Feb 122013
 

alexanderfujireview

USER REPORT: Fujifilm X-E1 review and tests 

By Alexander Hessentswey – Follow him on twitter

 

Good time of the day, dear readers of Steve Huff’s great site!

I’d like to share with you some impressions about Fuji X-E1 which I’ve got recently.

UPDATE: I’ve added info about firmware updates 1.04 (body) and 2.02 (35mm f:1.4). What to check and how to address issues, see below.

When I first took X100 in a shop to test a little, it said me:

— I’m a retro obscure thing, and you will not shoot with me, I promise.

At first X-Pro1 told me:

— I’m a big serious pro-priced thing and you cannot focus with me that easy.

But the second time it told me:

— Look, I state I’m Classic and feel like a real camera, but don’t be afraid. You’ve not just got used to me, you are not attentive enough. But that’s a matter of time.

When I first took in my hands X-E1 it told me:

— You are at home. You are a little confused, but we can photograph together and you will like me very much.

And the 35mm f:1.4 said: — I am THE lens.

So I had to try.

First time I worried – can I shoot with Fuji X-E1 just like I can with the Panasonic G1? Maybe I can’t shoot good enough with anything but the Panasonic (I’ve gotten used to it) and that means I have to stay in the system and get a GH2 or GH3. I know there is compatibility much like it happens with lovers or friends or co-authors. There can be a camera or lens incompatible with me  (as Jupiter-37A) — it can be great or high-grade but I can’t do anything with it. But when I saw pictures from X-Pro1 and X-E1 in reviews I was blown away like several years ago with Lumix G1 and later with Panaleica 25mm f:1.4. So X-E1 couldn’t come out of my mind. And I feel this is the time to try anything else and to be clear — this Fuji.

So I really had to try.

Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 1.4, ISO640, multiple exposure)

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Tair-11 f:2.8 133mm, ISO200)

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At first it was clear that Panasonic with its pro DSLR-like controls is superior in ergonomics. But most of the Fuji’s annoyances disappeared in about a week or two when I tried to know the camera better. Some things were done in the other way, some were not so important.

So the things that stayed are: slow autofocus and operations (not so slow in some conditions — see below), a lack of 3-4 buttons for quick access to important settings, and… mostly unusable auto-ISO that have lost custom shutter speed limit somehow. (At the moment of writing we were waiting for the 1.04 firmware, by now autofocus accuracy and speed were improved, read below.)

The camera has some quirks sometimes, but every camera does.

Anya in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, ISO500)

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Don’t use Quick Start mode, it eats the battery. Learn what’s Dynamic Range 100%, 200%, 400% before using. Try various focusing modes and focusing area sizes. Always check the shutter speed when you are in auto-ISO mode. Shoot either JPEG (which is very good) or choose the appropriate RAW-converter (more on RAW apps in X-Pert corner) and check halftones and colors — but really, give the out of camera JPEG a try, it’s one of the best out here.

Fuji tends to set you a +1 stop ISO value because it tends to overexpose 1/3 to 1 stop, while preserving the highlights, however. Make sure you prefer the exposure set by your camera, or if not add the exposure compensation -1/3 or more, or set the ISO value by hand. As with every camera, try to keep ISO as low as possible, but not ISO100 (it’s artificial pull-process from 200). Noice reduction may be a little bit too aggressive, so in a good light prefer -2 and in low light check what works better: 0 or -2, it depends. Post processing will give you better sharpness control so +1 can be used only in good light (and mostly isn’t recommended). For better details you can try Sharpness -2 (sic!) and compare with 0. If you want good details, try to stay inside ISO 200-800 or 200-1250. But it’s Fuji, so don’t be afraid to enlarge ISO up to 6400 and more if the shot needs it – chances are, you’ll get quite usable and fair detailed photo.

The Boundaries and How Do We Cross Them

Fuji is not for reportage nor sports. Not really… ?

UPDATE: The sports and reportage sections were written about old firmware experience, by now autofocus will be more snappy and fast.

In sports shooting the totally bad thing is a slow camera, a missing focus on subject., missing focus on your subject. One thing I can not do is rely on this autofocus. Indeed, I shoot manual glass for several years and why should I now autofocus? I’ve mounted some film lenses (135mm and 50mm) and that time Fuji shined! Quick operation while focusing, not so bad 5 RAW shots per second, not so small buffer so Fuji became a quick camera. I’ve lost several shots but mostly because of facial expressions or gestures than of focus missing. Good. (And when you set a shutter speed and an aperture manually you may allow Fuji to set exposure suggesting ISO.) I’m more than sure when I’ll get used to the camera, I will be able to shoot more quickly.

Shooting with manual lens, in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Leica Summicron R II 50mm, ISO3200)

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In reportage you need to be quick. But in a good light and in some modes Fuji can focus relatively well. When I’ve used it in the real life situation I’ve missed just a couple of shots and again mostly because of my errors than of Fuji’s. You should check the light conditions, use expocorrection if needed and probably correct white balance a little. Check focusing and compare 1-zone with multi zone. If you choose 1-zone try to make focusing area smaller, try to switch to Macro mode.

