When FujiFilm has announced the X-E1 I was very excited and so do many others. It seems that many photographers have a nostalgic connection to this company and we really want it to succeed. The low point was when FujiFilm stopped making DSLR cameras, and the high point was when Sony released the X-Pro1, Fuji’s first compact system camera. Now times has passed. and FujiFilm released a new mid-range model, the X-E1.
The FujiFilm X-E1 is the second Compact System Camera in Fuji’s X series mirrorless lineup. It utilizes the same XF-mount and the same ‘X-Trans’ APS-C sensor technology that made these cameras so unique. Fuji even said that this camera cam capture images with image quality comparable to full frame DSLR cameras. When Fuji claims something like that, it really makes us wonder what’s under the hood and see how IQ compare in practice.
The thing is that the X-Pro1 is too expensive for many people. Believe me, lots of photographers would have wanted to own the X-Pro1, but not so many can. Now FujiFilm mirrorless is reach in the form of the X-E1.
So let’s see what we have inside.. oh, and outside too.
Fuji X-E1 Camera Design
The X-Pro 1 was criticized of being bulky and looked like a brick. The FujiFilm X-E1 is much smaller, and that’s a nice start. The overall camera design is quite similar and it really looks like the little sister of the X-Pro1. The first thing you notice when you look at the front of the camera is the lack of optical viewfinder. The X-E1 features only EVF, and doesn’t come with the Hybrid (optical,electronic) viewfinder as the X-Pro1. However, the EVF is the world’s best EVF at the moment with 2.36M-dots OLED, beating the 1.44-dots LCD electronic viewfinder.
The camera design really brings us back to the film days, making an emotional bond between the photographer and the essence of belonging to a legendary company in the photography industry. When you hold a FujiFilm Compact System Camera in your hand, you are holding a piece of art. You don’t have lots of models, only two, but those two are both masterpiece.
At the back you can find a 2.8-inch 460K-dot LCD. What?! – why 2.8? – It seems that FujiFilm had to use a smaller LCD to keep the camera smaller. I personally don’t understand why, because you have ultra compact cameras with a 3-inch, so why can’t the X-E1 have a 2-inch screen, beats me.
At the top metal plate you can find the two wheel dials, pop up flash and a custom function button, The X-E1 also has a full metal body partially covered with faux-leather. This camera feels sturdy in the hands and you can really feel that you are holding a high-grade camera in your hands. Enthusiast photographers will certainly admire the effort Fuji put in the X-E1, a beautiful looking camera with elegance and very high build quality standards.
The FujiFilm X-E1 is, in my opinion, a beautifully designed camera that people will just love to hold in their hands. I forgive Fuji for the smaller display, the new viewfinder just makes up for it. I am not denying that the LCD is an important integral part of any digital camera for people who want to check out the output on the spot, but it’s not a significant drawback, not at all. There are just too many other great things to love about the X-E1, way too many.
Fuji X-E1 Sensor – Say Goodbye to Moiré
One of the unique features of FujiFilm’s Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras is the X-Trans CMOS sensor. FujiFilm’s home-made sensor with its own unique ‘X-Trans’ color filter array. This is a 16.3MP APS-C size sensor that was designed to outperform many APS-C sensors found on today’s DSLR cameras, even outperform conventional color filter sensors of 35mm Full frame DSLRs (According to Fuji).
The innovative array of the X-Trans captures unfiltered light from the lens, therefore leads to unparalleled resolution, and because low-pass filter is not needed, we can say goodbye to moiré as we know it. The pixels of this sensor are arranged differently than conventional Bayer sensors with a higher degree of randomness with an array of 6 x6 pixel unique, cmopare to the repeating pattern of 2 x 2 of a conventional Bayer sensor.
This leads to higher resolution image and also higher light sensitivity, improving S/N ratio. To get to understand this technology better, I recommend visiting fujifilm.eu and read about how the new X-Trans sensor compare to Conventional Bayer array sensors. You can see sample images that demonstrate the differences between those two type of sensors, showing the advantages that the new X-Trans CMOS filter array have over conventional Bayer sensors – and what a difference it is!
This technology is not a gimmick, it a proven technology that leads to a higher degree of image quality in terms of resolution, noise and artifacts.
The camera is capable of shooting at ISO100 – 25600 (200-6400 in Auto ISO).
Fuji X-E1 Sample Images
Of course you want to see some images, and luckily FujiFilm posted a nice range of test shots taken with the FujiFilm X-E1.
The colors looks great, sharp, well saturated with great contrast and dynamic range. Look at the roof of the building, there you can see that moire is not existent. When you look at those images it just screams FujiFilm, doesn’t it? – I mean look at the rich blues and yellows, the resolution, excellent clarity (maybe except the old woman photo that looks like it is out of focus), it’s like you are there looking at those places with your own eyes, not through the limitation of a digital camera. This is a camera that you will fall in love with it in first site.
You can just breath the ocean, smell the fruits, enjoy the romantic nightscape view as if you are there. FujiFilm can make it happen. It’s all in the fine details, and if you have the touch, you just can’t miss it. Of course image quality will vary depends on the lens used.
Fuji X-E1 Performance
The FujiFilm X-E1 was built to perform. With a 0.5 quick start, 0.05 sec. shutter time lag, 0.1 AF speed (When XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS is set) and 6 fps continuous shooting, this camera will satisfy most enthusiast photographers. It seems that FujiFilm took everything into account, starting from the camera design, up to the hardcore raw performance of the camera and its EXR Processor Pro image processor.
We still need to wait for some field test from pros to comprehend how fast the AF is, but it looks very promising.
Here are more of the specs:
- TTL 256-zones metering, Multi / Spot / Average
- Exposure compensation: -2.0 EV – +2.0 EV, increment with 1/3 EV step
- Shutter speed: 30 sec. – 1/4000 sec / bulb max. 60 minutes
- Focus modes: Single AF / Continuous AF / MF Distance Indicator
- Full HD 1080p24 with stereo sound (maximum of 29 minutes in length per movie clip)
- Raw support and in-camera Raw processing
- 2.5mm stereo mini connector
- Power supply: NP-W126 Li-ion battery
- Dimensions: 129 (W) mm x 74.9(H) mm x 38.3(D) mm / 5.1 in.(W) x 2.9 in. (H) x 1.5 in. (D)
- Weight: 350g with battery and card (SD)
- Battery life: 350 shots
The FujiFilm was built to perform. It looks great, feels great and takes gorgeous photos. Finally an *affordable FujiFilm mirrorless camera that more people can afford to enjoy.
MSRP $1,399.95 with XF18mm-55mm (27-84mm) F2.8-4 lens, $999.95 body only
The FujiFilm X-E1 will be available in November 2012.
Also visit FujiFilm X-E1 minisite.
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