Fujifilm X-T1 vs X-E2 vs Olympus E-M1 Comparison

May 8, 2014

Fujifilm X-T1, X-E2 and Olympus E-M1 side by side

In this article I will compare the Fujifilm X-T1 vs Fujifilm X-E2 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1. The Fujifilm X-T1 was announced on January 2014 and it grabbed a lot of attention in the media. The X-T1 is a high-end mirrorless camera that should appeal to both enthusiasts and semi-pros searching for a very capable and versatile interchangeable lens camera to replace their current mirrorless or DSLR camera.


There is no doubt that since Fujifilm has decided to get back into the interchangeable lens camera business after closing its DSLR department, many photographers felt the rebirth of Fujifilm. So many people wanted this company to make it stamp in the digital photography business, and I am sure that many people that buy on of Fujifilm’s X-series mirrorless cameras feels an essence of nostalgic euphoria.

Fujifilm has already proven itself in the mirrorless camera business with some excellent cameras that won many awards and got high rating in many leading camera review websites. The Fujifilm X-T1 already grabbed dpreview.com Gold award and TIPA Awards in 2014. It features a very wide arsenal of advanced features, which put it in its own league compared to other DSLR and mirrorless cameras around its price tag.

There are so many reasons one should get very excited with this camera, and in this article I will get you familiar with all its great features, and I will compare this amazing camera versus the X-E2 and Olympus OM-D E-M1. This comparison article is for those who still have seconds thoughts whether to invest around $1300 in the X-T1 or buy the cheaper (~$940) X-E2 or go with the Olympus mirrorless flagship, the OM-D E-M1.

There is plenty to talk about, so without further ado, let’s start our comparison!

Fujifilm X-T1

The X-T1 is is Fujifilm’s most expensive mirrorless camera in the X-series lineup (not including the fixed-lens cameras like the X100S for example), costing around $300 more than the X-Pro 1. The X-T1 really gives the word ‘Digital’ a new meaning, as you’ll soon see from its specs.

The Fujifilm X-T1 is built with the highest standards. It’s build quality is exceptional, with cast magnesium alloy body shell. The camera body is also weather-resistant, which included dust-resistant, water-resistant and freeze-resistant down to -10°C. Being able to compete against cameras like the E-M1, the X-T1 should have this attributes by default, and so it has.

The X-T1 carries an old retro-look and it’s equipped with tones of buttons and dials. At the top you can find three separate dials: an exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial with dial lock release and ISO sensitivity dial with dial lock release as well.  There are six programmable function buttons, metering dial below the shutter speed dial, front and back command dials and exposure lock and focus lock buttons (AE-L / AF-L).

Fujifilm X-T1 camera top

Fujifilm X-T1 camera top view. Many buttons and analogue dials and physical switches, offer quick access to quickly change camera settings, even when the camera is turned off

The X-T1 lacks a top monochromatic LCD display at the top, but it certainly aimed towards serious photographers who understand the importance of having many buttons and dials in order to operate the camera quickly for not missing an important shot.

The X-T1 is quite small. Larger than the X-E1, but noticeably smaller and slimmer than an entry-level DSLR, like the Nikon D3300 for example. The buttons and dials are well places with good spacing, allowing the thumb to be placed comfortably at the back, but it lacks a prominent grip like the one on the E-M1. Yet, you have the option to purchase Fujifilm’s vertical battery grip for the X-T1, which provided comfortable and stable shooting experience (or the optional MHG-Xt hand grip, smaller but ads extra hand grip, no battery compartment tough) , has an extra battery slot (NP-W126), features duplicated controls from the camera (inc. the two command dials) and it’s also weather resistant with the same degree as the camera body.

At the back of the camera you’ll find the Multi Mode Viewfinder. A relatively very large (0.77x) and bright electronic viewfinder with 0.005 sec. lag-time (world’s fastest according to Fujifilm’s website). The EVF boasts 2,360K-dot resolution, uses OLED panel  and offers 100%  coverage of the field of view. Fujifilm also redesigned the EVF user GUI for better shooting experience. So you’ll enjoy a very large viewfinder with virtually real-time view of the scene, with bright and gorgeous colors — one of the features that are most important for advanced photographers.

