The Fujifilm X-E1 & 18-55mm XF Lens

18 mins read

When Fujifilm announced the new X-E1 camera I couldn’t help wonder where it sat in relation to the fantastic X-Pro1 that I had now grown to know and love. The X-E1 features all the power of the X-Pro1 but in a streamlined, reduced specification package and at its current price point  is going to have a lot of photographers particularly excited.

XE-1 with 18-55mm lens

Both the X-E1 and X-Pro1 share the same software engine and stunning 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor. Both cameras offer the amazing low light quality we are used to and although they have remarkable similarities they also have some key differences that will attract different photographers depending on their specific needs and style.

The Long Exposure eBook

Fujifilm have continued with the successful retro styling of the X range cameras it is as visually stunning as it is powerful.

Fujifilm X-E1 review

[box]The Fujifilm X-E1 in half leather case. Photo taken with the XF1. You can see both the IS and Aperture switches on the body of the lens.[/box]

I will look at the differences between the cameras later. I opted for the silver option as I love the look of the X100 and view the X-E1 firmly as a replacement to the my first experience with the Fuji’s mirrorless camera range. The X-E1 is perfect for the shooter who doesn’t quite need all the features of the X-Pro1 and who wants to break into the interchangeable lens setup.

Image Quality

Because the X-E1 uses the same sensor as the X-Pro1 the image quality is nothing short of amazing and it means the camera is already supported by Adobe Lightroom 4. I frequently receive emails asking how I find Lightroom for processing of X-Pro1 files and although I have read many photographers struggling with the format I still find shooting RAW and LR4 perfectly acceptable.

To be honest if I had any major issue with the RAW files I would have moved back to shooting JPG. I have no doubt Adobe will improve their support for the X-Trans sensor in upcoming updates but  at least there is support, Aperture users are still, sadly lagging well behind on support for the X-Pro1.

Over the last year I have really got to the know the sensor and how Lightroom processes the files so much so I’ve created a number of Lightroom presets designed for using with the X-Trans sensor, see FlixelPix Grit and FlixelPix Mono.

Belfast Streets

This Belfast street was captured on the X-E1 and processed in Lightroom using the FlixelPix Grit Preset. (X-E1 with 18-5mm lens) [/box]

The X-E1 Half Case

I think I managed to find the only X-E1 half case in the UK this week. I highly recommend the case if you own the XE-1 it added a bit of grip and protection while also keeping the controls as accessible as possible, there is even access to the battery/memory card door at the base of the camera.

The Fujifilm X-E1 half leather case[box]The Half Leather Case has a little door on the bottom to allow access to the battery and memory card compartments.

In addition to the half leather case Fuji also supple a black cloth bag to keep your camera safe in your bag. The bag is a quality cloth with 4 Velcro corners and for the life of me I still haven’t worked out how it works, I will keep trying. The one negative is that I  wish the strap was long enough to carry the camera over the shoulder (like a messenger bag). The strap is sadly only long enough for the around your neck tourist look. If anyone comes across any extra long replacement straps then please do let me know.

X-E1 or X-Pro1?

Probably the most frequently asked question is what is the difference between the X-E1 and X-Pro1? Well in my opinion the X-Pro1 feels a little bit ore solid in the hand but both celebrate impeccable build quality.

The X-E1 comes with a brilliant little built in flash, it is 30% smaller than the X-Pro1 feeling more like the X100. There are a more key differences between the two cameras.

Keep off the Grass


The X-E1 doesn’t offer an Optical View Finder (OVF) and the LCD screen at the back is smaller. Actually the X-Pro1 offers a 3″ screen (1230K dots) where as the X-E1 has a 2.8″ LCD at just 460K dots. The X-Pro1 offers a 1.44 million pixel LCD viewfinder, while the X-E1 features a 2.36 million pixel OLED viewfinder.

Body and Features

The X-Pro1 is 100% magnesium alloy in construction whereas the back of the X-E1, like the X100 is actually made of strong, high quality plastic. It perhaps isn’t as strong but it is certainly lighter. The X-Pro1 has a locking shutter speed dial, the X-E1 doesn’t although I do think the exposure dial on the XE-1 is better and less prone to accidental adjustments.

There are also a few differences in the connectivity options on both cameras. The X-Pro1 has the bonus of a PC sync cable input for those  photographers who need the option and although the X-E1 doesn’t offer a PC sync it does have a microphone input for use while video recording.

