Fujifilm X-E2 Review
Fujifilm introduces the X-E2, the successor to the X-E1: Mirrorless system camera
With the X-E2, the X-E1 becomes the first model of the X-System to have a successor. Fujifilm wants to have improved more than 60 points in total and, according to its own statements, has received feedback from numerous users in order to eliminate the biggest points of criticism. It now has a much faster hybrid autofocus, an improved sensor and a larger screen.
- Recommended Kit Lens
- Fast autofocus, easy to focus manually
- Good EVF, also suitable for spectacle wearers
- Quick to configure thanks to many dedicated controls
- Very good to excellent image quality
- Massive, somewhat unwieldy camera housing
- Cumbersome video mode
- No fully automatic, no motif programs
Those who want to photograph digitally in the classic way will be disappointed by most manufacturers today. In addition to Leica, Fujifilm in particular holds up traditional virtues with its mirrorless X-series system cameras. Its latest offspring, the X-E2, remains true to this line: high-quality lenses and a special sensor design are intended to ensure excellent image quality, plus unique image processing with the “Lens Modulation Optimizer”. What has remained, however, is the very traditional operating concept.
The X-E2 (like the X-E1) uses a 16 megapixel resolution X-Trans CMOS sensor, which has a very high image quality and no low-pass filter, which increases the visible resolution. However, the second generation with integrated phase autofocus measuring points is used. Thanks to a faster EXR processor II and improved algorithms, the hybrid system consisting of phase and contrast autofocus should work much faster than the X-E1, a statement we can confirm after a first short hands-on. The X-E2 focuses as fast as you would expect from a modern mirrorless system camera. The autofocus now reacts better to horizontal structures and works much faster, especially in very dark and very bright lighting conditions. According to the CIPA standard, Fujifilm even wants to have measured an autofocus speed of 0.08 seconds with the 14 millimeter XF lens, which would be a new record for the mirrorless system cameras. This also benefits continuous shooting with AF tracking and focus tracking during video recording. But Fujifilm was also able to improve the switch-on time to 0.5 seconds. The same time elapses before the X-E2 shoots the next shot after one, and in continuous shooting mode it even shoots seven frames per second. At full resolution, 28 shots should be possible at a time. The writing speed to the memory cards (SD, SDHC and SDXC are supported) is said to have improved by a factor of 1.8.
New is the integrated Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO for short), which effectively eliminates the image errors of Fujinon lenses. This should not only include edge blur, but also diffraction blur. For the use of the LMO, however, firmware updates of the lenses are necessary, which Fujifilm wants to make available in time. The LMO only works within the camera for JPEG recordings. The LMO is not used with the raw files, which are now saved with 14 bits, by the way. This is also not possible afterwards, since the function is limited to the camera itself. If you want, you can also switch off the LMO for JPEG. The manual focusing is not only supported by an improved focus magnifier and focus peaking, but also a digital split image indicator has Fujifilm integrated. The latter uses the phase focus measuring points of the sensor for help, in the middle area of the screen or viewfinder the structures are then displayed, depending on whether they are sharp or blurred, either continuously or shifted in stripes to the left and right, just as it is known from a classic analog viewfinder with split image indicator. Also new: Face recognition for autofocus and image playback.
Like its predecessor, the X-E2 features a 2.36 million pixel OLED viewfinder, an integrated flash unit and a TTL flash shoe. However, the viewfinder now works more smoothly, especially in dark lighting conditions, thanks to an increased frame rate from 20 to 50 frames per second. The rear screen is still firmly installed, i.e. not movable, but has grown to a diagonal of 7.6 centimeters and a fine resolution of 1.04 million pixels. Also practical is the 3:2 aspect ratio, as this corresponds to the same aspect ratio as the sensor, the space is used effectively. A new feature is the integrated WLAN module, which allows wireless transmission of the photos and videos taken to a PC, tablet or smartphone. However, wireless control of the camera via WLAN is still not possible with Fujifilm.
