Random Thoughts on the XE-1

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Cameras' started by nickzou, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. nickzou

    nickzou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There's something wonderful about mirrorless cameras, particularly because of how I use them, I think.

    I think I view them more as toys than cameras. Thus, naturally I don't expect the very best performance out of them so when they inevitably exceed my very low expectations, I'm always pleasantly surprised. And with the rapid rate of iterations, I find it quite easy to find cameras I want a very decent price on the used market.

    A year ago, I was trying to choose between the Olympus OM-D and the Fujifilm XE-1. I ended up going for the OM-D because some was selling it for a very decent price.

    It was a great little camera, sturdy, stylish, and easy to handle. The in-body IS was fantastic, the image quality was far better than my old GF2.

    Recently someone was selling this at a really good price and I just couldn't pass it up:

    [​IMG]

    I've only been able to shoot with the camera for less than a day as I had to wait for adapters to arrive in the mail. First impressions is that I think the EVF, despite it being a significantly higher resolution than the OM-D, and despite firmware updates, is still much laggier than the OM-D. It's not terribly slow and by no means unusable but noticeable.

    I find the back command dial utterly useless. I suspect it is used to control the aperture with native lenses but as I understand it, X-Mount lenses have physical aperture rings so I don't know what that's about. It would be nice if you could customize its function in shooting mode. As it is now, it doesn't do anything and it would be nice if I could map it to change the ISO.

    I'm a little disappointed with the focus peaking as well. It barely shows up in the EVF. There doesn't seem to be a setting for its tolerance. As it is, you have to click in the command dial to zoom in, to see the highlights at times. There's a jerry rigged focus peaking mode on the OM-D, using one of the camera's filter settings, that I actually prefer more. But at 2.43 something million dots in the EVF, it's not that difficult to manual focus with the peaking.

    Ergonomically, it feels great in the hand. Although, I suspect for those who love chunky DSLRs, the grip might be a little insufficient. But the dials and switches all feel amazing and even for me, a millennial for whom all of the nostalgia this camera design is meant to inspire means very little, I can easily see why people love the tactile nature of the controls.

    I wish I could talk about the autofocus and its metering abilities but as I don't have a single native lens, I can't really speak to that fully.

    I went out and took a few shots. I was pretty blown away by its low light performance. This is the straight out of the camera jpeg at ISO 6400, at f2.2~f2.5-ish. Hard to say with a smooth aperture ring.

    [​IMG]

    It's a little low contrast but I think that's the lens more than anything else. I honestly think this is better than my D7000 at ISO 6400 jpeg which tends to produce purple-y splotches where the blacks should be with an overall hit to dynamic range. I do miss the in-body IS of the OM-D though for this kind of night shot.

    I'll get around to playing with the RAWs later, seeing what it can actually do but the few snapshots I've taken have been surprisingly good. Although, I'm not sure why, all I've heard about Fuji cameras is that they produce astounding looking photos. It's like I keep forgetting that it has an APS-C sized sensor.

    [​IMG]

    But now I have both these guys. I thought it would be more clear cut but both these guys have their strengths and weaknesses. The OM-D compensates in low light with its in-body IS, which I find myself missing in the XE-1 but the high ISO performance in the XE-1 is just fantastic. I find the OM-D quicker to shoot with, being able to adjust ISO and shutter speed on the fly while the the XE-1 forces you to be more thoughtful about your compositions and settings. It's not built for speed, it seems to be built for skill.

    My original plan was to buy the XE-1 thinking it would dwarf the smaller sensored OM-D and I would eventually sell the latter. And not to say that I am underwhelmed with it, but the decision is proving much harder than I initially anticipated. There are a lot of features on the OM-D that I think I would miss. Maybe, I should actually keep both...


     
  2. Ron Evers

    Ron Evers Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Is that a Jupiter 8 on the X-E1?
     
  3. sashbar

    sashbar Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You should be able to adjust/fine tune your shutter speed with the XE-1 back command dial, use it for zooming the images on LCD, switching between customised settings in quick menu and do some other things. You will not be able to control the aperture.

    FUJI -X high ISO is indeed quite good - these were all shot with ISO 6400, apart from the DJ, if I remember correctly.

    Crazy London | Photography Forum
     
  4. nickzou

    nickzou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yep and the Jupiter-11.

    Wow, these look great. I'm sure I can pump out a little more contrast out of these photos once I process the raws. Admittedly, these old soviet lenses render images a little on the dull side.
     
  5. Nettles

    Nettles No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's quite a statement that in the past you've seen mirrorless cameras more as toys than cameras. Since I moved to mirrorless from SLRs I've found my photographic challenges to be just the same. Maybe overall style of shooting is partly what you mean, sports or wildlife for example. I'd agree what you go on to say that it's built for skill (hardly a toy, then). Or to put it another way, generally it can deliver top results in the right hands.

