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04-05-2013, 10:22 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Fuji X-Pro / X-E System Pictures Thread

There's a lively thread for the X100 / X10 but as yet nothing for their big brothers. Since I've just taken delivery of an X-E1, I figured I'd start one.

This first post will combine some snaps with a mini-review. Sure, there are tons of reviews already for this system out there on the web, but do any of them compare it with a Pentax DSLR?

I bought the X-E1 with the 18-55 zoom for 899 from SRS Microsystems. I might have saved about 90 by buying second hand, but I figured for that sort of difference it was worth it to have the peace of mind of a guarantee. I also figured that if I didn't like it, I could return it, but...

...While charging the battery, I read the manual (no, not as good as Pentax manuals, but it's good that you get a hardcopy nonetheless). I left the room for a couple of minutes and when I came back, I found that little miss butter-wouldn't-melt here had chewed the manual to buggery.



So it turned out that I was keeping it after all!

The camera was smaller than I expected, about the size of an Olympus Pen. It is very well built and exudes a high quality feel. Fuji are definitely not targeting the budget-conscious crowd with the X family of cameras. Although it is digital as all-hell, the feel is of an old-school rangefinder with analogue controls in place of switches and wheels. The first thing that strikes you is the absence of a mode dial. Instead, you control shutter speed and exposure compensation with dedicated dials on the camera body and aperture with, you guessed it, an aperture ring on the lens. ISO control, unfortunately, requires either a little bit of menu diving or dedicating the sole custom "Fn" button to it. You do have your PASM modes, but they're accessed through taking one of the exposure controls off its "A" setting. A nice feature for Pentax shooters: M mode with auto ISO is, in effect, TAv mode. There's a curious limitation of the "P" mode (shutter and aperture both on "A"): if you use auto ISO, you can't program shift. Why not is beyond me.

The feel in the hand is pretty decent, but nowhere near as pleasant as my K-5 (on the plus side it's nowhere near as heavy or intimidating as my K-5). I have small hands, but it still felt like there wasn't anywhere for all the fingers on my right hand to go. In addition, my index finger didn't sit naturally on the shutter release. Worse, there is no dedicated thumb grip on the back, which means that it is easy to inadvertently activate controls with my thumb (you're framing a shot and suddenly the viewfinder is filled with the quick menu: mildly annoying).

I spent last night finding my way around the interface and getting a feel for how things worked. Lack of an "easy-automatic" mode means that the X system might be rather initimidating for beginners. This morning, I took it out to the local cemetery to get a feel for its capabilities. Everything here is out-of-the-camera JPEG (I've only just downloaded LR 4.4 which brings proper demosaicing support for the X-Trans sensor).



As with Olympus, the in-camera JPEG engine is nothing short of excellent. It's so good that raw shooting could be considered optional, maybe just for really tricky exposures.

Framing is done using the EVF. I believe that it is the same EVF as the one on the latest NEX cameras, so pretty much the best in the business. That said, it's still not quite as good as an optical viewfinder. On the plus side, you get a larger frame with lots more information (so much, indeed, that I turned some of it off). On the minus side, it feels like you're looking at the world through a TV camera (maybe because you are). In addition, the EVF on the Fuji has trouble maintaining a frame rate when you pan so you get screen tear and a noticeable "jello" effect. Still, more than acceptable. Another plus is that it's WYSIWYG so you can see whether your white balance is off before you take the shot. The panning issues are likely addressable through firmware. The X-Pro 1 has a rather lower resolution EVF than the X-E1, but it also has the option of a rangefinder-style optical viewfinder complete with frame lines.



Since the X-E1 uses CDAF, the live view experience is perfectly acceptable (much more so than the K-5). For a 2013 camera, however, the rear screen is fairly low res: only 460K dots. This feels like cost cutting on the part of Fuji. I'd happily have paid a few more pounds for the same screen as the X-Pro 1. There is an eye sensor that switches between the rear screen and EVF when you lift the camera to your eye. The switch is instantaneous with no noticeable lag at all.

