Fuji X-E1 vs Sony RX-1 Autofocus Speed and Side By Side Comparison

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Steve Huff of SteveHuffPhoto.com compares the Sony RX1 to the Fuji X-E1 in Aufotfocus Speed, Image Quality and High ISO (Low Light) Performance, etc.

This really is an apples to oranges comparison since one camera is a fixed lens compact and the other is a compact system (interchangeable lens) camera that costs less than half the price.   Nonetheless, these are two of the best cameras to be released in 2012 and it’s a fun comparison to say the least (just look at the comments, because the trolls are out in full force).

For anyone who has read Steve’s posts about the RX1, it’s no secret that he loves the camera.  He even named it “Camera of the Year” for 2012.  But aside from it’s hefty price ($2,800 USD and that’s without an EVF), there’s a lot to love about what Sony call the “World’s First Full Frame Compact Digital Camera.”  The RX1 is quite an achievement to say the least.  In designing and building this camera, Sony have cracked the code by successfully incorporating a 35mm Full Frame Sensor into a compact body, and they’ve also done it with excellence.  They’ve also paired it with a top notch Carl Zeiss Lens that’s tailor made to work with the RX1’s sensor.  Indeed, the files that this camera produces are nothing short of breathtaking.

On the Fuji side, their X-Trans Sensor and EXR processing technology are no less impressive.  It’s important to note that the X-E1 and it’s big brother, the Fuji X-Pro1 are using 1st generation X-Trans and EXR technology, and in the first generation, Fuji focused solely on image quality (and they hit it out of the park).  But Fuji have just released the new X-100s and X-20 compact cameras at CES 2013, and these cameras are using new X-Trans II Sensor and EXR II Processing technology, which have upped they systems autofocus speed and performance considerably, so it’s going to be fun to see where the X-Series cameras go from here.

But in this comparison of the Sony RX1 and the Fuji X-E1, Steve does low light autofocus tests that indicate, as Steve puts it, “that Fuji’s latest Firmware update (at the time of the test) on the Fuji 35 1.4 the AF is on par with the Sony RX1. It is NOT faster, it is about the same. Both cameras AF performance is great.”  (Read article on SteveHuffPhoto.com)


Personally, I thought that the X-E1 was a hair slower than the RX1, although it did perform better than I expected.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the next generation X-E1 and X-Pro1 get the new, speedier X-Trans II and EXR II tech built in.

So Here’s the Apples and the Oranges:

For Image Quality, you can’t go wrong with either one of these cameras because you’ll get delicious files from both (although I personally like the organic feel of the Fuji Files) – let’s call this a push.  For video performance, it’s RX1, hands down (Fuji just haven’t figured out video…  yet).  The Fuji does have a built in EVF, is much cheaper and takes interchangeable lenses, but of course, that 35mm Zeiss on the RX1 is pretty versatile.

In the end, it’s not so much a matter of which one of these is the better camera as it is which one is better for you.  But one thing is clear…  both Sony and Fuji have developed impressive technology in creating these cameras and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Buy the Sony RX1, The EVF for the RX1 and the Fuji X-E1 on Amazon Here


marcus leng says:

Stupid comparison, just like motor bike 200cc vs 400cc.

Darren Chang says:

Sorry,no offense. I have watched all your RX1 videos. The way you talk about this camera makes me believe you are on SONY’s payroll. This is a very good camera, but you don’t have to compare it to another camera that’s half if its price to make the point. What abou RX1’s prevalent back-focusing issue? From the way you try to degrade FUJI, I can tell who SONY is really afraid if in terms of competition.

John D says:

Fuji X-E1 stunning X-Trans CMOS sensor + super sharp fujinon lens + Capture One 7 > In your face Sony, in your face !

helthuismartin says:

Nice selling video,BAAAAIIIIYYYYY

bas5tian says:

here in Europe Rx1 price is above 3K euro and x-e1 999 body+540 for 35mm so half what rx1 costs for 3k euro you can have body+kit lens and 2 primes:) At the end RX1 is remarkable photographic tool, and that what count and from what we hearing from you and other reviewers/users it’s expensive but worth every penny:)Can I say the same about my x-e1..well I love this camera but…

kleinischer says:

Nice watch! What’s the name of the vendor (brand, type)?

persiyan88 says:

Isn’t it $1300 for the E-X1 if you buy with the lens bundled?

Shortfusefilm says:

Is the Fuji X series completely hopeless when it comes to video performance??

johnB says:

It’s not useless; many users are very happy with it. The truth is that the video controls are not as conveniently accessible as on other cameras and it is not as well featured as, say the Sony NEX family that can, for example, do 24 and 60 fps.

This camera, I believe, is most suited to photographers that want mainly to shoot stills at high quality but also want to shot some video when they want to.

