Last week we got a new camera. A Fujifilm X-E1, as I mentioned before. We were very excited to get it and start shooting. How appropriate that it arrived merely minutes before we left on a trip to Berlin. As soon as we took it out of the box, its beauty really caught our eyes. What a nice looking camera, such a retro fit. Having control over exposure adjustment, shutter speed and so on with dials is great for quickly changing settings. It's also nice that it comes with a view finder, even if it’s electronic. We were positively thrilled with the prospects of using this nice looking camera, after reading praises of its image quality and low light accuracy, in the wild.

We knew it was not a movable view finder, and the same goes for the LCD screen, both are very fixed in place; we were fine with that compromise. But nothing could have prepared us for what was to come. The view finder is electronic, not optic nor a hybrid like the X-Pro1's. You'd think that this shouldn't be much of an issue, if you never used an EVF before, but you’d be wrong. It's not that we lack the technology for a good and well made EVF, because there are plenty of other cameras out there that do a much better job of it, even if they all still pale in comparison to a well done old school optical view finder. Both EVF and LCD screen have a very poor refresh rate and pixel density that it's really hard to use for manual focus. Certainly no one using or reviewing this camera is using it, or you’d read more about this. And definitely not with f-stops of 2.0 or faster in low light.

Now, just so I don’t say only bad things about it, here’s a nice touch: it comes with a built-in diopter correction dial. It compensates for your poor sight right there. Yet, I can't find a justification for something so lacking in image quality and overall software passing basic quality assurance. Maybe they just don’t know what good software looks like, just like Microsoft doesn't know what cool is.

Germany from my backyard My backyard.

Sure, it has some nice helping features for focusing manually, like focus peaking (you can see a nicer implementation here), yet it’s far from being as well implemented as the ones Sony ships. But that’s not enough, I achieve better and faster manual focus with my old Minolta X-700 most of the time. But as with any camera, it’s all about compromises.

I saw some people complaining that the software that shipped with the camera had very poor autofocus performance. Namely, its speed. It would take a while for it to adjust and sometimes it would go “focus hunting”. Well, we didn't concern ourselves too much, as we basically never use it. No auto focus, no auto exposure. We like to go full manual. Maybe we should have looked for similar minded people that might have reviewed the camera, they might've told us beforehand: this is not for you. But even now, I can’t find much about it.

Here's what saddens me the most: it's not an entry level camera, really. And it shows. It feels very solid, comes with a very nice lens, and it can take outstanding pictures with close to no noise even at very high ISO and very dim light.

High exposure

Despite all the highs and lows of this camera, it just performs and feels so nice I couldn’t bring myself to return it. Already ordered the Fujinom 35mm/F-1.4 and can’t wait for it to arrive.

Berlin By Karina This one by Karina Elland