Done deals….. Have I done the right thing Fuji X-E1

Ok, I have now made the decision change to Fujifilm compact camera system from my Nikon DSLR gear….its gone …. sold on Ebay …. time to order the Fuji XE1….

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So what have I done? Have I done the right thing. I have been with Nikon system for 5 years and I have been very happy. Well that is until I bought the Fuji X100 and fell in love with an image quality and visceral user experience that is truly stunning once you have worked out and dealt with all its little issues. So Why! Read on

Since owning the Fuji X100 I have taken a completely new view on photography, I now see something very different than before, don’t get me wrong I have taken fabulous images in all areas portraiture,fashion,architecture and street, just take a look at my website for examples. here
However there has always been something missing, not quite right, striving for that something else and I was never able to put my finger on it. My Nikon set up has been fabulous and I have improved in my skills year on year and from D80 to D300s and numerous lens’s and wondering if the next step to find that something special I am looking for is in Nikon full frame. The recent launch of the D600 put that in reach even more than ever, and just take a look at the image below, the quality and sharpness of my thoughtful self portrait wondering if I have made a mistake or not it not bad at all with the D300s. Actually thinking about it this is the very last frame I have made with a Nikon Body. Will I come to regret this?

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So with image quality shown in the image above as it is why am I changing to one of the youngest companies in the digital interchangeable camera makers in the market. Well firstly this is Fuji-film the clue is in the name, Fuji make film, and lots of it and a very long prosperous history in making it, and to top it off a Fujifilm is hugely respected in the market world wide making some of the best film money can buy past and present.

So what does this mean. Well ever since the launch of the digital camera there has been a problem with image quality in generaI think most would agree the plethora of manufacturers and camera body development is still striving to compete with real film quality. Many photographer purist will say film is best much the same as records vs CDs. 6 years down the road and still trying to work out myself what makes a good photograph I too seem to be chasing that image quality, and this for me is the something missing that I spoke about earlier. Fuji is tackling this with something new and has now leaped ahead again with the development of the XTrans Sensor.

I have to admit I have been lusting after Lieca M series for a few years, not just because it Leica prestige but because time and time again when looking at images taken with this camera it comes the closest that I can see to what I am looking for in the image quality that I personally would like to take, so the problem is Leica or should I say the cost. For me to own a M9 with a suite of lens’s to cover my requirements would cost in access of £10,000, that’s at a level I doubt I will ever be able to justify in my photography career. So early 2011 enter the Fujifilm X100, ok I was late on the uptake but became interested after reading about this amazing little camera from one of my favourite photographers over the pond in the USA Zach Arias.

Just google the name and join him on his photographic wonderment and journey, Zack loves this thing and the Fuji X Pro 1 and wrote about it avidly. So I decided to purchase for myself and see what all the fuss was about.
I was in the market for a new camera to take traveling and on holidays. Over time we are suffering from big camera syndrome not just carrying the darn things, but the stigma in recent years of having one out on the streets, your either a terrorist and need to explain your very existence as to why you carrying such a weapon or a pervert taking covert shots secret images. It was already a nail in the coffin in my DSLR world. So the the little Fuji joined me on a holiday and pretty much has been in my hands ever since, and I really mean that, I have taken many many more images with this little camera than my new Nikon D300s.

Why? Because it has the closest match to what I have been looking for when using a camera and the image quality when viewing the images to that if the Leica M9 … well that I can afford. I feel I have been making better and better images to more I use the camera, and I love using it too it makes me take more time, care and attention over my photography slowing me down to find the shot. It makes me want to go out and take pictures ALL the time. I once again eat sleep and breathe photography because of this little thing, I just love using it and making images with it.

It has some limits for me, 23mm lens is to wide for head-shots so I don’t use it professionally, however I do use it for interior and exterior architecture work, but I can’t get super wide, I also like the macro feature and enjoy the shallow depth of field bokeh but 23mm is a little short for commercial work. So to combat this I have made the decision to move over to the Fuji system by selling my Nikon gear.. It’s the only way at the moment I can fund a Fuji XE1 with probably the 18-55 f/2.8-f/4, 35mm f/1.4 and next year the 16mm wide.

For my needs this trio is just about the “holy trinity” system.
So I have given you some insight into why I have made these decisions and at this point will say these are my personal opinions about the suitability of digital equipment to meet my particular needs, these decisions are not easy and shout not be taken lightly. I am no way a rich photograph but an everyday guy trying to make a living out of photography and really I don’t have money to burn, my camera gear purchases are all made from money made out if my photography work, so it takes me a long time? :-)

So look out ….you can guess what is coming soon on my blog ….. Yep a review of the Fuji XE-1 with the kit 18-55 lens to start ….. That’s if I can actually get hold of one …..they are out of stock locally. …..yikes! Wish me luck.

