Fujifilm X-E1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 Comparison

September 9, 2012

Olympus E-M5 and Fujifilm X-E1 on wooden background

I was very excited when I’ve read about the announcement of the Fuji X-E1. Maybe it’s because I am sentimental about Fujifilm as a brand and I really wanted it to succeed in the ILC business. The X-E1 makes us feel very optimistic about Fujifilm future as a camera manufacturer. In this post I want to compare the X-E1 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M5. The X-E1 is Fuji’s latest MILC with some exciting new features and a more compact camera design, the second is Olympus flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. Two very attractive Compact System Cameras that will certainly be on top of many enthusiasts’ list.


Price Segment

The Fujifilm X-E1 is priced $999.95 (body only) on Amazon, and the Olympus is priced $999.00 on Amazon. Of course the price may change and it’s reflected as for the time of writing this article (9/9/2012). What’s important here is that both cameras have the same street price tag, which means that they are certainly compete one against the other. People with  around $1000 budget for a CSC will certainly put those two cameras at the top of their list. These cameras are for those who want to invest in a more advanced Compact Camera System. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1, the more advanced model, costs approx. $330 more than the X-E1, so for some people it might be a bit over the budget. Many people will prefer getting the X-E1, which is also a newer model with some features that the X-Pro 1 doesn’t have, and invest more money on a better lens.


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Reputation

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus OM-D E-M5

So price wise, the X-E1 is a direct competitor to the Olympus E-M5. The E-M5 was announced on Gebruary 8, 2012, so it’s already have been tested and reviewed by all the important camera reviews’ website.  The Olympus OM-D E-M5 grabbed dpreview.com’ GOLD AWARD, stating that this might be the mist likeable mirrorless model yet. Not every camera gets to enjoy this title, and of course dpreview is not the only site that gave this camera a high rating.

The E-M5 is an amazing camera, equipped with many goodies that anyone wished to have on his or hers new mirrorless camera. This includes: brand new high-performing image sensor, 5-axis image stabilization, ultra fast AF (world’s fastest af according to Olympus as for February 2012), 9 fps hi-speed shooting, weather-sealed body (dust and splashproof), magnesium alloy body, EVF, 3-inch tilting OLED touch sensitive monitor, Full HD movies with stereo sound, ISO up to 25,600 and much more.

All we have to say is WOW, what a mind blowing featured Micro Four Thirds camera. Finally PEN owners have something to upgrade to. The thing is that the E-M5 is equipped with tons of features that aren’t gimmicky, but actually very useful for photographers. Olympus has really done an amazing job with this camera, and for a good reason this camera became so popular among enthusiasts.

Some of the E-M5 rating from the web: Photographyblog.com (5 star rating), Dpreview (Gold Award, highest award rating),  PCWorld (4 start out of 5), cameralabs.com (Highly Recommended with overal score of 88%) and the list goes on and on.

The design of this camera is something to be admired. It’s different than other cameras, borrowing the design from Olympus OM system film cameras which were sold starting the yearly 70s until the first quarter of 2000.

I always admire Olympus for its technology innovation. Even my first P&S digital camera was an Olympus, and it was love from first site. Olympus had its bad times in the past, but make it big time with the Micro Four Thirds system together with Panasonic, and certainly top all the other M43 cameras with the E-M5. What more can you ask for?


Fujifilm X-E1 – An Important CSC

FujiFilm X-E1 Mirrorless

FujiFilm X-E1 Mirrorless Camera

Fujifilm doesn’t have less fans than Olympus, even more. Fujifilm is probably among the biggest name in the photography industry.  We all were very upset when Fuji stopped manufacturing DSLR cameras, leaving photographers with the very popular S5 Pro without the option to upgrade to a newer Fujifilm DSLR model. People hope that somewhere in the future, Fujifilm will be able to join back to the ILC business. We hope for it, wanted it so much and this day came with large sensor compact (ie. X100) and later on with MILC in the form of the X-Pro1 and now with the X-E1.

