Focusing with the Fujifilm X-E1


This post is for those who keep saying that the Fujifilm X-E1 sometimes doesn’t focus correctly.  My response is that the user doesn’t know what they are doing.  Will it automatically focus on subjects like this small fan control?  No, but that shouldn’t stop you from focusing on it.  The early mirrorless cameras don’t focus like DSLRs so you have to use them differently.  DSLR users would focus on this by putting the focus area on the edge of the object.  They can’t do that with the Fujifilm X-E1 since it will just as likely focus on the area behind the subject and then they will claim it can’t focus.

The early mirrorless cameras use contrast detection to focus and DSLRs use phase detection.  With the X-E1 you need to make sure that the entire focus area is on a subject with suitable contrast.   You can change the size of the focus area and you need to make it as small as possible but yet large enough to cover an area with texture/contrast.   If you can’t do that, it won’t focus properly, but it is still easy to get the focus where you want it.  Use manual focusing with peaking.  The way I do it is I leave the camera on manual focus and use the AF-L button to ask it to auto focus.  With the peaking I can see whether I succeeded in having the focus area entirely on the subject.  If not, I use the manual focus ring on the lens to correct it.  It is easy to do with peaking.  The X-E1 also shows the focus distance at the bottom of the EVF so it also lets you know how far away it focused.

Using focus peaking, you can also see how much of the scene is in focus.  Depending on the effect you are trying to achieve, you can also change the aperture to increase or decrease the portion in focus.  I noticed that I didn’t get the entire subject in focus on the above image, probably because I was hand-holding the camera and I just made a quick picture to demonstrate the effect; but, if you look closely you can see the spider webs on the back-side of the subject.

One of the features that I love about the X-E1 is that all the controls are external.  For example, I can change the zoom, and the focus, and the aperture just by rotating different rings on the lens with my left hand; but that is also a disadvantage under some conditions, but that is a subject for a later posting.


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  2. John from Boston

    Interesting post. Having shot nothing but mirrorless for the last 3 years, I have to force myself to stop and think about how I use the autofocus on the K30. If I fall into my contrast detection focusing habits, I get lots of mistakes too.