I've finally decided what to do for my next financial year in terms of a much reduced camera outfit. I doubt that many would have expected this and until recently neither did I. I have however been considering this for a few weeks now and despite my somewhat unsuccesful 'hands-on' at the show I have decided to go with another of these 'cameras I love to hate'.
This is the third year running I've been to focus on imaging, been somewhat unimpressed by the Fuji camera I went to see and then bought it. Nothing if not consistently inconsistent. And yes I'm not impressed by the body of the X-E1 in terms of how it is often described as being metallic and old-school, but I'm beginning to think that when it comes to these cameras I just impulsively feel the need to have a go at them! It did however strike me, in a rare moment of common sense, that making a decision on a camera that has probably been abused by photographers all across the world might have been somewhat hasty. And the arrival of my X-E1 yesterday confirmed that. It may not be as well put together as the Olympus OM-D, but in terms of everything else its actually pretty good.
And in terms of the 18-55mm lens, I simply got it seriously wrong. I don't know if at shows they use pre-production models that aren't quite the same or whether thats me trying to weasel out of a mistake, but the lens that arrived in my kit yesterday is a thing of beauty. Truly. It is a beautifully aesthetic looking and feeling optic and it feels great to hold and use.
So why the Fuji? Well after the upgrade to Adobe Camera Raw, this camera, perhaps surprisingly ticks more boxes for me than any other. It also gives me the pleasure of entering into a year of camera buying austerity with something new to use and explore.
Its the right size and weight. I bought a grip and a case and with both it feels almost perfect in my hand. I don't like too small, I don't like too light or too heavy. I'm a fussy so and so but this is pretty much perfect. A bit like a Leica M with a zoom lens.
I'm happy (now) with the image quality, and there is now lots of justification for my somewhat rash statement that overall this is the best image quality I've seen. Great ISO performance, accurate colors with a lovely rich colour depth and sharp enough for any reproduction use.
Little things I like, like the left sided viewfinder, so no nose on screen moments here, OLED viewfinder which is polaroid sunglasses friendly, all the things I alter most often on easily accessible dials and probably the clincher for me a really superb lens range. It was in fact reading the spec. on the telephoto zoom that finally decided me to go for this.
I've been critical of Fuji in the past but the one thing that they have done very well is to leave out the mediocre and built to a budget lens choices that seem to afflict other CSC systems. No cheap and cheerful kit zoom first off. No, they went with 18mm, 35mm and 60mm primes. I had all of those when I went head first into the X-Pro 1 just under a year ago, and I know that they are excellent. The 18-55mm is an example of this. Its f/2.8-f/4, which is completely unlike the standard f/3.5-f/5.6 of what we usually get. It is also very well made and a joy to hold. Image quality? Well initial tests indicate its good, but there will be more on that later.
So there it is. I guess this is just final confirmation, if that were needed, of just how often I change my mind. However you may be surprised to learn that this decision at least wasn't at all impulsive. I been researching and planning this for some time and thought I'd keep quiet about what I was considering for once. I may of course live to regret it. The cry of anguish on the Fuji stand at a locked up camera may come back to haunt me.
I will of course start a review fairly soon. Which could of course take the next year, so I'm probably in no hurry.
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