FujiFilm X-E1 Review
By Palle Schultz
To love or to hate
I have a love/hate relationship with my Fujifilm X100, and the X-E1 carries on that tradition. Autofocus is still, although better, not impressive. But the overall feel and manual approach you have to attack this camera with, is highly rewarding. When you get it right, and eventually you will get it right, then you'll start to love the X-E1 for what it is.
My approach to the Fuji X-E1 is to use it manually. The AF is a ‘drive by wire’ system, that has become much more useful, than the more or less unusable 'manual' focus ring on its X100 sibling. I get annoyed when an AF has to refocus completely from shot to shot, and it interrupts the flow of a shoot. So I use the ‘manual’ almost all the time. Using the focus ring, to fine-tune the focus point.
The X-E1’s strongpoint, is its appearance. It doesn’t scare off anyone and you can walk the streets, photographing without interruptions. But the most important feature of this camera is its image quality. I’m stunned by the jpg’s that comes out of this camera, the JPG converter in the camera surpasses any in computer software I’ve tried yet. Still have to check out the Capture One 7 though. But I can come very close to what I want directly out of the camera.
With the X-E1, the sharpen feature in e.g. lightroom is put almost to rest. I do sharpen images a bit, when I resize them for web, but not nearly as aggressively as before. That is due to both the sharpness of the images from the camera and that the camera forces you to really concentrate on focus, when you use it.
A tool that doesn't help you
It is not your point and shoot Olympus Micro 3/4’s speed beast, It is a camera you have to get involved in to get the images you want. The good thing about this, is that you have to become much more involved, instead of machine-gun spraying all over the place. You have to think and have to look at the light and the scene with a passion. The X-E1 forces you to learn the art and technique of photography properly, because it will not enhance anything by using in camera magic. It is simply a very, very good tool, that you have to make the best of, to get great pictures.
With the X-E1, YOU are the photographer and the artist. There are no Instagram magic, that makes a dull picture exiting. You have to think up what you want to show in the scene you capture, you have to be an artist and a photographer. And that is why I like it so much. I do believe it forces me to be a better photographer.
Some negative points
There are very few flaws with the camera. If you shoot pictures in an environment with strong side spotlights, and have the camera set to M, it can trick the viewfinder completely, and you can’t see what you are framing, because it is overly lit up. What to do then? I’m a left eye, and the rare times this happens, I shift to my right, look at the scene with my left, and release the shutter. If you are right eyed, open the left eye and your brain composes the two images together, and you can sort of frame your subject correctly.
Maybe it would be a good thing, if Fuji let you set a lowest acceptable shutter speed, when using auto ISO. As it is now, if you use automatic ISO, the camera too often sets the shutter speed way to low. The camera doesn’t produce much noise at high ISO levels, so it renders the auto ISO function more or less useless, that you end up with blurry pics, because of a low shutter speed. Therefore, I don’t use auto iso in this camera. The X100 handles automatic settings superbly, and you can shoot almost blindfolded in any condition, and still get great pics. That is not an option with the X-E1, you have to be alert at all times.
Love & Hate
It keeps you on your toes, and you love the X-E1 for it….. and sort of hate it also, like an annoying sibling. :-)
Portrait of Dancer Vittoria Lasorella. Shot with the FujiFilm X-E1 - 1/125 sec F/4.0, ISO 200, Lens: XF35mmF1.4R
Portrait of Dancer Katrina Holm Shot with the FujiFilm X-E1 - 1/125 sec F/13, ISO 200, Lens: XF35mmF1.4R