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Walking in the Dolomites – Fuji X or Nex

A follow on article to 'Walking With Giants'

David Tolcher

An enthusiast who enjoys having photography as an excuse to get out in to the wilds.


This is a follow on article from the ‘Walking with Giants’ article looking at the images captured and the equipment challenges faced by the serious photographer when undertaking a formidable walking adventure.  My wife Ros & I almost immediately signed up for ‘more of the same’ in 2013 by booking another  famous long distance trail in the Alps – the Alta Via Uno (AV1). As the names suggests this is an Italian walk on a North to South traverse of the Dolomites from Dobbiaco in the North to Belluno in the South over 11 days. Purely based on logistics this meant tagging a couple of days in Innsbruck on the front and a similar in Venice on the end. Principal difference this trip is that we had several multi day walks where we would not be reunited with our bags and stay in Mountain refuges. 35lt bags became 50ltr bags and the weight challenges grew making the decisions on photographic equipment more important... Typical days were in distance of around 15km and with up to 1500m of ascent/descent. Again we booked self guided through Simon at Alpine Exploratory who provided all the necessary expertise and support and walked with two good friends.

Fig 1

Figure 1- courtesy of Alpine Exploratory

One of the key takeaways from 2012 Tour De Mont Blanc was that for all practical purposes the Nex 7 was well above pareto for IQ and usability for this type of tour and the D800 (and definitely Large Format) was not needed or required. Ros and I both wanted to use CSC cameras with viewfinders (due to the brightness in the Summer Alps making a rear screen impractical on its own). This necessitated buying a new body.... A Nex 6 would have been the logical choice but my interest had been piqued by the Fuji X series and the X-E1 in particular. The zoom lens had a good reputation and JPEG output purportedly excellent – seemed like a perfect camera for Ros (ahem....). Tragically she hated the Fuji due to its size and lack of grip – its significantly bigger than the Nex so I ended up using  the Fuji and was able to do a thorough extended trial both home and away.  This article will provide a distillation of my views on the Fuji vs Nex systems as they stood in Summer 2013 and some pictures from some of the finest scenery in Europe.

Prologue – Finalising the kit list

I picked up an XE1 and 18-55mm zoom lens secondhand with spare batteries and case  which enabled me to perform some preliminary testing vs the Nex 5n and Nex 7. I had high hopes for the JPEG output and for the quality of the zoom lens.

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