Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
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  • 16-Megapixel X-Trans CMOS APS-C Imaging Sensor
  • 2.8-Inch, 460,000 dot LCD Screen
  • 2.36-Million Dot OLED EVF
  • Lens Based O.I.S.
  • Rangefinder Styling and operation
  • Pop-Up flash unit
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 200-6400 standard range
  • 6fps continuous shooting
  • Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Plenty of dials for fast control when shooting
  • Incredibly quality throughout the entire standard ISO range
  • 10 available X-mount lenses and an adapter for M-mount lenses
  • Excellent Low-Light performance
  • Large, bright and vivid LCD screen
  • OLED viewfinder is a pleasure, showing all of your shooting information and instant changes without shooting
  • External Microphone Input
  • HDMI output
  • Good Battery Life
  • Seamless Motion Panorama
  • Plenty of Useful Accessories
Cons
  • Shooting performance lacks a little when compared to the performance of the rest of the camera
  • No Auto or Scene shooting modes
  • No dedicated video recording button
  • Lofty Price Tag
  • Choppy video playback with low quality audio
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.4 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 4/10 to 6/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.5 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.7 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 5fps - short of the 6fps  advertised
  • All tests were taken using an SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, Class 10, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
A true rangefinder model for the true enthusiast, the Fuji X-E1 provides the control and quality that someone with good photographic knowledge will love. Its lofty price tag and lack of auto shooting modes will limit its target audience.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a classically styled camera with compete user control. This is also worth a look if you are looking for an ILC with incredibly high image quality.
The FujiFilm X-E1 is their newest X-mount ILC camera, featuring the same APS-C sized 16-Megapixel  X-Trans CMOS image sensor that was initially released in their flagship X-Pro 1 camera. The X-E1 was not designed like most consumer digicams, but more like a true rangefinder camera. There are no scene modes or automatic shooting modes. The closest you get to any of these modes are the Program and Panoramic shooting modes, that take care of your shutter and aperture settings for you. All of the other modes need the photographers control on some level. The camera also features the X-mount system for use of all Fujinon X-mount lenses, Fujifilm film simulation modes, a HD OLED electronic viewfinder, on camera shutter and aperture controls, pop-up flash unit and a great collection of functional and stylish accessories. 

Fuji's new X-Trans CMOS image sensor has been designed with a random pixel array to eliminate moirĂ© without the need for an additional filter. This allows more light to get to the sensor, increasing the quality of the image, low-light performance and reducing noise at high ISO settings. The size of the image sensor also helps with the "bokeh" effect produced when shooting with a shallow depth of field. All of these features help to give this camera a level of quality that is usually only seen on much more expensive dSLR cameras. 

The next major feature on the X-E1 is its Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). Using a combination of lenses and an incredibly high resolution (2.36-Million dot) organic LED panel (OLED), Fuji has changed the way you will look at an EVF. This viewfinder is so clear that you will think it is an optical viewfinder, until you see the full information display exactly the way you would see it on the LCD screen. You will also see 100% of the image that will be captured, not just 85-95% like most OVFs. With this EVF you will also be able to see the exposure changes as you make them through the screen, you will not have to capture an image to see the effects. It also features an eye-sensor and dioptic adjustment from -4m-1 - +2m-1. 

If the EVF is not for you, or you are taking on a difficult shooting situation, the 2.8-Inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen is an excellent option, especially when the alternative is just holding the camera up hoping for the best. With 100% coverage of the image area and 11 levels of brightness, the LCD is easy-to-see and just as functional as the EVF. You also have the option of putting the LCD into its information mode, showing you all of the camera settings instead of framing your image. This is a great feature that allows you to use both the EVF and LCD simultaneously. 

Anyone who is used to using a rangefinder camera will really appreciate the X-E1 once they get their hands on it. The style, control and build of the camera leaves you feeling confident about shooting on the fly, knowing that all of the main controls are on the camera body and easily accessible; and if the camera should take a little bump it will be ok. The addition of a Fujinon XF lens gives you full control of the zoom, focus and aperture via three separate rings, with a switch for "Auto" aperture mode. The included XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS lens also features built-in optical image stabilization that provides up to 4 stops of correction for increased quality in low-light situations. Our only gripe with the controls was that we noticed that it is very easy to bump or accidentally change the dial settings, especially the EV Comp. dial. 

Performance from the X-E1 was good, but seemed to be the only thing holding it back from being a completely amazing camera. From startup to capturing its first image took just 1.4 seconds with the fast startup feature turned on. Shutter lag was almost instantaneous when the camera was prefocused, and averaged between 4/10 and 6/10 of a second when allowing the camera to autofocus. Its shot to shot delay was also just a little sluggish at just over 1.5 seconds per shot or 2.7 when using the flash. For action or any other difficult shooting situations, there is also a 3fps or 6fps continuous mode. Unfortunately we were only able to get up to 5fps for our top burst rate. 

