Fujifilm X-E2 Review: A near-perfect camera that chooses function over frills

Fujifilm X-E2 is the upgrade to the X-E1. While it looks quite similar, it gets the X-Trans CMOS II image sensor along with an EXR II image processor.

₹109,999

tech2 rating

4.3/5

avg. user rating

0.9/5



Fujifilm has been quite aggressive when it comes to its X series of retro-design inspired cameras. In 2012, we saw the X-E1 and as expected, Fujifilm has launched the X-E2 this year. The X-E2 does offer some improvements over the X-E1, with the main ones being an X-Trans CMOS II sensor along with an EXR II image processor and the addition of an on-board wireless functionality. We will discuss more about the changes X-E2 has vis-a-vis the X-E1, but first let us have a look at its design.

 

Build Quality and Design

On first glance, the X-E2 does not look much different from the X-E1 in terms of design, Both cameras have the same dimensions and weight as well. You have the textured front face with a protruding palm rest. Unlike the body, the palm rest has a textured rubber finish which provides the much needed grip. On the rear side, there isn’t a dedicated thumb rest as such. But thanks to the textured design on the rear side around all the buttons and the screen, you will get enough grip around the thumb rest area. We would have liked a rubberised surface here as well.

 Fujifilm X-E2 Review: A near-perfect camera that chooses function over frills

Fujifilm X-E2 houses an APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS II sensor along with a dual-core EXR II image processor

 

Button arrangement on the rear side is quite intuitive with the four-way directional keypad located on the right hand side. On the extreme right hand corner, you have the AF lock and AE lock buttons located within a cylindrical protrusion extending from the thumb rest area. The 3-inch 1040k dot LCD screen occupies the majority area on the rear side and it has four buttons located on its left hand side, for preview, drive mode, auto-exposure and function button. On the top band, you have an electronic viewfinder followed by a flash pop-up button, followed by a Quick menu button and finally a control wheel for navigation.

 

The top portion of the X-E2 is neatly demarcated with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and flash unit on the left hand side and all the dials on the right hand side bifurcated by the accessory port. Just like on the X-E1, you have the shutter speed dial and an exposure compensation dial. The power switch has the shutter button in the centre. Just beside the power button there is a Function button which is the Wi-Fi menu.

 

Fujifilm X-E2 has a 3-inch 1040k-dot LCD screen on the rear side

Fujifilm X-E2 has a 3-inch 1040k-dot LCD screen on the rear side

 

All the buttons have a good amount of travel and are located within easy reach. While the exposure compensation dial can easily rotated by the thumb only, the shutter speed dial not being on the edge, will require the use of the thumb and index finger for faster rotation. You can adjust the focus mode using the notch in front just under the lens on the left hand side, which can switch between manual, continuous and single-point AF.

 

The X-E2’s magnesium body is sturdy and at 350 gram, it is not really light. It comes bundled with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4 lens which adds on to the weight. The build quality of the Fujinon lens is top notch as well. It does not come with any weather-sealing, but it has the aperture, zoom and manual focus rings at just the right places. The aperture ring has a nice audible rotational mechanism whereas the manual focus ring is comparatively slower and smoother to rotate. On the lens barrel, you have the focal length markings for 18mm, 23mm, 35mm and 55mm. The lens comes with optical image stabilisation (OIS), which can be turned on or off using the notch. Even the aperture ring can be switched from manual operation to automatic using the notch just above the OIS notch.

 

Features

Fujifilm X-E2 although looks quite similar to its predecessor, does pack in some new features. The 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor is now accompanied by a newer EXR II image processor. The EXR II is a dual-core processor, as compared to the single-core EXR image processor seen on the X-E1. This definitely helps improve overall operational speed of the camera. The APS-C sized X-Trans CMOS II sensor has an array of 6x6 pixel units and it bypasses the need for an optical low pass filter.

 

 

Lens modulation optimiser is another new addition on the X-E2. What this basically does is take in the attached lens’ focal length and aperture data and processes the images such that they are sharp around the edges as well. We will see how well this performs in our tests.

The 18-55mm Fujinon kit lens has notches for aperture adjustment and optical image stabilisation. On the X-E2 body you will also find a notch to toggle between single-point, continuous and manual focus

The 18-55mm Fujinon kit lens has notches for aperture adjustment and optical image stabilisation. On the X-E2 body you will also find a notch to toggle between single-point, continuous and manual focus

While the X-E1 only sported the contrast-detect AF system, the X-E2 although having the same 49AF points also has some on-sensor phase-detect AF points. This gives you a variety of methods to use while manual focussing. You have the Standard mode, where rotating the manual focus ring will give you a magnified view of the area you have selected to focus on. The focus peaking method will give white outlines around the areas in focus. Finally, under the Digital Split Image mode, you will have a monochrome rectangular box in the centre. When you adjust the manual focus ring, you will get a magnified view of the monochrome box such that your entire EVF or LCD screen will show a monochrome magnified view of the area you are trying to focus on. This area is divided into four strips and as you adjust the manual focus ring, you will notice those strips moving and your area is under focus only when those strips align properly. The phase detection pixels on the sensor are employed to get this type of manual focussing working.

