Jan 182013


Quick Comparison: Sony RX1 vs Fuji X-E1

I have had numerous requests for this one but 1st off let me say HAPPY FRIDAY to all! Another week has flown by and as I sit here at my desk I am in a happy mood. Why? Well, the weather here in Phoenix is warming up and getting into the 70’s and the weekend is here! Time to relax, maybe go see a movie, and spend some quality time with loved ones.

But back to the cameras…

I have had a Fuji X-E1 on hand for a few weeks and have been shooting it with the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 lens (which I like more than the Fuji 35)  as well as the Fuji 35 1.4 lens. Of course, my own camera, the Sony RX1 has been with me as well for most of this time and over the past few days I decided to take a few shots side by side. Nothing super scientific. Just snaps like most of us use these cameras for. If I shot the X-E1 at f/2, ISO 200 then the RX1 would be set the same way.

1st Observations:


I did notice that the X-E1 I have here tends to overexpose quite often. It exposes a scene much different from the Sony does and of course the color is different as well. There were times when I would shoot a scene with the Fuji only to look and see that it totally overexposed the scene so I would have to go in and manually take over to avoid that. Not sure if it was just this copy (which was a brand new in the box untouched loaner) or if they all tend to do that. The Sony on the other hand seemed to be either spot on or a teeny but under at times, but I would say the Sony RX1 metering is one of the best I have shot with. Seems to nail it every time.

Build wise, that goes to the Sony. It is a solid little brick of a camera as I have stated. It is small but solid. It feels very well made. The Fuji can feel a little hollow though it is also built  just fine. The Sony almost feels like a mini Leica in build and quality of construction. The Fuji X-E1 feels much like the X-Pro 1 and X100.

Speed. This is the one most are curious about. The Fuji line has had a rep for slow focusing and operation. Just yesterday I downloaded the latest firmware for the 35 1.4 lens and the X-E1 I have already has the latest FW loaded. After downloading the fastest FW for the lens it did in fact seem faster. The fastest I have seen this lens shoot on an X body. So THAT is good. If you have the 35 1.4 lens make sure you download the latest firmware for it here as for me, it does seem snappier. (but my E-X1 combo here is having trouble with ACCURATE AF it seems)

The RX1 vs Fuji X-E1 in AF? Well, I have no issues with the RX1 AF at all. It just does not mis focus (for me) but I also do not use spot AF (which can lead to mis focus). I use center point AF and it always locks on and is correct. During my time with the RX1 to date I have had 1-2 mis focused shots out of a few thousand. THAT is impressive for a mirrorless camera. It is not as fast to AF as the Olympus OM-D but it is also not slow. It slows down in low light but I always still get a lock. Unfortunately I can not say the same for the X-E1. Just in the past two days it has mis-focused on me several times with a back focus on many occasions. But this has not happened since the firmware update on the lens though I admit I maybe shot 20 frames since the FW update.

All in all, the RX1 and X-E1 are neck and neck in AF speed in good light. In low light, and I just tested them side by side in my office with no lights on, they are actually just about the same with the edge going to the Sony. The Fuji has improved greatly from the early days of its super slowness and as of today, January 18th 2013 it is much speedier and snappier in low light. Even so, testing them side by side they are equal in AF speed in low light. Both locked in and locked on with the about same speed.

See the video below of these two cameras side by side as well as a low light AF speed test. 

So if you watched the video above you would have seen that in dim lighting  these are about neck and neck with AF speed now that the Fuji has upgraded the 35 1.4 lens firmware. Both locked on and were accurate.

So build goes to Sony, AF is a draw and, cost goes to Fuji and what about the IQ? Take a look at some comparison snapshots below:

You MUST click on the images to see them larger with the true 100% crop. 

Image #1

The 1st shot was in low light in my house. ISO 2500 on both cameras with each lens set to f/2. The Sony uses the built-in Zeiss 35 f/2 and the Fuji had the 35 1.4 Fuji lens attached. 

1st up, the Sony RX1 shot


and now the Fuji X-E1 shot.

The 35 1.4 gives a 50mm equivalent so framing will not be exact. The Sony is giving a true 35mm FOV


For me, this one was no contest. The Sony file is richer and sharper. NR was turned off on both of these and both are converted from RAW using Lightroom. The Fuji softens up the files at higher ISO and the Sony keeps them detailed.

Image #2

I shot this one 4 times and each time was the same result. The RX1 was sharper. This was at f/2 and ISO 500. The cameras were set on a table so there was no chance of motion blur. 

1st the RX1


and now the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4 combo


Again, the RX1 is sharper and gives an overall “smoother” presentation.


These are from RAW and full size so you must click them to see the full size files. The Fuji X-E1 back focused every time for me on this one (before new FW) so I presented it just as the camera gave it to me. Make sure you update the FW on that 35 1.4 as it did make a difference in AF! 