The X-E1 certainly bring more confidence to people to invest in Fujifilm CSC. One camera is just isn’t enough, people want to see Fujifilm as a steady company and the X-E1 is very important product because of that.  Still, many people went to buy the X-Pro1 without thinking twice.

Fujifilm is a very innovative company, like Olympus. One of the best innovation is related to the camera image sensor used on many Fujifilm cameras, including the X-Pro1 and X-E1. This is a X-Trans sensor, with color filter array different from the conventional Bayer (RGB) array that exists on almost all digital cameras on the market. This sensor on the X-E1 promisses exceptional resolution, on par with what you get with 35mm sensors.

The X-Pro1 already grabbed many positive reviews (e.g. “Excellent image quality at all ISO settings – Impressive resolution and low noise” – source: dpreview.com).  This stands side by side with Fujifilm claims about their X-Trans CMOS sensor technology, proving that their sensor is capable of delivering results that professional photographers demand. The X-E1 can shoot Full HD videos too.

On top all that, of course what’s more exciting is the fact that you can enjoy using FUJINON lenses. The X-E1 works with the same X-mount and is compatible with all current Fujinon XF lenses, including the XF18mm F2 R, XF35mm F1.4 R, XF60mm F2.4 R Macro and the new XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS which is also the Kit lens for the X-E1.

As you can see, Fujifilm focuses on image quality, and that’s why you see more prime lenses. However, more zoom lenses will be available pretty soon. The Fujinon 18-55mm lens is a relatively fast standard zoom lens. Most of the 18-55mm lenses on the market, the kit lenses, are F3.5-5.6, which makes the Fujinon one stop faster than many of the current standard zoom kit lenses. Again, Fuji listens to its customers, and that is why the customers love fuji back (including me).


The Fujifilm X-E1 features an APS-C “X-Trans CMOS” sensor with 16MP resolution.. It features a HD High-Luminance 2.36M-dot OLED EVF, the best we’ve seen yet. With a high contrast ratio of 1:5000 reflect exposure and OLED panel, this LCD should give you sharp view of the scene with rich colors and ability to simulate settings right via the viewfinder. The gap between OVF and EVF is getting shrunk fast. Some people even don’t mind using EVF, while other still not convinced by this technology and prefer the advantages of an optical viewfinder. Of course with the X-Pro1 you can enjoy both with the Hybrid Multi Viewfinder (both optical and Electronic).

The X-E1 is more compact than the X-Pro1, which is great because the X-Pro1 was large and looks like a brick to many. Of course the design is not the only reason why you gonna pick a Fujifilm camera over other vendors, but it’s important to have good ergonomics and more compact size – after all, it’s a Compact System Camera, and it should be relatively more compact than DSLRs.

The X-E1 looks great and built for perfection,. It certainly looks like a film camera from the 80s, but wears advanced digital technologies that put it at the front of technology innovation. Fuji claims 0.005 sec. shutter time lag, 0.1 sec. AF and 0.5 sc. Quick Start. This should certainly makes this camera a sprinter when it comes to performance.


Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Fujifilm X-E1

Now comes the hard part, which one you should buy, the OM-D E-M5 or the new X-E1? – Decisions decisions, those are never easy aren’t they?

I have to admit that if I was in your position, I would probably be in a great dilemma. I mean, these are two excellent cameras, one is more attractive than the other, but I need to choose only one.

Of course there are differences between the two cameras. In this section I want to talk about the differences, but first of all, let’s start with a specs comparison table and talk about the main different after that.

