Nov 25

Review: Fujifilm X-E2

Image Quality: Dynamic Range and Color

Dawn - Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R @ f/5.6

Dawn – Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R @ f/5.6

Not much has changed in the image quality department since the introduction of the X-Pro 1, but that still isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The X-E2 files are still among the best in the business.  The camera has outstanding dynamic range that can capture tones in even very harsh light.  Only in the most extreme circumstances will you exceed the camera’s dynamic range.

Likewise, Fuji has always had excellent color, and this continues with the X-E2.  While the RAW files are a little muted right out of the camera, they take saturation adjustment well and the color can be brought out well.  JPEG color is outstanding.

One note about the X-E2’s RAW compatibility as of November 2013.  Adobe has enabled RAW capability in the latest release candidate for Lightroom 5.3, but the Adobe standard profile is pretty bad for the X-E2.  It can leave some odd magenta shadows on interior portraits and other color inaccuracies.  Luckily, a custom profile I made with my Color Checker Passport fixed this and brought it back to the beautiful Fuji color I am used to.  Hopefully Adobe produces a better profile for the final 5.3 release.

Bikes - Fujifilm X-E2 with Canon FL 55mm f/1.2+Speed Booster @ ISO 4000

Bikes – Fujifilm X-E2 with Canon FL 55mm f/1.2+Speed Booster @ ISO 4000

Image Quality: Noise

The X-E2 has very good noise control, with JPEG images showing very low noise up to ISO 3200 and even somewhat usable images at the ISO maximum of 25,600.  RAW files show more noise but also much more detail.  Noise remains quite low up to ISO 1600 and very usable at ISO 3200 and 6400.  I don’t hesitate to shoot with Auto ISO at ISO 6400.

It is worth noting that the X-E2, like all X-Trans sensors, does overstate ISO a bit.  In my experience it’s about 1/3 stop overstated vs my other cameras.

Overall image quality with the X-E2 is on a very high level. The low noise, great color and excellent dynamic range are combined with a sort of ‘it’ factor with the images, which have a depth that is unusually rich for an APS-C sensor.

JPEG Quality

As mentioned on the previous page, the X-E2’s JPEG quality is outstanding.  Fuji’s JPEGs are good enough that I don’t feel particularly limited if I choose to shoot JPEG.  As I desire full control over my images, I almost always only shoot RAW, but I do shoot RAW+JPEG from time to time, especially in the black and white modes and often end up using the JPEG in many cases.  With the control you have over the dynamic range, the highlight and shadow curves and film simulations, you can also obtain tremendous dynamic range in the JPEG images.


The X-E2 features a semi-featured video mode, accessed through the drive menu.  The camera can shoot 1080p or 720p, and you can choose 60 or 30 fps.  You can now adjust exposure compensation on the fly and you can still select the shooting aperture, but ISO and shutter speed control are not available.  It’s clear Fuji intends its X-series to be a stills oriented camera, and the video mode’s lack of features and power is a testament to that.

Video quality itself is fairly good, but nothing particularly special.  This is not a hybrid camera.  It’s a stills camera that can shoot video when you need it.

Other Items of Note

A few other things to note about the camera:

  • One of the complaints I had about the X-E1 was the inability for the camera to auto-rotate vertical images when reviewing them on the rear LCD.  This is still the case, unfortunately.  However, the biggest detriment to that for me was that the X-E1 would only allow you to zoom in a little bit on a vertical image (equal to full zoom on a horizontal image, but with the vertical crop).  The X-E2 thankfully zooms in on image review to the same level for both horizontal and vertical images, so checking focus on vertical images is actually possible.
  • While the View Mode button was something I very rarely used, I know many photographers did use that often.  Fuji has removed the View Mode button entirely.  This wouldn’t be too big a deal if you could assign the second Fn button to operate the View Mode capability, but on initial firmware, this isn’t possible.  The only way to switch operation of the EVF and LCD is to dive into the menu system.  Enough people have complained about this that I’d imagine Fuji will add this as an option in a future firmware update.
  • Speaking of viewing modes, there is a new one on the X-E2.  There is now an option to use the eye sensor to keep all viewing devices off until you raise the camera to your eye.  That is, the EVF and rear LCD will be off and the EVF will only activate when shooting, which will save a good bit of battery life.  It’s not a perfect implementation, however, as when this mode is activated, the rear LCD is completely off, and you can’t turn it on without diving into those menus to turn it back on.  It would be nice to have the option to have this work that way, but still use the rear LCD if you enter the menu system or playback an image.
  • I’ve mentioned in my previous Fuji camera reviews, but the X-Trans sensor can have some odd painterly artifacts from time to time depending on the RAW converter you use.  I have to say that over time, most RAW converters have figured out how to properly demosaic the X-Trans sensor, though Adobe is still lagging in this area.  Lightroom and Photoshop ACR still can generate these artifacts in the right situation, though it’s much better than the early releases.  Most of the other major RAW converters have managed to figure out the X-Trans demosaicing to the point where these artifacts are a non-issue.  I use Capture One Express 7 for my Fuji files when ACR has trouble, and it does an excellent job.  As of this review, Capture One hasn’t been updated for X-E2 support, but it should be coming soon.  Iridiant Developer for the Mac and Photo Ninja also do a pretty good job with the X-Trans files.  Hopefully Adobe can get with the program here and tweak their RAW conversion of X-Trans files further to eliminate the few cases where it is still an issue with those converters.
  • With the same body as the X-E1, the tripod socket is still too close to the battery door, and most tripod plates or a direct mounting to a tripod will make it impossible to access the battery/memory card door.
  • Bracketing is still limited to just three frames at +/- 1 stop. This makes it pretty much a useless feature for HDR, and appears to be meant as a means to quickly get the ‘best exposure’ as opposed to increase dynamic range

Continue: Conclusion and Image Samples

About the author

Jordan Steele

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


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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


  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!


    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?


    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.



  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.


  11. Jon Lane

    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”)?


  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.

  21. Howard

    Thanks for the review. It helped convince me to buy an XE-2 last year. And I’m really liking it.

    Years ago I was an active street photographer in the San Francisco area. I was using a Leica M2 and M3. My first digital camera was a Canon G3 and more recently a G11. Since I was using them almost entirely for family/travel photos and posting to the Internet they worked quite well. And the G11 was certainly easy to carry around. But I was getting fed up with the delay between pressing the shutter button and the time the photo was taken. Last year I decided to look for something else.

    I never liked SLRs because of their size and weight along with the noise of the mirror moving up and down. That’s why I kept my point-and-shoot Canons for so long. When mirrorless cameras showed up I began to think about upgrading. The old-school design of the Fuji X series caught my I and I started to investigate them. After looking at reviews — yours was the most thorough — I decided to buy an XE-2 with the kit lens. It’s the first interchangeable lens camera I’ve owned since I sold my Leicas. The 18-55mm lens is excellent but after using it for a while I wanted something smaller for street photography. I was able to pick up the 27mm F2.8 “pancake” lens when it was on sale and liked its size and weight. With that lens the XE-2 is an easy to carry rig for street photography. It’s the first “serious” post-Leica camera I’ve used and I’m loving it.

    Thanks again for the review.

    Cheers and regards from the San Francisco Bay Area,

    Howard Harawitz

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