I’ve talked about mirrorless and micro 4/3 cameras here before, and set the idea aside last fall as too expensive to pursue. I do, however, add Craigslist search alerts to things I’m interested in to follow pricing trends over time as new products are released. One of the alerts I set up was for anything Fuji-related, even though their lens system isn’t compatible with M4/3 bodies.
This winter, with all of the extra stuff I was carrying, I left my DSLR home more often than I carried it. Much of that is because I don’t have a lot of opportunity to shoot anything new in my commute, but also because it got to be a hassle to carry. In the meantime, several of my pro photographer friends cycled through various mirrorless camera kits, and recently one upgraded to a Leica (WAY out of my range). He wound up selling his Fuji for way more than I could afford.
This week, a Fuji X-E1 kit showed up in my feed for a very reasonable price, and I dove into researching it. It’s about two steps from the top of their line, but is very well regarded. I decided to give it a try, as I’m pretty sure I can resell it for more than the purchase price. Plus, I’ve been sitting on photo money since I sold my old iPhone, our original Flip, and a pair of unused DX zoom lenses that overlapped with our current lens collection.
It’s a whole different world than a DSLR; the philosophy around the controls is completely different. Where a DSLR is built around getting to the lens and shutter controls with secondary buttons to modify the selection, the Fuji is all about secondary buttons. They did nail the ergonomics of those buttons, though–they are almost perfectly organized and placed on the camera. It doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. There’s a digital screen inside the eyepiece, or you can use the LCD on the back to compose and interact with the camera. It’s tricky getting the unit to autofocus properly, and I’m not used to the slight shutter lag this has.
My unit came with a chunky f/3.5 18-50mm lens, which is too big for my taste; I’d like to swap it for the f/2.8 27mm prime, which is compact and almost in my focal sweet spot. If I suddenly won the jackpot, I’d splurge on the f/1.4 35mm, which is a little bigger but much faster. I’m going to give lensrentals.com a try over our vacation, as they’ve got the 27mm f/2.8 available for a good price.
Having shot a lot with my D7000 and and two 50mm primes–an AF and non-AF, I find it impossible to compose and shoot on the fly at that focal length. I’m always backing up from my subject or running after the kids in order to frame anything worth value; shooting with and adjusting the manual lens is hopeless in all but the most optimal situations. Having an autofocus prime is pretty much key until Finn is in her late teens.
There are a slew of Fuji to Nikon adapters, however, which allow for the use of my Nikon glass on the Fuji body; a manual adapter and several AI adapters. At some point I’ll pick up the cheaper of the two to use my Nikkor f/2 on it. The midrange AI adapter is $100, but I can’t find any reviews on it yet. The more expensive AI adapter is $~500, or equivalent to the f/1.4 Fuji lens, so I’d rather spend that money on new glass.
Overall, I’m impressed; the picture quality is great and the camera is light and easy to use. I’ll be leaving my D7000 at home for the next couple of months and shooting specifically with the Fuji, and we’ll see if the results match a DSLR.