|We already published a few Fujinon XF lens reviews (Fujinon XF 60mm macro and the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm), but this Fujifilm X-E1 review is our first Fujifilm camera review. The Fujifilm X-E1 was announced in 2012, just before the Photokina. This camera is in many aspects very similar to the early 2012 Fujifilm X-PRO, but the X-E1 is more economically priced. This price advantage is due to the omission of the hybrid viewfinder, in favor of an electronic viewfinder with a higher resolution. Also, the screen on the back of the camera has a lower resolution. The Fujifilm X-E1 is, like the Fujifilm X-PRO, a high-end camera. The target audience for this camera consists of passionate amateur and professional photographers who want a handy camera, but with an exceptionally high quality.
Fujifilm X-E1 design
The Fujifilm X-E1 is a nice camera to see and it is available in a completely black version and a black and silver version. The design of the Fujifilm X-E1 camera body does, apart from the screen at the back, reminiscent of the characteristic design of range-finder cameras from the film photography era. But because the camera has an electronic viewfinder, the characteristic viewfinder window is missing on the front.
The camera offers good video specifications and a connection for an external microphone. Yet the Fujifilm X-E1 is, to my taste, much more a photography camera. The camera is very solidly built and feels very good in the hand. Most compact system cameras (such as the Olympus OM-D E-M5) have small buttons, which may be impractical to some and / or will be pushed sometimes unintentionally. But the buttons on the Fujifilm X-E1, especially the knobs on top of the camera to set the shutter speed and exposure compensation, are very convenient, robust, have the right size and offer enough resistance to prohibit unintended rotation.
|The camera is equipped with a limited number of buttons and operating the Fujifilm X-E1 is therefore also suitable simple. There is a Quick menu with all important functions and its own Q button. It is immediately apparent that there is no “PASM” button on this camera. That’s because you set the aperture with a ring on the lens and you choose the shutter time on the camera body. If you wish to use the camera in program mode, you set the lens and the camera in the A position. For all older photographers this will sound familiar, but also the younger photographers will get used to it real soon. The only flaw in ergonomics, is that the battery and the SD card are located so close together, that it is difficult to replace the SD card. If the camera rests on a tripod, you must first detach the camera from the tripod before you can replace the SD card.
|The sensor in the Fujifilm X-E1 was developed by Fuji itself and differs from the standard Bayer CMOS sensors that most other manufacturers use. Because the red and blue pixels on the sensor Fuji are less evenly distributed over the sensor, this sensor will be less sensitive to moire pattern than conventional CMOS sensors. According to Fuji no low-pass filter for the sensor is needed, which benefits both the resolution and the signal to noise ratio. Later in this Fujifilm X-E1 review you will see, whether we can confirm this statement.
Fujifilm X-E1 versus Fujifilm X-PRO
Fujifilm X-E1 versus Olympus OM-D E-M5, Panasonic GH3, Sony NEX-7
Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF 60 mm macro @ 400 ISO, f/2.4, 1/200 sec
Viewfinder, display and menu
|The Fujifilm X-E1 has a high quality electronic viewfinder. Some photographers will still prefer an optical viewfinder. Nevertheless, an electronic viewfinder has features that an optical viewfinder doesn’t have, such as displaying a level gauge or a histogram in the viewfinder. If you are used to a professional SLR or a Panasonic GH3, the viewfinder of the Fujifilm X-E1 may be somewhat small. The effective viewfinder size corresponds approximately to the effective size of the viewfinder of an APS-C camera. The viewfinder accuracy is 100%, the magnification is 0.6 and the crop factor of 1.5, and thus the total magnification of the viewfinder is 0.4. The screen on the back of the camera is not rotatable and tiltable. The camera menu is clear and that is nice.
|In our Fujinon XF lens reviews (Fujinon XF 60mm macro and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm), we showed already that Fujifilm has chosen to correct both JPG and RAW files (when you open them in SILKYPIX, Lightroom or Photoshop) for lens aberrations such as distortion, vignetting, and (probably) chromatic aberration. A good choice in my opinion, because the corrected files show a very high quality.
Fujifilm goes even further: There is the Fujifilm X-E1 M-mount adapter for sale, so you can also use this camera in combination with the high quality lenses designed for Leica M cameras. These lenses are not automatically recognized by the camera, but you can for each objective a self-correction profile, which you such distortion and vignetting by the camera can correct.
Resolution Fujifilm X-E1
|The Fujifilm X-E1 produced in our studio test, in combination with a Fujinon XF 60mm, a jpg file with a resolution of (over ISO 200 t / m 6400) average of 2200 lines per picture height. This is as good as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Panasonic GH3 or Sony A77. RAW files in Lightroom deliver the same sharpness. Measurements for our Fujifilm X-E1 review have been carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Fujifilm X-E1 test report. Both the JPG and RAW files look very nice. The image quality of this camera is as good as professional cameras with a full frame sensor. Read the enthusiastic story by Frank Doorhof about the Fujifilm X-E1. It’s also nice to download some high resolution Fujifilm X-E1 sample images from the Fujifilm website.
|Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm @ 100 ISO, 55mm f/4, 1/250 sec
Dynamic range Fujifilm X-E1
|The Fuji website shows two images which explain the benefits that come with the omission of a low-pass filter for the sensor: it provides higher resolution and at higher ISO values (above 1600) also a higher signal to noise ratio. In terms of resolution the Fujifilm X-E1 scores good, but this camera does not distinguish itself from, for example, the Panasonic GH3 or the Olympus OM-D E-M5. The Olympus is known that there is no or a very weak low-pass filter.
