Fuji has earned huge respect from photographers for its X-series cameras. Many aspire to own the Fuji X-Pro 1, while others have opted for the smaller Fuji X-E1. Those wanting an even more compact interchangeable lens camera have the choice of the Fuji X-M1 or Fuji X-A1.

With the introduction of the Fuji X-E2, we have the first update to Fuji’s interchangeable lens X-series. This new camera uses exactly the same APS-C format 16.3-million-pixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor as the Fuji X-100S.

Unlike most cameras that use a Bayer pattern of red, green, green and blue receptors (usually referred to as RGGB) arranged in a 2 x 2 grid, the X-Trans CMOS II device uses a 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, with a random arrangement of colour filters within each block of 36 photoreceptors.

This makes the sensor is less prone to moire patterning, and as a result, Fuji is able to omit the anti-aliasing filter that overlays most digital camera sensors. The benefit of this is that the camera is able to produce sharper, more detailed images than a model with the same size sensor and pixel count and an anti-aliasing filter.

Fujifilm X-E2 Specifications

  • 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • ISO 200-6400, plus 100 – 25600 expanded (JPEG only)
  • 7 fps continuous shooting; 3 fps with continuous AF
  • Lens Modulation Optimizer (for sharper JPEGs when shooting at large or small apertures)
  • 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Top-plate analogue shutter speed and exposure compensation dials
  • 3″ 1.04M dot 3:2 fixed LCD (non-tilting, not touch-sensitive)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for image transfer to smartphones or computers

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Fujifilm X-E2: Price

Fujifilm X-E2: Build and Handling

Fuji has kept the same body for the X-E2 is it used for the X-E1, so it has the same high-quality feel and traditional styling with a shutter speed dial as well as the ability to uses lenses with (or without) an aperture ring.

As before, if both the shutter velocity and aperture dial on the lens are set to A (automatic) the camera is in program mode and both settings will be selected automatically. Setting just one of the controls to A sets the camera to aperture or shutter priority mode respectively.

A textured grip on the front of the camera, along with a ridge on the back, give the camera just enough purchase in the hand, but many will want the security of a strap when carrying it between shots.

Anyone familiar with the X-Electronic1 will find they are on very familiar ground with the X-E2, but there has been a switch around with a few of the buttons. For example, the AE-L and AF-L (auto exposure lock and autofocus lock) control has now been separated across the two control keys on the ridge to the right of the thumb-rest on the trunk of the digital camera.

This change means that the Q button, which accesses the Quick Menu, has also moved – and this is now above the screen. It’s the button that is the View Mode handle on the X-E1, and it remains within easy reach of your right thumb.

Fuji has made more of the X-E2’s buttons customisable than on the X-E1, so that it can be better set up to suit the photographer. However, it’s worth using the camera in the default arrangement for a while until you settle into it, as it works pretty well.

In addition, the shutter rate dial has a 1/180sec mark to indicate the maximum sync acceleration when flash is used, and the publicity compensation dial extends to +/-3EV rather than just +/-2EV.

As the three-inch 1,040,000-dot screen isn’t touch-sensitive, the AF must be set by pressing the down key of the navigation controls and then navigating to the desired point. This is fine, but we are increasingly becoming used to being able to do this with a touch of a finger on a screen. The upside of not having a touchscreen, of course, is that the LCD will be less likely to get covered in fingerprints, and this ensures that it provides a good, clear view at all times.

It’s also the shame that the display is fixed and can’t be tilted or even twisted for easier viewing when shooting low or high images. Fortunately, it has a wide viewing angle, which goes some way towards counterbalancing the problem, but naturally the scene is somewhat foreshortened.

The screen provides a nice clear view in most situations, with reflections being an issue only in bright direct light. One of the major draws of the X-E2, however, is usually that it includes a viewfinder built-in. While some may be concerned that this is an electronic device, they should try it before dismissing it, as it’s excellent. Details are clear and there’s no obvious texture, so it is possible to forget that it’s not an optical finder.

Among the benefits of a good EVF is that it is able to display the scene since it will undoubtedly be captured, and the X-E2’s unit performs well in this respect.

Fujifilm X-E2: Performance

As we have seen the sensor and processing engine before, in the X100s, it’s no surprise to discover that the X-E2 generally produces high-quality images with plenty of detail and well-controlled noise.

However, at 100% on screen, out of focus areas in JPEG pictures have a watercolour-like appearance and some strong edges border on being over-sharpened. The painterly effect seems to be the result of the camera attempting to sharpen places that should not be sharp. Fortunately, this effect isn’t visible at normal viewing sizes and images look good with a film-like quality, but it will limit print dimensions and cropping. Even better news is that the problem does not extend to simultaneously-captured raw files.

