Fuji X-E1 vs. OM-D E-M1 (Part 3 - Fuji Final Thoughts)

final thoughts Jan 11, 2014

With our return to the States after three weeks abroad, I had plenty of work ahead of me processing the images I had captured. While I was plowing away at those images, I started to think about what I liked/disliked about the Fuji X-E1.

  • Retro styling and decent construction. The X-Pro1 has a very rugged build but lacks weather-sealing. The X-E1, being the lower-cost little brother, was not a ruggedly built but still felt solid in the hand. Retro styling cues included a threaded shutter release button that allowed me to take advantage of the Artisan Obscura soft release (which helped a lot actually).

  • X-Trans sensor and no AA filter. The Fuji X-Trans sensor uses a 6×6 pixel pattern to simulate the random layout of silver halide crystals on film. While this wreaked havoc on raw converters, this sensor (when combined with the removal of the anti-aliasing filter) allowed the Fuji optics to really strut their stuff. The sensor’s excellent dynamic range and low-light/high-ISO performance allowed me to hand hold most of my night shots.
  • KAIZEN. Fuji’s philosophy of kaizen (change is good) allows them to provide a level of service to the average consumer that is unmatched in the industry. Fuji’s firmware updates add features to as many models as possible (hardware permitting). During my ownership of the X-E1, Fuji deployed AF performance improvements as well as adding focus peaking. Sony, Olympus, Samsung, and Panasonic should all be taking notes on this part.
  • Really, really good glass. The kit lens that comes with the X-E1 (the Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R lens) is one of, if not the, finest kit lenses I have ever had the pleasure of using. Pretty much every other lens in the Fuji X-mount line up rocks just as hard.


  • Relatively slow AF. The contrast detection AF on the X-E1 is not the worst I ever encountered, but it is neither the best. Left in full auto mode, it could be a bit “quirky”. I set the AF to use only the center set of AF points and that calmed it straight down. It also had a penchant to hunt in low light, but I was aware of that and used focus/recompose to when that occurred. Luckily, the sensor is only 16 megapixels. Had it been the 36 megapixels in my Nikon D800e, this could have caused my number of keepers to be a lot lower (full frame, super hi res sensors have notoriously shallow depth of field and focus/recompose techniques can lead to a slight loss of sharpness in certain situations).
  • Limited lens selection. Fuji’s X-mount lens selection is rather small compared to other mounts, but their lenses are all very high quality (remember, Fuji makes the lenses for Hasselblad’s H-system cameras) and the list is growing.
  • Film simulations. Fuji includes the ability to apply film looks to any image even after it has been taken. Fuji started as a film manufacturer (and still is), so they know very well what images taken with their film stock should look like.
  • Shoot raw, convert in camera later. Most cameras do not grant the user direct access to the in-camera raw converter. You either record in raw or you don’t. Fuji says “fie” on that idea and allows you to take an existing raw file on the memory card and convert to a JPEG while applying whatever artsy filters and film simulations you see fit.
  • Stunning panoramas. While shooting panoramic images on a digital camera is not new, this feature, when combined with the output of Fuji’s excellent JPEG engine, produces some rather stunning results.
  • Straightforward operation. Shutter speed set via dial on top. Aperture set via ring on lens. Exposure compensation via top plate dial. The only time I ever had to dive into a menu was to enable a sub mode or ISO.
I found the Fuji X-E1 a delight to use. The images were nice and sharp and the RAW files produced responded well (once X-Trans support was added – as of this post, DxO Optics Pro 9 still does not support X-Trans RAW files) to file manipulation. The camera is not perfect: the CDAF tends to hunt in low light in single shot mode and the continuous mode was nothing to write home about. This is a camera that wants you to slow down and think about the shot. The last time I experienced that was with my Leica M8. Fuji has addressed both of these issues in the current model: the X-E2. Still if you are in the market for a nice second hand camera, get yourself a well kept Fuji X-E1 and enjoy some deliberate photography again.
My E-M1 arrived the second week of December. Just in time for me to get acquainted with it before we headed off to Tennessee to ring in the New Year with friends in Gatlinburg.