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Bracketing

One of the things we enjoyed most about using the X-E1 is shooting in low light with reasonable confidence that we'll get a usable shot with good detail. Various bracketing modes let us take advantage of that confidence, varying exposure and ISO in particular.

Accessed from the Drive menu, the X-E1's bracketing options include Exposure, ISO, Film Simulation, and Dynamic Range (covered in detail in our X-Pro 1 review - click here and scroll down to Dynamic range expansion modes). Though they seemed a bit superfluous at first, when we used a few of the modes to solve particular problems, we could see their value more.

Exposure bracketing

Exposure bracketing is the basic bracketing mode we're all used to, where the camera takes one shot at the camera's chosen exposure level, then varies it by the stipulated amount both over and under-exposing the image in two subsequent shots. These shots were made in Program mode.

0EV: 55mm, F4, 1/1700, ISO 200 100% crop
+1EV: 55mm, F4, 1/850, ISO 200 100% crop
-1EV: 55mm, F4, 1/3200, ISO 200 100% crop

The camera made a good choice in the first shot, balancing the image nicely, but there are situations in which a slightly darker or lighter image would have been preferable (if the clouds in this scene were high and white, for instance, rather than low and dark gray). The X-E1 is able to record both raw and JPEG files in this bracketing mode.

ISO bracketing

Possibly the most interesting of the three bracketing modes is ISO, which sets the exposure at either the programmed or preset values and captures three exposures at three ISO settings.

18mm, F2.8, 1/60, ISO 6400 100% crop
18mm, F2.8, 1/60, ISO 8000 100% crop
18mm, F2.8, 1/60, ISO 5000 100% crop

Here, we were using the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom at 18mm (28mm equivalent) to get a shot of Seattle's skyline while approaching in a ferry. The priority here was a sharp image, and after some experimentation, we settled on 1/60sec as a low enough shutter speed for acceptable sharpness, and switched to shutter priority mode.

Standing on the deck of a moving ferry, we only had a moment to get the scene framed correctly, and with ISO bracketing set to +/- 1/3EV, the camera set the aperture to F2.8, and took three exposures at ISO 6400, ISO 8000 and ISO 5000. Of the three, we prefer the 'overexposed' ISO 8000 image for its brighter sky; your preference may vary. Noise is higher in that shot as we'd expect, but not objectionably so. Naturally, by dropping everything into manual mode (including ISO) we could have achieved the same results by experimentation with the exposure settings, but in this sort of situation, where the scene was literally moving, using ISO bracketing was quicker and easier.

Disappointingly though, the camera automatically drops you out of RAW+JPEG mode when saving these files without telling you - something that also happens in film simulation and dynamic range bracketing modes, but not in exposure bracketing mode. When you go back to conventional advance though, the camera will switch back to RAW+JPEG mode, which is nice.

Flash

The X-E1 has a built-in flash in addition to a standard hotshoe, which we test below. Fujifilm offers a range of accessory flashes, including the EF-X20, which shares the camera's relatively compact, rectangular design and has a top-mounted dial to control flash compensation or set the power output manually. However, it's also fixed so that it can only shoot directly forward, with no option for bouncing. The larger, but less-expensive EF-42 unit offers a fully articulated head for more-creative lighting options.

Film simulation modes

The X-E1 has a range of what Fujifilm calls 'film simulation modes.' These consist of five color modes that are named after the company's professional films - Standard / Provia, Vivid / Velvia, Soft / Astia, Pro Neg Hi and Pro Neg Std - and a number of monochrome modes that aim to simulate the effects of using color filters with black-and-white film (yellow, red, green or no filter), plus a 'retro' Sepia-toned mode.

Standard/Provia
Vivid/Velvia
Soft/Astia
Pro Neg High
Pro Neg Standard
Monochrome
Mono (Yellow Filter)
Mono (Red Filter)
Mono (Green Filter)
Sepia

The Standard/Provia and Pro Neg Standard modes both use a very open shadow tone curve, that reduces perceived saturation and punch. Of the two, the latter is the less-saturated, and therefore the X-E1's most neutral color mode; we think it's an excellent choice for natural-looking portraits. Curiously the Astia/Soft mode is actually higher in contrast, and (as with the X100) better for everyday shooting. Meanwhile Pro Neg High is a little contrastier, but the color is less-saturated.

The Vivid / Velvia mode certainly lives up to its name - we're not convinced that it provides exactly the same look as the iconic film it's named after, but it's certainly very vivid and saturated. Highlights tend to blow more easily, though, and we'd probably be tempted to dial the Highlight Tone down a notch. Of the mono modes, we'd be most inclined to use the red filter mode for landscapes, and green filter for portraits.

The X-E1 offers a great deal of control over its JPEG processing; you can adjust the color saturation, sharpening and noise reduction, and even set the shadow and highlight tone (contrast) independently. However, the Film Simulation modes can't be tweaked individually to suit your tastes; instead any changes you make to the various processing settings are applied universally across all of them.

A workaround to this is to save any preferred tweaks to one of the custom settings sets, which can then be recalled through the Q menu. However it's important to remember that these save ISO and DR settings too. It's also worth bearing in mind that if you shoot raw, you have free control over all of these processing parameters when using the in-camera raw developer in playback.

