Fujifilm XE-1 Review - Digital Photography School

Fujifilm XE-1 Review

Fujifilm XE-1-front.jpg

When the X-Pro1 was announced to a surprised market earlier in 2012 I then remarked on my scepticism at the release of a magnesium alloy bodied, mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Then it sunk in and I added that other companies had performed ‘major rethinks about the future of upper level digital cameras: like Olympus with its retro OM-D and Nikon with its bare bones N1.’

It was obvious that Fujifilm had done ‘a mighty rethink about gaps in the pro market and come up with a camera that has some pretty clever answers to some profound questions.’

Since then there have been other models in the X-mount line and the XE-1 is the latest.

Fujifilm XE-1-back.jpg

Fujifilm XE-1-top.jpg

Fujifilm XE-1 Features

Make no mistake, this is a finely-engineered camera. To begin with the review camera looked right with touches of matte chrome set into a black metal body. Although I found the rubber speed grip to be a little small, the general feel of the camera is good, despite a body weight of over 600 grams with the f2.8/18-55m lens fitted — the first zoom designed for X-mount cameras.

Fujifilm XE-1 Bicycle.JPG

The external controls are easily discovered, with the die-cast magnesium top deck layout consisting of black text on chrome, while the rear surface has largish white text in black. Overall, it’s very film camera-ish!

Fujifilm XE-1 Shutter speeds.jpg

The nice touches in this department are a direct-select dial for the shutter speed, accompanied by a +/- two f stops exposure correction dial and power button. Frequently-used actions can also be assigned to the Function button, sited right next to the power button.

Fujifilm XE-1-Menu.jpg

Just over the lip of the top deck is a viewfinder select button that switches your view from turret to rear screen or you can auto select and let the approach of your eye trigger the former’s view.

Not only is there a pop up flash set into the top deck but the nearby hot shoe also accepts external flash units. Immediately ahead of it (and pointing uselessly skywards!) is the L+R stereo microphone; my advice is to use a plug in external mic!

Fujifilm XE-1 Sculpture 1.JPG

The rear has buttons for selection of single frame or continuous shooting, AE and AF options, menu, macro shooting, display options, a quick access button to take you to direct selection of such functions as ISO, white balance, image size etc.

Tucked away on the front, just beneath the lens is a three way switch for manual focus, single frame or continuous focus.

External connections allow hook up for an external stereo mic, mini HDMI output plus USB and AV output.

The 16.3 megapixel CMOS accounts for a large 4896×3264 maximum image capture, both in RAW and JPEG. This can deliver a 41×28 cm print.

Movies in Full HD 1920×1080 can be shot. While the AF seems to function quite well in movie mode you can’t shoot stills mid video.

An unexpected joy (for this film born and bred feller) is the aperture ring set into the lens: as you roll it around, it’s a joy (with the 18-55mm zoom anyway) to see the lens aperture shrink down to f22! How many digicams will allow you that pleasure!

As with some other models, the XE-1 can shoot high quality motion panorama stills, sized up to 5120×1440 pixels. It’s an eery sensation to shoot one, as the camera chug-chugs along, snatching individual frames, then stitching them in camera. If you want to get into panos, I would only suggest that you practice, practice, practice! ‘Tis fun but t’ain’t easy!

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO Tests

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 100.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 400.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 800.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 1600.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 3200.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 6400.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 12800.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 25600.JPG

Right up to ISO 6400 the camera performed brilliantly. At ISO 12800 noise was evident and even more so at ISO 25600 but even this setting could be used!

Fujifilm XE-1-Melons.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 Review Verdict

Quality: well above average.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm XE-1: you have the skills to exploit it.

Why you wouldn’t: the LCD screen does not tilt.

The X-mount series of cameras goes from strength to strength. This sits easily into the lineup.

A fine successor to the X-Pro1.

Fujifilm XE-1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.3 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 23.6×15.6mm CMOS.
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Fujifilm X.
Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 60 mins (Bulb); 30 sec to 1/4000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Continuous Shooting: Approx 6 or 3fps.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4896×3264 to 1664×1664.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720.
Viewfinders: 12.5mm turret (2,360,000) and 7.1cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, stereo mic.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 129×74.9×38.3 WHDmm.
Weight: 350 g (inc battery, card).
Price: get a price on the Fujifilm XE-1 (Body Only) or the Fujifilm XE-1 with 18-55mm Lens .

