Fujifilm X-E2 at a glance:

  • 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized X-Trans CMOS II sensor
  • ISO 200-6400 (extendable to ISO 100-25,600)
  • 3in, 1.04-million-dot LCD
  • 49-point AF system
  • 7fps high-speed mode
  • Street price around £769 body only or £1,149 with 18-55mm kit lens

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Introduction

When Fujifilm launched its first X-series model in the form of the X100, it was immediately sought-after by photographers who fell in love with its classic styling and elegant appearance.

Before long, Fuji realised it had hit the design sweet spot with regards to what photographers were looking for and quickly set about creating an interchangeable-lens version with a similar APS-C-sized sensor to meet increasing demand.

The X-E1 was a particularly successful model in this series, and Fuji has sensibly decided against a radical overhaul with the design of its successor, the Fujifilm X-E2. Instead, the X-E2 is marked out by 60 smaller improvements and refinements, including a newly designed X-Trans CMOS II sensor, built-in Wi-Fi and an improved EVF with a 50fps refresh rate.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Features

Whereas the X-E1 inherited the X-Trans CMOS sensor from the X-Pro1, the Fujifilm X-E2 employs the newer 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized X-Trans CMOS II sensor from the X100S. With a structure more akin to film, the X-Trans CMOS sensor greatly reduces moiré and false colour, thereby eliminating the need for an anti-aliasing filter. It also incorporates more than 100,000 built-in phase-detection pixels. This provides the X-E2 with an intelligent hybrid AF system, utilising both phase and contrast-detection AF, which the company claims to be as quick as 0.08sec. This speed is also thanks to a newly developed autofocus algorithm.

The Fujifilm X-E2 features a new EXR Processor II that Fujifilm claims doubles the processing speed of the X-E1. Despite this, the X-E2 has a fairly moderate native ISO range of 200-6400, expandable to the equivalent of ISO 100-25,600. Interestingly, shooting with expanded ISO settings is only possible in JPEG format, limiting the sensitivity to ISO 6400 if you prefer to record in raw.

Image: The 18-55mm kit lens feels good in the hand and delivers impressive levels of sharpness to match its robust build quality

The X-E2’s X mount supports eight optics, with focal lengths ranging from 21mm to 300mm in 35mm terms. As kit lenses go, the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens bundled with the X-E2 is excellent, matching the high-quality build of the body with a fast f/2.8 aperture between 18mm and 20mm (but closing to f/4 at 40mm) and a built-in OIS optical image stabilisation system, equivalent to 4 stops.

The X-E2 now boasts Wi-Fi functionality, and while it’s good to see Fuji keeping up, the Fujifilm Camera app is a long way behind others in terms of its functionality. It’s not the most intuitive app to use and I’d like to see it offer wireless image capture like many other manufacturers’ apps.

Elsewhere, exposure-compensation adjustment has been increased from ±2EV to ±3EV and manual focus has been made more user-friendly thanks to the inclusion of Digital Split Technology, which can be used in partnership with focus peaking.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Build and handling

With the exception of the larger screen at the rear, which results in slightly smaller buttons alongside, nothing new stands out on the X-E2 until you cast a closer eye over the body. The Q menu button has been relocated to above the screen, freeing space beneath the exposure-compensation dial for independent autofocus lock (AF-L) and exposure lock (AE-L) buttons.

The responsiveness of the EVF’s eye sensor is identical to the X-E1, as is the drive button beneath, which gives instant access to ISO bracketing, continuous shooting, HD video, motion panorama and new advanced filters. For other common settings, such as aspect ratio and noise reduction, the Q menu is used in conjunction with the rear scroll dial.

The magnesium die-cast top and front cover contribute to a robust feel. Although the rubber grip at the front looks like an afterthought, with its raised profile it considerably improves handling. Despite being a touch nose-heavy with the kit lens attached, the body feels comfortable in the hand over long periods, although it requires support with your left hand for added stability.

