In addition to consistently introducing new lenses, both primes and zooms, to support this system, Fuji has also introduced new models that can also use the same set of accessories. While the X-Pro1 remains the more expensive flagship model, there are now three other models below it that use the same lenses. The bottom two models, the X-A1, and new X-M1 are specifically aimed at entry level users, but the X-E1,which is the model just below the X-Pro1 shares many of the features of its bigger brother but lacks its hybrid viewfinder. Because these cameras are essentially the same inside I am not going to present comparative images from them. The results would be the same. Instead, I will concentrate on the different features of each camera to see why someone would want one over the other. Of course another interesting consideration would be to own both.
The principle difference between these two cameras is their viewfinders. The X-Pro1 has a hybrid finder that can switch between optical and electronic. Those of us who grew up with rangefinder cameras are familiar with optical viewfinders and their frame lines corresponding to the lens mounted on the camera. Modern electronics have done away with all that by introducing a small video image in place of the actual image in the viewfinder. However -- and this is a big HOWEVER -- an electronic image behaves very differently from an optical image of a scene.
An electronic image has a lag time that can never approach the speed at which an actual visual scene is changing. Coupled with this is the lag in processing time. So, if your camera is set for motor drive instead of single shot, you will experience what I call, "image drag". The electronic image cannot keep refreshing itself in real time. So what you are seeing in the electronic finder as the camera clips along at 3 or 6 frames per second, is a jerky, blurred image of the scene that is impossible to compose. This is the main reason I am not a big fan of electronic viewfinders.
The Fuji X-Pro1 has a hybrid finder. It can be either electronic, or optical with framelines, your choice with the flick of a switch. I happen to like this feature, particularly for the reasons outlined in the paragraph above. That said, electronic finders are getting better -- meaning clearer with faster refresh. As these things go, Fuji's X camera finders perform well until you hit a fast changing subject and have to switch to 6fps. In which case, you might as well give up all hope of seeing your actual subject through the electronic viewfinder as you move the camera moves to follow it.
|It may not look like much here, but the X-E1 on the bottom feels much smaller in your hands than the X-Pro1 above.|
In low light, the Fuji X cameras are top of the breed. While many cameras today boast of high ISO abilities of 6400-25600, in most cases images above 1600 need a lot of post processing work to make them acceptable for large print usage. Fuji X cameras are the only models I know of where images shot at 25600 are usable with only minor tweaking. One reason is that above ISO 6400 the Fuji X cameras only take a smaller image and in jpg format only. Nonetheless, this is Fuji being practical. Better to acknowledge the limitations and cap them where they are truly possible than promise a low light capability that is unattainable.
Below are a series of downloadable high res files shot on the Fuji X-E1 from ISO 400-25,600. You can judge the results for yourself.
|High resolution versions of this test image done at various ISO's are available using the links below. Although taken with the X-E1, both camera models produce the same results.|
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 800
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 1600
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 3200
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 6400
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 12800
Click here to download a high res version of ISO 25600
|The LCD panel on the X-E1 (right) is only slightly smaller that that of the X-Pro1 (left). This is to accommodate the smaller body.|
|The dials and menus of the two cameras are similar but somewhat different in size. You can see the foot print of the pop-up flash of the X-E1.|
|The eyepieces of the two cameras are different. The X-Pro1 (left) does not have a vision adjustment like the dial on the X-E1. Instead you need to buy screw in diopter correction lens for the finder.|
In terms of image results, these two camera models are equal. The only differences are in a few of the features and, consequently, in the size. Being a newer model, the X-E1 came out with an improved auto-focus ability that Fuji has been attempting to correct with firmware updates in the X-Pro1.
The biggest difference between the two cameras is that the X-E1 has an electronic viewfinder only, but it is an improved OLED version with higher resolution than the X-Pro1 LCD electronic finder. The lack of a hybrid finder allows the X-E1 to be much smaller than the X-Pro1. If you can live with an electronic finder only, the X-E1 is probably the best bet. It is smaller, has a better electronic finder, and includes a pop-up flash. If you are like me, and occasionally need an optical finder, then the larger X-Pro1 is the way to go, keeping in mind that it is also more expensive. At the time of this writing an X-Pro1 camera body is selling for $1199, while an X-E1 is $799. That is a big difference, almost enough to pay for a lens.
I like both of these cameras, and if this were my only camera system, and I could afford a second body, I would opt to have both as a throwback to the early 35mm film days when working pros usually carried two cameras, each with a different lens to make for quicker shooting. Ahhh...nothing like the good old days.