Fuji X-E1

The Sexy one!

My Fuji X-E1

Welcome to my page on the Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera. I don’t like to call it a ‘review’ as such as I am not a gear expert, but rather a rambling on my thoughts on the camera to date. You won’t find technical mumbo jumbo here either, as I am not a tech head, just a photographer that likes his toys… this page is a work in progress, and I will update it with information as I learn more about the camera… if you want to see more regular news from me, it is best to head over to my FACEBOOK PAGE and hit the LIKE button… that way you will see stuff as it happens.

I knew I wanted to check out a mirrorless camera and I was originally thinking of buying an Xpro1, I was after something smaller than my D800 that I could carry everywhere, I was undecided and was thinking the Xpro1 was too big and maybe I would go with the Sony NEX7, and then the announcement was made at Photokina that the Fuji X-E1 was on it’s way. It would be hard to even consider the Xpro1 once I learnt the specs of the Fuji X-E1 were practically the same… if not slightly better (depending on what you’re after) but for me, a 30% smaller body, the exact same sensor and an external mic input was all I needed to sway me across to the Fuji X-E1 not to mention that the pricing brings it in line with the Sony NEX7, so it is a stack cheaper than the Xpro1 too! .

I have read a lot of people are upset that they may have just bought the Xpro1 and then Fuji come out and announce the Fuji X-E1… I wouldn’t be upset… the Xpro1 was right for you when you bought it otherwise you would probably have got yourself a Sony NEX7…  If you didn’t have a DSLR then the Xpro1 may be your ‘big’ camera and you can get a Fuji X-E1 as your backup… it takes the same lenses after all! (see, I just gave you a reason to own both… feel better now?) What are you waiting for… You can order your Fuji X-E1 HERE at Amazon.com

Fuji X-E1 Colors

Fuji X-E1 – The Bullet Points

  • User Interface (UI) – Could be better. I find myself getting lost when trying to find something in the menu and for some things I found it necessary to look at the manual to work out what they are (film simulation modes for example). EV compensation, Shutter speed and aperture are all easy to get to and use. The Exposure comp could do with a lock button as it is a bit easy to bump. It does have a Q for QUICK menu that makes it easy to access some more used features and the function button can be programmed for various things… I have mine programmed for ISO.
  • Ergonomics – The camera is light and easy to handle. The grip could be bigger, I prefer the grip on the Sony NEX7. I would imagine the grip accessory ‘Hand Grip HG-XE1’ would fix this (I will order one and let you know). It is comfortable to use and any camera will be a balance between size and weight.
  • Weight – The camera is LIGHT… and I mean light! After using a D800 with a 50mm prime (Equivalent to the Fuji 35mm f1.4) the Fuji makes this an easy ‘carry all day’ camera. According to the specs it is 350 grams (body only) including the battery.
  • Looks – It hasn’t been dubbed “the sexy one” for no reason… it is retro and old school… it gets a lot of wow’s! You have two colour schemes to choose from… black and silver (like mine above) or just plain black like the Xpro1.
  • Autofocus – Quick in most situations. I had to do a firmware upgrade for the 35mm lens, once it was done it was sweet! The only time it is a little slow is in lower light, most camera’s will suffer from this.
  • Manual Focus – Takes a little getting used to, but once I had used it a few times I really like it. In the menu I can change the lens focus ring directions from clockwise to anti-clockwise and back depending on my preference… that’s kinda cool!
Fuji X-E1 Controls

