In January this year, Fujifilm entered the mirrorless system camera market with the X-Pro1. It was a new kind of digital rangefinder-esque camera with a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, which also came with an innovative sensor that removed the low-pass optical filter found in most digital cameras.
We both loved and hated the camera, the auto-focus was too sluggish for our liking and the price was high (S$2400 for the body alone), but the image quality and glass were superb. There was no doubt that Fujifilm was on to something promising.
Today, Fujifilm has announced the second body in their mirrorless system line-up. The X-E1 is smaller than the X-Pro1, it loses the optical viewfinder but retains an electronic viewfinder. It also manages to squeeze in a built-in flash, something the X-Pro1 lacked. While the X-E1 will be more affordable than the X-Pro1, it doesn't mean that Fujifilm skimped on this camera - the specs still pack a surprising punch when compared against its older sibling.
The OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a high 2.36 million dots resolution, higher than the 1.44 million dots EVF found on the X-Pro1, and the Olympus E-M5, it is comparable to the 2.36 million dots EVF found on the Sony NEX-7. The OLED EVF also comes with a high contrast ratio of 1:5000, and is made up of 2 glass elements and one double surface aspheric lens element. Fujifilm says that the construction will provide a distortion-free view to all corners of the image and maintain the entire field of view even if the photographer's eye shifts. A high eye-point of 23mm is supposed to allow users who wear glasses to look through the viewfinder easily, without having to take their glasses off. And unlike the X-Pro1, the X-E1's EVF will come with diopter adjustment control.
The X-E1 will come in all black or with a silver top. The top and front covers are made of die-cast magnesium alloy (the X-Pro1's entire body is made of magnesium). Similar to the X-Pro1, the X-E1 comes with physical controls for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation, letting you determine at a glance what your settings are without having to power on the camera.
The X-E1 will come with a brand new f/2.8-f/4 18-55mm zoom lens, which is faster than the standard f/3.5-f/5.6 18-55mm zoom lenses that come with most entry-level DSLR cameras. Together with the improved AF engine, Fujifilm claims the X-E1 and the 18-55mm lens can achieve quick 0.1 second AF speeds faster and more accurate than the X-Pro1.
Best of all, the X-E1 comes with the same 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and image processing engine found in the X-Pro1, which means that the X-E1 should be able to produce the same high level of image quality as the bigger and more expensive camera. In fact, the X-E1 shares a lot in common with the X-Pro1, including the same 6 frames per second burst-rate and 1080/24p movie mode.
The X-E1 may lack the X-Pro1's X sync terminal, shutter speed lock and has a smaller 2.8" 460k dot LCD screen compared to the X-Pro1's 3" 1230k LCD. But it not only adds GN7 (ISO 200) built-in flash, it also adds an external microphone jack, an electrical remote release and increased battery life; 350 frames (LCD/EVF) compared to the X-Pro1's 300 frames (LCD).
The local price hasn't been confirmed, but Fujifilm told us that the X-E1 should sell for less than S$2000 with the 18-55mm kit lens. The X-E1 camera and new lens' appealing specs makes it clear that Fujifilm understands photographers, but we have to see for ourselves if the X-E1's AF has really been improved over the X-Pro1. With so much on par with the S$2400 (body only) X-Pro1, the X-E1 looks like solid value for money to us, but we have to wonder if existing X-Pro1 users would feel some regret at having paid a premium for the camera not so long ago.
|Processor||RCS1 & Co-processor||RCS1 & Co-processor|
|Image Sensor||16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS||16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS|
|Finder||Optical Viewfinder & 1.44M LCD EVF||2.36M OLED EVF|
|LCD||3.0" 1230k||2.8" 460k|
|Internal Flash||N.A.||GN7 (ISO 200)|
|Continuous Shooting||6 frames per second||6 frames per second|
|Battery Life||300 frames (LCD), 1000 frames (OVF)||350 frames (LCD/EVF)|
|X Sync Terminal||Available||N.A.|
|Shutter Speed Dial Lock||Available||N.A.|
|External Microphone Jack||N.A.||Available|
|Electrical Remote Release||N.A.||Available|
Besides the new X-E1 and18-55mm lens, Fujifilm is also introducing a new XF 14mm f/2.8 prime lens. With the X-E1's APS-C crop factor, the 35mm equivalent focal length comes to 21mm. The new lens comes with 10 elements in 7 groups, including 2 aspherical and 3 abnormal dispersion elements. Max. aperture is f/2.8, min. aperture is f/22. Focus range is approximately a close 18cm to infinity.
Fujifilm says that the new 14mm f/2.8 lens is distortion free, minimizing the loss of resolution otherwise necessary from software correction. The lens has a focusing ring which lets you quickly switch between auto and manual focus by sliding it. Like the lenses of old, the new 14mm lens comes with handy depth of field and focus distance scales.
The press releases for the two products follow.