Fujifilm X-E1 - Back to the roots of photography
I had a few, in fact quite a lot of digital cameras DSLR's from Canon, systemcameras like the Samsung NX100, the Sony Nex 3 system and even lately the Nikon 1 V1 which I kind of liked a lot even despite its rather smallish sensor. However christmas being so close I decided to go for it and just bought additionally the Fuji X-E1 after having studied online info resources as much as possible and trying to get a bit of feel what it might be like.
Coming from the older school of days with film based SLR's I was always seriously missing the handling of the clascic feel (you know exposure wheel, compensation wheel and aperture settings on the lens directly) and voila here comes the X-E1. The X-Pro 1 was not an option so far pricewise and having already tried the hybrid viewfinder on the X100 I was not too fond of it. Though it makes sense on a fixed lens camera like the X100. BUt for interchangeable systems an optical viewfinder can only be a sort of compromise.
Then I better preffered the highres EV on the X-E1 which even outclasses the EV part of the X-1 Pro.Very nice indeed it functions. A delight to use to my eye. Also wearing glasses I find it comfortable enough and easy to adjust to my eye.
Now to the very basic taking pictures and the output. Well this one really gave me the wow feeling back I might have been hunting for for some years. It is solid, it captures very nice, pleasing looking pictures (I can only judge with the 18-55mm kit lens which is a great lense on its own), and the handling is just what I really prefer.
Highly customisable, easy to operate, pleasing to my hands (I got the additional Fuji grip for it which improves holding it though it blocks the battery door/SD card door) But then I tell myself. Back in the film days we also had to open the door to slam in another rooll of film every 36 pictures or so. That bit of time I do have as I am not making money with it. Even then I would not be bothered.
First I was a bit sceptic about high ISO performance but that sensor does deliver beyond what I had expected. BEst ever high ISO I had so far. period..
I am no pixel peeper but really rather look what a picture in all looks like but for testing I did it and was very much surprised of the output clarity and modest colors. It's the colors which I do really like. Took a couple of testshots without being academic about it and YES there was that kind of hard to describe feeling.
I am not a professional reviewer and do not claim all sorts of things about the technical thinks but being an engineer in the field of data acquisition and processing and with solid background in electronics I feel Fuji did it right. Of course I am well aware there is no such system without flaws but I am generally very satisfied.
About the much discussed autofocus I can only add that it is not the fastest but it is sufficient.
About the much discussed lack of focus peeking. Well it has a nice 3x and 10x magnification and edges are actually
a bit accentuated during manual focus. Plus the manual focus on the lens works very nice. In short I do not have problems with it.
Sure I would appreciate a tiltable screen. The movie funtion could be a bit better (there the autofocus isn't really that good in darker scenes) But I like that in movie mode the mic. level can be adjusted manually plus adding another mic. with 2.5mm jack is easy.
The flash hotshoe is a nice bonus but the built in falsh does quite ok. I even can hold it up (it does not click to fix) for indirect flash shots which works out for me.
Ok I lost a bit of pertability vs the Nikon 1 V1 but it is still smaller than a traditional DSLR. I check ed the Olympus Om 5 as well but did not like the lack of direct controls.
Cannot say much about battery live but once charged (having shot lots of pics and made some movies) it holds its
charge for quite some time. Ok to my use of it. Others might complain though.
At the end of the day a few things were the most important to me:
1. IQ (and that is really beyond what I expected)
2. General feel and robustness (Yes one can feel it though the body is not that heavy - but the lens is)
3. Operation (that is something I really appreciate a lot on this machine)
4. Viewfinder (Excellent)
5. Quick access to parameters (Nice Q function and programmable Fn button)
6. Quick access to Auto/Manual focus and traditional aperture changing
I would never ever expect a product to be perfect in all departments. It is only once one adapts himself to system and feels kind of one with it then all time and focus is left for the real thing in photography which I consider to be composition, good scenery and the joy in taking pictures. With this camera I really feel like being back to the roots of photography because I no longer have to worry about a zillion parameters to get something right. (e.g. bad high ISO performance, too much lense distortion, limited dynamic range and so forth)
That seems to be a keeper now for some years to come. Surely nothing is forever but I am sure I will buy some better glas in the timle to come as there are many adapters available (even for Leica lenses)
To sum...this is a sort of Leica for the less wealthy guys like me though it was still quite expensive.
Thank you Fujifilm. Well sort of, as you did not mind taking my hard earned cash
Would not call the problems but wishlist to Fujifilm:
1. Get the focus a little more responsive expecially in low light scenes
2. Get the continuous autofocus more responsive during movie taking
3. I had once a lock up briefly (no response and had to pull the battery) which did not happen again. Maybe I was
pushing a fex buttongs too fast in succession...not sure though...
4. The built in flash would benefit from a little lock in upright position for indirect flashing
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= community average