Fuji X Buyer’s Guide :: Part 1 :: Cameras · DEDPXL

fuji_buyers_guide_01I have been a Fuji fan boy since the original X100 and, as you can see from the photo above, I have continued to drink the Fuji juice. That’s almost all of my Fuji gear. I have a few things loaned out right now. All I wanted was a small easy to carry camera that had great image quality. I wasn’t looking for a new system. I didn’t need a new system. I just needed that thing in between a point and shoot or cell phone camera and a full fledged DSLR. That’s where the X100 came in. Then Fuji introduced the X-Pro1 and hired me to go shoot with it in India. I still wasn’t looking for a new system. Look at all the shit I have now.

I’m asked on a daily basis what my thoughts are on this X camera vs. that X camera. Which lens? Which accessory? Which battery? But what about the Sony or Olympus such and such? The goal of these posts is to answer those questions. All of these answers are based on my personal opinion and from using this gear on personal projects and paid client work. Remember — these are my opinions. This isn’t a review of the gear. This isn’t a gallery of sample images. This post is for those of you looking into a system like this and I’m giving you an educated opinion. Also note that no one is paying me a dime or a yen to make this post.

This post will deal with the cameras. Part two deals with lenses. Part three is about accessories. I’d do it all in one post but this would be one long ass post. Might as well break it up a bit.

Fuji x30

Fuji X10 / X20 / X30 :: I bought an X10 when it was first released and I’ve recently added an X30 to my bag. There’s one reason and one reason only that I got the X30: So that I would have an educated opinion about the camera when people asked me about it. It’s a cool… point and shoot. It has nice styling. It has nice image quality from a small sensor. The new EVF is fantastic and has moved it leaps and bounds ahead of the original X10.

At the end of the day? It’s a nice point and shoot that isn’t all that much smaller than an X100. It has some nice controls on it. Wifi is great. It has Classic Chrome film simulation. It has some great features. The AF is fast as well. It is a really nice point and shoot. Many people consider this camera when they are looking at the X100. When I think about the X30 vs. the X100 series I think about Jeremy Clarkson talking about the Porsche Boxster. It’s a fantastic car. It handles well. It has great acceleration. There are many great things to say about the Porsche Boxster. But buying a Porsche Boxster says one thing — you couldn’t afford what you really wanted… the 911.

X10 – You might be able to pick one up cheap. Barebones little point and shoot with nice styling. This camera is not an X100.

X20 – Meh. Just go straight to the X30 at this point. Get the Wifi. Get the Color Chrome film simulation. Get the new EVF. It’s not an X100.

X30 – If you are an X10 user and love that camera, you’re going to LOVE the X30. If you are an X20 user and you love that camera then you’ll be happy with the upgrade to the X30. FWIW – I prefer the black model. I have a black X10 and a silver X30. I prefer this series in black. Still isn’t an X100.

I will say that the coolest thing about these small X cameras is the super macro mode. You can get right up on something with these cameras for super macro images. My kids love that about this camera.

Who should buy the X30? Anyone who wants a stylish little point and shoot with a nice set of features like Wifi, a usable EVF, and a flip screen. You don’t really care about manual controls what-so-ever nor do you want a camera that can step in for paid work from time to time. Yes this camera does have manual controls and you could go to print with this camera but… you know what I’m saying.

Who should not buy the X30? Anyone who really wants the X100 series. If you think that buying an X30 will give you that X100 feeling you will be disappointed.

Fuji_X_Series_Buyers_Guide__006 X100 / X100S / X100T :: If my studio was going up in flames and I could save one camera it would be my Fuji X100T. I’d let my Phase One burn, burn, burn, burn before a wisp of smoke hit my X100T. No question about it. This is my favorite camera ever. I truly wish I had the the balls to sell all my shit except two X100 cameras, the two conversion lenses for it, and maybe a few lights. That’s the utopian photography lifestyle I dream of. A couple X100’s and some clamp lights and very understanding clients. That’s what I want. I’ve warned clients that this might happen one day. I might just show up with an X100 and that’s it.

The beauty of the X100 series is the form and function of the camera. The X30 is a photographer’s point and shoot. The X100 series is a photographer’s camera. It’s simple. It’s gorgeous. It’s the zen of cameras for me. Tens of thousands of photos later… I love my X100 cameras as much as I did when I first started shooting with them. Look at how many of them I own and one is missing from that photo above. I own seven of them. That’s stupid. I don’t care. I’ll be buried with one. I’ve bought some. I’ve worked for a couple. I’ve traded for the rest. I love these stupid little cameras.