Speaking of video: Fujifilm has also drilled out this function. Full HD films are now recorded at up to 60 frames per second and stored at 36 Mbps in particularly high quality. The analog film simulation modes can be applied to both photos and videos. Filter effects are also available for black-and-white photography, such as a green or red filter. In addition, the X-E2 has image effects such as miniature, pinhole camera or blur as well as a multiple exposure function. Also new is the exposure preview with live histogram for manual exposure.
From mid November 2013, the Fujifilm X-E2 will be available in black or silver-black at a price of 900 EUR without lens. The set with the F2.8-4 fast 18-55mm XF lens should cost almost 1,300 EUR.
Ergonomics and workmanship
The design and operation of the X-E2 remain the same as Fujifilm’s X-E1. The camera looks like a classic camera, with simple forms and dedicated controls. You might almost think you have a traditional rangefinder camera in front of you, but the viewfinder eyepiece, which is struck far to the left, lets you look at a TFT display. The angular design, on the other hand, could have come directly from the 70s, and the grained rubber coating of the case is also strongly reminiscent of this epoch. The fact that not everything used to be better, however, is noticed at the latest when you take the X-E2 in your hand and lift it up in front of your eye: You can’t hold the camera securely with one hand, the simple design simply stands in the way of that with just a hint of a handle. In addition, the X-E2 weighs almost 660 grams for a mirrorless system camera; ready for operation and equipped with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm/2.8-4 OIS lens, the X-E2 weighs almost 660 grams.
Form follows function – Fujifilm gladly leaves this design approach to other manufacturers. When operating the X-E2, on the other hand, the focus is on continuity with concepts from the 70s. And so it is equipped with a classic shutter speed dial and a further one for exposure correction. In the centre of the trigger there is even a thread that holds a time-honoured cable release – which digital camera can still offer this today? A mode dial, on the other hand, is searched for in vain. Because the X-E2 also stays true to tradition when it comes to exposure control. The aperture number is selected as usual with a ring on the lens; if the aperture ring is set to “A”, the camera automatically controls the exposure time (and ISO number if necessary) to match the specified shutter speed. Similarly, the time preselection is set to “A”, making the X-E2 an automatic timer. If both aperture and shutter speed are set to “A”, the X-E2 controls the exposure by program priority. This may seem catchy at first glance, but it always requires several operating steps to reconfigure the camera. With a program selector wheel that has been in use for a long time, the operating mode can be changed more quickly and, above all, with one hand.
So the X-E2 is not only trimmed for “retro”, but packs together the tried and tested with the latest digital technology. Your electronic viewfinder is up to date in any case. It has an extremely fine resolution of almost 2.4 million pixels and impresses with a very natural colour reproduction. What?s even more important: This EVF is very bright, even late autumn backlight pictures are no problem at all.
It is also good that the exit pupil is calculated for an interpupillary distance of a generous 23 millimetres. This means that eyeglass wearers can also enjoy the formidable EVF and can see the viewfinder image right down to the last corner. But the display on the rear display is also impressive. It now resolves more than one million pixels, its diagonal has grown to three inches – a clear improvement over its predecessor. However, the screen still can’t be folded or swivelled, it’s not touch-sensitive anyway – Fujifilm remains quite traditional here, too.
The housing of the X-E2 looks very valuable, this also applies to the rotating wheels and the release on the top plate. The wheels move tightly, they can hardly be adjusted accidentally. By the way, the trigger wants to be pressed quite hard, its two pressure points are well defined. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the buttons on the back of the camera. They are made of shabby plastic and work somewhat spongy. Fujifilm has arranged some of the keys on the left edge, so the XE-2 can be easily operated with two hands. And thanks to the well thought-out quick menu with access to a dozen paramaters, this works excellently. You rarely have to dive into the extensive but neatly structured camera menu. Operation is also made easier by the fact that nine individual camera configurations can be saved, which can then be accessed directly via the quick menu. However, the following applies: A user memory only records nine parameters, specifications on the aperture ring or time dial are not included.
