The Fujifilm X-E1 is a compact system camera (CSC) unlike any of the competition out there - that's clear from taking just one glance at this well-oiled, retro-designed machine. But it's what's on the inside that's most exciting. When Fujifilm revealed its X-Pro1 CSC there was quite a buzz about its - rather absurdly named - "X-Trans" CMOS sensor. It works unlike anything else out there and produces image quality that punches above the weight of most APS-C sensors. Good job then that the X-E1 has ported the very same sensor to its heart, but can it deliver with equally impressive features and performance?
The Fujifilm X-E1 is a modern-day classic, but not in the mainstream sense. It's like a cult movie - it will perfectly fit the niche for some, why others will think it's mad. On the one hand this retro-styled, medium-sized compact system camera is expensive (£1,149 expensive) and lacks the kind of pepped-up performance of something like the Sony NEX-6 or Panasonic's range of G-series CSCs. But on the other hand here's a beautifully crafted, fundamentally different, and incredible imaging machine. It's the final quality of the X-E1's shots that elevate it to such high standards - assuming the so-so autofocus and battery life, small screen size and electronic-only viewfinder are manageable considerations.
Let's not forget that there's no better APS-C sensor in a compact system camera that we've yet seen, and that's why the X-E1 is, in spite of its listed shortcomings, a loveable winner.