The X-Pro1 was 2012’s most fun new camera, but if you’re one of those people that thinks saving money is fun too, Fujifilm has the answer. By reducing the X-E1’s footprint and stripping out the novel—but unhelpful—hybrid viewfinder, the company has shaved $400 off the X-Pro1’s already-reduced price tag, all without sacrificing much of that model’s stellar performance. For better or worse, our most enthusiastic praise is reserved not for the camera itself, but for the new kit lens. When the X-mount debuted, Fujifilm showed a commitment to high quality glass with its first three prime offerings, but many wondered if this performance would extend to a zoom lens. Now we know the answer. The X-E1’s 18-55mm kit lens is almost exactly as sharp as the XF 35mm f/1.4, which is really quite amazing for a zoom lens. We only wish the aperture and focus rings were mechanical. As for the most important tests, many scores match the X-Pro1’s numbers. Noise reduction is almost as strong, and white balance is nearly equivalent between the two. Dynamic range is also roughly equal, although the X-E1 is able to carry its performance further down the ISO range. We were surprised by the camera’s just-okay color accuracy score, and our high weighting of this test will drag the overall score down, however this is but one blemish against a backdrop of impressive results. Minus the X-E1’s smaller frame, hardware is also similar, most notably the “X-Trans” APS-C sensor, which omits a low-pass filter to trade video moire for sharper stills. Video is sort of an afterthought on this camera anyway, but at least continuous shooting speed is still a respectable 5.5-ish frames per second. Of course the X-E1 is still a lot of fun too. All of the retro mechanical dials are back, and they turn everyday photography into an empowering, hands-on experience. Apart from these dials, the button layout is not without its quirks and problems, and we do wish Fujifilm had made at least some effort in this area, but rest assured the X-E1 has wholly carried over the X-Pro1’s distinct shooting experience. Autofocus is also fixed. The X-Pro1 got a lot of flak for its lackluster focus system, especially when compared to the Olympus OM-D E-M5, its close competitor. While the X-E1 is still no match for Olympus’ autofocus efforts, and the camera still probably isn’t appropriate for fast action, excessive hunting isn’t nearly the problem it was for the X-Pro1. The Fujifilm X-E1 is all of the fun and none of the frivolity of the X-Pro1. The decision to exchange the hybrid OVF for lower costs will make a lot of consumers happy, but keeping performance at basically the same level is the real achievement here. We loved having this camera in-house and hate to see it go. Anyone who’s been watching this series but put off by the price should take a second look. We recommend this camera for those hoping to more fully enjoy the photographic process, or really anyone who wants to capture sharp photos and have a good time while doing so.
Overall Score: 7.6