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fujifilm XE-1
Author Rating
3

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • ArturoMM

    Thank you Barrie.

    I’d like to read about the focusing performance, specially on continuous mode and low light.

  • Eduardo Joachim

    Loved to see the good old mechanical cable release connection in the shutter button!

  • http://www.flixelpix.com david

    I totally love mine and find the 18-55 lens to be remarkable. I have been using it for some long exposure work http://www.flixelpix.com/life/review-fujifilm-x-e1/ it is snappy and I find it a joy to use. It goes everywhere.

  • tino rumac

    i want to say what a great and to the point camera review you have given well done and thankyou

  • Sun Lai Yung

    I currently I use Fuji X10. I have enjoyed X10’s 4x zoom. I would like to upgrade to to the XE1. I take portraits. Wonder whether Fuji will have a fixed focal 90mm or a zoom 55-135mm for this camera. Fuji should have added a tilt back screen to the XE1, its very helpful at all angles. The Canon Gw1 has a nice tilt back with a very large sensor. Fuji could improve the X10 with these additions.

  • http://www.flickriver.com/photos/9253227@N02/popular-interesting/ Beetwo77

    Very nice review. I have the X-Pro1 and often question if I should have waited a month or two and got this. It is a nice camera indeed. Think I’ll be getting the zoom soon enough. The auto focus and optical performance of the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are basically identical so my comments should apply equally to the X-E1 though all reports are that the 180-55mm zoom focuses faster than any of the existing lenses.

    Arturomm, the autofocus is ok. Its not brilliantly quick, not as quick as my Canon 7D, better than a point and shoot. Its mostly about learning how to use it. Contrast detect systems need contrast. I almost never have trouble focussing on ‘things’ because you can move your focus point and find a vertical or horizontal line or feature that has some contrast.

    I find I sometimes have difficulty focussing on my young daughter as she doesn’t have much contrast in her face! Took me about 2-3 weeks to really master it, but I rarely find the auto focus annoys me these days and I often use manual focus as well.

    Continuous auto focus is generally useless as its too slow to keep up with most subjects. Its usually single shot focus with no pause for moving objects, or single shot focus with half press for more stationary objects.

    When it does focus, it is almost always spot on.

    Too slow for moving kids unless you really try hard or zone focus. Can be ok for sport if the working distances are adequate, but not great for fast movement.

    Works quite well for portraits of people when they stop and smile and just about anything else. Skin tones and OOF are rendered beautifully with the 35mm F1.4. I love my Fuji and wouldn’t give it up.

    Fuji gallery:

    http://www.flickriver.com/photos/9253227@N02/sets/72157632054741686/

  • http://photomojomike.com Mike

    The X-E1 has been a revelation to me – that I can get DSLR quality in a package that small and light is wonderful. I’ve even gone so far as to sell all my Canon DSLR kit! I’ve reviewed it at http://photomojomike.com/2012/11/21/fujifilm-x-e1-first-impressions/ . Autofocus is not as fast as a DSLR, though. I wouldn’t recommend it for fast action photography. But the accuracy of the autofocus system is excellent. I’ve used it for night portraits without flash at f1.4 – pretty good!

  • http://Internetexplorer George chang

    I just bought the xe-1, and I love it. I don’t have fuji lenses, instead I am using and m mount adaptor and
    I am now reviving my leica lenses, 28mm, 35mm and 90mm. But one thing I am not happy about this camera
    is that I am not able to manual set shutter speed and ISO settings for video shooting. Everything seem to be
    fully automatic. Very disappointing, hope Fujifilm will come up with some new firmware to address this issue!

  • http://teeth-whitening-blog.professional-teeth-whitening.net/ Joe

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future
    and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire
    to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you could
    write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

  • Fuji Fan

    For Still photography, this camera is superb. The image quality is exceptional and, I believe, easily matches the performance of some full frame camera’s. Movie mode, on the other had, is not so great so I disagree with you’re assesment, especially with AF. In my experience, the AF in movie mode is truely terrible. It tracks in and out every few seconds during recording and I’ve noticed that you’re example movie has 3 second “takes” – most likely the time between AF reaquisition. Movies are best recorded in manual focus mode using a zone focus technique (ie set aperture to give a large enough depth of field to cover movement of you subject). That said, I’m really happy with my X-E1 and would recommend it to anyone for still photography.

