FujiFilm XF1 Review (for Ebay)

My S100 has been flaky, so I’m selling it, used, for parts.

To replace it, I bought a used FujiFilm XF1. I’m using this almost exclusively for shooting photos for Ebay product listings, and will review it with that in mind.

As always, when moving from one camera to another, it takes a while to get used to the software.  The XF1 has weird, but good software ergonomics. You have two programmable buttons that you use to make “shortcuts” to specific menu items.

I have my top programmable button set to pick the aspect ratio. This saves time on cropping photos. This button is now in my muscle memory.

I have the rear programmable button, which turns the joypad into a four-position shortcut menu, set to pick white balance, iso, focus mode, and shooting modes. I am not really used to using this button at the moment.

I do have a big gripe about the white balance shortcut. It only allows you to select a preset or the calibrated white balance, but doesn’t let you get into the calibration feature to change the calibration.

It does, however, have a white balance mode called “K” that allows you to white balance for a specific color temperature. This might be good enough for some artificial light setups. So, with this programmable “K” mode and the calibrated setting, it might be possible to switch the white balance quickly.  If you have three different shooting areas… “oh well”, you will need to develop muscle memory to get to the WB setting.

Generally speaking, I try to use program or manual modes, but since I’m starting out with this, and in a hurry, I’ve used the auto mode a bit.  My shooting environment is sub-optimal, and I shoot with three light sources: natural light coming through the window, artificial old 60hz fluorescents overhead (avoid if possible), and Cree brand LED bulbs all from one package, at a table.

Auto mode looks fine with sunlight. It focuses well, and picks a good exposure. I have no complaints here.

With the artificial light, the auto white balance goes a little pink.  This can be calibrated away, and was probably my error. Overall, I think the XF1 colors are more accurate than the Canon’s.

The other problem is that it shoots a little bit dark. Upping the exposure works well.

There’s an ergonomic problem with indoor shooting with artificial, which is that a short half-press on the shutter, followed by a full press, can result in a blurry shot.  I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve gotten more blurry shots with the XF1 than the S100. Holding the button at half-press long enough to allow camera to focus seems to help.  I’ll need to experiment with this further.

I’m still getting used to manual mode, but find it easier than the Canon. You set the aperture and shutter speed with the jog dial, pressing it to switch between the two settings.  I haven’t done any experiments to figure out the best combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, so I’ll withhold my impressions about manual mode.  I’m really still a novice with this camera.

Right now, I’m a little less happy with the XF1 photos than the S100 photos. I’ve taken a lot more bad photos, but I attribute this more to my lack of skill with this camera than the camera.  (I didn’t take decent photos with the S100 initially, either.)

How I’ve Learned to Operate Cameras Before

I’m not a photographer, and what I know about manual mode, I’ve brought over from when I was teaching myself to shoot on film, from a couple books.  Basically, I’d buy a couple rolls of film, and then expose them in one place using different settings, and record the settings into a notebook. I’d note things like the cloud cover, light, time of day, and so on. Then, when I got the pictures back, I’d write the settings onto the photos.

I’d also plan out the shoot to allow me to take at least three photos of most of the scenes, bracketing the shot with either different shutter speeds, or different apertures. It was kind of expensive.

With a digital camera, I do, pretty much, the same thing, but more extensively.  I shoot all the shutter speeds and all the apertures, until the image goes too white or too black. Then I look at the photos.

I should also mess with the ISO, but I’ve generally set it at 100.With this XF1, though, I suspect I’ll need to use a different ISO. Despite it’s aperture going all the way down to 1.8, it seems to take darker photos than I’m used to with the Canon.

When I get better at using this camera, I’ll write about it again. For now, I’m taking crap photos.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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