Straightforward reviews and tests of cycling, travel and related products I use on the road

Fuji XE1, first thoughs

Over the past year or more I'd really fallen in love with my Fuji X100. Its cool retro styling, quirky high-maintenance nature, and its beautiful out of camera images. Oh how I longed of the X100 to have something more than a super slow and temperamental autofocus and a fixed lens.

There are plenty out there that say that fixed lens is all you need, that it forces you to compose differently and think more; and there is a small truth in that. Sure enough in a time of retro hipsterness that sounds so cool, and I admit that I do like the simplicity of it, a bit like riding a fixed wheel bike (which I do). But if you've ever ridden a fixed wheel then you'll know it's a pain in the arse when the road turns downwards, steeply upwards, or gets rough, that's why gears were invented, no?

Turn it around to a camera and think of that distant cyclist  and a 23mm fixed lens, or that fast moving runner, or anything that moves for that matter; the camera then becomes very, well - hampered.

I looked long and hard at the Fuji XPro1, a stunning block of a retro styled camera with interchangeable lenses - but knowing that it carried the same flaws as the X100 and a huge price tag I held back, until the XE1 came about a few weeks ago.

To me the XE1 looked like the dream camera, the camera I'd been waiting for, the one that could handle some real work and that could be carried on my bike, the key to adventure, self photography and versatility - all I needed was to get hold of one, some mini-remotes, tiny magic arms and away I went, free as a bird, and not with my usual 15kg of DSLR gear on my back.

\Now, when reading camera reviews and opinions online I always have to take a side step - they paw over and rave about these stunning little Fuji's, but then I have to remember that these guys rarely take pics of things that actually move and never leave the bathroom without a tripod, they often also spend hours in post-process, which as a busy working photographer I cannot do, and they don't have usually to make a living from selling their works either - so, subtle difference.

Cutting to the chase - as although I've had the camera for almost a month, I've been pinned down in bandages from a crash until now, so have only just got around to using it - in a short street trial situation. So, what do I think? Well, first off it made me realise just how good the X100 is, and how its inbuilt ND filter was a gift from the Fuji gods, especially when shooting into the light, as I like to do.

The XE1 was supposed to be the antidote to that slow AF, but so far it seems to be not far ahead of the X100, and the 18-55 lens has an AF switch right on the barrel side, which I kept turning by mistake, as I did with the exposure dial on top - in the same way I did with the X100.

So? I will surely get used to its quirks, as long as I remember to underexpose anything in contrasting light (as it blows out the highlights) - but it's a long ride away from being a camera for someone who wants to take pics of anything that moves faster than snowman in the sun.

And now they've announced the X100S, with what they say is the worlds fasted in class for autofocus, umm - nah, I can't add another one to the case..

Oh, I also finally got around to using Lightroom, as I hardly ever add/work much in post production, and I had this all set to jpeg, gotta figure it out, but for shadow/detail recovery it seems pretty amazing - but, I do prefer to get most of that right when I take the pic - saves a whole lot of time, which I don't have.