Cool retro controls. The EV Comp can be bumped easlily

  • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) – I don’t know what all the fuss is about, although not quite as good as the optical view you get through a SLR it is still really good for what it is. On manual focus with the press of the jog wheel it zooms right in so I can get the focus SPOT ON!  You can use live view if you want and the Fuji X-E1 has an eye sensor so the EVF comes on when you place the camera to your eye. I don’t know why they bother with EVF brightness adjustment, it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference and in bright light, I found it difficult to see the detail… this is the only drawback. On the plus side they have added a Dipoter to the X-E1.
  • Display – It has a 2.8 inch screen and Fuji is clever in the way it allows you to customize what you see… bravo to Fuji for this. I did find I needed to crank the brightness right up in bright daylight to see it clearly. It is easy to access info like histograms or exif info as you scroll through your pics.
  • Sensor – 16mp 1.5 x crop sensor – same large sensor you will find on a lot of DSLR’s.
  • Dynamic Range – see my test below on the DR function
  • On Board Flash – it is a token “this one has a flash” kind of feature, it is small and will do the job for a little fill flash, it does have a Hot Shoe if you want a more serious flash, but if you have the sweet 35mm  f1.4 lens, you won’t get a flash out of your bag unless it is dark!
  • Drive Modes – You can choose between Still, Continuous, Auto Bracketing (several types), Panoramic (2 FOV’s) and Full HD Movie. All of these work as expected and I am really impressed with the Panoramic Function, it does a great job of creating a pano without error, even when presented with repeating lines.
  • Film Simulation – 10 types of different films can be simulated. Things like Monochrome, Velvia and other famous Fuji films of days gone past.
  • High ISO – ISO 200 to 6400, I cranked it up to ISO 6400 and the image was still fantastic! Yes I could see noise but nothing that would stop me from using high ISO when needed. Thumbs up here…
  • Battery life – A little disappointing, it seems to go down hill very fast. I would say the EVF would have a part to play in this. I would recommend buying a second battery so you have a spare. The Fuji specs say to expect 350 frames per charge… Of course this is hard for them to predict… I had to re-charge after 207 frames but I have been playing in menus etc etc…
  • Lenses – I only have tested the 18mm f2 and the 35mm f1.4 so far and they’re both CRACKER lenses…. they have a great range out and planned for the X series.
  • Image Quality (IQ) – Fuji is renowned for image quality and the Fuji X-E1 does not dissapoint. Colours are great, and when you choose film simulation like Velvia…colours become vibrant. Images are sharp and you would be hard pressed to fault it. I did some side by side comparison portraits with my D800 and the Fuji X-E1 and the X-E1 images were just as good, if not a little better. Due to the shorter distance between the focal plane and the sensor of a mirrorless camera you can stop down further (smaller F number) and still have good depth of field. The bokeh is exceptional…
  • File Types – JPEG, RAW or both
  • Memory Card – It takes one SD/SDHC/SDXC card.
  • Value for money – Great… now in line with the Sony NEX7

Fuji X-E1 – The Verdict

In my opinion, the mirrorless camera is going to fill the gap between the compact and DSLR camera, if not replace the DSLR in the future. If you think about the evolution, we started with the twin lens design like the box brownie, then the SLR was created when they worked out how to get the mirror to move out of the way, it then morphed into the DSLR… We have also see translucent mirrors and I think that mirrorless is the next stage of the evolving camera. You will get the die hard photographers that will fight it, but in the end, technology will win. You can order your Fuji X-E1 HERE at Amazon.com

If you’re looking for a camera with the latest technology with retro feel and look, then the Fuji X-E1 may just be for you… make sure you head to my Facebook Page and hit the LIKE button and I will keep you up to date!

Looking for a sample RAW file to download… CLICK HERE to download one of mine!

The 18mm f2 and a little Pano mode trick

Since getting my 18mm f2 lens, it has hardly come off my Fuji X-E1. It is so small and light and the IQ of this lens is amazing… It is the equivalent of 27mm in Full Frame and seems just about perfect as an all rounder lens. I can get great landscape shots, but it also doubles as a really nice portrait lens too… especially for groups shots. If you want just head and shoulder shots the 35mm f1.4 is better, as you don’t need the get right in the face of your subject, but the 18mm will do if that’s all you have. I also really enjoy using the 18mm in pano mode.. I have worked out a little trick that is cool… instead of setting the Pano direction left to right or vice versa (horizontal sweep) I set it from top to bottom (Vertical Sweep) then flip the camera into portrait and shoot left to right. It gives a much better result!

