Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Usage notes: pros and cons

I have had notes for this sitting for a while, cummulating according to the usage of the X-E1. So it's not really a review so much as usage notes.

Stuff I like about it in no particular order:

  • The design and form factor. It's not a big DSLR covering the whole face and therefore looks and feels more discrete.
  • Image quality. It has an adjustable maximum auto-ISO, for me set at 6400, because I know it can handle it.
  • The 18-55 kit lens is nearly a full stop faster than most other kit lenses.
  • Since my main eye is the right one I can use the electronic viewfinder without pushing my nose against the main LCD. This sounds like a small issue, but wiping fat-prints from the LCD left by my nose is a thing I don't miss doing.
  • The sound of the shutter. Very subjective, but I like the sound.
  • Manual focus mode with focus peaking, and a nifty feature where the exposure/focus-lock button works as temporary focus activator.

Then there are of course some things I don't like...

  • Growing pains. It's a completely different system, new buttons, new GUI, learning where and how everything works was not an easy process. Sort of like walking in new shoes.
  • First model. As the "1" in the name indicates, it's the first in the line, and it feels a lot like version 1 of a software, some strange bugs and weird behaviour.
  • Auto-focus. This is a big one for me, with DSLRs the auto-focus is usually fast and works in darker environments. The X-E1 auto-focus starts struggling as soon as a room is dimmed a bit, which negates the high-ISO capabilities somewhat...
  • The electronic viewfinder also starts lagging a bit in dark environments. And speaking of the viewfinder, in what has to be one of the strangest design decisions ever, there is no option to use the viewfinder for shooting and the main LCD only for playback and menus. If you have the viewfinder active, all menus come up on that by default.
  • Battery life. Compared to a DSLR the battery runs empty quite quickly.

There is a very long way to go before this type of camera could become my regular camera, the one I go to for actual realisation of my imagination (mostly because some flash sync issues I've been having). But it definitely fills a role for me that the other cameras I have used just haven't been able to, which I think is one of the casual, more observational camera. When creating images from ground up using lighting it is a more constructional approach I use; I have an image in my head and I need to construct it into the real world. I have experimented with some cameras with a smaller form factor than DSLRs for just walking around, observing and snapshooting. (I've tried some pocket cameras, the old Powershot A520, an IXUS 960 IS which was quite good but has strangely disappeared, some cheap plastic film pocket cameras, and a rangefinder Yashica Electro.)

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