Well, I’ve done it. I’ve been umming and arring about replacing my Panasonic GX1 for what seems like an eternity and now I’ve finally done it and got the new Fuji X-E1.
Why did I get rid of the GX1?
I just wasn’t getting on with it. I got the GX1 initially because I was getting fed up carrying around my Cannon 5D all the time. Big camera = big lenses = big filters = big tripod, etc. So I got the GX1 hoping that it was good enough to let me leave the 5D at home when going out hill walking and maybe even taking it on holiday as my only camera.
So What was wrong with it?
Well, it was a good camera and the images were great for street use but my I found I didn’t like the way it rendered grass and foliage. I also found that skies where a little too noisy. I found the buttons a bit fiddly, but the worst thing was no view finder. Even on dull days I struggled to see rear display. I could have got the external view finder but that then just sits on top of the camera and I didn’t like that idea. I also thought the lenses were OK but not great (apart from the 20mm f1.7 which was great).
So why get the Fuji X-E1?
I though about it for ages, looked at many cameras including the Olympus OMD, Sony Nex 6 & 7, Sigma DP1 and they all had their strengths and weaknesses. The OMD is a great all round camera and Olympus have some great (and no so great) lenses to go with it. I like the Sony Nex bodies but I felt the lenses were lacking. The Sigma has great IQ but was too specialised. The fuji just felt right, great IQ, great low noise, great lenses.
So what’s the Fuji like?
Well, it’s a quirky camera and by no means perfect. I’ll list my initial thoughts below. (These are just my initial thoughts after having the camera only a couple of days. I intend to do lots more testing against my 5D and I’ll let you know how that goes).
Whats Bad? (lets get the negatives out of the way first)
- It doesn’t track moving subjects well. All current mirrorless cameras are rubbish at tracking focus on a moving subject but I knew that already so that’s a limitation you have to accept and I’m no sports photographer. So it’s not an issue for me.
- Focus is slowish but not too bad and by no means a big deal for me as I mainly do landscapes, travel etc.
- The depth of field scale is way too conservative. I’m not saying it’s not accurate just not as usable as I hoped so you still need to use another method.
- I don’t like the fact that some of the auto bracketing options drop you out of RAW mode, what’s that about?
- Traditional exposure bracketing allows RAW+Jpeg but limits you to +-1 stop.
I’m not a big HDR shooter but sometimes it would be nice to take some handheld shots that could be HDR’d later and +-1 just isn’t enough.
- The grip could be a little deeper but that might spoil the looks.
- The quick menu is great but when I select a custom setting, say C1, why doesn’t it show me that I have C1 selected when I go back into the quick menu? I may be missing something here.
So whats good?
- I like the aperture ring on the lenses but they could be a bit firmer, you need to pay attention to your aperture setting before hitting the shutter.
- I love the distance scale which seems fairly accurate from the limited testing I’ve done. Something I missed on the GX1.
- The rear display has quite a low resolution by todays standards but it looks good and shows that specs aren’t everything.
- The EVF (electronic viewfinder) is good. It can get laggy in low light when panning around but I tend to keep the camera fairly still when I’m taking shot, not swinging it around all over the place 😉
- I love the way you can select the individual items you want displayed on screen while shooting. Something that bugged me about the GX1 was all the information overlaid got in the way and was mostly pointless. I trick I’ve found with the Fuji is when using the EVF, you can have some on screen displays like histogram and distance scale and pressing the DISP button removes them leaving an almost clear display (nice). Press again and their back. This only works while using the EVF.
- IQ is great. I’ve still got a lot more testing to do against my 5D but it compares quite well so far.
- ISO performance is quite staggering. I wouldn’t normally dream of coming out of ISO100 for landscapes but the Fuji produces so little noise and no loss of detail at higher ISO settings. I’ll be experimenting a lot more with this.
I’m on the fence at the moment with regards to RAW processing these new X-Trans files.
I’m used to shooting RAW only and being able to get more detail from the Cannon 5D RAW file than the out of camera jpeg could give me. Not so with the Fuji. The out of camera jpeg is stunningly good and so far with my limited testing it’s been hit and miss as to whether I can beat or even match the jpeg quality from the RAW file (using Adobe Lightroom RC4.4). This leaves me with a quandary, do I shoot RAW only and accept that some images may come out only as good or slightly worse than the jpeg. Do I shoot RAW+Jpeg and take up more space for every shot. Do I look at other RAW converters which means an extra step in PP. I’m not sure at the moment so option 2 looks the best.
Well so far I like it. The external controls, excellent ISO performance, great image quality and the lenses are all great. If Fuji can fix some of the bugs/annoying features with firmware updates and keep the great lenses coming they’ve got a real winner on their hands.
I’ll be doing a lot more testing over the coming weeks and months and I’ll post my findings hear.