The New Fujifilm X-E1 and New Lenses

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Fujfilm has just announced a new member of their continuously growing X-series: the X-E1 digital camera, in black or silver. This camera continues to round out the popular system, favoring retro styling, manual capabilities and high imaging performance. The X-E1 follows the trail blazed by the other Fujifilm X cameras by maintaining a low-profile design and handsome styling. It bridges the gap between the X-Pro1 and X100 by being slightly larger than the X100, but gains the interchangeable lens capabilities of the X-Pro1. Like the X-Pro1, the X-E1 has a 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor, focal plane shutter, RAW file format support, ISO sensitivity to 25600 and full manual exposure control.

Imaging

Keeping the same unique image sensor as the X-Pro1 should be invaluable in regard to the additional sharpness and image quality produced by the X-E1. The 16.3MP CMOS X-Trans sensor is designed by Fujifilm and features a modified RGB color array in order to reduce moiré and false colors without the need of an optical low-pass filter. The sensor strays from the standard 2 x 2 Bayer-array pixel arrangement and features a more complex 6 x 6 patterned group of pixels. By creating a more complex grouping system, there is room for greater randomness in the way light is gathered by the sensor, leading to smoother image quality that is reminiscent of the grain structure of film. This inherent randomness also solves the same problem a low-pass filter does; however, it does so without the loss of sharpness that an additional optical substrate in front of the sensor creates.

Benefitting from this unique sensor technology, the X-E1 is capable of recording high resolution still images in JPEG or RAW file formats as well as full HD 1080p video. Full-resolution images can be recorded continuously, up to a rate of six frames per second. The recording abilities are taken one step further with the ability to work in different Film Simulation modes. These modes are designed to emulate existing Fujifilm films directly by modifying the image curves to mimic those of films such as Astia, Provia, Velvia and Pro S and H color negative films. Additionally, there are four monochrome settings: regular monochrome and monochrome with the contrast benefits of a yellow, red or green filter.

Exposure metering is handled using a 256-zone TTL system for acquiring precise exposure. This metering can be used to determine your exposure settings or can be used as a guide for setting your own exposure when working in manual mode. Similarly, high speed TTL contrast AF detection is used to determine focus in as little as 0.1/second and can function in either a single or continuous style. The lenses also have an easy to control manual focus ring, which can be altered through the menu to respond to either clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation, depending on the user's preference.

Design

Overall, the X-E1 adheres to similar design features as the X-Pro1, X100 and X10 with its film-camera-inspired look and construction; however, it updates the functionality slightly with the inclusion of an external microphone jack and electrical remote shutter release input. The magnesium-alloy build provides durability as well as a comfortable amount of heft for the camera, making it easy to handle for long periods of time. The layout of the controls is highly simplified and visible, with the exposure control dials located on the top of the body. These dials allow you to manually alter your shutter speed or exposure compensation by emulating the layout of film cameras. There is also a customizable Fn (function) button located on top of the body that helps to expedite your transition from standard program, aperture priority, shutter priority or manual mode to more specialized modes, such as multiple exposure mode, film simulation mode, video recording, RAW override and several others. This alleviates the need to scroll through menus in order to apply oft-used imaging techniques to your images. Also enabling quick functionality, a Quick Menu is accessible through a Q button located on the back of the body. When working in Quick Menu, you are presented with somewhat abbreviated menus for faster changing of certain exposure, focus and other creative settings—such as adjusting the ISO sensitivity between 100 and 25600; selecting between Adobe RGB and sRGB color spaces; choosing between seven different white balance settings; and changing the file size or aspect ratio—without having to delve into the larger menu tree.

For viewing and composing imagery, there are two distinct options: a 2.8” rear LCD monitor or an aspherical OLED electronic viewfinder. The LCD has 460,000-dot resolution, whereas the OLED features 2,360,000-dot resolution for highly fluid motion rendering and detailing. The EVF is constructed from two glass elements and one double aspheric element for optical purity, resembling that of a true optical viewfinder. It also incorporates a built-in detection sensor for automatic switching between the LCD and finder, as well as a built-in diopter for more comfortable viewing. An apparent horizontal field of view of 25° allows easy scanning of the entire scene, and with an eye-point of 23mm, users do not need to remove their glasses in order to work with the finder.

