You went with an airstream a great subjet for photography… where are the images?

    Your b&w images on your website are much stonger than your colour ones. Do you see the images as b&w initially or is it an afterthought?

    I like the sense of space you convey in some of your landscapes.

    The Fuji is a new camera and would be a significant change from your Canon. It does different things and has different limitations that you have to understand and live with. It seems half of those who have the fuji use manual focusing lenses so autofocus times are irrelevant for them and they seem to like using the camera. Shooting from a preset focus may be their answer. It used to be on Leicas and 35mm lenses

    I think for me i would have cropped some of the images and changed my viewpoint on others, but there are others where asking your self what did I see that made me want to take that image in the first place may help gain a better understanding of how to make a good photograph… Then ask yourself ‘did I get the image I expected?’ If not why not? If you did was there anything that would improve my image next time.

    Take the bar billards was there better timing, a better angle/ perspective that could make the image better? The nightime image with the man in combat jacket – what was it that you saw there? Was it the patterns of light and dark, the man walking through them or something else – I am left wondering.

    Anyone can TAKE reasonable photographs under reasonable conditions but to MAKE good photographs, especially under difficult conditions you need to work at it and explore the subject as professional photographers would do. A good image can be seen and taken on an iPhone, a Leica S2 or a large format 5×4 film camera. The quality of the image will differ significantly, the ease with which you can take it differs and probably what you do with it will be different.

    For inaspiration have a look at photographers old and new who have done road trips or documented an area and learn from them. Try Ghosts in the wilderness: Abandoned America 2003 by Tony & Eva Worobiec and for cities (both Paris) Robert Doisneau pre and post war and Eugene Atget from late 1800 to 1927.

    • I didn’t want to clog up Steve’s site with tons of my images. I initially kind of felt like I had submitted too many to begin with. I wouldn’t say I “see” in BW necessarily although I feel like I’m starting to possibly see in the “zone” system. I would say that I have every intention of converting every image to BW and then if it works in color I might try to play around with it. For some reason I just like BW.

      I also tend to like open or negative space images. When I’m outside in the middle of some wide open space, it tends to be the first thing I notice and typically has impact about how I feel about a place. So, I try to convey that if it adds to the image. I also like this from the standpoint that it makes post process easier. The simpler the image, the easier the edit SHOULD be — not always the case. I view post process as a necessary evil; I don’t necessarily like it. Possibly because I’m not well versed in Photoshop.

      I do think about the image right after I take it, some don’t do it for me while others do. Oddly enough, some of my favorite images are ones that I noticed while I was leaving. Meaning I had no intention of photographing whatever while I was there, but noticed it later. A couple times I was actually in the car driving off.

      The billiards photo is of my friend. We were pretty tuned up and I was playing around with the sweet DOF the 35 f1.4 pumps out. The lighting was good and it reminded me of an old gritty BW taken in some dive bar. I posted it mostly to demonstrate the shallow DOF abilities of the lens and because I think it’s a cool image; I didn’t put much more thought into it than that. I noticed the combat jacket guy was just standing there by himself in the middle of the night and it was unusually cold that night. I tried to capture his sense of being alone which is why I put him so far to the left of the frame. I think there was a car right in front of him which would have ruined that feeling. Maybe I conveyed that feeling, maybe I didn’t. That was my second day of ever trying to photo people with any sort of seriousness.

      Thanks for taking time to write all that and for the references to the books. I like reading about the “pioneers” of photography. I’m currently reading “The Art of Photography” by Bruce Barnbaum and “Inner Game of Outdoor Photograhy” by Galen Rowell. Both are fascinating.

    • Brian shared his work both here and on his website, would be good to see some of your work to go with the wealth of advice you were so kind to share

  27. AF speed is not an issue for me as I do everything manual focus anyway. It is quality of image and personality of lens that matter for my style of photography and looking at all the pics you offered it is clear to me that the 5D photos are the best. They have that “feel” that smaller sensors just seem to lack. These images have a sense of scale and depth and the Fuji pics just look too flat by comparison.
    Taken on their own they are very good but when you bring in the 5D then all bets are off.

  28. Yeah I agree with you on the 35, I was just going to stick with this lense because I love the performance and focal length so much. But I came up on a good deal on the zoom so I’m pretty much set for now.

  29. Solid post! Great sample images too! It looks to be an absolute beauty. I haven’t had much time with one – just a quite test, once, for a semi-review of sorts of my own – but seriously, camera’s like this one are rendering APS-C DSLR cameras pretty useless, in my opinion. I’m loving this Fuji X-Series!

  30. You are spot on when saying that photography is about having fun, regardless of what you decide to shoot, and you have captured some great moments and scenes. Thanks!

  31. Enough reviewers have commented about the slow AF of the X-E1, so I guess there must be something to it – although it hasn’t bothered me with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens.

    That being said, different horses for different courses. I have an X-E1 and it works crazy good for the images that I take … mostly scenic and landscape, and a few of my kids (when they’re not running at Mach 10).

    Here is a link to some of my favorites, all OOC jpeg’s with minor tweaks in Aperture 3 and Nik software:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mauiholiday/sets/72157632263045303/detail/

    The X-E1 might not be the quickest draw, but image quality is hard to beat.

  32. It seems that the Fuji’s are evolving cameras, and that every firmware change renders what people think about them. I bought my x 100 soon after release and it is now a different camera as far as focusing speed and other more minor issues. But my X pro is only a month or so old and the camera and images it produces are nothing short of spectacular. It has shutter speeds and f stops and an old school feel. I tried an M 8 a while back but for me there were too many issues with having to use filters on the lenses, inacurate focusing with fast lenses, and just basic reliability issues. And the Fuji files and lenses are easily the equal and in some respects superior to the Leica, and to my eye have a richer feel than the files from my 5D. I can carry a voigtlander 15mm, and Fuji 35 and 60 mm lenses in a small bag.
    I personally have found Nirvana. Good shooting.

  33. People are so lazy.

    Google hyperfocal technique. Google zone focus. Google depth of field.

    In other words, manual pre-focus.

    Way faster than any AF, camera is always ready. You’ll never miss a shot, ever.

    If you want the cam to do everything for you, you deserve whatever shots you get.

    Whole lotta photographic techniqe knowledge out there accumulated before digital (or even AF) came along.

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