Fujifilm Updates the X-System with the X-E1 Camera and 18-55mm and 14mm XF Lenses

You probably heard of this camera already. Let’s not fool ourselves — which product isn’t leaked days or weeks before its official announcement these days? But let’s pretend you haven’t read all the pre-announcement leaks, and let’s pretend you’re as excited as if you first heard about this.

Fujifilm today announces the X-E1 digital camera, the latest addition to the company’s successful and acclaimed series of retro-styled cameras for the advanced enthusiast. Sporting the same 16 megapixel X-Trans CMOS sensor as its bigger brother the X-Pro 1 (read our review here), the X-E1 is basically the same camera, sans the optical viewfinder, but with some additional tweaks that were made since the X-Pro 1’s launch (and user feedback.)

What’s new?

The X-E1 isn’t just an X-Pro 1 without the optical viewfinder, though. As the ‘E’ in its designation suggests, it’s the Entry-level (or Enthusiast’s?) offering in the X-system. Featuring the same X-mount which is compatible with Fuji’s XF lenses, the X-E1 promises to be much more responsive than the X-Pro 1. Autofocus is said to be much quicker: with the new 18-55mm kit lens (more on that later), the X-E1 allegedly locks focus in .1 second. Shutter lag is down to .05 seconds, and X-E1 is ready to go from switching it on in .5 seconds.

While these numbers may in part be due to some tweaks in the X-E1’s firmware (over that of the X-Pro 1), the main reason for the faster AF is probably the new linear focusing motor in the 18-55 mm lens. So if you’re unhappy with the X-Pro 1’s focusing speed, maybe using the new XF lenses will improve things.

Then there is the 18-55mm lens: this will be the X-E1’s kit lens, but the camera will also be available as a body-only option. The XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 has an optical image stabilizer built in, which is able to compensate camera shake for up to 4 stops longer exposures. It uses aspherical elements as well as ED glass, and comes in black and silver to accompany the black and silver bodies respectively.

Beside the X-E1 and the 18-55mm zoom lens, Fujifilm also announces a new 14mm f2.8 lens, which is equivalent to a 21mm super wide angle lens on 35mm full-frame. Unfortunately, there are no pictures available of the new 14mm lens as of the time of writing this article. UPDATE: We were able to procure a picture of the 14mm lens, see below. As for the X-Pro 1, according to Fujifilm, it will only be compatible with the new lenses after a firmware update.

So, what else has changed over the X-Pro 1? Not much, except that the X-E1’s body is (according to Fuji) 30% smaller. As can be seen in this top view, the shutter speed dial lacks the unlock button of the X-Pro 1. The rest of the layout is pretty much the same, which holds true also for the front (see pictures above) — the lever to switch between the optical and electronic viewfinder lacks as well, obviously. On the rear, the only thing that’s changed is the location of the review button. Since the X-E1, other than the X-Pro 1, comes with a built-in flash, a flash button has been added.

So all in all, the X-E1 is pretty much an X-Pro 1 without optical viewfinder, with an updated firmware and with a slightly lower price tag. The image quality, for which the X-Pro 1 is famous, will be of the same quality though. Additionally — this is an entirely subjective statement –, the X-E1 is looking spectacularly good. Even more so than its X-series brethren, in my opinion.

Fujifilm X-E1 Specs

  • 16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor and EXR Processor Pro
  • FUJIFILM X-Mount
  • Extra high resolution 2.36 million dot Organic OLED viewfinder
  • 2.8-inch (460K dot) LCD
  • Built-in pop-up TTL Flash
  • ISO100 – 25600 (range of ISO200-6400 when using ISO Auto)
  • Q Menu shortcut button
  • In-camera RAW converter
  • Film simulation modes (Velvia, ASTIA, PROVIA, Monochrome, Sepia, PRO Neg.Std & PRO Neg.Hi)
  • Multiple exposure and panoramic shooting modes
  • Auto Bracketing functions (AE/ISO/DR and FS)
  • Full HD Movie (1920×1080) @ 24 fps
  • Approximately 350 shots per battery charge(4)

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 Specs

  • 27-84mm equivalent F2.8-4 lens
  • Highly responsive linear motor
  • Contrast Detection brings subject into sharp focus in as little as 0.1 seconds
  • High quality all-glass lens structure consists of 14 elements in 10 groups, including 3 aspherical lenses and 1 extra low dispersion element, as well as a seven-blade rounded diaphragm
  • OIS to provide image stabilization equivalent to 4 stops
  • 58mm lens filter size

Fujifilm XF 14mm f2.8 Specs

  • 21mm equivalent bright F2.8 lens
  • Consists of 10 elements in 7 groups, including 2 aspheric and 3 extra low dispersion elements and a seven-blade rounded diaphragm
  • 58mm lens filter size

Pricing and Availability

The Fujifilm X-E1 (body only) will be available in November 2012 for $999.95. The X-E1 + XF18mm-55mm (27-84mm) F2.8-4 lens kit will be available in November for $1,399.95. The XF14mm F2.8 single focal length lens and XF18mm-55mm (27-84mm) F2.8-4 lens will be available in November for $899.95 and $699.95, respectively.

The XF 18-55/2.8-4 as well as the XF 14/2.8 are listed on B&H Photo already, though they’re not available for pre-order yet. We’ll keep you informed about the camera’s and the new lenses’ availability in time.

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