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Fujifilm X vs Micro 4/3: pro et contra, and why I'm probably switching back to Micro 4/3

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by stratokaster, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    I have lots of experience with various Micro 4/3 cameras, but recently I bought a Fujifilm X-E2 kit. I'd like to offer my thoughts about this camera, its kit lens and its pluses and minuses compared to Micro 4/3. This is my first Fujifilm X camera and, frankly speaking, I'm already thinking about switching back to Micro 4/3.

    This is how my Fujifilm X-E2 looks (or, to be precise, looked until recently) in all its glory:

    DSC00018.

    What I like about Fujifilm X-E2:

    1. The biggest plus is image quality at higher ISO values. Even at ISO 6400 the images out of the camera are amazingly clean. Yes, I know that Fujifilm's ISO numbers are a bit inflated and that its ISO 6400 is closer (in terms of exposure density) to other cameras at ISO 5000. Still, it's an amazing performance for a crop-sensor camera. Also Fujifilm's X-Trans sensors are basically "ISOless," there is no meaningful difference in terms of image quality between files shot at ISO 3200 and files shot at ISO 200 and pushed by 4EV in PP.

    2. I also like Fujifilm's kit zoom. It's made of metal and it's one stop faster than other 18-55mm kit zooms. It's also very sharp at any aperture and focal length... provided everything is right, which is not always the case.

    3. Fujifilm's lens lineup is excellent. While Micro 4/3 still has a slight edge when it comes to lens selection, Fujifilm's lens lineup is very strong and in some cases stronger than Micro 4/3. For example, Fujifilm 16mm and 23mm lenses are both better optically and faster than their M4/3 counterparts (Olympus 12mm and 17mm lenses). There are also some very attractive 3rd party offerings, for example, Rokinon/Samyang 12mm f/2 which is a fast 18mm equivalent on APS-C, but only 24mm equivalent on Micro 4/3..

    4. Design. I think Fujifilm X-E2 is the most attractive camera out there, period.

    What I don't like about Fujifilm X-E2:

    1. Build quality. It's true that Fujifilm X-E2 is made of premium materials: for example, the top and the front plate of the camera are metal. The dials on top of the camera are also very nicely machined out of solid aluminum. However, the actual build-quality is very poor. My camera out of the box had a misaligned seam at the bottom with a 1mm-wide gap between the front and the rear parts of the shell. The rear command dial is a bit slanted (also out of the box), the rear shell flexes and creaks when I hold the camera in my hand. Granted, these are only cosmetic issues, but I expect better build quality at this price point. It appears that Fujifilm's quality control is a bit inconsistent, because some cameras are perfect or almost perfect and some are even worse than mine.

    2. AF. I'm actually happy with AF speed of my X-E2. It's AF accuracy I'm concerned about. In many years shooting with Micro 4/3 cameras I have had maybe a handful of misfocused shots. In 2 months with Fujifilm X-E2, I'm getting an alarming number of shots that are almost-but-not-quite in focus. This is especially true when using central PDAF-enabled AF points and when shooting with the kit zoom at 55mm. I'm pretty sure it a focusing issue because when I focus the lens manually, it's very sharp even wide open.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 22.00.20.
    AF accuracy: close, but no cigar

    3. Fujifilm's OIS is unreliable. It works okay at slower shutter speeds, but if shooting in good light at shutter speeds faster than 1/200, it actually introduces blur 7 times out of 10. Just last week I was shooting in full sun with lots of snow around, my shutter speed was between 1/1000 and 1/4000 and yet 70% of my shots were unusable because of noticeable doubling. Fujifilm's OIS also introduces some very peculiar artifacts, for example, the center of the frame may be completely sharp, but the borders may display some rotational blur, or pronounced CAs that are not there when the OIS is switched off. This issue is so widespread that it is considered "normal" for this lens and some other Fujifilm lenses, see for example this thread: OIS performance parameters - some help please. The only way to mitigate these issues is to use IS Mode 2. In this mode OIS is active only when taking a shot. But obviously, when in this mode, the live view feed is not stabilized. I know that I'm supposed to turn the OIS off when shooting at higher shutter speeds, but in many years of shooting with Canon, Panasonic and other stabilized lenses, I have never experienced this issue, or at least never to such an extent.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 21.55.57.
    This is a typical example of OIS-induced ghosting. In this case — at 1/1400

