Firstly, because it is the same size physically as one of my favourite film cameras, the Canonet, which to me was the perfect size to hold, even without having a large grip it was still very comfortable in the hand, while staying quite small. The X-E1 interested me for the same reasons; there is an accessory available to increase the grip, X-E1/X-E2 Handgrip for those who have bigger hands or just whom hold it differently.
And secondly, size verses quality, where the X-E1/E2 strikes a great balance. Whilst not the smallest mirrorless camera on the market, the APS-C size sensor has the depth of field advantage over the micro 4/3, and while the Sony’s also have the same size sensor, the Fujifilm X-trans sensor is truly a step forward in sharpness. With the new colour array on the sensor there is no need for an anti-aliasing filter, making the output as sharp as it can be.
Fujifilm cameras have always had a great reputation for handling colour with all their experience of the films they have produced over the years, which is simulated in the "film style" menu and available through the "Q" button menu, which has moved from the far right on the X-E1 to above the screen on the X-E2. This enables you to cycle through the 10 options using the wheel at the top right of the screen just next to where your thumb sits comfortably. The film styles are Velvia/vivid, ASTIA/soft, PROVIA/standard, Monochrome, Monochrome+Y filter, Monochrome+R, Monochrome+G, Sepia, Pro Neg.Std & Pro Neg.Hi.
The X-E2 has a small advantage out of the box, with focus peaking, a split-image focus guide, and what some call auto-gain off. This is where the camera shows you what the current values (shutter and aperture) will produce if the picture is taken, allowing you to see whether it is over- or under-exposed. Given this information allows you the ability to adjust your settings before taking the picture - an advantage if you only have time to take one shot. While the X-E1 does not have all these features at first with the firmware update (3.10 at the time of writing) it will give the X-E1 ability to turn auto-gain off and adds focus peaking for those Manual focus moments, such as with the Fujifilm M-mount adapter for use with Leica lenses.
Other differences they have made with the X-E2 is X-trans CMOS II sensor; screen resolution has gone up from 460,000 pixels to 1,400,000 pixels, fps up from 6.6 to 7, and the wireless transmitter for connectivity. The "Q" (quick menu) button has now moved to above the screen, and the AF-L and AE-L lock have been split into 2 buttons. There is a new customisable button on the rear of the camera "Fn2" where the "AF" button previously had been, and the loss of the view mode button featured on the X-E1.
XF35mm f/1.4 smoothly bumps over the stops (this is the same for whole range), the dials have satisfying clicks for placement and then the fantastic viewfinder. I have been able to shoot in a multitude of different lighting conditions and the camera has handled all with great results while set to auto white balance. The auto-focus speed is not the fastest, but this is not a problem if taking time over a shot's composition is more important to you - the focus falls into line in a timely manner and does not feel slow at all. Detail in both the highlights and shadows were not lost in areas where spotlights lit only 50% of the scene when shooting at ISO 800. Another great feature is the ability to set the ISO to auto, but to limit the highest and lowest values. In practice this gives the control and the freedom to not have to worry about adjusting the ISO in each situation. Image quality was always sharp and the noise low, although I never shot at over ISO 800, because I just didn't need to. The sensor is so sensitive to colours and lighting even from multiple sources. I look forward to seeing what I can achieve with longer exposures, HDR's and different subject matter.
There are many reasons I can give why I bought the X-E1 and many reasons why I think it is one of the best Compact System Cameras around, but all of them are personal to me and each person needs to find what works for them... In closing I will say don't discount either of these two cameras based on size or focus speed, they are a pleasure to use and the images produced are second to none. The lenses are great by the way!
You can see the Fujifilm X-Series of cameras and lenses in our stores in Central London, and Burgess Hill (West Sussex). In both stores, you can touch and try them out for yourself. Alternatively visit www.ParkCameras.com you can see the X-series online, with many products featuring videos to help give you a feel of the cameras.
If you’ve got a question about the Fujifilm X-E1 or X-E2, why not post a comment in the box below and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.