You can check various film emulation modes and I’ll advice to use 2 or 3 per reportage or stick with BW or Astia or Normal, but don’t use film modes bracketing in sports or reportage.

The other things you may use are some manual lenses – and that’s when Fuji will also allow you to be quick. What can be very important is your ability to stay almost invisible. X-Pro1 and black X-E1 look like relatively small old film cameras, and black+silver X-E1 is even more retro while staying hardly visible. So I can’t say which version will make you less visible actually, may be, the black+silver one looks less serious and is quite opposite to large fullframe DSLRs — you don’t look as journalist and it’s very good.

Meeting in Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Tair-11A f:2.8 135mm for M42, ISO200)

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So — Fuji is not for sports nor reportage… but you can use it for these genres and get great results!

Firmware update 1.04 and (35mm) 2.02 — how to install and what will be improved

Fuji have recently released firmware updates for X system cameras and lenses.

There was a lot of buzz about 2.02 not updating properly so I’ll tell you what I know. The typical situation when AF accuracy improves but AF noice and speed degrades usually combines with the situation when firmware version was somehow 2.01 and so the 35mm lens wasn’t updated. Fuji tells you to update BOTH body and lens firmware for autofocus improvement — it was tested that 1.04 WUTHOUT 2.02 causes AF noice, but WITH 2.02 works good. I guess in some interval of time there was 2.01 pre-release on Fuji site and it says that all was updated while it wasn’t.

How to update:

Download the new firmware from Fuji’s site: X-E1 1.04 and 35mm 2.02. Read the version numbers there and if you are still seeing something earlier than 1.04 or 2.02 respectively, it’s browser cache problem or something else, but the download links can be incorrect, too.

Make sure the battery is charged. Copy both firmware files to the SD card root. Insert the card into X-E1 and press and hold DISP button, and then, while still holding it, turn on the camera. It will tell you the firmware versions. Start to update the lens firmware to check which is the version inside update. If it’s not 2.02, DON’T INSTALL. Now cancel the installation (or turn off the camera then turn on again while holding DISP button.) The same way, begin to install the body firmware and check if it’s 1.04. If it’s not 1.04, DON’T INSTALL. So, to be clear, Fuji tells us, we should either install firmware both for body and lens or not install at all. Installation is possible only if both updates are in correct versions — that’s easy. So if you check the lens new firmware version, see 2.02, than check for body firmware version, see 1.04 — go on and install firmware for body and for the lens.

With other lenses or X-Pro1 body do the same, just find the firmware on Fuji’s site. Fuji tells us to remove zoom lens from body before updating the body firmware. I have no zoom and I guess it’s not about fixed lenses.

First impressions after updating

So I made sure the versions are correct and all was fine. After some testing I see significant improvement over the autofocus accuracy and speed with 35mm f:1.4 (the only system lens I have), I’ve tested it in the same very conditions in which it focused slowly and failed time to time with the old firmware. Now I had no problems focusing and the camera becomes relatively fast (except for totally non-contrasty objects in really dim light which can be difficult for most of the cameras) and not a hyper-snail like it was before. For me, it makes X-E1 much more acceptable in real life using. And I tell about its great image quality and other strong sides in other sections.

Read more: Steve Huff about new firmware

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And Home Again

If you shoot portraits, Fuji X-E1 is the portrait camera. It can paint landscapes as natural-looking scenery or in bright expressive colors if you choose so. It’s landscape camera. It’s great for architecture, too. And it can do macro. And still life scenes. It is very good for street photo, too and its monochrome photos are great.

In Moomin cafe bar, Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Leica Summicron R II 50mm, ISO2000)

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Portraits

Fuji gives a lot of halftones so it can do smooth and delicate portraits. Something unusual to me, and very pleasing.

While there is no portrait lens in lineup by now, anything like an 85mm f:1.4, Fuji has 2 lenses that can be used for portraits: bright 50mm f:1.4 (initially 35mm) and macro 90mm f:2.4 (initially 60mm), not so bright, though. Both lenses show plenty of details, are soft enough and non-aggressive, and have a portrait rendering. You can use any 50mm (will be 75mm on crop — that’s better for portraits than 50mm) and portrait lens also and Fuji will do its best to help you in manual focusing. UPDATE: And we know the 85mm f:1.4 is already in the roadmap for this year, so things will become even better.

Lerka (in Moomin cafe bar), Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.5, ISO400) 

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Both Normal/Provia and Astia film emulations can be used for portraits, and Pro Soft and Pro Contrast also in some conditions. Fuji has very good skin tones rendering. I’ll write more about concert photography later. Fuji allows to photograph at high ISO. Here is a portrait from a concert:

Alla at Umka & Borya rock concert, Books and Coffee club, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Yashinon DSM 50mm f:1.4, ISO1600)

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The Fuji S5 Pro was a great portrait DSLR. It was criticised for not so good details, little too soft. X-Pro1 and X-E1 feel quite as good also and address the details issue – at this time, details became great. (Some people pointed to several situations when S5 Pro has more accurate colors and the other moments when X-E1 does better.) So you can choose to get very sharp image or soft portrait if you wish.

