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Nov 25

Review: Fujifilm X-E2

Fuji has released a rather large number of bodies in 2013, and they conclude the year by issuing their first X-Series upgraded camera, the X-E2.  When the X-E1 (reviewed herewas released only a little more than a year ago, it was the second entry in the X-System.  A scaled down X-Pro 1 without the optical viewfinder.   Even though the X-Pro 1 has yet to see a successor, Fuji announced the X-E2 last month to succeed the year old X-E1.

xe2_collection

The X-E2 looks almost identical to its predecessor, but it carries with it a lot of changes on the inside, including EVF improvements, faster autofocus, a new processor and more.  Let’s dive in!

If you’re not familiar with my reviews, I review from a real world shooting perspective. You won’t find lens charts or resolution numbers here. There are plenty of other sites that cover those. I review products on how they act for me as a photographic tool. I am not a videographer, so my reviews concentrate on the still imaging capabilities of a camera.

Body and Ergonomics

Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4

Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4

When you first look at the X-E2, it’s hard to recognize it as a new camera.  In fact, the exterior design is nearly identical to the X-E1.  Indeed, from the front, the only visible difference between the two cameras is the presence of the number 2 on the engraved top plate.  The X-E2 is exactly the same size, has the same grip, the same EVF placement and mostly the same button arrangements, with a few modifications.  As such, it feels exactly the same in the hand as the X-E1.

The X-E2 has the same retro styling as the X-E1 before it, and the look still holds up.  The X-E2 is available in silver and black, and both look quite handsome.  The top plate and front are made of magnesium alloy and the rear of the camera is plastic.  The result is a relatively solidly built, but very lightweight camera.  When I reviewed the X-E1, I noted that my copy had some misaligned seams and some other small niggles.  These are not present on the reviewed X-E2, which is quite precisely built.

The camera is comfortable to hold with most of the prime lenses, though the grip is rather small when using a larger lens like the Fuji 55-200mm.  I’d recommend picking up an accessory grip to aid in handling with heavier lenses.

The control layout is largely unchanged from the X-E1, though some of the buttons, such as the AF button and Q button have been moved from their original locations on the X-E1.  Fuji added the ability to make the down arrow on the four-way controller on the X-E1 operate the AF point selection in a firmware update this past summer.  With the X-E2, that position has become the official AF button.  This makes a lot more sense ergonomically, and now all major camera controls that are likely to be changed during shooting can easily be reached with the camera to your eye.

Viewfinder and Screen

The rear of the X-E2, showing the new larger rear screen

The rear of the X-E2, showing the new larger rear screen

On paper, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is the same one in the X-E1.  It’s a 2.4 million dot EVF that is clear and detailed and decently large.  In practice, the EVF is massively upgraded.  The big difference is the minimum refresh rate, which has increased from 20 fps to 50 fps.  That may not sound like a big deal, but when light levels drop, the X-E2′s EVF is smooth and remains clear in any light.  In the darkest of light, a little noise can creep in, especially when you magnify the view, but it’s still not bad.  It makes the X-E2 a joy to use in any light, where the X-E1 could sometimes bog down and become practically unusable, especially when manually focusing in low light.  The X-E2 has no such problems, and using manual focus lenses with this EVF is excellent, especially with the focus aids that I’ll discuss more in detail on page 3.

The rear screen has also gotten an upgrade, though this one is immediately visible.  The new rear screen on the X-E2 has over double the resolution as the somewhat dated one on the X-E1.  The X-E2′s rear screen is a 3.0″ 1 million dot display that is gorgeous.  The view is clear, detailed and has excellent color and contrast and really helps you see more detail when reviewing images and helps in manually focusing when using the rear screen as well.

Continue: Operation and Performance

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

23 comments

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  1. Wolfgang Lonien

    Great review, and superb images like always Jordan. In fact some of them look that good that I keep telling myself: “No, you won’t need that camera!”… ;-)

  2. Wilco

    I am NEX-5N user. In terms of focus speed does XE-2 is better than NEX-5N?

  3. Jordan Steele

    I haven’t used the NEX-5N, so it’s hard to say. I’d imagine the contrast detect on the 5N is probably a little bit faster than the X-E2′s CDAF (based on my experience with the NEX-7), but it’s not a huge difference (with a fast focusing lens). With PDAF, it’s probably a little faster than the Sony.

    As a whole it doesn’t focus quite as fast as the fastest mirrorless bodies I’ve used because you don’t get the top speed all the time, but the PDAF focusing is extremely fast. But the big thing is that AF speed doesn’t get in the way even when defaulting to CDAF…it’s perfectly fine for most any use, IMO.

  4. Wilco

    Thanks Jordan. Your review is pretty encouraging me to get XE-2. For OOC jpg color, does it comparable to Fuji S5pro? or compare to OMD, which one gives better OOC jpg color?

    Compare to Nikon 70-200/2.8 or 4 with XF 55-200mm does it comparable sharpness at same aperture?
    NEX-5N AF struggle and default to infinity when there is only street light at night. Have you tried that scenario with XE-2? I just want to know how it will perform.

    Thanks for the great review :)

  5. Armanius

    Thanks for the review Jordan. Does the split prism work for all manual lenses, including lenses used in conjunction with the Speed Booster?

    1. Jordan Steele

      Yes, the split prism works for any lens attached to the camera, whether it communicates with it or not. The images of the screen showing the split image were of the X-E2 and my FL 55mm f/1.2 + Speed Booster.

  6. cosinaphile

    another fine review….as a fuji x1oo xf1 x10 x20 and xe1 owner with 14mm 35mm and 18-55 native lenses as well as a speedbooster wth 35-70 2.8[f2]nikkor ….im very excited to be getting this camera in black

    thanks for a good read

    paul

  7. denton

    could you share the LR import settings you developed?

