Fujifilm Brings X-E1 Mirrorless

Ever since the often-mentioned X100, Fujifilm has been working very hard not to let their luck slip. Today, they made yet another step (actually – not one, but three steps) into winning over more customer hearts with the introduction of the second X series interchangeable lens camera, the X-E1, and Fujifilm has been bald again – the new baby X-Pro1 will surely attract many buyers, and likely even steal some from the (much) more expensive brother.

Fujifilm X-E1 - Front

What’s Different?

The new X-E1 is strikingly similar to X-Pro1 in both looks and functionality, and, while missing on a couple of features, they do seem to be compensated in other areas. The most notable omission is the loved optical viewfinder, first found in the X100. Instead, Fujifilm chose to focus strictly on EVF with this mid-range model. Many users will miss the optical viewfinder, and I am one of them, but Fujifilm has made sure the (new) OLED EVF is up to the task of pleasing even most demanding photographers by offering a very high 2.36 megapixel resolution, compared to 1.44 megapixel EVF found in X-Pro1. Also, leaving out the optical viewfinder has allowed Fujifilm to make X-E1 smaller and lighter than it’s bigger sibling. Also, the camera seems to be beautifully made, featuring die-cast megnesium front and top covers, and while the screen size has been reduced to 2.8″ (with 460k dots, down from 3″ 1.2 million dot screen of the X-Pro1), it’s unlikely to be of huge relevance for most photographers.

Fujifilm X-E1 - Rear

Other than that, and also dimensions, weight (350g with card and battery, compared to 450g X-Pro1) and price, X-E1 is identical to the older member of the X series camera system. It even features the same highly acclaimed APS-C sized, 16 megapixel X-Trans CMOS sensor found in X-Pro1, and, as before, Fujifilm promisses Full Frame comparable sharpness and noise. We’ve already tested the sensor and you can read about it in our X-Pro1 review. One has to wonder – how good would a Full Frame X-Trans sensor be? So far, we can only guess.

The Fujifilm Quirks Adressed

Both X100 and X-Pro1 had several issues when they were launched, and if that is of any indication, X-E1 is likely to have some, too. But all is not that simple with Fujifilm – during the last couple of years the company has proved to care very much for its customers and offered significant improvements via firmware updates and newer products. This time, Fujifilm promises to have taken care of its known AF niggles – they say X-E1 is to have a more capable AF system than before with a tweaked manual control:

  1. Improved performance of Auto Focus – focusing in challenging lighting conditions, where light is low or bright, will now be much faster in Auto Focus mode. The focusing distance has also been improved, allowing you to get closer to the subject and capture a great shot without switching to macro mode.
  2. Improved Manual Focus – the speed of the image coming into focus when turning the focus ring has been vastly improved. When adjusting the focus ring using the electronic viewfinder or the LCD panel on the back of the camera it is now much easier to focus, always displaying the image closer to full aperture with minimum depth of field. Also, 3x magnification for checking focus has been implemented. The 10x magnifications / focus check feature on the X-Pro1 has been well received and in this firmware update an additional 3 x option is now available. It is also now possible to find the optimum focus point whilst viewing the entire screen.
Fujifilm X-E1 with 18-55mm lens

Along with these (substantial) AF and MF improvements, Fujifilm also promises faster writing speeds.

Specifications

As I already mentioned, the X-E1 is almost identical to the X-Pro1, and if you don’t need the Hybrid Viewfinder of the more expensive model, X-E1 can be very tempting. Here is the list of key specifications and features:

