I gave it a shot
Old 05-13-2014   #1
anjoca76
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I gave it a shot

After seemingly endless research and internal debate as to which of the Fuji X series I would buy in hopes of adding just one digital camera to my Leicas and Rolleicord lineup, I decided to pick up the XE-1 with the kit lens. The price right now on them are just too good to pass up. So I ordered it. My goal is not to replace my film cameras, but to give me something I can shoot more freely (like family snapshots) and that can more easily handle low light without a tripod and changing film.

My most-used lens is my 35mm skopar, so in theory, the X100/s is probably most suited to me. Just about everything about it appeals to me--the build quality, the fixed lens, the size, the profile, image quality, etc.--except the price. The X100s is just more than I can spend.

So I bought the XE-1.

My first impression is that it isn't built quite as nicely as the X100 and X100s. It's not cheap or flimsy, but I wouldn't call it robust. With the battery in it is a little better, but I guess I am just used to my M2 and M6, which feel perfect in my hands and have heft to them without being heavy.

Then I mounted the 18-55 lens. Wow. The balance is all off. It feels like it wants to fall forward. It's tough to hold with one hand. The lens sticks out. I tried to picture myself walking around with that setup and couldn't. And then there is the EVF. It's better than I expected, but it's, well, different.

Performance-wise, the XE1 a very nice camera and the lens performance is terrific. The image quality is beautiful, and the dials and buttons are well placed. I really have nothing negative to say about them. I'm just not sure they are for me.

Anyway, before I possibly return the camera and lens, I am interested to hear from others who have used the XE1/2, or the X100/s, or the XP1. What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas? Should I pick up a used X100? Save up and get the X100s? Would one of the pancake lenses make a difference instead of the larger zoom lens? I could see my keeping the XE1 if I had a good pancake lens, but one of the focal lengths of the current ones are quite right. The 27 is close, but a 23 would be better.
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Old 05-13-2014   #2
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About 18 months ago, I bought a used X100 from the classifieds here. I've said it a bunch of times before, the camera is my second all-time favorite (just very slightly behind my Konica Hexar AF).

I have never used the X100s, but if I had to, today, I'd replace mine with another used X100 or I'd send this one to the factory.
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Old 05-13-2014   #3
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Originally Posted by anjoca76 View Post
After seemingly endless research and internal debate as to which of the Fuji X series I would buy...

What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas? Should I pick up a used X100? Save up and get the X100s? Would one of the pancake lenses make a difference instead of the larger zoom lens...
"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good." It sounds like your analysis is looking for perfection. You say only the X-E1 has "something that isn't quite for me..." and other vague things. You imply you think it's too big and unbalanced with the large lens, and you say you just want something for family snapshots. And yes, putting a large zoom lens on a modern, light little camera makes their balance funny. Did you ever shoot your M with a large zoom? Probably not. The X-E1 is about the same size as an old Olympus Pen-F half frame camera. Those feel funny with their large zooms too.

My friend just went through this, he is a longtime Large Format and film shooter, and taught photography in a High School for 20 years. I tried to get him to get a Fuji X of some sort, but he didn't want to deal with anything large or expensive. He bought a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot.

I like my X-E1 with a Pen-F 25mm or 38mm. They are light, small, and fantastic optics. For a native lens, I'm looking at the 23mm or 35mm F1.4, but again, they are larger.
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Old 05-13-2014   #4
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Stick a 35mm f1.4XF lens on the XE1 and the balance is awfully close to an M6 with a 50mm Summicron.
The X100 is a very nice camera and if you can live with a fixed 35mm lens it would be a great choice.
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Old 05-13-2014   #5
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I had an X100S and an X-E1. To me, the X-E1 felt more robust. I think it mostly had to do with the X-E1 being black (didn't scratch as easily) and the direction dial on the back (the X100S felt flimsy). I used both the 35/1.4 and the 18/2 on the X-E1 and loved both. In particular, the 18/2 made the X-E1 handle very similar to the X100S in terms of weight and size. The extra grip area in the front of the X-E1 meant I could use it without any grip or case comfortably, while the X100S needed a little extra.

