Fujifilm X-E1 Review

Updated May 31, 2014
cs-product-header
Fujifilm X-E1

With the same "spectacular" image quality and "dazzling" rangefinder style as the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (Est. $1,000), but in a smaller, less pricey package, the Fujifilm X-E1 impresses experts and owners. However, with sluggish autofocus and flawed video quality, it's not for everyone.

Ease of useProsSplendid image quality, Compact body with great retro style, Packed with professional-grade featuresConsSlower autofocus than rivals, Unimpressive video, Partially plastic body isn't weather-sealed

Performance

Same breathtaking photos as X-Pro1 -- but same mediocre video and autofocus, too. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 astounded experts with its image quality. The X-E1's is identical in every way; "nothing short of spectacular," says Phil Hall at TrustedReviews.com. It really can compete with some full-frame digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, PhotographyBlog.com's Goldstein says. The secret is Fujifilm's unique 16.3-megapixel sensor setup, which staggers colored pixels and omits the usual blurring low-pass filter.

Unfortunately, autofocus isn't really quick, and definitely not as blisteringly fast focus as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (Est. $825 with kit lens). Video disappointed experts on the X-Pro1, and likewise on the X-E1. "The X-series has always been unashamedly focused on stills photography," says Andy Westlake at DPReview.com. Battery life is rated at 350 shots per charge, about the same as the Olympus.

Durability

More plastic than the X-Pro1. Reviewers downgraded the X-Pro1 for its somewhat cut-rate feel -- loose rings, jiggly buttons, flaky paint. Interestingly, they don't complain about the X-E1, even though it has a plastic back plate. Some of the X-E1's buttons are plastic, as are the covers for the HDMI jack and memory/battery door, "both of which wouldn't look or feel out of place on a cheap compact," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com, "But other than that the X-E1 offers excellent build quality." The X-E1 is not weather-sealed. By contrast, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is dustproof and splashproof, with an all-metal body.

Features

More features than X-Pro1. The cheaper Fujifilm X-E1 actually beats the expensive X-Pro1 in features, as it keeps all of the X-Pro1's features and adds the three main things that are missing from that camera: a pop-up flash, external microphone jack and -- here's the important part -- an 18 mm to 55 mm kit zoom lens that costs $840 by itself. You can use the X-series' compatible lenses or buy a $200 adapter to use M-mount lenses from Leica, Carl Zeiss and others.

Both cameras are geared toward professional photographers. They skip consumer-oriented features (you won't be able to make your photo look like comic-book art) in favor of more sophisticated effects, like shooting monochrome with various color filters. There is a panoramic photo option.

Our Sources

1. DPReview.com

Fujifilm X-E1, Andy Westlake, February 2013

After extensively testing a production-level Fujifilm X-E1, Andy Westlake concludes that it packs the pricier Fujifilm X-Pro1's fantastic image quality and intuitive controls into a smaller, less expensive package. Fujifilm has fixed the focus problems on both cameras (although it's still not a fast focuser), and Westlake doesn't mind the X-E1's switch from hybrid optical to electronic viewfinder.

2. PhotographyBlog.com

Fujifilm X-E1 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 12, 2012

"The X-E1 delivers exactly the same excellent image quality as its big brother," the Fujifilm X-Pro1, in a smaller, less expensive body, Mark Goldstein concludes after a thorough test. Like other experts, he has no problem with the X-E1's switch from hybrid optical to electronic viewfinder.

3. TrustedReviews.com

Fujifilm X-E1 Review, Phil Hall, March 19, 2013

With images that are "stunning" and "no-nonsense handling," the Fujifilm X-E1 is one of TrustedReviews.com's most highly recommended cameras. After a full test, Phil Hall doesn't miss the bits that the X-E1 deletes from its costlier sibling, the Fujifilm X-Pro1.

4. Ken Rockwell

Fuji X-E1 "Sexy One", Ken Rockwell, Not dated

Ken Rockwell gives a glowing recommendation for the Fujifilm X-E1, stating that he sees no further need for the higher-end Fujifilm X-Pro1. He comments on the cheaper cost of the X-E1 than equivalent Canon and Nikon models, and says that the X-E1 is an excellent camera for those who want to shoot people photos rather than landscapes.

5. Amazon.com

Fujifilm X-E1 16.3 MP Compact System Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD and 18-55mm Lens (Silver), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014

Since it never suffered from the early focus problems that plagued the similar Fujifilm X-Pro1, the X-E1 gets better owner reviews at Amazon.com -- 4.4 out of 5 stars, with over 110 reviews posted. Most are in love with its incredible image quality, but for a few the autofocus is still too slow to recommend.