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Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.
  
 
marko1953
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p.1 #1 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


I have had the X-E1 for a couple of weeks now and today I finally got to try it out in a real world kid's birthday shoot. Up until now I have been taking scenic shots and some street photos. I read all the reviews before I bought it and was aware of the warnings about slow autofocus (compared to dslrs). I am a part-time wedding photographer and usually shoot with a 5D3 and and 5DC. I did update the firmware to the latest version (lens and body). I have been reasonably happy with the autofocus for the scenic shots but that kind of photography doesn't prepare you for a one year old's birthday! I was hoping to be able to use the X-E1 for some parts of weddings like the getting ready photos and the reception.

Upon arrival the little one year old was sitting on a deck with a very bright background (lake and sky). My first shots were very disappointing. The X-E1 couldn't handle the strong backlighting for acquiring focus. It hunted and hunted. Sometimes totally failing to lock focus at all. I tried aiming at different parts of the subject, side of the subject (higher contrast?) nothing worked. I knew my Canon 5D3 would have nailed this in a fraction of a second. Ok so it can't handle strong backlighting. I shifted my approach and got some good shots from the side and the front but the autofocus would sometimes let me down even in normal light. I thought of my 5D3 and how it would have given me 100% in focus shots at this scene.

I continued to take shots and got some good ones. I used the pop up flash to good advantage as fill light, especially against the bright background. I had my settings at RAW + JPG (Pro-neg stnd). Shooting in aperture priority at ISO 200.
I also found it quite difficult to cope with any movement of the subject. These one year olds don't exactly scoot around the floor. They can barely crawl but i still found it hard to get good focus as they moved, played & crawled. It would take a great deal of skill to get consistent focus with this setup. (BTW I learnt on manual focus cameras, I am 60 this year).

When I got home I uploaded into lightroom and saw some beautiful shots. The X-E1 seemed to handle the strong backlighting better than the 5D3 would I think. (I did use the 5D3 later). There are some lovely skin tones and a soft effect in the jpgs which is very pleasing. I don't think I could get such nice photos with the Canon. The X-E1 does an amazing job with exposure.

So I am writing this to possible future users of the X-E1. It produces amazing images but the autofocus is so frustrating at times. I really wanted to love this camera and I still do but after today I am realising that its limitations are very real. I have posted a few images to give you an idea of the lighting situation.





Strong backlighting with fill light from pop up flash






Same strong backlighting X-E1 adjusted itself to blow out the background






Inside the house with pop up flash




Oct 05, 2013 at 10:09 AM
carstenw
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p.1 #2 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


Perhaps the recently rumoured XE-2 will help out here. This is a bit like the X100/X100S situation, probably.


Oct 05, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Spyro P.
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p.1 #3 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


since you like the results maybe try manual focusing with the focus peaking


Oct 05, 2013 at 11:05 AM
crosdaddy
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p.1 #4 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


Mark,
Did you try changing the size of the focus box?
Also, if that fails, switch focus to "continuous " and "mash" (press straight through) the shutter.
Regards,
Crosdaddy



Oct 05, 2013 at 02:45 PM
alba63
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p.1 #5 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


I have been making photos of my 4yo daughter with my X-E1 for the last 8 months (exclusively with the Fuji). In less than optimal (outside) light, you have to make the AF square bigger than smallest size, and always (!) adopt the "one full push" technique. However seeing that you used the zoom, I have to say that while I got nice results with my favorite X- lens, the 35/1,4, I am frustrated with the 18-55 zoom. It focusses silently, but slower than the 35mm and I get much (!) more shots that do not have optimal sharpness. Maybe I send it to the service before the warranty is over, but anyway. Indoor F2,8-F4 is way slower than f1,4. It is a completely different ballpark. Therefore I prefer fixed focals. I wait for the 56/1,2 and will have a good look at the 23/1,4.