 

Fujifilm camera application is quite minimal and offers transferring images to your mobile devices

Fujifilm camera application is quite minimal and allows transferring images to your mobile devices

 

Wireless functionality is the new addition and you will need a companion Fujifilm Camera App to use it. The Fn button on top opens the wireless menu and you can connect your mobile device by going in the Fujifilm Camera app. The camera creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot, and once paired, you can easily transfer images to your mobile devices. You have four options in the app: Receive Images - where you can directly start transferring images from the camera, Browse Camera - which lets you select the images you want to transfer, Geotagging - lets you geotag a photo and Tell a friend - an option to promote the app.

 

One striking omission is the mode dial, as this is a camera meant for enthusiasts. But you still have features such as panorama, bracketing, advanced filters, etc. under Drive mode. The menu system is quite detailed, and apart from the Quick menu button which brings up a 4x4 grid of various settings which can be changed using the control wheel. If you are feeling to lazy to set the aperture and shutter, then you can set them both to A (auto) and let the camera operate in the Program mode. The menu section opens up a much more detailed layout where you can further tweak the settings. There are as many as 7 custom settings which allow you to select ISO, white balance, film simulation, dynamic range, colour, sharpness, etc.

 

Performance

We really liked the EVF/LCD options, which allow you to either use the EVF+LCD with the eye sensor, just the LCD, just the EVF or just the EVF with the eye sensor. The EVF with sensor mode saves up a considerable amount of battery life. The only side-effect is that if you want to change any settings, then doing that through the EVF can be challenging. If you’re shooting on the streets and are not the kinds to hang the camera by your shoulder, the always on LCD screen is not only annoying but also draws unnecessary attention.

 

We were quite impressed with the start-up time and shot-to-shot time of the camera. In fact Fujifilm claims that when the camera is turned off, it goes into a sleep state for 24 minutes, and within this time if you turn on the camera, it switches on quite fast as compared to regular start up time. Either ways, we noticed that the startup time was blazing fast. On a single charge you can easily get around 300-320 images.

 

Studio ISO performance

Our studio ISO comprises a setup which has a healthy mix of colours, textures, materials, fine text and so on. We affixed the Fujifilm X-E2 on a tripod and kept it in the Aperture priority mode at f/5.6. We proceeded to take images across the ISO range. To ensure minimal camera shake we had a 2-second timer enabled to click the pictures.

Sample image for the studio ISO performance test

Sample image for the studio ISO performance test

The APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor gave an impressive ISO performance. From ISO 100 to ISO 1600, you can rest assured of a noise-free image. At ISO 3200, you will notice the noise reducing algorithms kicking in, only if you are pixel peeping, but the drop in quality is minimal. You can still get a usable image at ISO 3200. At ISO 6400 again, although you will notice luminance noise at 100 per cent crops, you can still use the image. ISO 12,800 onwards it gets bad and the noise makes the overall image appear a bit soft, with loss in edge details. Use this high an ISO only in the extreme cases.

Note: All images shown below have been resized. In order to see the full resolution images, click on the image. To see the complete image samples gallery visit our Fujifilm X-E2 album on Flickr.

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

ISO 25600

ISO 25600

Image Quality

Fujifilm X-E2 delivers excellent image quality. With its film simulation modes, you can get really pleasing colours. We particularly liked the Fujifilm Velvia simulation mode for its vivid colours, and although you get a lot of options in Monochrome, we found the BW mode to give a flat output. The Dynamic Range settings help you extract more details in tricky lighting situations involving bright highlights and dark shadow regions. If you just want to extract or suppress details from either areas, then you can make the optimal tweaks to the Shadow tone and Highlight tone menu (which goes from -2 to +2). You can also perform bracketing for dynamic range as well as exposure, ISO and even film simulation.

 

f/2.8, 1/60th sec, ISO 200

f/2.8, 1/60th sec, ISO 200

f/2.8, 1/140th sec, ISO 200

f/2.8, 1/140th sec, ISO 200

Advanced filters further help you get interesting looking images. The Dramatic Tone for instance works great if you have a cloudy sky; Miniature effect gives you the tilt-shift lens effect; Partial colour allows you to shoot only one particular colour and so on.

DSCF9152

f/4, 1/85th sec, ISO 200

f/8, 1/4th sec, ISO 3200

f/8, 1/4th sec, ISO 3200

f/3.6, 1/18th sec, ISO 3200

f/3.6, 1/18th sec, ISO 3200

Absence of an optical low pass filter helps get more sharpness details. Only around the extreme edges, will you notice the sharpness deteriorating, especially when you have heavily detailed objects around the edges such as trees.

f/4. 0.6 sec, ISO 3200

f/4. 0.6 sec, ISO 3200

The Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-f/4.0 kit lens performed quite well producing good images. We did notice a slight barrel effect at the wide end and although we did notice chromatic aberration in some images, it was under control. The fast lens lets you get bokeh-licious images if you so desire.

f/4, 1/10th sec, ISO 6400

f/4, 1/10th sec, ISO 6400

f/4, 1/15th sec, ISO 3200

f/4, 1/15th sec, ISO 3200

 

Low light performance was impressive as well. While shooting at Mumbai's Marine Drive post sunset at high ISO settings, we did not notice any chroma noise in the images. Sure, there is a loss of sharpness in distant scenes. But on the whole the XE-2’s bright EVF and fast AF, eases image composition under low lit situations.