As for the auto-focus, it seems pretty good: fast, bang-on accurate (as you'd expect from a contrast-detect system) and - for those of us used to screw-drive lenses - whisper silent. Some reviewers have complained about the focus speed. Can't see any problems myself, but then I'm used to a K-5! Note, however, that I've not tried continuous auto-focus yet. In addition, I did find that it could be difficult to lock on indoors if what I was pointing at didn't have enough contrast for the camera to figure it out by itself. There is a focus assist LED. However, its placement on the body means that you can easily block it with the fingers of your right hand. The LED on the X-Pro 1 is much better placed.



Controls. Because you have dedicated dials for your exposure settings, the rear panel is relatively uncluttered. You have four playback controls to the left, a four way controller for scrolling through stuff and two buttons on the top right, the "Q" button for calling up a quick menu for changing settings, and an exposure lock button. The quick menu should be intuitive for Pentax shooters - it's near as damnit the same as you get when you press the "Info" button on your DSLR. There is also a programmable "Fn" button on the right shoulder. The "Fn" button brings me to some niggles about the interface. There's only one remappable button, but more than one thing that you want instant access to. Currently I have it mapped to ISO, but I may well map it to DOF preview, since ISO is available through the quick menu but DOF preview isn't. Why no other camera manufacturer offer DOF preview through the on/off lever like the K-5 is beyond me. Don't they look at the K-5, slap their foreheads and think "of course"?

Finally, there's an additional thumb dial which seems to be under-used. You use it to change settings from the quick menu but, as far as I can tell, it has no other use. It would seem natural to map ISO to this so that you can happily use the Fn button for something else.

The shutter speed dial is pleasantly old-school but it has a serious limitation: you can only change shutter speed in whole-stop increments. The X-E1 may support 1/180 flash sync, but I'm damned if I can see how to dial that value in: it goes from 1/250 to 1/125. Presumably you can dick about with the exposure compensation control to adjust shutter speed by 1/3 of a stop, but that's not exactly what you want. For those doing long exposures, you need to menu dive for exposures longer than quarter of a second. I'm not altogether persuaded that this is better than a thumb wheel. It just looks cooler.



The sensor is excellent. Together with the precise AF you get pictures full of enough pixel-level detail to satisfy the most anal of peepers. It's good in low-light too - that first picture of the naughty puppy is ISO 6400 and there is barely a hint of noise. On the minus side, base ISO is 200. This doesn't really matter in day-to-day shooting, since images are sharp beyond ISO 1600, but it does mean that for longer exposures, you'll be needing an ND filter sooner rather than later. ISO 100 is available as a "boost" setting, but since this actually reduces the sensor's otherwise impressive dynamic range, it's probably best avoided. As an aside, I shot all these pictures using the "DR 200%" setting, This uses digital trickery to significantly boost the upper end of the dynamic range without overly affecting shadow detail, but it makes the ISO floor 400. For those who shoot lots of sunny skies, you can squeeze even more DR out of the system at the expense of 800 base ISO.

As the NEX 7 showed, a first-in-class sensor doesn't really mean anything unless you have the optics to match it. Here, Fuji doesn't disappoint. The 18-55mm might sound as though it'd be just another kit lens, but it isn't. It's faster (F2.8 - F4) for one thing, seemingly sharp edge to edge even wide open, and made of metal rather than plastic. When bought with the X-E1 it adds around 300 to the cost of the package. As a standalone, it's closer to 500. I guess Fuji figured that a bog-standard F3.5 to F5.6 wouldn't cut it, so they produce the lens that you might otherwise upgrade to.



Sure, it's not a total bokeh monster (I guess that would be the 35mm F1.4) but the background blur is quite appealing. For those who care about the pixel level, here's a 100% crop:



As you can see, no softness here.

Chromatic aberration seems to be very well controlled. Of course, like most system cameras these days, the body applies auto-correction even to raw files. Nevertheless, here's a shot against the sky that I would expect to have significant purple fringing:



The 100% crop shows absolutely none:


(I checked the tree branches at 100%; nothing to see there either).

