Cash in hand: which camera to get and why.
In the last few months, I’ve sampled several mirror-less cameras. I played with a Panasonic Lumix LX7, and bought one. Thanks to Eric Rosenthal, I put a brand new Lumix LX100 through its paces. Thanks to Pat Yough, I’ve experimented with both the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1.
The new Panasonic Lumix LX100. Exposed using my Lumix LX7. I played around by comparing the two cameras.
Where the Lumix LX7 and LX100 both use a permanently attached zoom lenses, the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1 use Fuji interchangeable lenses.
Fuji X-E2 fitted with 18-55mm lens exposed with a Lumix LX7.
Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm zoom lens. Traditional manual controls such as those on the X-T1 are an important consideration for me. I want camera operation to be intuitive so I can make necessary adjustments as the action is unfolding without fighting with the equipment. The X-T1’s digital viewfinder is another important feature that gives this camera an edge over similar models.
I view these types cameras as augmenting one another rather than competing for space on my roster of equipment.
To make an analogy, back in the 1950s when a railroad dieselized, it often bought different types of locomotives for various assigned services.
For me the Panasonic Lumix LX7 is like a 1,000hp switcher; the LX100 is a 1,350hp switcher with road trucks; but the two Fuji’s are like 1,600 hp road switchers—jacks of all trades—with enough power to work heavy road trains in tandem with other equipment.
Low sun on the former Reading Company station at West Trenton, New Jersey made for an ideal subject to test the Fuji X-E2. This gave me an opportunity to try various focus and metering modes without the pressure imposed by trying to work with a moving subject. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens.
West Trenton with Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens. The exceptional sharpness of Fuji’s lenses is a real selling point. Also, the color palate reminds me of Kodachrome exposed with Leica lenses (how’s that for ironic!).
Detail of the West Trenton station exposed with the Fuji X-E2 with 55-200mm zoom. This is a very sharp lens, but I found that in some lighting situations the auto focus didn’t work. Autofocus was particularly ineffective when the subject was back lit. I did not experience this focus problem with the 18-55mm zoom.
My goal is to supplement my Canon EOS7D and/or replace it when traveling without a car.
As regular viewers of Tracking the Light are aware, I often travel on public transport (trains, trams, planes & whatnot). When I travel, I carry my cameras plus a laptop in a backpack. Every ounce counts. Since my Canon’s are relatively heavy, I’ve been looking for a lighter option.
I’ve determined that the Fuji mirror-less cameras will allow me to significantly reduce the weight in my bag, while simultaneously upgrade to a new generation of equipment.
I like the Fuji lenses because they are exceptionally sharp and offer a very desirable color palate.
A SEPTA Silverliner V has paused for its inbound station stop at West Trenton. Here back lighting didn’t pose a focus issue when using the 18-55mm lens with the X-E2.
Here’s a similar view that I exposed with my Lumix LX7. My familiarity with the Lumix makes this camera easy to use. Which is the better photo? Which was easier to make?
I was still trying to find my way through the menus on the Fuji X-E2 when this CSX unit oil train approached West Trenton. One of the advantages of the X-E2 is the ability to adjust the auto focus point. However, this feature was of no use to me because I couldn’t find the control for it fast enough. Instead I grabbed my Lumix LX7 and exposed this photo. Again, familiarity can make the difference between making a photo or not.
Fuji’s cameras offer exceptional results at higher ISO ratings. The light was pretty dim when I photographed this CSX mixed freight rolling through West Trenton. I’d bumped the ISO up to 3200 and exposed this image using the 18-55mm lens set at 22.3mm; f3.2 at 1/160th of a second. I’ve sacrificed color saturation for speed. Also, in retrospect I’d had made this image about 1/3 of stop darker, but that’s not a big problem. Fuji X-E2 with 18-55mm lens.
I’ve cropped in tight an enlarged the above image so that you can inspect it for sharpness and motion blur. Keep in mind this was exposed at 3200 ISO and the train was moving at about 15-20mph. Fuji X-E2 image enlarged.
SEPTA in the snow at Glenside, Pennsylvania. The Fuji cameras are fantastic tools for night photography. ISO 2000 1/15th of a second with Fuji X-E2 with 27mm pancake lens.
SEPTA at Glenside. Handheld with a Fuji X-E2 fitted with 27mm pancake lens. ISO 6400 f2.8 at 1/20 of a second. Exposed in aperture priority mode.
Of the two Fuji cameras, I’ve come to favor the X-T1 over the X-E2. Both camera’s use the same lenses, and while the X-E2 is slightly lighter, I found the X-T1 easier to use. It has a superior digital viewfinder. (Also it seemed to have a superior auto focus system, but I can’t confirm that.) Both are excellent cameras, but Given a choice of the two, I’d reach for the X-T1.
Another potential benefit of the Fuji system is that I can buy lens adaptors that will allow me to use both my older Nikon and Leica lenses with the Fuji digital cameras. This will offer a level of redundancy when I choose to bring a film body. If I carry my old Nikon F3, I’ll be able to take advance of the Nikon lenses in event of a Fuji lens failure or if the Nikon glass offers a pictorial advantage.
Fuji’s X-T1 is a compact and versatile camera. I exposed this image of Central Railroad of New Jersey 0-6-0 number 113 using the X-T1 with 18-55mm zoom lens. The camera’s meter and sensor offered broad tonality and contrast. I did not manipulate or adjust this image in post processing, except for necessary scaling for internet presentation.
Steam action frozen with a Fuji X-T1 with 55-200mm zoom lens. I exposed this view at Cressona, Pennsylvania on December 14, 2014.
Auto focus can be a boon, but it can also pose its own fair share of difficulties. Both the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1 allow you to adjust the focus point. Familiarity with the camera’s layers of menus is necessary. In this case I went for the center point option as a default. If I buy a X-T1, I’ll spend some time reviewing the manual!
Among the features of the Fuji cameras is the ability to select color profiles comparable to Fuji slide films. As a long-time Fuji slide shooter, I consider this to be a really good thing! This image was made with the X-T1 in ‘Velvia’ mode, handheld at ISO400 with the 18-55mm lens at 1/8th of a second. The lens has a built in image-stabilization system which allows for greater sharpness without a tripod at slow shutter speeds. This image was exposed at Prospect Park, Pennsylvania just after sunset, one of my favorite times of the day. Fuji X-T1 with 18-55mm lens.
Another view at Prospect park with the X-T1.
I’ll still plan to carry the LX7 as my ‘everywhere camera’, and I may someday upgrade to the LX100. My Canons will also remain active. Regarding my steam fleet (that would be my film cameras), YES, these will all remain active too—although they see less service now than they did back in the day. Each tool has its place.
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