Also of note, I sold my X100S because it frustrated me in low light shooting and close up sharpness. Anything inside 2.5 ft or so and it was "dreamy". In low light, the focus would miss and end up focus hunting (slow).

The X-E1 on the other hand ended up focusing better in low light and was tack sharp at all distances (both 35 and 18).

I also tried a few other lenses with adapters, but they do tend to throw off the balance (SLR lenses in particular).
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Old 05-13-2014   #6
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What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas?
X-Pro1 and 27mm.... it feels Leica sized in the hand. The XE series feels cheap and small in comparison.
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Old 05-13-2014   #7
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I sort of know what you mean about the balance with the 18-55mm. I have an XE2 (which replaced a Leica M8), and an X100. (I've never had a film M by the way, but I've had a Zeiss Ikon ZM for many years now.)

When I got the XE2 I was also underwhelmed with the feel and balance with the 18-55mm. I wasn't expecting it to feel as solid as the M8, but even so it just felt sort of "wrong" with that lens. However, I have since got the 35/1.4 XF lens, and the balance is much better! They seem a much more comfortable pairing generally - both practically and aesthetically. It's still a bit front heavy though, but not too bad. Presumably the 18mm would be better still in this regard.

By the way the XE2 also feels pretty good with smaller M lenses like the Voigtlander 15/4.5 and 35/2.5 (and even the 75/2.5) - which was one of the main reasons for getting it.

But you're right that it doesn't feel as well made as the X100 - It's that plastic bit on the base that annoys me most!
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Old 05-13-2014   #8
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I only use adapted legacy lenses on my modern digitals. And I swap them out a lot, depending on the look I want, so I have a few thoughts on those. Not sure you're asking about adapted, though, but these are what I've started using the most:

Olympus Pen-F 25/4 - sharper than you will ever need, nice color rendition, small and light, it's the perfect wide angle choice for normal light. And it will focus very close, like all Pen-F Zuikos.

Olympus Pen-F 38/1.8 - for a long normal focal length, this can't be beat. Fast and all of the above. I shot this against the much vaunted Canon 35/2, and it was better.

Nikkor 50/1.4 in LTM - fantastically versatile lens. Wide open, it's soft for nice portraits and pictorialist work. By F2.0 it's sharp, still fast, and has that great Sonnar look. It's a hefty piece of glass, and helps give the XE-1 some needed weight without being front heavy, because it's still small. It's classic chrome looks great on a silver body, and again, it will focus very close.

Jupiter 9 in LTM - if I need a long lens, the Jupiter 85mm is about as long as I need. I like the colors it provides, and it's speed and light weight for such a long, fast lens.

The lenses I don't use are as important as those I do. The Canon 35/2 I did use more this weekend, nothing wrong with the size, handling or sharpness really (if you're not pixel peeping). I don't like that its close focus range is 3 feet though. The J-3, Canon 1.5 are also great 50mm sonnars, but I like the Nikkor 1.4 best. The Canon 50/1.4 is a wonderful, modern looking lens, but it's too big on the camera (below) for most carry around days. I'll keep using it for it's color, sharpness, and handling though.

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Old 05-13-2014   #9
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Anyway, before I possibly return the camera and lens, I am interested to hear from others who have used the XE1/2, or the X100/s, or the XP1. What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas? Should I pick up a used X100? Save up and get the X100s? Would one of the pancake lenses make a difference instead of the larger zoom lens? I could see my keeping the XE1 if I had a good pancake lens, but one of the focal lengths of the current ones are quite right. The 27 is close, but a 23 would be better.
If you are a M shooter at heart, you should buy a M body. If you're not going to buy one, then you have to compromise.

I don't find the size of the 14 through 35 primes to be unbalanced on the X Series bodies. The 23/1.4 is just below my person limit. My favorite daily carry lenses are the the 18/2 and 27/2.8.

I agree with jsrocket the 27/2.8 is best suited to your interests. However that lens does not have an aperture ring. You adjust the aperture using one of the control dials. The dial can be set to operate two different ways (up and down or continuous roll-over).

