Fuji X-E1 and 32 degrees selsius - Ongoing thoughts about the camera.

Yesterday was a seriously hot day. 32 degrees selsius, high humidity and a dazzling sun from a clear clue sky for most of the day. I reduced my outfit to the basics. X-E1 body, 18-55mm lens. I left the grip and lens hood at home and changed my plans to take a couple of Nikon lenses out with me to try out the focus peaking as I wanted things as simple and light as possible.

Walking around was difficult and required stopping at every available bench! While Ann and I were having an ice cream to cool ourselves down a woman next to us collapsed from the heat and was eventually taken to hospital in an ambulance. The problem is we are just not used to this in the UK. It reminded me of when I used to go to the South of France in high summer. I can just about cope with it. Working slowly and drinking plenty of liquids kept me going and I was able to get round the grounds of the stately home I was photographing.

Coughton Court, Warwickshire, UK

Thursday Afternoon. Hot, Humid, Sunny.

Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm Zoom.

 Despite all my personal frustrations with the Fuji X system,
  • To date four different software programs to process the raw files
  • Extended workflow due to above
  • Need to carry extra batteries
  • Slow (ish) AF
  • Lack of light telephoto options in the system
there is no denying that now, via Iridient Developer, I'm getting some spectacular results from the raw files I'm shooting. I've been gradually refining and tweaking my raw file conversion workflow, partly to get it quicker and also to extract the maximum quality I can from the X-Trans sensor files. After a long period of what seemed to me to be a 'Take it or leave it' approach, Fuji do seem to be helping. Their software and firmware tweaks have moved things on quite significantly and the X-E1 is for me a great improvement on the X-Pro 1. Its a simpler camera, and I never saw much point in the hybrid viewfinder system anyway, particularly as with my polarised sunglasses I can't see the frame lines in the optical option and when using the EVF it blacked out altogether. I also like the 18-55mm zoom very much. Its got some softish edges at 18mm, but overall its a really good lens and I use it most of the time on the camera. In terms of AF the latest firmware update has improved things slightly. Nothing dramatic, but every little helps. 

One thing I would mention which doesn't seem to get a lot of column inches is how good the camera is at getting the exposure right. I very rarely take a shot that fools it. There seems to be a good compromise between bringing out shadow detail and keeping the highlights under control and again I rarely have problems with dynamic range. Plus the autofocus may not be the fastest out there but it is accurate and reliable, which is for me more important than speed. I take an age to press the shutter usually, so its not really a problem for me. 

Yesterday saw the release of Panasonics re-badged NEX-7... sorry GX7. Looks like a fine camera, but what struck me about it was that everything it now includes (that of course m4/3 fans have been asking to be included for what seems years) is a bit late. Built-in viewfinder,  Focus Peaking, Body IS and decent grip are all available in other systems, and in some cases have been for some time. As I indicated earlier, they have lifted the NEX-7 design, which is no bad thing, but have still left out a couple of things that could have made it the mirrorless rangefinder styled camera that has everything. Firstly you can't use an external microphone and I gather the body IS doesn't work for video. Now a year ago, maybe even 6 months ago I would have been really interested in the GX7, but I've pretty much got what I want in an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with the Fuji. I have no use for a tiltable viewfinder or indeed the flip-up screen and I've generally found the IS in lenses works better than in body. Unless of course its the amazing gyroscopic system in the Olympus OM-D, which is something special. Fuji are still lacking some lenses and I'd certainly like a faster roll-out on the ones they have planned, but the 18-55mm does cover 90% of my needs so its not that much of an issue.

So, all in all I'm very pleased. I'm even more pleased because I broke off writing this post to answer the door to the postman who brought me my L-Plate grip for the X-E1 which Matthew Maddock, the blogger, is now selling in the UK via his PhotoMadd shop. I've fitted it and it looks and feels great and I'll write about it tomorrow. Incidentally, ordered yesterday, arrived today. Much better than ordering these things from across the world. So on that alone, well done Matthew.