The interfaces (microphone/remote release, USB and HDMI) disappear under a robust flap on the left side of the camera, which is hinged with a spring. However, the X-E2 does without a splash water protection, for example with rubber lips. Battery and memory card are concealed under a flap on the underside, the tripod thread is located directly next to it. Its position is unfavourable for two reasons: On the one hand it sits far away from the optical axis, on the other hand an attached quick-release plate blocks access to the memory card and energy dispenser. The latter is by the way with a range of approx. 350 shots (according to CIPA standard) somewhat weak on the chest. It’s a good thing that Fujifilm has included a charging cradle for the battery in the X-E2. This prevents the camera from being blocked while an optional second battery in the charger cradle refreshes itself.
Not only the design and operation of the X-E2 are based on a classic rangefinder camera, but also its features. Fujifilm also gave the X-E2 some modern features – but one after the other. There is a simple reason why the camera lacks a program selector wheel: there is no fully automatic mode, no scene mode programs to select. Anyone taking pictures with the X-E2 should be aware of the influence of aperture and shutter speed on the image result. However, the X-E2 does not completely abjures of automatic systems, as they are commonplace in digital photography today. For example, there is automatic face recognition, which makes it easier to focus on portrait and group photos. The X-E2 also has an automatic panorama function on board: Simply press the shutter release and pan the camera over the scenery, and a wide-screen image with up to 9,600 x 2,160 pixels lands on the memory card. This panorama also works with the camera held upright and vertical pan shots. This automatic can therefore replace a super wide-angle lens, at least for static scene modes.
The X-E2 has eight effect programs to offer, from “pinhole camera” to the inevitable “miniature” effect to color keying. The latter shows only one of six selectable colors, the rest of the subject is black and white. And as befits a Fujifilm camera, the X-E2 also offers the simulation of analog films from the same company – even in playback mode afterwards if desired. Respectable is the speed of 7 frames/second. However, the X-E2 only holds out at this speed for twelve JPEG shots or nine raw photos, after which it falls into a very leisurely endurance run. With the highest continuous-advance camera, the camera shows the last image taken (and not a live-view image), but this is done so quickly and without a dark pause that it hardly interferes.
For those who prefer pure photography, the X-E2 offers a wide range of functions and options. Compared to its predecessor, the ISO auto function has been improved and you can now set a maximum shutter speed before controlling a higher sensitivity. This works well in practice as long as you use fixed focal lengths. If, on the other hand, a zoom lens is used, the automatic camera will not be able to set the longest shutter speed depending on the selected focal length. The X-E2 is exemplary in that focus and exposure can be stored separately – the camera has an AF-L and an AE-L button for this purpose. No wishes remain with the flash exposure. The X-E2 can handle all important modes from long-term sync to pre-flash to avoid red flashed eyes. Fujifilm has equipped the X-E2 with an ISO shoe for connecting external flashes. In case of an emergency, the camera also has a small pop-up flash on board, but with a guide number of 5.4 it is a bit weak on the chest.
The X-E2 records videos in full HD resolution with a maximum of 60 full frames per second and stereo sound, stored in the post-processing-friendly MOV format. For video recording, the camera has to be put into film mode, a dedicated video trigger is missing. However, there is nothing wrong with the quality of the recordings. The autofocus reacts quickly and without annoying pumping, focus noises are not audible. The options that the X-E2 offers in playback mode are impressively diverse. Raw images can be developed directly in the camera, allowing a variety of parameters to be specified. Even manual correction of aberrations caused by the lens is possible.
Fujifilm has equipped the X-E2 with WiFi connectivity in the spirit of modernity. The wireless connection with a smartphone, however, is essentially only used for image transmission, the camera cannot be remotely controlled with it. The X-E2 does without a GPS receiver, it takes over the location coordinates of a smartphone, to which it is connected, if desired. However, it references the current position at the time of the adjustment and not at the time of the recording.
As one of the last arrivals in the mirrorless system world, Fujifilm’s X family initially had only a modest selection of lenses to offer. However, the website now lists ten lenses that cover a focal length range of 21 to approx. 350 millimetres equivalent to a small picture – six of which are high-intensity fixed focal lengths. Our test camera was equipped with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm/2.8-4 OIS, which covers a focal length range of 27 to 82.5 millimetres in terms of 35mm. As expected with the high light intensity, the zoom is quite voluminous and heavy. But the high weight is certainly due to the robust construction, lens tube and bayonet are made of metal. In addition, the optical construction with 14 elements in ten groups is anything but simple. In any case, the lens design meets all the requirements for best image quality – read more about this in the following section.
