I rented a Fuji X-E1 and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS to play around with during a recent family vacation to Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. Although I was disappointed in the camera I did capture decent images for the few days I had the X-E1.

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

The first two images are very similar but one is an HDR from three bracket images combined in Photomatix Pro.

This is the Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS.
Rodanthe Beach, Outerbanks, Rodanthe, North Carolina

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 24.3mm, ISO 200, 1/480s at f/11

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 24.3mm, ISO 200, 1/480s at f/11

My brother-in-law took this portrait of me with my wife and kids. I wanted to capture some sunset images from the nearby nature preserve. I was concerned that I wouldn't make it to the preserve in time. I handed the camera to my brother-in-law. He still shoots his DSLR in full auto mode.

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 37.4mm, ISO 640, 1/60s at f/5.6

I found it challenging to photograph the flying gulls. I've done it before with my Nikon but found it quite challenging with the Fuji. It was difficult to track the birds using the electronic viewfinder.

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, ISO 200, 1/160s at f/8

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, ISO 200, 1/400s at f/4

The X-E1 has a panorama mode. In this mode, I held the shutter down while panning slowly from right or left. It took several tries but I felt I got the hang of it.
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm, ISO 200, 1/600s at f/8

Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, ISO 200, 1/500s at f/7.1

I love this photo!
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 52.7mm, ISO 200, 1/750s at f/8
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, 190 sec at f/22, ISO 200
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm, 1140 sec at f/22, ISO 200
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm , ISO 200 , 1/550s , ƒ/8
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm , ISO 200 , 1/450s , ƒ/9
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, ISO 200 , 160 sec at ƒ/4
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm , ISO 200 , 1/300s , ƒ/4
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm, ISO 200 , 1/450s at ƒ/4
Fuji X-E1 + Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS @ 55mm , ISO 200 , 1/250s , ƒ/4

  • Aperture—ƒ/8
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—X-E1
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—35.8mm
  • ISO—200
  • Shutter speed—1/75s

I've read are a lot of reviews1 about the Fuji 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 Fuji 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 switched between using my Nikon D5100 with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR lens and the Fuji X-E1 with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 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 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 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. Fuji's design goal is working.

But I had some problems. The 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 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 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 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 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. Fuji really needs to work on the auto-focus.

The images below are images I included for comparison.

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 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 Fuji X-E1 to be easily visible and sharp. The X-E1, however, focused on the background, allowing my face to be in sharp focus but the text on the Nikon D5100 is blurred.

X-E1_20130802_062

  • Aperture—ƒ/8
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—X-E1
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—35.8mm
  • ISO—200
  • Shutter speed—1/75s

NIKON_D5100_20130802_412

  • Aperture—ƒ/8
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—NIKON D5100
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—35mm
  • ISO—100
  • Shutter speed—1/80s

For this landscape shot5, the image from the X-E1 appears to be slightly darker and more colorful. I have to admit that in general, the images from the Fuji 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

  • Aperture—ƒ/22
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—X-E1
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—18mm
  • ISO—200
  • Shutter speed—1/25s

NIKON_D5100_20130802_409

  • Aperture—ƒ/22
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—NIKON D5100
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—18mm
  • ISO—100
  • Shutter speed—1/15s

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

X-E1_20130802_060

  • Aperture—ƒ/5.6
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—X-E1
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—18mm
  • ISO—200
  • Shutter speed—1/350s

NIKON_D5100_20130802_408

  • Aperture—ƒ/5.6
  • Credit—Khürt Williams
  • Camera—NIKON D5100
  • Taken—2 August, 2013
  • Focal length—18mm
  • ISO—100
  • Shutter speed—1/125s

Quite frankly I was a bit disappointed with the 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 Fuji 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.


  1. Reviews from Ken Rockwell, Street Photo Works, Andrei Nicoara,Tim Bray, Brian Dougher, The Phoblographer 
  2. We actually stayed in rental house in the area south of Virginia Beach. 
  3. After I posted one of my first 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