Registered: Apr 29, 2009
Total Posts: 5451
Millsart: I'd love to hear your impressions on the three cameras relative to one another. Very interesting stuff.
They are all very good cameras respectively yet also rather different.
DP2m as most already know has some fantastic resolution that exceeds what the other two are capable of but its also a very slow camera, has horrible battery life, poor at higher ISO, requires a special (though honestly not that bad of workflow) etc. Its pretty much a tripod camera (light one at that) landscape camera for me. The sheer resolution, fine detail/texture, and lightweight are a pretty unique combo. You could carry a D800 of course and do better, and have a better camera overall, but a Merrill is so much easier to hike with and used can be had for a mere $700 or so. Working from a tripod its a fun and unique imaging tool. I especially like it for pano's where the edge to edge sharpness and total lack of distortion make stitching a breeze. Never had any camera able to capture fine distant detail like the DP can either. Basically does one thing amazing well and kind of sucks for anything else lol
XE-1 and the X system in general is some great bang for the buck if you want a more traditional shooting experience. I had a XPro a while back and due to the recent rebates and interest in the 14mm lens, picked up the XE-1. The 14mm lens is very good, as its the 35mm. I also got the 18 and 60mm as they were just $300 each. Don't really use those as much but the 60mm is pretty good optically. I've found I use the 35mm more than the 14 though even though I bought the system for the wide angle....go figure.
AF is decent, if not a little slow at times, but accurate. EVF is also quite useable, though it does have a bit of lag. I much prefer the Sony EVF but it also cost more than 50% of the XE-1 cost alone so that does put things a bit into perspective. Rear LCD is a bit low rez and small compared to others but in actual use I don't find much issue with it. In some ways the X system can frustrate me though if I try to use it like I would a DSLR when doing event work. Its just a bit too slow of camera if your used to the instant response of a DSLR in terms of shutter lag, review times etc. Used in a more casual manner its a nice system but I feel its core genetics are a bit P&S based.
IQ is quite good from the APS-C sensor with good high ISO performance. Fuji color is always pleasing to the eye and the OOC jpegs are really useable. Sometimes I can see a little Xtrans weirdness in some bushes but as a whole I don't find it to be an issue. Overall look of the Fuji files is distinct and rather film like. The 35mm in particular has a really classic rendering and a touch of creamy softness wide open that reminds me of some pre asph Leica designs. I will say I can find the files to be a bit flat though unless your in really nice light.
RX1 is in a totally different price class (though used prices are making it more affordable) and its a quite unique shooting experience as well. Its got a world class Zeiss lens and an amazing FF sensor which together can be quite an exciting change from the likes of all the other aps-c mirrorless systems. The resolution, high iso performance and unique Zeiss rendering can have a real wow factor on some images. If your used to using some really good class on a D800 or 5D mkIII then its really not that unique of course, but if your used to a NEX6 or m4/3 with a kit zoom, then the tonality and subject isolation you can achieve while still having a wide FoV is pretty cool, but certainly comes at a price.
RX1 had a fantastic, though again, pricey, EVF that is hands down the best I've used to date and comes closest of anything to matching an OVF. No issues with lag and very accurate plus it tilts which I've found I really like to use in normal shooting. Overall the RX1, while having AF on par with the Fuji is a bit more responsive overall. No shutter lag, every button responses instantly for things like playback etc and the overall feel of the camera in hand is very solid, as is the feel of each metal button and such. Build quality does match the price point. RX1 is also a good bit smaller/lighter in actual feel around your neck than the specs might suggest. Its not pocketable per say but does slip into coat pockets and such far easier than the XE-1.
Obviously though your limited to 35mm (or tighter if you crop a little) so the XE-1 can fill different roles with more lens options and you can have a full system for less than the RX1 price. That is a huge consideration.
The 35mm 1.4 is the closest focal length match I've got to compare and both produce really nice images but also very different images. The Fuji can get a little shallower DoF overall as it is faster, but due to the crop tighter. Makes it a bit tough to do a real a/b comparison but overall what I think you find is that they are more so different than one being "better"
As I alluded to previously, its a bit more of a modern Zeiss look vs a pre-asph Leica look (not to suggest any XE-1 vs Leica debate). The RX1 files have tons of micro contrast, edge to edge sharpness, great tonality, and a really distinct Zeiss focal transition which gives that characteristic "pop". The Fuji files, with the 35mm at least, are a bit flatter and softer at the edges, especially wide open, with a more gentle rendering. Still very sharp in the center of course, but the overall transition of in to out of focus is just smoother and creamier. Modern vs classic.
In absolute terms the RX does have the advantage in higher ISO's, resolution etc, but in day to day shooting its really not that huge of difference. Both cameras can give you very good high ISO files. The RX is the better camera, but it should be given its price.
I find that I rather enjoy all 3 of them though and each have a use. I can't really say any one is better overall. For a specific purpose I have a preference of course but they all bring some unique benefits such as great landscape resolution, or ability to switch lenses or giving a FF dslr like file from a near p&s sizes package.
I wouldn't really call any of these images "better" as they are all just different and I do apologize for lack of better examples as I was planning on doing a bit more shooting with all the cameras prior to weather hitting but basically second I pulled out the camera the rain started so I did a quick shoot with each and had to pack it in. These aren't mean to be strict controlled examples either. My usual way of "testing" cameras is just to walk around and shoot with them, rather than try to get out the tripod and frame everything equiv etc. I just like to see what type of files they give me as situations present themselves and how the cameras handle, how the focal length works etc
Fuji w/ 35mm showing its very classical rendering
RX1 (shot at f5.6) showing its fantastic tonality
DP2m, giving the unique Foveon look and while not appreciable at web size, you can see pixel level detail of each and every little leaf/twig etc in the file