Anya the White Rainbow (books illustrator), in Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.5, ISO6400)

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Monochrome

While Fuji’s sensor isn’t actually monochrome (sensor in Leica Monochrom does), it can produce really great monochrome files. A lot of halftones and good dynamic range allow you to choose between dynamic and contrasty BW image and soft one.

Fujinon lenses are very good not only in colour rendition but also in BW, giving clear and almost classic look.

Out of camera JPEGs can come in BW, BW+yellow filter or red or green, or in Sepia (which is somehow softer than others). It gives you many shooting variants and you even are not forced to get and use the glass filter (so you don’t lose light on this).

And you can do a film bracketing. Or shoot in RAW+JPEG and develop the shot just inside the camera trying other flim emulation modes and contrast variants. Also, you can shoot in colour (Normal) and BW and then develop colour shots in Silver Efex or Exposure or other app (comparing it with out of camera BW). You will be able to get dramatic and interesting pictures.

Smile (in Moomin cafe bar), Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, ISO2500) 

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Landscapes

Fuji is very good in the leaf and grass colors, also with sun rays shining through. And yes if you wish night scenery or architecture, it can paint great images also. Just try to get natural colors. Or you can choose bright and vivid, too. I like Fujichrome Provia and Fuji Pro films colors and X-E1 colors too.

Moscow, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 1.8, ISO2500)

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200)

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t state that you can’t get great photographs from other cameras. Let’s compare with Panasonic G1 from the same walk:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent at 5.0, ISO100)

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I can tell you I’ve used DR100%, 200%, 400% and auto. And 200-400% produced some nice and interesting results. But yes 200% means 400ISO and 400% starts from 800ISO, and, of course, you can get the same results for yourself if you underexpose a stop or 2/3, shoot in RAW and then lighten shadows and all image. (More on this on X-Pert corner.)

Here is another one from Panasonic:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Panasonic G1 with Panasonic 25mm f:1.4 Leica-labeled, 50mm in equivalent at 10.0, ISO100)

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And from Fuji:

Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200)

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X-E1 is just the photocamera. It doesn’t feel absolutely like a professional camera, while it is professional. And it’s not small. And not big. Nor it’s Premium Award-Winning Best Camera Ever. And not High-End made of marble. Not the cold old film SLR with no auto functions (except for expo metering, may be) waiting you to know everything and do everything by hand. Not the high-tech plastic computer with WiFi, user tips ‘I’veForgotWhatIsShutterButton’, multilevelled menus, pop-art+trash-camera+clip-me-all-colors modes, highlighted controls and 3 games. Not the silly cam to occupy the place in its category and kill all others by low prices. Not an ordinary camera just like any other only pretending to be cool and retro. Not a true rangefinder. Not the black silent thing with 3 innovations and weird colours.

It’s just the camera. It has easy classic control wheels. It’s just waiting for you to go out and photograph. You will need a little patience, you’ll want to learn it better. It doesn’t expect you to be a professional and it’s not for complete beginners. It will not swear to delete all noise and be ideal. But it tries to do its best and God knows it is awesome. Don’t expect it to be ideal and it will give you much more than you are waiting for.

My favorite reviews of the X system (use Google Translate to read texts):

from riflessifotografici.com

from Podakuni

Vasilyevsky island, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 2.0, slow 1/20s, ISO200) – notice the wings behind the man

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Petropavlovskaya castle, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Fuji X-E1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f:1.4 R at 10.0, ISO200) – and now two silhouettes from animation or an old story

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Sincerely yours,

Alexander Hessentswey from Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Fuji X-E1 is available at B&H Photo in all kinds of configurations 

  76 Responses to “USER REPORT: The Fuji X-E1 camera review by Alexander Hessentswey”

  1. All looks very good indeed except when you compare with other camera’s…

    Fuji seems to be cheating with the iso readings… e.g. iso 3200 on the fuji = iso 1600 on Sony Nex

    • Indeed, if you compare accurately using the same exposure, it gives ISO in +1/3 or +2/3 compared to more realistic values. ISO3200 is more likely 3000 or 2900. But I say that for me in the real situations with some particular lightning conditions X-E1 is exceptionally good, when I don’t read ISO settings. Or when I read. It’s not important.

      • That wouldn’t be a problem if it only would be 1/3 or worst case 2/3 but if I check the images at dpreview (or image resource), the shutterspeed of nex-6 iso 3200 is at least double of the fuji at 3200 ? (that’s a complete stop!)