  1. Price (MSRP): $1,399.95 with 18-55mm lens, $999.95 body only
  2. Body: Rangefinder-style mirrorless, Magnesium top and front covers
  3. Resolution: 4896 x 3264
  4. Image ratio (w:h): 1:1, 3:2, 16:9
  5. Effective pixels: 16.3 megapixels
  6. Sensor: APS-C X-Trans CMOS (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
  7. Processor: EXR Pro
  8. Color filter array: Primary colour filter
  9. ISO settings: Auto (400), Auto (800), Auto (1600), Auto (3200), 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 4000, 5000, 6400 (100, 12800, 25600 with boost)
  10. White balance presets: 7
  11. Autofocus: Contrast Detect (sensor) – Multi-area, Center, Single, Continuous
  12. Manual focus: Yes
  13. Lens mount: Fujifilm X
  14. Screen: Fixed 2.8″, 460k dot LCD with Live View
  15. Viewfinder: Electronic 100% coverage with 0.37× magnification and 2.36M
  16. Shutter speed: 30-1/4000 sec
  17. Exposure modes: Program AE, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual exposure
  18. Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up)
  19. External flash: Yes (via hot-shoe EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
  20. Flash modes: Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Rear-curtain
  21. Flash X sync speed: 1/180 sec
  22. Drive modes: Single, Continuous (6 fps), Self-timer (2 or 10 sec)
  23. Metering modes: Multi, Average, Spot
  24. Exposure compensation: ±2 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
  25. AE Bracketing: (at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
  26. Video: H.264 with Stereo mic and 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) and 1280 x 720 (24 fps) resolution
  27. Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  28. Connectivity: USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec), HDMI (Mini connector), Remote control (Optional RR-80)
  29. Battery: Lithium-Ion NP-W126 rechargeable battery & charger
  30. Battery Life (CIPA): 350
  31. Weight (inc. batteries): 350 g (0.77 lb / 12.35 oz)
  32. Dimensions: 129 x 75 x 38 mm (5.08 x 2.95 x 1.5″)

Official Press Release

Here is the official press release:

Fujifilm launches the second X Series interchangeable-lens camera, with image quality comparable to 35mm full frame D-SLR sensors
The FUJIFILM X-E1 Premium interchangeable-lens camera

September 6, 2012

Fujifilm X-E1 Official

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) is proud to announce the launch of the FUJIFILM X-E1, the second interchangeable camera from the brand this year. Following hot on the heels of the highly acclaimed FUJIFILM X-Pro1, the X-E1 boasts the same 16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor with top-class OLED electronic viewfinder, a smaller body with built-in flash and the same X mount for the FUJINON XF lens range. In addition, Fujifilm will expand the lens line-up from 3 to 5 in autumn, and up to 10 in early 2013.
With its convenient portable size and fast autofocus speed, the X-E1 promises to be an exciting addition to the X series range. Due to hit the market in autumn this year, and available in two variations Silver and Black, the attractive classical design of the X-E1 interchangeable lens camera will have wide appeal.

Classical design for intuitive operation

Made in Japan, the X-E1 exudes class and high quality, as can be seen from each of its components. The top and front covers are made from die-cast magnesium for a rigid, yet delicate design. At roughly the same size as the FUJIFILM X100, the X-E1 is refreshingly compact and lightweight (only 350g*), in spite of its advanced feature set. Featuring a rubber grip for additional hold, it is a well balanced camera with the X lens mount positioned centrally on the camera so that the weight of the body and the lens is distributed evenly.
Its ease of use was paramount in the minds of Fujifilm’s engineers when designing the X-E1. As on other X series models, the sides of the dials on the top panel feature a textured pattern for smooth adjustment. Users can turn the aperture ring on the lens with their left hand, and operate the dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on the top panel with their right hand for quick setting changes without having to take their eye off the viewfinder. Functions frequently used during shooting can be assigned to the Fn (Function) button for a smooth photo shoot.
The X-E1 will be available as a silver version, perfect for those who want a cool, retro look to emphasize their own style, and as a black version for photographers who would prefer to blend in to their surroundings without drawing the attention of their subjects.
Despite a host of convenient features and lightweight design, the X-E1 can take approx. 350 shots per charge**, allowing users to concentrate on their photography without having to worry about the remaining battery power. Additionally, the camera features a high-precision built-in flash equivalent to guide number of 7***. The use of the proprietary TTL metering system enables indoor shooting of close-up shots with an appropriate amount of light.

High-definition and high-luminance 2.36 million dot “OLED electronic viewfinder”

Unlike the X-Pro1 with its hybrid multi viewfinder, the X-E1 camera boasts an OLED electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36 million dots, making it one of the highest resolutions available on digital cameras with EVFs*4. The viewfinder on the X-E1 has a unique lens structure consisting of two glass elements and one double aspherical element, which in conjunction with the OLED offers an incredibly high quality display.
The OLED panel offers a high resolution of 2.36 million dots, with a high contrast ratio of 1:5000*5 resulting in rich gradation and faithful reproduction of focus, exposure, white balance and film simulation effects in the viewfinder.
The two glass elements and one double aspheric element used in the viewfinder construction offers an experience similar to an optical viewfinder, with a clear, distortion and aberration free view to all corners of the image.
A wide 25 degree horizontal field of view allows the user to scan the entire scene quickly and easily. The inclusion of a soft resin on the eyepiece allows eyeglass wearers to comfortably use the viewfinder, whilst the diopter dial allows you to adjust the distance between your eye and the EVF, to a position suited to your viewing preference.

