Life with the Fuj XE1

Discussion in 'Fuji X-Mount Cameras' started by kevistopheles, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    It's been a few months since I switched over from my NEX 5n to a Fuji XE1. Overall the camera has delivered what I was looking for in the change which was a better UI and control setup. The XE1 is really quite a capable camera and it is better than the sum of its parts. It's fun to shoot with and really gets out of your way when you use. It.

    About the only thing I am finding that I don't love is the image quality. That's not too say that I think the image quality is bad because it isn't, but it seems to me to be the weakest part of the entire package. I think it may simply be that my expectations were not in line with reality but I was expecting the image quality to be a significant step up form the Sony (especially in SOOC JPEGs) and so far that has not been the case. In fact, with the exception of high iSO images I don't find the image quality of the Fuji to be any better than the Sony and in some areas perhaps a bit less. I find the output of the Fuji always strikes me a soft and requires more post work than other images I have shot. They do sharpen up pretty well. At first I suspected it was the transition of shooting from the hip with the 5n to shooting from eye level. That took some getting used to and to be perfectly honest I am finding that I miss the flip down screen quite a lot. Shooting from the hip is more stable and since I use legacy glass that can make a difference, but even shots done is great light at high shutter speeds never look quite sharp enough.

    So where does that leave me? I am still happy to have tried the Fuji because I was wanting a change and it definitely provided what I was looking for. Was it the right camera for me? In hindsight, probably not and it's because I only shoot legacy glass and I'm not finding the XE1 well suited to the task. The focus peaking is decent but not great. The lack of a flip down screen make using the rear LCD a major pain. Interestingly, the XE1's lower resolution LCD is not an issue at all (and I thought it might be). In short, I just don't see the XE1 as the best platform for using legacy lenses with. I'm sure it's terrific with native glass but with legacy lenses...not so much.

    Moving forward I will continue to try and get the best I can out of the XE1 and perhaps I will have a breakthrough.
     
  2. drd1135

    drd1135 FujiXspot Regular

    191
    Oct 3, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    The X Trans sensors have a different rendering but I don't think I'd call it better in any really objective sense. For lack of a better term, I find fuji images to be more painterly. I may be using that term wrongly, however. I'm referring to that property of an attractive digital image that doesn't look as clinically clean when viewed at the pixel level.
     
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  3. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    Painterly? I don't think I would have thought of it in those terms but I can see what you mean. I agree that there is something unique about the Fuji images. At first I liked them quite a bit but the more images I make the more I realize that I am not entirely happy with them. Sometimes they work really well but more often I find the images just look soft and a bit flat. I can MAKE images that look they way I want in post but I feel like base images should look better than they do.

    Of course they do look very film-like which makes sense given Fuji's history, but I am finding the look of the Fuji images is an acquired taste. At this point there's not much I can do so I just need to figure out a way to work with what Ive got. I managed to get a lot of great shots with my m43 cameras and legacy glass and that is a system that I found much more problematic than the Fuji. Who knows, maybe I'll figure out the right combination of things to unlock what the XE1 can really do. If not then I learn a lot from the experience. I also need to get a better Fuji RAW converter. I really dislike Lightroom 4 (been using it for three versions now) and LR 5 is a bloated mess of a product and Aperture is a dead end product now (so sad). If Capture One weren't so spendy I'd go that route.

    Of course there have been images I have been happy with...

    15307136813_302c857715_h.
    Snared
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    15591122838_ef40196c1c_h.
    Yeeeeees?
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    15926586321_6741f3dca1_h.
    Paracrete
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    ...but getting there seems to be a bit of a struggle.
     
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  4. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    525
    Feb 1, 2013
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
  5. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    To be honest it is my second favourite for mono. Only the GR produces files that take more punishment than a heavyweight boxer and still deliver a knockout.
     
  6. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    I will admit that the Fuji files can really be worked without turning to crap. And my solution for sharpness is to do everything in Tonality Pro but it still bugs me that I can't tease a sharper image SOOC than I have been able to. Oh well, it has to happen at some point. After I get a better RAW converter (like Iridient Developer) then things should become simpler.
     
  7. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    855
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Kevin, I'm assuming you have already set the camera to max sharpness and minimum NR. I only mention it because I've never felt the Fuji files lacked sharpness, but I know it's all subjective.
     
  8. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    :doh: I cannot believe that I forgot to do that. I hadn't even considered it because those weren't settings that were available to me on the NEX (at least that I remember). What's worse is that it was the first thing I did with my Panasonic cameras to tweak things to my liking. Sheesh...I just set it up and did a few test shots and they look great. I was starting to think I could no longer manually focus a lens. Color me embarrassed.

    Okay folks nothing to see here...:p.
     
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  9. Luke

    Luke FujiXspot Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    855
    Jan 31, 2013
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    glad I could help. I have sharpness set to hard and NR turned to lowest. I can soften in post easier than I can sharpen :2thumbs: And the raw files are unmolested.....the best of both worlds.
     
  10. Burkey

    Burkey FujiXspot Regular Subscribing Member

    130
    Jan 25, 2014
    Northern New England
    David
    "Painterly". Great term. I agree. I leave all the settings on my Fujis at default and have been finding myself shooting JPEGS almost exclusively with processing in LR and through the NIK bundle. RAW files generated only when the images look to be more of a challenge.
    Camera rendering characteristics really is a very subjective "thing". 'Guess it's why we have so many options from oh-so-many manufacturers.
    An interesting discussion.
    . . . David
     
  11. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    Yep, it's exactly how I used to set up my Panasonics. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  12. drd1135

    drd1135 FujiXspot Regular

    191
    Oct 3, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    • Like Like x 2
  13. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    15959106327_05fd88a73c_h.
    Bogey
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    I know it doesn't look like much but my first image after setting the sharpness in camera (doh!) and I am pleased with it. I have others but they were boring and last I checked there isn't a setting for that. ISO 2500 at that.
     
