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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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 .