At the heart of the X-T1 is a large APS-C sized 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor. This sensor utilizes Fujifilm’s well-regarded innovative color filter array that improved image quality by reducing moire and color aberrations, incorporates phase-detection pixels. The innovative color filter array actually eliminated the need for an optical low pass filter. This allows the camera to capture unfiltered light, which improved the details resolvement power of the camera.

X-T1 also uses Fujifilm’s Lens Modulation Optimizer technology that make optimizations unique to each XF lens. By utilizing the data from the lens, sensor and image (also takes the artistic nature of the image, which can’t be computed mathematically), the camera can make sure that you’ll get the best image quality possible for a particular shot with a specific lens and camera settings. At the end, you’ll get an image that has less optical aberrations and maintains more details.

Among the other features are: a 3.0″ 10.4M dot tilting reinforced LCD, 8fps burst shooting speed, remote shooting via a dedicated smartphone app via the built-in Wi-Fi on the X-T1, 1080p60 full HD video recording,  0.08 sec AF speed, up to ISO 51,200 sensitivity, EXR Processor II (0.5 sec start-up time, 0.5 sec shooting interval, 0.05 sec shutter lag), UHS-II format SD card compatibility, time-lapse function (interval timer, 1 sec to 24 hours up to 999 frames), film simulation function, auto bracketing functions (for WB, HDR, Film simulation, AE and ISO).

One of the main advantages of course is the option to mount one or more of Fujifilm’s finest interchangeable lenses. Some might see it as a disadvantage, because those lenses don’t come cheap. So it’s not like you buy a Canon lens and you can use a cheap lens, all of the X mount lenses are of a  very high quality, and they are priced as such. For example, the XF 18mm f/2.0 lens costs around $500, the 35mm f/1.4 costs $600, the XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 costs around $700. Even the 18-55mm which is usually cheap on other interchangeable lens cameras, costs around $700 and offers f/2.8-4 aperture.

I think this is something that you have to consider prior to buying any Fujifilm mirrorless camera. My friend bought the the X-A1 for a good price, but now he can’t offer himself to buy a second lens because it’s too expensive. Something that you should keep in mind.

One thing that I personally love about the X-T1 is the analogue controls. It allows me to change the camera settings even if the camera is not turned on. So you can quickly get ready for your next shot without turning the camera on, changing the settings and turned it off until your next shot.

The X-T1 looks like the ultimate mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and the perfect DSLR replacement, but how it compared versus the E-M1 flagship?

The X-T1 doesn’t come cheap, and it not a camera for everyone. It will appeal to advanced still photographers who know how to take advantage of its advanced features.

Fujifilm X-E2

Fujifilm X-E2 mirrorless cameraThe Fujifilm X-E2 was introduced on October 18, 2013.  It’s cheaper than the X-T1, but does pack a wide range of advanced features that will satisfy the demand of many enthusiast photographers. The X-E2, like the X-T1, was favorable by many reviewers who have chosen to give it a high rating.

The X-E2 carries a classic reto-style design look. The X-E2 is built with plastic and die-cast magnesium alloy top and base plate, covered with textured rubber leatherette  finish. The dials at the top are made of metal, all gives the X-E2 its unique old retro design look that appeals to many photographers.

Unlike the X-T1 that features lots of buttons and dials, the X-E2 is slightly more simplistic and lacks the front command dial and ISO dial wheel at the top. It does however have a shutter and exposure compensation speed dials, four customizable function buttons(Fn at the top, Fn2 and AE button at the rear near the LCD, AF down-arrow button at the rear).

At the heart of the camera is a X-Trans CMOS II sensor and EXR Processor II. The unique sensor’s color array eliminated the need for an anti-aliasing filter. Allowing the sensor to achieve higher resolution and image details. The X-E2 uses the same lens modulation optimizer technology as the X-T1, making extra optimizations based on the lens type and its settings.

At the rear you’ll find a 2.360K-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, featuring 0.005 sec. display lag-time. This EVF ensures superior clarity and distortion-free view of the scene. The viewfinder make it easier to compose your shot in both daylight and nighttime. Unlike the X-T1 where the EVF is positioned at the center and has a large bulge at the top of the camera, the X-E2 EVF is positioned at the left-rear side and doesn’t change the camera top dimensions. This viewfinder provides a wide 24 degree horizontal field of view for convenient viewing experience, and a flexible diopter adjustment range of -4m-1 – +2m-1.

