Having used the Fuji X-Pro 1 for a while I was convinced it was perfect. The button layout was spot on, nothing was ever to far and changing setting on the fly was incredibly easy, in no small way thanks to the constant knowledge that the optical viewfinder wouldn’t let me down. To my surprise I picked up the X-E1 and realised a few things I would change on the X-Pro.
Upon first glance the button layout on the X-E1 is exactly the same as the X-Pro 1, with things ever so slightly closer together thanks to the reduced size. All key elements are there, exposure comp and shutter speed dial on the top plate, fn button hidden next to the shutter, even the curved rear thumb grip holding the Q button remains intact. It was the simplest thing that stunned me. There is no lock on the shutter speed dial on the X-E1, the X-Pro locks at A and you must press the central button to release the wheel. It doesn’t sound like a big thing but when I was changing constantly from aperture priority to manual it did start to wear on my nerves. Something as simple as this omission has actually made this camera better for me. This is a very personal taste, I know some of you will be concerned about shifted settings etc.
The size difference is immediately noticeable. The camera weighs much less and fits my, admittedly girly, hands quite nicely, much in the same way the X100 does. In fact the X-E1 feels like an X100 with the added bonus of the X-Pro grip and button layout. This has got to be a good thing considering the success of the X100. I can’t see anyone being too put out by the smaller form factor, it’s a big decrease in size but rarely have I heard anyone have a problem with the X100 prior to the X-Pro. All in all, we’re good on this front.
I’ll get this out of the way; I don’t mind electronic view finders. The X-E1’s is beautiful. The image is clear, bright and crisp with very little lag noticed. The simple joy is you know exactly what you’re going to get. Gone are the grid lines from the X-Pro and your left with something simple and somewhat elegant. Getting used to the focus system of the X-Pro was somewhat of a learning curve, one that I got on with very well but one that doesn’t suit everyones style. The viewfinder pretty much sums up the X-E1: Simple, elegant and with stunning image quality.
There are of course disadvantages to this EVF. If you really like the X-Pro’s optical finder, like I do, then no, it’s not quite as good. There isn’t that extra special feeling you get when using the X-Pro’s view finder, subconsciously focusing on beautiful grid lines whilst experiencing the world around you. The thing is that not even this can detract from the good points – the quality and the sheer user friendliness of the X series.
I love it, admittedly I want one of each. The X-Pro’s viewfinder is worth the extra money alone. If, however, you’re after something that looks beautiful and gives you stunning images in return then you can pick the X-E1 and happily shoot away without a care in the world.
This isn’t the most geeked out review you’ll ever read, that’s because I don’t think we can talk about the Fuji X series in the same way we do Canon or Nikon DSLR cameras. Hopefully this will make you consider BOTH X series cameras, pick them up and compare them and make the decision from that. The simple fact is that both cameras are going to produce stunning images in exactly the same ways, the difference in the case is just HOW you get to that moment.