        • No. It isn’t a scientifical comparison. Every camera has its own ISO metering, ’cause you can’t ask developers to use the same exposition metering rules. Please take a look at this text: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2012/09/why-iso-isnt-iso.html
          So let’s say NEX tend to slightly underexpose. Some fullframes don’t and some do. But well, let’s assume NEX is ideal. Fuji tends to overexpose 1/3 to 1 to 1 2/3 stops, depending on the particular scene. I find this good in most cases and not so good in the other so expo correction wheel helps us. Plus, Fuji draws ISO 1/3 to 2/3 stops higher than it really gives. So we have overexposed shots with +1/3 ISO numbers resulting in +1 stop for ISO. If you use the same lens and the same manual exposure and the same ISOs and use the other camera which is absolutely neutral in exposure metering, you will get completely different results. Several humans did so and they get 1/3 to 2/3.

          But I must say it’s totally irrelevant for me. I measure ISO completely the other way.
          I go to the concert in the same club (+same scene) or go to the same kitchen so I get the same light as before. I see the scene and expect too much noise losing the details. In this time I use the different camera — X-E1 and get much more acceptable image with greatly reduced noise and keep the details. And I don’t read what ISO is now — I can remember what ISO I set on the other camera. For both that value (if I used it on Fuji) and Fuji’s value the results are really good for me.

          Take a look at my concert shot. It was really dark out there.

          • Thanks for the explanation!… every site claims very good high iso on x-pro1 & x-e1… thanks for nice response!

            Next week I’m gonna buy me some gear… and terrible deciding between om-d, nex-6 and x-e1 :-)

          • Another question if I’m allowed…

            How about manual focussing with the x-e1? Is this easy enough? (like with the Nex-6, om-d I don’t know)

            Thx!

            • One thing — no focus peaking. (I guess X-E2 will have one and also digital pseudo-rangefinder, like X100s does, take a look at it.)
              In the other ways X-E1 is well adapted for manual focus and manual lenses. It gives delicate and high quality images with old optics, both in BW or with interesting and natural colors. You can enlarge part of an image with wheel click. And you can choose the magnification area quickly by pressing one button and then arrows, and here are two more shortcuts – the middle button (SET) for the middle, and moving outside the focus areas matrix returns you to the opposite side. And Fuji has built-in chip that we call dandelion, on logical level — you can specify the lens focus and get it in EXIF. But, unlike some Canon and Nikon SLRs, Fuji and Lumix function correctly without dandelion chip on the adapter (with TTL exposure metering, I wonder why some DSLRs can’t work in A, S or P modes without a chip in the lens). So this is generally for the reference, everything works fine in any case, will you specify the correct focus distance or not. Just check the shutter speed isn’t too slow.
              When you use native system lens, it shows you not only the distance but also current depth of field on the scale. The bug is it shows the fully opaque scale that occupies the bottom of the screen (hindering the shot framing), and this scale doesn’t disappear even if you use manual glass so that camera don’t know on what distance the focus is. You can totally hide it or show it (for manual mode). So if you don’t need it for manual focusing or if you use manual focusing mostly for manual lenses, just turn off the scale.

    • From :

      It’s a paradox that despite all the flaws the shooting with X100 is truly a pleasure. If the owner accepts its weaknesses and copes with them, the camera rewards him with nothing but benefits.

      © Miroslav Mosko

  2. Great write up Alexander, and that last photo is wonderful.

    • Thanks! It’s one of my favourite places in my beloved city. Petropavlovskaya castle has its own crisp and light air.

  3. Thanks for your report. I don’t own the X-E1, but The firmware upgrades have substantially improved the X-Pro1 with 35mm focus speed and accuracy in my experience. It seems to me that the X-Pro1 is quite sensitive to camera motion (perhaps because I’m more used to shooting cameras with stabilization) and therefore requires steady hands and smooth shutter release for both good focus and image sharpness. I still really like the X100 for the feeling of freedom and the X10 for lightweight travel. I use Fuji cameras when I want those Fuji colors.

    • That’s true. I thought about X10 or X20 as another camera for less serious shooting, but it’s far in the future.

  4. Alexander, These are terrific shots. The last one and the photo of Petropav. castle are fantastic images.

    Thanks for showing us what your vision is and how you made the Fuji work for you. I’ve got an X10 on the way, and if I’m comfortable with its functions and the ‘voicing’ of the images, I’ll look to the X-E1, as I found that body easier to handle and quicker to change functions.

    • Thank you! Petropavlovskaya castle is beautiful and calm place.
      X-E1 isn’t that easy but it really can make great photos.

  5. 6th from the bottom… amazing photograph. Great work.

  6. Beautiful photos! Thanks for your report Alexander: I’v got my Fuji X E1 3 weeks ago and some of yours suggestions will be very useful for me. I have a 18-55 and a 35 mm Fujinnon . Do you think that a Leica 50 mm. summicron can make sense for me on my X E1 ?

    • It will be most obviously make sense for you. I enjoy shooting with it very much. It gives me the look and background rendering that I need. Fuji X-E1 goes with it very good indeed.

  7. Great review. I love the monochrome shots.

    • I think of walking in Saint Petersburg with monochrome film emulation for a week or too, soon. And with film camera + Ilford, also.

