At the time of this writing I owned an Olympus E-PM2 with several lenses, and I wondered if the Fuji X-E1 would be a better camera for me. This is not an Olympus advertisement; it just so happens that I had this camera to compare it with. Look and feel The Fuji X-E1 with 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens comes in a simple, but nice looking black printed thin walled cardboard box. Everything is neatly wrapped in plastic bags. Several layers of cardboard separate the camera and accessories. There’s a silver seal on the bag that contains the camera. If it’s broken, you know the bag has been opened before. Overall the packaging is adequate, but nothing special. The lens has a nice weight to it and the metal feels reassuringly solid and durable. I wish the ribs on the zooming ring where like the ones on the aperture ring. A little further apart, so the grip would have been better. The outer barrel is made of metal, but the inner tube is plastic. The lens mount is made of metal and so is the filter ring. There were a couple of tiny specs on the rear element. The camera is surprisingly lightweight and I’m not sure if I like that. When a camera is very light, but not particularly small, it feels like it’s hollow (i.e. the Olympus E-PM2 feels more solid, because it’s smaller). The buttons feel nice except for the small thumb wheel. Its ribs are rather sharp and pointy and it doesn’t feel very solid. I’m afraid something (my thumb, clothing, a camera bag) might get stuck on it and damage it or rip it of completely. The back of the camera is made of plastic and to be honest it feels a little cheap. When you put some light pressure on it (below the thumb wheel), you can actually bend the plastic. The small rubber grip on the front is made of the right material and helpful in holding the camera. To me the AF light seems to be too close to my fingers. Why not place it in the metal top plate, somewhat closer to the lens mount or on the other side? On the bottom there’s a standard tripod mount. Unfortunately it’s not centred and it’s right next to the battery and memory card compartment. This not only makes it weak, but it’s also impossible to remove or insert a battery or a memory card while the camera is mounted on a tripod. Is it me, or are the hinges of the battery compartment cover places a on the ‘wrong’ side? I find inserting and removing a memory card a little difficult, because the hinges of the cover are right next to the card slot. I have to rotate the camera to get to the card. I’ve tested the black version of the body and I’ve seen some pretty battered samples in online reviews. I’m afraid the black paint will come of quickly. Of course I can’t be sure about that, but I think it is fragile. So, unlike the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens the camera feels a little cheap. I think that for the money, it could have been build better. An all-metal body and maybe a metal chassis would have been nice. Add an optical viewfinder to that and you probably have an X Pro 1. Accessories The camera comes with all the stuff you get with most new cameras: papers, manual, software, shoulder strap, charger, video cable, USB cable etc. The lens comes with both caps and a plastic lens hood. I’ve heard some people complain about the Fuji pinch type lens caps, but I don’t see any problem with this one. It fits nicely and it’s easy to attach and remove. Maybe all the fuzz is about a lens cap from a different lens. I seldom use lens caps, just UV filters, so it’s no problem for me. Responsiveness and controls The X-E1 is not a very responsive camera. Many things seem a tad slower then the latest micro 4/3 and DSLR cameras. This includes the autofocus. It’s rather snappy in good light, but as it gets darker, the autofocus starts to get noticeably slower and sometimes it can’t lock on at all. The X-E1 isn’t a particularly slow camera, but if you have tried a camera like Olympus the OM-D or even the diminutive Olympus E-PM2, you know what I mean. The write times are longer and there’s a lag here and there (like in the EVF in low light). It’s no speed demon. The controls on the Fuji X-E1 are quite good. Apart from the thumb wheel the buttons and dials feel nice. There are dials for setting the shutter speed and exposure compensation and you can use a ring on the lens for setting the aperture. Of course there are no markings on the aperture ring of the 18-55mm, because it has a variable aperture. Fuji lenses with a fixed maximum aperture do have markings. The buttons on the camera feel good too. I like the 4 way controller buttons better then the fiddly wheel on the X100. The quick Menu is very handy and the display and EVF are detailed and contrasty enough for me. I find the Fuji X-E1 a nice camera to hold. The camera is not too small and the thumb grip on the back, together with rubber grip on the front really help. The nice size 18-55mm zoom lens provides even more grip. Unfortunately the camera body (not the lens) as a whole feels cheap and not very sturdy. A simple test I tried the Fuji X-E1 because I expected the image quality (compared to my rather simple entry level Olympus E-PM2 with the not so entry level Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens) to blow me away. The Fuji sensor and processor are praised for the overall image quality and especially for low light performance. The Fuji 18-55mm zoom lens is no slouch either. I thought this should be an easy win for the Fuji. The test is nothing fancy or scientific and I only looked for noise and detail. I set up a simple test scene consisting of some coloured items (notebook, USB stick, boxes) and some items with very fine textures and print on it (banknote, scarf, cloth, soap dispenser). Both cameras where on a sturdy tripod and I used the same settings on both. I made test photos at 28mm, 50mm and 70mm (35mm equivalent), and at ISO200, ISO800, ISO1600 and ISO3200. The light came from the not so bright energy-saving light bulb that was on the ceiling of the room. Not he best light, so an good test of the low light performance. I processed all the images in Adobe Lightroom and some in Capture One and Silkypix (just to make sure). The image quality So, was I blown away by the image quality of the Fuji? No, I was not. In all the photos made with the Olympus E-PM2/12-35mm f/2.8 combo, the fine detail straight out of the camera was noticeably better. I really had to sharpen the Fuji images a lot to make them look like the ones from the E-PM2 (and thus introducing some ‘noise like textures’). The Olympus photos did show more noise though, but after applying noise reduction, I managed to get rid of a large portion of it. It was not very hard to make photos from both systems look almost the same. The Fuji photos needed some sharpening and the Olympus photos needed some noise reduction. To me the difference is too small to really matter. I think there’s some clever processing going on in the Fuji, which removes noise effectively, but destroys some detail. When you later try to recover the detail, some noise shows up. Conclusion The Fuji was sent back to the store the very quickly. It is not the image quality wonder I had hoped and thought it would be. I know it’s partially personal, but I think even the entry level Olympus E-PM2 handles better, is noticeably more responsive and delivers almost the same image quality. It does all of this, in a smaller and cheaper package too. I think Sony really hit the jackpot with this 16-megapixel micro 4/3’s sensor (the E-PL5 and the E-M5 use the same sensor) and Olympus built some very smart and competent cameras around it. Okay, now I sound like an Olympus sales person. This doesn’t mean the Fuji X-E1 is a bad camera, far from it. I just think it’s not the right tool for me. It might very well be someone else’s dream camera. Also remember that all of this is just my testing and my personal opinion, it's not science. Your findings might be different.