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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Along with these (substantial) AF and MF improvements, Fujifilm also promises faster writing speeds.
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:
- Price (MSRP): $1,399.95 with 18-55mm lens, $999.95 body only
- Body: Rangefinder-style mirrorless, Magnesium top and front covers
- Resolution: 4896 x 3264
- Image ratio (w:h): 1:1, 3:2, 16:9
- Effective pixels: 16.3 megapixels
- Sensor: APS-C X-Trans CMOS (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
- Processor: EXR Pro
- Color filter array: Primary colour filter
- 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)
- White balance presets: 7
- Autofocus: Contrast Detect (sensor) – Multi-area, Center, Single, Continuous
- Manual focus: Yes
- Lens mount: Fujifilm X
- Screen: Fixed 2.8″, 460k dot LCD with Live View
- Viewfinder: Electronic 100% coverage with 0.37× magnification and 2.36M
- Shutter speed: 30-1/4000 sec
- Exposure modes: Program AE, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual exposure
- Built-in flash: Yes (Pop-up)
- External flash: Yes (via hot-shoe EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
- Flash modes: Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Rear-curtain
- Flash X sync speed: 1/180 sec
- Drive modes: Single, Continuous (6 fps), Self-timer (2 or 10 sec)
- Metering modes: Multi, Average, Spot
- Exposure compensation: ±2 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
- AE Bracketing: (at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
- Video: H.264 with Stereo mic and 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) and 1280 x 720 (24 fps) resolution
- Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Connectivity: USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec), HDMI (Mini connector), Remote control (Optional RR-80)
- Battery: Lithium-Ion NP-W126 rechargeable battery & charger
- Battery Life (CIPA): 350
- Weight (inc. batteries): 350 g (0.77 lb / 12.35 oz)
- 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 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
*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
Here are the current X-E1 pre-order deals at B&H: