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The Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD boasts an impressive zoom range in a relatively compact package. How does it perform? We took a look.
The X-system is still relatively small, but it's growing pretty quickly. There are currently five lenses for the X-E1 and X-Pro 1, and we'll be taking a look at them in the next two pages.
Most of our shooting with the X-E1 was done with the 18-55mm 'kit' lens (27-80mm equivalent), which adds a considerable heft to the camera, weighing 310 grams - only 40 grams less than the camera body with a battery and card installed. The 18-55mm is no typical bundled zoom - at around $700 when purchased separately it's not a cheap lens, and with a maximum aperture of F2.8-4 it's at least a stop faster than normal kit zooms, too - which partly explains its relatively heavyweight build. Despite the relatively wide maximum aperture though, the lens isn't much larger than either Fujifilm's 60mm F2.4 R Macro, or Sony's E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS for NEX.
Fortunately, the cost and weight are justified by excellent optical quality, attractive bokeh and smooth operation. Zooming in particular is very smooth, but the 'fly-by-wire', unmarked aperture ring turns a little too easily. We'd prefer firmer detents to avoid accidental operation.
|18-55mm @18mm (27mm equivalent)||18-55mm @55mm (80mm equivalent)|
The 'LM' designation indicates that the 18-55mm uses a Linear Motor focusing system, with two motors driving the larger-than-usual focus group; this, and the internal focus system, is designed to give fast autofocus that's also near-silent during movie shooting. Fujifilm claims that the optical image stabilization allows hand-holding at shutter speeds four stops slower than would otherwise be possible without blur from camera shake.
In general, this held true during our use, and assuming a static subject, we've been able to get reliably sharp images at shutter speeds between 1/15 - 1/10sec at the long end of the 18-55mm zoom, and acceptable sharpness down to 1/8 - 1/5sec, although not, at this point, with 100% reliability.
|For comparison (left to right): XR 18-55mm F2.8-4 R OIS LM alongside the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro, and the XF 35mm F1.4 R.|
|Because the 18-55mm F2.8-4 has a variable maximum aperture, its aperture ring is no longer marked - instead it rotates continuously, with click-stops for every third-stop change.
A separate switch on the side selects between aperture control on the lens, or automatic control by the camera when set to the A position.
|The zoom and focus rings of the 18-55mm zoom are separated by a slim silver ring, which adds a nice visual touch to the design. Both operate very smoothly.|
The 18-55mm can of course also be used on the X-Pro1 as well, and when shooting with the optical viewfinder, the frameline will zoom to match the current focal length.
Kitting the X-E1 with a variable-aperture zoom lens limits your ability to control background blur at certain focal lengths compared to faster aperture primes, but the XF18-55mm F2.8-4 lens still shows good out-of-focus characteristics, and pleasant bokeh.
The table below shows the 18-55mm compared to the excellent 35mm prime, at the same focal length. Naturally, zooming the kit lens to 35mm, as shown below limits its maximum available aperture - F3.6 compared to F1.4 from the prime. But the quality of the out of focus backgrounds from both lenses at the same aperture is very high - the 18-55mm gives slightly harsher bokeh than the prime at the same aperture settings, but only very slightly.
We've also included a shot showing the 35mm prime 'wide open' at F1.4, to demonstrate the shallower depth of field which is possible from the faster lens.
|18-55mm kit @ 35mm, F3.6|
|35mm F1.4 @ F3.6|
|35mm F1.4 @ F1.4|
One of the great advantages of mirrorless cameras is their ability to use a vast range of lenses via mount adapters, including top-quality Leica M-mount primes and the huge number of 'orphaned' manual focus lenses from obsolete film camera systems. Fujifilm makes a very clever adapter for Leica M-mount lenses, and third-party adapters are available in a plethora of mounts for both current (Leica M, Nikon F, Pentax K) and older systems (Leica L39, Canon FD, Contax Yashica, Minolta MD, Olympus OM, etc.).
It's also possible to find adapters on eBay for electronic lens mounts such as Canon EF, but these lenses really won't work well on the X-E1 as no powered functions are available - including aperture setting and image stabilization.
|The X-Pro1 (X-E1 compatibility is identical) with three Olympus OM Zuiko lenses from the 1970s that are all still easy to find today: from left to right, 50mm F1.4, 135mm F3.5 and 24mm F2.8|
The use of adapters greatly expands the range of lenses that can be used with the Fujifilm X-E1 beyond the initial three native offerings, especially for photographers who already have a collection of old manual focus lenses gathering dust in the closet. To use them, you first have to enable the Mount Adapter Setting in the menu. Naturally, adapted lenses offer no automatic functions, so both focus and aperture have to be set manually. It should go without saying it's better to focus the lens wide open, then stop down to the desired aperture (although with older fast primes you may find it easier to focus with the aperture closed down a stop).
