the Fuji X-E1 usage in the real-world

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Fujifilm X-E1 review

There is no secret I really enjoy shooting the Fuji X-E1. So much in fact that my Canon DSLR stays at home. I bought the Fuji X-E1 kit especially for travel. But why not use it for more “serious” work also? I tried the X-E1 with the XF 18-55 on a trip to Rome and Pompeii and for some light mountain hiking. Each time the Fuji X-E1 delivered nice pictures, with good colours, contrast, a certain richness and good flexibility in Lightroom. So when the occasion to shoot at a press conference appeared I was eager to test the X-E1.

event timeline
event timeline

Fuji X-E1 and shooting for an assignment

I feel the main difference between photographing for fun, as a hobby, and shooting on assignment is the expectation to deliver results. Deliver on time, at teh expected quality level, and in the desired quantity. If I can delay processing photos from my travels, and decide how much post-processing is enough or too much in Lightroom I knew that things will be much different at a press conference.

In theory I knew that the Fuji X-1 would be a good choice for this event, i had also a lot of concerns.

technical preparations - I was also checking and rechecking the Fuji X-E1
technical preparations - I was also checking and rechecking the Fuji X-E1

Fuji X-E1 concerns

  • battery life
    I usually get between 200 and 350 pictures per battery, for a full day. I knew this was not enough for an event. But how many batteries are “enough”? And how many more are needed to offer peace of mind? The result left me chuckling and a bit astonished.
  • reliability of the body and the lens
    Although I never had lockups with the Fuji X-E1, nor lens misscomunications I had my old Canon with me. Just in case. In the end I didn’t shoot any picture with the Canon and so it acted more like an insurance.
  • AF speed with the Fuji X-E1
    I wrote previously that I feel the AF speed of the Fuji X-E1 is good enough. Good enough for travel, for controlled environments, but on assignment? A press conference is not a sport event, but sometimes there are fleeting moments where the X-E1 struggled.
  • my familiarity with the X-E1 settings and features
    Although I am writing a review of this camera, and feel I know its features pretty well I still have to learn. After shooting Canon for several years I feel at home with a new body. But with Fuji ? What happens under pressure? Metering, focus mode, film mode, multiple exposures, white balance, increased dynamic range – all these settings have to be changed on-the-fly. I felt I was prepared, but I was proven (slightly) wrong.

my Fuji X-E1 kit – what I had, what I wish I had and what stayed in the backpack

First of all my Canon with EF-S 17-55 F2.8 stayed in the backpack. I brought it as a backup camera, as a guarantee that if something (camera or photographer-wise) went wrong I had a backup. I never used it.

I shot with the X-E1 with the XF18-55 F2.8-F4.0 the whole time. I also had the XF35 with me as I hoped to shoot some portraits with it. But the majority of photos I took with the 18-55.

I had one battery in the camera and one backup. The amazing thing is that one battery lasted for more than 700 photos! I was very puzzled by this, but it makes sense (or at least it does to me). I will explain a bit later why I think one battery could last so much.

I really missed a short to medium telephoto lens. The location allowed me to move freely, but any event were this flexibility is not possible is problematic. An Fuji XF 55-200 would be almost mandatory, based on the event location. I really missed my old EF 70-200 F4.0.

press conference with the Fuji X-E1
press conference with the Fuji X-E1

Fuji X-E1 at the press conference – what went wrong

Not a lot of things, but some did:

  • the autofocus speed cannot keep up with people moving quickly
    This was not a big issue, as it only happened at the beginning of the event. But I missed a few shots with people arriving at the location. These photos were not required, but I felt they add to a story.
    A possible solution which I will test is to try the C-AF mode, and fully press the shutter. It runs against my classic “half-press, THEN full-press” but a lot of photographers say this helps the Fuji X-E1. I will definitely try this method!
  • continuous shooting
    Either bracketing or continuous shooting, proved awkward. In theory I understand why Fuji named the photos in a sequence differently, but it is a nightmare to review them. Or maybe I have to get used a bit more to the feature.
  • internalizing the equipment
    I feel a camera has to be an extension of the photographer. Well, this still has some time to develop. For example: I have not yet mastered the minimum focus distance for the Fuji lenses, nor the approximate DOF of them. I think this will come with time.
TV interviews
TV interviews

the Fuji X-E1 – was it a good idea ?

Most definitely YES:

  • great images out of the camera
    It was a joy to open the images in Lightroom and do minimal adjustments – usually only some cropping was needed.
  • beautiful details, almost perfect white balance, and good film simulation
    The details, even at 100% zoom, just jumped out of the screen. The white balance was mostly correct, even with mixed light sources. I had to color-correct some photos, but most of the time I think the Fuji X-E1 did a great job!
    The Pro Neg Hi and Standard film simulations are great! These two modes offer a good balance between contrast, dynamic range and detail separation.
  • less intrusive
    The Fuji X-E1, with the XF 18-55, has a very low profile. At least compared to a Canon/Nikon DSLR with a 24-70, or my old 17-55. This allowed me to blend a bit better, and also allowed me to get a bit closer to the speakers and event participants.
    The Fuji X-E1 is also quieter than a classic DSLR.

So next time – will I shoot the Fuji X-E1 for a professional project? If it does not involve sport, surely. Is the Fuji X-E1 perfect? Not quite, but it is a very capable camera. I feel even the shortcomings of the Fuji X-E1 can be managed with me learning more of the features.

While the Fuji X-E1 has not replaced my other cameras, it is getting closer.

Fuji X-E1 availability:

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