Movie mode

For more a more comprehensive look at video, see the Fujifilm X-Pro1 review's Movie section. The camera shot this video with the new 18-55mm lens, which is image-stabilized.

Note how the image stabilization system dampens the pan as we move to follow the streetcar. Click here to download the full clip.

Panorama

Its retro good looks and relatively small size make the Fujifilm X-E1 seem like an ideal choice for travel, and one of the things it makes easy is quick panoramic images. The camera's mechanical shutter makes a bit of noise as you're sweeping across the scene, but the resulting stitched images look surprisingly good. The Drive mode menu is where you select Panorama, and then you can set pan direction and whether to shoot in vertical or horizontal format via the right arrow key. Vertical is preferable for scenes with taller objects, like trees or our very own Seattle Space Needle; panning direction is down to what feels comfortable to you. You can also set the width of the pan, either Medium or Large.

Angle
Direction
Dimensions
Size
180°
Vertical
7680 x 2160
15.8 MP
180°
Horizontal
7680 x 1440
10.5 MP
120°
Vertical
5120 x 2160
10.5 MP
120°
Horizontal
5120 x 1440
7.0 MP

Panning takes a little practice to get speed and angle right, but the camera gives you a horizon line to try to maintain as you turn your body.

We were impressed with the results while shooting the panoramas above, especially how well it seemed to handle the exposure transition across such a broad expanse with the Sun in the shot. But back at the computer we noticed bands in the sky as the exposure adjusted along the 180-degree arc.

Above, we've cropped and adjusted levels to show the banding effect more clearly. Shots with less exposure change overall did not show the problem, as seen below. This shot was also made with the Medium angle of view.

Both pans were made in the vertical mode to capture more of the sky and foreground.

Dynamic range expansion modes

Like the X-Pro1, the Fujifilm X-E1 offers two expanded dynamic range settings, which we covered extensively in our Fujifilm X-Pro1 review (click here and scroll down to Dynamic range expansion modes).

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Comments

Total comments: 10
kreislauf
By kreislauf (11 months ago)

why was the X-E1 picture taken with a 35mm lens while MFT had the 50mm mounted and FF like A99 or 6D had 85mm???

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (3 months ago)

The 35mm F1.4 and the 60mm F2.4 Macro (the only two normal / short tele primes at the time of writing) are about equally sharp at f/5.6 and f/8 (see http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1487/cat/105 and http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1486/cat/105 ). In addition, the 35mm doesn't exhibit much field curvature, unlike, say, the latter-released 27mm/f2.8 pancake (more info on this problem: http://www.photozone.de/fuji_x/855-fuji27f28?start=1 )

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (3 months ago)

(cont'd)

Finally, now that the absolutely stellar (see http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1674/cat/105 ) Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R is out, non-macro people able to shell out the double the price generally prefer it to the old 60mm F2.4. (Of course, this may not have been a point in choosing the 35mm over the 60mm back then. Nevertheless, we are pretty lucky to have a studio shot demoing the field curvature / sharpness of prolly the most popular Fuji X prime, and not that of one that has since been overshadowed by a newly released one.)

0 upvotes
pscharles
By pscharles (Sep 29, 2013)

continuing my post . . .

I understand why Fujifilm designed the lens rings with those slim grooves for stylistic reasons, but I find myself frequently turning the wrong one because they all feel the same. I'll get used to it, but a rubber ring on the zoom would help. Also, the zoom ring is stiff and those little grooves are slippery. Rubber would help the grip.

I would suggest turning off the image display as the default is 1.5 seconds. The image display clogs up the EVF for 1.5 seconds making it impractical to follow action. It's in the menu under setup screen 2.

1 upvote
pscharles
By pscharles (Sep 29, 2013)

Had mine a short while, purchased in part due to this review.

A couple things worth mentioning in terms of this review. The exposure compensation dial on my camera has a very firm detent so there's no chance of an inadvertent movement of the dial. I've loaded body firmware 2.0 and 18-55mm lens firmware 3.0. According to Fujifilm, these updates are supposed to address a number of issues, including the slower focusing. I find the camera/lens focus speed to be quite good with this update in place.

0 upvotes
lbpix
By lbpix (Sep 15, 2013)

Had my xe-1 2 weeks now and I'm blown away by the quality of the images taken with the kit zoom lens. The images could easily be printed at about 50" and are in practice comparable to my D800. AMAZING!
In use too I love it. The EVF whilst not as clear as an SLR viewfinder, tells me all I need to know and enables me to see all the menus without putting on reading specs. I use it exclusively in EVF mode. It is light and handles superbly. The image stabilisation seems incredible- so far, as good as the D800 shots from a tripod! If you're in doubt, go and buy one.

2 upvotes
Deardorff
By Deardorff (Sep 8, 2013)

Can the back screen be turned off completely so only the electronic viewfinder is used for composing and shooting?

0 upvotes
vratnik
By vratnik (Sep 10, 2013)

sure

0 upvotes
newtonseye
By newtonseye (Sep 6, 2013)

when you say ":but powering off usually cleared the error." can you expand a bit on that. Was there a different fix at another time?

0 upvotes
Deardorff
By Deardorff (Sep 3, 2013)

What about shutter lag? Any appreciable delay from the time one pushes the button til the shutter actually releases?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 10