The 18/2 has an aperture ring. It is primarily a reportage lens and requires a large a degree of (automatic) software barrel distortion. The frame-edge performance is the below every other XF prime.

Zeiss has a 32/1.8 XF lens. It can be bought for about $770 on line. It weighs 7.4 oz and is 21/2 x 3".
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Old 05-13-2014   #10
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Thanks to all for the input and suggestions. I fully realize that these are first world problems and that humming and hawing about gear can sound whiny. I hope I didn't come across that way.

I failed to mention that the use of my M and LTM lenses is another reason why I chose the XE1, so I need to get an adapter and see if the smaller lenses work better for me before I make a decision. And give the camera a little more time in general, even with the kit lens.

I like the Xpro and 27mm idea too.

Thanks again. I appreciate your opinions.
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Old 05-13-2014   #11
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i would look into a used X-Pro1 body over the XE-1, the OVF is a nice thing to have when shooting with the 35 XF, you can quickly switch to the EVF for critical focusing.
I've shoot the X-Pro1 up to ISO 3200 and very happy with the results too.


If I were to use M/LTM lens on a Fuji camera it would be the X-Pro1 or X-T1
If I wanted a small compact fixed lens camera, then I would go with the X100 or X100s if you are comfortable with 35mm and 28mm
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Old 05-13-2014   #12
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Yes, don't make a final decision before you adapt your legacy lenses to the Fuji. Adapting old lenses to modern mirrorless cameras is 'cut and try', hard to predict results but sometimes a real gem pops out. Even with my "ancient" Olympus E-410 (2007) my legacy OM Zuikos vary a good bit but the 24 f2.8 is serviceable at f4 and smaller, and the 200 f5 is really amazing as a compact and close focusing 400mm EAOV
on the 4:3 body. I would expect the modern sensor and larger format could only be better.

Forgot to mention, all the lenses I have adapted to my digital body I already had. I not sure it would be a good idea to go out and buy older lenses just to use on the XE-1 unless you could get them very cheap. Much better to invest in Fuji's own lenses.
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Old 05-13-2014   #13
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...I like the Xpro and 27mm idea too...
I really love the XP+27. From another thread, I snipped my own comment...

"I just had mine out. I noticed that when the OVF optical zoom is triggered with the 27 that it nearly matches the EVF FOV (the entire finder). At a 40mm equivalency this is close to one of my favorite film combinations that I have ever used: the M3 with a 40. The beauty here being the ability to switch between OVF and EVF and the FOV does not change!"
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Old 05-13-2014   #14
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Get an x-pro1. It feels 'right'. The xe-1 is nice but it feels more like a digicam.
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Old 05-13-2014   #15
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Originally Posted by anjoca76 View Post
Thanks to all for the input and suggestions. I fully realize that these are first world problems and that humming and hawing about gear can sound whiny. I hope I didn't come across that way.

I failed to mention that the use of my M and LTM lenses is another reason why I chose the XE1, so I need to get an adapter and see if the smaller lenses work better for me before I make a decision. And give the camera a little more time in general, even with the kit lens.

I like the Xpro and 27mm idea too.

Thanks again. I appreciate your opinions.
I think your initial instincts are spot on.
The X100 with the standard bayer (non xtrans) sensor will bring you the closest to the M+35 combo.

The xe1 is a good choice if your goal is to use legacy lenses and you have a decent cache of 21mm and wider lenses.

The Xpro 1 OVF is useless with legacy lenses.

I am assuming you are looking for a setup that can get out of its own way so you can shoot instinctively.
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Old 05-13-2014   #16
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I also find that Pen wides balance well on the XE. I kept my 40 1.4 and 25 2.8; the latter is my favorite of the two. For a balanced 35 equivalent with close focus, speed, and a nicely damped focus ring, the SLR Magic 23 1.7 is worth trying. I bought mine from an RFF colleague and am very happy with it.

