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Tuesday, 04 June 2013

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All that is very interesting, but is the camera any GOOD?

Jim, we're neighbors. I was just in Camden, not 5 minutes ago ( I work for "the bank" ). Back in my office in Rockport, I bring up TOP to read during my lunch.....woah! Deja vu! That's what it looks like alright, folks. Thanks for the pictures, Jim.

Best,
Paul

It's definitely a beautiful camera. It's clear that there is a lot of detail in the shadow areas of these JPGs, but I find they have an odd flatness to them (the shadows). It looks a bit like HDR in fact, where the shadows are "cranked up" to give them detail. I see this the most in the last photo ("Vandalism"). Oddly, I don't see it at all in the one interior shot (the moose head).

It's all a matter of taste, of course. You love the muted shadow colors but I find them flat. To each his own. (I'm assuming they look this way because of the JPG processing settings you use, and if I magically obtained one -- certainly couldn't pay for it right now -- that I'd get different results processing RAW.)

Thanks for the review!

The camera is great! I'd been looking at one for a while, even played with one courtesy of a friend. I almost bought one last week, then saw the "rumors" post of a price drop, and then the actual prices at B&H. I almost did not believe it. I went to my local store prepared to push them to match the B&H price and saw a placard advertising exactly the same deal. I concluded the reductions were from Fuji, not just the big stores trying to reduce inventory. I sprung for the X-E1, zoom, 14, 35, and 60 macro. Now I'm set, my serious case of gear acquisition syndrome is briefly sated and I can get back to making images. That's what it's really all about anyway.

extensive review. it looks like you were having a lot of fun using this piece of tech. what i don't get is the post-process. hallows and bad HDR can be easily achieved with any raw output... what happened to our sense of aesthetic? has it been lost under the digital tsunami? almost all of the pictures in this article are flat, lifeless, over cooked and a long way from representing how things look in reality. maybe i missed the point...

Do you have any unedited shots straight out of the camera? These look a little heavy on the shadow/ highlight recovery.

More and more interested...almost decided, only which lens? I'm tempted to buy only the body, the leica adapter and use one of my 50 lens (cron, heliar, minolta?) because my main interest by now is for a medium tele (75/90 eq.) having already a digital with a 36mm eq. But the zoom lens sold in the kit is reported to be so good...for sure latter the 14...
robert

For me the best part about the X-E1 is a combination of good camera and good lenses. I don't have the skill or patience to run technical tests on so I tend to rely on the images.

And the Fuji keeps getting me images that I like.

The camera that I compared it with, the Sony NEX-6, has a good body but a poor kit lens. I also found the Sony user interface awkward compared to the Fuji.

I hope Fuji keeps producing quality lenses as they move forward. It will be fun watching this already good system grow.

I've been using an X-Pro1 since early November 2012, and am hard pressed to think of a camera I've been more impressed with since the advent of the Canon 5D. The image quality from these X-cameras (especially the APS-C sensor based cameras) continues to amaze me on an almost daily basis. Per Ed Hawco's commments above, the JPEGs do look a bit flatter contrast-wise than RAW images, that's just Fuji's recipe, but the JPEGs have a very large amount of editing headroom in them, and can be edited to taste. Additionally, as Keith B points out above, the RAW conversion issues this series of cameras was hamstrung with back in the first part of 2012 are now all but nonexistent. Capture One version 7.1.1 or later does stunning X-Trans RAW conversions, and Adobe Lightoom 4.4 or Beta 5 now also does an excellent job of converting RAW files (and Adobe has been continuing to make it better). The detail these image files have, as well as color depth and dynamic range is pretty astounding, in my experience, and the camera draws gorgeous black and white images. I would also encourge Jim Hughes to try out some of the Fuji lenses, both the 35 prime and 18-55 zoom are superb. Fuji has continued to issue firmware improvements that improve the performance of this camera, and the recent version not only provided support for the new 55-200 lens, but increased AF speed across the board for all lenses.

http://photos.imageevent.com/puma_cat/fujixpro1pics/SJCH-1-new-mat.jpg

http://photos.imageevent.com/puma_cat/fujixpro1pics/SJCH-7-mat.jpg

I think I have retina damage. The saturation is excellent.

@Keith B, I had the same experience. I put off buying a Fuji X camera for a year in part because of Loyd Chambers' comments but I've yet to see a problem in Lightroom for images from my new fuji x100s.

@ David Paterson. Yes, within its design parameters fuji x cameras are excellent photographic tools.

I agree that the XE-1 is great to look at. I even agree that for single shots it's user interface, what with all of its old school dials and rings, is pleasing to the hand/brain system.