 

Focus

f/3.2, 1/210th sec, ISO 200

f/3.2, 1/210th sec, ISO 200

The hybrid AF system in the X-E2 ensures that you lock onto your subjects without much delay. This is ideal when shooting on the streets, where speedy focussing helps in getting the decisive moment. We never found the camera to lag on the focussing front. Even under low lights, the focus hunting was at the minimum. Plus Fujifilm has given enough ways to assist with manual focussing. We really liked the way the digital-split image was implemented. Although time consuming than the focus peaking method, the digital-split image brings back memories of using a film rangefinder. On the whole, we were impressed with the AF performance.

 

Handling

The Fujifilm X-E2 is ergonomically brilliant and the dials and buttons are placed at just the right spots. Adjusting aperture and shutter speed is a breeze while you are composing image through the EVF. The presence of the exposure compensation dial with the range going from -3 to +3 is quite helpful. The multiple function buttons can help you access your most used settings faster. You can also set as many as 7 custom settings covering parameters from ISO to white balance to metering and so on. All this helps in faster navigation. We would have really liked it if Fujifilm allows the Quick menu settings to be adjusted according to user preferences, rather than making it fixed.

 

Video performance

You can enter the video mode by navigating to the Drive button and selection movie mode. Fujifilm X-E2 allows you to shoot full HD videos. Video quality is decent for casual shooting, and the AF performance was quite decent thanks to the hybrid AF. You will notice a bit of focus hunting, but it does not take long to lock on to the focus in the continuous AF mode. One thing we did not like is the presence of moire while shooting videos. You can shoot in film simulation modes as well.

 

Verdict and Price in India

Fujifilm X-E2 is an impressive camera and we have very little to complain about. It offers excellent image quality, great build, wonderful handling thanks to the ergonomics and placement of dials and buttons, fast AF performance and so on. The wireless image transfer is another plus point and its implementation is quite user-friendly. The only problem area we found was the noticeable moire while shooting videos, but then again, the X-E2 is geared towards still image shooting and at best, casual video shooting.

 

The X-E2 has a body only price of Rs 76,999 and along with the 18-55mm kit lens the price goes up to a hefty Rs 1,09,999. Surely this puts the X-E2 in the enthusiast category. But if great handling and image quality is what you are after, then the X-E2 makes for a great choice. It is ideal for street photography enthusiasts for its size and the hybrid AF really ensures fast focussing. Existing X-E1 owners will find little motivation to upgrade, but if you are looking at a higher end mirrorless camera the X-E2 comes highly recommended since Fujifilm has an elaborate lens portfolio as well to go with the X-E2.
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Fujifilm X-E2 Specifications

High-speed responses from the on-sensor phase detection AF system. Accurate focusing in dark scenes that only contrast AF can deliver. The FUJIFILM X-E2 has both, plus Intelligent. Hybrid AF for automatic switching to the optimal focusing system for the scene and conditions. A newly developed algorithm improves AF accuracy when shooting low-contrast subjects and dark scenes. The evolved AF system of the FUJIFILM X-E2 brings your subject into sharp focus so quickly that priceless moments will never escape your lens. Fujifilm\'s unique X-Trans CMOS II array eliminates the need for an OLPF, enabling the sensor to capture unfiltered light from the lens for an precedented level of resolution. Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) factors are calculated to compensate for aberrations and diffraction blur that occur when light passes through the lens and then are applied to produce images with amazing sharpness. Every facet of the development and design of Fujifilm\'s original X Mount began with a clean slate. The result was the marriage of high-precision optical engineering with the latest digital technology. From the acclaimed high resolution XF lens series to the compact portability of the XC lens series, each lens exploits the full potential of the X Mount\'s descriptive performance.

Basic

Type of CameraCompact
Effective Resolution16.3MP
Sensor TypeX-Trans CMOS
Image StabilizerYes

Screen

LCD Size3
Resolution1040K
Aspect Ratio3:2

Shooting Specs

ISO Sensitivity RangeISO100-25600
White BalanceAutomatic Scene Recognition, Custom, Color Temperature Selection, Preset: Fine / Shade / Fluorescent Light (Daylight) / Fluorescent Light (Warm White) / Fluorescent Light (Cool White) / Incandescent Light / Underwater
Shutter Speed1/4-1/4000
Burst Mode7.0fps

Video

Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Maximum Frame rate60fps

Media

StorageSD, SDHC, SDXC
File formats supportedJPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG

Connectivity

USB CableYes
HDMIYes
MicrophoneYes
PictBridgeYes
WiFiYes

Battery

Type of BatteryLi-Ion

Dimensions

Dimensions (W x D x H)129 x 37.2 x 74.9 mm
Weight350 grams

After Sales Service

Warranty Period1 Year

Price

Warranty Period1 Year





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