The Fujifilm X-E1 is The One

rey spadoniI wanted to like the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 (see my review here).  I really did.  The fit and finish.  The metallic heft.  The reminiscent styling.  And the new x-trans sensor mojo with image quality rivaling bigger sensor systems.  They were on to something here with this no anti-aliasing filter wizardry and whether concocted by the pinstripe suit marketing executives or fashioned in the basement by doctorate scientists, no matter.  My eyes didn’t lie.  Me like.

But alas…

Autofocus performance and overall sluggish performance made me think better of it.  And then there were the niggles, like no built-in diopter adjustment capability for these aging eyes.  No easy-on flash for quick fill for shady conditions.

So, like Bogart and Bergman, we parted on the misty tarmac.  Ah, what could have been… what could have been…

OK, I’ll stop messing around.  The newest X-mount body from Fujiflm is a dream come true.  It solves just about every problem I encountered on the X-Pro 1 and then, for kicks, goes even further up the tickle-my-fancy meter.  This is the camera I had been waiting for.  This is The One.

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Read on for some impressions.

The X-E1, available in a very X-Proesque black or more X100-like silver topped finish, is a smaller and lighter body.  I did find the X-Pro to be a bit heavy and oddly tall for my liking.  Most likely because there’s no need to house the mechanics of a full hybrid viewfinder, the X-E1 is squatter and without lens, especially, its lightness gives you the distinct impression that baby brother has been manufactured with a bit more plastic than the Pro version.

rey spadoni

Did the loss of the nice hybrid viewfinder bother me?  Actually, it didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting with the X100 and you can’t beat having the ability to look through clear glass at the world in front of you.  But the higher resolution electronic version in the X-E1 is wonderful.  Much as been written about lag and it’s clearly not as snappy as the viewfinder in the Olympus OM-D (another camera I love – see here), but it’s more than adequate for my type of shooting.  If you’re someone who moves the camera all about in quick fashion, trying to see and capture what lies in front of you, especially in lower light conditions, then I think there are many more reasons why the X-mount system isn’t the one for you.

How about the autofocus?  Much, much improved.  That’s a function of some software updates along with a built in motor within the exceptional, and I mean exceptional, kit lens.  It’s faster and sharper than any other kit lens I’ve used and so it’s almost a shame that Fujifilm had to package this lens with the X-E1 as many reflexively look down their noses at it, thinking, ha… it’s only a kit lens.  Well, look again.  Fast, sharp, and the ability to adjust aperture on the barrel is wonderful.  Manual focus, again because of firmware changes, is actually useful.  The upcoming X cameras have focus peaking and the X100s has a digital split-prism effect.  It would be wonderful if Fujifilm could backward add those features to the X-E1 now that the code is written.  That would make an outstanding camera even better.

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The little pop up flash is a godsend in certain lighting conditions.  It burns a bit bright, so I toned mine down by default and now we get along just fine.  Outdoors during the harsher sunny hours, having the ability to pop that puppy up to brighten the eye sockets of subjects is handy.

The image quality is indistinguishable to me from the X-Pro 1 and that’s a very good thing.  It seems to be the latest fad for manufacturers to remove the anti-aliasing filter  and Fujifilm’s sensor array seems to prevent moire and other concerning artifacts completely.  I saw no such problems.

I hate shooting with eyeglasses on so the built-in diopter adjustment capability is much appreciated.  The Q menu, introduced on the Pro, allows for easy and quick adjustment of key parameters and I find the Fujifilm menus to be logical and easy to navigate.  Oh how I wish Olympus would get in line…

rey spadoni

Handling the X-E1 is very satisfying.  The distinct exposure comp dial coupled with the ability to spin changes to shutter speed and aperture are great.  I leave the top-sided function button defaulted to ISO and so when I need to change it, it’s easy.  The metering and auto-ISO on the X-E1 is so good, I usually just leave it alone, allowing the camera to operate in a range all the way up to 3200.  Usable and reasonably clean files all the way up to 3200 and arguably 6400 is super and very full frame-like.  It would be nice if you could specify parameters around threshold shutter speeds for auto-ISO performance so I hope Fujifilm will continue, as is their custom, to improve their cameras post-purchase by offering helpful firmware updates.

