More Thoughts on the Fuji X-E1


A little while ago, I spent some quality time comparing the Fuji X-E1 to the newer X-E2. I tried to give an honest appraisal of both cameras, pointing out where the X-E2 had leapt forward, and where it still fell short. In that comparison, I praised the X-E1 for its excellent value, image quality, and overall ability next to its younger sibling, even as I declared the X-E2 the overall better camera. That was back in January, and things didn’t change much until early May, when I picked up a second X-E2 for wedding work, and thought about putting the X-E1 out to pasture. Since the X-E1 vs. X-E2 comparison has been one of my most-searched and most read blogs, I figured it was worth talking about what changed between now and then… and maybe I’ll talk a little bit about why I don’t have Fuji’s newest darling, the X-T1.

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I could draw things out, and go into great detail about boring things that may or may not matter, but the crux of the issue is this: handling-wise, I still prefer the X-E1’s controls and UI a little better most of the time. Because the X-E1’s image quality is just as stunningly good as the X-E2’s, it is usually the camera I reach for for casual shooting, usually with the Fujinon 18mm f/2 or 18-55 f/2.8-4 attached. It’s a lot of little things, really… though the X-E1 is slower to focus, I LOVE my View/Mode button and its ability to divorce image playback from shooting. I love how skin doesn’t go all plasticky when shooting high ISO JPEGs with the X-E1.


The problem, though, is these weddings. They’re in low light, they push the limits of cameras, they involve fleeting moments that can’t be re-enacted. Some people think I’m insane for even attempting weddings with Fuji cameras, but so far I have had great success and come home with some of my favorite images ever, no qualifications, ifs, ands, or buts… that’s another discussion altogether, though. What finally pushed me over the edge to a second X-E2 was the failing of the X-E1’s EVF in low light.


Imagine trying to manual focus on dancing wedding guests at a romantically lit reception. The X-E1 CAN do it, but it involves a lot of fiddling and anticipation, as the EVF refresh rate drops precipitously when the lights go down, and you end up seeing moments gone past in the EVF while trying to anticipate images yet to be. It is a frustrating exercise, and really pushes the camera to the breaking point. When Fuji announced firmware that would make the X-E2’s refresh rate as good as the XT-1’s, it was an easy decision, and the second X-E2 arrived and went straight to work. The side benefit of shooting with two of the same camera is that they are interchangeable and you know what’s where going back and forth quickly.


With the X-E1 retired from professional duty, I deliberated what to do with it. I half-heartedly put it up for sale, a bit overpriced and not widely advertised. Nothing, of course, happened. Then I took the strap off, put the 18mm f/2 on it, and started carrying it around with me everywhere. In this configuration, it easily fits in the smallest camera bag or, wrapped in a Domke protective wrap, any bag at all… or no bag. Each time I contemplated getting an X100 or X100s, I remembered that I had a capable camera already that could be relatively compact, or slightly less so but more versatile. I realized that though it lacks a leaf shutter and silent operation, I still have a camera that is relatively quiet and has buttons that are easier to manipulate. As for the hybrid viewfinder of the X100, it’s never been something that’s make-or-break for me, so it didn’t really factor into my musings.


In the end, I’ve kept the X-E1 as my go-everywhere companion and it is the camera I reach for each day for casual shooting. Sometimes I use the X-E2s, of course, if they are more convenient at the time, if they have the lens I want to use on them, or I know I’ll want to share my photos via Wi-Fi right away. They are also the cameras I reach for any time I am being paid, as they are just that much easier to use with their better EVFs and autofocus. But, as I said before, the X-E1 is still a very capable camera, and maybe the Fuji camera I would still PREFER if I were primarily a landscape shooter, or even someone who just shoots primarily in decent  light. Though the X-E1 still trails the newer cameras in some ways, Fuji has been good about keeping it competitive in other ways–with focus peaking, autofocus improvements, and other tweaks. Right now, with used prices between $375-$400 USD, the X-E1 represents a screaming deal in my opinion, and is still a great way to try out the Fuji system if you’re on the fence.


So, even though the older camera has technically been replaced, it still frequently finds a place in my bag, and rewards my efforts over and over with superb image handling.


As for the X-T1, well… what’s not to like? The enormous EVF obviously is a great appeal, as are the additional controls, the more ergonomic grip, the better autofocus trackings… I could continue rattling off the specs. Indeed, I have considered it a number of times, and it’s certainly not a camera I have ruled out entirely.

The thing is, though, that part of selling all of my top-shelf Canon gear and buying into the Fuji system was about letting go of the urge to upgrade, of being pulled to shore out of the stream of constant upgrades, updates, and searching for the next piece of gear that will suddenly make me a better photographer. Fuji, for me, represents letting go of the gear–which is hard–and focusing on the photographer. Focusing on how I can see better, do better, live better.

The X-E1 is enough. The X-E2 is certainly enough. For a short bit, and for the first time since I started seriously pursuing image-making, I have reached some sort of Zen place where I don’t feel the need to compulsively spend money on incremental technological improvements.

That’s not to say, of course, that the X-E2 will be my last camera or anything like that… I would never make such sweeping, ludicrous claims.

I’ve just reached a happy, quiet place, and with my X-E1 and X-E2s, I’m content to stay here awhile and record things as best I can.

***NOTE TO FUJIFILM: Just because I don’t necessarily have a NEED for an X-T1 doesn’t mean I’d turn it away if, you know, it just happened to arrive at my house one day, maybe along with a 14mm f/2.8 or 10-24 f/4! ;)



  1. Peter Morris on Jun 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Mark. I very much tend to agree with the comments you have made here. I live in the UK and have really taken advantage of some very recent and good value promos from fuji. In the process of migrating over from nikon. Currently, like you, I have 2 X-E2s, plus my original X-E1, which I will keep for the moments with a 27 lens attached.

