In honor of
Carl De Keyzer & Yale Joel
All the Fuji forums have banned me or told me to stop posting. (Fuji Original Forum, Fuji Forum spun off from Fuji Rumors and the Fuji Rumors Disqus forum.)
I’ve owned 15 Fuji-X cams of various types. You would think the Fuji forums would appreciate some honest feedback.
I’ve put a lot of the Fuji-X pix into museums and institutional collections.
Be that as it may, unless you a ‘ass-kissing yes man’ or ‘Fuji fan boy’…the Fuji forums don’t want to hear the truth.
Luckily Fuji does not run WordPress…so here is my review of the Fuji X-E1, which will apply to all Fuji’s being currently produced. If you don’t wish to read the whole review, fast forward to the summation at the end.
When Fuji came out with the X-Pro a few years ago I gave it a whirl. On the photo forums they would call the Fuji a ‘Leica killer.’ As they and I quickly found out, the Fuji was no Leica. (But in Fuji’s defense, the Leica is no Fuji either.)
I found the X-Pro to be a very frustrating camera to use. Too many buttons and complications for me. I was disgusted with the X-Pro complications, horrifically poor AF and and terrible focus-by-wire so I pushed it aside.
Now, no doubt the camera fondlers love it…the more buttons, menus and complications, the better they like it.
I cover camera fondlers in detail here…
Once Fuji came out with the X-E1. I found the X-E1 more to my liking. The main problem with all Fuji’s is its poor design. Too many buttons, terrible AF in low light and poor manual controls. Every time you pick up the Fuji some button is getting set off.
The engineers that design this crap are NOT great documentary / street photographers themselves…they are camera fondlers.
How do I know the engineers are camera fondlers and not great street and documentary photographers themselves?
Well, I’m not a bible thumper or even religious, but the ‘Good Book’ gives us the answer…”You will know the false profits by their fruits.” As such, a competent documentary / street photographer would not produce this garbage…only a camera fondler would. It goes up and down the chain of command as well. The Director and Board approves of it, the beta testers approve of it…camera fondlers one and all.
The 2 worst inventions that came down the pike from the camera fondling engineers were the program dial that replaced the shutter speed dial and Fuji’s terrible focus-by-wire. They (Fuji and the rest of the cam / lens companies.) keep dummying down the lenses, removing controls like distance scales for zone focus work and aperture controls and turning gear into useless garbage when it comes to serious documentary work.
To Fuji’s credit, the Olympus Pen Micro Four Thirds cameras are even worse for simplified manual controls. I cover them here:
The Fuji has a very irritating feature that has caused me to miss some shots in the past. If the camera is not adjusted in a certain way the flash wont fire. By the time I reprogram everything to make the flash work, the shot it gone. Great work camera fondling engineers!
Most of the lenses Fuji makes are outstanding for IQ. No one can fault Fuji for their optical formulas. But the manual controls on the their lenses range from poor to terrible.
I shot this with a 14mm Fuji on the X-E1. When I use the 14mm on the street or doc work I have to use gaffers tape on it to keep the aperture ring in place. If you blow on the ring it almost moves. Why didn’t Fuji’s ass kissing ‘yes men’ say something about this problem? Within 10 seconds of unboxing the lens I knew the ‘loose as a goose’ aperture ring was going to be a problem child. Fuji beta testers? All butt kissing, brown nose yes men…useless.
The distance scale is also screwy on the 14. But I guess we should be grateful for even having one. Fuji later removes the distance scales from some of their lenses. The trend is to remove as many controls as possible from the lenses to make them impotent.
Zeiss and Leica lenses can be zone focused just by touch…you don’t even have to look at the lens. You talk to the newschool photogs coming up about ferrotype plates, dye transfer printing, nitrogen burst processing or zone focusing and they don’t know what your talking about. Lots of information gets lost between generations.
When I complained about zone focusing problems with Fuji lenses with no focus scale to the Fuji Rumors crew the head honcho told me just to just look at the distance scale on the cameras screen. The whole point of zone focus is to be able to shoot fast without having to adjust the camera by bringing it up to your eye to focus it.
That was how this candid was shot…zone focused with the X-E1. If I shot the Fuji like a Fuji I’d get nothing. You can’t put the camera up to your face to adjust things by looking at your screen or though the viewfinder. If you get caught shooting in the Red Light District you can get your ass kicked. (For you camera fondlers…go across the canal, hide and use your zooms.) The only way the Fuji produces in tough situations like this is if you shoot the Fuji like a Leica.
Leica perfected what is needed in a great documentary cam eons ago. All the Japanese had to do was copy it and make it affordable. Was that too much to ask of the camera fondling engineers? Be this as it may, if you know cameras and have street skills you can still make the Fuji sing loud and clear in almost any conditions. The answer is to shoot the Fuji like a Leica.
Well enuf talk, my name is not Rockwell or Sontag. I don’t talk photography…I produce photography...specifically museum quality, social documentary photography.
Here are some samples shots from the Fuji X-E1. Everything is hand held, no tripods. Lets get to it!
Below is an example of push processing the 16mp Fuji X-E1 file 2 to 5 stops.
This is an area where the Fuji sensor could use some improvement. I shoot a lot of available light in tough circumstances. I push process a lot. Any image will fall apart if you push it too much. I would like to see Fuji’s images fall apart a little less when pushed. (See man’s face.) Man pushed 4.5 to 5 stops. Woman is pushed 2 to 2.5 stops.
I’ve used the X-E1 in many different circumstances. If you know how to use the Fuji, it can produce.The Fuji has a superb sensor in it. Most of the time I prefer the images that come out of my Fuji to those that come out of my Leica M240.
But the Fuji has many design flaws that would make it useless for serious documentary work unless you know how to circumvent these problems…poor low light AF, terrible focus-by-wire, dummied down lenses with poor or no manual controls, loose controls that need to be taped down, an excess of complexities and buttons that are continually getting set off by accident… just to name a few.
Shot with Fuji X-E1, Fuji 14mm and a roll of gaffers tape.
If you shoot the Fuji like it was designed by the camera fondling engineers at Fuji, you will be left scratching your head and wondering what happened. Shoot the Fuji like a Leica and you will get some great shots…if getting great shots is in you to start with. If greatness is not within you, stop fondling your gear, get a boyfriend or girlfriend and use your cam for what it was intended for.
“Yes…Yes…Yes…photography is like that and there’s no maybes. All the maybes go to the trash. There is a tremendous enjoyment in saying yes, even if it is for something you hate. It is an affirmation…Yes!” ~ Cartier-Bresson