So, I’m looking forward to continuing to use the X-E1 and I can’t wait for the 14mm and then telezoom options to land.  It’s a fabulous system and I’m thoroughly enjoying using the X-E1.  Yes, it’s The One.

BH has the following configurations:

Black body

Black with kit lens

Silver body

Silver with kit lens

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27 Responses to The Fujifilm X-E1 is The One

  1. Mark James says:

    I’m glad you found what you’ve been waiting for.

  2. -S says:

    Nice. But to be clear, the X-E1 and X-Pro1 have the same performance, focus wise, once you have upgraded the X-Pro1 to the latest firmware. Image quality should be the same as well. The X100s should perform faster though.

    • Rey says:

      I’m sure you’re right. I never was able to test the X-Pro with the updated firmware and I’m also certain that some of what I’m experiencing has to do with the 18-55 lens which I never could use on the X-Pro as well.

      Rey

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  4. Reality Check says:

    What a bunch of skewed horse hocky. OMFG. Yes, the X-E1 is somewhat of a solve all “dream” body and “miracle” 18-55 kit lens. The lens really isn’t a kit lens but that isn’t the focus and issue here. For the MSRP and what exists so far from Fuji in the X-E1. the sensor and engineering is practically defective for real-life, real time semi-action in normal or low indoor lighting, especially when it comes to autofocus. Fuji keeps discovering defects and keeps delaying the firmware updates to try and nominally address these issues in the X-E1. Shooting portrait shots in daytime outdoor frozen still life can practically be done by anyone, even a child, with a $49.99 digital camera and fixed kit lens, and produce some impressive results. Lets see this same review and reviewers, with example shots, of every day normal action life, indoors. Kids at home in motion. Indoor club shots at say a jazz club of the musicians in action and the nominal lighting there-in. Will see and verify what the X-E1, so far then, really is.

    • Rey says:

      Horse hocky?

      The X series, at this point, would be a poor alternative for anyone wanting to shoot “kids at home in motion”, etc. Any current phase detect/DSLR would run circles around it. Olympus has shown us what can be done with contrast detect (in their m4/3 series) and so I expect that Fuji, slow out of the gate on AF performance, will also improve.

      But for my style of shooting, which does not involve kids in motion, the X is fantastic.

      I also recall shooting football and basketball in college with a manual focus, manual meter Pentax and capturing 11×14 crisp black and white action shots. So, there’s something to be said for technique as well… unless you really want to point and mash the shutter button. Fujifilm X series is not for the point and mash set.

      Thanks,

      Rey

      • Thrillington says:

        “I also recall shooting football and basketball in college with a manual focus, manual meter Pentax and capturing 11×14 crisp black and white action shots.”

        Exactly! Could not agree more with your review. The way people complain about a camera not being able to take pictures of kids playing around the house… it is a wonder that any of us were ever able to get good shots before autofocus. And concerts? Yeah, there are no photos of concert performances before the advent of autofocus. Never seen one. Good grief.

        I’m with you on the X-E1. Love mine. Even used it last week at Seaworld to shoot the killer whale show. At night. Four moving whales, a rock band and ever changing lighting. Even if I would have had my D800 with me, I still would have had to pre-focus.

        The X-E1 is not for everyone but it is a great little camera. Before digital became the de facto norm, I used to always recommend that people start out on an old Nikon FM, with a nifty 50, or equivalent as they began to learn photography. Today, that recommendation would be the X-E1 or X-100.

  5. Nice overview, thanks. Fujifilm is doing a great job on the X range with its regular firmware updates, improved bodies and new lenses, isn’t it? I am very happy with my X-Pro1 (I shoot landscapes) and don’t intend to trade up until a full-frame version arrives.