But: if I had to banish all lenses but one for the XE, I'd keep the XF 35. Ditto if I had to choose between that set-up and the x100 which, despite the haptic/operational similarity, is a different sort of camera. As Dave Leo alludes to above, I find it the digital avatar of the Hexar AF.
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Old 05-13-2014   #17
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No love for the Fuji cameras here. They just don't suit me very well, I'm afraid, for a variety of reasons.

The best Leica CL sized digital camera for the widest range of RF lenses, old and new, is the Ricoh GXR fitted with A12 Camera Unit. It's a native Leica M-mount camera in that configuration and, although somewhat out-dated by the current "if it isn't new within the past 90 days, it's obsolete" zeitgeist, still outperforms any Fuji X, Sony NEX, or Micro-FourThirds camera with made-for-RF-film short focal length lenses. It out-performs the Sony A7/A7r with most RF lenses; I know this because I have that camera too and have compared them with all my lenses.

Anyone wanting to use their M and LTM lenses on a digital body should try a GXR. It has a host of features specifically designed to make using those lenses on a digital body work very well, and in some ways outperforms even the Leica M8 and M9 for many of the short focal length older, smaller, more symmetrical RF lenses.

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Old 05-13-2014   #18
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I would avoid zooms if you like the good balance and feel of film Ms. On the other hand, I could never use any of the M cameras without either a grip or thumbie...The Fuji 35mm F1.4 is lighter than the 18-55, and I would get the X-E1 grip to shift some force away from your thumb.
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Old 05-13-2014   #19
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after shooting film all my life, well for the last 35 years anyway, I took a chance and dived in I havea Fuji X Pro1 and the 100x, plus the xf 18 and 35, in truth I have never been happier than I am at the moment, the x pro is not perfect but it is a camera that suits me well and Im shooting more now then I have ever done. At the end of the day its up to you to see if the camera is a 'keeper', give it time, you never know you may start to love it
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Old 05-13-2014   #20
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Great feedback here, guys. Lots to think about. Thanks so much. I'm going to spend a few more days with XE, shoot it with legacy lenses and the 18-55, and then see how I feel. I think it's "feel" I am searching for. There are lots of cameras that take outstanding images, film and digital alike. But I think most of us here know that how our tool(s) of choice feel to us has a lot to do with how, and how much, we shoot.
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Old 05-13-2014   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anjoca76 View Post
My goal is not to replace my film cameras (...)
The road to digital is paved with good intentions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by anjoca76 View Post

Anyway, before I possibly return the camera and lens, I am interested to hear from others who have used the XE1/2, or the X100/s, or the XP1. What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas? Should I pick up a used X100?
Not sure what you expected. There is no substitute for a digital Leica M. The X-Pro 1 may come a little closer than the XE-1 but I never cared.

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Would one of the pancake lenses make a difference instead of the larger zoom lens? I could see my keeping the XE1 if I had a good pancake lens, but one of the focal lengths of the current ones are quite right. The 27 is close, but a 23 would be better.
Nikon Coolpix A / Ricoh GR maybe?
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Old 05-13-2014   #22
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Not sure what you expected. There is no substitute for a digital Leica M. The X-Pro 1 may come a little closer than the XE-1 but I never cared.
Sure, if I had the money for an M9, I'd get an M9. But I don't, so I am exploring other options.
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Old 05-13-2014   #23
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seems to me OPs concern was about 'balance' and not creating a digital m experience. his main OT comparison was between the xe1 and x100/S; the only comparison i saw with m cams was for 'feel and balance'. how about dealing with his issues, and put aside the tiresome and off topic 'nothing but an m will do' song and dance? in this case an m wont do. move on.

to OP: truth is balance is an issue with most if not all 'compact' mirrorless cams, and thats accentuated when you use a zoom. you probably will get better balance with smaller m lenses attached, but i personally found manual focusing on these to be cumbersome, and perhaps not in line with your intended use of 'easy' snapshooting. that goal, and wanting to achieve it with 'balance' and compactness militate in favor of the x100/S. doing so on a budget militates in favor of the x100 over the S.
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Old 05-13-2014   #24
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seems to me OPs concern was about 'balance' and not creating a digital m experience.
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What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas?