    4. As it turns out, I don't actually like Fujifilm's control scheme. Sure, those retro dials look very nice and some people probably imagine that they're still shooting with their Spotmatics or Nikkormats or Fujicas, but there was a reason why camera manufacturers gradually moved from dedicated shutter/aperture dials to modal command wheels. I have discovered that Fuji's retro controls actually slow me down; for example, the shutter dial is located in such a position that I can't change the shutter speed without looking at the top of the camera.

    5. "The X-Trans look." It's a matter of taste because X-Trans sensors are amazing for some types of shots (like portraits, nighttime cityscapes, or anything that requires shooting in low light). But for landscapes and other types of pictures with lots of fine detail X-Trans is clearly suboptimal. If you read web discussions, you will get the impression that it's only foliage that gets mushy. This is not true, for example, if you have naked branches against deep blue sky, you will get mushy detail, false color and other artifacts. Some RAW converters are better at handling X-Trans, some are worse, but none are ideal. You will get either lots of fine detail with lots of artifacts or mushy detail with some artifacts. Even Fujifilm's built-in RAW converter struggles in some cases.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 21.58.49.
    In this example, both the wires and fine detail in the trees look just plain wrong

    As you can see, there are more negatives than positives, and the negatives are much more serious (at least for me). That said, Fujifilm X-E2 together with its kit zoom produces wonderful images, better than any crop-sensor camera I have used before… provided that I nail the focus, the OIS doesn't ruin the image and there are no fine detail anywhere in the frame. Its peak image quality is great, but it's difficult to achieve. So I think I'd prefer a camera which will not fly as high but will produce consistent results regardless of various (often mysterious) circumstances. I think I'd get something like Panasonic Lumix GX7 which is also very attractive, but with vastly superior build quality, extremely precise and reliable AF and a traditional Bayer sensor.

    P.S. Some pictures I have taken with my X-E2:

    24528746941_856e333ed8_b.

    24502652602_0fc78c475c_b.

    24312769622_e7b29eff0b_b.

    23794111523_704c8b5070_b.

    23663880344_55b205b26c_b.

    23909608859_f62faf316d_b.
     
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  2. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Pavel, I just picked up an X-E2 + 35/1.4. I'm having the opposite reaction, thinking it may be the end of my long romance with m4/3s. I wouldn't be surprised to find more good shots with E-P5 + 25/1.8 as it relates to AF accuracy, but I'm also pretty sure I get more "wow" shots with the Fuji.

    I had the 18-55 with the X-E1 a while back. It didn't impressed me enough at the time to keep it.
     
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  3. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I had the X-E1 and the 35/1.4 and it was a pretty great combo. It produced some of the biggest "wow" images I have ever shot. The Fuji sensor is really pretty amazing. I agree that the AF on newer m43 bodies is more accurate but I would be lying if I said that my m43 cameras (and E-M10) is in the same league as the Fuji...it's not. There are reasons I chose to pick up the Olympus body instead of a Fuji (I wanted a smaller kit, more reasonably priced lenses and I really like the Panasonic 20/1.7) but the Fuji is very attractive indeed.

    I do agree about the AF being of at times. I had the same problem with the 18-55 kit zoom. I also found that LR does an absolutely terrible job with Fuji RAW files. I switched to C1P and found that it did a MUCH better job. I also found I preferred the rendering of the older X-Trans in the X-E1 over the X-E2. That said, it real is a matter of personal preference.

    Here is what the X-E1 and 35/1.4 was capable of...

