Fujifilm X-E1 mirrorless premium camera with OLED EVF

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fujifilm x-e1
The Fujifilm X-E1 and the X-Trans CMOS sensor.

The Japanese Fujifilm X-series engineers gave a little brother to the premium compact interchangeable lens camera, the luxury Leica-M-like Fuji X-Pro1. Here is the Fuji X-E1, unveiled ahead of the 2012 Photokina, a more compact and cheaper camera that gets a more competitive price tag without compromising the image quality of the X-pro1 but giving away the hybrid viewfinder for an EVF, but a pretty nice one.

 

fujifilm x-e1
The Fujifilm X-E1 and the X-Trans CMOS sensor.

 

The X-E1 borrows much of what makes the escence of the X-Pro1

X-Trans sensor 16 megapixel APS-C
The X-E1 gets the same APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1, a 16-megapixel sensor without low-pass filter for optimal sharpness. It kisses the Bayer matrix goodbye and gets a more complicated and less repetitive 36 cases pattern in order to prevent moiré and aliasing. It is a success on the X-Pro1, this image sensor delivers extremely thorough images with a lot of tack sharp small details, well assisted in that by the high quality optics Fujinon XF prime lenses.

Fuji X mount
You had guessed it yourself, the X-E1 has a X-mount, initialy developed for the X-Pro1. The X mount is designed with a minimal back focus and flange back distance and that also helps image quality.

Built quality
The X series serious built quality is a high level standard to which the X-E1 touch and feel fully complies. It is also made in Japan, a guarantee of quality and attention to detail. This is a camera but also a nice object to own, a desirable device. It has some elements made in magnesium alloy.

Traditional user interface
If you enjoyed the old school handling and user interface of the X-pro1, you will love the X-E1 that pursue the same kind of handling and manual controls. Many manufacturers deprive their less “premium” cameras of a little switch here, of a manual aperture ring there or a second dial there… Well, not Fuji : the X-E1 keeps the aperture ring on the lenses, the shutter speed dial, the exposure compensation manual dial (unfortunately still unlocked as on the X100 and X-pro1), and the double set of rotating wheels, the “Q” menu which allows the photographer to easily access a vast majority of frequently tuned settings.

One thing is important to keep in mind when comparing the X-E1 launched today and the X-pro1, twice more expensive : the X-E1 offers the exact same image quality as the X-Pro1 does.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless camera
Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless camera

 

So what has changed on the X-E1?

Viewfinder
The biggest sacrifice was carried out on the viewfinder. Good bye the gorgeous hybrid viewfinder, half optical, half EVF. The hybrid viewfinder appeared two years ago on the X100 (Photokina 2010) prototype and later successfully adapted and enhanced on the X-Pro1 is too expensive and has been sacrificed to cut the X-E1 price down dramatically but also to built a “range effect” with a more luxurious and more advanced camera and a little brother that will not lack many things but has no optical viewfinder. Fujifilm did the things right, they have adapted the 2.36MP OLED EVF appeared on the Sony NEX-7 last January. This high quality electronic viewfinder is well defined and smooth but has been further enhanced by Fujifilm engineers who added some aspherical lenses in order to offer a distorsion-free, stress-free, image. The X-E1 has an eye sensor that will automatically switch the display between the screen and the EVF.

Autofocus
The X-pro1 autoficus (a bit slow under dim light) has been revamped on the X-E1. (the X-pro1 will benefit from the new AF technology of the X-E1 and 18-55mm lens with its V2.0 firmware upgrade). Used in combination with new Fujinon XF 18-55mm R LM OIS lens that has a dual linear motor, the X-E1 is much faster and able to focus in as little as 0.1s., says Fujifilm. This performance level would place the X-E1 among the fastest system camera on the market. Something I will check for sure in the coming Fuji X-E1 review.

Flash
Less of a professional camera than the X-pro1, the more amateur X-E1 has been grafted with a modest pop-up flash that will help get rid of anoying shadows here or there. It has a guide umber of 7 at ISO 200. It can come in addition to an external TTL flash to be mounted on the camera’s hotshoe.