Featuring Fujifilm’s proprietary APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor offering exceptional color rendition and image resolution

The FUJIFILM X-E1 features the same 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor as the FUJIFILM X-Pro1. Its unique color filter array can effectively minimise moiré and false colors without the need for an optical low pass filter. This makes it possible for the camera to maximise its advanced resolution capture, and to record each photograph brightly and clearly across the whole image.
Conventional color filters use a repeated arrangement of 2×2 pixel sets, which is prone to the manifestation of moiré and false colors. These are controlled with an optical low pass filter, inserted between the filter and the lens. However, the low pass filter itself causes degradation in image resolution. In contrast, the X-Trans CMOS sensor, inspired by the random arrangement of fine silver halide grains seen in photographic film, adopts a more complex, random arrangement of 6×6 pixel sets to reduce moiré and false colors. This innovative array of pixels eliminates the need for an optical low pass filter, and lets the X-Trans CMOS sensor capture unfiltered light from the lens avoiding any of the resolution reduction this causes, ensuring you get extra high resolution images that can withstand enlargement to a 2,700mm x 1,800mm size.
This unique color filter arrangement is also incredibly effective in noise separation in high sensitivity photography producing low-noise images even at high ISOs. In addition, one advantage of the use of the large APS-C sensor is the ability to create a large beautiful bokeh background effect — the out of focus effect when shooting with a shallow depth of field.
The X-E1 features the fast, high-precision “EXR Processor Pro” for quick responses whatever you’re shooting. The EXR Processor Pro receives image signals from the complex X-Trans CMOS Sensor and processes the information swiftly ensuring you can move on to your next shot without delay.

Pair the X-E1 with the new FUJINON XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS lens for maximum performance with high-speed autofocus of 0.1 sec

The highly agile linear motor in the newly announced XF18-55mm lens combines with the high-speed signal readout of the CMOS sensor and the newly developed EXR Processor Pro, to achieve a huge leap in AF speed and precision performance. Contrast Detection in the X-E1 brings your subject into sharp focus in as little as 0.1seconds.
A masterpiece in optical technology, the high quality all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups, including 3 aspherical lenses and 1 extra low dispersion element, and a seven-blade rounded diaphragm. This zoom lens covers a broad range of frequently-used focal lengths from 18mm in wide angle to 55mm mid telephoto*6 to cater for a variety of scenes including landscape and snap shots.
At F2.8-4.0 wide open, this fast lens is perfect for low-light photography or scenes with a beautiful bokeh effect. The compact design of this lens, made possible by optimising its component layout, enhances its portability. Advanced optical and mechanical designs are optimised to keep the lens compact, measuring 65.0mm x 70.4mm (wide), despite offering maximum aperture of F2.8. The lens features an aperture ring so that users can adjust the aperture in a natural movement while holding the camera up to the eye, just as on other XF lenses. The lens includes an OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) to provide image stabilization equivalent to 4 stops, controlling the effect of camera shake and allowing users to seize perfect photo opportunities.

Original X Mount designed for maximum performance

Fujifilm’s X mount system has a short flange back distance of just 17.7mm to maximize the advantage of the camera’s mirrorless design, which eliminates the mirror box mechanism.
The wide opening allows the lens to be mounted approx. 7.5mm into the body from the mount surface. The back focus distance has been reduced as much as possible to achieve the compact and lightweight lens design for easy portability. The short back focus distance also prevents vignetting to maintain high resolution to all edges of an image.
The mount features ten contact pins to facilitate high-speed communication between the body and lenses. Autofocus, aperture and other lens movements are conveyed to the body at high speed.
When fitted with a FUJIFILM M Mount Adapter, the X-E1 can use a wide variety of M lenses to broaden the scope of your photography.