Both are at f/2 and you can see the Sony is giving a more shallow DOF here with massive background blur


The Fuji at f/2


Image #5 – BOKEH

Both look good here. The sharpness looks great on both cameras in this one – Fuji focused correctly here :)



High ISO – 6400 

Both of these were shot at ISO 6400 with both cameras – processed from RAW with no NR or editing. Click images for larger. I also placed the full size crops below each image so you can see them 100% without clicking.

1st the RX1 at 6400



and now the X-E1 at 6400



So while the RX1 is giving more noise it appears the X-E1 is smoothing the image somehow, even with NR turned off. The RX1 holds it detail which reminds me oh so much of the Leica M9 except the M9 can not do ISO 6400. Overall, with the RX1 you will get better build, astonishing built-in Zeiss lens, full frame sensor and DOF, better in camera metering and no muss no fuss operation. The RX1 leads in build, holding detail at high ISO, having a richer look and very deep files while editing. The Fuji gives us a lower cost for the body, a built-in EVF (which is good) and the camera and 35 1.4 set comes in at $1599 which is $1200 less than the Sony. If you count the Sony EVF the Fuji is just over $1600 less. I can say the EVF for the RX1 is also much nicer than the one in the X-E1 (which is the old NEX-7 EVF). The new Sony EVF is the best EVF on the market, hands down.

This comparison the Fuji did focus correctly, on the lens barrel of the Sony.

OOC JPEGS – Standard Color mode on both

Snapped a quick JPEG by request  – both lenses f/2, both cameras at base ISO, both OOC JPEG without editing. Full image below is from the X-E1



The RX1 JPEGS are much sharper than the Fuji’s and have that more “robust” look to them as well. The Fuji focused correctly here.


Click for full size OOC JPEG at 6000X4000 from the Sony RX1 – THIS again, is a JPEG. Very sharp. 


Now the Fuji at F8 – click for full size OOC JPEG – Again, VERY sharp!


So at F/8, each camera can produce a sharp JPEG. That is a given, especially when lighting is used. In fact, if I were shooting in a studio, the X-E1 would be my pick over the RX1 due to the different lenses available. That is not even a question. If I were wanting ONE for street, it would be RX1 hands down. To me I get better IQ in low light, better color, more depth and a sharpness the Fuji lacks at high ISO. The Sony has that Zeiss pop in certain situations but at f/8, both cameras are plenty sharp.

More JPEG tests with Lighting

Zombie Part 2

My 1st test using the Zombie was invalid as the Fuji mis focused, so as promised I redid this test with the Fuji in Manual Focus mode. I still used AF on the Sony. Here are the results which show the Fuji doing much better than last time though the Sony still eeks ahead for detail. Again, these are JPEGS. Why? Because that is what you guys wanted due to issues with Fuji files and Adobe.






The RX1 seems to like to keep exposure on the UNDER side of the equation and the Fuji goes for OVER. I suggest when shooting the Fuji you dial in -1 on the compensation dial. Here is what to expect exposure wise from each camera. Both at F/2, ISO 6400, low light and OOC JPEG.

The RX1, ISO 6400, f/2 – Aperture Priority mode – This is how the RX1 exposed the scene. OOC JPEG.


The E-X1 – same settings on the camera – Aperture Priority mode f/2, ISO 6400 – This is how the camera exposed the scene


After shooting them both and handling them both and processing files from both, for me the winner is the Sony. I much prefer the feel, build and lens on the Sony RX1. I also enjoy almost limitless DR and amazing sharpness in my files. I love the shallow DOF and the “Zeiss Pop” from the RX1 and with the Gariz case on my personal camera it feels like a work of art. I also enjoy the EVF that swivels and the controls on both cameras are good, no complaints. Both feel like real cameras and both deliver results like real cameras. Both operate like real cameras and both have all the dials needed to enjoy the experience. Aperture dials on the lens, shutter speed dials, Exposure comp dials, etc.

The Fuji is also excellent. IMO, the best of the X bodies but still will occasionally miss with AF. If I were buying an X body it would be an X-E1 over the Pro 1 for sure but I will not buy one due to the sloppy AF performance (accuracy) with the 35 1.4 lens. The new X100s will have even more improvements so looking forward to testing that one as well. But with the X-E1 you have more options due to the available lenses such as the 14, 18, 35 and 60 as well as the new 18-55 Zoom. Either will get you where you want to go. The Sony for the extra $1100 will do it in a more slick and polished way with improvements to what you get with the Fuji in almost every area. Full frame is full frame and the Sony matches output from cameras like the D800, A99, etc. The Fuji is at the top of the APS-C heap. Take your pick.

As always thanks for reading and looking. In today’s world, it is tough to buy a digital camera that will not give you great results. The thing is to GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT and enjoy what you have. Learn with what you have. Bond with what you have and then results will come.

With that said, my Fuji X-E1 and SLR Magic 35 T1.4 Review will be up next week, and the SLR Magic lens rocked it.

Where to Buy?

The Sony RX1 can be bought at Amazon or B&H Photo. The X-E1 can also be bought at Amazon or B&H Photo


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