The overall handling of the camera is a highly intuitive process—all of the exposure controls are modified physically, either by the shutter and exposure compensation dials or the aperture ring on the lenses. Rather than selecting distinct P, A, S or M modes, you set either the shutter speed or lens to A or choose which speed and f/stop combination you wish to use. When one or the other is set to A, you will essentially be working in shutter priority or aperture priority; when both are set to A, you will be working in automatic exposure mode; control will be fully manual if neither is set to A. The exposure compensation dial allows you to control your exposure further by 2 stops in 1/3-stop increments.

Differentiating itself from the X-Pro1, the X-E1 integrates an internal pop-up flash with a guide number of 7m at ISO 200. There is also a built-in hot shoe, which allows the direct attachment of auxiliary flashes, including the EF-X20 flash, for TTL flash sync.

Lenses

Complementing the X-E1 and the X-Pro1, Fujifilm has also recently added two new lenses to the lineup, bringing the total to 5 Fujinon X-mount lenses. The X mount is a proprietary lens mount design that permits a shorter flange distance of 17.7mm, which allows for more even light spread across the sensor. While the first three available lenses were prime, fixed focal length lenses, this new release brings the first zoom lens to the system.

The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens renders a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27.4-83.8mm, which essentially encompasses the lengths of the first three lens offerings. The wide end of this lens has a wide maximum aperture of f/2.8, meaning it can be an attractive alternative to the 18mm f/2 prime lens. This lens also features built in optical image stabilization for lessening camera shake and image blur, which become more apparent when working at the longer end of the zoom range. The XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS is composed of 14 elements in 10 groups and includes three aspherical elements and one abnormal dispersion element.

The XF 14mm f/2.8 R lens provides a 35mm equivalent focal length of 21mm, making it the widest Fujinon lens currently available with the X mount. This ultra-wide-angle lens is composed of 10 elements in 7 groups and includes two aspherical elements and three abnormal dispersion elements. Both of the new lenses follow suit as with the past lenses and feature Super EBC coating for reducing lens flare, ghosting and chromatic aberration, while also making the lenses easier to clean.

The X-E1 is available in silver or black, as well as part of a kit with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 OIS lens (also available with the silver or black body).

The Fujifilm X-E1 is a step further in expanding the functionality of the X-mount lenses and serves to be a middle point between the flagship X-Pro1 and the fixed-lens X100 and X10. The X-E1 interchangeable lens interface gives it greater versatility while still maintaining compactness due to the inclusion of an EVF instead of an optical viewfinder. The newly introduced lenses also further the X series by giving more options, including the first zoom lens of the series, for covering a wider range of shooting situations. Among the innovations presented by the X-E1 and lenses, Fujifilm continues to maintain the high standards and similar design quality that already places the X series in its own unique realm.