    17923505066_962a219f83_b.
    essence of youth
    by kevin dixey, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
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  4. kingduct

    kingduct Mu-43 Veteran

    290
    Oct 12, 2013
    It's nice to see such a friendly and honest conversation on the topic.

    My advice to the original poster is to keep on using the Fuji some. When I went moved up from my E-PL1 to the G5, I was not a happy camper. After some time (and some very helpful communications on this forum), I grew to love it and it continues to be my camera.

    So, give the Fuji more time. It is quite possible that it isn't the right camera for you, but it deserves its chance.
     
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  5. yendikeno

    yendikeno Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Sep 5, 2015
    Same here. Although I really enjoy using my E-M1, the X-E2 I have focuses well, and kit lens, even at 55mm, provides sharp, detailed images.
     
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  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had a Fuji body, though I eventually sold it. Great colors, and nice images when you shot it in it's sweet spot, but I much preferred M43 in terms of overall handling, lens prices and body options. Also I didn't find the high ISO all that great. Since most my high ISO shots are usually done in low light, I felt I was better off just using the 5 axis IBIS from an Olympus body and shooting at lower ISOs (with slower shutter speeds).
     
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  7. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I agree...better is a subjective terms and each of us defines what constitutes better depending on what we want. The advantages of the smaller/lighter m43 bodies, more affordable lenses and overall responsiveness were more important than IQ for me. I actually prefer the images that the Fuji but the Olympus I ended up with is good enough that the other issues became more important.
     
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  8. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    566
    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    As a GX7 user who bought an X-E2 body for adapted lenses I would say I am happy with it for that. I like it that sensor cleaning can be set to be done automatically. I find the ergonomics of the Fuji manual settings a bit more intuitive than on the Panny. But then I never use the exposure compensation dial, and you can't seem to reassign it.

    At high ISO I guess the Fuji performs better, but after goofing about with the noise reduction etc in LR I don't think in a blind test I could necessarily tell which was which. I do like that you can access the Fuji film settings in LR whereas for the Panasonic I had to buy the Huelight ones.

    The Fuji also seems to be getting a hellacious firmware update next week with e.g. electronic shutter. As is, its mechanical shutter seems a bit more refined. The GX7 does make quite a thunk, so lucky it has IBIS. And a 1 second shutter delay setting.

    My first impression was that the Fuji was more solidly built - they're pretty much the same size - but its underplate is more scratched after 3 months than the Panny after 2 years of my unsubtle handling.

    When I got the X-E2 I resolved I would not spend money on buying native lenses for it. And I've not once been tempted. A few fundamental deal breakers. No touchscreen spot AF, just joypad clunky annoyingness. Nope, not going back to that. Also no articulated screen. Also no tiltable viewfinder. They say the Fuji one is better, but I wouldn't know because I never use it, it not being tiltable.

    Your Fuji tree photo is certainly odd; I've not seen anything like that. Fuji RAF files load and process decidedly slower in LR 5.7 is all I've noticed.
     
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  9. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon

    Nice shot, but M4/3 isn't too shabby either

    20888511430_1a6ed859a2_h. P9010004 by Thomas Dekany, on Flickr
     
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  10. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I find it kind of weird because with my Fuji's the bottom plate is pristine and the rest of the camera is scuffed, mainly because I never removed the plastic protector it shipped with :rofl:
     
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  11. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    First of all, thank you all for your contributions. I really like Amin's forums for their friendly atmosphere.

    I think I will try to use the Fujifilm a bit longer. I will definitely wait to see if the promised firmware update will make any difference in terms of focusing accuracy. I will also try to sell the kit zoom and get a couple of primes to see if the system as a whole works for me.

    I also agree that the shutter Fujifilm uses in its cameras (all except the new X-Pro2) sounds very nice. The sound is very soft and pleasant, and the vibration is almost unnoticeable.

    Also there is one thing I failed to mention in my first post: X-Trans B&W conversions are great. They look very "rich" and I can push and pull individual channels as I see fit without getting ugly artefacts. The X-E2 is much better in that respect than any other camera I have ever used.
     
