Fujifilm X-E1 - Is This The Perfect Enthusiast CSC? (Part 2)

4/19/2013 9:25:45 AM

As mentioned, one of the issues that came to light when we tested the X-Prol was the relatively slow focusing speed delivered. The X-E1, with its enhanced algorithms, promises to improve on this and it’s fair to say it has. Focusing is much more prompt in single AF, with only minimal hunting with the 18-55mm lens. But while it has been improved, the AF performance still isn’t a match for similarly priced models such as the Olympus OM-D, which tend to lock on noticeably faster than the X-E1 does. And while it's hard to see the X-ETs intended use as a fast-moving action camera, the continuous AF does struggle with moving subjects, relying solely on the central AF point for focus.

That said, the 49-point AF arrangement provides good coverage, though not to the edges of the frame, while the AF point area provides the choice of five different sizes (set via the control dial) depending on how precise you want to be with your focus. The combination of hitting the AF button at the rear and the four-way d-pad is straightforward, though maybe a little fiddly, while the 18-55mm delivers relatively quiet focusing, though the other prime lenses still do tend to offer up the odd mechanical whirr as focus is acquired.

Using the X-E1 it’s surprising how little if at all you miss the clever hybrid viewfinder of the X-Prol. With the class-matching 2.36m-dot resolution it’s a noticeable improvement on the lower-resolution EVF in the X-Prol, and is far from tunnel-like when looking through it. The OLED technology provides a wider ratio from black to white as well as brighter colors that will see you soon forget about the missing optical viewfinder.

The payback for the excellent EVF is the somewhat disappointing 2.8in screen that doesn’t quite cut it on a camera of this price. While more than acceptable, it just doesn’t deliver quite the same razor-sharp results as rivals, while the absence of a vari-angled screen may be disappointing to some.

E1 doesn’t become unnecessarily fiddly, while the number of exterior controls sets the right balance of providing the photographer with enough hands-on control while still maintaining a relatively neat and easy-to-navigate layout. The Quick menu provides instant access to the camera’s core settings, while it couldn’t be simpler or quicker to change aperture and shutter speed.

There’s a host of drive modes on the X-E1, so as well as single and continuous (a pretty impressive burst of 6fps), you can bracket exposure, ISO, Film Simulation, Dynamic Range and Motion Panorama.

Shot using the X-EVs DR200 mode, this has allowed more detail to be retained in the highlights.


At $1,746.1with the rather lovely 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens, the Fujifilm X-E1 goes right up against the similarly retro-inspired 16MP Olympus OM-D, which comes in at the same price with the slightly broader 12-50mm zoom though with a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-6.3. That’s not forgetting the 24MP Sony NEX-7 at around $1,442.2, though both cameras' lenses can’t match the quality of the 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the X-E1.

Image quality

Tone and exposure

The X-E1 uses the same 256-zone metering system as the X-Pro1, providing Multi, Spot and Average metering modes.

With Multi metering selected, the images from the X-E1 are hard to knock, with pleasingly exposed shots delivered in almost every situation.

The X-E1 also benefits from two expanded dynamic range settings, referred to as DR200 and DR400, with the aim to retain detail information in the highlights of the image which can be an issue when shooting high-contrast scenes. Working with both JPEGs and Raw files, shooting in DR200 does see the X-El's base ISO increase to ISO 400. While ISO 800 will be your base ISO if shooting in DR400, but the results are impressive, with considerable highlight detail retained.

White balance and color

The X-E1 s Auto White Balance is a solid, consistent performer in both natural and artificial light, producing neutral, pleasingly saturated results throughout the ISO range.

With a nod to Fuijfilm's heritage, the X-E1 also features a host of film simulation modes to provide a slightly different look to your images, including Velvia, Provia, Astia, Pro Neg.Std, Pro Neg.Hi and mono modes.