  8. Great review Alexander. After using the X-E1 for a few days, it reminds me a lot of when I started photography in high school with film cameras. It just invites you to use it more, and partnering your vision.

    What’s your view on the range of lens best fit for X-E1? I’m more excited about coming 23mm, SLR Magic and older lenses from Leica.

    • Steve Huff likes SLR Magic. I dislike their lenses, however, for inaccurate and rough colour and backgrounds. It’s my personal opinion.
      I wait for Fujinon 85mm f:1.4 in equivalent. May be I need 35mm too (initially 23mm).
      Old Leica lenses are totally beautiful. I’ve got Elmar 5cm f:3.5 and it’s just one great lens, but I have no adapter for m39 by now. Look at Leica R lenses also.
      And some Soviet ones: Tair-11, Volna-9, Jupiter-3, which I’ve mentioned. Look at the picture at top, it shows one native Fujinon and the whole system from M42 (including Yashinons).

      • I like SOME SLR Magic lenses and dislike others. I like their 50 T 0.95 for Leica mount as it is gorgeous and beat out my Leica Noctilux 0.95 for detail, bokeh, etc. I like their older and very cheap toy lenses for fun lenses and I like their 35 T0.95 fir mirrorless. The rest are good but not WOW GREAT. Their 50 T 0.95 full frame lens has amazing color and bokeh. The 35 T 0.95 has great color and Bokeh as well. Their cheaper lenses like the $279 35 T 1.4 has a little bit of off color though.

        • Yes, you know your gear, and you can take interesting shots with SLR Magic. But, Steve, you will not argue about that, Leica lenses give you better results.

          • Like I said, the 50 T 0.95 full frame Leica mount lens was just and every bit as good as the Leica Noct 0.95 when comparing my copies side by side. I preferred the Bokeh from the SLR and the sharpness. It also had much less CA. Other than that one lens, of course Leica lenses are much better. Never said any different, ever :)

            http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/01/28/the-slr-magic-50-t0-95-in-the-studio-noctilux-vs-hyperprime/

            • I will agree for this one.

              Haven’t tested anything faster than 1.4 yet. May be, f:0.85 in one fine day?

              • Thanks again Alexander for the review and comments.

                I was planning to get either 23mm or 35mm T 0.95 from SLR Magic based on reviews so far. But might wait till I see how well the new X100S (23mm f/2 fixed) performs first.

                I don’t how some people can criticize anyone else’s choice of camera gear. We all know there’s no perfect camera anywhere…

              • I can criticize some criteria of choosing gear. Not the choice itself, yes.

                So I write what works for me (only an opinion, nothing more) and you see what is good for you.

  9. Great review and lovely shots,

    I’ve had one for a few months now and have some shots here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/f_l_e_t_c_h/sets/72157631812572248/

    Has anyone used the 14mm f/2.8, it’s just become available after significant delays from Fuji in Jakarta.

  10. I love these photos. They are beautiful… but after looking at the files produced by the Sony RX1, I sense that I could tell that the RX1 has better image quality. Steve, I would love for you to post a blind comparison between the Fuji X-E1 and the Sony RX1 and then poll us to see if we could tell which is which. (My own unscientific opinion feels as if the Fuji cameras have a stiffer, less dynamic profile than the the buttery smooth RX1.)

    • You are correct. I shot them side by side for weeks and the fuji fell flat in comparison to the (much more expensive) RX1. I posted some comparisons that I got trashed for, lol. But reality is reality. The Sony has a richer, more 3D, less flat, more buttery and syrupy image than the Fuji which is nice but a bit flat, duller and as you said, less dynamic. I am addicted to the RX1 IQ. After months of use it has yet to let me down with even one photo I have taken with it.

      • Your comparison was great, resulted in the fact I now own both the XE1 and RX1. (Not something that my wife is so happy about since these cameras, especially the RX1 are pretty darn expensive). Still love both of them, dont really favor one over the other. Images from the RX1 are pretty darn nice and sharp but that optic is just a killer. Lets see what the new Zeis optics for the X mount bring us. I have big hands so the OMD was just too fidly to hold. Focus speed is good enough for me (the RX1 is also not really a speed demon).

        However there is one point I HATE about the RX1…… accessories! Sony is charging us so darn much for every little thing. For that money I still think that the optional evf should have been included, now I had to buy it separately and donate my other kidney ;).

      • For me, the more fair comparison will be X100s vs. RX1.
        Both will come far from me, I have no money for something like RX1 and no need in Sony colors, even those from RX1 and no need for single built-in wide angle fixed lens. You, Steve, prefer something between 35mm and 24mm. For me, the best fixes are 85mm or 100mm and 50mm. So that’s it. RX1==Sony colors, no 50mm or 100mm, not for portraits (it’s too sharp and aggressive and 35mm isn’t a portrait lens), not for distant subjects, not for old film optics. Only scenery and architecture. As you see, I shoot portraits. I can’t travel with a camera that can’t be ready to shoot portraits in every single moment – except for placing the subject near the middle of the frame and shoot portrait in context. (And wide 35mm for fullframe don’t give a portrait lens on any crop — honestly, I’ve tried.) I can’t use only one 35mm for street photo. The quality for portraits is not the same thing as detalisation or overall quality. RX1 is basically not for me.

