Fujifilm X-E2: The World’s Fastest Autofocus Camera?

Fujifilm X-E2 Image

Fujifilm continues to expand its X-series of compact system cameras (CSC) and now offers a wide range of models geared for photographers and enthusiasts from beginners to the experienced. But many of these X-series cameras also have a high price tag. At $1,400 with a kit lens (and $1,000 without it), the 16-megapixel Fujifilm X-E2 is decidedly made for a niche group of shutterbugs. If the richest image quality is your requirement, however, the price could be reasonable – for those with the cash to afford it.

Design and Features

The Fujifilm X-E2 camera has a classic, serious rangefinder look that reminds of film cameras of the past, but it is a modern mirrorless camera with lots of great features, such as an advanced APS-C imaging sensor, a world-class electronic viewfinder, and a hybrid autofocus system, among several other tidbits. This camera feels like a brick, and it is a substantial piece of hardware with the kit lens attached. The X-E2 measures 5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5 inches and has a weight of more than 23 ounces with the supplied battery and glass. You won’t be able to put this one in your back pocket. The all-black model looks great, but if you need old-school silver-and-black styling, Fujifilm has that too.

The Fujifilm X-mount on the front of the textured body is the key feature. The company currently can choose from 11 lenses (primes and zooms) plus there are other third-party options from Zeiss and Samyang. To adjust focus mode (single AF, continuous AF, or manual) you will also find an AF Assist lamp and a lever. There is a slightly raised grip on the right side.

The top deck has stereo mics, a hot shoe, and a pop-up flash. The X-E2 produces 1080/60p videos, so the stereo soundtracks certainly enhance playback on a big screen. Near the hot shoe are a shutter speed dial, a Function/Wi-Fi key, combo on/off lever/shutter button, and an exposure compensation dial.

Fujifilm X-E2 Image 1

There isn’t any classic mode dial option with PASM and Scene settings, or even a red-dot movie recording button – Fujifilm manages mode switching differently on the X-E2. It is similar to the setup in the X100S. There are four shooting options available: Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE, or Manual. Don’t look for the automatic mode, since it is not that type of camera.

The back has an amazing 0.5-inch OLED electronic viewfinder rated 2,360K dots with a frame rate of 200Hz. Latest firmware (2.0) is installed. Without a doubt, this EVF is one of the best you will ever come across. Images are very detailed and crisp, without much flicker – it’s elegant. A three-inch LCD rated 1,040K dots dominates the rear. It is also a very high-quality display, but it’s in a fixed position unfortunately and has problems with direct sunlight. A tilting screen would be much better, and a touchscreen option would also have been a plus. Fortunately, that amazing EVF is at the ready state when the big screen wipes out. An eye sensor switches to the EVF automatically when you bring your eye close to the viewfinder.

Also on the back are several nicely identified keys and most of them have dual functions. There’s Playback, AE/decrease, Drive/Enlarge, Function 2/Delete, AE- and AF-Lock. Across the top are the Q (Quick Menu) keys, a pop-up flash, and a jog wheel. A nearby four-way controller provides access to AF and Macro with a center Menu/OK button. A small speaker and Display/Back make up the rest of the features.

Fujifilm X-E2 Image 2

The left side has a mic input, HDMI and USB outputs. On the bottom, there are different slots for the battery and SD card (UHS-1 compatible).

Performance

Fujifilm categorizes the X-E2 as a “midrange” camera, but it has many best imaging components, such as a 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensor and the EXR Processor II – which is the same as used in the new X-T1 flagship and the fixed focus X100S. The X-E2 sensor has eliminated the optical low-pass filter for better color rendition. The same case was with the X100S and people really appreciated the image quality of that camera.

Another good thing for this and other higher-end Fujifilm models is the new Hybrid AF autofocus system, which combines contrast detection and phase detection for speedier and accurate response. Fujifilm claims that the X-E2 has the world’s quickest AF speed, at 0.08 seconds. It’s hard to measure things like that, so we will rely on Fujifilm engineers’ word for it. But we can confidently say that we observed very few focusing issues.

We installed a SanDisk UHS-1 SDHC card and set the camera resolution to maximum for stills and videos. Photos were 4896 x 3264 pixels while movies were captured at 1080/60p with stereo sound. We started shooting JPEGs in Program AE and then moved to other modes as well. Fujifilm provided the kit lens which, like the body, is built like a tank. It’s a classic 18-55mm (3x) zoom but has a broad aperture range than many (f/2.8-4 versus f/3.5-5.6). It also has one of the great features, an aperture ring with a nice clicking sound.

To enter Program AE – the mode that’s almost close to automatic – you have to turn the shutter speed dial to A. The aperture mode switch on the lens should also be in the A position. Now you’ll find a highlighted “P” in the lower left corner of the LCD screen. Move the aperture switch out of A and the mode shifts to “A,” for Aperture Priority. If you need shutter priority, just turn the shutter speed dial to any number you like (bulb to 1/4000th of a second). For Manual, you just have to keep aperture switch in the manual position, adjust the speed, and you’re good to go; a bright red M comes on the screen. This setup is very distinct than other cameras with mode dials and is an homage to old-school rangefinders.

The X-E2’s does not disappoint you when it comes to Hybrid AF system. As it is already mentioned, we had very few issues with the system. And using the camera is just like any other state of the art model, as you adjust settings by turning dials. We especially appreciate the aperture ring on the kit lens.

Image and Video Quality

The image quality of the EXR Processor II system and X-Trans CMOS II sensor, combined with the Fujinon lens, produces top-notch results.

The X-E2 manages high ISOs very well. With the f/2.8 glass, you will probably notice a few problems in low light. The camera performed well at ISO 1,600/2,000, but as we pushed it to 25,600, there were some artifacts appearing. With the built-in optical image stabilization, you would be able to shoot scenes in dim settings.

Movie quality is good but not outstanding. Colors pop and the camera focused considerably fast, but there were uneven exposures found during some of the video clips. You will notice some noisy audio in a windy environment; however, this is typical of almost every camera, even those with wind noise reduction.

How Does the Fujifilm X-E2 Compare?

SpecsX-E1X-E2
Sensors16.3 MP16.3 MP
AF Points4949
ISO Range200 – 6,400200 – 6,400
Autofocus SystemTTL contrast AFIntelligent Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF)
Burst Rate6 f/s6 f/s
LCD2.8”460,000 dots3.0”1,040,000 dots
Video1080/24p1080/60p/30p
Card Format1x SD/SDHC/SDXC1x SD/SDHC/SDXC
WiFiNoYes
GPSNoNo
Price$799$999

Conclusion

We’re impressed with the X-series, even with the flaws described here. Colors and white balance are very accurate, with a richness, depth, and tone that are very impressive. Fujifilm asks for a premium price for its better models and we will not begrudge the company for doing so. But we wish it were less expensive, so that we might be able to add it to a list of favorites. Even so, we recommend the X-E2 for the discriminating photographer.

The Review

Fujifilm X-E2

8
The Fujifilm X-E2 doesn’t perform well in every area; however, if you want a retro rangefinder-type CSC that delivers in terms of image quality and design, the X-E2 would be a great choice and one of the best on the market.

Pros

  • Amazing EVF
  • High quality images
  • Very responsive

Cons

  • Fixed LCD and lacks touchscreen
  • Uneven exposures in video clips

Review Breakdown

Design

Camera

Performance

Features

Price

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