On the top-plate, the on/off button wraps itself around the shutter button, where there’s a thread for attaching a traditional screw cable release. The shutter-speed dial, like the exposure-compensation dial, is beautifully machined from metal, and there’s a greater separation between the ‘A’ setting for auto control and the maximum permitted shutter speed of 1/4000sec, helping to make it feel like you’ve entered a new setting. Another prerequisite is the option to assign a custom function to either of the two function buttons, or the AF/AE buttons.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Metering and dynamic range


The X-E2 inherits the 256-zone metering system from the X-E1, which is itself adopted from the X-Pro1. It’s a metering system that can be relied upon to produce accurate exposures, and unless you’re shooting in exceptionally bright conditions, such as towards the sun, exposure compensation will rarely be needed.

Dynamic range

An alternative to using exposure compensation is to use the X-E2’s expanded dynamic range settings, referred to as DR100, DR200 and DR400. The idea of these is to preserve greater detail in the brightest highlights of JPEG or raw images and the results are impressive, with considerably more highlight detail retained in the DR400 mode. There’s also the option to set the dynamic range mode to auto if you’d prefer the camera to automatically judge which mode it thinks is best for any situation. With the film simulation set to standard, a wide range of tones can be captured. In particularly high-contrast scenes you can dial in -2EV to ensure that maximum detail is recorded in the highlights before successfully returning detail to the darkest shadows without it having a detrimental effect on image quality. Added to this, the noise reduction that’s applied to shadow areas when shooting JPEGs is highly impressive.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Autofocus

While the 49-point AF arrangement sounds impressive, it’s no different to the X-E1 in that the coverage doesn’t meet the edge of the frame. That said, it’s useful having the option to alter the size of the AF point using the control dial at the rear.

In single AF mode, the X-E2 locks onto targets more accurately than the X-E1, although its speed doesn’t match that of the Light Speed system in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and DMC-GM1. Another positive to take from the X-E2 is a more sprightly continuous AF performance, with no restriction to using it only in multi AF mode: it is now possible to use it in area AF mode too.

Without a touchscreen to tap in order to move the AF point over the target, you must hit the AF button that has been repositioned from beside the screen to the D-pad, which isn’t ideal for on-the-spot captures or moving subjects.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity

Image: In low-light scenes it is possible to shoot up to ISO 6400 without noise becoming a serious issue

With the same 16.3-million-pixel resolution as the X-E1, the X-E2’s sensor resolves an identical level of detail. Our resolution chart reveals that 30 lines per millimetre are visible at ISO 200. This was sustained up to ISO 800, beyond which the detail dropped off slightly, but I was still impressed by the camera’s ability to resolve 24lpmm at ISO 6400. It should also be noted that the superb 18-55mm kit lens played its part in such an impressive readout.

Comparing raw images alongside JPEGs reveals comparable levels of detail at low sensitivity settings. As the ISO is increased, raw files come out on top with JPEGs unable to resolve to the same level. Unlike some cameras that can oversharpen JPEGs, the X-E2’s in-camera processing is subtle and effective in reducing noise at the highest sensitivities.

The X-E2 delivers exceptional noise performance, with no sign of colour or luminance noise between ISO 100 and 800. At ISO 1600, a faint trace of noise creeps in, although it has such a fine structure that it’s barely noticeable when viewed at 100%. Noise is more noticeable at ISO 3200 and 6400,
but images are by no means unusable.

Detail is well preserved right up to ISO 12,800, but this is the limit to which you’ll want to push it, unless you’re willing to accept more noise and a more waxy appearance at ISO 25,600.

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – White balance and colour

Image: A selection of monochrome film-simulation modes can be quickly accessed via the X-E2’s main menu

There’s a choice of ten white-balance settings. While many users will leave the white balance set to auto, you can expect the X-E2 to deliver consistent tones that are natural to the scene and well saturated. I experienced no issues with colour indoors or out, with the final result not appearing too warm or too cool.

For those who would like to enhance image colours, there are nine film-simulation modes to experiment with, including Provia, Velvia and Astia. You may also want to try out the mono settings, including the monochrome+R filter that effectively enhances contrast and darkens skies considerably.

