As the only film company to survive the demise of film successfully, Fujifilm knew that it had to do something really different. Accordingly, designer Masasumi Imai was given the task of producing an extraordinary visual design.
Imai san and his team decided to produce a traditional, retro-like camera and the Fujifilm X100 was the end result. It was followed by the X Pro 1 which was Fujifilm’s first mirrorless camera. The X Pro came in for critical acclaim and the resemblance to old Leica models gained the X Pro 1 a number of brownie points. The X Pro 1, however, was too expensive. Fujifilm has now launched the X-E1, which is priced considerably cheaper than the X Pro 1 and lacks an optical viewfinder. We received the X-E1 along with a Fujinon 18-55mm f2.8/4 aspherical lens. Both the camera and the lens are made in Japan.
Design and Build Quality
The X-E1 is a slimmed down version of the X-Pro 1 and sports the same retro look. Build quality is good with magnesium alloy used in the top and front plates; the back plate is made of plastic. The top plate dials are metal and have a reassuring feel. The body is available either in full black or black/ chrome. At 350g, the X-E1 is considerably lighter than the X-Pro 1 which weighs 450g. The dimensions of 129 x 75 x 38mm make the X-E1 slightly bigger than the Olympus E-M 5.
At the heart of the X-E1 is the same 16.3 MP CMOS sensor as that on the X-Pro 1. The sensor at 23.6 x 15.6mm is APS-C size. Fuji’s EXR Pro processor complements the sensor. Autofocus is achieved by a contrast detection sensor and is aided by an AF assist lamp. Multi area and single area autofocus is available along with single option of focussing manually is also there.
Shutter speeds range from 30 sec to 1/4000 sec and exposure modes include Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual exposure. Metering options include Multi area, Average and Spot. Both, exposure compensation (±2EV) and auto exposure bracketing (1/3, 2/3, 1 EV steps) are available. A built in flash (unique to the X-E1) syncs up to 1/180 sec and features Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync and Rear Curtain Sync.
ISO speeds range from ISO 200 to 6400 plus ‘boost’ speeds. White Balance can be preset or customised. Shooting in RAW is also possible.
The rear LCD screen of the X-E1 is fixed, is 2.8” in size and features 460,000 dots. There is no touchscreen mode. The OLED electronic viewfinder provides 100% coverage and has an impressive resolution of 2,360,000 dots. Video features include resolution of 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) along with provision for a stereo microphone and a mono speaker.
The camera accepts all SD/SDHC/ SDXC cards. According to Fujifilm, battery life is up to 350 shots. The shutter release is threaded.
On the negative side, there is no image stabilisation. The camera is also not sealed environmentally. Some readers may also miss the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro 1.
Even though the X-E1 is not particularly small, the 18-55mm lens looks a little too big for the body. This is the problem faced by all mirrorless APS-C size sensor cameras. The quality finish aids handling and the right-hand side grip is a plus point. The tripod socket is too close to the
base compartment; with the camera on a tripod, you cannot change the battery or the card.
The X-E1 acquitted itself well on our test bench.
Autofocus was reasonably fast with the 18- 55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens attached. Even in low light, autofocus locking was of a high order. Focussing, however, was audible.
The Fujinon lens controlled flare well and did not reveal any chromatic aberration. Slight barrel distortion was observed at 18mm, but this can be corrected in Photoshop. The lens, however, showed prominent darkening at the corners.
The camera’s metering modes worked well and all the pre-set White Balance also worked accurately. Auto White Balance, however, produced a distinct cast under all lighting situations except daylight.
The X-E1 also demonstrated good noise control and at 100% screen size, noise was well controlled up to ISO 800. At 25% screen size, images were noise free up to a remarkable ISO 12800.
The X-E1’s viewfinder is a purely electronic one and produces rich tones and contrast. It also features dioptre adjustment.
All in all, an above average performance.
Value for Money
The predecessor to the X-E1, the X Pro 1 was priced beyond the reach of almost all photographers. The X-E1 retails in India for approximately Rs. 90,000 along with the 18-55mm kit lens. In the Indian context, this price is still a little too high. Obviously, you
+ Excellent Raw image quality
+ Excellent video quality
+ Very good noise control
+ Excellent Intelligent Auto mode
– No optical viewfinder
– Video is basic
|Design and Build Quality||18/20|
|Auto White Balance||2.5/5|
|Value for Money||6/10|
If you are a retro fan and in addition a Leica fan, the X-E1 will fit your requirements. However, it is over priced.
H S Billimoria