A review - My first week with X-E1

Started Nov 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Glen K Wells
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A review - My first week with X-E1
Nov 7, 2012

Ok so I have had the X-E1 with 18mm lens for about a week now. The following is my subjective review that will draw comparisons from other cameras I own and have owned including Canon 5D2, Leica Digilux3, Sony Nex7 and 5N.

The driving reason I went for this camera was image quality. It for me is the core to any camera, you can have all the whistles and bells but when you load the pics onto the PC  or print them if they are disappointing then all the extras are pointless. I had read with interest about the Pro1 but given its size and the lack of any flash, built in do have their uses, it was too close to my 5D2 to justify the high price.

I was, being a bit of a camera geek excited when I heard about the specs of the X-E1. At the that time I had my 5D2 for what I call serious stuff and the NEX-7 for everything else.

I was fortunate enough to cut a deal with the Devon Camera Centre based in Exeter UK. Bit of a plug for them as the staff were genuinely knowledgeable about the camera I was looking for and helpful with my request. I bought the camera and zoom kit as a deal and then added the 18mm lens at a decent price. I will get the zoom lens next week when they are due in.

My experience therefore is based on using the camera solely with the 18mm f2 lens.

Looks wise and ergonomically it is a real Leicaesque camera and two years ago I was fortunate to own a Leica Digilux 3 (I know they were made in collaboration with Panasonic). The similarity between the two more than passing! In truth I really enjoyed my use of the Leica and its control layout. This is also the case with the X-E1 I really like having the aperture ring, exposure dial and shutter dials to hand.

By comparison I found the NEX-7 tri navi frustrating as its options to setup were limited and a little clumsy to me I had to work with it not the other way around.

One minor issue re ergonomics is that I find my finger getting in the way of the AF illuminater  light sometimes, will have to watch that.

I prefer the EVF to that of the Nex-7 and addon to the 5N it is MUCH brighter and a truer reflection of what you are seeing especially in low light. It lacks the unpleasant contrasty look and the stacking up of dark and black areas that the Sony suffered from. One thing though is that the refresh rate when panning quickly is a little slower than the Sony reminding you that it is an Elec EVF. It is by no means annoying though. I tried what I read in another post that if shutter half pressed down then panning the camera almost completely removes any minor stutter so the EVF can refresh quicker?! possible firmware update who knows.

The rear screen is fine being bright and a good reflection of the actual image taken, no issues in low light or bright sunshine.

All the rear buttons now come easily to me being more akin to my canon than the NEX-7. Read and write times with the card I am using are perfectly acceptable being a non issue. I have review mode off as I find it a distraction to shooting multiple shots. The change from rear screen to EVF to me is seamless.

The flash works ok for a fill flash but does struggle to illuminate large spaces, I guess it does what it is supposed to do.

Ok image quality. I had read a lot about about the new design sensor and had read a lot of reviews and viewed a lot of images prior to my purchase. What I can say is I am very pleased with the results. The magic elves at Fuji used a lot of magic dust to make this sensor. In my opinion the pictures contain as much detail as the NEX-7 at low ISO's and pulls away exponentially beyond 400iso these are RAW comparisons. It may not contain quite as much detail as my 5D2 but that is using quite expensive glass. It does give the 5D2 a good run for its money at the ISO's I have compared going up to 3200 - quite an achievement  when comparing APSC to a fullframe sensor!!

There are no issues re startup time or shutter lag on the X-E1. I took the camera out on Monday night to the Tar Barrels event here in Ottery Saint Mary - again only using the 18mm f2 lens.

It was nightime and the only light sources being the spreadout sodium street lights and the flaming barrels. I am more than happy with the ISO performance but the camera was a bit slow to focus when trying to get shots of the Barrelers running up and down the street with the flaming barrels. I only took a few shots and some turned out ok when using some low-light techniques like prefocus or finding vertical areas with contrast. I will add a shot or two. I am expecting the 18-55mm to be quicker to focus given its twin motor setup - we will see. Personally not a real issue for me but something others may need to consider if they shoot a lot of moving subjects - the 18mm combo may not be up to the task at times.

I have also taken the camera out to take pics of the lovely church here in Ottery and for that type of pic I am more than happy.

Overall I am really pleased with the camera an look forward to trying the zoom lens and getting an adapter for my old Olympus lenses. Normally by a week of use I have more shortcomings with previous cameras I have owned but so far they a few and very minor.

The ergonomics are user friendly with 'old school' appeal controls and the pics it can put out will certainly please the vast majority of users.

 Glen K Wells's gear list:Glen K Wells's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Nikon D610
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Fujifilm X-E1 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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