The Differences in Reality

I think it is important not to consider the X-E1 as a lesser option to the X-Pro1 as it just as powerful it is just a different beast. Perhaps Fujifilm used  ‘E’ to mean Enthusiast? The image quality is going to be identical it is just the build, feature list and  price that differ. It comes down to what you need or what you can afford.

Belfast City Hall

The X-E1 as a Second Shooter

I know many fellow X-Pro1 users are looking at the X-E1 as a second camera  replacing X100s or a digital SLR. If you are such a photographer you will be glad to know that both cameras use the same battery system.

This sounds like a relatively minor point but if you have been in a two camera environment you know just how much of a benefit it is to use two cameras that use the same batteries. On the topic of power, the X-E1 with the OLED viewfinder is a capable of 350 images per charge. The X-Pro1 on the other hand can shoot 300 images using the EVF and approximately 1000 when only using OVF.

The Fujinon 18-55mm XF Lens

I went all out and my Fujifilm X-E1 came equipped with Fujifilm’s first X-Mount zoom lens the Fujinon XF18-55m F2.8-4 R lens. This rather long product code means the 18-55mm lens offers a maximum aperture of F/2.8 at the widest focal length (18mm) and f/4 at  55mm (full frame equivalent sizes). Note full frame equivalent size is 27-84mm.

Belfast Street Photography

[alert type=white ]It was great to be able to use the zoom lens to get right in on the action of this street performance. You can view a larger version of the this image on my 500px and flickr areas.[/alert]

Street Performers with the Fujifilm X-E1

Many photographers will know the range of 18-55 but I have demonstrated the advantage of a zoom lens in the images below. I placed the X-E1 on a tripod and shot the first image at 18mm.

Hillsborough X-E1

I think zoomed to the maximum 55mm and took a shot from the exact same point. I used auto Aperture for both images.

X-E1 Hillsborough

As I have already said the aperture is f/2.8 at the widest point (18mm/27mm) and F/4.0 at the telephoto end (55mm/84mm) if you just want to concentrate on framing the shot with the zoom lens there is a switch on the side of the lens to set it to auto-aperture. The auto aperture mode makes it ideal as a walk around lens and for long exposure and landscape work you can turn off auto and use the lens wheel to adjust the aperture right down to f/22.

Fujinon 18-55mm Bokeh at f/5.6

Even at f/5.6 (above) the lens produces rich consistent bokeh, I have been really impressed at the bokeh from the Fujinon lenses. A number of months ago I tested the XF lenses against a Canon f/1.4 and a (borrowed) flagship f/1.2 50mm lens you can see the results here.

Fujinon XF18mm-55mm at a glance:

  • 27-84mm equivalent F/2.8 to f/4 lens
  • Contrast Detection brings subject into sharp focus in approximately 0.1 seconds
  • Highly responsive linear motor
  • Quality all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups, including 3 aspherical lenses and 1 extra low dispersion element, seven-blade rounded diaphragm
  • Image Stabilisation equivalent to 4 stops

For a zoom lens the 18-55mm is still remarkably sharp. I know this isn’t the most scientific test ever but I shot a coin with the 18-55 (locked at 35mm) and one with the 35mm XF Prime lens. I then superimposed the two shots for a side by side comparison. The image below is at zoomed at 200% so you can see the detail. The full size version of this JPG is on flickr.

Fujinon 18-55mm v 35mm XF lens

If you check the full size version you will get a better indication of just how similar the lenses actually are. The 18-55mm although the same size as some “kit” lenses it is in a completely different league. This is is no kit lens and X-Pro1 users should seriously consider the XF18-55mm, it even comes with Image Stabilisation equivalent to 4 stops.

Fuji X-E1 Belfast
[box]Late evening shooting hand held, you can see the lights of the old bank buildings beaning through and the building is perfectly sharp.[/box]

I really think zoom lenses have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade, I might end up being criticised for thinking they now compete with the quality of a prime lens but genuinely I am seeing fewer differences and I not just talking about the Fuji lenses when I say that.

As the mirrorless camera market continues to grow and the technology continues to improves many dSLR users are putting their weighty investments to the side to focus on a more versatile set up. There is no doubt Fujifilm are leading the way in mirrorless innovation since they released the X100 in 2011.

For me Fujifilm are about bettering the brilliant, it is their dedication to offering photographers the best from their gear that makes each new firmware release something to get excited about.