28 comments

  1. Have just purchased the XE1 in black with the 18-55 kit lens having traded in and sold my faithful Canon DSLR and lenses. Have read many good things about the XE1 and can’t wait to try it out over the festive period.

  2. My ex (for whom I bought a 5D a few years ago and also has a Hasselblad and Mamiyaflex from her pro days) now wants to sell everything to buy an X-E1. She came round last night and fell in love with mine! Enjoy it, don’t look back, it will put such a smile on your face.

  3. Hi Simon, Same here, I am just a few day’s ahead of you. The last month I have been selling my complete Olympus Four/Thirds set to fund a new camera but I was indecisive whether to choose an OM-D or an X-E1. Saturday the 22nd I had an “Offer you can’t refuse” on a 2nd hand Fuji set and since then I am the proud owner of a complete X-Pro1 set with the current 3 primes and the zoom, ready to slowly climb the steep OVF focusing learning curve.

    1. Hey Frans, excellent. I don’t think you need to worry about the OVF, I have had the X100 for just about a year, I have found I virtually never use the OVF and really like using the EVF. I have learnt some cleaver tricks that you would not be able to do with the OVF. I am sure you will have fun…. I have some posts on the tricks on this blog.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Best wishes.

  4. I have a Canon 5D MK3 and a bunch of expensive L glass.
    I also have an X-Pro 1 + 35mm + 18mm and I absolutely love this camera, much more than the Canon.
    With the 35mm the IQ is better than anything I can find for the Canon, including the new super Sigma 35mm – reputedly the sharpest lens ever made for Canon mount.

    I bought an XE-1 to get the zoom, but found the zoom doesn’t work with the OVF since your hand blocks the viewfinder.

    The XE-1 is smaller, sexier but I would miss the OVF if I sold my X-Pro 1, so I’ve decided to keep both.

    I just got a Contax Zeiss Sonar 90mm F/2.8 in mint condition from Japan + a $125 mount and I have a super manual focus 135mm lens.

    So, no, you will not regret it, unless, like me, you start yearning for Leica :)

    ET

    1. Hi Colin
      Thanks for taking the time to comment sounds like your having a blast with it. I happen to think this little camera and the xpro1 is more versatile than the might M from Leica and when you factor the cost hey why would you need a Leica !!! Have a great Christmas and New Year.

      1. Mainly because the Fuji manual focus is by-wire and not really good enough.
        Also, the adapters available don’t give much in the way of feedback, so any old lens you adapt has to be focussed via the EVF and using the magnification wheel.
        It works, but it’s painfully slow, so no good for street work :(
        Also RF lenses are not “really” a good match for the Fuji’s.
        There is a good set of articles on Reid Reviews, which are very informative.

        Why Leica?
        Well, the new M sounds like it may have a lot going for it, including focus peaking in LiveView. That’s something missing from the Fuji’s currently.

        ET

      2. Hi Colin, great thoughts and comments thank you for taking the time, I agree and i think most photographers that are contemplating a DSLR change to Fuji would also agree, money no object or ultimate goal would still be a Leica M series and a trio of prim lenses. However Fuji at the moment for value, features and IQ provide a wonderful photographic experience that comes close to the Leica dreams. Personally I feel manual focusing with any lens and camera body is a challenge for street, I prefer and have more keepers from Zone focus, it takes some practice but I am learning…
        For me however one of the features that has drawn me to Fuji experience is old one of its drawbacks, having a relatively slow manual focus system makes me slow down and take more notice of composition and light, having lightening speedy focus is not really a concern, unless of course I need to shot sport. Its about balance, Cost, features, image quality etc. I of course might have a difference on option if I have ever have the change to use a Leica M in the street… I have never even had the chance to hold one ;-)
        regards

  5. Also sold my m43 camera and prime lenses in order to buy a black E-X1 in Germany where they had them on stock. Still have a Lumix GF1 as a companion. Been using the X-E1 for 2 weeks now and had many smiles on my face when looking at the results. Good luck with yours Simon, a nice start of 2013.

    Best regards,

    Norman
    The Netherlands

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Norman. Yep I just can’t wait to get this thing into my grubby little hands. It’s going to be a great start to the year. Have a great holiday and best wishes.