There are two very capable conversion lenses for the X100 that give you a 35mm full frame equivalent of a 28mm, a 35mm (native lens), and a 50mm lens. I’ll talk about those in the lens post.

Original X100 – If you want to get into the Fuji X100 family look for a good used X100. Fuji did a great thing by releasing one last great firmware update to the camera. Some folks still prefer the original X series CMOS over the new Xtrans CMOS. It can sort of be like people who preferred VW air cooled engines over water cooled engines. Or cast iron over teflon. The original X100 is still, to this day, a great little camera and I’d be happy to keep shooting with one if that was my only option.

X100S – You can pick these up on clearance or used now that the T is out. Great camera. Faster performance than the original. New CMOS sensor. Better viewfinder. Etc. Etc. Etc.

X100T – Wifi and faster performance. End of story. They are brand new so they have the newest technology packed inside. If you can scramble to get a few more hundred dollars together the Wifi and the better performance is worth the money. Especially if you want to think about getting the Instax SP1 printer. FWIW – My personal preference is the silver model. I have a black one as well. I personally prefer it in silver.

Who should buy the X100 series? Anyone wanting a small, silent, constant companion of a camera. You are already comfortable with the 35mm (equiv.) focal length. You aren’t looking for a system camera per se but just a nice camera that has all the controls you want where you want them. It’s fantastic for family photos, travel, street, and can jump in on a garden variety of paid working assignments. The thought of a leaf shutter that allows you to sync at high shutter speeds with flash is also a very attractive feature to you. You’re all set with a system camera and all the lenses and crap that go with that. You just want an every day carry kind of camera. You should get an X100 series. I’ll warn you… it’s the gateway drug into the X system.

Who should not buy the X100 series? Anyone who just has to have a wide range of focal lengths. You have to have a wide and a telephoto and something in the middle and you can’t, for the life of you, figure out why anyone would want a fixed lens camera. Even if you are this person I still think you need an X100. It’s the only camera I’ve ever owned that I’ve thought, “Everyone should own one of these cameras.”

Fuji_X_Series_Buyers_Guide__004Fuji X-A1 / X-M1 :: These are the little intro cameras into the interchangeable lens X series. I personally own an XM1 and my favorite lens on that is the 18mm f2. It was given to me as a gift directly from the great people at Fujifilm in Japan. The serial number on this camera is “ZARIAS”. It’s a cool little camera.  If I was considering a purchase of this camera I’d be looking at a used X-E1 instead.

These small cameras are like the X30 of the interchangeable lens series. They are capable but the controls just aren’t as user friendly and there’s no viewfinder so you are going to be composing on the back screen only. Yes, it gets you into this X series line but — they come with compromises. Mainly in form and function. The best place for something like the X-M1 would be an inexpensive backup to another X series camera. Or a small third camera for something like a photo booth situation or something similar. I’ve actually used my X-M1 as a photo booth camera once. It was fine for that. Do you need to buy this as a photo booth camera? Probably not. Would I purchase one? No.

Who should buy one of these entry level X series cameras? Teenagers with some Christmas money who want a fun camera and want to learn a little about photography.

Who should not buy one of these entry level cameras? Anyone wanting an X-E1, E2, Pro, or T. Or anyone trying to decide between an X-M1 and an X100. Buy the X100 series. End of story. IMHO. Really.

Fuji_X_Series_Buyers_Guide__002bFuji X-E1 / X-E2 :: As you can see, this is the class of X series camera that I do not own. I used to own an X-E1. It was the backup camera to my X-Pro1. Once I started to use X series cameras for paid work I needed a second camera and the X-E1 was the affordable choice for me at that time. I liked the X-E1 well enough but never enough to have it replace the X-Pro1 as my main camera. I kept the X-E1 until the X-T1 came out. The T became my main camera. Then I bought another T so I could have two identical bodies on hand at all times. I always prefer having two identical bodies on a job even if one is simply there as a backup.

The X-E2 is highly regarded and loved by droves of photographers out there. It has newer tech than the Pro and honestly… I consider the X-E1 and the X-E2 as the entry level camera into the X series. If you’re into photography don’t mess around with one of the baby X cameras like the X-A or X-M. Just dive right in with an X-E2 as the best affordable option for building an X system. Look at a used X-E1 for a backup / second camera.

Why am I not head over heels in love with the X-E1 or 2? Because of the form and function of the X-Pro. Then the T came out. I personally prefer those two cameras over the X-E1 and 2.  These cameras are awesome for a garden variety of photography genres. They are more than capable of replacing a DSLR system or as a supplement to a traditional DSLR system. I know several photographers who still rely on their Nikons and Canons but like a small system like this for times when a small camera is called for the job or for traveling restraints.