NEW – Fuji 18-135mm OIS WR Lens

OIS stand for ‘Optical Image Stabilisation’ and WR stands for ‘ Weather Resistant’, I have a full review and tests on the Fuji 18-135mm lens HERE – This is a great all round lens!

NEW – Fuji X-T1 review

Since writing this post I have added the X-T1 to my Fuji kit, and I am telling you this is the camera to get! Don’t buy a Fuji X-E1 or X-E2 until you have seem my thoughts on the X-T1. CLICK HERE to check out my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1.

Can HDR be done using the Fuji X-E1?

Being known as a HDR photographer I guess it was only a matter of time before I got this question, and the short answer is YES, the Fuji X-E1 can be used for HDR Photography. I have a free HDR Tutorial HERE

HDR Software you need

I use Photomatix Pro, I have tried lots of HDR software and find Photomatix the best. Use the Coupon code ‘ON3LEGS’ for a 15% discount, you can get it from here -> Photomatix DOWNLOAD

UPDATE -> Here is a blog post with a sample HDR image, I show you the 3 exposures and the HDR version.

However, it is not as easy as it is with my D800 that takes as many frames I need at 1ev apart using auto-bracketing. The Auto-Bracketing feature on the Fuji X-E1 give you the 1ev spacing but only up to 3 frames at a time, so the maximum you can do is -1, 0, +1, when for most HDR I need -2,0,+2. Sony have just released a firmware upgrade that has changed this for the NEX users so I hope to see Fuji follow suit. Until then, the easiest option is to manually change the EV via the dial near your thumb as you take 3 exposures… not ideal but it works!

The Fuji X-E1 has a Dynamic Range adjustment, where you are supposed to be able to reduce loss of details in highlights and shadows when shooting a high contrast scene. The highest Dynamic Range setting of 400% can only be used at ISO800 and above, so Noise will start creeping in… not that is matters as I have tested the DR function and could not see enough of a difference to even consider using it so I will stick to Photomatix and Photoshop for my HDR processing.

Here are the results of my test, I used a High Contrast Scene and shot one frame at ISO 200 with the DR function off, and the other at ISO 800 with DR set to the maximum of 400%… you be the judge… (click on image to see a larger version)

Fuji XE-1 Dynamic Range Test

I had the metering set to ‘Average’ and I cannot tell the difference!

Photo’s from the Fuji X-E1

Fuji X-E1 photo

JPEG, ISO 200, f5.6, Auto WB, straight from camera just cropped

Fuji X-E1 Sydney Panoramic

Panorama Mode, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/200, Auto WB, 35mm prime, Velvia Simulation. No post processing and I hand held this on a moving boat! Impressive stitching ability!

Fuji X-E1 Astia Film Simulation

ISO 200, 35mm prime, f4, 1/1000, Auto WB, ASTIA film simulation, straight from camera, no post processing.

Fuji X-E1 Velvia Film Simulation

ISO 200, 35mm prime, f6.4, 1/350, Auto WB, Velvia Simulation, no post processing

Fuji X-E1 Velvia Film Sim

18mm f3.2 ISO200 Velvia Simulation 1/900th Auto WB

Here’s my first Fuji X-E1 HDR image…

Firstly, the before photo. this is straight from camera shot using Average Metering. As you can see we have lost a lot of detail in the foreground and the colour of the sky has gone pale… The second photo is after my HDR processing. I will do some more tests with the X-E1 and HDR over the coming weeks and let you know what I find!

The image before HDR processing ie. the correctly exposed image using ‘Average’ metering

Fuji X-E1 HDR

HDR image using the Fuji X-E1 – 3 exposures -2ev, 0ev and +2ev manually done using the EV comp dial.