Of all the announcements made recently by various manufacturers, including Sony’s groundbreaking step into full-frame mirrorless territory, we at Photography Life are most excited by Fujifilm’s news. Ever since the launch of X100, Fuji has been slowly winning over our hearts. Both with cameras themselves and the determination to improve their products and add features even after release impressed not only our team, but thousands of photographers worldwide. Don’t get me wrong, other manufacturers offer technologically brilliant alternatives and with the full-frame Sony A7 costing just $1700, the replacement for X-Pro1 will face tougher competition than before. Yet Fujifilm cameras, as we’ve written in our reviews, have something about them that makes you want to photograph all the time. The combination of drop-dead gorgeous looks, amazing prime lens selection, innovative hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, analogue controls and quirks has, no doubt, made the Fujifilm X-series camera system one of the most charismatic on the market today. Fujifilm is not about to sleep on its laurels and is quick on learning from old mistakes. The X100s that we reviewed recently is a clear proof, and the newly introduced, highly-anticipated X-E2 promises to be at least as tempting. Read on to find out what has been improved.
1) Overview and Key Specifications
The new Fujifilm X-E2 is not all that different from its predecessor, but the changes that did take place promise to make it that much more desirable. To start with, it shares virtually the exact same body as the Fuji X-E1, made of high quality plastic and magnesium alloy covers. It is smaller and lighter than top-of-the-line Fuji X-Pro1, but even with Fuji’s smallest lens attached – the XF 27mm f/2.8 – it is not as compact as the X100S. Not far off, though, and certainly much more pocketable than a DSLR. A very welcome addition is the larger, sharper LCD screen on the back of the camera to complement that 2.36 million dot OLED EVF also used in the X-E1. Having a large and super-sharp LCD is not an essential feature – at least for us it did not make the X-E1 less attractive. After-all, it is hardly a good way to sort through images. But having such a screen isn’t going to make a camera worse either, so we are happy it is now up there with the best. Oh, and the OLED EVF has gotten faster! The refresh rate has been changed from 20 fps to 50+ fps in low light situations, making it even easier to photograph without motion blur.
Wi-Fi connectivity is also included with the X-E2. As long as you have an appropriate app on your iOS/Android tablet or smartphone (called Fujifilm Camera Application), you’ll be able to transfer up to 30 photographs or a movie clip from your camera in one go. Talking about movies, Fujifilm claims improved video quality with its Full HD recording – something Fuji’s X cameras have never been as good at as competition.
Traditional Fujifilm control philosophy has not really changed – you still get a shutter speed dial and an aperture dial on the lens. However, those who prefer to shoot in an automated mode such as shutter-priority or aperture-priority will appreciate the exposure compensation dial gaining an extra stop at both positive and negative ends. It can now be adjusted from -3 to +3 stops of exposure compensation (still -2 to +2 in movie mode). There have been other small but noticeable changes in the button layout. First of all, the AF-L/AE-L button has been split in two. The Q menu button, on the other hand, has been moved right above the LCD display, which I think may be more comfortable to operate with your thumb. The “down” position of the main controller now got an official “AF” marking, which should make it easier for beginners to locate it (the function to change AF points was moved to the down arrow via a firmware update a while ago). Fujifilm has got it right this time and these ergonomic improvements, though seemingly minor at first, will be much appreciated by photographers. Hopefully Fuji will introduce a firmware update for both X-Pro1 and X-E1 that will allow the user to assign AF selection to a different button on the back of the camera. Also very much worth mentioning is that there is now a second programmable Function button that is located on the back and you can also assign different functions to the AE button above it.
Fujifilm has also made further attempts to maximize the image quality captured by the X-E2’s sensor by introducing Lens Modulation Optimizer. Basically, it is a mixture of clever software involvement and processing that helps counter diffraction at narrow aperture settings. Click here to learn more about this new technology.
With these mild but welcome changes out of the way, let’s move on to what I’ve wanted to tell you the most all along. The X-E2 is a fast camera, at least if similar improvements made to the X100s over X100 are of any indication. Thanks to the newer and more powerful processor, the camera should feel significantly snappier, much like X100s did when compared to its predecessor. Shutter lag is minimal and start-up time improved, too. What is most impressive, however, is the new(ish) sensor. The sensor is dubbed X-Trans II and is the same unit previously found in Fujifilm X100s (read our review here). It is no different compared to the sensor used in X-Pro1 and X-E1 in terms of high ISO performance, dynamic range or resolution. The difference lies in its incorporation of phase-detect autofocus sensors which, in conjunction with Fuji’s claim that the focusing speed is down to 0.08s, is very promising.