The X-E2 also enjoy a Hybrid AF system with a speed of 0.08 sec. (same as the X-T1) Phase detection pixels are embedded onto the sensor pixels, allowing the camera to take advantage of both type of AF system, and can even automatically switch between one to the other based on the scene you are shooting at.

*video by Digital Camera World

The X-E2 features the same 0.5 sec. start-up time, 0.5 sec. shooting interval, 0.05 sec. shutter time lag as the X-T1.  Other features include: 7 fps continuous shooting speed, Motion Panorama, in-camera RAW converter, Multiple Exposure mode, auto bracketing modes (AE, film simulation, HDR, ISO),  “one touch” wireless transfer using the built-in Wi-Fi (can send up to 30 photos at a time),  autogeotagging of images by retrieving the location data from a smartphone that has the “Fujifilm camera Application” installed. X-E2 also features film simulation modes, 108p60/30 full HD video recording and a mic input to connect an external stereo microphone to improve the audio quality of your videos.

The Fujifilm X-E2 was designed to appeal a wide audience of enthusiast photographers who know how to appreciate and make use of the advanced functions and versatility of such camera.  Some of you might consider a cheaper option like the Fujifilm X-A1 which is much cheaper and lacks an optical viewfinder, but does offer plenty of manual functions and controls, and offers class-leading high ISO performance and excellent image quality. With the rest of your budget you might consider buying an extra lens.

The X-E2 certainly sports many of the X-T1 features. In the comparison section you’ll get the option to clearly understand the differences between the two models, so you’ll get a better understanding of the cons and pros of each one versus the other.

Olympus OM-D E-M1

The OM-D E-M1 is Olympus’ flagship Micro Four Thirds camera. It was designed from the ground up to offer a complete range of advanced tools to allow photographers to be as creative as possible. It was also designed to attract former Four Thirds photographers, especially professional who use the E-3 / E-5, to switch to the Micro Four Thirds system.

The E-5 professional DSLR camera was announced back in September 2010.  Two years earlier Olympus launched its Micro Four Thirds system with Panasonic.  Olympus has since improved its MFT system and invested more money into it as it continues to grow as the DSLR market continued to shrink in favor of mirrorless cameras. The lack of reflex mirror allowed Olympus to produce smaller and slimmer camera body and lenses, making it even more popular among hobbyist photographers. Olympus has decided to ditch its entry-level DSLR camera in favor of Micro Four Thirds.

Before Olympus has announced the E-M1, the E-5 has been marked as a discontinued model on B&HPhoto, spotted by 43rumors.com.  Some questioned whether this is the end of the Four Thirds camera system?

There is a little doubt that Olympus certainly aimed to make its MFT system its primary and only system, and focus all of its efforts and finance to lead the interchangeable lens camera market. In order to do so, Olympus had to come up with a new flagship model that will convince Four thirds photographers to switch to this new professional MFT camera. Of course in order to do so, Olympus had to come up with a camera that can not juts be at the same league as the E-5 durability (splash proof, dustproof), but have the performance and versatility professionals are looking for.

Olympus E-M1 vs E-5 size comparison

Olympus E-M1 vs E-5 size comparison (via camerasize.com - click to view on camera size website)

If you look at the E-5 vs  E-M1 side by side, you can clearly see what makes the MFT system so unique and externally appealing. Some photographers don’t like shooting with small cameras and prefer the robust and ergonomic feeling of a large DSLR camera.  The E-M1 does have an official battery grip (HLD-7) for the E-M1, and it’s pretty substantial one. So for those of you who don’t like the smaller package, I recommend looking at the grip option.

Build Quality

The OM-D E-M1 is built like a tank with full magnesium alloy body construction and dustproof/splashproof  and freezeproof (-10°C) design, including Olympus’ SSWF (Super Sonic Wave Filter) dust reduction system — all meant to make outdoors shooting reliable and safe.