Unlike the Fuji primes, the zoom isn't tiny. That said, it's not massive either. It's about the size of my Pentax 18-55 WR, a bit longer when zoomed out. It certainly doesn't create the "milk-bottle-on-a-fag-packet" look of zoom lenses on the NEX / Samsung NX. Needless to say, it is extremely well made (as it should be given the price!). Zoom action is extremely smooth, as is the focus ring. The aperture ring feels a little plasticky by comparison, even though it, too, is made of metal. Unlike the shutter speed dial, the aperture ring has 1/3 stop intervals. Unlike the Fuji primes, there are no markings on the aperture ring. At whatever focal length it goes from whatever F-stop equals wide open down to F22.

Besides the not-altogether-convincing aperture ring, there are a couple of other niggles too. Auto / manual aperture is selected using a dedicated switch as opposed to simply being a stop on the ring. I feel that the latter would be more usable. Very minor niggle: the lens hood is really hard to fit / remove. Nothing deal breaking, just awkward.



A feature of most kit lenses is that they double up a poor-man's macro lens, typically focusing as close as 25cm with 1:4 magnification. This is not the case with the Fuji. At 55mm, minimum focus distance is 40cm with 1:6 magnification. To get really close with any lens on the X-system requires you to engage a macro mode, like a 100 point-and-shoot. Not good.

Something that you'll instantly notice about all X system lenses coming from a DSLR is the marked absence of any distance scale. Instead, the focus distance is shown on a bar in the bottom of the viewfinder. I actually prefer this, but it might make zone focusing somewhat less convenient (I guess that you'd set the distance using the rear screen rather than the eye level finder, but still not as instant as using a distance scale with adequate DOF markings). The focus distance indicator is also has a small white bar that tells you the depth of field. Nice, but by all accounts Fuji use a very conservative circle of confusion value to calculate this, so perhaps not as useful as it might otherwise be.

Manual focus is certainly doable. Focusing is "by wire" (so you're driving the body rather that turning a helicoid directly). As with all "by wire" systems, focus throw is very long (several full turns, so maybe too long). However, since the X-E1 / Pro 1 don't offer any focus assists other than a blown up view that screws up your framing, it's probably only something you'd use in extremis, or when you're "shooting without lens" (who came up with that term?).

The X100s has acquired perhaps the best manual focusing in the business so future iterations of the X-Pro / X-E should be better.



Fuji are clearly pleased with their film simulation modes, so pleased that they even make it a bracketing option. Not having used Velvia or Astia myself, I can't comment on the accuracy of the simulation. So that you can see for yourselves, here's a comparison.

First off, Provia (the neutral / standard option, same as all the other shots in this post):



Next up is the Velvia (or vivid option):



Judge for yourselves whether "Velvia" is worthy of the distinguished name. Presumably, under the hood they're just dicking around with tone curves. I've read that the Velvia simulation significantly reduces dynamic range so use with care.

Besides the film simulations, there are no other picture effects available. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your taste. IMHO, lack of an in-camera selective colour filter is a good thing.



I'll round up with a few random things that I found bad about the camera and a couple that I found good. The door that covers the ports is excellent: it's metal, it opens easily and clicks shut firmly. Why every other camera maker inflicts stupid rubber things on us to do the same job is beyond me. Popup flash is present and correct and you can bounce it. This means that you might actually use it. Apparently it can act as a master controller for off-camera flash too, but that would require me to invest in another flash system. The shutter control is threaded for a cable release (yay!) but there is no option of a wireless remote (boo!). The strap is incredibly cheap and nasty. I can see another Gordy's strap in my near future. Tripod thread is off-centre. Seriously, what's that all about? How hard can it be to put a thread in line with the lens axis? Camera designers: fiddle with Autocad until it comes out right!

The niggles that I've enumerated are just that: niggles. Overall this an excellent camera and a pleasure to use. No, it doesn't handle nearly as well as my K-5, but it does take better pictures, even with an idiot like me behind the viewfinder. And that, ultimately, is what it's all about.



Fuji are showing excellent support for the X-system, which is rapidly turning into the best mirrorless system around. Unlike (apparently) Sony, they recognize that good glass is needed to sell the system and they aren't stinting on it. Targeting enthusiasts, most X lenses are small, beautifully made, fast primes. A bit like Pentax in that respect, except that the lenses are fast.