    Went out late last night with an E2with 18-55 lens, plus my NikonD7000, with 18-140 lens. Wanting to take shots of the local waterfront lights. The water was very still and there were some incredible reflections. After a short while, I switched off the 7000, put the ISO up to 3200 on the fuji, and that was it!! Really no comparison with the shots, the fuji won hands down.

    However I will still keep my other 7100 for bif etc. now wondering whether to get the new 18-135, or the 10-24, as I can’t afford both.

    All the best from Peter in Cardiff.

  2. mschueler on Jun 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Peter–Thanks for sharing your experience. I actually have borrowed my dad’s Nikon D90 for a few days, mostly because it was available and because I wanted to do some casual comparisons. I had the Fujis concurrent with my former Canon 5DmkIII + L glass kit, but wanted to compare the Fujis to a Nikon crop sensor DSLR. I’m finding, however, that aside from the great fun afforded by the Sigma 10-20mm lens that’s attached to the D90, I have no real desire to pick up the Nikon, greatly preferring the size, handling, and bright viewfinders of my Fujis.

    No real shock, I guess, but testament I suppose to just how fully I’ve committed. I hate sounding like a Fuji evangelist as I am generally pretty brand agnostic, but I’m just so often pleasantly surprised by the results.

  3. mike a on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I have a xe1 and a 2. Love them both. The other day while on assignment I realized I had my Nikon on my shoulder all day and never used it. Yep it’s for sale. I just love the Fuji’s.

  4. Heikki on Jul 1, 2014 at 1:04 am

    For me Fuji is still an odd one. I love the files. colors are the best I’ve seen, and high ISO’s seem to have a quality grain in them. Very much unlike my workhorse D600 which is more of a computer then a camera. But the thing is, I use a lot of flash during the weddings. And Fuji has really bad TTL. And strobing is a bit of a pain too since the exposure preview doesn’t work as it should, here, of course, X-Pro1 would be good with the optical finder. Anyway. As soon as Fuji brings their flash system up to speed with DSLR’s, I’m jumping ship. Until then, it’s a nice photobooth camera.

  5. Jonas Rask on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Very nice article.

    But what I really need to say is how AMAZING I find the picture of the kids under the umbrella. I rarely find myself smiling at pictures on these review sites, but man that image is PERFECT! You caught a very special moment.



  6. mschueler on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Heikki–thanks for your comment. I agree that the Fuji flash system needs some work… however, I have been using the EF-42 with good success during receptions (the only time I use flash), and at a recent reception even used the on-board flash as fill with good success (though the recycle is painfully slow). Also, you know that you have the ability to change the exposure preview, right? You can set it to NOT preview exposure in manual mode, allowing you to see/photograph the scene. I greatly prefer the bright EVF in lowlight to an OVF, where sometimes it is hard to make out just what you’re trying to focus on.

  7. mschueler on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Jonas–thank you very much for the kind words. That is my five year old son and a good friend of his. Photos like that are really the reason I photograph anything in the first place–the weddings, family portraits, and other paid engagements are a nice perk, but not the driving force behind it. :)

  8. Ken Jacques on Jul 3, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Mark, Thank you for such insightful articles. I sold my nikons last October to go totally Fuji X Series. Shooting Theatre, Classical Music, Dance, Corporate and weddings has become fun again.

    I am amazed that the jpg’s are beautiful right out of the camera. The theatre work has been amazing for me and taken my work to a new level. Even to the point where the theatres have me shooting video as well. this site has some examples of the theatre work:
    Like the Joans had said for me the weak link is the flash. I too use EF-42,, but not thrilled with it, just use it.
    Thanks again,

  9. yeiter on Jul 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

    I finally held the great and wonderful xt-1 in my hands the other day and frankly it just felt too small, with too many small buttons and mushy dials…the EVF of course, and other features are killer but…I like you am a little annoyed by the continuous stream of “new and improved”.

    I have the xpro and the x100s, and recently got an amazing deal on an xe-1 with 18-55 lens for $550. The lens alone!! At any rate, I am old and remember the days when autofocus did not exist…and when you had 36 shots on the roll. Composing, focusing, considering etc. all took a little more seriously maybe.
    I do find that the AF gets me closer to capturing “moments” …but with all the fuji’s excepting the xe-2 and now the xt-1, they leave something to be desired. I had two horses rear up right in front of me yesterday morning early light, an amazing moment…and what I got after the lens zoomed in and out and in and out was the horses ass as it ran off. And so I patiently await the xpro 2 in hopes that my perfect camera will arrive at my door some day as well!

    Thank you for a wonderful and detailed article on the xe-1 etc…It is a refreshing critical examination that stands apart from the vast majority of articles that seem to be lusting and fornicating over the latest and greatest technologies.

  10. Mary on Jan 2, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Mark: Thanks for you honest analysis. I have been a Canon person for years/now using the 70D. This said, I think the XE-1 is the most handsome camera I have owned. The short-falls re lag times etc. mean nothing when the whole camera is evaluated. Again, the look, the controls, the “engine” of the camera are what make it a gem. It is a classic, and I will indeed pass it on to my granddaughter in years to come. A camera can do many things/so can editing. But who captures the shot is the artist whether with a pin hole camera or the finest Leica ever made.

  11. Eric on May 11, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Mark, enjoyed this piece very much, not least because it resonates with my own experience.
    Came to Fuji via the (expensive to me) X-T1. Later acquired a used X-E1 for a song, just to have a second body for the 27mm pancake. Liked the IQ on the X-E1 better than the X-T1 – cleaner, less smeary details to my eye – so sold the X-T1. Now of course tempted by the X-Pro2, but will never let the X-E1 go despite its focusing quirks and less than stellar EVF.

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