Fuji X-E1 Review

Fuji X-E1 Review

Fuji X-E1: Little sister of the X-Pro1

Fujifilm announces the X-E1, a little sister for the mirrorless system camera X-Pro1. The latter was able to establish itself well on the market, but due to the high price it does not open up broad application classes. This is where the more compact and less expensive X-E1 comes in. The optical hybrid viewfinder has to be dispensed with, but is compensated with a very high-resolution electronic viewfinder. However, there are no compromises in design, workmanship and equipment.

Short evaluation


  • Very good, noise-free image quality up to ISO 1,600
  • Pleasant operation due to many buttons, knobs and wheels
  • Excellent, high-resolution video viewfinder with automatic activation
  • High-quality housing


  • No exposure preview with manual exposure and therefore even useless live histogram
  • Large, heavy housing and small handle provide a slightly cramped camera posture
  • Cumbersome to reach video function
  • Unfavourable placement of the tripod thread

The mirrorless system camera in the Fujifilm X-Pro1 dial viewfinder design has got a little sister with the X-E1. This is to conquer a broader user base with a somewhat lower price and smaller dimensions, but without sacrificing high processing quality and the “retro look”. There is also an 18-55 millimeter zoom, which should not be confused with the usual cheap lenses. It is brighter with F2.8-4, of much higher quality and is based on an elaborate optical calculation.

Thus, the X-E1 is also a very high-quality mirrorless system camera, Fujifilm even holds on to the retro look. With an entry-level price of 900 EUR for the case, optionally in silver-black or all black or 1,300 EUR together with the new 18-55 millimetre standard zoom (see further links), it is much more attractive than the X-Pro1 for 1,600 EUR. The X-E1 has the same 16 megapixel resolution X-Trans CMOS sensor in APS-C size as the X-Pro1. It has a special pixel structure that is more similar to analog film in that the pixels or the color filters in front of them appear randomly arranged in larger blocks. Therefore, Fujifilm does without a low pass filter, with which the resolution is supposed to be at the level of 35mm full format cameras.

Instead of the optical-electronic hybrid viewfinder, a pure electronic viewfinder was built into the X-E1. This has an OLED panel with a resolution of 2.36 million pixels. The image field is 100 percent covered and the OLED technology allows a high contrast of 1:5,000. The optical construction of the viewfinder consists of two glass lenses and should be particularly distortion-free. The large exit pupil of 23 millimetres promises a better view for spectacle wearers than conventional viewfinders with a good 18 millimetres. But also a diopter compensation was used. The rear screen measures 2.8 inches (7.1 centimeters) diagonally and has a resolution of 460,000 pixels.

Unlike the X-Pro1, the X-E1 has a built-in flash. The TTL system flash shoe is also on board, but the buyer has to do without the flash sync socket. The X bayonet allows Fujifilm’s five XF lenses to be used (including the two new models, see links for further information), with Fujifilm aiming to double its offer to a total of ten lenses in spring 2013. The X-E1 has a contrast autofocus, which has been significantly increased in speed compared to the X-Pro1. With the new 18-55 standard zoom, the X-E1 should be able to focus in just 0.1 seconds. But buyers of the X-Pro1 don’t have to worry, they get a firmware update that accelerates the autofocus as well as many new features.

On board are various film simulation modes that are based on the analog films of the Japanese manufacturer. In addition, various color filters can be simulated for black-and-white and sepia photography. The multiple exposure function opens up further creative possibilities.

The X-E1 is “made in Japan”, its case with the top and bottom of a cast magnesium alloy very high quality. It’s hardly bigger than the case of the X100, i.e. significantly smaller than the X-Pro1. The X-E1 is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which should last for about 350 shots. Fujifilm has improved the operating concept compared to the X-Pro1, so there is now, among other things, a Quick Menu for the most important settings. The video mode, on the other hand, still hides behind the “Drive” button, as we noticed during a hands-on of a prototype. The resolution is Full HD with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the frame rate is 24p. The movie simulation modes and filters can be applied as well as the aperture preselection to control the depth of field for videos. The sound can also be recorded via an external stereo microphone, it can be connected via a 2.5 millimetre jack socket, which alternatively records the new cable remote release RR-80.

Ergonomics and workmanship

The angular case of the Fujifilm X-E1 with its retro design looks extremely robust. It is made of metal and seems to be milled from a block. Due to the angular design the case looks bigger than it is. Nevertheless, it cannot be described as particularly compact. Just under 350 grams, including the lithium-ion battery, weighs in at a pleasant, not too light weight in relation to its size. Together with the XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens, the mark is easily cracked by a pound, because the lens itself weighs about 310 grams, almost as much as the camera. The case is generously covered with leather, but the grained structure of the material is quite smooth. The flat handle feels somewhat more non-slip. On the back side, the thumb finds a good counter-support by a bulge under the exposure correction wheel. Nevertheless, the camera is a bit cramped in the hand, one should better support the X-E1 with the second hand.