Hey, don’t get Olympus word for it? just watch this video (jump to minute 5:20)

As you can see, if the E-M1 can be soaked underwater third of the way with water sprayed on it can still take pictures, you can rest assured that it will survive under heavy rain as well. Having said that, be warned, the E-M1 is NOT a waterproof camera, so you can’t used it underwater.

Button Layout

The Olympus OMD EM1 lacks a monochrome LCD at the top, but that gives more room for more buttons and dials. In fact, it’s pretty right over the top,  but do have their a rear dial, two function buttons , front dial with the shutter button in the middle,  mode dial and AF/Metering mode button. Olympus made sure that you have all the needed buttons there to give you fast access for frequently used camera settings, so you won’t be needing to change it via the LCD.

Dual AF System

The E-M1 features a newly developed 16MP Live MOS image sensor and a dual autofocus system (aka “Dual fast AF”).  the dual fast AF  takes advantage of both contrast-detection AF and on-chip phase-detection AF together when using Micro Four Thirds lenses. However, when you mount four thirds lenses with the adapter, the camera automatically detects the Four Thirds lens and switches to use only the phase-detection AF, which is optimized for those lenses.

The E-M1 AF system uses 81 contrast-detect AF points and 37 on-chip phase-detect AF points. This promise a fast and accurate focusing that professional photographers demand. The OM-D E-M1 also features many AF modes, including Super Spot AF which is great for macro photography, Small AF target that reduces the AF target size, allowing more precise focusing. Face detection AF and Eye detect AF makes it easier to focus on faces with auto zoom on the face areas and on the eyes for precise focusing.

Advanced EVF

At the back you’ll find a 0.74x (35mm equiv.) large 2.36 million dot EVF with 0.029 sec. display time lag that utilizes Olympus’ Adaptive Brightness Technology that promotes viewing experience, close to what you get with an optical viewfinder. Another great feature is the “Color Creator” function, which allows you to use the two dials at the top of the camera to change the image hue and saturation, all that while viewing the changes via the electronic viewfinder — Cool feature!

5-Axis  In-Body Image Stabilization

This is one of my personal favorite features.  The E-M1 comes with Olympus’ well-regarded 5-axis image stabilization. It an optical image stabilization built inside the camera, which make easy lens automatically stabilized.  This IS combats image blur by compensating for 5-axis camera movements, including pitching, yawing, horizontal shift, vertical shift and rolling movements. According to Olympus, the IS provided 4 steps of compensation. This means that if shoot a photo at 1/250 s to get a sharp image. You can shoot the same scene at 1/15 s and still get a sharp image.

*video by Steve Huff

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 grabbed many prestige awards and very flattery ratings from many leading online camera review websites. this includes  Gold Awards and 84% overall score from dpreview.  The E-M1 is aimed towards serious still shooters, and is very less likely to appeal to video shooters. It’s main advantages are its very durable body, AF performance, nice retro style design, excellent image quality, large and bright viewfinder and many of its built-in customizable settings.

As of the time of writing, the OM-D E-M1 costs around $1300 for the body only, around the same price as the X-T1 (body only). So you can understand why many people are debating between the two cameras. On one side you have Olympus flagship Micro Four Thirds camera and many lenses to choose from. On the other side you have Fujifilm with its impressive X-T1 camera that comes with Fujifilm’s unique sensor and a wide arsenal of attractive features and controls, and let’s not forget the highly-rated and excellent performing X-mount lenses. There are many photographers who would give anything to get to enjoy one of Fuji’s amazing fast lenses, and buying the X-T1 is one way to do so.

At the end of the day you’ll have to choose one camera. The camera should answer photo shooting needs, whether as a hobbyist or professional photographer.  In order to make that decision, you should clearly understand how the three cameras compared in each feature and spec category, and learn the cons and pros of each camera versus the others.

In the next section we’ll take a closer look at the differences between those three amazing mirrorless cameras. I’m pretty sure that by the end of this article, you’ll get a much better understanding about the differences and be able to pick up the perfect camera for your specific needs.

Side by Side Comparison

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the X-T1, X-E2 and OM-D E-M1 and see which camera is best in each of their common and uncommon features.

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High ISO Comparison

I took some time comparing and analyzing sample images of the same scene, taken with all three cameras using imaging resource comparometer tool. Here are my observation conslusion.

