Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fujifilm X-E1 or Sony RX100 II?

Yashica Minister-D & Fujifilm X-E1
I get asked to comment on gear sometimes. People are always researching cameras and are looking for all sorts of opinions. I find it funny that people are interested in my thoughts on different cameras and lenses and such, as if I'm some sort of "expert" on these things.

One thing I like to point out is that gear isn't all that big a deal. Anymore all digital cameras are pretty darn good. It's really difficult to find one that's bad. How good a photograph is has way more to do with the photographer than anything else. If your photographs aren't good enough, it's because you are not good enough. That may sound harsh, but it's the truth.

People really should worry less about their gear and worry more about how to use their gear to create something meaningful. Cameras are not nearly as critical as many people think.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 II
Anyway, one gear question that came up recently was which should someone buy, a Sony RX100 (any of the four versions available) or a Fujifulm X-E1 (or X-E2 or X-E2s)? I've owned both a Sony RX100 II and a Fujifilm X-E1, so I should have some insights, right?

It's actually not that difficult of a decision, because the cameras are completely different. If you want something that fits into a pocket then get the Sony. If you want the best dynamic range and high-ISO capabilities then get the Fuji.

In my opinion, having used both cameras, the X-E1 is superior in most ways, especially image quality and design. But it's not really all that much better. Perhaps most significantly is high-ISO, where the RX100 II tops out at ISO 1600 for practical purposes, while the X-E1 can go above ISO 6400. If you do a lot of high-ISO photography that's a big deal, and if you don't then it's a small deal.
Steps - Salt Lake City, Utah
Captured with a Fuji X-E1.
The RX100 II has a better auto-focus system (not by a lot), but I'm sure the auto-focus on the X-E2 and X-E2s are just as good as the Sony. Video is probably a tad better on the Sony, as well (I don't do much video).

There are three reasons that I would choose the RX100 (any of the four models): size/weight, fixed-lens and price. The Sony camera fits comfortably into most pockets, which makes it great for travel. The fixed-lens, which is exceptionally sharp, could be considered a plus (or it could be considered a minus, depending on your point-of-view), because you won't be spending gobs of money on lenses and figuring out how to transport your gear. And, for the most part, you can find the RX100 line for less money than most of the Fuji X-Trans cameras (with a lens).

Outside of those factors, the best camera of the two is the Fujifilm. So it depends on what's important to you and what's not important to you. Only you can know the answer.
Ethical Drugs - Hollywood, California
Captured with a Sony RX100 II.
If you think that you'll be doing a lot of travelling and want something small and lightweight, the Sony might be the best bet. If the Sony is more affordable and you're on a tight budget, the answer is obvious. Otherwise, my recommendation is the Fujifilm camera.

For me, I'm happy to be using the X-E1 instead of the RX100 II. Is there any difference to the quality of my photography because of this choice? No. They're both good cameras.

Ultimately, the X-E1's high-ISO capabilities, design, and in-camera JPEG processing are what made me go with it (and sell the Sony). None of those are necessarily big things, but for me they were big enough for me to make that decision. But everyone has their own tastes, and what I chose may not be what you would choose. It's up to you to figure this out.

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