Compactness
Cuting the hybrid viewfinder away resulted in a 100 grs weight loss. But, more obvious is the gain in compacity of the X-E1 compared to the X-Pro1. The difference is huge and much more substantial than what the images of both cameras tend to show.

fujifilm x-e1 digital camera
The Fujifilm X-E1 inherits of he acclaimed user interface of the X-Pro1.

 

Fujifilm X-E1 : price and availability

If the X-pro1 is quite elit with its near $2,000 price tag. With the X-E1, Fujifilm looks at seducing a much wider market and attract many avid photographers who could not afford the X-pro1. The Fujifilm E1-X will be sold for $995 or €899 euros body only, a much decent price that of X-Pro1 considering that the main and almost only sacrifice is made on the viewfinder. And in exchange, it also gains in compactness … Fujifilm smart move is well thought and should attract many more photographers in the X-series range, customers who will sooner or later expand their lens fleet with Fujinon XF which remain at the same price.
The X-Pro1 will also be sold bundled with the Fujinon 55mm F2.8-XF18-4 R LM OIS lens for $1,399 or €1299.

Fujifilm X-E1 viewfinder
The Fujifilm X-E1 high-def viewfinder

 

 

Fujifilm X-E1 : main technical specifications

  • 16.3MP APS-C X-trans CMOS sensor / without low-pass filter
  • Fuji X mount for Fujinon XF lenses
  • ISO sensibility : from ISO 200 to 6400(extended modes : ISO 12,800 and 25,600)
  • Exposure metering :  TTL 256 zones
  • PSAM modes
  • Shutter speeds : 1/4000s to 30s and Bulb
  • Flash synch speed : 1/180s
  • Pop-up flash: Guide number of 7 at ISO 200
  • Burst rate : 3 and 6 fps
  • Bracketing : exposure / white balance / dynamic range / ISO / film simulation
  • Film simulation : 10
  • Dynamic range : 100 to 400%
  • EVF : OLED,  2.36 million dots / 2x aspherical lenses
  • Screen : 2.8″ / 460,000 dots LCD
  • Video recording : 1080p / 24 fps / stereo sound / external mic in
  • RAW format
  • Connections : USB 2.0 High-Speed, miniHDMI, jack 2,5mm stereo mic
  • Battery : lithium-ion NP-W126
  • Battery life : 300 images (350 images told me Fuji’s X team from japan…)
  • Dimensions : 139.5 x 81.8 x 42.5mm
  • Weight : 400 grs without battery and memory card / 450 gram with
  • Storage : SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards

Fujifilm X-E1 : photo Gallery

 

Fujifilm X-E1 : official press release

 

FUJIFILM launch the second X Series interchangeable-lens camera, with image quality comparable to 35mm full frame D-SLR sensors

The FUJIFILM X-E1 Premium interchangeable-lens camera

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) is proud to announce the launch of the X-E1, the second interchangeable camera from the brand this year. Following hot on the heels of the highly acclaimed X-Pro1, the X-E1 boasts the same 16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor with top-class OLED electronic viewfinder, a smaller body with built-in flash and the same X mount for the Fujinon XF lens range. In addition, FUJIFILM will expand the lens line-up from 3 to 5 in the autumn, and up to 10 in early 2013.

With its convenient portable size, super fast autofocus speed of 0.1 seconds and newly developed bright F2.8 zoom lens with OIS, the X-E1 promises to be an exciting addition to the X series range. Due to hit the market in autumn this year, and available in two variations Silver and Black and solid Black, the attractive classical design of the X-E1 interchangeable lens camera will have wide appeal.

Classical design for intuitive operation

Made in Japan, the X-E1 exudes class and high quality, as can be seen from each of its components. The top and front covers are made from die-cast magnesium for a rigid, yet delicate design. At roughly the same size as the FUJIFILM X100, the X-E1 is refreshingly compact and lightweight (just 350g(1)), in spite of its advanced feature set. Featuring a rubber grip for additional hold, it is a well balanced camera with the X lens mount positioned centrally on the camera so that the weight of the body and the lens is distributed evenly.