        With that said, I must tell you I’ve really enjoyed the quality of RX1 shots (not colors) which are much better than those from NEXes.

        And I feel that quality of X-E1 is enough for me so I will not compare (I don’t feel it’s worse) — I will just enjoy shooting and seek for interesting scenes, if you agree.

  11. awesome photo,love the one in the moomin cafe between and old man and kids…look like XE-1 can produce great work in right situation…this review really enforce my interest even more but still do not remove my worry on buying it..great review though

  12. And now the question: why russians like niche decisions so much (Opera browser, ICQ, etc).

    • Opera is gone now, it will be on WebKit. The most Russia residents (not just Russians by nationality) I know prefer skype now, not ICQ. Is it niche system or not? (Some are on googletalk also.) I know several human beings from Russia who use or prefer Panasonic G1 to G3 or GF. And little less who use Olympus. Others are with NEXes, Nikon and (less) Canon DSLRs and Canon compact cameras. These are also exclusive devices, yes? And 70% use cameraphones. I know those with Zenit+Helios 44-2 just because it’s Russian camera quite ordinary and very cheap used, still remaining film SLR. And I know noone with Leica (and there quite a few out here) because we must work for 18 years to buy one.

  13. Something about the X-E1 produces very impressive B&W images, perhaps the X-Trans Sensor or no AA filter. Using Flickr interestingness as an admittedly flawed barometer the “Most Interesting” shots according to Flickr’s algorithm are 90% monochrome and the NEX7 is virtually all color

    Page 1 of interesting with the search term:

    FUJI X-E1:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?s=int&ss=2&w=all&q=fuji+x-e1&m=text

    SONY NEX7:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?s=int&ss=2&w=all&q=Sony+Nex7&m=text

    Any thoughts?

    • …And look, for NEX there’re mostly HDRs or other wild colors. Except for swans.

      May be, they get a rangefinder-like camera and try to achieve that rangefinder-like BW classic look?

  14. “Fuji is not for reportage nor sports. Not really… ?”

    I agree about sports but think it’s well suited to reportage. I understand your reasons but they’d also apply to a Leica M series camera which is the weapon I’d love to be able to choose for that purpose. I’ve enjoyed using the 18mm (28 equiv) for those purposes and I’ve enjoyed getting close and getting results in intimidating environments.

    It’s easy to overstate the focusing issues of the X-E1 and X series cameras. In general, they aren’t as good as other similar cameras (OMD is the only thing I have real use knowledge of) but my most frustrating lost shots have been portraits candid or otherwise in dim lighting. For story telling or documenting moments I think it’s good, better than my a900. I think it focuses accurately but hunts in low light.

    • It depends…

      If you’ve read the next paragraphs, I state that the camera CAN shoot reportage. And I say that you can use manual lenses or you can use autofocus (it usually works, too) — and take great shots.

      One thing… people want the loss-free autofocus at lightning speed so it they insist on the best camera on market, the fastest one won’t be obviously a Fuji. That’s it. You need a tool and you get it. If you have X-E1 you can shoot reportage. If not, you can choose anything faster if the speed is in your priority. I shoot events mostly (63%) with manual lenses, however.

      • I still choose my DSLR for reportage, journalism, and documentary. It is not discreet but fast and gets the job done. If I want discreet I grab my Leica. Film or digital with only one lens a 35mm :P

        • Yes I agree with you. When you just can’t allow yourself to be visible, you take something rangefinder-like or compact-like. If you need speedy and accurate focus, it can be Olympus OM-D or Lumix GH or SLRs. Now I feel I can shoot reportage either with quick or with slow camera, I just need it to give me interesting and dramatic results.

  15. Последняя фотография красивая!!!!!!

    • Thanks! I’m glad that at least one.

      Спасибо! Хорошо хоть как минимум одна.

  16. Great write up. I bet that camera costs an arm and a leg in St.Petersburg. I know Apple products are like 2x the price vs US. I was born in Moscow, but I haven’t been back there for almost 2 decades. Some day I will get around to going back. St.Petersburg reminds of Seattle where I live now. Gray, foggy, dark, pressing, but can be so colorful at the same culture wise, architecture, and people.

    • Good time of the day, Leo! I have my arms and legs with me and I’m consistent in this meaning. Fuji X-E1 costs as in US +6% or so, not so bad. Lenses also have prices +4%-8%.
      As for Apple, it’s little less pricey now.
      And Saint Petersburg isn’t pressing for me.

  17. Good article, but not overly impressed with some of the images, nor with the camera. Crappy RAW support and ‘colour smearing’ cooled my early enthusiasm for the system to the point that I am not considering the Fuji XE1 anymore as a travel and street shooters camera (I shoot RAW only). The Panasonic G1 surprised me positively compared with Your Fuji shots. I think I’ll consider the PENTAX K5IIs with some of the limited primes and do away with all those Fuji quirks.