Bernie



Oct 05, 2013 at 07:06 PM
W.T. Jones
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p.1 #6 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


The one full push or "mash" technique works in AF-S too. I use it quite often. I recommend reading Rico Pfiirstingers thoughts on using the X-Pro1/X-E1 autofocus. He has some good tips and explains it's operation well in his book on the X-pro1.


Oct 05, 2013 at 09:13 PM
marko1953
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p.1 #7 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


Thanks for the replies. I have the autofocus square a bit bigger than minimum but will try making it larger. Have tried the one push technique but I think I need more practice. I would like to try the 35mm but don't want to spend more money on a system that the jury is still out on. If it wasn't for the beautiful image quality I probably wouldn't bother persisting. I love the film simulation modes.


Oct 05, 2013 at 09:28 PM
 

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BokehBeauty
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p.1 #8 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


alba63 wrote:
... However seeing that you used the zoom, I have to say that while I got nice results with my favorite X- lens, the 35/1,4, I am frustrated with the 18-55 zoom.
Bernie


I agree, I gave up on any other lens than the 35mm f1.4 for such events. Each time I start with the 60mm f2.4, but quickly change in frustration even after all the firmware updates.
Also f1.4 is so useable to separate the kid's face from any distracting surrounding. You have to get much closer but kid's get used to you quickly when approached slowly.



Oct 06, 2013 at 03:04 AM
marko1953
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p.1 #9 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


I have switched to "back button focus" now and it seems to work a bit better. This is what I use on my canon so it is easy to adapt. Will try the 35mm one day I guess.


Oct 09, 2013 at 10:56 AM
alba63
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p.1 #10 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


BokehBeauty wrote:
Each time I start with the 60mm f2.4, but quickly change in frustration even after all the firmware updates.
Also f1.4 is so useable to separate the kid's face from any distracting surrounding.


I now use the 35mm lens for 98% of my shots. Zoom only when I really want wider. F2,8 - 3,2 or so is also half decent. What always surprised me is how good the 35/1,4 is even with closer portraits.

I almost pulled the trigger on the 60/2,4 several times. But luckily I could resist... I hope (!!) that the long announced 56/1,2 will be a great lens and AF at least on 35/1,4 level.

If that 56mm lens turns out to be a real winner, together with an updated X-Pro-2 with reasonably fast AF and let's say 20 or 24MP this could be a combo that could appease my wish for the Nex-FF. I' even keep then my current X-E1 in order to change lenses less frequently. One with 56mm, one with 23 or 35mm. Perfect.

Will sell the zoom then, which already I almost never use. I don't like lenses slower than 2,8 anyway...



Oct 09, 2013 at 11:27 AM
doowop42
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p.1 #11 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


crosdaddy wrote:
Mark,
Did you try changing the size of the focus box?
Also, if that fails, switch focus to "continuous " and "mash" (press straight through) the shutter.
Regards,
Crosdaddy


Make the focus box larger.



Oct 10, 2013 at 02:23 PM
theophilus
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p.1 #12 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


Hoping the XE-2 fixes most of this with the PDAF on-sensor. I would have already been in this system otherwise.


Oct 10, 2013 at 03:22 PM
itai195
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p.1 #13 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


I agree with others that the 35mm is more reliable than the 18-55mm. I find the 18-55 can be frustrating, especially in lower light. I think Fuji will work out the AF issues eventually, it's not rocket science.


Oct 10, 2013 at 06:01 PM
marko1953
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p.1 #14 · Fuji X-E1 autofocus. Conflicted learning experience.


Update:
I have recently changed my focus method to "back-button focus" and have found it to work much better than the old method (using shutter button). I only have to press once on the AE-L/AF-L button and the focus locks on. I am then free to take many quick shots. The camera does not have to focus EVERY shot like before. I find this speeds things up quite a bit. It took me a while to work out how to do it as I was confused (and a bit thick it seems). You have to set the lever to MANUAL FOCUS first, change the settings in the menu, then the lens jumps to autofocus when you press the back button. I know many of you already use method this but it takes time to get things working the way you want. The focus peaking seems to work OK as well.



Oct 12, 2013 at 12:24 AM





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