Fujifilm X-E1 review

Build and handling

Fuji's X-series cameras have rightly gained a reputation not only for style, but also for solid build quality. Scan the X-E1's body and one can find ‘Made in Japan' on the rear and underside of the camera, and on the underside of the 18-55mm lens. In fact, the camera's origins are proudly stated in the first line of the design section for the X-E1 on Fuji's website. Two finishes are available: an understated all-black finish or a more retro black that has a silver top-plate, with the top and front panels made from a sturdy die-cast magnesium.

Those photographers who have handled the X-Pro1 will immediately be familiar with the X-E1 because, like the FinePix X100, it has a similar style and layout. At 350g with battery and card, the X-E1 is the lightest camera of the three by approximately 100g, and it is smaller than the X-Pro1 in every dimension. Against the competition, the X-E1 is still a bulky camera, but it is lightweight. On its rear, the layout of the buttons is almost identical to that of the X-Pro1. The minor differences
include the moving of the play button, and the addition on the X-E1 of a flash button to access the camera's built-in pop-up flash unit. A hotshoe port is still present for attaching accessories.

In proportion to the camera's smaller size, the LCD screen is also smaller at 2.8in. Unlike the X100 and X-Pro1, the X-E1 uses an EVF rather than a hybrid viewfinder. However, many will be pleased that a dioptre adjustment has been included in the X-E1, a feature that is lacking in the other models.

For all its style and solid build, one cannot avoid the disappointment of the modest battery life, which is CIPA rated to just 350 shots. While the X-Pro1 uses the same battery, and allows only 300 shots when using the EVF, there is the option to use the optical viewfinder to compose images, which boosts the battery life to approximately 1,000 shots. This issue does need to be addressed either with a more powerful cell, an optional battery pack or a less power-hungry mechanism .

The X-E1 uses firmware version 2.0, while the original X-Pro1 uses version 1. Through this new firmware (which is also available as a free upgrade for X-Pro1 users), several key issues raised in the older camera have been addressed. Improvements to the camera's handling include write times that are now twice as fast, shorter waiting times to view images after shooting, faster autofocus speeds in both low-contrast and good light, shorter minimum focus distance outside the macro mode, and more intuitive manual focus operation.

There are a couple of controls on the X-Pro1 that are not present in the X-E1. These are a shutter-speed lock on the dial and a flash-sync connection. All in all, though, the X-E1 handles really well.