Fujifilm’s elegantly retro X-Pro1 wowed us with great images, a cool hybrid viewfinder, and a comfortable set of controls when we tested it for our June 2012 issue. But its slightly sluggish autofocus and irksome manual focusing tempered our excitement. Plus, its $1,700 price tag (body only) put it out of reach for many photographers. Fujifilm’s new X-E1 uses the same APS-C-sized 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1, ditches the hybrid finder in favor of a 2.36-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and adds a built-in flash in a physically smaller body—with a nearly identical control layout. While at $1,000, street, body only ($1,400 with 18–55mm f/2.8–4 OIS kit lens), it’s still a pricey camera, but the X-E1 costs hundreds of dollars less than the X-Pro1. Is it worth your dollars? Let’s see....
In the Test Lab
Since the X-E1 has the same sensor as the X-Pro1, we weren’t surprised to see test results very close to those of the earlier camera. Overall, the X-E1 achieved a better rating for image quality, but only because Fujifilm has gotten better at reproducing accurate color with the unique color filter array on its X-Trans sensor. The X-Pro1, with an Extremely High color accuracy rating, had its image quality rating drop to Very High as a result; the X-E1’s average Delta E of 7.9 just makes it past our threshold for an Excellent color accuracy rating and tipped the overall image quality to Extremely High.
In our resolution test, the X-E1 closely matched its sibling. Once again, diagonal resolving power outstripped horizontal and vertical measures, with all three averaging 2370 lines at ISO 200. As we turned up the sensitivity, the X-E1 held on to most of its resolving power, turning in 2300 lines at ISO 1600 and 2200 lines at ISO 6400. Below ISO 200 and above ISO 6400, the X-E1 will not let you capture RAW images, so you’re stuck with JPEGs. Given that, the X-E1 resolved 2320 lines at ISO 100, 2170 lines at ISO 12,800, and 2090 lines at its maximum of ISO 25,600. Not a bad showing.
When it comes to noise, the X-E1 is a tad noisier than the X-Pro1 from ISO 400 and up. At ISO 200, the new camera proved ever-so-slightly cleaner. At ISO 100, however, the X-E1 proved considerably cleaner, earning our highest rating of Extremely Low. It doesn’t take long for noise to rise, though to its credit, the X-E1 keeps noise to acceptable levels up to ISO 1600.
In the Field
From the outside, the X-Pro1 and X-E1 look nearly the same, aside from the X-E1’s lack of the window for an optical finder. The similarity is exceptionally keen if you opt for the black version of the X-E1 instead of the two-toned silver-and-black body we had for our test.
On the back, Fujifilm moved the playback button to the left of the LCD. The finder also gets a built-in diopter rather than the replaceable finder optics on the X-Pro1. The X-E1’s shutter-speed dial differs slightly in that it doesn’t lock like the one on the X-Pro1. But with its adequate yet not overly stiff detents, and its position recessed from the rear edge of the camera body, we never accidentally turned the dial once in our field testing.