Ardi Nugraha says:

made in Japan vs made in Thai. Periods.

blouppytux says:

Your AF test isn’t fair by the way … you can not disable the AF assist lamp on the X-E1 ?

sinoperture says:

More sharp as opposed to sharper? 😉

Frode Lillevik says:

then how come you call it a compare? i never use the focus assist lamp, as I mostly shoot people, and it ruins the moment. to me you are comparing apples and pears. useless.

dwlphoto says:

Turn off the AF Assist light for the test on the Fuji!

Jithin Roda says:

what about omd em5 vs x-e1 vs R x1

Angelchildxx says:

RX’AF is much faster. Can not understand why Steve said the two AF are pretty identical. It is not. You see it clearly watching this video.

TataruRoman says:

Exactly my thought, RX-1 is faster, and I bet a scientific measurement would prove it.

MarceloTezza says:

Steve, you should not use the focus assist lamp, the sony is not using, i guess by the video.

DGBomber says:

Great comparison, the files are better on the RX1 but the Fuji’s files are also amazing, plus it costs half the RX1 price and has interchangeable lens, so for me the winner is the X-E1 for everything but street photography where the RX1 sensor plus the Zeiss 35mm rocks.

wiifcukall says:

In the AF test, did I mistakenly see that the XE-1’s AF assist light is on?

Wishwader says:

The focus on the Sony seemed dramatically quicker. x2 to x3. Both usable but I wouldn’t say they’re the same.

87solarsky says:

Totally agree. No point in comparing X-E1 and RX1. He needs to compare the X100s & RX1! Get that right, Steve!

BigAL8500 says:

So an additional .02 of a second?

MrPacMe says:

This comparison isn’t fair. You said that RX1’s files are nicer – it’s about the same to say that canon 600D’s files are better that S100’s.

SLRist says:

The fact that the Fuji has a built in VF swings it for me. That said, the X100s is the camera you should be comparing it with. I think that is the best IQ to size ratio camera around.

philg311 says:

Thanks for that Steve. I`m a X-E1 owner,and a happy one at that.
I do drool over the RX-1 secretly in my room at night though 🙂

MrVoayer says:

Nice and illustrative video !
I like SONY better, but I don’t think there is enough technical superiority to approve such a price difference !
I hope SONY is not going the Leica path: exclusivity beyond any reasonable argument.

Charles Le says:

Steve, you have to use the 18-55 kit zoom lens on the Fuji X E1 to see just how fast it can focus. The focus motor on the zoom lens is so much faster that the ones on the primes. The prime lens are the bottle necks that doesn’t allow the X E1 to focus as fast as it truly can. If the RX1 focuses as fast as the Fuji with the 35mm, then the Fuji with the 18-55 will blow the RX1 out of the water. I hope Fuji’s future primes will have the same linear focus motor as in the zoom lens.

Dmitry Brodsky says:

To me, Fuji looks like it took at least 2 times longer than Sony to lock in.

CRANKYONE100 says:

Can’t wait till you do the same comparison in a month or so when the new Fuji X100s with new xtrans2 sensor comes out with even better AF and peaking..The fact your even comparing the XE1 to the Sony says a lot.. 🙂

Neal Hurley says:

What about AF speed without the AF assist lights on?

86BBUB says:

Fuji is 1,300 with the fabulous kit zoom.
SONY is 3,200 with EVF.
= $2000.00 diiference as typically purchased.

For the price of the SONY you can get an XE1 and ALL the lenses.

SONY leaves you at one focal length but offers better DOF control and cleaner high iso files. (and better opurtunities with RAW for the moment).

Both great but it is hard to argue that the XE1 is not a much better value (depending on what you value).

Steve Huff says:


Steve Huff says:

The Fuji is $999 plus $599 = $1600 or so. That is $1100 less than the RX1 without EVF or $1600 less with EVF. Chunk of change but the RX1 is indeed the superior camera.

KayanEnsan says:

RX-1 is slightly faster with focusing .. overall sony is much better for me

bas5tian says:

for my eyes Rx1 was slightly faster with focusing and I’m x-e1 owner 😉 So with Rx1 you get what you pay for, great IQ and build quality. If I could afford I would probably buy one:D Meybe one year from now…till that time I will enjoy my fuji, its great beutiful camera

Alex A says:

I agree with you that both are great cameras! One thing that would draw me more to the X-E1 is that it has interchangeable lenses, but honestly I’d rather have the XP1. Sony’s choice in going with the 35mm focal length is a great one though, as I have (and love) the X100. Thanks for the video!

johnB says:

I notice that you are all banging on about the assist light on the X-E1; however, did you notice that about 3:04 into the video, when he was focusing into the far room, there was a distinct red glow that appeared. The RX1 was using a focus assist light too.

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