Fujifilm X-E1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 cameras side by side

Fujifilm X-E1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 cameras size comparison (via camerasize.com)

Fujifilm X-E1Olympus OM-D E-M5
AnnouncedSeptember 6, 2012February 8, 2012
APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
X-Trans CMOS

1.5x FLM
Micro Four Thirds (17.4 x 13 mm)

2x FLM
ProcessorEXR Pro TruePic VI
ISOISO 200 - 6400 (extendable: 100, 12800, 25600)ISO 200 - 25600
White Balance Presets7 12
Image stabilizationNoYes (sensor-shift)
5-axis image stabilization
AFContrast Detect (sensor)
Live View
Contrast Detect (sensor)
Selective single-point
Face Detection
Live View
AF Assist LampYesYes
Focus Points49 AF points35 AF points
No Touchscreen
2,360 K dots OLED
100% FOV
0.37x magnification
1,440 K dots
100% FOV
1.15x magnification
Shutter Speed30 - 1/4000 sec30 - 1/4000 sec
Scene ModesNoYes (total of 23)
FlashBuilt in: Yes (Pop-up)
External flash: yes, via hot-shoe)
X Sync: 1/180 sec
Built in: No
External flash: yes, via hot-shoe)
X Sync: 1/250 sec
Continuous Shooting6 fps9 fps
Metering ModesMulti
Exposure Bracketing2 / 3 / 5 frames ( +/- 1/3, 2/3, 1 EV steps )
7 frames ( +/- 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 EV steps )
AE Bracketing (±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, ±1 EV)
Film Simulation Bracketing (Any 3 type of film simulation selectable)
Dynamic Range Bracketing (100%, 200%, 400%)
ISO sensitivity Bracketing (±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, ±1 EV)
Video (max. res)1080p24
Battery Life350360
Size and Weight129 x 75 x 38 mm (5.08 x 2.95 x 1.5")

350 g (0.77 lb / 12.35 oz)
122 x 89 x 43 mm (4.8 x 3.5 x 1.69")

425 g (0.94 lb / 14.99 oz)
Weather SealedNoYes (Dust & Splashproof)


Let’s summarize the key differences:

  • X-E1 features a larger APS-C size sensor vs Micro Four Thirds. X-E1 sensor used a X-Trans filter color array to enhance resolution compare to conventional Bayer pattern RGB Array
  • E-M5 features in-camera sensor-shift image stabilization, Which means that any lens that you attach to the camera will become stabilized
  • X-E1 has more AF points to choose from and available for the AF system. On the other hand, the E-M% features more AF modes (Face detection, Tracking)
  • E-M5 LCD is much better with higher resolution, tilting and it’s also a touch-sensitive display
  • X-E1 has a higher res EVF with OLED technology compare to the relatively lower-res EVF of the E-M5. The E-M5 offers a higher magnification
  • The E-M5 has man scene modes, the X-E1 doesn’t feature scene modes, but has “Film Simulation Modes” instead
  • X-E1 has a built in pop-up flash, the OM-D E-M5 does not
  • The E-M5 can shoot at faster burst of 9 fps vs 6 fps
  • The X-E1 can shoot 24p cinematic frame rate at 1080p, the OM-D shoots at 30p
  • The XE1 is more compact than the Oly EM5 and weights 125 g less
  • E-M5 is weather sealed, the X-E1 s not
  • EM5 has a faster X- Sync of 1/250 vs 1/180 sec


As you can see from the list above, each camera has it’s cons and pros. It really comes to personal preference, deciding what features you would like to have on your camera, what features you find useful for your shooting style.


Lens Selection

The Lens selection is not important than other camera features. You can but the best camera, but it won’t give you what you need if you can’t find a lens that suits your shooting needs. The X-E1 belongs to a relatively new system, which means that there aren’t many lenses for the X-Mount right now. Most of the lenses are prime lenses, which are more expensive and not always the best option to people who prefer versatility over image quality.

Fujiflm X Mount road map 2012/2013

Fujiflm X Mount road map 2012/2013 (click to enlarge)

Fujinon Lenses for the X Mount

Fujifilm  X Mount Lens Road Map for 2012-2013 shows us that we can expect to see five new lenses in 2012, including: 56mm F1.4, 27mm F2.8, 23mm F1.4, 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 OIS and 10-24mm F4 OIS. Very interesting lenses, but most of them will be available at the first quarter of 2012.

