If you are coming from a DSLR you will have a bit of a learning curve. The camera behaves very differently to a DSLR. It makes you think and slow down. You cant brute force your way through a shoot. You have to be more thoughtful and considerate. This is a big plus in many ways. I like this about it. My first reaction was give me the through the lens view of a DSLR. I was frustrated. This camera will initially frustrate you, the electronic viewfinder is irritating at first, this comes from not understanding what the camera is all about though. Be prepared for this. You need to learn to shoot in a different way. I felt like I was on a steep learning curve. I even questioned if I had done the right thing. But then I said to myself I need to really shoot this camera how it was asking me to shoot it. And then it came to life. You have to stop thinking how a DSLR thinks. This is hard to put into words. In many ways this camera is faster than a DSLR, bare with me. If the DSLR were a machine gun then the X-E1 is a sniper rifle. You cant shoot a sniper rifle like a machine gun and so you have to change the way you shoot. The X-E1 is about the single shot – nailed it way of shooting. This is a delightful way to make photographs and it can be faster. Once you are in the right frame of mind it is addictive and each click is rewarding. The pictures are stunning. I can imagine putting the D700 in the boot of the car for large sections of a wedding and just go around with this tiny camera.
Light bulb moment:
I can work faster than with a DSLR. This didn’t actually occur to me at first. Im working faster, because im doing less. Pulling the camera to my eye, a couple of clicks to correct the exposure and I have the shot. One shot, done. Im working more easily because im getting DSLR performance in a tiny camera. Spend a 10 hour day with this lightweight camera and it feels like the X-E1 leans back and says “told you so”. With its awesome ISO, colour rendition, white balance, skin tone and exposure metering. This camera just handles it. This feels like a more pure way of doing photography, even though its reliant on new technology, its more about the moment. Now I have a camera I can really take everywhere and Im shooting more than before but Im shooting far fewer shots to get any job done. For all the speed of a DSLR they need constant review and checking. This camera is more than that though. Its size and look make people not pay attention and you get those shots you wouldnt otherwise. Its just so much fun to use you want to take it everywhere and shoot it all the time, which can only be a good thing.
This is why I love this camera. Each image feels special and thought out. I had got used to just running and gunning too much with a DSLR. This camera is a dream for natural light shooters. A lot of its benefits are lost on people that use flash extensively I expect
I started writing this review after 3 days of ownership and now it has nearly been a week. Going back to my D700, the D700 feels faster in terms of autofocus, really much faster, but it feels remote. I dont feel as connected to the camera. I have started to feel like the X-E1 really sucks you in and makes you shoot its way. Like it has a style and a way where a DSLR has none. It commands your attention and says “you better think about this” but in the way a good teacher might rather than being difficult. My D700 in comparison feels like it is saying “yeah ok do what you like”. To conclude I would say this camera is not a DSLR replacement, I would not be without my D700. That was never my intention. I wanted a 2 camera setup for professional work. But it will become my primary camera. I still love my D700. I like each for different reasons and they fill different roles.
See full review on martincastein.com