    Out of interest, why did you naturally not expect the very best performance out of mirrorless cameras? What do you mean? I'm surprised that you find the rear command dial "utterly useless". The camera's manual explains what it does and why. Maybe it's not so useful because of how you've used it so far.

    Anyway, I hope the Fujifilm continues to grow on you.
     
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  6. nickzou

    nickzou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    To be honest, I'm having a bit of trouble with the controls. Maybe it is because I have an adapted lens on the camera but the click-in zoom in feature seems to have stopped working. It was working for a while but recently it hasn't been. I must've pushed something or done something but I'm not sure what. And the manual hasn't been any help in figuring that out. Apparently, the back dial can control shutter speed, but I haven't seemed to have gotten that to work either. As far as I can tell, you control the shutter speed dial.

    Overall, I'm really enjoying the camera. The EVF is definitely good enough that I don't really need to use focus peaking (it doesn't work that great anyways). It feels perfectly balanced in the hand with the Jupiter-8 on it. And this isn't a real complaint, but it is so beautiful that it almost doesn't feel like a walk around camera. And even though I know that it is built well and is sturdy, I'm overly careful with it.

    EDIT: Figured out you can finetune the shutter speed with the directional left/right buttons. That's cool. Still haven't figured out how to get the back command dial to do that though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  7. rexbobcat

    rexbobcat Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The one thing that I'm most impressed with about Fuji cameras (at least the X100S; I'm not sure if the X-E1 has this feature) is the highlight dynamic range expansion. The high ISO is already very, very good for an APS-C sensor - better than the Canon 70D/7DII in my opinion. But the ability to expand the camera's DR at high ISOs is one of the most useful features in the camera, mostly because it makes a HUGE difference.

    Here is one frame I took a while back with the X100S for example. I forgot the camera was set to ISO 6400, so naturally, the image was overexposed.
    _DSF0093-2.jpg

    However, I had the DR expansion turned on, and...
    _DSF0093.jpg

    That's what I was able to recover. No blow outs anywhere. And the best part is that it doesn't seem to have any truly noticeable drawbacks, unlike with Canon's "Highlight Tone Priority," which causes horrendous noise in the shadows. Fujifilm's DR expansion also recovers A LOT more highlight detail than Canon's. Like, an absurd amount.

    That being said, the autofocus is dreadful. AF continuous is near useless.
     
  8. nickzou

    nickzou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Is highlight dynamic range expansion something that affects the RAWs?
     
  9. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes. Most camera JPEG settings apply only to the output of the image processor and leave the raw files unaltered. However Fuji implements DR expansion by underexposing the raw file. That's why the function is unavailable at base ISO. To use the DR expansion function you have to raise the ISO. Normally raising the ISO kicks in analog signal amplification prior to A/D conversion but with the DR expansion function active the signal amplification is disengaged and the raw is generated with the underexposure that results from having raised the ISO.

    It's a paradox: To expand the DR range of the output JPEGs Fuji forces a reduction in the DR of the raw files.

    Joe
     
  10. nickzou

    nickzou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Is that different than exposure comp?
     
  11. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes. You can use EC to alter the exposure up or down. That effects the raw file and JPEG equally. DR expansion is a different process. It's beneficial if you're after a camera JPEG in very high contrast light. The underexposure permits the EXR processor to generate a JPEG in which highlight detail that would otherwise be clipped is retained. So if your focus is on getting a better JPEG it's a positive function.

    On the other hand if your focus is on getting the best possible raw file then you want maximum dynamic range from the sensor and the forced underexposure you get from the DR function is working contrary to that goal -- less sensor exposure equals less data recorded equals less dynamic range.

    The EXR processor has to apply a tone curve when creating a JPEG from the raw capture. Like all camera image processors it's pretty primitive in that it can only apply a single tone curve to the entire image. Given that limitation compromises must be made and in this case the compromise is to pull back the sensor exposure so that an appropriate tone cure will yield normal contrast and still retain diffuse highlight detail. The sensor capture then (raw file) records less total data.

    Hand processing the raw file on a computer we can apply two, three or more discreetly different tone curves to different tonal section of the photo -- far more sophisticated than the camera software -- and so we don't have to make the underexposure compromise. More work on the back end but a better result because more data is available form a full sensor exposure.

    Joe
     
  12. Benjo255

    Benjo255 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yet Fuji gets beautiful jpg out of the camera. It's one of the reasons I switched from D90 to XE2. To spend less and less time on lightroom, so DR is a plus for me.
     
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