Sharpness and detail

The sharpness and level of detail delivered by the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor is nothing short of stunning, with the absence of an anti-aliasing filter giving a level of achievable detail that surpasses other APS-C based cameras that have a similar resolution.

Iso quality

Low ISOs are smooth and devoid of any signs of image noise; it begins to encroach ever so slightly at ISO 800, but it's very subtle. While image noise does become more apparent at ISO 3200, the level of detail rendered is still good. At ISO 6400, results are still far more than acceptable, and though noise is apparent, it has a pleasing film-like structure.


While it may appear to be simply a stripped-down, more affordable X-Prol to tempt more people into Fujifilm’s CSC family, that would be doing the X-E1 a great disservice.

Similar in size to the XIOO, and combined with a similar premium finish that won over so many fans to Fujifilm’s retro-inspired compact, the X-E1 manages to feel more refined and balanced as soon as you pick it up compared to the rather chunky X-Pro1.

And while it forgot the smart hybrid viewfinder of the X-Prol, the payback is the sharper, crisper EVF in the X-E1 that more than makes up for this, though you could feel a little short-changed with the fairly underwhelming rear screen.

The X-ETs AF, though improved from the original X-ProTs focusing, is still not as fast or as responsive as the systems found in its rivals, while the video capabilities aren’t as comprehensive either.

These points aside, the X-E1 is a joy to shoot with. The back-to-basics philosophy won’t be for everyone, but it means it’s quick and easy to set-up and shoot with, while the Quick menu offers access to other key shooting controls.

The real jewel in the crown of the X-E1 is its sensor. The quality of the results and the detail rendered is excellent, delivering images that are some of the best, if not the best, we’ve seen from an APS-C sized sensor.

While it may be a bit more of a niche camera than some other models, those who opt for the X-E1 will be rewarded with a camera that looks the part, handles well and delivers images beyond what its price may suggest.

While it may be a bit more of a niche camera than some other models, those who opt for the X-E1 will be rewarded with a camera that looks the part, handles well and delivers images beyond what its price may suggest


§  SENSOR: 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor

§  OUTPUT SIZE: 4896 x 3264px


§  LENS MOUNT: Fuiifilm X mount


§  COMPRESSION: Larae. Medium & Small


§  SHUTTER SPEEDS: 30-1/4000th second, Dlus Bulb

§  SHUTTER TYPE: Focal Plane Shutter

§  MAX FLASH SYNC: 1/180th

§  IMAGE STABILISATION: No. lens-based


§  ISO: 200-6400, extendable to IS0 100-25.600


§  METERING SYSTEM      TTL: 256-zones meterina

§  EXPOSURE COMP: -1+2 EV in 1/3 steps

§  WHITE BALANCE: Auto White Balance, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight], Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light. Underwater, Custom, Color Temperature Selection

§  COLOUR TEMP: 2500-10.000K

§  DRIVE MODE: Single, Continuous (3 or 6fDs), self-timer

§  MOVIE MODE     : 1080 (24p)HD video & 720 (24)HD video

§  LCD: 2.8in. 460k-dot TFT LCD display

§  VIEWFINDER TYPE: Electronic 2.36m-dot OLED color viewfinder

§  FIELD OF VIEW: 100%


§  FOCUSING MODES: Sinale and Continuous AF. MF

§  FOCUS POINTS: 49 selectable points







§  CONNECTIVITY: HDMI, Hi-Speed USB & 2.5mm microphone connector

§  POWER: Rechargeable Li-ion NP-W126 battery

§  WEIGHT: 350a

§  DIMENSIONS      : 129 x 74.9 x 38.3mm


§  Stunning image quality from the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor

§  Premium finish and lovely design

§  The EVF is so good you don't miss the X-Pro1's hybrid finder

§  No-nonsense handling


§  While the AF performance has been improved, it could still be faster to acquire focus

§  The 2.8in rear screen is not a match for rival screens, both in terms of resolution and the ability to change angle


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