And what a lovely, compact, lightweight interchangeable lens body it is! In photos, the X-E1 doesn’t look all that much smaller than an X-Pro1, however in the hand it somehow works to seem a great deal smaller and lighter than the X-Pro1, mostly in a good way too. The X-E1 is everything I had hoped for in an interchangeable lens successor to the X100… well almost. The only thing I miss is the exceptional Hybrid-VF that both the X100 and the X-Pro1 have. In its place though, the X-E1 has an excellent 2.4 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and it is substantially improved over the EVF mode in its predecessors, however sadly the X-E1 does not have the optical viewfinder component. One major benefit I’ve seen from shooting with the X-E1 for the last few weeks, is the accuracy of the exposure preview in the new EVF. You really can judge what the final shot is going to look like from an exposure standpoint with accurate contrast, white-balance and saturation, far better than the rear-LCD, and there doesn’t seem to be any additional shadow or highlight clipping due to the EVF itself, unlike my experience with many other cameras. In addition, the new EVF is sharp, has good eye-relief, has a diopter adjustment again (the X-Pro1 needed accessory thread-in diopters) and it gains up well in very low light levels without getting too grainy, allowing for ease of framing your shot even when you can hardly see the scene with your naked eye!
The loss of the Hybrid-EVF is unfortunate though, since being able to see slightly outside the camera’s captured field-of-view in a “rangerfinder-ish” fashion means you get a fraction of a second more warning when something is about to enter the scene, allowing you to perhaps nail that perfect moment. However, one thing that makes losing the Hybrid-VF more palatable, besides the excellent new EVF, is the $700 price drop from the the X-Pro1! The X-E1 body sells for only $999. Apart from the Hybrid-VF, did anything else important get lost? Amazingly enough no… from a performance and image quality standpoint, the X-E1 seems pretty much identical to the X-Pro1. It has the same 16 megapixel X-Trans sensor, sharp due to it not having an anti-aliasing filter, the same newly swift and accurate autofocus, more or less the same controls and ergonomics but in a smaller and lighter body. Really, the only other thing it doesn’t have is the rock-solid all-metal construction of the X-Pro1. It does feel lighter and a little cheaper in the hand since a bit more plastic is used in its construction, but after a few minutes of use, the lightness was no longer a distraction and indeed, the lighter weight is quite welcome actually…..
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