Luckily The XF18-55mm will be available as Kit lens. This is an excellent fast standard-zoom lens. I’m really excited about this lens and already eager to see how it performs in lab test reviews. If you are just starting out, the 18-55mm might be the best choice for you, and later on you can decide which other lens to purchase according to your specific needs.

People with more experience will probably have to wait a bit longer until the other lenses become available. However, you should remember that when you purchase a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera, you are committing yourself in someway to one vendor. So if you really want a Fujifilm camera, jsut do it, but know the limitations that you have right now. I’m sure that those lenses will worth the wait – although we still need to wait for reviews to be 100% positive on how good they are.

The thing is that Fujifilm focus on image quality, and you can see this by looking at the lens selection and the camera sensor design. Fujifilm won’t release lenses with poor quality. It’s main selling point is image quality that should top the competition. That’s a place that Fuji shouldn’t fail.


Micro Four Thirds Lenses

With the Micro Four Thirds it’s a completely new story. Micro Four Thirds have been in the industry for many years. The lens selection is just huge. The main advantage of the M43 mount is that you can use lenses made by other vendors which are compatible with the M43 mount, that includes lenses from Panasonic of course, Sigma, Tamron and other third party vendors.

There just isn’t any lens that you can’t find, whether it’s a fisheye, ultra wide-angle, telephoto-zoom, standard zoom, fast prime lenses, you name it. This also brings us to another advantage that you have with Micro Four Thirds and that is that you can upgrade to a different camera from other manufacturers and still keep all your lenses. A BIG advantage for the M43, no doubt about it.


So wen it comes to lens selection and availability, Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Micro Four Thirds system win.. at least for now. It takes time to built a system and manufacture high quality lenses for it. I say give Fuji some time it deserve. I am almost hundred percent sure that it will be worth the wait. I’m pretty sure that many of you feel the same as I. I actually think of it in a more global perspective. When I buy a Fujifilm X-E1, I am actually getting a great product and making sure that Fujifilm can continue providing me new great products in the future. I invest in myself as a Photographer, but also in a company that I cherish and trust Hey, I’m not a Fuji fanboy).


 Who Gets the Fuji, Who Gets the Oly?

I believe that people who care most about image quality will prefer getting the X-E1 and buy into the X Mount system. If you already have a DSLR and couple of lenses, maybe it’s a good decision to wait until Fuji releases those lenses that you really wanna and need to have.

The Olympus E-M5 is certainly an attracting package. It’s for those who want a highly capable camera body with all the bells and whistles. People who want to enjoy all the benefits that come with Micro Four Thirds. Those people will enjoy announcements of both Olympus and Panasonic, because they can upgrade to any other camera that either vendor make. People who need the large lens selection and need it now.

there is a debate about video quality. I’ve read that the XPro1 video quality is not on par with the E-M5 and there is certainly a moire pattern when viewing videos.  I think  that the E-M5 is an excellent compromise between IQ and Features. For some of you it will worth to get onto this path rather than on the Fuji. Of course take a look at the available lenses and prices, and see if those fit your budget. Some of you probably don’t want to be stuck with only the 18-55mm.

Choosing lenses is very important. In the future you might upgrade to a different camera body because you have different needs. Will Fuji have a weather-sealed camera like the E-M5? How much those 2013 lenses will cost?, etc.


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There are some question marks regarding the X Mount system, I’m pretty sure about that. If you ask my opinion, I prefer the flexibility of the M43, although I would probably envy the image quality that comes with Fujifilm CSC. Maybe ‘envy’ is not the right word, but you need to know that in one way or the other you will make some compromises. Just accept it and make a choice based on what you need and you know that you will use.

Tomorrow we might see a Fujifilm camera body that tops the E-M5, this thing just never ends. So don’t just weight your decision based on the camera body itself, but at the system as a whole. This will help you make a smart buying decision that will make you know that you’ve made the right decision, without regret.

I hope this article helped you make a better buying decision. If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends. Thanks.

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Related posts:

  1. Fujifilm X-Pro1 high price for a high-quality camera
  2. Nikon D800 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Video Shootout
  3. Fujifilm X-E1 Mirrorless – Specs, Sample images, Price and Availability
  • photohounds

    I have the EM5 an mate has the Fuji.

