The Little Camera that Changed My Mind – Fujifilm X-E2

In Creative Process, Gear, Photography by Chris Foley3 Comments

While packing for a recent trip to NYC, I decided to leave my Full-Frame Canon 6D at home and bring instead only my Fujifilm X-E2 and a single “kit” lens, the excellent Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens Zoom Lens. I’ve been very apprehensive about investing in this system because until this trip I simply was not convinced that I could produce the same level of image quality from a smaller, “toyish” camera system.

I’ve had the X-E2 for 4 weeks now, and I’ve shot the Canon and Fuji side by side. In 4 out of 5 cases, I prefer the Fuji shots over my Canon shots, and that fact has shocked me, and leaves me feeling both excited and anxious. I’ve since replaced my Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS USM lens with a Fuji 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lens at half the cost, and twice the sharpness and quality. I seriously cannot believe this.

I briefly owned a Fuji X100S and while I was very impressed by the image quality, I was very disappointed by the user experience. It was slow and while I found its hybrid viewfinder to be a very interesting concept, with loads of promise, for my needs it was entirely unusable. I’m too accustomed to looking Through The Lens. I wrote a bit more about this here. I like to know that I’ve got the shot because I can see that I’ve got the shot. When I purchased the X-E2, I went in knowing that the EV was faster than the prior generation of Fuji cameras and that they’d worked hard to reduce the latency and increase resolution. I wasn’t disappointed with it, when I finally got it in my hands, but it still required a leap of faith: I had to simply trust that when my focus indicator turned green that the camera had acquired focus and was locked and ready. That’s a HUGE leap of faith!

Last week, I installed the latest firmware release for the camera, and I announce now with excitement that the EV is far faster and sharper than it had been, requiring far less of a leap of faith. I’m now happily shooting the X-E2 on 9 out of 10 photowalks, and my image quality is as high as it’s ever been with my Canon. At a fraction of the cost for both the camera and the accessories and at a fraction of the weight, my own experience of carrying a camera around with me, including a functional and high-quality assortment of lenses, has improved dramatically. Shooting has become an absolute pleasure, and the joy of finding new subject matter has been coming through in my images. My line was always “Fuji cameras, and mirrorless systems are really awesome, and show promise — but they’re just not THERE yet.” I now change my position. They’re there now.

A busker sings her ass off in Central Park, NYC. Film processing in Analog Efex Pro

Incidentally, I shoot RAW + FINE JPEG, and in most cases I select the RAW over the JPEG. Fuji’s film simulation is superb, and for most snapshots I just go with the JPEG and throw the RAW file away. It’s a snapshot.. who cares? But for my important shots, I still find that I can do better work with the RAW file working in some combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, and Nik’s (Google’s) various suite of tools than the JPEG is going to give me. This is to be expected of course as no 1 conversion recipe is ever going to be able to create the feel that I’m going for in a final image. I include this obvious statement only because some people have been asking me if I rely solely on the in-camera JPEG conversion.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!
~ Chris

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