But how does the standard zoom work in practice? The autofocus is in any case quite fast, but without breaking records: It takes between 0.4 and 0.6 seconds for the X-E2 to focus and release. It’s a bit faster if you turn on the Pre-AF option, which is especially recommended for action and snapshot photographers. It’s also nice that Fujifilm has given the lens an optical image stabilizer. The control possibilities for the autofocus are a bit small but in practice completely sufficient. Either you leave the choice of the focus field to the camera, or you place it on one of 49 possible positions in the viewfinder section.
Compared to its predecessor, Fujifilm has significantly improved the AF performance. This was made possible by a new hybrid autofocus that combines the advantages of contrast measurement with those of the phase comparison method. Fujifilm has equipped the image sensor with around 86,000 phase comparison cells, as in the X100S. Also new: In AF-C mode, the exposure meter can now be frozen when the shutter release button is pressed halfway, but the focus continues to be adjusted. As beautiful as these innovations may be – the traditional photographer can gladly do without them: With the X-E2 you can also focus manually for the best. Not only because the camera offers focus peaking and an electronic cross section, but also thanks to the excellently designed lenses with their long adjustment range.
Fujifilm doesn’t just go its own way with the design and equipment of the X-E2, the camera also leaves the beaten track with the image sensor. Unlike sensors with a Bayer filter, Fujifilm uses a less regular color filter mask. This X-Trans pattern should reduce the danger of moire, consequently the X-E2 self-confidently does without a resolution-reducing low-pass filter. Moreover, the resolution of 16 megapixels remains moderate for an image converter in APS-C format, which promises good high-ISO capabilities. And last but not least, the new “EXR Processor II” with its “Lens Modulation Optimizer” ensures that the internal image processing takes into account the lens used.
The set lens does not only look good haptically, but also in the test lab. It resolves around 45 line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm) at optimum aperture. This is not a peak value, but it is quite respectable. What is much more important is that the resolution is very uniform across the entire field of view at all focal lengths. A glance at the raw images recorded in parallel reveals that the internal image processing with its “Lens Modulation Optimizer” is to a large extent responsible for this. In the raw data, the outermost corners appear softer than the image center, apparently the critical zones in the JPEGs from the camera have been specially treated. This impression is activated by the measurement of the sharpness artifacts – they are much more pronounced in the image corners than in the center, but remain at a pleasingly low level overall.
What ultimately counts is the result. And that’s really something to be proud of in terms of “chromatic aberration”, edge darkening and distortion. The standard zoom is well corrected, whether optical or electronic is once placed there. In practice, the lens also performed well in backlighting, with no f-stop spots or ghosting to be wrested from.
But what about the performance of the image converter and the data preparation? With a moderate resolution of 16 megapixels, the X-E2 should deliver a good signal-to-noise ratio – and not disappoint. At a basic sensitivity of ISO 200, the distance between the useful signal and the interference signal is almost 45 dB – a good value! It drops quite evenly up to ISO 1,600. In this case, the noise suppression obviously intervenes more strongly without, however, preventing the noise from falling below the critical limit of 35 dB beyond ISO 3,200. Fortunately Fujifilm keeps the noise suppression on the short leash, so the texture sharpness remains within the green range until beyond ISO 3,200. The same applies to color and luminance noise. In short: The X-E2 manages the balancing act between noise suppression and detail preservation excellently, for DIN A4 prints it can be used without regret up to ISO 3,200.
However, the X-E2 has to leave some springs in the input dynamics. It only processes contrast differences of a good nine f-stops – and one or the other competitor puts a further light value step on it, at least in the low-ISO range. On the other hand, the X-E2 maintains its level up to ISO 6,400 – not many cameras can do that anymore. In terms of output dynamics, the camera is also somewhat ambivalent: up to ISO 200, almost all 256 possible gradations per color and brightness channel are differentiated – excellent! But then the curve drops quite steeply, beyond ISO 3.200 the images visibly lose their color and brightness differentiation.
