Fuji X-E1 - Perceptions and Realities



Martin Conyon posed this interesting question in the Soundimageplus Blog Readers Group community on Google + yesterday.

'Hi folks, given the V1 / Fuji XE1 comparisons, is anyone a bit disappointed with the X-E1 performance?  Personally, I still have issues with focus and AF with it.  I've seen elsewhere that some are considering selling their X-E1 because of this.'

This was my reply, which is slightly off the point but which I put forward anyway:-

'While its certainly true that the X-E1 is not as fast at focusing as the V1, the fact is that few cameras are.  For me the problems aren't particularly with the X-E1, though AF speed could certainly be faster, but with the perception of what its good at.

Again and again the Fuji's X-E1 and X-Pro 1 are touted as 'Street Photography cameras', however that has always struck me as being more to do with what they look like, rather than any special abilities they have for that kind of photography. Back in the mists of time Leicas were the fastest, smallest quality cameras around, and therefore they got used when photographers needed to to work fast and unobtrusive. However not a lot has changed in the Leica M range since then and there are far faster, far more suitable cameras now available that do that job much better.

By liking the Leica design ethic and to my mind getting hung up on this dual viewfinder concept, some Fuji users seem to have missed the fact that other cameras are much faster to use, focus and take the picture. However they seem to believe that since its a rangefinder lookalike it must be good for street photography. But it isn't 1936 anymore and things move on.

There is no doubt in my mind that cameras such as the V1 and recent m4/3 cameras are much more responsive and faster than the current Fuji's and therefore a good deal more suitable for taking fast reaction shots on the street, while still remaining relatively unobtrusive.

I also feel that all of this street/retro stuff doesn't actually help promote what cameras like the X-E1 are actually really good at, which is clean, sharp images with one of the best (if not the best) high ISO performance you can get. They are I believe, brilliant for landscape, architecture and location photography. And they will also suit wedding, event and other indoor photographers who have to work without a tripod or a flash. Weddings for example are fairly sedate, well-structured affairs, which to a large extent a photographer can control, so lightning AF isn't so much of a priority, whereas quality images, with low noise, is.

For what its worth, I've never seen Fuji particularly push the 'street photography' angle, and the notion that the X-Trans cameras are the ideal cameras for it seems to have come mostly from the photographic internet. Again I would suggest that this is more because of their appearance and design aesthetic. Personally I would like to see everybody concentrate on what are their virtues, rather than some unsuccesful attempt to shoehorn them into a function which isn't what they are best at. Fuji promote the image quality first and foremost, and thats how I think they should be judged. Its better than most, and what makes viewing the images such a pleasure. I use mine in ways to make the most of that and when I need speed I'll use something else.'

Any thoughts on this?