Fujifilm X-E1 - A Concentrated Mirrorless Camera


Introduction

 

Introduction

Fujifilm has been on fire riding the retro/mirrorless combination. In 2011, the unique Fujifilm X100 combined an APS-C sensor inside a compact, rangefinder-inspired body with a fixed 35mm f/2 lens. It introduced an innovative hybrid viewfinder, which could switch between optical and electronic. Even though the camera had its quirks and was a niche product, it proved to be a hit with photographers and put the company back on the map.

In January of 2012, Fujifilm followed up with the X-Pro1, their first mirrorless system camera with interchangeable lenses. Fujifilm wisely launched the camera with three prime lenses, and introduced another innovation with the camera: the X-Trans sensor, which promised higher image clarity and less image noise.

Attractive as it was, the X-Pro1 had two problems. One was its sluggish autofocus, second was its high asking price. At S$2400 for the body alone, it was the most expensive mirrorless system camera on the market (if you left out the Leica M9). So here comes the X-E1.

The X-E1 is essentially a smaller, concentrated version of the X-Pro1. The main difference is that it loses the optical viewfinder, but keeps an electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF hasn't simply been ported over however, it's actually better than the one on the X-Pro1; it's slightly bigger and has a higher resolution. The X-E1 also comes with a built-in flash, which the X-Pro1 lacks. Internally, the X-E1 comes with the same 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and image processing engine as the X-Pro1, which means you should get the same level of image quality as the bigger and more expensive camera in a smaller and slightly less expensive package.

The one question is, did Fujifilm fix the sluggish auto-focus (AF) that plagued the X-Pro1? Fujifilm says it has overhauled their AF system to be better in the X-E1 (and also for the X-Pro1, but available as a firmware update). On paper, the X-E1 looks like solid value for money, but everything boils down to its performance in the real world and that's what we intend to find out in this review.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs. X-E1
 

X-Pro1

X-E1
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-inch, 1230k-dot resolution 2.8-inch, 460k-dot resolution
Internal Flash N.A. GN7 (ISO 200)
Continuous Shooting 6 frames per second 6 frames per second
Movie 1080/24p 1080/24p
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
Price S$2399 (body only) S$1499 (body only), S$2099 (with XF 18-55mm kit lens)
8.0
Performance
9
Design
8.5
Features
8
User-Friendliness
8
Value
7.5
The Good
Improved auto-focus system
Manual dials for easy control
Good electronic viewfinder
High degree of clarity in images
The Bad
AF point switching laborious
Auto ISO has no minimum shutter speed
Occasional color smearing in images
Difficult RAW workflow