    • Pentax Lims are good.

      Really, Fuji just starts. Take a look at X-E2 when it will be out, it will have less quirks.

      K5 is really good but somehow needs much more professional skills to get decent results.
      And it’s not without questions, also. As I see, it has no Kelvin white balance?
      And one more thing. Pentax K5II is able to produce shots from weird to very good depending on lens you are using, take care. I saw one good zoom, for instance. And some of the Lims give not that good results.
      And Pentax has not that accurate exposure metering. You need to check this frequently.
      And you get not so natural colors often, so you need to try fixing it when shooting or rely on post process.

      But yes, Pentax is great.

      For Panasonic. As you see there was really good light. I love Panasonic, but if you needed to compare I’ll see concert shots and other low-light photography. For this pictures Panasonic was with Panaleica 1.4 which is totally great lens. Personally I want to stay inside Lumix system and stay with Fuji as well.

      • I have the K5, the FA77 Ltd and the DA35 Macro LTD and DA15Ltd.
        The dynamic range of the K5 is quite large, and results in the out of camera DNG files being a bit underexposed. However, I almost always have room to over expose without saturating the whites. Does mean more time manipulating with LR.
        I am interested in the Fuji X series for street photography as it is lighter and smaller than the K5, and the lenses have wider apertures for that shallow depth of field look. The K5 lenses are very sharp at F5.6 but a bit soft at the wider apertures. The FA77 has some amazing color rendering properties, so I am interested to see what the Fuji 85mm lens will do compared with the FA77.

  18. An interesting and different style of camera review – thank you! It almost makes me think you give your cameras names! I loved the last two images – makes me wish they were stills from a film that I could go to see. Thanks again.

    • Thank you! I think of giving this camera a name, yes.
      And I wish to shoot slide film and BW too. I didn’t do this for half a year.

      • Sorry It would have been clearer if I had written ‘stills from a movie’ as the images had that hint of being part of something bigger and Made me want to know more about the whole.

        • I get it. Sometimes this is the very effect I try to reach.
          I have several shots like a movie stills, mostly from Lumix G1. Do you think I should post them as Daily Inspiration?

          • Yes definitely …. tell a bit of the story but not to much just like a movie advert.

            • I’ll think about it, thanks.
              I feel movie frames are composed on slightly different principles than still photos, it’s supposed you will see action and guess what will happen or what was before. I think making such photos it’s much much easier than shooting a movie.

  19. Great Review. I enjoyed reading it and watching your beautiful pictures.
    I just bought the X-e1 a few weeks ago and i’m still a learner. ;)
    May I ask if you use any accessories with your camera and if so which ones?

    • If you have any questions you may give your email, I’ll write you.
      I want to get spare battery. But, to be honest, X-E1 not a single time emptied the battery during 1 photosession, by now, and if you shoot with manual optics, things get much better here. So by now I haven’t get it.
      I’ve got mechanical distant shutter release by LOMO, exactly like those from Zenit cameras.
      And I use 2 lens adapters for M42 and LR, respectively. I need one for M39 but here in Russia I don’t know how to get it without problems.
      And protective film for camera display.

  20. I wish there were more reviews like this… Incredibly useful! Big thanks, bro, “zachot”!

    • Спасибо!

      Steve writes reviews that are useful, indeed. I saw a lot of real world pictures in his reviews, from Summicron, Olympus OM-D, Pentax K5 and others. The last two were among the cameras I chose from (indeed, Steve shoots with K5 way better than most of the K5 owners) and Cron appeared really as good as we see on Steve’s shots. Also, I’ve read a really good guest articles with very interesting photos — those from Ashwin Rao and others.

      It was hard to decide that I can share some photos too.

  21. Alexander,

    How easy is it to use Tair-11 on X-E1? Is it reasonably balanced? How easy is it to focus?

    Заранее спасибо.

    • Привет, Дима! Таир-11 и 11А будет конечно перевешивать, камеру нужно придерживать за объектив. Для фокусировки я обычно применяю тот же метод, что с большинством других объективов – чуть прикрываю, на треть стопа или на полстопа, и после этого фокусируюсь. Удобнее, конечно, увеличивать при фокусировке. Объектив изумительный, красиво рисует, и на Фудзи в том числе. Если интересно, могу с него показать снимки.

      Tair-11 and 11A isn’t that well balanced because of its weight. Usually I close the aperture by 1/3 or half stop before focusing. And use zoom for more accurate focus. The lens is beautiful and renders really great on X-E1, with soft and warm (but not dimmed) color tones.

      • Alexander,

        Thank you for your reply. Yes, I would definitely like to see more pictures taken with Tair-11. I am seriously considering buying this lens as a tele and portrait solution for my kit. With a 2.8 aperture it appears to also be very suited for theater productions that I sometimes photograph.