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  14. bobmielke

    bobmielke FujiXspot Regular

    98
    Aug 25, 2013
    Portland, Oregon USA
    That's an interesting observation regarding image quality because that was the precise reason I decided on the X-E1 over the Sony NEX-5N that I previously owned and loved. I sold my two Nikons that included a D800 and D7000 with half a dozen Nikon lenses. I have thousands of frames on my original black X-E1 with nothing but praise for the clarity and sharpness regarding the images. In fact I just last week added a second silver X-E1 body to my 5 Fujinon lenses. If you decide to get away from the X-E1 I wish you the best of luck with whatever replaces it.
     
  15. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    I briefly considered selling the XE1 but I prefer to try and figure out what I am doing wrong rather than run. I think one difference is that you have been using native glass and I have no doubt that the Fuji is terrific with them. I shoot only legacy glassand I still think that the XE1 is not as well suited to using legacy glass as the Sony for a number of reasons.one in particular is that with the adapter legacy glass is fairly big ( with a few notable exceptions) and I find that they don't balance well on the small body. That said, I'm getting more comfortable with it.

    16143683636_1ee3779775_b.

    Warehouse
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    This is from yesterday and I am quite happy with both the color and sharpness (mostly).
     
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  16. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    16335214038_e952e6a188_h.
    Premature
    by dixeyk, on Flickr

    This is actually one of the shots I have been happier with on The XE1.
     
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  17. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    After more time using the XE1 I have a few observations and have come to a few conclusions.

    The XE1 is a good camera that flirts with greatness. I don't see that the XE1 delivers any better images than any other APS-C sensor camera. To be fair, it does have very clean high ISO images but I also find that the images look at bit softer than other cameras. I have images from the XE1 that are very good and I have more than a few from my NEX 5n that are equally good. I suppose if you were looking for SOOC JPEGs then the Fuji (like Olympus) is a step up. Fuji RAW converters OTOH are not all created equal (LR is downright terrible) and even images converted with the generally agreed upon "best X-Trans RAW converters" like Photo Ninja and Iridient look good but not dramatically better than RAW images from other cameras. In the end IQ is a wash.

    The XE1 handles really well. Everything is where it should be and the UI is terrific...EXCEPT the friggin' on/off button that is incredibly easy to switch on when putting it into a bag. It's almost as annoying as the "hit it all the time" video button on the NEX 5n. The XE1 benefits greatly from the addition of a thumbs up. I picked up a used Match Technical and it really makes a huge difference. The Fuji HG-XE1 grip is nice but you have to remove it to get to the battery or SD card...FAIL. My other beef about the XE1 is absolutely terrible battery life. I don't know why I'm surprised, I needed 3 batteries for my Fuji X10 just to get by. At least the batteries are cheap. Build quality is good but not great. It feels a bit cheap-ish to me but then again the build quality of the Olympus E-M5 and the Sony a6000 also feel cheap. At least all the buttons appear to be firmly attached.

    I am primarily a legacy lens user. As a platform for using old school manual focus lenses it's a mixed bag. It handles really well from a control point of view and has an intuitive UI. There are lots of in-camera controls and adjustments and the film simulations are nice. Focus peaking is nice to have but the implementation is VERY basic. I've heard a lot of folks tell me how much better it is on the XT1 and XE2 so I tried out a coworkers XT1. With all due respect, it's a tiny bit better in that you have the option to change colors but is is light years behind the Sony focus peaking. I'm able to use my lenses and pretty effectively and now that I have gotten used to using the EVF instead of a flip down screen it is starting to feel more natural. I am making it work with adapted lenses but it's not ideal. Ultimately I think the XE1 is best served by using native lenses. That said, it's a camera and I can make images with it so any camera is better than no camera.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  18. BobbyT

    BobbyT Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    Bobby Tingle
    I found the giant EVF of the XT1 to ideal for manual focusing. The XE2 is a big step up from the XE1 due to the faster frame rate of the EVF. It's great that you stuck with the XE1 and worked things out.

    Have you looked into the non pro version of capture one? It has a great set of editing controls which is mainly what you're after.
     
  19. kevistopheles

    kevistopheles FujiXspot Veteran

    419
    Oct 18, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Kevin
    That XT1 EVF is crazy good. I have been thinking about upgrading my Capture One. When I was a Sony user I got the Sony specific version for all of $30 so in order to go to Pro that will work with Fuji I gotta re-buy it. I am also a bit concerned reading that the developers of Capture One are not that interested in Fuji support. Because of that I will probably go with Photo Ninja, it and Iridient seem to have the best RAW converters for Fuji and they offer special discounts to university staff (may as well take advantage of it).
     
  20. BobbyT

    BobbyT Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 31, 2013
    Louisville, Ky
    Bobby Tingle
    The viewfinder was my main draw to the XT1 for manual focus.

    Capture One does really well for me. Whether Phase One acknowledges a lot of interest in developing for Fuji, they made a far better raw editor for Fuji files than Adobe did. Although if I had a mac I would give iridient a try.