    • Rey says:

      Douglas – thanks for your comment. Ah… a full frame X series. Rumor or reality? I can’t wait to see…

      Rey

      • The market trend for mirrorless cameras indicates that a full-frame X is pretty inevitable, it seems. When? Who knows. Fuji wouldn’t want to cannibalize sales of the current X models (though a full-frame X would surely exist in a much higher price bracket). Anyway, enough speculation – let’s enjoy what we have and concentrate on making great pictures :)

        • Rey says:

          Sure hope you’re right…

          Now if Fujifilm would allow for a proper 2 stop autobracket, I’d be all set.

          Thanks,

          Rey

        • Mike says:

          I can’t see a full frame X coming at all. It would have to have new, bigger, heavier lenses, new mount, bigger and heavier body… It would no longer be the unique proposition it is.

          As for the X-E1 – I love it! I sold my Canon DSLR and L glass, and my back thanks me every day :)

          • Nanang says:

            why not Mike? sony did it. with Rx-1 if I am not wrong, but yea with fix lens on it. :D

          • > I can’t see a full frame X coming at all. It would have to have new, bigger,
            > heavier lenses, new mount, bigger and heavier body…

            Every single year cameras are coming with smaller bodies and better sensors, so yes, of course it’s bound to be. Leica had a full-frame sensor in a small(-ish) body for a long time now, and Sony just came up with a RX1, an impressive piece of hardware. When the X-Pro1 was released, Fuji was taking jabs at Leica already, so I don’t think there are going to stop there, if they can put a full-frame sensor in their smaller bodies (or even the X-Pro1), they will rather sooner than later.

  6. Nanang says:

    Hi Rey,
    I just want to purchase x-e1 in 35 mm 1.4, did you think this is the great combo? or take the “kit” lens. I just read a lot of review about this camera. and I think I am fall in love with it. :D

    what I did not like for the kit is the F not fix in all range.

    regards,

    N

    • Rey says:

      Nanang – the 35/1.4 is a very nice. Supremely sharp and the 1.4 aperture allows you to cut a nice thin depth of field with creamy backgrounds. Normally, I’d say to get that instead of the kit lens just on that basis alone, but the XE1 kit lens is superior to most standard kit zooms, so it’s a toss up.

      If you can’t have both and are trying to decide between them, I’d let practicality win out over anything else. For instance: if 35 will be too restrictive, then go for the zoom.

      For me personally, if I had to get one, I’d get the zoom. That’s not so much a zoom vs prime issue as it is about the fact that 35 (50 equivalent) isn’t my optimal prime. The forthcoming 23 (35 equivalent) is a MUCH more comfortable focal length for me.

      Hope that helps. Here in the US, we can only get the 18-55 discounted with the body, not the 35… so that made it easier too.

      Best,

      Rey

  7. Stevie says:

    Well done on finding ‘the one’! That’s what I hope to do.

    Could you possibly help me, I have an X100 & a DSLR but would like to have just 1 system. Semi pro use (product photography and general family stuff).

    Would you rather your OM-D or X-E1 if you had to choose just one?

    Also how does the X-E1 compare to the X100 focusing speed. I find my X100 a bit slow and hit & miss but perfectly acceptable for 90% of shots.

    • Rey says:

      “Would you rather your OM-D or X-E1 if you had to choose just one?”

      Stevie – that is the question. It’s a topic of much debate. Many people I know have decided to have both and I have access to both so I’m happy. But, if I had to choose one, that would be very, very hard. For me, it’s the XE1, hence the title of “The One”. I no longer shoot in a variety of settings and fast action isn’t so much of a concern as it once was. So, for my slower and more deliberate style, the Fujifilm suits me fine.

      The OMD is a great, great camera. More versatile and many nice lenses available. If you would like to shoot across a wider gamut of situations, the OMD is hard to beat.

      I find the XE1 a bit faster than the X100 (you do have the latest firmware?) but not substantially so. Some (or maybe all) of that could be due to the in lens motor, hard to say.

      Good luck!

      Rey

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  9. Rey, this is auto-generated spam you approved here. I get this kind all the time.

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