Thursday, January 3, 2013


This is my review of the Fujifilm XE-1 camera. I am a Canon user for the past 25 years and purchased this camera as a lightweight travel alternative. I consider myself to be a photog enthusiast with special interest in portrait, nature, and landscape photography.

This review will not discuss the specifications and other details that are widely covered on the web. My focus is how I felt using this over a family vacation to Washington DC. Most of the shots were indoors (Museums/Botanical garden), with a few outdoor shots.


I really like how the camera and controls feel in my hand. The camera feels solid and is very well balanced with the kit (18-55) lens. I only used the EVF (eye sensor), set the preview display to 1.5 seconds, the auto shut off to 30 seconds, and enabled auto power on. This combination got me around 300 shots per battery. I purchased two extra third party batteries (Big Mikes batteries from Amazon), and was very happy with their performance.

The EVF was a pleasure to use both inside and outside. I mostly shot RAW, with Auto ISO set to 6400, and shutter set to 60/125 (shutter priority) for a majority of the shots. This was to let my family also use the camera. For some I used full manual control.

The AF was fine most of the time. I used the central AF point and recomposed. This was also my preferred method with my Canon 60D. There were issues under low light/low contrast subjects, but those were rare and did not bother me. My goal was to use the camera in all situations and see how well it performed.

I really like using the Manual focus on this camera. The AF using the AF-L button, under Manual focus seems to be a bit fast. That coupled with the ability to magnify and fine tune the focus was a pleasure to use and very accurate.

Once focus was locked it was spot on. I did not see any out of focus shots.

The supplied kit lens has a very practical range (27-83mm) and produces sharp pictures. I was able to shoot all the pictures handheld - the built in OIS was very useful. I took a few pictures from a fast moving car and was very happy with the result.

Image Quality:

The images coming out of this camera are very natural. The white balance and the colors are nicely reproduced. Out of camera RAW and JPEGs have been very good. I know there is a lot of discussion about RAW support under LR4, but I was pretty happy with how LR4 renders RAW images. This can only get better as the RAW conversion algorithms get more refined.

The high ISO performance is really good. Most of my museum shots were taken at ISO 6400 (hand held) and have come out very nice. I never had to use the flash other than a few cases (see under issues).

The dynamic range of the pictures is also very good. I was able to use LR4 to easily pull in a lot of detail. The pictures presented here are all shot originally in RAW. Some were processed on camera and others under LR4.


I found that there are cases when I was not able to gauge the depth of field properly with the EVF. I was focusing at a distant monument with my daughters standing in front (f stop >=8) and found cases when they were out of focus.

There were cases in low light when the object in focus was sharp, but the subject in front was not in focus. I also found that the built-in flash helps in such situations.

I have not played much with the RAW files under LR4. But one issue I found was that the RAW files were being converted to a 16:9 format. This can easily fixed by resetting the crop, but is an annoyance. JPEGs were not subject to this oddity.

The on camera RAW to JPEG conversion was very useful. It would be nice if I can apply the same set of conversion parameters to a set of selected RAW files.


I bought this camera from Amazon, with the intent to try it out and then decide whether I will keep it or return (Amazon has a holiday return policy till the end of this month). I am going to keep it. I think I found my perfect travel camera. I am also seriously contemplating on selling my Canon gear and just having this system.

I take portraits of classical Indian dancers (for their brochures etc.), and want to use this in my home studio and see how it performs. If it meets my requirements, then this will be the only system that I will have. I plan on getting one of the nicer primes for portraits (56/60) and slowly build my system.

FYI: For studio work, I use a cheap ebay trigger to fire off my strobes. I tried that with this camera and was able to remotely trigger my strobes.


Museum of Natural History, Washington DC. ISO 2000, 20.5mm, f3.2, 1/60

Botanical Gardens, Washington DC. ISO 4000,  55mm, f4, 1/60

Botanical Gardens, Washington DC. ISO 6400, 55mm, f7.1, 1/60

HirchHorn Museum, Ai WeiWei exhibit, Washington DC. ISO 2500, 21.4mm, f5.6, 1/60

HirchHorn Museum, Ai WeiWei exhibit, Washington DC. ISO 5000, 18mm, f5.6, 1/60

HirchHorn Museum, Ai WeiWei exhibit, Washington DC. ISO 4000, 18mm, f2.8, 1/60

Museum of American History, The Continental Gunboat - Philadelphia, Washington DC. ISO 6400, 18mm, f2.8, 1/125

Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC. ISO 400, 31.5mm, f5.6, 1/125

Vietnam Memorial, Washington DC. ISO 400, 18mm, f7.1, 1/125

George Washington Bridge - while driving to DC. ISO 200, 23.3mm, f9, 1/250

Museum of Modern Art, Washington DC. ISO 6400, 55mm, f5.6, 1/60

Near Capitol, Washington DC. ISO 200, 55mm, f20, 1/60

Capitol Building, Washington DC. ISO 200, 55mm, f22, 1/60

Museum of Modern Art - Washington DC. ISO 200, 18mm, f5, 1/60

Orbit. ISO 6400, 44.4mm, f4, 1/125

Boston First Night - Copley Square. ISO 6400, 55mm, f4, 1/60Add caption

Boston First Night - Fireworks at the Aqarium/Wharf. ISO 6400, 50.5mm, f4, 1/60