Fujifilm X-E1
Effective Pixels 16.3MP
Image Sensor 23.6 x 15.6mm APS-C X-Trans CMOS with primary color filter
Sensor Cleaning System Ultra Sonic Vibration
Still Image File Format JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG
Movie File Format H.264 (MOV) with stereo sound
Number of
Recorded Pixels
3:2:
L: 4896 x 3264
M: 3456 x 2304
S: 2496 x 1664
16:9:
L: 4896 x 2760
M: 3456 x 1944
S: 2496 x 1408
1:1:
L: 3264 x 3264
M: 2304 x 2304
S: 1664 x 1664
Motion Panorama:
L: Vertical- 7860 x 2160 / Horizontal- 7680 x 1440
M: Vertical- 5120 x 2160 / Horizontal- 5120 x 1440
Sensitivity Auto, ISO 200-6400 (expandable to ISO 100-25600)
Exposure Control TTL 256-zones metering; Multi, Spot, Average
Exposure Mode Programmed AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual exposure
Exposure Compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 steps
Image Stabilizer Lens shift type (when OIS type lens is set)
Shutter Type Focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed Range 30-1/4000 sec., bulb up to 60 min.
Flash Sync Speed 1/180 sec. or slower
Continuous Shooting Rate 6 fps or 3 fps (selectable)
Auto Bracketing AE Bracketing (+/-1/3, 2/3, 1 EV)
Film Simulation Bracketing (Any 3 type of film simulation selectable)
Dynamic Range Bracketing (100%, 200%, 400%)
ISO sensitivity Bracketing (+/-1/3, 2/3, 1 EV)
Focus Mode Single AF, Continuous AF, MF distance indicator
Focus Type TTL contrast AF (AF assist illuminator available)
AF Frame Selection Area (EVF/LCD: 49 areas with 7 x 7), Multi
White Balance Modes Automatic scene recognition
Custom, Color temperature selection (K)
Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, underwater
Film Simulation Modes PROVIA/STANDARD, Velvia/VIVID, ASTIA/SOFT, PRO Neg Hi, PRO Neg Std, MONOCHROME, MONOCHROME+Ye FILTER, MONOCHROME+R FILTER, MONOCHROME+G FILTER, SEPIA
Dynamic Range Settings Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%
Self-Timer 10, 2 sec.
Built-In Flash Manual pop-up flash, guide no. approx. 7 (ISO 200/m)
Flash Connection Hot shoe (dedicated TTL flash compatible)
Flash Modes Red-eye removal OFF: Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, Rear-curtain Synchro, Commander
Red-eye removal ON: Red-eye Reduction Auto, Red-eye Reduction & Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Red-eye Reduction & Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction & Rear-curtain Synchro, Commander
Electronic Viewfinder 0.5" / 12.7mm, 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
Electronic Viewfinder Frame Coverage Approx. 100%
Eye Point Approx. 23mm
Diopter Adjustment -4m to +2m
LCD Monitor 2.8" / 71.1mm, 460K-dot TFT color LCD (approx. 100% coverage)
Movie Recording 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720 at 24fps with stereo sound
Maximum Clip Length Up to 29 min.
Photography Functions Select custom setting, Motion panorama, Color space, Color (Saturation), Sharpness, Dynamic range, Film simulation, Gradation, Auto red-eye removal, Framing guideline, Frame No. memory, Histogram display, Preview depth of focus, Focus check, Electronic level, Multiple exposure, Date input, Fn button setting (RAW, Movie, etc)
Playback Functions RAW conversion, Image rotate, Red-eye reduction, Photobook assist, Erase selected frames, Image search, Multi-frame playback (with micro thumbnail), Slide show, Mark for upload, Protect, Crop, Resize, Panorama, Favorites
Digital Interface USB 2.0
HDMI Output HDMI mini connector (Type C)
Microphone/Shutter Release Input 2.5mm stereo mini connector
Power Supply NP-W126 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Battery Life Approx. 350 frames
Startup Time Approx. 0.5 sec. in QuickStart Mode, approx. 1.0 sec. when QuickStart mode is off
Storage Media SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I)
Lens Mount Fujifilm X mount
Operating Temperature 32-104°F / 0-40°C
Operating Humidity 10-80% (no condensation)
Dimensions 5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5" / 129 x 74.9 x 38.3mm
Weight 12.3 oz / 350 g

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Being a Nikon D90 owner already, I'm looking for something smaller, lighter but as full size SLR like as I can get. I've looked at the Sony NEX7, the Olympus OMD, and the Fuji XPRO 1 and now the XE1.

I'm really interested in street photography and just don't see myself lugging a full size SLR with me everywhere.

Anyone have any feedback/suggestions on the cameras I mentioned or on any I didn't think of? Just keep in mind that, as much as I'd love one, I am nowhere near able to afford a Leica.

Thanks

I've been a serious photographer for 43 years. With only a few years spent as a pro wedding/portrait photographer I decided I love photography too much to make it my livelihood. I went my way just shooting for my own enjoyment.

Now retired my main passions remains photography. I've owned every camera brand including recently a Nikon D800 and D7000 pair of dslr cameras. I started dabbling in mirrorless APS-C sized cameras and found I was having more fun than I'd had in years.

I just sent off my D800 and a 24-70mm F/2.8 Nikkor lens for sale so that I might buy the throwback Fuji X-E1 offering with three excellent lenses. I can't wait for all this to come together as I used to love range finder film cameras and their simplicity of design. I'm not too old to act like a kid anticipating a new toy.