Who should buy an X-E1 / X-E2? Photography enthusiasts and professionals who are looking for a compact camera system that has all the dials and controls where you want them to be on a good camera. Maybe this is going to be your main camera for awhile as you build up some lenses. Maybe this is going to supplement your DSLR system as a travel / secondary system. You also aren’t put off by this being an EVF only camera.

Who should not buy an X-E1 / X-E2? People who think larger cameras make better pictures. People who like to walk around with big expensive looking cameras on their neck like they are some sort of effing trophy. Other people who should not consider this camera – Sports photographers. Wildlife photographers. People who make money shooting video. Video capabilities are less than stellar. That’s an across the board statement with Fuji X cameras right now, though.

Fuji_X_Series_Buyers_Guide__010The X-Pro1 :: The X-Pro1 holds a special place in my heart even though I haven’t shot it on a single project since getting the X-T1. Let me tell you a very brief history I’ve had with this camera:

I was anticipating this being the DSLR killer camera for me and my first week or two with it let me down. Then I took it to India and I fell in love with this and the 35mm f1.4 lens bolted on the front. I fell in love with it but it didn’t kill the DSLR yet. After owning it for a few months I was second shooting a wedding for a friend of mine with this camera and the hotshoe fell off the camera. The whole hotshoe came off. I shelved the X-Pro knowing it needed to get sent in for service. Life was busy and it stayed on that shelf for a few months. I loved this camera but, evidently, I didn’t love it that much. I was hired by Fuji to shoot another job for them and I figured I better get the X-Pro fixed prior to that job so I sent it in.

It returned from Fuji service and I unboxed it and bolted the 35mm on it and that is when the DSLR died. That moment. I realized how much I missed that camera. How beautiful that camera is to look at. How well it fit in my hand. That optical viewfinder. Mmmmm. It was like a John Hughes movie moment when the main character realizes they are with the wrong person. That’s when the Canon’s really hit the shelf and never returned to my life as a working photographer. Yes, yes, yes. I have a Phase One that I shoot with on a regular basis but I’ve burned gabillions of pixels through my Fujis on personal and paid projects.

Some still love this camera for the original X series CMOS sensor and they swear by it. I’ve moved on to X-Trans and I’m good to go with those sensors. The first gen CMOS sensors do have their own quality to them though. I can’t say they are better but they are a bit different.

Who should buy the X-Pro1?  The traveler. The correspondant. The slower and methodical photographer. The photographer who loves minimal design and simple controls. The documentary wedding photographer who doesn’t need 14 frames a second. The X-Pro1 is not a speed demon. It isn’t the best in low light auto focusing. Firmware updates have made it a much better camera than it started. It’s best suited for slow and methodical thinking photographers. It’s a beauty to hold and operate.

This is a great camera for those of you who’d love to own a Leica M, M9, etc but won’t or can’t ever part with that kind of cash. The X-Pro1, IMHO, is still the most beautiful of the X series. I know that doesn’t mean shit to the pictures that are created but it’s a joy to use and carry with you. I really should pull it out of hibernation.

But unless you need one NOW NOW NOW… I’d look for a good used one or a good sale price on a new one. Because… one day… ONE DAY… Fuji is going to finally replace the oldest X camera in their lineup and it’s probably going to kick ass all up and down the block. I have no idea when but I’m going to guess… next year some time.

Who should not buy the X-Pro1? Those of you wanting the newest tech in a camera. This one is getting long in the tooth compared to the newer X cameras. If you find a good deal on a used one though? It’s worth looking at for sure. New technology does not equal better photography. Remember that.

Fuji_X_Series_Buyers_Guide__012Fuji X-T1 :: To be very honest with you, the X-T1 is a stopgap for me as I wait for the X-Pro2. It’s my “work” camera. I love this camera but I don’t love, love, love it like my X100 cameras and my X-Pr01. That’s not to say that this isn’t a great camera. It’s a fantastic camera. There’s a reason I own two of these. A regular working kit of gear for me is two X-T1 bodies, an X100T, and some glass. I’ve shot magazine covers, product catalogs, promo work for bands, etc. with this kit of gear. To me the X-T1 is at home in the studio like the X-Pro is at home on the streets. Both are capable of doing either one… these are just feelings I have about the cameras. I’ve shot the T on the streets and the Pro in the studio many times. My feeling is the X-T1 is for my work. The X100 and X-Pro1 is for my heart. I really shouldn’t separate those two should I?

This is the biggest, baddest X series Fuji has on the market today. Fastest focusing. Best EVF. Best processor. Best screen. Wifi. Etc. This is, basically, the X-Pro2 but with a completely different feel and design. For final image quality I would put this up against any competitor in the small format (Full frame 35mm and below) market. It beats my old 5D2 files to hell and back.

