The Fuji X-E1 & Fuji X-Pro1 and why I love mine

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Cape May with Fuji X-E1 and 18-55 lens.  Singh Ray Mor-Slow 10 stop filter

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Fuji X cameras I’ve been using.  I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on why I went with Fuji and have both the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 along with the X100.

I was getting tired of lugging 40 lbs of gear in a backpack.  I was intrigued by the “mirrorless” revolution and started to investigate what was out there.  The Sony left me cold, feeling more like an electronic device rather than a camera. The Olympus is a micro 4/3 sensor and I wanted at least APS C.  I wanted the bokeh and performance that a bigger sensor would provide.  That said, the new Olympus is getting rave reviews for its performance.  I think Michael Reichman said it best in his recent review, “MFT used to mean some compromises when it came to image quality, but those days are past. Only the most neurotic pixel peeper will find anything to kvetch about with files from the Olympus E-M1 and its contemporaries.”  

 

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X100 with Soft Release and Thumbs Up

After much research, I settled on the retro looking X100, a dedicated 23mm non-interchangable lens camera. I admit, I fell for its retro looks and unique and highly regarded dual optical/EVF viewfinder.  It has its quirks such as slow focus speed, however, when I opened the first file of a family that asked me to photograph them for a Christmas card, I was ASTOUNDED!   The color, tones and sharpness of the images were truly breathtaking.  

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I was hooked and excited to see what Fuji would do for an interchangeable lens version of the X100.  They came out with the X-Pro1 but is was a bit too pricey for me.  I waited a bit longer until they released the X-E1 and got it with the 18-55 lens. Then recently with the price falling by $600.00, I decided to get the X-Pro 1 as well. I should note that the X100 has been replaced with the X100s and is arguably the best camera in its class.  Why both the X-Pro and X-E1?  Because, I wanted a backup body for trips where I’ll be taking just Fuji gear. (see comment on Cuba below)  And I wanted the availability of the optical view finder that I loved in the X100.

What are the differences between the X-Pro 1 and X-E1?  Essentially there are two that really matter to me.  The X-Pro 1 has the patented and amazingly good dual viewfinder.  With the flip of a lever on the front of the camera, you can switch between the optical (rangefinder style) viewfinder or the EVF (Electronic View Finder)   The X-E1 has just the EVF.  That said, it is a better EVF than the PRO.  By removing the optical view finder the E1 is a smaller camera.  The other major difference is the ability to use an electronic cable release.  The E1 has this capability while the Pro does not relying on the old style plunger style release that fits into the shutter button.  The sensor is identical and the image quality virtually the same on both cameras.  I have big hands and like the feel of the Pro better.  There are a few other small differences. The E1 has an adjustable diopter in the view finder and the Pro does not.  On the pro you will need to purchase diopters separately.   The E1 has a built in flash where the Pro does not.

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X-Pro 1 with Thumbs Up and Soft Release

 

There are three essential accessories that you should consider should you purchase one of these cameras.  First, the Thumbs Up from Match Technical.  This gives your thumb a place to rest and makes the camera more secure in your hand.  While on the Match site pick up a Soft Release.  You might think these are purely cosmetic and they are cute, however, they really provide a function in that you can squeeze a shot off with less camera shake making hand holding lower shutter speeds easier.  Next, pickup a Gordy’s Leather Wrist Strap, the best $18 you’ll spend. I also purchased the Sling.  Last, if you’re going to use your tripod or even if you’re not, I would highly recommend the Really Right Stuff grip that doubles as an “L” bracket.  Not only does this make using the camera a breeze on a tripod, it makes the camera fit in your hand perfectly.  Everyone who tries these has come to the same conclusion, The camera feels just right with the Thumbs UP and the RRS grip.

