Review: FUJIFILM X-E1

I recently managed to get my hands on a review unit of Fujifilm X-E1 camera, courtesy of Fujifilm Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Since I was given a week to play around with the camera, I decided to use it as an everyday camera – taking pictures of cars, models, and events.

Fujifilm X-E1 camera

It’s pretty refreshing to carry a different camera along with me for my shoots instead of my usual DSLR. I normally wouldn’t use any compact camera at all as they are too small and light for my big hands, but the X-E1, it’s size somewhere in between a compact camera and a DSLR, just feels about right in my hands. So what are my impressions of the camera?

About the camera

Retailing at RM 4988 (including kit lens) it certainly isn’t a camera for amateurs, but rather for people who appreciate quality design and build. It’s retro-styled body which is reminiscent of cameras designed in the 1970s, packs a 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor. It has a standard sized hotshoe for use with it’s own flashes (EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42), or you can use it’s very own built-in flash.

With the minor details out of the way, here’s how I used it.

For car shoots

The X-E1 works as well as any other DSLRs I used before for my car shoots. It takes a bit of time to get used to framing the picture through the LCD. If that’s not your preferred way of shooting then place your eye into the viewfinder and the camera will automatically turn off the LCD. There’s also a dedicated button to fully turn off the LCD.

One problem that I encountered with the viewfinder was some lag, which according to a friend of mine is pretty common with all cameras using an electronic viewfinder.

Metering is pretty spot on for me for normal scenes. Scenes with bright subjects tend to overexpose a bit, but it’s quite easy to adjust and compensate as the dial is strategically placed on the top right hand side of the camera. The availability of presets in the menu means that I’m able to change the colours of the final JPEG picture without any editing. I love the Velvia preset as the colours just pop out with good amount of contrast and saturation.

Car shoot

The below picture is tricky for all cameras, and in this regard a little editing was required. The meter had correctly exposed for the sky, thus making the car darker. A slight tweak here and there in Lightroom and all is well. This time I didn’t use any preset when the picture was taken, so the colours ended up being a bit neutral and dull.

Car shoot with lots of sky

For events

There’s nothing much to complain as the camera performs quite well for events. As with many other cameras that doesn’t cost over RM 10,000, AF does suffer a lot in low light, so I ended up using my usual technique of focus and recompose with the center AF point, and it didn’t disappoint me.

The built-in flash which is rated with a guide number of 7 meters, was quite useful when subjects are close by. When I used it I found that it wasn’t strong enough for anything over 3 meters, though it could just be some settings which I am not familiar with. If you tend to shoot a lot with some distance from your subject matter in badly lit locations I would suggest you to get one of the 3 flashes available from Fujifilm.

As for image quality for low light images, I found that noise at ISO 3200 is surprisingly quite usable – I don’t see it as a problem if you were to use the picture in A5 size.

Fujifilm X-E1 with built-in flash #3

Fujifilm X-E1 with built-in flash #2

Fujifilm X-E1 with built-in flash #1

For model shoots

I brought along the X-E1 for the Chinese New Year themed shoot with Sabrina – interested to see the image quality. It didn’t disappoint me at all! With the settings set to the same as my Canon 5D MKII, I mounted the Phottix transmitter onto the X-E1 hotshoe and started to snap away.

RAW conversion required the latest version of Lightroom. The colours came out almost as close as the one I got from my Canon, but it’s nothing major to be concerned about as colours as easily adjustable to own preference.

Sabrina

Conclusion

The Fujifilm X-E1 is a pretty good camera to have. It’s quite versatile in almost all situations (I haven’t tried shooting sports), and it will certainly make people take notice of you due to it’s retro design.

At the moment the lens selection is quite limited but Fujifilm is set to release 5 more XF lenses this year. I can see that the 18-55mm and the soon to be released 55-200mm lens as the standard combination for anyone who’s keen to invest into the Fujifilm X series of camera.

The only downside for a photographer like me is the price – a little bit expensive for my liking, but I’m quite sure that there are lots of photographers and hobbyists who are more than willing to pay for a well built, solid camera.

Head over here for sample pictures by Fujifilm.

Note: This review was originally posted on eosguy.com on 23 February 2013. Due to lack of time and resources to maintain different sites I decided to move the content from eosguy.com to this blog instead.

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