Fujifilm has placed the tripod thread on the underside of the camera unusually unfavourably. There’s plenty of room, but it’s right next to the battery/memory card compartment instead of in the optical axis or at least on the other side next to it, to get access to the battery and the memory card in tripod mode if necessary. The battery life is only about 350 shots, which is just acceptable. After all, the SD card slot also swallows the SDHC and SDXC formats, so the card needs to be emptied at home first. The option of connecting a classic cable release to the thread of the release or a cable remote release in the jack socket is also exemplary. The 2.5 mm socket is also the stereo microphone connection. Furthermore, under the flap on the left side of the case there is a USB and a Mini-HDMI interface.

The rear screen is slightly smaller than usual with a diagonal of 2.8 inches, with a resolution of 460,000 pixels it is sufficient. The electronic viewfinder, on the other hand, is a real delight. Thus, the photographer has to do without the optical hybrid viewfinder of the X-Pro1, which is acceptable in view of the 2.36 million pixels of the OLED display. In addition, the 23 millimetre eye distance ensures sufficient viewfinder visibility even when wearing glasses. If you like, you can also use the diopter correction range from -4 to +2 dpt. A proximity sensor ensures that the viewfinder activates automatically when the camera is brought up to the eye. The screen switches itself off, you can always leave it switched off and only use the viewfinder – this saves power. The camera can also be operated via the viewfinder, which displays the menus as well as the screen.

Fujifilm has equipped the X-E1 with two high-quality rotating wheels on the top of the camera. One adjusts the exposure time including automatic position, the other serves for exposure correction in third steps, but only in the range of +/- 2 EV. If the full EV steps of the exposure timer are too coarse for you, you can change the exposure in one-third steps using the on-screen or viewfinder control buttons. The aperture, on the other hand, is set with a ring on the lens. In addition, the X-E1 has numerous other switches and buttons that allow extensive operation without a menu trip. An Fn button allows individual access to a preferred setting option, ISO sensitivity is a good choice. Further settings are accessible via a quick menu, which even hides seven user memories, so that the main menu hardly needs to be used anymore. Only sometimes a function is very well hidden, for example to record a video you first have to press the Drive button to activate the video mode. There is no dedicated video recording button.


The Fujifilm X-E1 is not suitable for scene modes. Automatic on the X-E1 means: exposure time wheel on automatic, aperture setting on the lens on automatic. The camera can also adjust the sensitivity automatically. It starts at ISO 200, the upper limit can be set between ISO 400 and ISO 6,400. With manual sensitivity selection, the extended values 100, 12,800 and 25,600 are available. However, the X-E1 is designed as a camera that can be operated manually or semi-automatically. It even offers two bulb modes for long exposures: At B, the focal-plane shutter remains open as long as the shutter release is held down. In T mode, exposure starts with the first shutter release and stops with the second – very convenient if you don’t have a lockable remote shutter release. Unfortunately the X-E1 does not offer an exposure preview. No matter what you set on the aperture and time wheel, the live image remains equally bright, so the live histogram is useless at least with manual exposure. There is no exposure preview even when the shutter-release button is pressed. Only the exposure compensation wheel has a slight effect on the live image. Only the exposure meter balance indicates, at least in the range of +/-2 EV, how much you deviate from the exposure meter.

In contrast to the X-Pro1, the X-E1 offers a small on-board flash. However, this must also be extended manually. The camera gives no indication that the flash could be switched on even in automatic mode. The mechanism of the flash opens surprisingly high, which minimizes the risk of red eyes. However, with a guide number of about 5 (at ISO 100) it is not particularly powerful (LZ 7 at ISO 200 according to Fujifilm data sheet). After all, the X-E1 has an ISO flash shoe with TTL contacts, so that you can also attach more powerful flash units. The flash functions are pretty complete with auto (if opened), fill-in, long term sync, red-eye reduction, second curtain sync, and even wireless flash control. Flash exposure compensation only ranges from -2/3 to +2/3 EV. Since the camera has a mechanical focal-plane shutter, which is not particularly quiet, but sounds pleasant, the shortest flash sync time is 1/180 second.

