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Review: Fujifilm X-E1

April 25, 2013 • Reviews

In terms of digital cameras, companies today tend to make their products look as futuristic as possible – but few focus on aesthetic value and achieving a retro look.

Fujifilm's X-E1 camera (image: Fujifilm)

This is where Fujifilm’s new camera range comes into play. The company’s latest digital cameras have all been given a retro look – this not only looks good, but works equally well.

What we like about it

The X-E1 is slightly smaller than the X-Pro 1 that we reviewed earlier but just because it is smaller, does not mean that it can take photos of lesser quality – in fact it is actually on par with some of the best cameras available on the market.

In terms of form factor, it fits comfortably in the hands of the user as there is enough room for a firm grip while still being able to change the settings on the screen. Although this model is slightly smaller, users will find all the functionalities that feature with professional Fujifilm cameras, but the quality of the images will remain of the same high standard.

Measuring only 129 (W) mm x 74.9(H) mm x 38.3(D) mm, and weighing only 350g, it is the perfect camera to pop into a backpack or a fairly large handbag. Even with its detachable lens it is one of the smallest cameras in the Fujifilm range and can easily be transported anywhere.

When the QuickStart mode is set to on, the camera takes half a second before it is ready for the first photograph – which is incredibly useful for catching those ‘spur of the moment’ shots. But even with the setting turned off it still takes about a second for it to be ready for action.

With the number of effective pixels reaching the 16.3 million mark, and a 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS with primary colour filter, users can rest assured that the image will be to their satisfaction.

Making use of the Fujifilm X mount for interchangeable lenses, there is about five Fujinon lenses that are compatible with this version. The 2.8-in TFT colour LCD monitor at the back is just big enough for users to review the image and to make the necessary adjustment. As usual with most digital cameras, users will be able to take image through the monitor and the viewfinder, which is approx. 2,360,000-dot OLED in colour.

The camera also comes with the functionality to take up to three images in one shot, each with its own effect – called Film Simulation. That comes in very handy when users want a Vivid, Sepia or a Black-and-White photo of the same subject and for post-photo editing.

What we do not like about it

The power switch at the top of the body is a little bit stiff to move around. While the camera takes 0.5 seconds to be ready, users will spend far more time trying to turn it on.

Another drawback is that the camera does not take very good quality images in low lighting straight out of the box, but that can be quickly fixed by experimenting and changing a couple of settings – or using a tripod. With that said, we were able to take a number of stunning photos of lightning going off over Johannesburg with standard settings and minimal effort. As with most professional and semi-professional cameras, it comes down to experimenting and figuring out what works best.

Conclusion

The XE-1 has all the bells and whistles that one would expect from a Fujifilm camera, and while having a cool retro look, it takes great quality pictures. Photography enthusiasts will not go wrong with the XE-1, and due to its smaller size, it will fit in perfectly with most active users. It is a great camera for semi-professional users.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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