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Mike Kobal

November 20, 2013

The Fuji X-E2: is it worth to upgrade?

Filed under: Gear Reviews — mike.kobal @ 9:03 pm

xe2_selfie_m_kobal
shot with the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 wide open

The Fuji X-E2 arrived! After playing around with it for a few hours and knowing what I am planning to shoot with it, I am sold. The Fuji X E1 is one great camera. If it wasn’t for the X100s, I would still be shooting with it. Now with the X-E2 in hand I might just leave the X100s on the shelf for a while
more after the break

I was drawn to the X100s because of the silent shutter, ultra high speed sync and blazing fast af speed. I also appreciated focus peaking and the split screen simulator. However, manual focus with the 23mm wasn’t something I needed very often but I did miss the option to change lenses.
Now with the X-E2, we get the second generation X-trans sensor with improved af speed due to contrast/phase detection technology, split screen focus aid and focus peaking.
Using mf lenses just became a lot more practical and fun, especially with high speed glass like a 50mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.8. The image literally jumps into focus, and I found myself using the split screen rather then focus peaking, because of the large center area it works particularly well for portraits and my shooting style, focus peaking also works great, in the end it comes down to personal preference.

Practical improvements that matter in real life shooting situations over the X-E1:

Af speed in good light is noticeably faster and I am still waiting for a lens firmware update for my 18mm and 27mm lens!

Split image and focus peaking set the new standard for manual focus aid, especially the split image aid. Fuji is on top of the game here.

The +3 -3 exposure compensation, much better then +2-2, a real advantage in the field.

The stiffer on/off switch, one of the most annoying things with the X-E1 and X100s. Fixed. Bravo Fuji.

Separate buttons for AE-Lock and AF-Lock. This is huge, because it makes manual pre-focusing a breeze with Fuji’s AF lenses.

Faster refresh rate of the EVF.

Lens Modulation optimizer, a definite plus for jpeg shooters.

Wifi support, no remote control yet as of this writing.

Practical screw ups that matter in real life photo situations:

Only one and thankfully this is something Fuji can fix with a future firmware update:
I miss the view mode button, however, not as terrible as anticipated because of the quick response time in eye sensor mode. Still annoying to be forced to go deep into the menu to change between EVF and LCD. Jesus. What were they thinking…..
Update: shooting in cold weather, even with thin gloves, you will accidentally change the setting on the rear thumb wheel, particularly annoying if you use a lens without an aperture ring because there is no way around it, like setting the aperture manually. There is a reason why Nikon and Canon pro and semi pro bodies have a main dial lock option. Perhaps something that could be addressed in a future firmware update by adding a 3sec hold to lock or press two buttons simultaneously to lock/unlock this dial? Correction: As Chris pointed out, the main command dial (and the af-l and ae-l) can be locked by pressing the ok button for 3 seconds. Very helpful indeed.

This might finally be the camera I have been waiting for, fast, small, lightweight, unobtrusive. Personally, I think the X-E2 is one of the best examples of the form follows function principle. I am seriously considering giving up high speed sync and the inaudible shutter in favor of interchangeable lenses. And it is black. Hmmmm. Only time will tell, for now I am planning to keep mine :) Check back by the end of the week for an update with images!

You can order it here at BH or here at Adorama.

If you happen to be a happy X-E1 shooter and still not sure whether to upgrade or not , check out Kevin’s take why he won’t be upgrading to the X-E2 anytime soon……

If you find this article inspiring, please consider helping me maintaining this blog by purchasing your gear through my product links to Adorama and B&H and Ebay. It will cost you nothing and allows me to keep adding! Or consider making a direct donation using PayPal, thank you!


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34 Comments »

  1. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your insight on the X-E2. I do have one question. Do you find the shutter sound on the X-E2 different/nicer than on the X-E1?
    I personally did notice a difference between the X-Pro1 and the X-E1. The X-E1 is somewhat harder on the sound of the sutter.