The high signal-to-noise ratio and the enormous dynamic range makes this model unique. On both parts does this camera with an APS-C sensor not for professional SLR with a larger full frame sensor.
The total dynamic range of both JPG and RAW files, throughout the ISO range of 200 to 6400, the highest that we have so far measured in a camera with an APS-C sensor. A poor signal / noise ratio in the shadows reduces the dynamic range of many other cameras to a much lower usable dynamic range at high ISO settings. The noise of the Fujifilm X-E1 is ISO 6400 still so low that even at these ISO settings still a very large usable dynamic range about. And do you really only now, with cameras with a full frame sesnor.
The numbers in the histogram are not stops (Ev), but are grades on a scale with a maximum of 10 for the best performing camera. These numbers may change with the introduction of newer cameras.
Noise Fujifilm X-E1
|The Fujifilm X-E1 has a standard ISO range is from 200 to 6400 ISO. For jpg files that range expandable to 100 and ISO 25600. This may seem a limited ISO range compared to other modern cameras, but the signal to noise ratio at all ISO settings, even at ISO 6400, so low that you look good usable shots to show for it. And that’s better than a lot of other cameras, although a higher ISO attaining offer, but the higher ISO values basically unusable due to a poor signal / noise ratio. Additionally, two 100% cropping of 6400 ISO Fujifilm X-E1 jpg files. The quality of the Fiji Film X-E1 is similar to the ISO 6400 image quality of cameras from the competition with a full frame sensor.
Fujifilm X-E1 moiré
|Also notable is the high quality of the jpg files: many cameras can you at higher ISO settings jpg artifacts encounter. But not at the Fujifilm X-E1 files: you will need to do much effort to visibly better results from your RAW files to transform the standard jpg files from the camera. Imatest test results are in the Fujifilm X-E1 test report.
The omission of a low-pass filter involves the risk of moire with it. This Fujifilm X-E1 test, we belong to the same conclusion as in our Nikon D800E test: can you moiré sporadically encounter, but it is actually (in over 99% of the admissions x) is not an issue.
In the 100% image area of a jpg image with blue and red feathers right in the blue feathers a moire pattern to recognize. In the original RAW file without noise reduction is even easier to see, because the RAW file also shows visible color moiré. Such situations will in practice you really rarely encounter. Should it happen again, then the color moiré easy removal in Lightroom.
Color accuracy Fujifilm X-E1
|The Fujifilm X-E1 provides daylight both JPG and RAW files with a very good natural color reproduction. The average color deviation of RAW and JPG files did not exceed the Delta E 94 = 4. This places the Fujifilm X-E1 to the best professional cameras we have tested to date.
However, the color rendering for non-professional users are less important when choosing a camera. The color differences between cameras is now smaller than the color differences of the different picture styles in 1 camera. Where most camera manufacturers give their names as default image styles, natural and lively, refers to the past with Fujifilm Velvia (vivid) and Negative Pro standard (of course). This image styles seem actually to the familiar Fujichrome Velvia and Fuji Film negative films of yesteryear.
When artificial light exhibit both RAW and jpg files a clear orange cast (Delta E94 = average X) and RAW files (Delta E 94 = average 15). Who shoot in RAW, the white balance in artificial light significantly improved compared to the automatic white balance. See also the Imatest results in the Fujifilm X-E1 test report.
The Fujifilm X-E1 has a built-in flash (guide number 7 at ISO 200), which is nicely finished. It is not designed for it, but you can change the direction of the flash with your finger, so you can flash even indirectly.
The autofocus of the Fujifilm X-E1 is very accurate and quick, especially in combination with the Fujifilm XF 18-55mm zoom lens. But it is, in comparison with a SLR camera, not a camera for action photography. In particular, following a moving subject using the autofocus continuously (AF Tracking), is much faster and more accurate with an SLR. Also, the maximum recording speed of the Fujifilm X-E1 is not intended for action photography. The maximum speed of 3 RAW frames per second is lower than the 6 bps from the X-PRO.
A big plus of this camera over SLRs is that the AF point can be set over almost the entire image, whereas SLR focus points are constrained to a limited area in the center of the image.
Conclusion Fujifilm X-E1 review
See our list of tested cameras to compare the performance of this camera with other cameras.
The Fujifilm X-E1 is a beautiful, solid and easy to use camera with high image quality. In terms of resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio, this camera equals a professional SLR camera with a full frame sensor. It is an ideal camera for travel photography or street photography. Your presence will be much less obtrusive than with a professional SLR camera. But the image quality will be of the same high level. The image quality of the jpg files is so good, that for almost every photographer there’s no real need to shoot in RAW. The Fujifilm X-E1 is a camera that gives you the fun in photography and lets you forget all the technology that comes with it.
The measurement results for this Fujifilm X-E1 review are shown in the Fujifilm X-E1 test report.