It’s smaller and more affordable than the company’s flagship X-Pro 1, but the Fujifilm X-E1 still looks the part and uses the same 16.3-million-pixel sensor. Read the Fujifilm X-E1 review...
In our test of the X-Pro1, we found that its autofocus is steady rather than snappy. Since then, Fuji has released a firmware upgrade (version 2.0) with a key improvement to the autofocus performance. The X-E1 comes with this latest firmware already installed. We compared this firmware against version 1.11 in Testbench (AP 17 November). In these studio-based tests on a static subject, we found that in good-contrast light the speed was increased from 0.94secs to 0.82secs, while in low-contrast light a successful focus was achieved in 1sec compared to 1.88secs in the old firmware. This marks a credible improvement over the last version, but I would say that 0.82secs in good light is steady rather than snappy, especially compared to other cameras at this level.
With the 18-55mm lens, the AF motors can be heard hard at work. The camera is definitely not designed for the action photographer and lags behind fast-moving subjects, but for general-purpose use it is reliable and produces sharp images.
Without an optical viewfinder, the X-E1 solely uses digital displays. Sadly, when the camera is performing autofocus, the display freezes temporarily, at which point the pixels that make up the display become more obvious.
I find the handling of spot AF to be intuitive. Any one of the 49 AF points can be individually selected, and the points cover most of the frame, which makes awkward compositions possible without needing to recompose once focus has been achieved. This is possible via the AF-L button too, but tilting (recomposing) the camera back is not the best option in any camera because the plane of focus changes, which can result in a less accurate focus.