Even though the X-E1 looks like a classic camera, it offers modern equipment and comfort features. This includes, for example, an orientation sensor including a spirit level. However, it only serves as a horizontal display, there is no orientation against tilting the camera upwards or downwards. Thus, here, the photographer has to be careful not to catch any unwanted falling lines. The “Drive” button not only conceals the continuous shooting functions with three or six frames per second and various bracketing functions (ISO series, dynamic series, exposure series, film simulation series), but also a panorama and a video function. The former takes many pictures when panning the camera using the continuous shooting function and automatically mounts them to form a fixed panorama. The video function is on current Full HD level with a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. However, the frame rate is only 24 frames per second. Although this is common in cinemas, it leads to visible jolts during pans. It is saved in MOV format with modern H.264 compression. If you don’t like the stereo sound of the integrated microphone, you can connect an external stereo microphone via a 2.5 mm mini jack. The focus is adjusted during shooting, albeit somewhat hesitantly. The focusing noise can be heard very quietly. Unfortunately, you can only set the aperture for video recordings, but not the exposure time and ISO.

The X-E1 hardly offers any image processing functions, after all, raw images can be converted into JPEG files in the camera. The only creative possibility for the photographer with regard to digital filters are the film simulation modes, which Fujifilm has modeled on its own analogue films. So you can use the X-E1 to take black-and-white pictures, for example. For the first time, Fujifilm has equipped its still quite young mirrorless camera system with an image stabilizer. It works optically and is integrated in the 18-55 millimetre lens. It does its job very reliably and quietly, it can be switched off via a switch on the lens, but the image stabilizer mode is set in the menu. The autofocus is moderately fast, taking the X-E1 about 0.5 seconds to focus and release, regardless of the focal length. The pure release delay is a short 0.05 seconds, with which the X-E1 beats some DSLRs.

Picture quality

The CMOS sensor in APS-C size has a very special color filter matrix, which should be more similar to the analog film grain. Fujifilm calls this X-Trans technology, in particular it manages without a low-pass filter, which is supposed to prevent moirés with the usual sensors, but also slightly blurs the image. The X-E1 should therefore have a higher resolution than the usual APS-C sensors. Fujifilm even claims to be able to compete with 35mm full format sensors what we could not demonstrate in our test.

In any case, the signal-to-noise ratio is at an astonishingly high level. It starts at a high 45 dB at ISO 100 and remains in the good range of over 40 dB up to and including ISO 800. Only at a high ISO 6,400 is the critical 35 dB level undercut. The noise over all ISO levels with less than 2 pixels is quite fine-grained. Brightness noise becomes visible from ISO 6.400, the more unpleasant color noise is well suppressed across all sensitivities and is practically non-existent. Despite the low noise over a wide ISO range, the X-E1 records the finest details up to ISO 1,600 with virtually no loss. At ISO 3.200 the images are a bit softer when you look very closely, but this only becomes really visible at ISO 6.400. The input dynamics are mainly from ISO 200 to 1.600 at a very high level of over 11 f-stops (EV). At ISO 100 and 3,200 it is still a good 10 EV. From ISO 6.400 the dynamic range drops significantly, but remains within an acceptable range, especially in view of the high sensitivity.

With the exception of ISO 100, where it is damped, the tonal value curve is clearly divided for high-contrast, crisp reproduction. The output tonal range is excellent up to ISO 800 and excellent up to ISO 3,200 in the good range of more than 160 of 256 possible gray value levels. Fujifilm also records colours very finely differentiated, up to ISO 800 there are over six million gradations, up to ISO 6,400 over four million and only at ISO 25,600 the limit of two million colours is undercut. While the manual white balance is sufficiently accurate, Fujifilm interprets some tones in its own way, so that slight deviations are also visible to the human eye when comparing the photo with the original. Orange is somewhat more yellowish, yellow somewhat more greenish and cyan tends towards blue. Overall, one can attest the X-E1 an image quality on a very good APS-C level.

Image quality also includes a lens, in this case the XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS. The set lens shows its very best side with the distortion (only in wide angle with one percent minimal barrel shape), the practically non-existent color fringes, the hardly measurable edge darkening and the flawless sharpness on 20 x 30 centimeters from the image center to the image edge across all apertures and focal lengths. In the pure resolution measurement at 50 percent edge contrast, however, some weaknesses are brought to light. So the 18-55 has to be dimmed in wide angle, because only at F8 the mark of 40 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) is exceeded. In contrast, the edge of the image remains clearly behind, one has to dimming down even more for an even resolution. With a medium focal length of about 43 millimeters, however, the lens shows its best side. With an open aperture of F3.2, it has the highest resolution of 50 lp/mm in the center of the image, while the edge of the image is hardly inferior at 48 lp/mm. Dimming reduces the resolution slowly, but even at F16 the image center is still above 40 lp/mm. At the long end of the focal length, the 18-55 again resolves a little less, but above all there is a clearer drop in the resolution at the edge. It’s best here at F11. If you like, the classic virtues apply to the zoom lens, i.e. it has the highest resolution at medium focal length. At the ends of the focal length, however, it should be clearly dimmed for a high resolution, while it is suitable for open glare at medium focal length.