If the XE-2 delivers an excellent to good image in terms of noise and dynamics, it weakens you when it comes to color reproduction. The colour deviations measured in the laboratory are on average only just good, especially magenta and orange tones are reproduced by the camera with its own note. In practice, the automatic white balance is likely to work even more accurately, as the images show a slight hint of blue-green. Manual white balance is extremely accurate.
Fujifilm remains true to its line: the X-E2 not only wears a dress in retro design, but also operation and functionality are strongly oriented to a traditional rangefinder camera. If you prefer to adjust the aperture with a classic aperture ring on the lens rather than with a simple rotating wheel on the camera, the X-E2 is the right choice for you. But if you’re looking for a photo booth that does everything for you, you won’t be happy with the Fujifilm X-E2 – it simply lacks a fully automatic system as well as motif programs. Compared to its predecessor, Fujifilm has improved the X-E2 only moderately but decisively: The autofocus has become significantly faster, the continuous shooting speed has increased slightly and the display now has a high resolution in keeping with its status. The image quality of the X-E2 is very good, in some areas even excellent. Only the color fidelity and the input dynamics of the X-E2 have to leave a few springs, but this doesn’t diminish the overall very positive impression. The excellent and powerful kit lens, which is an ideal partner for the somewhat bulky camera, certainly contributes to this.
This test of the Fujifilm X-E2 with Fujifilm XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.
- Recommended Kit Lens
- Fast autofocus, easy to focus manually
- Good EVF, also suitable for spectacle wearers
- Quick to configure thanks to many dedicated controls
- Very good to excellent image quality
- Massive, somewhat unwieldy camera housing
- Cumbersome video mode
- No fully automatic, no scene mode programs
Fujifilm upgrades X-E2 with firmware update 4.00 (almost) to X-E2S: Countless innovations
With the launch of the X-E2S last month, Fujifilm already announced that it would be upgrading the X-E2 with as many of the X-E2S’s new features as possible via a firmware update. This firmware update 4.00 is now available for download. Only a few hardware-related innovations remain reserved for the X-E2S. Beside a new user interface and a new autofocus system there are also many function improvements.
One of Fujifilm’s key points is the continuous development of the hybrid autofocus system, which uses both phase measurement sensors on the image sensor and contrast measurement of the image sensor. On the one hand, the firmware update increases the sensitivity of the phase measurement sensors, which now manage with 0.5 EV light instead of 2.5 EV. The new AF system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes has also been implemented. The previous 49 autofocus points are combined with 77 points distributed over a larger sensor area. This should make it easier to track moving objects. The single point AF, on the other hand, now works with smaller measuring sections in order to be able to focus even more precisely on details of the motif. In addition, the eye autofocus has been implemented and the macro mode has been omitted, since the camera should be able to switch automatically without speed loss. The macro key can now be assigned another function of your choice. In addition, phase autofocus is now also available during the instant AF function with manual focus, which accelerates focusing there. The focus limiter of the new XF 100-400mm is also supported after the update. Finally, the tracking autofocus of video recordings has been improved to provide a smoother focus shift.
Functional enhancements include the new electronic shutter with shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000 second. This allows not only silent photography, but also larger aperture openings can be used in bright ambient light. However, the rolling shutter effect must be taken into account and the flash does not work with the electronic shutter. New is the possibility to take white balance series with three images. Instead of one picture, three different versions are taken, one normal, one cooler and one warmer. Also new are three Auto ISO settings that can be individually configured. In addition, the exposure compensation can now be used with manual exposure in ISO Auto. The program shift now works up to four seconds exposure time, previously it was limited to a quarter second as the longest shift exposure time.
The Live View image can now be switched to a natural mode. Image effects, exposure effects, etc. are then no longer visible in the Live View, which makes working easier in certain situations. In addition, the grid lines that can be faded in are now displayed more finely in order to disturb the view of the motif less. Videographers will be pleased that in addition to 60p and 30p, 50p, 25p and 24p can now also be selected as refresh rates. In addition, the ISO sensitivity can now be set before video recording, aperture and exposure time can even be adjusted manually during recording.