Diverse shooting modes that faithfully reproduce conventional photographic film’s distinctive textures

The X-E1 offers Fujifilm’s creative “Film Simulation Modes” to simulate the distinctive textures of conventional photo film. Use the high saturation “Velvia” for landscape shots with stunning primary colors, “ASTIA” for faithful smooth skin tone reproduction and the more versatile “PROVIA” for its natural look, as well as two additional settings based on professional color negative films. Soft tonal PRO Neg.Std and the sharper PRO Neg.Hi are both suitable for indoor portrait photography. Three types of filter simulation are also available for monochrome and sepia looks. The Film Simulation Bracketing function uses a single exposure to produce three images with Film Simulation effects applied.
Advanced digital processing enables “multiple exposure”, in which two exposures are superimposed to create a single image. After selecting the Multiple Exposure mode, take the first shot, and display the image on either the EVF or LCD monitor as reference when taking the second shot. This system facilitates more accurate positioning and focusing. The ability to take two shots while visually checking the finished image allows users to produce unique photographic expressions.

Full HD Movie recording

Shoot Full HD movies (1920 x 1080) at 24fps. In addition you can now use Monochrome or Film Simulation modes when video recording, and even take advantage of the X-E1’s large sensor and bright XF lenses to capture movies with beautiful defocused bokeh effect.
Connect a microphone (commercially available), with Ø2.5mm jack to the Microphone/remote release connector and record audio with enhanced clarity and presence. The X-E1 allows you to take videos without having to worry about the camera body’s operation noise or lenses’ motor sound being captured.

* Including the battery and memory card, excluding the lens
** With the XF35mmF1.4 R attached
*** ISO200•m
*4 Fujifilm Research ; August 2012
*5 Depending on the shooting conditions
*6 Equivalent 35mm format : 27mm to 84mm

FUJIFILM X-E1 key features list:

  • 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor
  • EXR Processor Pro
  • FUJIFILM X mount (For FUJINON XF lenses)
  • Extra high resolution 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 2.8-inch (460K dot) LCD (High contrast, High Brightness and Wide viewing angle)
  • Built-in pop-up Flash (hotshoe attachment also available for external flash)
  • ISO 200 — 6400,, extended ISO 100, 12800,25600 (range of ISO400-6400 when using ISO Auto)
  • 0.05 sec Shutter time lag
  • Q (quick) button to shooting menu settings
  • In-camera RAW converter
  • Film simulation modes (Velvia, Astia, Provia, Monochrome, Sepia, PRO Neg Std & PRO Neg Hi)
  • Artistic features inc. Multiple exposure & Panoramic shooting
  • Auto Bracketing functions (AE/ISO/DR &FS)
  • Full HD Movie
  • Microphone/shutter release input (Ø2.5mm)
  • Approx. 350 shots per battery charge
  • Accessories available for the FUJIFILM X-E1

  • Leather case BLC-XE1
  • FUJINON XF Lenses
  • M Mount Adapter
  • Hand Grip HG-XE1
  • Three dedicated flash models to choose from depending on requirements (EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
  • Protector filters (PRF-39, PRF-52 and PRF-58)
  • Remote release RR-80
  • Pre-Order Links

    Here are the current X-E1 pre-order deals at B&H:

  • Silver Fujifilm X-E1, body only ($999.95)
  • Black Fujifilm X-E1, body only ($999.95)
  • Silver Fujifilm X-E1 + 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens ($1399.00)
  • Black Fujifilm X-E1 + 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens ($1399.00)
  • Comments

    1. September 6, 2012 at 8:45 am

      It does sound tempting and maybe there’ll be a significantly improved X-Pro 2 within the next year.

    2. 2
      ) Graham
      September 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Many thanks for bringing us this so quickly. I do hope that Fuji will finally co-operate with Adobe and sort out the colour smearing problem that limist users from benefitting fully from RAW. Many photo libraries, Getty for one, generally refuse Tiffs created from Jpegs. This is important — and sales of both X-E1 and any X-P2 will shoot away if only they sort it.

    3. September 6, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Hi guys,

      So I’ve asked Nasim a similar question in response to the article (The Future of Digital Cameras) but don’t think I’ve seen an answer, not to mention all the changes since Nasim’s article.

      The question again is, which mirrorless system do you guys think is the best? I personally have all Nikon gear but went with the NEX-5N at the time i was shopping. I’m still shopping today..

      thanks..
      samer

      • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin
        4
        ) Romanas Naryškin
        September 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

        Hello, Samer!

        You must understand, we get a lot of comments and can’t possibly find the time to answer all of them, as much as we try and as much as we’d like to. I’m sorry you had to wait for so long!