Our outdoor image samples show the excellent exposures and colors produced by the X-E1, even in the dull Ohio spring weather. Shooting in Program mode, the camera's metering system works incredibly well while the AF was also very fast and accurate. We did not see any instances of aberrations or other blemishes within our samples. Framing and composing our images was accomplished with the included 18-55mm Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS lens with a 35mm equivalent of 27-84mm. As a pretty standard length kit lens, the maximum aperture really gives this lens great low-light abilities to compliment the new X-Trans sensor. It also gives you the ability to focus as close as 11.8-inches (W) from your subject, which is also very good for a kit lens. The lens itself gives you three control rings, one for zoom, focus and a third for controlling the aperture. Combining this with the shutter speed dial on top of the camera gives you full control over the camera without ever having to get into the camera's menu systems. 

Looking at our indoor image samples really shows us the amazing image quality provided by the X-E1. Its entire ISO range provides very low amounts of noise for each level, from its LOW ISO 100 setting through its standard ISO 6400. Any image in this range will provide you with an excellent printable photograph. This allows you to take the camera into low-light situations with confidence, not something you can do with most ILC cameras. To assist in the low-light images or just to work as a portable fill light, the very compact pop-up flash unit can be handy in a bind. With a GN of 7 (ISO 200/m), it does not have an incredible amount of power, but during our testing, the flash did come in handy as fill on more than one occasion. It also supports the camera's only portrait specific function with the red-eye reduction preflash.

Without the Automatic shooting modes, the X-E1 does not have any Portrait specific shooting modes or features either. Here you will have to make sure that you focus where you need to as you cannot rely on face detection to do it for you. The only feature that the camera does have is a red-eye reduction pre-flash that can be turned on and off. Even without face detection, it is incredibly easy to focus on a face and capture great portraits. You will need to be a little more knowledgeable in some situations though, as you do not have the camera to guarantee that the face is the priority in the image. You will find yourself forcing the pop-up flash to assist as a fill more often than not, if you are looking for evenly lit portraits.

The only specialized shooting mode featured on the X-E1 is its Motion Panorama mode, allowing you to press the shutter once and pan the camera to capture panoramic scenes. The camera will capture a string of images while you pan and stitch them together for you. This takes away the need for a computer and specialized software. Our sample image shows a very high resolution and seamless stitching, so you cannot tell where one image starts and the next one begins. One thing that we did notice is while you are capturing your images, the camera's LCD screen and what the camera is actually capturing is a little off. The camera captures less than what the LCD shows that it is based on the gauge. Our final image ended up being less than we thought we were capturing.  

Capturing movies with the X-E1 is just as easy as pressing the shutter release button with the camera in movie mode. You have the choice between Full 1080p or 720p HD video at 24fps and all of the camera's film simulation modes can be used as well. The playback of our full 1080p movie showed slightly choppy playback and the audio was average for a small, built-in mic. With the optional external mic, however, the ability to greatly increase the audio quality is available. 

Powering the X-E1 is a 7.2V, 1260mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Fuji claims it's is capable of capturing up to 350 frames on a single charge, which seems very reasonable, as we captured over 220 images and videos while completing our tests on a single charge. Even with a good battery life, if you are out on a long day of shooting or a vacation, this battery can go much faster than you would image, so we do recommend having a spare on hand all the time. With the included charger, it is easy to keep one or more extra batteries ready to go all the time. 

Fuji has a fantastic line of accessories available for the X-E1 as well. Ranging from external flash units to a beautiful genuine leather case, you will be able to find just about anything to make this camera your own. For increased audio quality there is an available external microphone, several external flash units and a great selection of available lenses. The hot shoe on top of the camera provides power and information for these accessories so they become a seamless part of the camera. If you already own a few M-mount lenses, Fuji also has an available adapter, allowing you to use the full power of these lenses on your X-mount camera.

Bottom Line - The Fujifilm X-E1 is an outstanding ILC camera that is designed more for the photo enthusiast, rather than the average person. It has an outstanding set of features and hardware that provide amazing image quality and low-light performance, with relatively good shooting performance. This camera does not come with the Auto shooting or scene modes that most are accustomed to, which is why we are saying it is not for everyone; but it is still easy to use if you have some photography knowledge. With a MSRP of US $1,399.95 with the 18-55mm kit lens, you are making a commitment when purchasing this camera. With its great list of accessories and lenses, this is definitely worth looking at if you are in the market for a high quality ILC.


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