Bottom line

The Fujifilm X-E1 is clearly aimed at photo enthusiasts or those who want to become one. It is not a carefree snapshot camera with fully automatic, but wants to be operated and adjusted by the photographer using the many levers, rings and buttons. If you are looking for exactly that, you will have a lot of fun with the mirrorless system camera. Only a thick faux pas clouds the pleasure: the missing exposure preview. The workmanship is on a high level, the X-E1 is also technically up to date. Especially the high-resolution viewfinder knows how to inspire, whereas the screen is almost a tick too small. Some modern functions, such as video recording, are somewhat cumbersome to achieve, while manual exposure is even more direct. The 18-55 mm zoom lens also makes a good impression and clearly stands out from the cheap 18-55 competition. The image quality of the X-E1 is at a high level, especially up to ISO 1,600. Here, too, the 18-55 lens is better than standard kit lenses. But if you want the highest level of image quality, you should continue to use Fujifilm’s fixed focal lengths.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Fuji film
Model X-E1
Price approx. 1.300 EUR
Sensor Resolution 16.3 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.896 x 3.264
(aspect ratio) (3:2)
Lens XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
Filter threads 58 mm
Viewfinder electronic
Diopter compensation -4 to +2 dpt.
Disbandment 2.36 million
Field coverage 100 %
LCD monitor 2,8″
Disbandment 460.000
as seeker yes
Video output HDMI (PAL/NTSC)
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure yes
Motif programmes
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection ISO system flash shoe
Remote release Cable or wire
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Size MOV
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.) 24 images/s
automatic ISO 200-6.400 (upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 100-25.600
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Underwater, manual color temperature selection, WB fine correction
Manual yes
Number of measuring fields 49
AF auxiliary light bright-white
Speed approx. 0.5 s
Languages Yes
more 34
347 g (housing only)
656 g (with lens*)
Zoom adjustment manual on lens
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Triggering during storage possible. yes
Battery life approx. 350 photos according to CIPA
– = “not applicable” or “not available”
* with Fujifilm XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens

Short evaluation


  • Very good, noise-free image quality up to ISO 1,600
  • Pleasant operation due to many buttons, knobs and wheels
  • Excellent, high-resolution video viewfinder with automatic activation
  • High-quality housing


  • No exposure preview with manual exposure and therefore even useless live histogram
  • Large, heavy housing and small handle provide a slightly cramped camera posture
  • Cumbersome to reach video function
  • Unfavourable placement of the tripod thread

Fujifilm X-E1 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (Crop factor 1.5
)16.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 4.8 µm
Photo resolution
4.896 x 2.752 pixels (16:9)
2.592 x 2.592 pixels (1:1)
2.496 x 1.664 pixels (3:2)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 24 p
Maximum recording time 29 min
Video format
MPG4 (Codec H.264)


Lens mount
Fujifilm XF


Autofocus Functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Focus control Depth of field check

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 2.8″ TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 2,360,000 pixels, 0.93x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 1 s (Auto
)1/4,000 to 30 s (Manual)
Bulb Function
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 3 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 200 to ISO 6,400 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 (manual)
Motives 0 further motif programmes
Picture effects Dynamic Range (100%, 200% and 400%), film simulation (Provia, Velvia, Astia, Pro Neg)
White balance Auto, Sun, Shadow, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 3 presets, Incandescent lamp, Manual, Sun, Shadow
Continuous shooting 6.0 frames/s at highest resolution
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Fujifilm, standard center contact
Flash range Flash sync time 1/180 s
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye Reduction


Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Internal memory yes
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Fujifilm NP-W126 (Lithium ions (Li-Ion)
)350 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Red eye retouching, image rotation, image index, slide show function
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C)
Supported direct printing methods Exif Print, PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous Ultrasonic Sensor Cleaning SystemFilm Simulation Bracket
(3 shots)
Dynamic Range Bracket (100%, 200% and 400%)
ISO Sensitivity Bracket (1/3, 2/3 and 1 EV)
Multiple Exposures

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 129 x 75 x 38 mm
Weight 350 g (ready for operation)


included accessories Fujifilm BC-W126 Battery charger for special batteriesFujifilm
NP-W126 Special batteryBajonet coverCarrying loopPicture editing softwareFinePix-Viewer for Windows and Macintosh
optional accessory Fujifilm NP-W126 Special BatteryFujifilm
RR-80 Remote Cable Release Removable Memory CardHandleHG-XE1 Leather Case

Firmware updates for the Fujifilm X-E1 and many others: Functional enhancements

Fujifilm has provided firmware updates for many of the X system cameras and the GFX-50S medium format system camera over the last two weeks. The affected X System cameras X-T20, X-T2, X-T1, X-T10, X-Pro2, X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2, X-E2S, X-M1, X-A1, X-A2, X-A3 and X-A10 all get support for the new 80mm macro, only the X-E3 and X-Pro1 are missing yet.

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