Noise is controlled impressively well throughout the native sensitivity range: ISO 200-6400. Even shots taken at ISO 6400 have little chroma sound, with just subtle coloured speckling being noticeable in the darker (but non-black) locations. This coloured speckling can be fairly easily removed, for example using the Colour slider in the Noise Removal section of Adobe Camera Raw, to leave luminance noise.

It’s not possible to capture raw documents at the sensitivity expansion settings, but the JPEG results are pretty good. As you’d expect, ISO 25,600 JPEGs look softer than those captured lower down the range, but they are pretty good, and in some cases would make respectable A3 prints.

Fuji’s automatic white balance system has impressed before and it doesn’t disappoint in the X-Electronic2, delivering natural-looking colours in a range of situations. However, in overcast and shaded conditions the Fine Weather setting produces slightly warmer, more pleasing results.

Similarly, the standard Provia Film Simulation mode is a good choice for many conditions, however, the Velvia option is good when you want to boost colors. I particularly like the results in BW mode, with the Highlight and Shadow Tone set to their maximum values (+2) to improve contrast. In many cases, monochrome images look good straight from the digital camera, but it’s nice to have the raw file to process if you decide you want a color image or a more considered black and white conversion.

Despite the claims made for the X-E2’s automatic focusing system, it doesn’t seem quite as fast as the systems in the likes of the Panasonic G6, Panasonic GF6, or Olympus E-P5. Nevertheless, it is good and an improvement upon the X-E1’s AF program, delivering sharp pictures quickly in most situations. As usual, it slows down a bit and becomes a little indecisive when light levels fall, but it’s not bad and a lot better than the AF techniques available in an average SLR’s live view mode.

The biggest improvement is made with continuous focusing, which in the past was largely unusable, but now performs well – provided you have the active AF point over the subject.

Rather than locking to the central AF point when continuous AF mode is selected, the AF stage could be positioned as regular within the frame and, inside reasonable light, it locks on to the target quickly, keeping it in focus because the subject distance changes. I found it was able to get cyclists sharp as they pedaled towards me.

Our tests reveal that the X-E2’s general purpose metering system does a good job with exposure in most circumstances, but the exposure compensation dial comes in handy occasionally, especially when you want to protect the highlights.

Raw data files prove their worth in high-contrast problems, as their greater dynamic variety allows more detail to be retrieved from both shadows and highlights. It is impressive how much fine detail can be drawn from very dark shadow areas, even in images captured at high-sensitivity settings.

Naturally, this needs to be done with care, mainly because brightening shadows brings out noise, but there’s no banding and it’s possible to strike a good, natural-looking balance.

Our lab tests confirm our findings in the field, that the X-E2’s JPEG files have a slightly restricted depth of industry and highlights are clipped a little more easily than we might like inside high-contrast circumstances. On the plus-side, in average conditions JPEG pictures have a nice level of contrast straight from the camera.

Fujifilm X-E2: Key Features

  • 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • EXR Processor II
  • ISO 200-6400, plus 100 – 25600 expanded (JPEG only)
  • 7 fps continuous shooting; 3 fps with continuous AF
  • Lens Modulation Optimizer (for sharper JPEGs when shooting at large or small apertures)
  • 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Top-plate analog shutter speed and exposure compensation dials
  • 3″ 1.04M dot 3:2 fixed LCD (non-tilting, not touch-sensitive)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for image transfer to smartphones or computers
  • Full HD movie recording (1920×1080/60p, ~38Mbps bitrate), with a built-in stereo microphone
  • 2.5mm stereo microphone socket, also accepts electronic remote releases
  • Available in silver or black

Fujifilm X-E2: Conclusion

Along with many photographers, I liked the X-E1. It offers the same image quality as the superb X-Pro1 in a smaller body and has what I consider the more useful of the two viewfinders – the electronic finder, which has been improved so that it’s better in low light. The X-E2 builds on the successes of the X-E1, with the same high-quality feel, and improved focusing system, a host of minor updates and better picture quality. Although image quality is often said to be the most important aspect of a camera, it’s only part of the story. If a camera feels good in your hands, is responsive and easy or quick to use, you’ll be far more likely to use it. The X-Electronic2 isn’t designed to appeal to novice photographers, but many enthusiasts will love it. The key features are within simple reach, there’s an excellent viewfinder and the images are also superb – especially the raw files.

We always recommend that photographers shoot raw files where possible to get the best image high quality, but this is especially true with the X-E2, provided you have access to Adobe Camera Raw to process the documents, as this elevates the results – in many cases producing images that are better than those from competing cameras, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Panasonic GX7.

Image Quality
ISO Performance
Video mode
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