Fujifilm X-E1 with 18mm lens attached

The Fujifilm X-E1 is a stunning little camera that packs the power of a high end digital SLR in beautiful compact camera package. Does this quality in a compact camera flag the end of the DSLR? For the me the X-E1 is the perfect camera for all of those photographers out there looking at or upgrading an entry level DSLR. The X-E1 offers the same level of photographic quality but the package and user experience is just so much more enjoyable.

The X-E1 may also be the perfect camera for the current host of X100 users who are looking to make the jump to an interchangeable lens system but who were put off by the price of the Pro level X-Pro1. Regardless of the motivation the X-E1 is sure to impress.

As for the new zoom lens, the 18-55mm combines versatility with image quality. With the lens hood attached it is only a little bigger lens to the 35mm XF prime lens and thus I was more aware of it on the camera as I walked around Belfast. It certainly isn’t DLSR size or weight but it is a little longer on the front of the camera which takes a little getting used to but again this isn’t big and heavy by any means! Even with the hood attached it fits comfortably into my Think Tank 5 back with plenty of room for additional lenses and accessories.

X-E1 in Think Tank 5 Bag

The additional size is a very small cost to having the full spectrum of focal lengths with a simple twist of the lens ring. The 18mm-55mm scope means you have a quality lens capable of landscapes and vistas at the wide end right through to razor sharp portraits at the 84mm (full frame equivalent) telephoto end of the scale. If budget is a constraint the zoom lens covers the range of the Fuji’s three primes but at a more affordable price tag.

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Although I love shooting at a fixed focal length with the 35mm XF being my favourite lens I foresee the 18-55mm will see a large amount of use for general day to day shooting. The 18mm-55mm zoom lens offers my favourite 23mm and 35mm focal lengths at the twist of a lens barrel and with the added four stop Image Stablisation I am not sure you could ask for more. If you are currently an X-Pro1 owner and are looking at the X-E1 as a second body then the kit deal that includes 18-55mm lens might be worth considering.

As for the X-E1 it is everything you would expect from Fujifilm, a variation on a theme it offers an affordable version on the brilliant X-Pro1 with a slightly different specification perfect. Photographers looking for a good value, high quality replacement to their DSLR should look no further. Did I mention the photo output is stunning? Check the flickr set for larger versions of the photos in this post. You can read about my long exposure experiences with this lens here. 


X-E1 Flickr Set
The Long Exposure eBook
The X-E1 Flickr Group


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.


  1. David,

    A great in-depth review of the X-E1 that I really enjoyed reading. I am currently considering selling my XPro-1 as I think I stretched outside my means just a little and this may be a very viable alternative.

    Definitely food for thought, I’m off to investigate…


  2. Great review!
    I have lost numerous great pictures, ‘cos of my DSLR’s bulk and weight.
    I missed the fun I had, with a small olympus e-410 years ago.
    I’ll wait a little, ’till apple decides what to do with aperture in general and when they ‘ll support this file. (fingers crossed)

    Would you say we have a King in travel photography?

  3. Definitely, brilliant little camera. Great with the primes and the zoom. I still love the 35mm if I am not going out to take photos of anything specific (if that makes sense).

  4. Great review David. I still have my X100, not quite ready to make the leap to interchangeable yet. How did you find shooting without a viewfinder? There’s something fine about being able to look through the OVF/EVF in the X100 that I love. Not sure I could get used to using just the LCD in the back and its small.

    Still, another great option from Fuji, their cameras are just getting better and better.

  5. Hi David….Thanks very much for the great review and, in particular, the great info about the kit lens as this is the first review I’ve read of that lens.

    Question: Are the images you posted jpgs from the camera or were they RAW images converted in LR…or something else?


  6. The X100 is a great camera David. If you already own the X100 you will know that already. If you are trying to decide between the true the multi-lens system is brilliant.

  7. The images in the post are JPG but all the images after the first day are RAW. Check the flickr set of the R-Space Gallery images. They were all RAW and processed in Lightroom 4.

  8. Thank you David for a very informative review.
    After using the little Fuji X10 for a year (and leaving my Canon DSLR at home), I was debating to get the Fuji X-E1. Your review – especially the part regarding the ‘kit’ lens – made my decision easier.
    Thanks again!