Who should buy the Fuji X-T1?  Those who have been looking at the X-E2 but have the funds to go ahead and get the X-T1. Just do it. It’s a better camera. I mean, there’s a lot under the hood that are close to equal between the two cameras but the EVF on this is what makes this camera. If this had an X-E2 EVF I’d probably still be shooting my X-Pro1 to be honest. The EVF on this is sick. If you are thinking of going to a small system and you’re a very passionate enthusiast or aspiring pro or working pro… this is the body to look at for your workhorse camera. Weather sealing, good focus tracking, dedicated ISO dial, Wifi, etc. Great for portraiture, product, travel, food, weddings and events, journalism, etc.

Who should not buy the Fuji X-T1? While I know a few folks shooting some sports with this camera it still isn’t there yet for the person in the sports trenches week in and week out. If you are a wildlife photographer you probably aren’t looking at this camera either. Part of the reason Fuji won’t work for these two genres is the lack of glass in the 300mm 2.8 range and up.

 


 

Those are the main Fuji cameras out right now that I’m asked about regularly. I’m also asked a lot about this model vs. that model. Here are my thoughts and opinions.

X30 or X100? I can’t say it enough… If you are looking at the X30 but you really want an X100 then save your money and get the camera you REALLY want. The X30 will fall short of your expectations. Used X100 series beats an X30 for me. There are a lot of fans of these small X cameras out there though who are shooting great stuff with them. I’m not saying the X10/20/30 suck. I’m just saying they aren’t an X100. Boxster or 911? 🙂

X-M / A or X-E1 / 2? If you are less than 50% into photography then one of these cameras and a lens or two will be fun for you.

X-E1 or X-E2? If you are 75% or more into photography you need to be looking at the X-E2 or the X-E1 for those on a tight budget. X-E2 for those who want to get into the X system and save a few bucks to put into some glass so you skip the X-T1 at this time. You might also be buying the X-E2 knowing that it will eventually be falling into the backup camera position when you eventually go with the X-T1 or if you are waiting for the X-Pro2.

X-E2 or X-T1? You are 90% into photography as a very serious enthusiast or a working professional go with the X-T1. You get the X-T1 one for the newest tech and most robust body in the Fuji X line. X-E2 if you are supplementing a current DSLR kit or you’re an enthusiast that would rather save some money on the body to get another lens for the system. X-T1 if you have the cash to do so and / or you are a working pro.

X100 or X-E2? If I had a dollar for every time I’m asked this question I’d be rich. If you already have a decent bit of DSLR gear like a good camera body and a few lenses then get the X100 S / T. If you only have an iPhone or a point and shoot and you really want to get into photography then start investing in a system like the X-E2. Build that kit up a bit and then decide if you want to add an X100 series later. An X-E2 with an X100 series as a backup camera would be a great solution.

X-Pro1 or X-T1? If you are slow and methodical and the look and feel and design of your camera is an aesthetic that is important to you then get the X-Pro1. If you need and/or desire Wifi, faster performance, and the like then go with the X-T1. It’s still a good looking camera but, IMHO, the X-Pro1 is a classic.

X-A or X-T1? Stop. Just stop. 🙂

X100, X100S, or X100T? Whichever one you can afford without going into debt. If you only have to save up for 60 or 90 days more to get to the next tier of an X100 then be patient. The higher up you go in this series the more bang for the buck you’re going to get. If you find a steal of a deal though on an original X100 then grab it. Remember too that you’re going to want some extra batteries, an extra charger or two, a lens hood maybe, and other accessories that will dig into your budget.

 


 

Next up will be lenses. Then accessories and final thoughts and maybe some Q&A that comes from the comment section here.

PLEASE do not ask when such and such firmware is coming or if such and such feature will be added to such and such camera. I have no idea. I can say that if you are wanting Classic Chrome on a first gen X camera that’s probably never going to happen. Classic Chrome would have to be developed from the ground up for that older sensor. At some point a company has to move on. Fuji has done a great job supporting older cameras with new firmware. Something they need to always be doing but at some point… yeah… you have to move on.

Will Classic Chrome be coming to the X100S? I don’t know. When is the X-Pro2 coming out? I don’t know. Are they working on a medium format? I don’t know. Is this or that happening? I don’t know. What about TTL flash systems? I don’t know. What about tethering… THAT… THAT is coming. I do know that much.

Any other questions hit me up in the comments below.

Cheers,
Zack

Fuji Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Lenses Fuji Buyer’s Guide Part 3: Accessories

Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

Website
View All Posts