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  12. Generationfourth

    Generationfourth Mu-43 Regular

    172
    Sep 11, 2015
    Compared to Olympus or Panasonic? The olympus shutter sound on the em5-ii is amazing. I loved using that camera simply because of that sound but had to choose the GX8 for a number of reasons. The panasonic shutter sound is uninspiring and I often fantasize about that Oly shutter sound lol.
     
  13. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    I'd say the sound is very nice on its own. I agree that Panasonic shutters tend to sound loud and unpleasant. Compared to Olympus, Fujifilm is a bit louder but equally pleasant.
     
  14. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I have never had both to do a back-to-back comparison, but I've looked at a lot of the outputs over the years to see if I might be interested in switching. Given my generally preferred genre of landscape and urban architecture, I don't think I've ever seen an image from a Fuji X-Trans camera until the brand new 24MP XPro2 that I thought showed any more detail than my 16MP M4/3 cameras using critically sharp lenses (20mm/1.7, HG 11-22mm, adapted options stopped down slightly). It might all be demosaicing issues, but if it's that difficult to access the image quality, I'm not that interested. Very high ISOs are a bit better with the Fujis, though not as much as you'd think given the ISO-inflated and the softer detail. However, if smooth files are your preference, I will readily admit that having the noise-reduction "baked in" to the demosaicing is a lot easier than futzing with noise reduction on M4/3 to get similar results. I don't use noise reduction on my high ISO files, preferring to keep the grain and the sharpness, but that is my preference.

    Your mileage may vary. The Fujis are obviously capable of shallower depth of field, so if that's a driver of wow-factor for you, I can obviously imagine being happier with that system.

    I would be a lot more likely to consider Fuji if they just dropped X-trans. The Bayer sensor in the entry-level X-A1/2 gives results that are so much sharper with Fuji's nice lenses...

    Really, it's all a matter of personal preference. I wouldn't say one system has better image quality than the other generally, just at individual aspects, so whichever is most important to you will drive your choice.
     
  15. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    The paint job on the X-E1 and X-E2 could be better that's for sure.
     
  16. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I have to say that I have pleasantly surprised at how well the E-M10 does with ISO 3200.
     
  17. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    I dabbled with Fuji, but all my x-trans IQ questions boiled down to "buy a new processing package, shoot in RAW, and change your workflow." That and not clicking with the controls lead me away from Fuji. Oh, and until the Fuji 35/2, I thought their lenses were too big. I do admit a romantic pull to them, though. I WANT to be a Fujian. I just can't!
     
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  18. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    To be honest, I have not seen this issue. While I think the rendering of fine detail on X-Trans sensors is generally problematic, I see no detail degradation at higher ISOs. In terms of detail, files shot at ISO 3200 are as good as those shot at ISO 200. Even images shot at ISO 6400 and then pushed in post show excellent detail.
     
  19. PhilippePASCAL

    PhilippePASCAL Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Jan 21, 2015
    Fuji users should try PhotoNinja. It seems to be more effective on Bayer AND TransX demosaicing than any other raw software.
    I tried them all on M43 16MP Bayer, it got a clear edge. And some pro Fuji users reported it for TransX, too.
    TransX create some troubles with ANY software...even to Fuji themselves :biggrin:
    As a sidenote, i always found Lightroom being just average, demosaicing wise and color wise.
    Capture One is better, color profile wise. And PhotoNinja is better, demosaicing wise. Only my point of view ;)
    If you are all about final IQ rendering, Lightroom is not your best option...especially on M43 and TransX (i know most ppl will not like my POV).
     
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  20. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    USA
    Thanks for this very detailed review. It's always interesting to hear your thoughts. Sorry to hear about the 18-55mm issue. That is good to know.
    I got X100 a few years ago and I always liked the output from it. It was so much nicer than the Panasonic I had at the time. I think occasionally about switching systems, but I do like the m43 for the video and the super small lenses. I also think the more recent Panasonic cameras like GX7 are much better with color. The possibility of getting just one lens with Fuji body is still in the back of my mind somewhere, though now Sony A7 is competing with that vision as well :)
     
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