Fuji Experiences with Fuji XA-1/XM-1 vs Nex

Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
So I've been with Sony for a while, I had a SLT-A37 for a few years and it did just about everything I wanted, quickly. Around the beginning of the year after the birth of my 4th child I found I was packing around a smaller point and shoot more often than the bigger Sony, but I wasn't happy with the IQ. So I sell the A37 and buy a Nex-6, but I didn't really feel like the viewfinder did a lot for me because I was using the screen 95% of the time anyway shooting waistlevel and I didn't want to pay the premium for it, so it goes back and I got a Nex 5t. I liked the size of the 5t and found the touchscreen nice for picking focus points and the wifi stuff is great, love that. After configuring the Fn menu I found it workable, but not as easily adjustable as I'd like.

I'm a primes kinda guy, so I get the Sigma 30mm f2.8 because it's what I could afford (4 kids, not a lot of disposable income) instead of the Sony 35mm f1.8. This lens is fantastic, buuuuuuut it makes startup on the Nex 5t take about 6-7 seconds, which is fine for any other situation aside from quickly grabbing a spontaneous shot. Now, I know what you're thinking, "That's not that long, you're being too picky" which is what I had convinced myself of because I really wanted to like this setup, but after a while I am getting frustrated at the shots I wanted to take but couldn't because I was in camera startup-limbo and noticing that the number of candid spontaneous shots of the kids went way down. I don't really like to pose my kids because they do the typical kid smile, eyes squinting and mouth stretched from cheek to cheek showing as many teeth as possible, like a cartoon. So after attempting to train my kids to smile the way Dad wants them to, I threw in the towel and decided the problem was on my end.

I sold the Nex because I can't afford a $400 prime that starts up quickly, and I can't afford an A6000 which starts up quickly with the Sigma lens. So now I'm cameraless and it feels funny, like being naked in the supermarket.

I was determined that I'd get a used Fuji XA-1 and the Fuji 27mm f2.8, partly because I like that one can put the screen into sunny weather mode with a long key press rather than diving into menus, and the ease of adjusting a number of things in one screen appeals to me. I realize the Fuji is bigger than the Nex 5t, but that I can live with. I am not familiar enough with Fuji to feel extremely confident in this decision, and none of the local shops here seem to carry Fuji cameras. I'm thinking I might be just as well off to get another A37 and maybe a wifi card for transfering the pictures since I loved the NFC wifi abilities of the Nex 5t. I realize though that this would involve leaving the camera at home more, and that was what I was trying to avoid in the first place. To complicate matters, I recently got the Samyang 12mm f2 and I love it, I figured if I go with Fuji I can sell mine and get the X-mount version.

What I'm wondering specifically is how the AF system is. I found the Nex perfectly usable, I had an Olympus EPL2 and a Panasonic GF1 and they both did the job fine as well. I don't do tracking or continuous focus typically so I'm not concerned with that. I generally keep things simple and keep the drive mode on single shot and focus/recompose as needed.

Also, I've no experience whatsoever with Fuji, just heard good things. Any personal experiences/comparisons would be welcome.

Thanks,

Tillman
 

flysurfer

Hall of Famer
Aug 31, 2011
123
The 27mm is a very good lens, especially for small cameras like the X-A2 or X-T10. X-A1 and X-M1 are cheap these days, there are kits with both XC zoom lenses sold for less than 400 EUR around here (incl. 19% VAT). That's a real bargain.

However, those cameras have no EVF and their AF system is not like the X-T1 or X-T10. They also offer less enthusiast features. For example, there's no WYSIWYG exposure preview in manual mode.
 

Lightmancer

Super Moderator
Aug 13, 2011
164
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
Rico is spot-on, particularly about the 27 which is remarkable value for money, as is the eyebrow-raising 50-230. However I think that to give the Fuji system a chance you should aim a little higher in your choice of body, either a pre-owned X-E1 (my entry point to the interchangeable lens bodies) or an X-E2. If the budget allows, maybe an X-T10 but also consider form-factor - do you prefer "rangefinder" style, or "SLR" style with viewfinder to the left, or in the middle? I've never used a NEX (Sony leave me cold on the photographic front) but I DO know Fuji, and would back the system in general (and certain cameras in particular) against the offerings from other manufacturers with confidence.
 
Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
Thanks for the info, sounds like if I'm going to be jumping on the Fuji bandwagon I'm going to need to find some more cash and go for one of the higher models. I feel like Goldilocks, I haven't found a camera system that's just right.
 

KillRamsey

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2012
124
Hood River, OR
Kyle
If you've got any inclinations towards manual controls and fast response, the XM and XA are not the best intro to the system. The T1 or T10, or maybe an XE-2, would be the way to go - used or not. And lenses matter for focus speed. Newer is faster.
 

Covey22

Hall of Famer
Feb 3, 2012
124
Second hand is the way to go. Look at KEH Camera - a couple of EX or better condition XE-1s. That's where I got mine, plus a Zeiss Touit 32 that crazily was selling at 25% MSRP of new, and it looked like no one had even used it. You can never tell. KEH is a great used broker and they have very solid return satisfaction policies. I've been with those folks for years. I'd be broke 10x over if I hadn't used them for all of my purchases over the years. You'll very much like the XE-1, lots of good hands-on controls and the EVF is excellent.
 
Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
I like the XE-1 but from the sounds of it the AF system isn't going to be quick enough. I've only got the budget for one camera and unfortunately it's got to do double duty between a convenient family camera and a useful photographic tool. Before I had kids I really didn't care too much about how fast the cameras I had would autofocus, I started into photography with a 1960's Canon SLR as my first camera, prior to that I had used my Dad's Pentax Spotmatic he got when he was sent to Vietnam, so autofocus is something that came along later in my photography experience, auto exposure modes too for that matter. These days it's a difference game for me and in all honesty if it wasn't for the sketchy high ISO performance I'd get a Nikon 1 system for the fast AF. The Sony sensors have served me well, but the nex cameras have been a mixed bag, there are things I've really liked about them and other things where I think "Why the f@#k did they do that?", unfortunately Sony doesn't change things much in firmware, they just release a new model that improves one thing and takes away another a year after the last and wash their hands of the older stuff.
 

Covey22

Hall of Famer
Feb 3, 2012
124
Then your minimum baseline body just became an XE-2. It's got Phase Detect sensors on-chip - should be fast enough. That's about a 200-250 dollar difference unfortunately.
 
Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
Thanks for the information everyone! I decided for the moment that Fuji is outside my budget, I had thought that if the X-A1 or X-M1 were suitable that would be a step into the system but it sounds like for my criteria there are too many compromises to be made.
Thanks again for your opinions and information!
 

Odille

Rookie
Jun 16, 2015
3
Glenorchy, Tas, Australia
Odille
tillman, I started with the X-M1 and XC 16-50 as I picked one up on Facebook and wasted to look at lighter cameras, as I have arthritis. I was lugging 12-20 kgs of full frame and crop Canon and medium format digital. I was very pleased with the capabilities of the X-M1 and the cheap lens. I looked for a used X-T1 and scored one off eBay with 3 batteries and a grip and flash all in the boxes for a very good price ($950 Australian). I bought the other XC lens, the 50-230 off another forum, and have the Samyang 12mm for landscape and astro/night shots. I'm really happy and have scored bargains, INHO. Have you looked at second hand prices?
 
Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
Thank you all for the opinions and advice. From the sounds of it, it seemed to me that the Fuji X-A1 and X-M1 weren't going to be the solution I was after in the price range I was going for. I ended up taking another look at Samsung and went for the NX300. Samsung certainly hasn't claimed much of the market share but they had exactly the kind of prime lens I was after and a fairly compact body to mount it on, so after looking at just about every review and countless samples I felt confident it would work for me. It seems like the controls are similar to the Fuji cameras, I've got a function menu where I can quickly change some things like focus method, metering, etc. Not as all encompassing as the Q menu but certainly more than I was getting from Sony. Would have loved to have gotten a X-T10 or X-T1 but they were still out of my price range. I got the NX300 with a 30mm f2.0 lens used for about $300, which is about all I can convince my wife to let me spend!

Thanks again everyone!
 

madmaxmedia

Veteran
Nov 10, 2010
43
Los Angeles
The Samsung + pancake seems like a great choice- especially at that price!

I think the X-M1 or X-A1 would have been fine with the Fuji pancake, given that you don't need/want an EVF. I think it would have given you a similar shooting experience to the Samsung. I guess the NX300 does have phase detection AF so it's autofocus might be faster, but if E-PL2 AF speed was fine for you, then all of these cameras should do.

But yeah, for $300 that should work out great for you-
 
Jul 15, 2015
3
Tillman Bennett
The Samsung + pancake seems like a great choice- especially at that price!

I think the X-M1 or X-A1 would have been fine with the Fuji pancake, given that you don't need/want an EVF. I think it would have given you a similar shooting experience to the Samsung. I guess the NX300 does have phase detection AF so it's autofocus might be faster, but if E-PL2 AF speed was fine for you, then all of these cameras should do.

But yeah, for $300 that should work out great for you-
I agree, I think they would have been very similar, the tipping point for me was the video quality and the phase detect AF, I saw some examples of the video from the Fuji cameras I was considering and it wasn't all that impressive, and the AF seemed to really hunt. I'm not huge on video but I've got a lot of kids and occasionally I want to take a nice video of something, so the fact that the Samsung has decent video output was a plus for me. The phase detect AF I am less sure on, I had it on my Nex 5t and I didn't know if it was something I would miss after having it or not. I don't remember feeling like the AF on my EPL2 was bad but I haven't had that camera for years and I've been using ones with newer faster AF systems, so if you handed me one now I might feel differently. The biggest hang up for me was that none of the local stores carry Samsung OR Fuji, so I'm really making a lot of decisions based off what I read and others can tell me. The AF system on the two Fuji models was mentioned in a number of reviews and some noted specifically that it isn't as fast as the Nex 5t that I had previously, which is still pretty subjective but I didn't necessarily want to go slower. The only reoccuring bad points I saw in regards to the NX300 are the typical lack of EVF (which seems like an odd complaint for a camera that doesn't advertise having one...I mean you don't complain about the lack of doors on a sports car) and low aftermarket support. So I decided to give it a shot, and so far it's working out well, but when the prices for the X-t1 come down I can see one of those coming into my life... :)
 

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