But, I rented one for a week with the medium/wide lens, and for me the rest of the package felt just slightly off. It shoots too slow (both focus and frame to frame performance are like stepping back into 2004), and there are aspects of the playback interface (esp. if you use continuous frame advance) that are just ... odd. So, the camera did not fit *me* particularly well.

The pictures certainly look nice when it all works. But my Olympus can do that too.

Sigh. Looks like there's a Fuji in my future.

Maybe not tomorrow, but someday.

Thanks for a photographer's view of the camera.

Cheers

I took an XE-1 to Vegas when I was there on business earlier this year. I didn't get a chance to go too far from the Strip, but here are my pictures: http://public.fotki.com/emptyspaces/las-vegas-2013/the-strip/?view=roll

Maybe I'm not that picky, but I didn't see anything wacky upon doing RAW conversions in Lightroom. These were from back in January so I'm not sure if that was pre or post update.

To my eyes, the 35/1.4 and 18/2 lenses are fantastic. I never got a chance to use the 60/2.4 macro but I have heard good things.

I just like the way the XE-1 shoots. Dials where they should be. It's definitely slower than a DSLR, but you can shoot sports if you're careful, as seen in this shot: http://emptyspaces.aminus3.com/image/2012-12-02.html

The admiration of others for Fuji cameras, and not just photographers, is something of an unexpected bonus. When I point it at someone, they smile. In fact this week, three people have actually spontaneously stopped and posed and one actually exclaimed "love the camera".

With a silver top and a brown leather case, the Xe1 does look friendly and unintimidating, in a British sports car kind of way, though I have to admit I prefer the handling on the Xpro1 with the extended grip.

For some reason this never seems to happen when I have a D800 and the 24-70. People are more likely to look annoyed or even turn away. I guess it does look a bit paparazzi!

As far as the IQ goes, they don't render images like Bayer cameras, and depending on the film setting, JPEGs can have quite a flat tone curve with quite bright shadows. Of course, you can just boost the black levels in LR, or add some clarity (midrange contrast). But you seldom have to do much work to deal with a high contrast scene.

And whatever artifacts you can generate by clumsy application of the sharpness sliders, the results are seldom evident in prints.

Jim: Thanks for an engaging review of the XE1. I own 1st gen X100 and one problem I've had with the little Fuji using either the Astia, Provia or "over-the-top" Velvia simulations is the orangey shift in "reds". I see some evidence of these overblown Reds that turn orange in several of your image samples. While playing around with the XPro1 in stores I did find that the two negative film simulation s are much more accurate in this regard. Any comments?

You guys are KILLING me! I'm sitting here waiting, quite impatiently, for my X100s (that is currently very back ordered) and you're waving this beautiful (and so nearly, but not quite the same) camera in my face. And with those deals the price is virtually the same now!

Torture.

@emptyspaces - really like your shots of Las Vegas

@Keith B: I agree, some people are using bizarrely high sharpening and then then blaming the camera for bizarre looking images. The current version of Lightroom does just fine with most photos and for typical print sizes. Aperture seems to do a better job with foliage, giving more natural-looking results.

@Francis Harrison: I use the X100S and much prefer Pro Neg High to Pro Neg Standard (which looks very dull). But none of the film simulations are as satisfactory as processing the Raw files. The color in the Raw files just looks better overall.

Finally a digital camera with proper dials and controls. I've been considering trading my Hexar AF and Zeiss ZM in for the Fuji for a while, because the Fuji looks like the first decent replacement for these cameras.

You articles finally pushed me over the edge. I just got a decent offer for the Hexar and Zeiss ZM...

Thanks Jim, a nice perspective.

I'm perfectly happy with m4/3 for my little cameras but the other day my friend Ken Straiton handed me his X-Pro1 with the 18mm and I snapped this shot. Considering that's just an ISO 3200 jpeg out of the camera, I can see why people love this sensor.

"the X-Pro1 viewfinder is seriously amazing"
Yes indeed. It's seriously, even offensively, amazing that a camera which is trumpeted for its hybrid viewfinder and sold at this price level, lacks dioptre adjustment. I intended to buy one until I used it; I wear glasses. I wonder how many suppliers are able to offer a range of alternative VF lenses? I couldn't find one in central London when I tried. I also noticed that there was a difference in focus acuity between the OVF and EVF with the standard lens included. Still it looks nice and retro which I guess is the real USP...
Roy

I think people are being swayed by the look of this camera and nostalgia for rangefinders. These articles practically admit as much.

The functionality is limited compared to the competition, say an Olympus digital PEN. It's nice to see two direct dials on top, but most of us are going to have shutter set on auto all the time. I much prefer direct access to ISO. A camera with two soft dials lets each photographer configure to their own preferences, no matter what they are. It just makes more sense.