With the firmware update 4.00 the new user interface is introduced into the X-E2. This means that the background color of the menu can no longer be set. The new interface now allows the use of the entire exposure time range when the exposure time wheel is set to “T”. Previously, only 2 to 30 seconds could be set here. So if you don’t like the wheel and prefer to choose the exposure time like with modern cameras, you can do so now. It is also possible to adjust the focus point directly with the four-way controller without having to press the Fn button. In addition, the function of the AE-L/AF-L button can now be changed. In manual focus mode, the size of the focus area can now be changed in the Instant AF function. In addition, the spot metering can now be connected to the selected focus point. Certainly one of the most important innovations concerns the quick menu, which can now be configured individually. Those who would like to record a video quickly will be pleased that the video function is no longer hidden in the “Drive” modes, but one of the function keys can be configured as a video recording button. The shutter release is now only there for taking pictures.
The firmware update, however, also brings with it a deterioration: With continuous shooting one or two frames less are now possible at high speed, this concerns both raw continuous shooting and JPEG. Fujifilm now shows about 28 pictures in JPEG or 18 pictures in raw. The update can be downloaded from the Fujifilm website and installed by yourself. If you do not have the confidence to follow this procedure, which is only described in English, you can contact your dealer or Fujifilm support.
Fujifilm X-E2 Datasheet
|Sensor||CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (Crop factor 1.5
)16.3 megapixels (effective)
|Pixel pitch||4.8 µm|
|Picture formats||JPG, RAW|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard|
|Maximum recording time||27 min|
|Autofocus mode||Phase comparison autofocus with 49 sensors, contrast autofocus|
|Autofocus Functions||Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light, Focus Peaking|
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Monitor||3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels|
|Video viewfinder||Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 2,360,000 pixels, 0.93x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 2.0 dpt)|
|Exposure metering||Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement|
|Exposure times||1/4,000 to 4 s (Automatic
)1/4,000 to 30 s (Manual)
|Exposure control||Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual|
|Bracketing function||Bracket function with maximum 3 shots, increments of 1/3 EV|
|Exposure compensation||-3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV|
|Sensitivity to light||ISO 200 to ISO 25.600 (manual)|
|Remote access||Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet|
|Scene modes||No scene modes in this model.|
|Picture effects||Film simulation (Provia, Velvia, Astia, Pro Neg (2), SW with filter (G, R, G)|
|White balance||Automatic, Sun, Shadow, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 2 presets, Incandescent light, Manual, Sun, Shadow|
|Color space||Adobe RGB, sRGB|
|Continuous shooting||7.0 frames/s at highest resolution|
|Self-timer||Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)|
|Shooting functions||Live histogram|
|Flash||built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Fujifilm, standard center contact
|Flash number||Guide number 7 (ISO 100)|
|Flash functions||Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction|
|Image stabilizer||no optical image stabilizer|
SD (SDHC, SDXC)
|GPS function||GPS external (permanent smartphone connection)|
|Power supply||no power supply connection|
|Power supply||1 x Fujifilm NP-W126 (Lithium ions (Li-Ion))|
|Playback Functions||Red eye retouching, image index, slide show function|
|Special functions||Electronic water level, orientation sensor, Live View|
|Ports||Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
|AV connectors||AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C
)Audio input: yes (2.5 mm jack (stereo))
Audio output: no
|Features and Miscellaneous||Dynamic range bracketing (DR 100 %, DR 200 %, DR 400 %
)ISO bracketing ( /- 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV)
Sharpness controlLens modulation optimizerFocus controlMulti exposuresRAW conversionPhotobook assistant
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D||129 x 75 x 37 mm|
|Weight||370 g (ready for operation)|
|included accessories||Fujifilm BC-W126 Charger for special rechargeable batteriesFujifilm
NP-W126 Special rechargeable batteryChargerUSB connection cableCarrying strapPicture editing softwareFujifilm software package for Windows and Macintosh