Fujifilm X-E2 review- Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video

While some people would no doubt prefer a hybrid viewfinder like the ones found on the X-Pro1 and X100S, it’s hard to nitpick the X-E2’s OLED EVF. It provides bright colours, impressive resolution and is anything but tunnel-like. What’s most impressive, though, is the faster 50fps refresh rate that offers a much smoother viewing performance when moving the camera.

Just as the viewfinder performs better, so does the screen. The trade-off for smaller buttons is a larger 3in display – a wise move – and the 1.04-million-dot resolution makes it comparable with many rivals’ screens. The display provides a crisp and sharp image, and the way it’s designed to sit so flush to the body at the rear is welcome.

The X-E2 can shoot full HD 1080p (1920×1080-pixel) video at frame rates of 60fps or 30fps with a high bit rate of 36Mbps. The X-E2’s continuous AF provides near-silent autofocus performance from the kit lens, resulting in clean audio footage.

Fujifilm X-E2 review – Our verdict

The Fujifilm X-E2 is very well equipped for the enthusiast photographer at whom it is targeted and, in many ways, it’s the camera we wish the X-E1 had been. Fujifilm has addressed the concerns many had with the earlier model, like the ageing 2.8in. 460,000-dot screen and the autofocus accuracy in low light. Although the newly developed AF algorithm has improved things, it hasn’t dramatically changed the lock-on speed, which remains slower than its Olympus and Panasonic CSC rivals.

Once familiar with the ins and outs of the X-E2’s operation, the solid build quality, superb handling and excellent button placement add up to offer one of the best user experiences there is. Most importantly, there’s no compromise in image quality, with the standard of results and detail rendered making it an excellent substitute for a more unwieldy APS-C-format DSLR. The X-E2 is, to put it simply, a stunning camera that’s up there as one of the most attractive on the market and is an absolute pleasure to use.

Hands-on review

Fujifilm X-E2 at a glance:

  • 16-million-pixel X-trans APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
  • On-sensor phase detection
  • Split-image focusing
  • More than 60 improvements
  • RRP £799.99 (body only)

Fujifilm X-E2 – Introduction

Among the flurry of new cameras that have been announced recently, Fujifilm’s X-E2 has been sitting somewhat quietly in the background. However, as a successor to the highly regarded X-E1, it is just as important as the other new camera arrivals.

You have to look closely at the X-E2 to notice any of the 60 improvements Fujifilm has made to the camera over the X-E1, as the cameras look virtually identical. However, there are some significant changes, some of which may even tempt those with an X-E1 to make the upgrade.

Fujifilm X-E2 – New sensor

Of the 60 new features, the most notable is the use of the 16-million-pixel, X-Trans CMOS II sensor, which is the same sensor as that used in Fuji’s X100S advanced compact. The sensor has the same X-Trans 6×6 colour filter array as that used in the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1, but more importantly the second-generation sensor has phase detection. So confident is Fujifilm with the on-sensor phase-detection system that it claims the X-E2 has the world’s fastest phase-detection autofocus.

Fujifilm X-E2 – Autofocus

I had a quick play with the X-E2 and spent much of my time focusing on near and far subjects to see just how quickly the AF could switch between the two. My initial thoughts are that it is certainly quick, but when various manufacturers claim to have the world’s fastest AF there is usually a proviso, so while my first impression is that the X-E2 is certainly snappy, I will wait to see how it performs in more challenging conditions.

Fujifilm X-E2 – Other new features

In addition to the sensor, the other major new feature on the X-E2 is the inclusion of Wi-Fi, which now seems obligatory when releasing a new camera. Those who like to manually focus will be pleased to hear that the split-image focusing of the X100S has made its way onto the X-E2, and the exposure compensation has increased from ±2EV to ±3EV. There is also a second function button on the rear of the camera.

Fujifilm X-E2 – Summary

If the quality of the images produced by the Fujifilm X-E2 matches the X-E1, it could be justifiably rated as one of the best enthusiast compact system cameras yet. The X-E2 is out in mid to late November, with a body-only price of £799.99.

Look for a test of the X-E2 in the coming months.