In short, the X-E2 seems to be everything X-E1 is and more. Winning over our hearts one step at a time.
Here is the list of X-E2’s key specifications:
- 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor
- Hybrid contrast- and phase-detect AF system with, as claimed, fastest AF in its class at 0.08s
- EXR Processor II promises start-up time of 0.5, shutter lag time of 0.05, shooting interval time of 0.7
- Lens Modulation Optimizer for improved image quality
- High-res 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- 3” (1.04 million dot) LCD at the back with high contrast and viewing angles
- ISO range of 200 – 6400, extended ISO 100, 12800, 25600, Auto (maximum ISO setting from ISO 400 – ISO 6400 can be selected, as well as minimal shutter speed – finally!)
- Q Menu shortcut button
- In-camera RAW converter
- Full HD movie recording
- Approximately 350 shots per battery charge
- Built-in WiFi connectivity
- Priced at $999 body only
2) Official Press Release
Here is the official press release for Fujifilm’s new mirrorless camera, the X-E2:
FUJIFILM ONCE AGAIN REDEFINES THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE WITH THE NEW X-E2
New X-E2 digital camera features high-speed hybrid AF with phase detection, lens modulation optimizer and professional movie capture
Valhalla, N.Y., October 18, 2013 – As a leader in advanced digital camera technology and outstanding image resolution, FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced the new FUJIFILM X-E2, a premium interchangeable lens camera featuring the latest generation 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II *1 sensor and the segment’s fastest autofocus of 0.08 seconds*2 for a truly remarkable photographic experience.
As the fifth interchangeable lens camera system introduced within the award-winning FUJIFILM X-Series, the FUJIFILM X-E2 delivers picture quality that rivals full-frame cameras with high definition image capture, Fujifilm’s legendary color reproduction and category-leading speed.
“Outstanding image quality and beautiful design are the hallmarks of the FUJIFILM X-Series experience, and today’s announcement of the new X-E2 shows Fujifilm’s unrelenting commitment to photographic excellence,” said Manny Almeida, senior vice president and general manager, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, Imaging and Electronic Imaging Divisions. “With the X-E2, photographers will immediately be amazed by its high-speed hybrid AF with phase detection, pin-sharp image quality, and improved HD movie capture for endless photographic possibilities.”
Award-winning 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and EXR Processor II
The FUJIFILM X-E2 uses the 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor which expertly controls moiré and false color generation. This is attained by using an original color filter array with a highly randomized pixel arrangement that removes the need for an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) that degrades resolution. The image quality in the X-E2 is further refined by the inclusion of the first Lens Modulation Optimizer (LMO) for interchangeable lens cameras.
The EXR Processor II in the new X-E2 more than doubles the processing speed*3 of the previous generation. It is able to harness the information taken from over 100,000 phase detection pixels incorporated in the X-Trans CMOS II to deliver extraordinary imaging capability.
This advanced technology has been made possible by the integrated development of lens, sensor and processor, and is based on the optical performance and characteristics of individual lenses. With each of these components working together, the X-E2 achieves astonishing resolution, extends dynamic range, and reduces noise at high sensitivity.
Fast and accurate focusing
The FUJIFILM X-E2 gives photographers and enthusiasts ultra-fast response times to catch even the quickest memorable moments. The X-E2 has a rapid startup time of 0.5 seconds*4, minimal shutter lag of 0.05 seconds, and high-speed continuous shooting of 7.0 fps (up to approx. 28 frames) *5.
With its auto switching AF, the X-E2 combines contrast AF with an improved phase detection AF algorithm that provides accurate capture of low-contrast subjects in low light as well as high-speed responsiveness.
Manual focus made easier
Manual focus has been made easier by the inclusion of Digital Split Image*6 technology. This helps the user achieve pin-sharp focusing by simply adjusting focus to line up the four stripes displayed in the central part of the live view. Focus Highlight Peaking allows for an outline in high contrast areas of subjects during focusing, further assisting the photographer in achieving stunningly sharp images.
Classic design and intuitive operation
The FUJIFILM X-E2 continues the tradition of the X-Series with uncompromising craftsmanship and classic design that puts the photographer first. The X-E1 features manually adjustable shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, which has been increased to ±3 EV, for easy controls. The X-E2 also allows users to customize up to four buttons on the top and back of the camera to suit their own shooting style.
