It’s been a couple of weeks since I bought the X-E1, so I think it’s a good time to talk about it in a bit more detail. It all started with the X100, of course. That was my self-indulgent 50th birthday present to myself, and I had a lot of fun with it before selling it to a friend who really, really wanted it, and who could blame her. I sold it because the rather more desirable X100S had arrived. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was having more fun with the little Fuji than I ever had with my big Canon. And that’s what started me thinking.
I’ve had a few other interchangeable lens cameras. The first was the Olympus E-P1 Pen, which was quite nice, but didn’t retain my interest for all that long. The main drawback was the lack of a proper viewfinder. Having learned how to do photography properly (or as properly as I can manage) on Canon DSLRs, I’m used to composing my images in a viewfinder rather than on a screen, and I still find it easier to hold a camera to my eye than at arms’ length. So when I got the tiny Pentax Q, I no longer had a use for the Olympus and sold it.
But then came the Fuji X cameras. These were something different – beautiful retro design (the kind of thing the Olympus Pen was aiming for, only done better), lovely manual controls and most important, superb image quality. Being moderately committed to the Canon DSLR range, I didn’t pay much attention to the X-Pro 1 when it came out, or to the later X-E1, but I couldn’t resist the X100 and then the X100S. And after a short time with the X100S, I found I had no inclination at all to take my Canon 5D Mark III anywhere. It suddenly seemed too big, too heavy, and the lenses seemed enormous. So I started to think that maybe I should consider Fuji’s system. There are currently two interchangeable lens cameras in their range – the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1. The X-Pro 1 has the same clever hybrid viewfinder as the X100S – you get to choose between an optical viewfinder and a remarkably good electronic one. Now I used to think electronic viewfinders were rubbish. And to be honest, they were. But technology moves on, and things get better. So much so, that I found myself using the electronic viewfinder (EVF) option on the X100S and utterly ignoring the optical version. The only other thing the X-Pro 1 has over the X-E1 is that the LCD display is bigger and has loads more pixels. But the prices are interesting. You can get the X-E1 with the quite nice 18-55mm zoom for slightly less money than the X-Pro 1 with no lenses whatsoever.
So, after reading numerous reviews, lurking on forums and thinking a bit, I decided that I needed to have an actual look at the X-E1, which is what took me to Jessops a couple of weeks ago. The friendly staff led me to the camera and let me fiddle around with it. The new Jessops shops are definitely a Good Thing. Nicely laid out, occupied by staff who are enthusiastic and well-informed, and most important of all, loads of cameras out in the open for customers to handle and play with. Not only that, but they’ve done the sensible thing and made sure that the prices in the shops are the same as on their website. The previous incarnation of Jessops had this a bit wrong. To get their best price, you needed to order on the website and then pick up your new toys in the shop. Very silly. Oh, and they actually seem to have realised that having goods in stock is a good idea. After handling the X-E1, I went for a walk around the MetroCentre to have a think before going back to the shop and buying it.
And a day or so after that, I ordered the 55-200mm lens to add to the 18-55mm that came with the camera. And once I had that, any lingering doubt was gone. This is a lovely camera to use. The controls are nicely arranged with most of the commonly used ones accessible once you’ve pressed the Q button. Helpfully, the Q screen and the full menus can be seen from the viewfinder, to you don’t even have to take the camera from your eye to change settings.
Changing lenses while out and about is a much more comfortable operation than with the Canon – with both camera and lens being relatively small and light, it’s much easier to hold them and slide things in and out of my bag.
The Fuji X system seems to be doing quite nicely – in addition to Fuji’s own lenses, there are options from Samyang and Zeiss, which inspires confidence. And there are adaptors which will allow all manner of other lenses to be fitted to Fuji X cameras.
Moving to a smaller camera has given a new lease of life to my Undfind bag – the three padded compartments allow me to carry the X-E1 with the 18-55mm lens attached, with the 55-200mm lens ready to swap. Add in the little pouch thing that I use for extra batteries and memory cards and I’ve still got room to add the X100S!
I’ll be getting a few more lenses for the X-E1, and other toys will no doubt follow…
 Hi Sue