        As for your question, it is really a matter of personal needs. Sony NEX is a very smart choice, those are capable, feature-packed and versatile cameras, they make very good sensors, too. I personally don’t find them appealing to what I do because of the huge, and not very good, lenses, and lack of OVF/EVF. Sony just doesn’t make lenses I need, yet, and those they do aren’t very good from what I’ve seen. Still, many prefer them, and it makes perfect sense.

        m4/3 is the most complete as a system, and, after the launch of Olympus E-M5, I find it to be quite competitive and much more to my liking even with the smaller sensor – you just have to use it slightly differently than you would your, say, D700 with its shallow DOF. It’s a very good camera, I hear, with a lot of strengths and not that many weaknesses, but is, of course, not for everyone.

        Samsung NX is a viable alternative for those who don’t want the obvious Sony NEX, and is a good system I would prefer over Sony. Still, they lack certain lenses as well as VF’s, and thus are out of the question for me.

        Canon M is a good alternative, too, but the system needs to grow first. I wonder what the high-end M will be like.

        Nikon 1 I find competitive, if sometimes a bit pricey, but if a wanted a travel camera with just one prime lens on it, I would give it a thought, especially because of the great AF system. But if I were to buy a mirrorless camera now, I would want to make sure it good for family, travel, pleasure and my work, and thus I would turn to Fujifilm (or the Olympus E-M5).

        Both offer the lenses I need, as well as simple, analog controls (I am a film fan and prefer analog over buttons and touch screens) and quality. Now, with the latest improvements, Fujifilm is looking to be a better option for what I do because of the bigger sensor and hybrid VF, but I’d have to give both systems a try before making up my mind.

        In the end, it’s a very personal choice based on very personal needs and there is no one “best” system.

        I hope I was of some help,

        • September 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

          Hello Roman.. thanks for the thorough response.. certainly appreciate the amount of comments/questions you guys would be getting having such a great website.. i really meant to say excuse me for repeating the question again ;)….

          I was just wondering what you guys thought were the best options out there (from your perspective/needs of course)..

      • September 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

        Samer, I apologize for not being able to respond. At this time after looking at all the options, I would say the Olympus OM-D is what I would personally buy. The NEX series are nice, but lenses are big and choices are very limited compared to 4/3. Nikon 1 is too young, we have not seen any new lenses since the announcement and the new J2 is a joke. Canon M seems like a toy camera in comparison to the OM-D. And Fuji X is great, but it is too expensive for a mirrorless system and its AF is not as robust…

        I will probably wait till November before buying the OM-D. Hopefully we will see some good pricing incentives during the holidays…

        • September 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

          Appreciate your response Nasim, will check out the OM-D ..

          Having the DSLR gear that I use today, I agree that I wouldn’t exactly go for an expensive mirrorless option .. especially that I don’t mind the size/weight for the capabilities offered by the DSLR.

          Maybe for others a mirrorless camera become their main camera and i’ve seen people make this move from the DSLR camp..

          cheers.
          samer

    4. 8
      ) Eric
      September 7, 2012 at 1:11 am

      Hi Roman, have you actually tried the improved autofocus on the X-E1 yet? With Sony NEX moving to hybrid (phase/contrast detect) AF on their new 5R and 6, I am wondering if it makes sense to invest in the X-E1 which still relies only on contrast detect AF.

      • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin
        9
        ) Romanas Naryškin
        September 7, 2012 at 2:34 am

        I haven’t tried it yet, Eric, but I sure hope to some day soon. Nasim will quick-review the new X-E1, too, and the firmware-updated X-Pro1, so we will know for sure how much better the AF is than before.

        As for the hybrid system, I certainly hope it will be implemented in future Fujifilm cameras, too. They might be a little later into the game, now Nikon, Canon and Sony having those aboard their newest mirrorless cameras, but I’m quite sure such a day will come. In case it doesn’t, though, I could certainly live with improved AF of Fujifilm X-E1/X-Pro1, after all, contrast detect can be very fast (Olympus OM-D E-M5 uses contrast detect and I’ve heard it is very good) and is very, very precise.

        I would advise you to look at the whole package rather than a missing function or two – those are bound to happen, and you are buying a system. If you like Sony NEX more than Fujifilm, that’s your answer :)

        • 10
          ) Eric
          September 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

          Thanks Roman. I look forward to seeing your upcoming reviews of the X-E1 and the new X-Pro-1 firmware. The images that come out of the Fuji’s (and the X Trans sensors) are really a step above any other mirrorless camera right now. So if the AF is much faster and works much better in low light, I think I will be ready to take the plunge on the Fuji. Thanks again for your very helpful comments.

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