The message you have entered is too short. Please lengthen your message to at least 10 characters.
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Old 05-13-2014   #25
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to improve the feel of either the xe1 or the xp1 i suggest using a thumb thing and a comfortable grip.
i use 2 xe1 bodies and both have benefited from doing this.
i prefer the xe1 bodies as they offer me a viable alternative to the rf experience.
i use the larger 23 and 56 lenses and can shoot all day w/o any discomfort.
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Old 05-13-2014   #26
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seems to me OPs concern was about 'balance' and not creating a digital m experience. his main OT comparison was between the xe1 and x100/S; the only comparison i saw with m cams was for 'feel and balance'. how about dealing with his issues, and put aside the tiresome and off topic 'nothing but an m will do' song and dance? in this case an m wont do. move on...
I'll buy that for a dollar! Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2014   #27
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What would you suggest for someone like me, who is, at heart, an M film shooter, used to small lenses and the balanced feel of Leicas?
Keep what you bought, you'll get used to it. It's just not what you're used to now. Use it enough and the Ms will feel wrong! ;-)
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Old 05-13-2014   #28
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X-Pro1 and 27mm.... it feels Leica sized in the hand. The XE series feels cheap and small in comparison.
AsI a film user this is the digital kit I am at peace with.
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Old 05-13-2014   #29
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I'll buy that for a dollar! Thanks.
`

I'm right behind you in line.
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Old 05-13-2014   #30
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Interesting debate. I think for me Garrett got closest to my opinion. As a long-time Barnack & M user, I was a little wary of digital anything, and had several false starts with digital. The Nex 5n showed me that it is possible to like a less than full frame camera (and I still use this for video). Last year I bought a use XE-1 body and M adapter - wow! I love this with the CV 15 f4.5 and it is my go-to camera for most family events and around the streets. Maybe I should have gone for the XP1? Who knows, I may investigate that later.

It did, however, convince me that a digital RF is a serious camera - so much so that I now have a M9-P as well There is no real comparison between the two, other than they both produce excellent digital pictures. The rest is up to the user and, probably, where I fall down....
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Old 05-14-2014   #31
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So I bought the XE-1.

Then I mounted the 18-55 lens. Wow. The balance is all off. It feels like it wants to fall forward. It's tough to hold with one hand. The lens sticks out. I tried to picture myself walking around with that setup and couldn't. And then there is the EVF. It's better than I expected, but it's, well, different.
.
Since I have been using both slr and rf cameras since the days of film... Psychologically, I have alway felt rf cameras and long lenses just did not mix... I always had no problem using zooms on other cameras including other mirrorless cameras I have owned, but the xp1/xe1 reminded me so much of an rf camera, I had a hard time w/ putting a zoom on the camera to start w/. About a year ago I finally got over it from a mind set perspective. I have never like the feel of nose heavy cameras as well which is why my xe1 tends to have the 27 semi-permanent attached and the xp1 usually ends up w/ the heavier longer lenses.

Anyway good luck
Gary
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Old 05-15-2014   #32
Mike-D
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Wow, my experience is just the opposite. I've been an LTM and M user for 40 years. I have an older DSLR but hate to lug around that much weight. I got the X-E2 and just love it! It feels good in the hand without any grip accessories. Sure the zoom is a little heavy, but its quality makes up for that. Overall the package is very comfortable to work with. I put the 15 Heliar on it with an adapter and that is really fun because its so light. I like the wide perspective too. Great image quality especially in low light. I could go on and on (and have already!)

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Old 05-24-2014   #33
MikeAUS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike-D View Post
I got the X-E2 and just love it!
Mike
This is about the XE1. It is a terribly slow camera with a horrible view finder, I assume the XE2 is much better. I loved 'using' the XE1 but it was a 'beta cam' in speed and accuracy of AF and it's RAW output is bad in LRoom. Hence the price of $300 (soon to be less) now ... Just my opinion of course ...
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