My style, my clients and my way of working have changed a lot since I started out as a professional photographer about eight years ago … and so has technology. Therefor I started a major gear bag audit a couple of months ago. I thought I’d share my thought process with you in a couple of blog posts. Check the posts about my current main camera: the FujiFilm X-Pro1 and the camera that will be my second camera soon: my first impressions of the X-E1 and the X-E1 Improvisation Street Shoot.
In this third and final (at least for now) part of my Fujifilm X-E1 review, I’ll take a look at it from a travel point-of-view. The X-E1 is definitely a camera that has created a lot of interest in the world of travel, reportage and documentary photography. Being so light, small, unobtrusive and yet produce great images, makes the X-E1 a good companion for on the road. To test out this assumption we decided to take a little family weekend trip to Slagharen in Holland. Off-course our family doesn’t like to visit attraction parks at all, we just do it to test out equipment for you
Let me show you some pictures and write down some observations.
I keep being impressed by the way the Fujifilm sensor renders skies and clouds. There’s a lot of detail in the RAW-files that can be recovered in post processing. I know there are still some issues with the Fuji files in Lightroom (4.2). Usually I don’t worry too much about it as the problems are barely noticeable unless you pixel peep. But in situations like with these pictures you sometimes get these white outlines around objects like the wind turbine on the right when you try to push the RAW file. If you ease back on the post-processing, it’s gone but I’m sure Adobe hasn’t unlocked the full potential of the Fuji RAW files yet. I hear Fuji and Adobe are working together on providing better results, let’s hope they get it right soon.
Speaking of RAW-converters, it’s a pity that the software options for Fuji RAW-shooters are currently limited to Lightroom/ACR and the IMHO unworkable Silky Pics software. I’m starting to get the impression that Apple has all but given up completely on Aperture. As a LR user, that doesn’t affect me but I know there are still a ton of Aperture users out there. I would also like to see the expertise of Capture One and DxO being applied to the Fuji RAWs. I’m sure there’s so much more in those files but unfortunately we currently can’t access it.
But let’s not complain too much about the limited RAW support. The X-E1 still keeps amazing me with amazing colors, detail, sharpness and dynamic range. The images have a certain character that is usually associated with shooting film. It’s an esthetic that I really like as it makes it easier to translate the mood and the feeling of the moment into an image.
I currently only own the 35mm 1.4 but Fujifilm Belgium was so kind to borrow me an 18mm and a 60mm too. I haven’t used the 60 on this trip but I had a lot of fun with the 18mm. To be honest I never thought about buying the 18mm. Particularly because I’ve already ordered the 18-55 zoom lens which is only a stop slower (f2.8 instead of f2) but has image stabilization. But after playing with it during this weekend, I might have to reconsider. The 18mm may not be the best lens optically but it focuses fast and it’s so small that I could easily put the X-E1 with the 18mm in my jacket pocket. I hardly used my 35mm on this trip.
On our second day we were greeted by cold and wet weather. I don’t mind taking out my X-Pro1 for a couple of shots in the rain but since the X-E1 was a loaner, I didn’t want to take the risk of drowning it. Currently non of the Fuji X-cameras is weather sealed and I must admit that it is an issue that made me doubt about choosing Fuji as my main camera system. I shoot outside a lot and I have a long term project coming up that will require shooting outdoors in all kinds of weather. But after seeing how my friend and cycling photographer Kristof Ramon prepares his already weatherproof Nikon gear for shooting in muddy cyclocross conditions, I realized a freezer bag and some gaffer tape is all I need to protect my camera. I’d still like to see weather sealing in the next generation of X-cams but for now, I’ll refine my DIY solution but it ‘ll do.
With the peace of mind of having a protected camera, we went out and enjoyed a day at the attraction park.
We even got some dramatic rays of sunlight a few times.
You’ll have to excuse me not having any pictures from inside the more spectacular attractions. I was just too busy trying to look cool in front of the kids.
Just like the X-Pro1, the X-E1 is a photographer’s camera. You need to know what you are doing, concentrate and work for it to be rewarded with good pictures. But it’s less suited as a point-and-shoot. With my Panasonic GX1, you just pushed the iA-button and all of a sudden anyone could make a decent picture with it. Stacy shot some pictures with the X-E1 but found it to be harder to use than the Nikon D600 we also took with us for testing. But she still managed to get a picture of Kobe, Maya and me after our fourth run in a plastic log.
On our final day, the sun was out again so I could ditch the plastic bag around the X-E1 and enjoy some early morning lens flare. I love the Fuji lenses but they flare a lot easier than my Canon L-glass even when using the lens hood. Usually I don’t mind flare, I even like it. But it’s certainly something to watch out for when shooting into the light.
If a travel camera doesn’t mean a lazy and easy to use point-and-shoot camera to you, the X-E1 is a great choice for capturing the beauty of exotic countries, great family moments and street scenes.
The X-E1 is back with Fujifilm Belgium and I can’t wait until my own X-E1 with the 18-55 will arrive. As soon as I get it, I won’t have to lug a big DSLR with me for backup anymore on most of my assignments and I’ll probably sell some of my DSLR gear. The X-E1 had definitely convinced me that it will be my perfect second camera. I will review the 18-55 lens soon and keep you posted on my gear bag redesign.