        Александр,

        Спасибо большое за ответ. Да, я бы с удовольствием посмотрел еще снимки сделанные с Таиром, если вам это не сложно. Я сейчас собираюсь расширить линейку объективов, и Таир на данный момент один из главных кандидатов. С его диафрагмой в 2.8 он может очень подойти для портретов и спектаклей которые я иногда снимаю.

        Дмитрий.

  22. Nice review, one small point for future reference: the word “halftones” means the opposite of what you think it does. It does not mean “shades of gray”. Halftones are patterns of pure black dots of variable size used in reproducing photographs in print. (Ok, they are also used for color photographs and the dots may CMYK, etc.)

    • May be, half tints? I think, not shades of colors. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact phrase about the ability and quality of the camera, not being a typographic term.

  23. G’day Alexander,
    That was a great review, you spoke in practical terms about the strengths and weaknesses without quoting tech babble which at the end of the day means little to a man carrying the camera to conduct the basic task of taking photographs. Your collection of pictures explained what I needed to know and that was simply what the results look like under certain conditions. Great pictures and review mate, I am tempted to bring a brother for my x100 into the family.
    Regards

  24. Nice review,the photos are beautiful,i want to buy the fujifilm X-E1 too but i consider the XF 18-55 and 35 1.4 so can you tell me which one is the best for portrait and landscape if i just buy one.Thanks you so much

    • You know, there is no such thing as universal lens. In the days of film SLRs and rangefinders the lens for everyday use was 50mm — so 50mm (in equivalent) f:1.4 lens perfectly fits in this. Portrait photography itself needs tele lens that’s 75mm and longer up to 200mm for distortion-free photos. Now we have 50mm f:1.4 (initially 35mm) which isn’t 75mm or longer, and 90mm (initially 60mm) f:2.4 that hasn’t enough speed (generally you need f:2.0 or even f:1.8 or better for portraits) — both can do portraits very good, however. And you can get an adapter and use M42 or Leica M or R or M39 lens, or something — and here 50mm becomes 75mm that can be used for portraits. Or you can use what you will get and wait for something like 85mm f:1.4 (in 35mm equivalent) that is sheduled for the end of the 2013 or first half of 2014. In these days zoom is considered as everyday lens. Fujinon zoom has stabilizer and is relatively speedy with f:2.8-4.0. It can do portraits and nature and architecture and so on.
      If we compare zoom and fix we will keep in mind those several things.
      • You can’t use optical stabilizer for compensation of the speed difference. The stabilizer has an effect only when you shoot houses, statues and all that is skrewed to the walls or firmly fixed on floor and not moving at all. Or if you shoot a professional actor who can stand still for a minute. For the portraits, child shots, concerts, street photo, reportage, tree branches in the wind, boats, vehicles, birds, mechanical insects, toy trains, and all other trains, and all non-fixed reality, the object usually moves so quickly, that its movement creates a problem, not your arms — so you need shutter speed 1/90 s. or 1/125 or less. And here f:1.4 is much better (sometimes giving you lower ISO and more details), and f:2.8-4.0 is just 2.8-4.0 — no OIS will save you.
      • It’s you who decide how easy can you use a lens WITH NO zoom. Is it a deal breaker? Can you easily use f:2.8-4.0? What’s more important for you — zoom ability or lens speed?
      • f:1.4 can do background blur and beautiful bokeh more obviously better than zoom, that’s it. And it’s very important for portraits (and nature).
      • With zoom you get wide angle lens 28mm f:2.8 and all other up to 84mm (f:4.0). With 35mm you have no wide angle. So if you need this you will need to get one more lens.
      • I’ll advice you to get an adapter and something like 50mm f:1.4 (becomes 75mm) or 85mm f:1.4 in addition. So you will have manual focus lens for portraits and you’ll be able to do 2 kinds of portraits – with or without context.
      • Low-light nature photography can benefit from f:1.4.
      • Fujinon zoom can do portraits relatively well.
      • Of course, 50mm f:1.4 can be used for nature, portraits, architecture and all. I mean, if you don’t put a man in the frame side or corner. And it’s really great.
      • Zoom is somehow more neutral and fix f:1.4 has more portrait rendering and bokeh. So the difference is in details.

      You see, it’s you who decide. Both can be used for portraits and landscape. And you can add an adapter and a used lens from film rangefinder or SLR.
      Personally, I went for speed and I’m comfortable with 50mm so I’ve got 35mm f:1.4 and some film Yashinons and Tair-11 and Summicron and others. So I use for portraits and nature and architecture 35mm f:1.4 and Cron and others depending of subjects and light conditions. Your mileage may vary.

  25. This is a great review of the Fuji X-E1. I gave bought the camera (with the XF 18-55 and the beautiful Xf 35mm) and I am very happy with the combination.
    I am still learning to get the best the camera has to offer.

    As for lenses, I have to say that every lens released by Fuji has it’s unique role and characteristics.

    • Thank you! Wish you a lot of great shots. Try old film lenses via adapter, also. You can see, some of these photos were taken with ones.

  26. http://www.fujifilm.com/news/n130625_03.html
    Curious how well these updates will work.

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