I recently had the luck to visit a good friend in Texas. I packed light for this trip, one compact tripod, one X-E1 body and three lenses, total weight for camera/lenses just under 1300 grams, including a Nikon/Fuji X adapter.
This was the first time I used the Fuji X-E1 for a portrait session. Can it replace a Pro DSLR and deliver equal results?
find out after the break
The Fuji’s X-E1 non threatening retro look qualifies it as a “people friendly” camera.
Let’s start with the Rokinon 85mm: I love this lens for portraits, especially outdoors when I have enough room to move around, it acts like a 128mm on a full frame sensor and produces incredible bokeh wide open and up to f2.8.
Manual focus was a breeze, the image snapped right into focus. I preferred the EVF over the LCD.
To really nail focus I used the 3x magnifier. I recommend a tripod or monopod for this focal length or anything longer, it would have been extremely difficult to nail focus without one.
One of the caveats I had with manual focus was the inability to use the magnifier while the camera wrote the data to the card. (The camera was set to full manual mode). The crispness and clarity of the EVF, especially when combined with a high speed tele lens like the 85mm is so good that I didn’t miss focus peaking, of course I would still love to see it implemented through the next firmware, it would be incredibly useful, however, for very shallow depth of field and portrait applications, the current 3xmagnifer works well enough.
The Fujinon XF R 35mm f1.4 is an incredible lens. The center sharpness wide open was already mind blowing and I loved the fact that it focused down to 0.28m (quite unique for a high speed lens). It was possible to get real close without a designated macro lens. Great for environmental portraits and detail shots, the shallow depth of field this little lens produced on the APSC sized sensor can truly rival the bokeh-ness of full frame cameras-if you know how to use it.
Focus accuracy was spot on wide open and I never felt autofocus speed to be a problem although it was not as fast as it would have been on my D800E or the 5D3. The camera was set to single af point/largest size. Getting real close without having to activate the macro mode came in very handy for all the product shots. Moving the af point around was annoying at times since I had to push the AF button first to activate it, I hope we will see a fix in the future.
Fuji X-E1, Fujinon 35mm f1.4, s1/250, f1.6, ISO 200
Fuji X-E1, Fujinon 35mm f1.4, s1/2000, f3.6, ISO 1600
Smith & Wesson, 44 Magnum, hollow point bullets
The body: Perfect for my medium sized hands and everything is in the right place, shutter speed dial, +- wheel and aperture can be changed by feel without ever taking the eye off the EVF. I had no problems shooting vertical as a “lefty”. During portraits the hardly audible shutter sound can be a problem if shooting in an environment where the subject can’t hear it. We had serious background noise from a near by construction site and my friend missed hearing the shutter sound a few times when I was shooting with the 85mm. (I opted out of silent mode-my default setting- and things improved). I was close enough with the 35mm, no problems there, even in silent mode. The most frustrating part during this session was the OVF’s/LCD auto exposure display in manual mode. The reason I chose manual mode was to purposefully over or underexpose. Manual settings need to be correctly displayed in the EVF and on the LCD. One of the must-fixes via next firmware. Other then that, the EVF produced a clear image which made mf easy and due to the static nature of this shoot the slow refresh rate wasn’t a problem.
Compared to a Pro DSLR portrait kid:
After this session I am confident to say I would do it again. I didn’t miss my usual portrait kit, the Nikon D800E with a 50mm 1.4G lens, the Rokinon 85mm 1.4 and the Nikon 180mm f2.8. I preferred the 128mm equivalent I got from the 85mm over the 180mm. I did not miss the optical viewfinder and I will miss it even less once manual exposure will be correctly displayed. And then there is of course the weight issue, the Nikon D800E body weighs in at 2200 grams. The X-E1, the 35mm 1.4, 18mm 2.0, 85mm 1.4 with X mount adapter, weighs in at a total of 1288 grams!
Everything was shot in natural daylight and I seriously doubt the results would look significantly different if I had used my standard kit. The Fuji X-E1, just like the X-Pro1 and X100 are very likeable cameras and this can help relax the person in front of the camera, something I consider far more important than looking at a 400% crop of the lower left corner ;).
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