Its ease of use was paramount in the minds of FUJIFILM’s engineers when designing the X-E1. As on other X series models, the sides of the dials on the top panel feature a textured pattern for smooth adjustment. Users can turn the aperture ring on the lens with their left hand, and operate the dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on the top panel with their right hand for quick setting changes without having to take their eye off the viewfinder. Functions frequently used during shooting can be assigned to the Fn (Function) button for a smooth photo shoot.

The X-E1 will be available as a silver and black version, perfect for those who want a cool, retro look to emphasize their own style, and as a solid black version for photographers who would prefer to blend in to their surroundings without drawing the attention of their subjects.

Despite a host of convenient features and lightweight design, the X-E1 can take approx. 350 shots per charge(2), allowing users to concentrate on their photography without having to worry about the remaining battery power. Additionally, the camera features a high-precision built-in flash equivalent to guide number of 7(3).  The use of the proprietary TTL metering system enables indoor shooting of close-up shots with an appropriate amount of light.

High-definition and high-luminance 2.36 million dot “OLED electronic viewfinder”

Unlike the X-Pro1 with its hybrid multi viewfinder, the X-E1 camera boasts an OLED electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36 million dots, making it one of the highest resolutions available on digital cameras with EVFs(4). The viewfinder on the X-E1 has a unique lens structure consisting of two glass elements and one double aspherical element, which in conjunction with the OLED offers an incredibly high quality display.

The OLED panel offers a high resolution of 2.36 million dots, with a high contrast ratio of over 1:5000(5) resulting in rich gradation and faithful reproduction of focus, exposure, white balance and film simulation effects in the viewfinder.

The two glass elements and one double aspheric element used in the viewfinder construction offers an experience similar to an optical viewfinder, with a clear, distortion and aberration free view to all corners of the image.

A wide 25 degree horizontal field of view allows the user to scan the entire scene quickly and easily. The inclusion of a soft resin on the eyepiece allows eyeglass wearers to comfortably use the viewfinder, whilst the diopter dial allows you to adjust the distance between your eye and the EVF, to a position suited to your viewing preference.

Featuring FUJIFILM’s proprietary APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor offering exceptional color rendition and image resolution

The FUJIFILM X-E1 features the same 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor as the FUJIFILM X-Pro1. Its unique color filter array can effectively minimise moiré and false colors without the need for an optical low pass filter. This makes it possible for the camera to maximise its advanced resolution capture, and to record each photograph brightly and clearly across the whole image.

Conventional color filters use a repeated arrangement of 2×2 pixel sets, which is prone to the manifestation of moiré and false colors. These are controlled with an optical low pass filter, inserted between the filter and the lens.  However, the low pass filter itself causes degradation in image resolution.  In contrast, the X-Trans CMOS sensor, inspired by the random arrangement of fine silver halide grains seen in photographic film, adopts a more complex, random arrangement of 6×6 pixel sets to reduce moiré and false colors. This innovative array of pixels eliminates the need for an optical low pass filter, and lets the X-Trans CMOS sensor capture unfiltered light from the lens avoiding any of the resolution reduction this causes, ensuring you get extra high resolution images that can withstand enlargement to a 2,700mm x 1,800mm size.

This unique color filter arrangement is also incredibly effective in noise separation in high sensitivity photography producing low-noise images even at high ISOs. In addition, one advantage of the use of the large APS-C sensor is the ability to create a large beautiful bokeh background effect – the out of focus effect when shooting with a shallow depth of field.

The X-E1 features the fast, high-precision “EXR Processor Pro” for quick responses whatever you’re shooting. The EXR Processor Pro receives image signals from the complex X-Trans CMOS Sensor and processes the information swiftly ensuring you can move on to your next shot without delay.

Pair the X-E1 with the new FUJINON XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS lens for maximum performance with high-speed autofocus of 0.1 sec

The highly agile linear motor in the newly announced XF18-55mm lens combines with the high-speed signal readout of the CMOS sensor and the newly developed EXR Processor Pro, to achieve a huge leap in AF speed and precision performance. Contrast Detection in the X-E1 brings your subject into sharp focus in as little as 0.1seconds.

