State Street – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Jackson County Fair – Jackson, Michigan
Last year, for my birthday, I purchased a gently used Fuji X-E1 from fredmiranda.com, ushering in my entry to the Fujifilm system.
After many months of using (and a bit of abusing) this great little camera, I’m going to run down some thoughts on it.
Hey – it was my birthday. What other excuse do I need to buy a new camera?
But really, it was after seeing the incredible work of La Roque and others that first attracted me to the Fujifilm system. There was a magic in these cameras, they told me, similar to Leica and Apple and all those cultish (and quality) consumer brands.
The key was to buy into the system at a discount, which is why I went with a used Fuji X-E1, the consumer-grade Fujifilm camera. For $300, I bought into a whole new camera and lens system. I also purchased the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens during last spring’s rebate. Everything was affordable, and I felt I wasn’t losing much even if my new-camera experiment didn’t work out.
It was an easy way to see what all the fuss was about. So I did it.
Happy birthday, me!
First, much like my Canon EOS M, I can see why photographers are singing the praise of mirrorless cameras. The lightness and portability are a definite plus.
In fact, the X-E1 is almost too light – or too hollow. That’s why I’m thankful my X-E1 seller included a leather case. The heft the case adds feels more natural in my hands. Even with that, though, the camera and lens combo is light. Featherweight, even. It makes my Canon M feel like a solid brick of metal.
The pancake lens adds almost nothing to the weight, and very little to the size. That may be a different story with something like the Fujinon 35mm, but I set this system up to be portable and small.
I knew that this wasn’t a DSLR, and that not everything would be accessible as a button or switch. So menu hunting gets a little old sometimes. But as long as I’m thoughtful, and think through a shooting session, I get by okay.
And can we talk about style? For someone’s who’s not concerned with fashion, getting the fun “is that a film camera?” comments has been a hoot for me. It becomes a topic of conversation, even with strangers.
Everyone’s right: there’s something very special about these Fuji photo files. I knew that from my few weeks using a Fujifilm X100 a few summers back.
I’ll say that the X100 had something really special about it. I look back at those files and realize that the X-E1′s don’t quite match up. It could be the lens that makes the difference. I don’t know. But there is a difference – those X100 images are stellar.
The X-E1′s? Still great. There’s a coldness to them, but they’re certainly sharp. I’ve found that I don’t enjoy using the film simulation modes. They do things with colors that are not pleasing to my eye. The black and white modes work pretty well, though.
Ben Brooks has some nice thoughts on his XE-2, and I really enjoyed his parting words on using a Fuji for the style:
The color rendering, the feel, the controls. It’s not a system that is quantitatively better if you ask me, but it is a system that just makes you feel like you have the chance to create something special every time you press the shutter release because the cameras and lenses themselves feel very special to use.
The cameras? Yes. The photo files? Maybe.
It could be that my eyes are use to seeing Canon files. It could be the sharpness is off-putting sometimes – it’s hard to describe, but there’s a crispness to the images that’s almost too much.
All in all, the Fuji X-E1 has been a great little camera. Portable, flexible, fashionable, and not obnoxious. It certainly has its quirks.
I do find myself missing Canon image files. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten so used to them, but the “coldness” in the Fuji files, and something about the color, isn’t as pleasing to me.
For the near future, I do see trying out a Fujinon 35mm. The 27mm makes for a fine walk-around lens, but to get truly creative, I feel like the shallow depth of field on the 35mm will open some options. And people have (mostly) nothing but good things to say about it.
I see this as primarily my travel camera. When I go somewhere, the X-E1 will go with me.
You can view some of the images I’ve made with this camera at my Flickr album.
Had a chance to visit Austin, Texas, last week for a higher ed conference. Lovely city, and very weird. Neat that both the state capitol and major university are in the same town.
And all that barbecue? Man.
More to come.
Big thanks to Jamie MacDonald and Mike Boening for having me on episode five of the Mirrorless Minutes podcast last night.
Just to prove that they’re not micro 4/3 biased, they had me on to talk about Fuji and Canon mirrorless options, and to chat about the Lansing-area Kelby Photo Walk.
Hot air jubilees, including the annual one in my hometown, are great for photography material. The colors, the shapes, the ambition.
But it’s hard not to fall into cliché. If you’ve seen one soaring balloon, you’ve probably seen them all. And unless you have an in-basket view, there’s only so much you can do from the ground.
It’s why I like focusing on the people behind the event – who puts these things together? What are their jobs? Is there any struggle?
Or, what if you took the colors away? And just focused on the shapes? Hence, this shot from just before sunset.
Hot Air Jubilee – Jackson, Michigan
The Colors of the Rainbow – Hot Air Jubilee – Jackson, Mich.