  9. Can you, please, post the video that shows how fast AF performance is with 18-55? I’ve been considering switching to fuji x system for some time and AF performance has been the biggest reason that stopped me. I really do hope that 18-55 makes it “good enough” for general usage.

  10. Great review David. I’ve been waiting to hear your thoughts and you’ve just re-adirmed my desire to get one.

    I think right now the X-E1 with 18-55mm kit lens and a 35mm f/1.4 would cover all of my bases. I just need to figure out how to get all the funds together! 🙂


  11. Thanks for the excellent review.

    I was very interested in your views because I’ve been using this camera with the 35mm for several days now. Generally I’m impressed with the results. Coming from an SLR it’s a wee fit fiddly at times one way or another, but very handy to carry around and delivers very clean images. I like separating focus from the light reading but the AE-L button’s not easy to find sometimes. Practice!

    I spent several hours trying to get close to the high quality JPEGS with my processing in the supplied software, which isn’t easy to work with. I’ve Lightroom 3.

    I wonder if I’m getting better focussing results manually than with the autofocus? Hope I’m wrong. Had you any issues? The zoom lens sounds excellent. Would be nice to have but I’m getting an adapter for my SLR lenses, which will be interesting. The case is lovely, but what a price!

  12. I put my hands on both of the cameras for the first time in the previous weekend. I liked the X-E1 better for a few reasons.
    X-Pro1 is so much bigger and heavier and the OVF felt a little narrower(in comparison with the X100 OVF).
    As I plan to use one of the two cameras with the new 14mm lens I would use the EVF mostly anyway(keeping the X100 for OVF experience) 🙂
    The EVF on the X-E1 felt awesome, better than the one on XPro1 IMO.
    X-E1 + 35mm F1.4 is the coolest combo. The best size and weight as the Fujifilm X100 🙂
    Great review, enjoyed reading it, thank You.

  13. Thanks for the insight! As a current x100 owner I’m definitely considering an upgrade to the E1. One question… I don’t use the video option on the X100 due to the lack of manual focus (the constant searching for focus makes the video unwatchable in many instances). I’m wondering how and if that has changed now that we have lenses w/manual focus? Guess I’m just confirming that video CAN be shot in full manual focus mode.

  14. David, thanks for the review. I own an X100 and love it. I have successfully resisted buying an X Pro 1 and 35mm for around a year now, however the release of the XE 1 had reawakened these dark urges.

    I have one question for you – round my way the X Pro 1 is being offered at the same price as the XE 1, which would be your preference at the same price?

    I often use a 10 stop filter on the X100 for long exposure and value the OVF. I don’t shoot video at all so that is not an issue for me.


  15. Great write up. As Den mentioned, I’d like it if you could say a few words about the focusing abilities of the 18-55mm compared to the 35mm. Is it really faster? And when you speak about the lens having ”Contrast Detection” is that focus peaking? Thanks.

  16. Thanks for your great review. I’m also considering a small camera,like Fuji,because SlR are beginning to be heavy for me.
    I own a Canon 60 but this year I star using more and more my iphone. What is your experience with X10? Should I go for the XE? I would apreciate your opinion. I love your blog.

  17. Excellent article! I was unaware of these camera’s from FUJI. I have a FUJI S200EXR that I have thouroughly enjoyed and captured some great shots with. Glad to see FUJI leading the way to excellence in mirrorless camera’s.

  18. Hi,
    this is a great review, I’ve just bought an x-e 1 with the 18-55 lens, my initial thoughts are that it’s superb, I also own an X10, which I think is great, now I may be a little naive here but how do you rate the macro performance of the lens, I can’t seem to get it to focus very close at all, in fact it’s the same distance with the macro on or off !

  19. Nice review. Even with some doubts I have about the RAW format (way less than before thanks to you), the camera feels great in hand, and with such a lineup of existing and announced lenses, it is pretty much impossible to resist.
    Have you considered a guitar strap? Needs a few modifications, but there’s a great choice of designs out there.

  20. This is probably the best review of the X-E1 I have found so far. One question (before I slay the piggybank): Which focal length does the maximum aperture change at?

    Cheers, Patrick

  21. Hey David,
    I’m torn between XE and XP. With all features aside i’m down to size. I am leaning towards the XE kit however I’m 6’6″ with considerably large man hands. Is there a noticeable difference in size handholding both models? We don’t have camera store access here and unfortunately have no way to get my hands on them 🙁
    I’m really curioius if there is any true hand holding benefit to the 30% bigger size of the XP.