  8. Brian

    Thanks so much for this review and your Speedbooster review earlier.

    I know you cannot tell me what to buy/do!

    However,

    I have an X-E1 and a Speedbooster for Nikon G Lenses. (I own the 24 35 and 85 f1.4′s plus the 50 D f1.2).

    My Fuji lenses are 14 27 18-55 and 55-200.

    It looks like the X-E2 will be a very useful upgrade, if only for the manual focusing issues which seem better sorted on the 2.

    I also notice you did not much discuss the LMO feature on the 2. Do you have a comment you can share?

    Brian

    1. Jordan Steele

      I haven’t shot enough at small apertures using JPEG to really notice a difference, to be honest. Most of the Fuji lenses are pretty well corrected to begin with, so minor software corrections aren’t really something that you’ll see immediately anyway. I shoot RAW 99% of the time, so for me, the LMO capability is a nice thing to have, but I wouldn’t miss it either.

      1. Brian

        Thanks for responding. I Shoot RAW most of the time as well including on my D800e, X-E1, GX1 (IR converted), and my RX100.

        So I guess it’s a feature I’ll knock off my list of why the X-E2.

        Just got into the X system in June this year and am loving it. The only real issue is manual focus where I guess I’ll just have to practice more.

        I’m sort of on the page on enjoying the X-E1 for a while and wait and see what a potential X-Pro2 brings. I bet if/when it comes, it will knock our socks off. This, despite the improved manual focus over the 2.

        Still tempted by the X-E2 but so much to still exploit with the 1.

        Regards,

        Brian

  9. Pär

    Thank you for your great review! I’m feeling even more confident with the arrival of my ordered X-E2, coming today!

    Could you please share that color profile please?

    Pär from Sweden

  10. Lorenzo Asso

    Hi Jordan
    I sent you an email. Hope it has arrived you.
    Thanks

    Ciao
    Lorenzo

  11. Jon Lane

    Jordan,
    I have the XPro-1…which I love…but the reviews of the XE 2 are so compelling that perhaps I should add the XE 2 rather than waiting for the X Pro 2. Not that the images will be better, but that some of the operational quirks of the X Pro1 sound as if they have been smoothed. And I’m sure the X Pro2 will be at a higher price point. Do you have an opinion?
    Thanks Jon

  12. Ahmed Marzouk

    Nice review, Can you please share the color profile ??

  13. Wenge

    Very nice review-it’s exactly what I was looking for on this model, except I think respectfully there maybe a typo under “pros/cons”

    “Fewer bells and whistles compared to the competition”

    This should perhaps be under “Pros” ( rather than “Cons”)?

    :o)

  14. Chris

    Thank you for this review — it’s very well-written. I especially appreciated your comments regarding the differences between focus peaking on this camera vis-a-vis previous X-series cameras and the NEX series. (You’ve probably convinced me to get one of these to replace my X100, which has developed a cold solder joint behind the sensor.) Also, your sample images are very, very well done.

  15. Mguel

    Best review I’ve read so far, with very useful information for actually using the camera (and not only specs listing and repeating the same things). Thanks for covering the Lightroom/ACR Raw conversion issue, which is my main reason not to have bought the Fuji X-E2 already. I’m a Nikon shooter (Raw only), and I can’t imagine trying to change my workflow which is very centered on Lightroom and Raw. I’m waiting to have better support there. I hope Fuji could assist Adobe with this to benefit themselves in the long run.

    Besides that the other thing that bothers me is the limited +/-1 bracketing. I am a portrait shooter mainly, but I have fun sometimes with handheld HDR, ie travel landscapes. I hope this could be fixed on a firmware update.

  16. Matthew

    Thanks a lot for this practical orientated review. I am very tempted by the Fuji-E-system and wonder if switching from an Olympus OMD EM-5 would be a good idea. The fixed focal length lenses, especially the 14mm f2.8, fit my needs better. I am just afraid that I will miss this very good IBIS of the OMD. So which system (Fuji vs. Olympus) do you prefer?

  17. Sam

    Hi, great review and very helpful! On the topic of the viewfinder, I just got the X-E2 and noticed that the viewfinder image sometimes lags or becomes jittery for a second or two when moving from a dark scene to a bright scene or vice versa. It seems the camera adjusts exposure and this impacts the refresh rate for a moment or two then it becomes smooth again. Have you experienced the same thing? Any fix for it?

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  19. Gary

    Great review, I love my X-E2. I have been using with a Metabones, Nikon G to X and my Voigtlanders and Nikon AFS lenses. Focus Peeking works great, a little difficult on the 20mm, but great from 40mm and up. The AFS 50mm f1.8 works great, but the killer is the AFS 85mm f1.8. Another note, I have tried my Tokina 11-16 f2.8 and the X-E2 handles this lens works well as a 17-24 FX equivilant for Landscapes.

  20. Juan

    Hi Jordan,

    I have a NEX-7 and this week I have bought a 2nd hand X-E1 and one thing I don’t like about X-E1 is the shot-to-shot waiting time, Is too long (with AF/AE bloked) and sometimes makes me feel a little frustrated, specially shooting portraits, when I tried to catch the expression I want.

    I’d like to know how much the X-E2 have improoved this point.

    On the NEX-7 there is no apparently shot-to-shot lag, and It shots as fast as my finger can press the button again, same as a midrange/pro DSLR (with AF/AE bloked). Obviously until the buffer is full.

    I’ve read your review but this point it’s not clear at all. Shooting in RAW, with AF bloked (or MF) and with a fast SD card (90Mb/s): Does the X-E2 behaves as the NEX-7 does? (Either on single shot or burst mode.)

    Thanks a lot for your reviews, are very usefull.
    Greetings from Spain.
    Juan

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