X-T1 vs X-E2 High ISO Performance – high ISO performance is superb. I was blown away that ISO3200 can look so clean. The X-E2 however did produce slightly cleaner image overall, around half a stop better, even slightly more. So the difference is noticeable, but I was inspecting the images at 100% scale, and when you scale down the image it’s very hard to notice any difference, if at all. All in all, it doesn’t make the X-T1 a bad high ISO performer, not at all. Both cameras performed extremely well, with a slight edge in favor of the X-E2. Winner: X-E2

X-E2 vs OM-D E-M1 High ISO Performance – the E-M1 produced quite more natural looking colors in my opinion with weaker in-camera sharpening. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 however produced slightly noisier image. going over ISO3200, the E-M1 with its smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, just can’t keep up with the X-E2. But I was surprised to see such a great performance from a MFT sensor nevertheless. Winner: X-E2

So X-E2 gets the crown as the best high ISO performer.


Here are some sample videos taken with the three cameras.

First is the Fujifilm X-T1 sample video by dpreview

Second is the Fujifilm X-E2 taken by dpreview as well

Third video is from the Olympus E-M1 taken by imagingresource



Choosing between the three cameras isn’t easy. Each camera has its own strengths and weaknesses. Having said that,  Fujifilm did make it pretty hard to find any deal-breaking cons with its X-T1. It was mainly negatively criticized for its button sizes and layout and weak video mode with relatively low image quality. However, if you look at the whole picture, the X-T1 has tons of things to be proud of, included superb build quality and weather-sealing, excellent viewfinder, very good image quality and high ISO performance, fast and accurate autofocus, quiet operation, fast burst, built-in WiFi and and an excellent range of high-quality lens to choose from.

The differences between the X-E2 and X-T1 are quite obvious, and among those are: lack of weather sealing, inferior build-quality, fixed LCD display, smaller EVF, slower burst speed and lack of support for UHS-II standards. On the other hand, it’s smaller and lighter, it has a pop-up flash, it has superb high ISO performance, and it’s also cheaper. For many of you, the X-E2 might be the perfect mirrorless, and the closest that you get to the X-T1 offering for a smaller price tag. The differences are not huge though, and I’m sure that many of you will think twice before paying extra money for the X-T1, when you have the X-E2 with a wide range of excellent features available for you in a smaller price. I personally was expecting the X-T1 to outperform the X-E2 in the high ISO analysis, but that wasn’t the case.

The differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the X-T1 are  more prominent. The E-M1 features  a higher resolution rear touchscreen LCD, has faster maximums shutter speed, faster burst speed, longer exposure shooting time, more AF points for contrast and phase detection, built-in image stabilization, 2-axis level gauge,offer more advanced video functions, faster flash X sync speed and a wider selection of interchangeable lenses.

On the negative side, the E-M1 impress less in the high ISO performance category, it has a smaller  and less responsive EVF, no UHS-II compatibility, no built-in IS and smaller sensor. Considering that both cameras cost about the same, for some people the decision won’t be so easy.

I personally love the E-M1 design and build-quality. I found the 5-axis IS to be a very useful feature for many photographers. The lens selection is also much larger on the MFT side, and you can find some good quality cheap lenses, something that you can’t find on the X series. I personally find the Olympus OM-D E-M1 to be a better fit for my specific shooting style. Having said that, I really enjoy the X-T1 image quality, large EVF, unique design and built-in features. I also think that the E-M1 is a smart upgrade for those who are upgrading from Olympus E-5 / E-3 cameras.

Understanding the key differences and cross-check those with your specific demands will help you make the right buying decision. I think that the Fujifilm X-E2 put itself in a very attractive position compared to the X-T1, and if it wasn’t for the weather-sealing capabilities, for me I find it hard to justify paying more for the X-T1 — but again, this is my personal preferences.

If you are on a tight budget, I think that you’ll find the X-E2 an excellent choice. Furthermore, you might want to consider buying a second lens if you have the budget, and if you preferred buying the X-E2 instead of the more expensive X-T1.

So which camera you prefer? — Share your opinion by leaving a comment in the comment section below. Thanks for reading.

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