Lets talk lenses for a minute.  I stared with the 18-55 “Kit” lens.  This is no ordinary kit lens.  It is image stabilized and produces great results throughout the entire range.  I also have the 55-200 and was honestly expecting to be a little disappointed as I’ve come to love my “big boy camera” 70-200 2.8 lenses.  While the 55-200 does not quite have the bokeh that the 2.8 Nikon does, again I was stunned with the IQ of this lens.  Fuji is expected to announce the 10-24 anytime.  I’m guessing PhotoExpo in October.  This will then give you an effective range of 15-300 with these three lenses.  In addition too the stellar stable of quality zooms, Fuji keeps coming out with very high quality prime lenses.  I own the 14mm 2.8, 35mm 1.4 and the 60 2.4 macro and plan on getting the 23mm 1.4 as well.   Each of these lenses fall into the excellent category.  The 60mm received poor reviews early on until Fuji addressed the poor focus speed with firmware updates.  This leads me to comment on firmware updates.  Fuji has done an incredible job of responding to customer feedback rolling out a number of firmware updates to both the body and lenses.  Each time Fuji has addressed issues and frustrations.  Most recently Fuji has added focus peaking to the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 via firmware.  Being responsive to customer feedback is a big plus for Fuji! 

Fuji has always been about color with great emulsions (thats film for you young kids) and they have nailed color in each of these cameras.  In fact, I’ve never shot JPEG’s opting for RAW files.  I shoot both now and often use the jpeg with no processing, they are that good.  I have always shot in sunny or daylight white balance, not with Fuji, I shoot AWB, why?  Because once again Fuji nails it.  I mean even with sunrise and sunset colors.  AWB is crazy good on these cameras.  What about high ISO you ask?  GREAT! I’ve been shooting at ISO 3200 with minimal noise.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan. Will the Fuji cameras replace my Nikon cameras and lenses?   Not yet, however the more I use them, the more I don’t miss my Nikons.  As my buddy Tony Sweet recently wrote, 40 lb. back pack, 7 lb. shoulder bag?  40 lb. back pack, 7 lb. shoulder bag???   So where does the Fuji fall down? High speed shooting, sports for instance or bird photography, probably better for the DSLR.  Inclement weather might be better with my sealed Nikon.  Other than that, I’m thinking Fuji.  

Tony and I will be leading another group in Cuba this coming January, all I’m bringing is Fuji gear.  This is where these cameras shine.  Their small size is so much less intimidating than the big DSLR’s.  And of course the light weight will be very much appreciated!

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X-E1 and X-Pro1 with Gordy’s Strap, Match Technical Thumbs Up and Soft Release and the Really Right Stuff “L” bracket grip

These cameras have made photography fun again!  I love the retro look, feel and especially the image quality. And their size allows me to always have one with me.  Anxious to see what they come up with next!

Here are some excellent links should you want to learn more. 

Zack Arias  Why he ditched his DSLR gear.

Tom Grill   Comparing the X-Pro1 an X-E1

G Dan Mitchell – A solid and thorough review 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Fuji, Fuji X-E1, Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji X100 and tagged , , , , , , , .

24 Comments

  1. JORGE September 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    As soon as I opened your page and saw the first image I KNEW it was Cape May — Sunset beach. Love that area.

    Great article.
    best,
    J

    • john8276 September 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks. Glad you liked it. Cape May is great!

  2. Jim Stephens September 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Appreciate the additional information. :-) Beautiful images as well.

  3. Paolo September 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    I use the same cameras (X-E1 and X-pro1) with the same accessories. Great system…..I love it!
    Very nice shots and real photographer report.
    Cheers
    Paolo

    • john8276 September 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Paolo. Glad you too are enjoying your Fuji gear. :)

  4. Joan Herwig September 25, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Wow! Thanks so much John for the thorough run down on these Fugi mirror less cameras. You answered so many questions that I had swirling around. As a woman in my 50’s, I would think think these cameras would really appeal to women who find the big dog SLR’s quite heavy to haul & to hold as they get older.
    One question: What size tripod have you been using with these cameras? And would the overall lightweight contribute to a less sturdy (especially in wind or long exposures) set up?

    • john8276 September 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      Good question Joan. I think it is just logical that a lighter camera on a lighter tripod is going to not be as good as a heavier tripod and camera. So, windy conditions will need extra care or higher ISO’s which Fuji can handle. I am using my Really Right Stuff 24L tripod with the BH55 still. I’ll probably affix my BH-40 if traveling. And I have a hook on the tripod to hang a bag or weight should I need to.

    • Thomas L. September 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      Hi,

      I’m using a Gitzo traveller gk1580tqr4. It’s a great companion for a X Kit.

