Going Light
April 25th, 2013

Fuji X-E1 posing in Liguria. (Sorry; not so great iPhone photograph while waiting for the light.)

I’ve been searching for the right light (ie, not heavy; not actual lights!) setup for years. Every so often something came to market that seemed promising, but there were always compromises that left me waiting. So I just stuck with my iPhone as my ultralight camera of choice and my Nikon DSLRs and lenses as my heavy but otherwise optimal setup. Until now.

The Fuji X-E1 is the heart of my new light setup. It’s a fun little camera that produces extremely good raw files. It doesn’t replace my Nikons, but I’m “playing” with it for these two weeks in Italy for Liguria Within The Frame and then Venice Within The Frame. I’m impressed.

In addition to my two favorite lenses for this camera (the 14mm/f2.8 and the 35mm/f1.4), I’ve completed this setup with with a very petite Gitzo tripod (the GT531). It’s really, really small. And light. It’s almost funny how small it is. However, it is remarkably sturdy for its size. It certainly has no problems with the weight of the X-E1. However, the photographers near you might snicker a bit when you pull it out of your bag (but you can snicker back at how much bigger — and heavier — their bags are). I put a Really Right Stuff BH-25 ballhead on the tripod. I like the ballhead, but the lever on it is a poor design. It extends below the bottom of the ballhead. So in this case it hits the tripod. Fortunately, you can pull it out (spring loaded) in order to keep tightening (or loosening) it; so it works fine, but that really is a foolish design. The camera has a Really Right Stuff plate on it. And that’s a Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo on the lens (with a 52mm to 77mm adapter ring). The manual cable release is borrowed from somebody beautifully dear (I love you Wendy).

I’m becoming a huge fan of this light setup, but there are a few quirks. For example, I love the return of an aperture ring on the lens, but in this case it moves too easily. It, like most of the controls, are too easily moved on their own with a light brush of the hand, bag, etc. The little rubber hood for the 35mm/f1.4 really has no intention of ever staying on. I’ll lose it before too long. It’s what it desperately wants. I won’t be able to prevent it that freedom. And it’s cumbersome to have to use two fingers on two hands to change the focal point selection. But these aren’t deal breakers. It’s a fun camera that produces a very high quality raw file. I’m having a great time with it. It’s not going to replace my iPhone for ultralight nor my Nikons for… hmm, well, maybe in part it will. It’s really that good. And it’s fun.

5 Responses to “Going Light”

  1. Stephen says:

    Light is exciting. It’s never fun trying to swim with a backpack full of bricks.

  2. Vlad Didenko says:

    Thank you for the tripod hint – I enjoy an identical set otherwise. Well, almost. I also use the LED light http://bhpho.to/JAP5lE for an event photography while on road and love it. I like that it is not variable temperature, so it is very powerful at peak. It is light and I did not have issues with battery falling off (but others did). It is also available in the “original” brand package as http://bhpho.to/14c2ACk for $10 less. I know the Polaroid power supply is international – not sure about Genaray’s

  3. Jeff Fielding says:

    God damn I love that city!

  4. craig krizek says:

    Hey Jeffrey,

    Great to hear that the trip was another good one! Just got the fuji x100s. Absolutely fantastic!!……. sign me up for 2014!!

  5. Lisa O. says:

    I have a similar Fuji XE-1 kit which is all I brought along on my summer vacation but there are are some areas where a DSLR can still not be replaced. The slight delay annoyed me when photographing people. But for a light versatile set up it’s hard to beat for now. I even like the zooms 18-55 and 55-200 are really nice lenses and 1/4-1/3 the weight of a similar FF DSLR setup.

Leave a Reply