The reported poor AF and slow handling puts it well behind the pack. And having to menu dive each time I mount a manual lens? No thanks! The lack of center-weighted metering also confounds.

My next camera will have a tilt LCD for waist-level composition. And, no matter how good I am at holding a camera steady, I prefer image stabilisation to get even slower shutter speeds without upping the ISO.

After these disadvantages I might still be convinced by magical images. But I don't see anything here that any competitor couldn't manage. The lenses do look nice, however.

I hate to say it, because I loved the camera when I first picked it up, but it looks to be a matter of style over substance once again.

@Keith B.: Testing over on the Fred Miranda Alt Gear forum has pretty conclusively proved that the watercolour issue still exists and is easily repeatable in any RAW converter (it's due to the X-Trans pattern and is not the RAW artifacting that was common but has now been successfully corrected in most mainstream converters and affected a lot more than just foliage), but the subject matter that triggers it is rather limited. It's not just foliage, but rather foliage with particular sizing and colour within the frame. It's a minor issue at this point unless you shoot a lot of large/wide landscape shots with fine foliage detail, at which point you will run across the problem on occasion. X-trans retains some inherent issues (mostly colour resolution, the pattern is inherently less good at resolving fine colour gradations in the R and B portions of the spectrum) as compared to the same sensor with a Bayer pattern, but the practical differences are small.

I'm a devout XP1 owner. The XE1 was tempting when it came out, but I just couldn't see myself shooting without access to the OVF. Fuji has definitely hit a home run with their new line of cameras and lenses. I haven't touched my D700 since I got the XP1 - except to pick it up and wonder how in hell I ever survived having it slung around my neck! BTW my blog is genelowinger.blogspot.com and my website it www.genelowinger.com AND Jim, I absolutely loved the Gene Smith biography. Brilliant work there.

I recently had the chance to test my X-Pro-1 against a Leica S2, which has a sensor 60% larger than 24 x 36 mm "full-frame". I shot several compositions around my neighbourhood, mounting both cameras (via quick-release plates) in turn on my Gitzo 1325 tripod, exposing a series of identical frames at f2 through f8. The Fuji 35mm lens and Leica 70mm lens offer similar fields of view. On screen, at least, the OOC JPEG files, opened in f-stop sequence side-by-side on two identical desk-top screens, look identical in terms of resolution of fine details, and remain so until the image size measures 80cm across, when the first pixelation becomes visible in the X Pro-1 images.

Thank you for your experience-informed X-E1 write-up, Jim. I have both the X-E1 and X-Pro1 and am largely sympatico with your observations. I will also briefly echo the many other reviews and comments observing that the camera is generally slow to focus and to record, not recommended for speed.

Re: image quality, I personally cannot confer any special magic to Fujifilm's X-Trans sensor with its unique RGB matrix. (And I know nothing of this "digilloyd" fellow who claims he sees bugs.) But it's still an excellent sensor capable of capturing excellent detail, color, and dynamic range (in any of its containers).

I also want to second an earlier comment (can't find it now) that recommended the X-E1 over the X-Pro1 for those planning to use adapted manual focus lenses often. The X-Pro1's hybrid sensor is useless for such setups.

Fujifilm's X cameras are each more about the user's experience than they are about results. Yes the X-E1, the X-Pro1, the X-100, and (reportedly) the new X-100s are each quite good (but not great) cameras. But their real appeal is their cosmetic masquerade as cameras from photgraphy's mid-20th century golden age. In this regard most of the joys their use are reaped before files are ever inspected. And that's just fine, too!

I've been using my X-E1 to photograph subjects in museum settings, so most shots are nearly wide open and at 2000-3200 iso. Exceptional results, better than I could do with my Canon 5D2 in the same light. Looking forward to the next iteration of the X-Pro1. The X-100S looks tempting, but for the same $ you can currently buy the X-E1 with the excellent 18-55 and still have $100 left.

Thanks for the update. There's a night-and-day difference between the first boat picture and the second. The second is outstanding.

(I was going to mention the halo around the boat in my first comment, but I too thought it must be a shadow.)

I really hate to say this but these Fuji X-E1 articles read like something written out of to boost the esteem of having made "the right purchase."

Who cares if the camera looks good to someone else and it looks nice to them- the question is DOES IT WORK FOR YOU as a PHOTOGRAPHIC TOOL.

Everything else seems to come across as self congratulatory pats in the back for making "the right choice." And I say this as someone who just got one a couple of months back.

Said with the respect I have for the time it takes putting together an article.

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