New Fuji Day - The Arrival Of the X-E1
I love new camera day because I get to play with the toys before anyone else does. I have long passed my excitement point when it comes to point and shoot equipment and even the latest daguerreotype studio camera on the mahogany stand gets just a passing glance before we wrap it and put it in a post-pak for shipment to the South-west. Same old, same old. What DO they do with all those studio cameras down in Bridgetown? And the Klieg lights?And the crates of mortar shells?
But today I get to have fun - the new Fuji X-E1 has arrived. I'm a Fuji fan as it is, owning an X 10, and I have long been impressed with their innovative approach to equipment. The X100 and the X-Pro1 sold well and led to a lot of professional photographers re-discovering the truly portable digital camera. They were not disappointed with the results - these cameras use the full APSC-size sensor and their optics and electronics are finely tuned to match the sensor.
But at last we have the new X-E1. If you were used to thinking of the X-Pro1 as an X100 with interchangeable lens, think of the X-E1 as an X-Pro1 with a slimmer body and a tightened spec. You pack the same great processing power and image handling into a smaller package but with a redesigned hand grip that allows very firm camera control.
They've decided to keep the Northwest position for the viewing eyepiece but instead of incorporating a complex optical finder, they have sealed the front plate of the camera and kept the electronic finder screen. It is fast, bright, and detailed, and allows viewfinding in the dimmest of conditions. Of course you can also use the back LCD screen as a finder when it is on a tripod, but the eyepiece is the king in glaring outdoor light. Thankfully, there is a dioptre adjustment for it as well.
The camera body is, as we said, slimmer than the X-Pro1 but is finished to the same high specification. Users will recognize the control layout and the menus system as pure Fuji.
The real question for new Fuji fans will be what colour they want to body in - you can have pure black or a retro silver. It will take the current range of Fuji X-mount lenses such as the 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm and when we see kits in mid to late November we'll be seeing the new 18-55 zoom lens on it. There will also be a 14mm superwide coming along at some stage of the game and then we'll be into next year and we'll get to see what goodies they think up.
This not going to be expensive - think the 1199 mark for body or 1599 for a kit. The results are every bit as good as APSC-DSLR cameras and the convenience and sophistication of the rangefinder-style is legendary. Remember what I said about the eyepiece at the Northwest? Well consider that most DSLRs put it fair in the Northern central position and when you go to look through it your nose splots onto the LCD screen. Ouch. The Fuji layout is 1.6 kilometres better than this - your nose has somewhere comfortable to go to when the camera is at your eye.
Anyone who thought the X100 was just a novelty last year has discovered that the Fuji company are really committed to the system now. They have also introduced an adapter to allow people who have M-mount lenses from Leica and other manufacturers to be bayoneted onto the front of the camera - this is a system that is going to be versatile for a long time to come.