When using Fujifilm's own Leica M-mount adapter it automatically turns off the now-redundant distance scale in the viewfinder, and enables user-set optical correction profiles to be stored for to up to six lenses (covering distortion, color shading and vignetting). These functions aren't available with third-party adapters.
|The X-E1 has a menu option to set the focal length of the lens you're using. This is used to fill in the EXIF data. The camera offers four presets corresponding to the most popular film wide angles - 21mm, 24mm, 28mm and 35mm - and two further lens memories which can be set freely (with 50mm and 75mm as the defaults).
Note though that the X-E1 doesn't offer any manual focus aid other than magnified view in the EVF, and most notably there's no 'Focus Peaking' display (that Sony, Pentax and Ricoh users tend to appreciate). Overall, though, we think the X-E1 will likely be the better camera for adapted lenses thanks to the slightly better implementation of the electronic viewfinder.
Fujifilm's own M-mount adapter is unique in having electronic contacts that tell the camera when it's attached. It has two buttons on its rim, one being the lens release while the other brings up the camera's 'Mount Adapter Settings' screen. However the contacts restrict the diameter of the opening at the rear of adapter, meaning that lenses with large rear elements won't physically fit.
|This is Fujifilm's own adapter that allows use of Leica M-mount lenses on the X-E1 and X-Pro 1. Simpler 3rd-party versions don't have the electronic contacts, and therefore don't bring up the lens corrections options.||Here's the X-Pro1 with an old collapsible Leica Elmar 50mm 1:2.8. Here you can also clearly see the button that brings up the adapter settings menu.|
The adapter includes a dual-function plastic gauge, which you can see by clicking-through on the image above. This allows you to check not only that the lens doesn't protrude too far into the body, but also that the diameter of the rear element won't clash with the contacts (something that won't trouble simpler third-party adapters).
Known incompatibilities include certain 21mm ultra-wide-angles and fast 35mm primes. However, the lens corrections menu is only available with the Fujifilm adapter, so it appears to be impossible to set corrections for these lenses, even if you can get them to mount.
Fujifilm has released a number of firmware updates for several lenses and camera bodies. Changes and firmware versions vary based on model, but most camera body updates simply add support for a focus limiter function on the XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6. Read more
Update: Firmware updates are now available - click through for a download link. Fujifilm has unveiled two macro extension tubes for its X-series interchangeable lens cameras, as well as a launch date for the previously-promised Fujifilm X-T1 firmware. More firmware updates are also announced for the X-E2, X-E1, X-Pro1 and X-30, as well as the introduction of tethering software for PC. Read more
In amongst the product releases of the past few months, Fujifilm announced a pair of accessory grips for its X-E and X-Pro cameras. The MHG-Xpro and MHG-XE improve on the original HG designs by providing continued access to the cameras' battery/card compartments. In addition they reposition the tripod mount so that it's in line with the optical axis. The MHG-XPro and HMG-XE are available now priced at $150 and $130 respectively.
Fujifilm has announced forthcoming firmware updates for its X-Pro1, X-E2 and X-E1 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and for the X100S fixed-lens large sensor compact. Features promised include customizable Auto ISO, exposure preview in manual exposure mode, improved workflow for in-camera Raw conversion, and the ability to edit filenames in-camera. The update for the X-Pro1 will be available on 5th December; those for the X-E1, X-E2 and X100S on 19th December. Click through for full details.
Fujifilm has given more details about its upcoming firmware updates for the X-Pro1 and X-E1 (Versions 3.00 for the X-Pro1, and 2.00 for the X-E1). In addition to the existing promise to improve autofocus speed, it says that focus accuracy will be improved with difficult subjects. The updates will also add a 'focus peaking' function to aid manual focus, and improve image stabilisation during movie recording with the 18-55mm F2.8-4 lens. They are due to be available for download on 23rd July.
The Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD boasts an impressive zoom range in a relatively compact package. How does it perform? We took a look.
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|2019_0720_163302AA by old shutter bugger|
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