      Very sturdy, extremely light. Top quality. Price is high but you get what you pay for!

      Regards,
      Thomas

  5. Nancy September 25, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Great Cape May shot….thank you for the information on the Fuji. I just received the X-E1 and now have to find some time to learn it. Thank you for the extra information on brackets, etc.

  6. Stephen McCullough September 26, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    Hello John,

    I’ve been using an X-Pro1 for about 7 months. I very much liked my Canon 5 series and L lenses; they worked well for me. I shoot landscape and documentary. I had a few M4/3 cameras and liked them, but it wasn’t until I grabbed the Fuji that I felt at home. The camera and lenses just disappear in my hands, and I’m able to really think through my composition. The resulting file quality astounds me. The only thing left to do is evolve my skills. I have a long way to go before my photographs match my vision…

    Anyway, thanks for the post, and especially for sharing your photographs. Some really inspiring work. Some very intriguing workshops and tours too.

    • john8276 September 26, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      Thank you for your very kind thoughts Stephen. I like the way you describe the camera disappearing into your hand. That feels right to me. Again the Olympus is a sweet camera with good looks, however, its just too small and does not feel good in the hand. At least not for my big hands… Would love to see you on a workshop or tour.

  7. Joan Herwig September 26, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Has anyone used the Fugi XPro 1 or the Fugi XE 1 long enough to comment on the frequency of sensor dust and sensor cleaning? Is it worse than a SLR or better? My Nikon D700 seems to be a magnet for sensor dust.

    • john8276 September 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Joan, each has a self cleaning mode each time you turn it on and off. That said, dust will still get on your sensor over time. Cleaning the Fuji is no different than the D700. I clean mine all the time myself. Once you know how, its very easy as long as you are careful. And by the way… Fuji no Fugi… :)

      • Joan Herwig September 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

        Thanks John! Glad the Fuji has a sensor cleaning mode like SLRs. Notice I typed Fuji ~ :D
        I was concerned that without a mirror that possibly more dust would get on the sensor.

  8. Cynthia September 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    You have me sold John. Those Fuji cameras look great and you are certainly taking great photos with them. If ever I can afford one in the future, I’ll probably snag one myself! :-)

  9. DicThe X-100 I purck September 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    The X-100 I bought after using yours at the underground is simply the best camera I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned a LOT of cameras. I immediately recognized how good the jpg’s are right out of the camera and how well this does in low light. Quite special. The fact that Fuji continues to update the firmware in meaningful ways is a little bonus for us.

    • john8276 September 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Amen Dick. That little camera has gotten better and better due to firmware. The slow focus is pretty much solved.

  10. Mark L September 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Nicely done, John ;-) And yes, I too have been seduced Madame X….black X100 (gotta be different!) and X-E1. Probably add whatever’s coming to replace the X-Pro1 as well as I seldom use the DSLRs now. It’s that soul/emotion/bonding thing only Fuji & Leica users “get” and the forum ferals hate. Speaking of those “people”, maybe you should back off a bit with your praise for the X series…you may be accused of being on Fuji”s payroll! You’ll be in good company though – Zack Arias, David Hobby, Damien Lovegrove, Kevin Mullins etc….Regards from Downunder…Mark

    • john8276 September 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      How about Fuji fanboy? Will that work? :). Thanks for dropping by.

  11. Jiri Ruzek October 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Thanks, this is a very useful article for me, the X-Pro1 is my new favorite now … :)

  12. Chris Sorlie April 15, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Hi John!
    I like your case with your X-100. Are you happy with it? Could you let me know who makes it? I’ve never had a replaceable lens camera. (Shot a lot with a Panasonic Fz35)
    Knowing what you know, if you were starting again would you get an x-100s, an x-e2, or an x-t1?
    I primarily use the camera for travel.

    Thanks for you input!
    Chris

    • john8276 April 15, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Oh gosh… I got that case so long ago. I found them online and happened to be in NYC and met the guy in person. Made in China… seems like Rainbow was part of the name. Yes, great case for a great price. The x100s is hard to beat for what it is, that said, I would opt for the amazing X-T1 for sure and if small is what you want the 27mm pancake. But the 35mm 1.4 is KILLER as is the new 56 and the 23.

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