Riley J.B. - Photographer & Alchemist


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

Fujifilm X-E2:: The Back-up?

A camera announcement on October 18th, 2013 from Fujifilm. Finally the X-Pro2! .. wait.. it is not the X-Pro2? What is it then? The X-E2? Really? Booooo!!

I bet people were thinking that. I know I was.. just not on October 18th. I was privy to the brand new X-E2 a few weeks ago. To be honest it did not get me excited. I have been looking for a back-up body since selling all of my dSLR gear a few months ago. I borrowed a X-E1 from Fujifilm Canada for a month and I just didn't like it. It wasn't as solid as the X-Pro1, the LCD was shabby, no optical viewfinder and it did not fit in my hand as well as the X-Pro1. Which was strange because I have girly hands and the X-E1 is pretty compact.

I was given the opportunity to try out a pre-production Fujifilm X-E2 along with 3 of my X-Photographer pals Kale JF, Patrick Laroque & Don Craig. I was last in the chute to try it and it arrived about 7 hours prior to Fujifilm's big announcement (In my time zone the announcement was actually on October 17th at 10:30pm). I wanted to have something done at launch time but my schedule and crappy light made it not to be. I planned to wake up early the next day and really put the camera to the test for my style of photography. What I was expecting was a slightly upgraded X-E1. But what I found was very different.

The Feel

I pretty much wrote off the original X-E1 from taking it out of the box. It was too light and the finish did not feel like it was a premium camera. And maybe it wasn't and that was my problem. 

I was expecting the same when I first held the X-E2. But that is where the surprises started. It felt great. I would imagine it is not a metal build but it feels very solid. And I don't know why because the specs for the size & weight are the same. The black model, which I was using, has a orange peel finish to the top and bottom plates which gave it a very premium feel. With the grip attached I envision it being a great fit.

The Controls

Compared to the last X-series bodies the button layout on the back has changed. My favourite change being the 'Q' button was moved from the turret under the exposure compensation dial to where the 'View Mode' button was. I used to always accidentally hit the 'Q' button when just holding the camera.

Since the 'Q' button took over the View Mode button that was moved to.. let me check.. hold on a second.. it moved to the menu. That's right. There is no longer a button to switch between the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) and the LCD screen. It is buried in a menu. And I will attest to it being a huge pain in the bottom. Especially when I am in EVF mode, I have to look in the viewfinder to see the menus to switch it to LCD. It takes a few steps and I hate it. Luckily they have added a 'Function 2' button on the lower right side of the LCD screen and I hope prior to the camera's release they make that assignable to change the view mode. Which to me would solve this gaff instantly. While shooting I had it in Eye Sensor mode so it would switch from the EVF to the LCD. And to save batteries I kept the camera off unless I was going to take a photo. Not ideal since I missed a few things when I pulled the camera to my eye and realized it was not on.

Whew.. alright. Now to some good news.

The exposure compensation dial is now +/- 3 stops. Which will come in handy for some. And this next thing I really like. They have added 1/180th of a second to the shutter dial. That is the sync speed for the camera so instead of turning the shutter dial to the closest speed then using the direction pad you just set it and forget it.

Are you sick of your viewfinder being black when shooting off camera flash? Well that is fixed. While the X-E1 has exposure preview when shooting manual like the X100s.. you can turn it off when you are using OCF. 

UPDATE: I have been asked about the EVF lag by a few people so I thought I would update. There is no EVF lag like in the X-E1 or other cams. The EVF looks great and is smooth when you move around. Also when you half press the shutter the viewfinder doesn't pause which annoys me on my other X cams.

The Auto Focus

The X-E2 inherits the X-Trans II sensor and the phase & contrast auto focus from the X100S. In using the camera I found the auto focus to be very accurate and snappy. Definitely better than my X-Pro1. And that is not even using the phase detection because my lenses do not have the required firmware updates for the camera. It also included the focus peaking and digital split image from the X100S. I still wish they would let us choose a different colour than white for focus peaking.

The continuous AF is something I never used on any of my Fuji X-series because it missed a lot and the only point was crosshairs in the centre of the shot. On the X-E2 you can move the focus point around and during a few tests using my dog it seemed to work alright. It is no Canon 1DX obviously. I may be inclined to give it a try more now that I know I can actually get a subject in focus with it.

When you look in the viewfinder you will find the focus point is now a square instead of a rectangle. Just a heads up because I thought it was in some other auto focus mode when I saw it and tried to change it. As well, in the viewfinder now there is a handy green dot on the lower right to indicate focus is locked. The box still turns green but the dot is appreciated.

The Photos

I am very happy how the X-E2 handled today as I walked aimlessly looking for anything to take a photo of. If you have used a Fuji camera before it will be a familiar feel and you won't have problems. If you are new to Fuji's from a dSLR it will take some time to get used to. You will prefer the Fuji's when you do.

As this is a pre-production camera you cannot judge the output solely on these photos. As well Lightroom doesn't recognize the RAW files so I shot in RAW+JPG. These photos were processed in Lightroom but fairly minimally. Some contrast and playing with the levels for the most part. I am a RAW snob but I am happy with the JPGs and am surprised how good they are to work with in Lightroom.

You can see more+bigger sample photos here: Set I | Set II

The Verdict

I know that on blogs and forums there are those who think we are paid to write only good things about Fuji and their products. I assure you we are not. I can see how it seems that way since I typically like their products in my blog posts. I think that is more of a testament to Fuji listening to photographers and tailoring their products to what we want to see. 

I can honestly say after using the X-E1 I was going to buy a second X-Pro1 as a back-up body. But after getting to know the X-E2 I can tell you that I will, using my own money, be buying one with the hand-grip. And in another suprise (to myself especially) the X-Pro1 will become the backup to the X-E2. At least until the X-Pro2 turns up.

Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr 


I recommend checking out more about the Fujifilm X-E2 from these 3 great Canadian X-Photographers:

Kale JF - Fujifilm X-E2 is here!
Patrick Laroque - The Devil, the Details & the X-E2
Don Craig - The Eternal Chase

Fujifilm X-E2 Spec Sheet - Fujifilm Canada