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Based on your comments, how are you only giving this camera only 3 stars?

Some older comments

  • Joe

    June 21, 2013 07:18 am

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future
    and it's time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire
    to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you could
    write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

  • George chang

    March 12, 2013 05:42 pm

    I just bought the xe-1, and I love it. I don't have fuji lenses, instead I am using and m mount adaptor and
    I am now reviving my leica lenses, 28mm, 35mm and 90mm. But one thing I am not happy about this camera
    is that I am not able to manual set shutter speed and ISO settings for video shooting. Everything seem to be
    fully automatic. Very disappointing, hope Fujifilm will come up with some new firmware to address this issue!

  • Mike

    December 15, 2012 06:19 pm

    The X-E1 has been a revelation to me - that I can get DSLR quality in a package that small and light is wonderful. I've even gone so far as to sell all my Canon DSLR kit! I've reviewed it at http://photomojomike.com/2012/11/21/fujifilm-x-e1-first-impressions/ . Autofocus is not as fast as a DSLR, though. I wouldn't recommend it for fast action photography. But the accuracy of the autofocus system is excellent. I've used it for night portraits without flash at f1.4 - pretty good!

  • Beetwo77

    December 1, 2012 01:03 pm

    Very nice review. I have the X-Pro1 and often question if I should have waited a month or two and got this. It is a nice camera indeed. Think I'll be getting the zoom soon enough. The auto focus and optical performance of the X-Pro1 and X-E1 are basically identical so my comments should apply equally to the X-E1 though all reports are that the 180-55mm zoom focuses faster than any of the existing lenses.

    Arturomm, the autofocus is ok. Its not brilliantly quick, not as quick as my Canon 7D, better than a point and shoot. Its mostly about learning how to use it. Contrast detect systems need contrast. I almost never have trouble focussing on 'things' because you can move your focus point and find a vertical or horizontal line or feature that has some contrast.

    I find I sometimes have difficulty focussing on my young daughter as she doesn't have much contrast in her face! Took me about 2-3 weeks to really master it, but I rarely find the auto focus annoys me these days and I often use manual focus as well.

    Continuous auto focus is generally useless as its too slow to keep up with most subjects. Its usually single shot focus with no pause for moving objects, or single shot focus with half press for more stationary objects.

    When it does focus, it is almost always spot on.

    Too slow for moving kids unless you really try hard or zone focus. Can be ok for sport if the working distances are adequate, but not great for fast movement.

    Works quite well for portraits of people when they stop and smile and just about anything else. Skin tones and OOF are rendered beautifully with the 35mm F1.4. I love my Fuji and wouldn't give it up.

    Fuji gallery:

    http://www.flickriver.com/photos/9253227@N02/sets/72157632054741686/

  • Sun Lai Yung

    November 30, 2012 10:16 pm

    I currently I use Fuji X10. I have enjoyed X10's 4x zoom. I would like to upgrade to to the XE1. I take portraits. Wonder whether Fuji will have a fixed focal 90mm or a zoom 55-135mm for this camera. Fuji should have added a tilt back screen to the XE1, its very helpful at all angles. The Canon Gw1 has a nice tilt back with a very large sensor. Fuji could improve the X10 with these additions.

  • tino rumac

    November 30, 2012 09:43 am

    i want to say what a great and to the point camera review you have given well done and thankyou

  • david

    November 30, 2012 06:42 am

    I totally love mine and find the 18-55 lens to be remarkable. I have been using it for some long exposure work http://www.flixelpix.com/life/review-fujifilm-x-e1/ it is snappy and I find it a joy to use. It goes everywhere.

  • Eduardo Joachim

    November 30, 2012 06:12 am

    Loved to see the good old mechanical cable release connection in the shutter button!

  • ArturoMM

    November 30, 2012 05:15 am

    Thank you Barrie.

    I'd like to read about the focusing performance, specially on continuous mode and low light.

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