Million dollar question: is this going to supplant my Pentax system? Not yet, certainly. The X system isn't yet complete by a long shot. Longest lens at time of writing is only 60mm, for example. There's a telephoto zoom on the horizon, but it only goes out to 200mm while my Pentax zoom goes out to 300mm. That 60mm macro only does 1:2 but I have two (count 'em!) Pentax lenses that do 1:1. My Pentax 17-70mm isn't quite as sharp or nicely finished as the Fuji 18-55mm, but it's more versatile (and focuses closer too). Maybe when that Fuji ultrawide zoom comes out I'll rethink (let's face it, it's going to cost a few bob!), but until then I'm keeping the K-5. In the meantime, though, I've got to pay for the X-E1, so look out for some Pentax limiteds coming into the marketplace!

Hope that this has been an interesting read for you. If any other owners of the X system want to show is what these cameras are really capable of, I'd love to see it.



04-05-2013, 01:27 PM   #2
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Excellent job for this review. However for the sake of my wallet, I'm boycotting this thread!
04-05-2013, 05:10 PM   #3
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Great start, I like the Fuji cameras.
04-05-2013, 07:33 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by top-quark Quote
There's a lively thread for the X100 / X10 but as yet nothing for their big brothers. Since I've just taken delivery of an X-E1, I figured I'd start one.
Even though the title says X100/X10, a few of us have been posting our X-Pro1/X-E1 photos on https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/non-pentax-cameras-canon-nikon-etc/166455...-pictures.html; I guess it's kinda just become the defacto Fuji-X thread.

QuoteOriginally posted by top-quark Quote
The shutter speed dial is pleasantly old-school but it has a serious limitation: you can only change shutter speed in whole-stop increments.
I have the X-Pro1, but it should be the same process: select the closest whole-stop shutter speed you want, and then use the Left/Right buttons on the d-pad to select 1/3rd increments. And whole-stop shutter increments are an old school camera thing. I've got two film cameras and you can only select whole stops; heck my Leica M6 doesn't even have exposure compensation!

QuoteOriginally posted by top-quark Quote
The X-E1 may support 1/180 flash sync, but I'm damned if I can see how to dial that value in: it goes from 1/250 to 1/125.
Apparently you'll need to have a Fujifilm EF20/42 flash mounted to access 1/180th.

04-05-2013, 11:08 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pop4 Quote
I have the X-Pro1, but it should be the same process: select the closest whole-stop shutter speed you want, and then use the Left/Right buttons on the d-pad to select 1/3rd increments.
Yep. I clearly didn't read the instructions closely enough!
04-06-2013, 05:57 AM   #6
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Very nice review - I enjoyed reading it.
04-06-2013, 09:06 AM   #7
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Excellent review, thanks! I am a Fuji fan, but also love my Pentax gear and K5. The X-E1 appeals to me and may be in my future at some point, but it may be a while before I master my new little X20....if I ever master it. There is a lot of difference in the Fuji system, and it does take some time to learn, at least for me.

I hope to see a lot of photos posted in this thread, the Fuji photos are most always superb. One thing I may disagree with slightly is that Fuji takes better photos than the K5.....It seems unfair to me, because the Fuji Pro/X-E1 shooters are using the best of glass, since that is all they are offered. Go to the K5 photo thread, take a good look around, and you will find some of the most excellent photos in the world, among some ordinary photos by guys like me. When you mount a Ltd lens on a K5, put it in the hands of a qualified and skilled shooter, it doesn't matter what camera he is up against, he will perform to a very high level.

Still, the X line of cameras offers a different way of shooting, limited somewhat by the strange operating mechanisms, and the lack of lenses at this point in time. As it develops, I can see it being a real winner system. The improvements in the X100 and X10 prove that Fuji is listening to their base and making the improvements requested, something where Pentax could use as a guide to better customer satisfaction, and of course, better sales.

Keep us informed, keep the pictures coming, many are interested.

Best Regards!
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04-06-2013, 10:47 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rupert Quote
Excellent review, thanks! I am a Fuji fan, but also love my Pentax gear and K5. The X-E1 appeals to me and may be in my future at some point, but it may be a while before I master my new little X20....if I ever master it. There is a lot of difference in the Fuji system, and it does take some time to learn, at least for me.