A masterpiece in optical technology, the high quality all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups, including 3 aspherical lenses and 1 extra low dispersion element, and a seven-blade rounded diaphragm.  This zoom lens covers a broad range of frequently-used focal lengths from 18mm in wide angle to 55mm mid telephoto(6) to cater for a variety of scenes including landscape and snap shots.

At F2.8-4.0 wide open, this fast lens is perfect for low-light photography or scenes with a beautiful bokeh effect. The compact design of this lens, made possible by optimising its component layout, enhances its portability. Advanced optical and mechanical designs are optimised to keep the lens compact, measuring 65.0mm×70.4mm (wide), despite offering maximum aperture of F2.8. The lens features an aperture ring so that users can adjust the aperture in a natural movement while holding the camera up to the eye, just as on other XF lenses. The lens includes an OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) to provide image stabilization equivalent to 4 stops, controlling the effect of camera shake and allowing users to seize perfect photo opportunities.

Original X Mount designed for maximum performance

FUJIFILM’s X mount system has a short flange back distance of just 17.7mm to maximize the advantage of the camera’s mirrorless design, which eliminates the mirror box mechanism.

The wide opening allows the lens to be mounted approx. 7.5mm into the body from the mount surface. The back focus distance has been reduced as much as possible to achieve the compact and lightweight lens design for easy portability. The short back focus distance also prevents vignetting to maintain high resolution to all edges of an image.

The mount features ten contact pins to facilitate high-speed communication between the body and lenses. Autofocus, aperture and other lens movements are conveyed to the body at high speed.

When fitted with a FUJIFILM M Mount Adapter, the X-E1 can use a wide variety of M lenses to broaden the scope of your photography.

Diverse shooting modes that faithfully reproduce conventional photographic film’s distinctive textures

The X-E1 offers FUJIFILM’s creative “Film Simulation Modes” to simulate the distinctive textures of conventional photo film. Use the high saturation “Velvia” for landscape shots with  stunning primary colors, “ASTIA” for faithful smooth skin tone reproduction and the more versatile “PROVIA” for its natural look, as well as two additional settings based on professional color negative films. Soft tonal PRO Neg.Std and the sharper PRO Neg.Hi are both suitable for indoor portrait photography.  Three types of filter simulation are also available for monochrome and sepia looks. The Film Simulation Bracketing function uses a single exposure to produce three images with Film Simulation effects applied.

Advanced digital processing enables “multiple exposure”, in which two exposures are superimposed to create a single image. After selecting the Multiple Exposure mode, take the first shot, and display the image on either the EVF or LCD monitor as reference when taking the second shot.  This system facilitates more accurate positioning and focusing.  The ability to take two shots while visually checking the finished image allows users to produce unique photographic expressions.

Full HD Movie recording

Shoot Full HD movies (1920 x 1080) at 24fps. In addition you can now use Monochrome or Film Simulation modes when video recording, and even take advantage of the X-E1’s large sensor and bright XF lenses to capture movies with beautiful defocused bokeh effect.

Connect a microphone (commercially available), with Φ2.5mm jack to the Microphone/remote release connector and record audio with enhanced clarity and presence.  The X-E1 allows you to take videos without having to worry about the camera body’s operation noise or lenses’ motor sound being captured.

(1)Including the battery and memory card, excluding the lens
(2)With the XF35mmF1.4 R attached
(3)ISO200・m
(4)FUJIFILM Research ; August 2012
(5)Varies dependent on image quality setting
(6)Equivalent 35mm format:27mm to 84mm 

Accessories available for the FUJIFILM X-E1

  • Leather case BLC-XE1
  • Fujinon XF Lenses
  • M Mount Adapter
  • Hand Grip HG-XE1
  • Three dedicated flash models to choose from depending on requirements

(EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)

  • Protector filters (PRF-39, PRF-52 and PRF-58)
  • Remote release RR-80