    He values compactness above all – he travels a lot.
    He also wants good lenses.
    The Fuji delivers.

    I value flexibility and the sharpest lenses possible – I do pro work as well as personal.
    I want compactness but it is not THE most important thing.
    The Olympus EM5 delivers.

    We are both very happy with our choices and also appreciate each other’s cameras good points.

    Witness the Canon/Nikon debate (for big camera lovers).

    Advice? Forget marketing of sensor sizes. This is not a religion.
    Instead get a good tool that suits what you need and develop the skills to be worthy of it.

  • Pierre B.

    Great quick review! I really appreciate the fact that you really bring those two cameras on the same quality level in different ways. Those companies (olympus and fuji) are just the best right now if you’re looking for compactness. They both deliver great quality build, high specs, and true lenses. It’s not like sony, that still think the camera makes all the difference despite the bad lenses they sell, and prove their pedigree with crazy specs in a very small body. What you end up with are bad lenses, mediocre built quality and bad grip. I want something compact obviously but not too much. The nex 7 for example which is also in the om-d and x-e1 category isn’t good. Not that it’s Sony and I hate this brand. It s just rubbish as usual and tacky. A simple show-off camera to my “objective” point of view.
    Let’s just say at this price-tag, the camera should reflect exactly what the consumer wants and a good shooting experience. Olympus and Fuji aim to those (the e-pen or the x series).
    The only thing that I really prefer from the olympus is the weatherproof body and the in-body image stabilizer. I still don’t get why camera companies are still making in-lens stabilizer. It’s more pricey for the lens, it’s heavier, noisier (not that great when filming)…
    This makes a big difference with telephoto lenses or shaky hands (like me)
    It’s also great to be able to buy cheap old only-manual lenses on ebay and put them on a m43 and get a great image, especially when filming. The in-body stabilizer from olympus is obviously a big + in that case. The e-pen has already proved my point compared to panasonic. So much choice for lenses!!

    I love olympus and I love fuji, just in different ways I guess… That’s all

  • Nuren Thapa

    Sony has been very innovative lately. I just bought the RX100 and it’s a marvel of engineering compactness and has an excellent Zeiss lens that produces great photos and videos. And I’m waiting to get the RX1 which is a pinnacle of compactness with a full frame sensor. Combined with the Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 lens it produces exceptional results according to all reviews and samples. Many maintain that the Zeiss lens in the RX1 is as good as the Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron which in itself costs over $3,000. It’s not right to dismiss these as bad cameras JUST because they are made by Sony.

  • http://www.deanmessengerphotography.co.uk Dean Messenger

    nice article but some glaring errors. in the specs comparison the bracketing modes are wrong way round, its the xe-1 that has multiple bracketing options. Also you say the xe1 has no IOS . when in fact the ISO is on the 18-55 lens ( primes really have no need for it.
    to add i have the x-e1 with 18-55 lens and build quality is outstanding and colour renditions straight from camera are sublime. also it shoots both RAW ( RAF ) and jpeg and RAF is now supported in LR4

  • mike

    “Shutter Speed 30 – 1/4000 sec 30 – 1/4000 sec ”
    I beleive Olympus is 60-1/4000 sec

  • http://www.homeschoolagora.com macauley86

    I have the X-E1 with 18-55 lens. I like it a lot. Light, excellent build quality, great jpegs out of camera, great color and DR. What I don’t like:
    - no RGB histogram (the meter is pretty good, though)
    - AF and AE buttons should be on the right side of the camera
    - AF primitive compared to Nikon D5100/D7000 (but accurate)
    - Not crazy about the viewfinder. I use the rear LCD way more often.
    - No in-camera stabilization
    - No weatherproofing
    - primes are expensive

    I also have an old S5 Pro. Way softer than the X-E1 (strong AA filter), but slightly better rendition of skin tones (the X-E1 is also superb, though).