I hope to see a lot of photos posted in this thread, the Fuji photos are most always superb. One thing I may disagree with slightly is that Fuji takes better photos than the K5.....It seems unfair to me, because the Fuji Pro/X-E1 shooters are using the best of glass, since that is all they are offered. Go to the K5 photo thread, take a good look around, and you will find some of the most excellent photos in the world, among some ordinary photos by guys like me. When you mount a Ltd lens on a K5, put it in the hands of a qualified and skilled shooter, it doesn't matter what camera he is up against, he will perform to a very high level.

Still, the X line of cameras offers a different way of shooting, limited somewhat by the strange operating mechanisms, and the lack of lenses at this point in time. As it develops, I can see it being a real winner system. The improvements in the X100 and X10 prove that Fuji is listening to their base and making the improvements requested, something where Pentax could use as a guide to better customer satisfaction, and of course, better sales.

Keep us informed, keep the pictures coming, many are interested.

Best Regards!
Rupert
Wait a bit and you'll be able to get the X-E2 which will no doubt have a gazillion improvements over the X-E1. Fuji sure are developing this system rapidly.

No arguments with you over the K-5. For handling, nothing in my experience comes close. And it's not as though it takes crappy photos. But the X-Trans systems are just on another level. I'm sounding like a guy with a new favourite toy here, aren't I?

I'll try and keep the photos coming. Hope you folks don't mind cute puppy pictures!

OOC JPEG (because I forgot to set the camera to shoot raw):



Normally I'd get down to her level and get closer in, but she simply tries to lick the front of the lens!

04-06-2013, 01:45 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by top-quark Quote
There's a lively thread for the X100 / X10 but as yet nothing for their big brothers.
Yes, the X100/X10 thread is for the Fuji line of cameras and you will see XP1 shots in it. It was discussed in the thread but we never got around to changing the title of the thread. It takes powers beyond mere mortals to change it.

Last edited by tuco; 04-06-2013 at 01:51 PM.
04-09-2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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For those thinking of jumping onboard, there are rumours of a XPro2/XE2 in the very near future that fixes a lot of issues with the current line up; that said, as quirky as the current models are they still make excellent images.

*well, tuco makes excellent images*


*that's how I want my grave to be...fun*
04-09-2013, 02:47 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clicker Quote
For those thinking of jumping onboard, there are rumours of a XPro2/XE2 in the very near future that fixes a lot of issues with the current line up; that said, as quirky as the current models are they still make excellent images.
That's good to hear. Myself - I'm waiting for the 55-200 OIS and 10-24 OIS lens to appear - that might make it enough for me to tilt the scales in Fuji's favor.

One thing that is nice about Fuji - they publish a roadmap and stick to it - are you listening Pentax?
04-09-2013, 04:13 PM   #12
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There's no doubt that Fuji are pushing hard on customer satisfaction. I'm particularly impressed by the rapid firmware updates (although maybe if the firmware didn't have so many bugs in the first place...) and the roadmap shows that they're not holding back the good stuff. I'll have to try before I buy with that tele - 580g is on the chunky side. Looking forward to the ultrawide zoom - here's hoping that it'll be as sexy as the NEX ultrawide. I'm guessing that it'll be as pricey at the very least.

Interesting to see that Zeiss are making autofocus lenses for the X-mount. They'll be totally out of my price league, mind. Not sure how many other third parties will get on board. The need for an electronically coupled aperture ring means that it won't just be a matter of screwing a different mount to the back.

A couple more observations on the X-E1. Mounting anything on the hotshoe makes the shutter speed dial hard to use and impossible to read. A neat feature is that you can review images in the viewfinder - now no-one can see you chimp! Another good feature about the 18-55mm zoom is that maximum aperture is fairly slow to drop off: F2.8 to 21mm, F3.2 to 32mm, F3.6 (funny value) to about 38mm. Image stablization seems to be very good - good for about three stops. It is, without a doubt, the best zoom lens that I have used.
04-09-2013, 06:35 PM   #13
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Good review. Thx for sharing.
04-22-2013, 09:00 AM   #14
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This is what happens when you play your grandchildren at a competitive level

04-22-2013, 06:01 PM   #15
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I'm really interested to see the new Fuji 56mm F/1.2. If Fuji keeps improving the AF system and keeps cranking out good glass, it will be an excellent system.
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