  6. After a friend introduced me to the XPro-1, which was a little too expensive for me, I did some research and bought an X100. I haven’t looked back- I love this little gem and shoot with it every day. I sold my nikon D800 and lots of expensive glass. Because I shoot mostly street and candids and documentary style I found I almost never took my huge dSLR on short trips anywhere and was hardly ever using it. It gets in people’s faces too much, anyways. I’m in love with the X100 and plan to buy an XE1 in about 6 months- the price has already fallen by $100 on one Australian website-it’s bound to drop even more.
    I think the decision to kibosh the Nikon was easy for me, as I don’t do studio or critical science work, I really only bought it for the wank factor. For others the right choice might be to keep their dSLRs and add the XE1 to their kit for street and narrative shooting.Depending on the quality of the planned longer zoom, this could become a serious tool for photojournalists.

  7. I’ve sold my Canon DSLR and lenses for an X-E1 setup, and don’t regret it for a moment. In fact, I’m enjoying my photography more than I have for some time, and my back thanks me every time I pick up my camera bag.

  8. Good luck with the big jump (Should be an easy one since you already use the X100!) :)

    Been lucky enough to be able to keep the Nikon along with the X-E1, though I found myself using the Fuji most of the time now!

    The XF mount is still missing a real super wide-angle lens to be my unique system though… Waiting for the wide zoom that should come out next year on my side ;)

  9. I have been using the X100, XPro-1, and now the XE-1 with its 18-55 kit lens professionally and love what I’m getting from this kit. The firmware upgrades have made steady and consistent improvements in the performance of the first two, and I must say I love the way the XE-1 handles. I have kept my FF Nikons for very long lens use, but the Fuji gives up nothing in low light performance and detail to the D600. Finally, the 18-55 is far and away the best kit lens I have encountered. I believe you wil be quite happy with your new system.

  10. I sold all my Nikon gear ( probably 15,000 dollars worth) and went with the XE-1 after owning it for a month.
    It’s great. No regrets at all. Nearly a perfect camera.
    Just wish it was a little more robustly weatherproofed. But I have a waterproof compact camera for those times.

  11. Hi there Simon, and thank you for the nice and useful blog.
    I have never had a Fuji camera and I am a reasonably happy Olympus om-d owner who always looked at the x100 jealously and since the day Fuji presented the X-e1 fell in love and kept thinking about it. And now I am almost going to sell my micro 4/3 gear and buy this beautiful aps-c camera. I am pretty convinced already. I don’t care about af speed, but I care about IQ, shallow DOF, high iso noise, and the x-e1 seems to do excellent job in these areas, and looks gorgeous too! The only thing that keeps me hesitating, from what I have read around, is the lack of the magic and never enough celebrated Olympus 5 axis stabilization. I am afraid I will really miss it. I know that the fuji kit lens 18-55 has a built in stabilization. But how is it? Have you ever tried the om-d stabilization? It’s really amazing.

    1. Hi Tom.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I can’t speak for he OMD system as I have never tried it. The Fuji seems to work well. To be honest the Fuji has such good low light results I find it rare that I need it. The 18-55 is an f4 lens at 55mm not exactly a long lens needed lots of stability. I have found that it is the sharpest lens I have owned from all my Nikon gear. You would need to be taking shots in virtual darkness to get a poor focus shot with this thing.
      For my I choose the Fuji simply because of the image quality. I seen nothing as good for £1000. I think It’s as good as Leica and love it. Good luck if you switch. I am soon going to post a review where I have just shot my first professional shoot using the Fuji X-E1 and the 18-55. It’s worth a read. Should be done tomorrow.
      Regards Simon

  12. Great articles. I am pondering the continued use of my D300. Yes. I use it to make money…sometimes. But I hate dragging all the gear that comes with it. I quickly bought into Micro Four Thirds when Panasonic released the GF-1. I use the 25mm f1.4 on it all the time. Amazing image quality…when I don’t exceed ISO 800. It transformed my photography completely as I could now bring it with me EVERYWHERE! I hate taking out my D300, even for work. I’ve long been a fan of what Fuji has been doing and now I think it’s a viable option to replace both my cameras in one go. The ISO quality alone is staggering. My D300 at 1600 ISO looks like…well you know.

    So after reading your articles, I’m pretty sure this is a great fit. Thank you for all your input.

    1. Your welcome Mike, The ISO performance on this thing is truly stunning, Today was only my second real good 3 hr pro shoot with the Fuji X-E1 and it was brilliant. I will post details when I have more time, I don not in the slightest regret this change, I was nervous for obvious reasons, this is not a speed freak camera, if you shoot sports forget it… but suits just about everything else I have thrown at it so far.
      good luck and best regards
      Simon

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