The X-E2 features a bright and accurate 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder with Fujifilm’s original optical design for a distortion-free field of view. A premium clear 3” LCD screen with 1.04 million dot resolution and reinforced glass gives users high viewing angles and a true view of their subject.
Improved movie performance
The FUJIFILM X-E2 shoots full HD video at 1920×1080 with up to 60fps with AF tracking performance for exceptional speed, accuracy and smoothness with a high bitrate of 36Mbps. The X-E2 delivers quick focusing on subjects, even when panning and zooming. With the X-E2, film simulation settings and exposure compensation (±2 EV) can be used during movie recording.
Easy Image Transfer with WiFi® button
The FUJIFILM X-E2 includes a WiFi button that lets users transfer high quality photos and movies*7 to smartphones, tablets and computers for easy sharing on social media sites.
To connect the X-E2 to a smartphone or tablet, users can download the free dedicated “FUJIFILM Camera Application” to their iPhone™ / iPad™ or Android™ smartphone or tablet device to transfer up to 30 pictures at a time from the X-E2. The app also lets users download movies, expanding the range of options available for enjoying pictures taken with the camera.
Once paired, users can press and hold the WiFi button to begin sharing images and movies immediately to their smartphone or tablet.
The X-E2 also has an Advanced Filter function and Film Simulation modes to give users a range of creative filters and film effects to apply and achieve unique and artistic looks.
FUJIFILM X-E2 key features list:
- 16.3 million Megapixels APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor
- EXR Processor II
- Start-up time of 0.5
- Shutter lag time of 0.05
- Shooting interval time of 0.7
- AF speed 0.08 seconds
- Lens Modulation Optimizer for improved image quality
- Extra high resolution 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- ±3 EV Exposure Compensation dial with third stops increments
- 3” (1.04 million dot) premium clear LCD (High contrast, High Brightness and Wide viewing angle)
- Built-in Super Intelligent pop-up Flash(hot shoe attachment also available for external flash)
- ISO200 – 6400, extended ISO 100, 12800, 25600, Auto(maximum ISO setting from ISO 400 – ISO6400 available)
- Q Menu shortcut button
- In-camera RAW converter
- Film simulation modes (Velvia, ASTIA, PROVIA, Monochrome, Sepia, Pro Neg.Std & Pro Neg.Hi)
- Artistic features: Multiple exposure, Panoramic shooting,Toy Camera, Miniature, Dynamic Tone, Pop Color, Soft Focus, High Key, Low Key, and Partial Color.
- Selection of Bracketing functions (AE/ISO/Dynamic Range &Film Simulation)
- Full HD Movie
- Microphone/shutter release input (φ2.5mm)
- Super Intelligent Flash
- Approximately 350 shots per battery charge
FUJIFILM X-E2 accessories list:
- Dedicated all-leather case BLC-XE1 with separate cloth wrap
- Compatible with all FUJINON X Mount lenses
- M Mount Adapter for additional lens compatibility
- Hand Grip HG-XE1
- Three dedicated flash models to choose from depending on requirements (EF-X20, EF-20, EF-42)
- Protector filters (PRF-39, PRF-52, PRF-58 and PRF-62)
- Remote release RR-90
The FUJIFILM X-E2 (body only) will be available in November 2013 for $999.95 in both black, and a two-tone black and silver.
The FUJIFILM X-E2 and XF18mm-55mm (27-84mm) F2.8-4 lens (kit) will be available in November for $1,399.95.
The FUJIFILM X-E2 uses the same FUJIFILM X-Mount as the X-Pro1, X-E1 X-M1 and X-A1, and all FUJIFILM XF and XC lenses work with all X-Series interchangeable lens cameras.
The current Fujifilm lens family includes the following FUJINON XF and XC lenses:
- XF 14mm F2.8
- XF 18mm F2.0
- XF 23mm F1.4
- XF 27mm F2.8
- XF 35mm F1.4
- XF 60mm F2.4
- XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS
- XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 OIS
- XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS
- XC 50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS
*1: X-Trans is a trademark or registered trademark of FUJIFILM Corporation
*2: FUJIFILM research as of September 2013. Compared with other digital cameras equipped with 4/3-inch sensor or larger, based on CIPA standards, and using internal measurement methods under high performance mode. Attached with XF14mm F2.8R lens.
*3: Compared with EXR Processor Pro
*4: In high performance mode with XF27mm F2.8 lens
*5 JPEG format: Use a card with SD speed class with class 10 or higher.
*6 Digital Split Image is a trademark or registered trademark of FUJIFILM Corporation
*7 FUJIFILM Camera Application for iOS can save movie files up to 1280 x 720