    Preciate any ‘hands on’ advice you could share 🙂


  22. Thanks for the review.

    I am at something of a crossroads with my photography right now so am reading these reviews with interest.

    I have owned a Canon 40D for the last 5 years or so and have some great lenses to go with it, including the 70-200 L which I have no wish to sell. I was planning to upgrade to either a 5Diii or a 6D but am now starting to think that I would just use something like the X-E1 a whole lot more.

    Looking at the image quality from this camera it looks to be at least as good if not better than my 40D, but an SLR does provide more flexibility and the 5Diii would provide near peerless quality.

    Hmmmm…what to do? I suspect I will keep the 40D and buy the Fuji with the 18-55 and 35mm 1.4 lenses. I’ll then use the SLR for super-wide angle and wildlife shots and the Fuji for pretty much everything else.

    Not sure why I am posting my thoughts, but hey ho – it’s always interesting to understand the thought processes that people go through when making a decision.

  23. I’ve had the X-E1, 35mm and a Voigtlander 15mm/f4.5 with X-M adaptor for almost 2 months now. Also got a Walimex fish-eye for fun, as if I needed any more. I love the sharpness and bokeh of the 35mm and so far the Voigtlander has been “melee weapon of choice”, I’ve enjoyed using both immensely. Yesterday, the zoom arrived and immediate impressions are how easy it is to use compared to the 35 and how much faster / quieter the AF. It looks like it’s going to be a very viable “street” lens, so long as it doesn’t scare people! The shallow DOF of the 35mm makes me work slower and harder, with great results I should add. With the zoom, DOF is inherently deeper and there’s a sense that I can “get away with” much less discipline and still get very pleasing results. Right, the sun’s out – I’m off to play with the new one 🙂

  24. So anytime I come by your site it gets me that much more excited about this camera. I’ve had the chance to test one out for a couple days with the18-55 and loved it but I am really wanting the 35mm. The ISO performance on this is something I had to see to believe. Amazing. Sharpness is great. But one horrible problem. I cannot get Lightroom to play nice. I just find there is a lot of colour bleeding and color smoothing. Portraits look as if he peron has put on too much foundation. However if I open the same files in SilkyPix, those issues disappear. But I don’t want that. My workflow is LR4. Have you seen anything similar? Ive seen a sample elsewhere that looked the same so I know it’s not me.
    I was going to sell off my dslr gear bu but now having to wait a while to see what happens.

  25. I still use LR4 with my X-Trans cameras. I do have hope that Adobe will improve their support especially now the X100s and X20 are coming.

  26. I was really hoping this camera would be for me. My main use is to capture hi res shots of my paintings and stitch to create big prints. I tried xe1 and canon 6d really really wishing the xe 1 was good enough, given the static subject. I love the design and dont fancy the bulk of the dslr. Alas the image quality of the 6d was superb, better IMO than d600 also. The xe1 struggled to pickup the colour vibrancy and lacked the focus and sharpness of image. I should note that these were handheld shots in the shop so hardly scientific but i could see where the extra money goes. Might be different with crop frame dslr but i wanted to compare the models i might buy.

  27. David, great review of features but one thing not mentioned. That is, continuous autofocus. What I’m thinking about is shooting birds in flight or any other moving object the way I did with my Canon 60D set on ‘auto servo’.

    I did buy the X-E1 a few weeks ago partly due to your review and it is everything you said but there is a great debate going on at DP review on whether the camera can track and shoot a moving object. No one is certain about this issue.

    Can you shed some light on this issue??

  28. To be honest I haven’t tried but I will give it a go over the next few weeks. I don’t tend to shoot that many moving objects so I haven’t explored this to date.

  29. Thanks for giving it a try. About 20% of what I shoot is or could be moving. It’s not a deal breaker as I can do it the old fashioned way.

  30. Hi David,

    Just “discovered” your website a couple of days ago, and I am absorbing all it’s content and reviews. I enjoy all the great comments for folks on your topics and discussions.
    I’m a new owner of the Fuji X-E1 with the 18mm-55mm lens, as well as the 35 f/1.4. So far, I am really liking this camera and both lenses. I think the upcoming super wide-angle, 10mm-24mm f/4 will be an interesting lens, especially with Fuji quality.
    Needless to say, your site and the comments of other contributors is most inspiring, and thank you very much.

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