Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

I rented a Fujifilm X-E1 and Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS to play around with during a recent family vacation to Sandbridge Island in Virginia Beach.

I rented a Fujifilm X-E1 and XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS to play around with during a recent family vacation to Sandbridge Island in Virginia Beach. Although disappointed in the camera, I captured decent images for the few days I had the X-E1. Read my review after looking at some of the pictures I captured with this camera and lens combination.

The Fujifilm X-E1, released in 2012, is a mirrorless digital camera featuring a 16.3 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor, EXR Processor Pro, and a 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder. It offers an ISO range of 200-6400 (expandable to 100-25600), Full HD video recording, and compatibility with Fujifilm’s X-mount lenses. The camera is praised for its retro design, excellent image quality, and lightweight, compact body.

The following have been lightly processed in Adobe Lightroom; auto tone, some cropping, and auto levelling.

I found it challenging to photograph the flying gulls. It wasn't easy to track the birds using the electronic viewfinder. It's easily done with the optical viewfinder of my Nikon D5100, but I found it quite challenging with the Fujifilm X-E1.

The X-E1 has a panorama mode. The Fujifilm X-E1's panorama mode allows users to capture wide, sweeping images by stitching multiple photos together in the camera. By selecting the mode and panning the camera across a scene, the X-E1 automatically combines the shots into a single panoramic image. This feature simplifies creating high-quality panoramic photos without requiring additional software or post-processing. I held the shutter down in this mode while panning slowly from right to left. It took several tries, but I felt I got the hang of it.

Spider in web
Spider · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Vine with house in the background. The house is out of focus.
Vine · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Yellow flower with out-of-focus yard in the background.
31 July 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
3625 Sandpiper Road, Sandbridge Island, Virginia · 31 July 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
gull flying
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
Sandbridge, Virginia Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS
The Beach · 2 August 2013 · FujiFilm X-E1 · XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS

I've read are a lot of reviews1 about the Fujifilm X-E1. After reading these reviews, I had planned to buy one, but I wanted to try it for myself. I wanted to see how the camera would perform before spending my money. Fortunately, it's easy enough to rent camera equipment. I chose an upcoming extended family vacation to the Virginia Beach2 area as the best opportunity for me to test the camera. I would have access to a range of subjects and situations. This trip included adults and kids ranging in age from seven months to 14 years. The house has a pool, and we were just a few houses from the beach. We had beach and pool activities planned, and I could expect action shots of toddlers jumping and splashing. We also expected a few overcast and rainy days so I would also have the opportunity to test the indoor low light ability of the Fujifilm X-E1.

I had the rental package shipped to the vacation house. I spent about 10-15 minutes reviewing the manual to familiarise myself with the controls and set up the camera. During the week I alternated between using my Nikon D5100 with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR lens and the Fujifilm X-E1 with the Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. Both cameras have APS-C sensors, so using these lenses would allow me to compare easily between the two cameras. Both lenses have optical image stabilisation which I disabled while I was shooting using the tripod.

The Fujifilm X-E1, even with a lens attached, felt lighter compared to my Nikon D5100 which itself is light compared to a Nikon D800. Having that Fujifilm X-E1 on a BlackRapid RS-7 strap on my shoulder all day long was a refreshingly pleasant experience.

The camera has a nice retro look to it that I like. One of my wife's cousins mentioned that it reminded them of one of those classic film cameras from the 1970s. Fujifilm's design goal is working.

But I had some problems. The Fujifilm X-E1 aperture ring controls are on the XF lens just before the zoom ring. I found myself often accidentally changing the aperture when I meant to zoom. This isn't a fault of the Fujifilm X-E1; just something I had to get used to after many years of using a Nikon. The same issue came up with other controls as well. The exposure compensation dial is where I would expect to find the aperture controls on my Nikon. I found that I was accidentally adjusting the exposure a few stops every so often. It took a few days to adjust to the controls.

Many reviews have written about the poorly performing auto-focus on the Fujifilm X-E1. Despite having the latest firmware3, I found the auto-focus lacking compared to my D5100. With the D5100, I could quickly compose an action shot of a child running across the beach and feel confident that the auto-focus would keep up not so with the Fujifilm X-E1. I found the auto-focus lagging and sometimes a bit jarring, especially when using the electronic viewfinder. I missed many shots. Sometimes the Fujifilm X-E1 focused on the wrong thing. I attempted to use manual focus, but I had little success with it. After a while, I found myself "spray-and-pray" method to capture action shots. It was frustrating. Fujifilm really needs to work on the auto-focus.

Compare the sample images captured on my Nikon D5100 and the Fujifilm X-E1.

Each of these images was shot in aperture priority mode4 allowing the camera to choose shutter speed. The Nikon D5100 images were shot at ISO 100. The Fujifilm X-E1 has a minimum ISO of 200. I shot outdoors on a tripod, being careful not to move the tripod as I mounted and unmounted each camera. I kept the composition as consistent as possible. The images were imported to Lightroom 5 and exported as JPGs without any edits.

You will notice that the Nikon chose to focus on the foreground allowing the text on the Fujifilm X-E1 to be easily visible and sharp. The Fujifilm X-E1, however, focused on the background, allowing my face to be in sharp focus but the text on the Nikon D5100 is blurred.

2 August, 2013 | Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 35.8mm 175 s at ƒ/8 | ISO 200
NIKON_D5100_20130802_412
2 August, 2013 – Nikon D5100 + AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G @ 35mm | 180 s at ƒ/8 | ISO 100

For this landscape shot5, the image from the Fujifilm X-E1 appears to be slightly darker and more colorful. I have to admit that in general, the images from the Fujifilm were more vibrant. I'm not really sure, but it's possible the exposure compensation dial was moved from zero. I didn't check.

X-E1_20130802_061
2 August, 2013 | Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm | 125 s at ƒ/22 | ISO 200
NIKON_D5100_20130802_409
2 August, 2013 – Nikon D5100 + AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR G @ 18mm | 115 s at ƒ/22 | ISO 100

The whites in the sky and the railing for the Fujifilm image appears to have a tinge of blue.

X-E1_20130802_060
2 August, 2013 | Fujifilm X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm | 1350 s at ƒ/5.6 | ISO 200
NIKON_D5100_20130802_408
2 August, 2013 – Nikon D5100 + AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR G @ 18mm | 1125 s at ƒ/5.6 | ISO 100

Quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed with the Fujifilm X-E1. I had high hopes for this camera. Despite the many reviews mentioning the poor auto-focus performance, I had hoped that it would be tolerable. For me, it isn't. I'm sure with time and patience, I compensate for the lag, but why would I want to. I thought the Fujifilm X-E1 would be my compact family vacation/travel camera. I just don't see it. Perhaps X100S might be a better camera for that purpose.

Check out a set of images from my vacation that was captured on the Fujifilm X-E1.


  1. Reviews from Ken Rockwell, Street Photo Works, Andrei Nicoara,Tim Bray, Brian Dougher, The Phoblographer ?
  2. We stayed in a rental house at 3625 Sandpiper Road in the Sandbridge area south of Virginia Beach. ?
  3. After I posted one of my first Fujifilm X-E1 images to Facebook, my friend and fellow photographer Jay Bryant helped me check that I had the latest firmware. ?
  4. I chose f/8 and f/22 and shot at either 18mm or 35mm. ?
  5. The images were shot from the 3rd floor deck of the rental house. The "buildings" in the foreground are part of a recreational vehicle (RV) resort?