    Thanks
    Stockografie

    Comment by Stockografie — November 21, 2013 @ 9:52 am

  2. I don’t have the X-E1 on hand to do a comparison. Honestly, I don’t know, I find it quite pleasant, audible but not disturbing. It does sound better then I remember from the X E1, but that might just be memory playing tricks :)

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 9:57 am

  3. Hi Mike!

    I sold mine X-E1 mainly because I couldn’t get used to the AF speed in combo with 35mm. Now I am considering the X100s due the faster AF and OVF (!) but I also for the better ergonomics.

    What would you recommend? Is the AF speed of the X100s better compared to the X-E1? Or do I need to consider the X-E2?

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers, Jeroen

    Comment by Jeroen — November 21, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  4. Hi Jeroen. I agree, although the 35mm is optically fantastic, af speed is just average at best. AF speed on the X100s is blazing fast, you will be blown away, especially when compared to the 35mm 1.4 on the X E1, which, isn’t a fair comparison really, even the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 is notorious for slow af on pro Nikon bodies.
    I don’t have a 35mm 1.4 on hand to tell you if it really performs much better now on the X-E2 with the latest lens firmware, I traded it for the 27mm pancake.
    Consider this: With the new sensor and the latest lens firmware, the X-E2 will be as fast as the X100s when compared with a similar lens, like the new 23mm 1.4, the 18mm 2.0 (after firmware upgrade – not available yet) the 50mm is a bokeh gem, af will always lag behind wide angle primes.
    If a 23mm is all you need, go with the X100s, if you miss changing lenses, the X E2. Hope this helps.

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  5. Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that.

    Comment by Stockografie — November 21, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  6. Hi Mike!

    No doubt x-e2 rules!
    I purchased x-e1 5months ago.. Recently heart fuji will announce another firmware for x-e1 (would be great). Anyway I think I will stick to my x-e1 and probably jump one day on x-e3?!!
    I don’t feel comfortable when changing cameras every 6 months, somehow that makes me disrespect the body.

    Comment by Alex — November 21, 2013 @ 11:05 am

  7. Hi Alex! yeah, you know I am an addict :) seriously, it really depends on what you shoot and if you don’t find anything lacking, stick with it. The X-E1 is a wonderful camera,
    I don’t see a real life image improvement, I love the X trans sensor, esp for portraits and low light, so from that point of view, there really is no need to get the X E2.
    Something I was hoping from using the X100s turns out to be a real plus, when shooting with mf lenses like the 50mm or 85mm, the split focus aid absolutely rocks.
    for me, that alone is enough to upgrade.

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  8. s/b Muhammad. Not “Jesus”.

    Comment by DanSmedra — November 21, 2013 @ 11:14 am

  9. Hi Mike, this really helps a lot! It is tempting to change lenses, but 23mm f/2 is more than enough for me. Plus I prefer the OVF over the EVF;-).

    Many thanks for your advice! Cheers!

    Comment by Jeroen — November 21, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  10. :) right. I was torn, finally I just flipped a coin.

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  11. You are welcome, Jeroen. If 23mm is all you need, the x100s is the best camera on the market. Plus the silent shutter and hassle free high speed flash sync are nice bonus features! :)

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  12. Hi Mike,

    I’ve gone in the opposite direction. Kept the X-E1 over upgrading and bought a X100s instead. For my shooting style, the XE2 improvements didn’t, at least superficially, seem compelling enough. More importantly, AF speed is only one way to lose a shot. I find that not having to fumble around changing lenses is a real pleasure. Just grab one or the other or my third, a Ricoh GR. It gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of preset shooting modes and a speed to the shot that no single camera with several lenses can possibly match. With the 60mm, all in its under four pounds of gear. That said, we’ll see what Fuji has up its sleeve regarding an XP2. If and when that arrives, I can see myself arguing the pros and cons vs the XE2 and upgrading to one them. Thanks for the review!

    Comment by Tailwagger — November 21, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  13. Hi Tailgater, I totally agree with you re multiple bodies, the best way to shoot. I prefer identical bodies, will most likely replace the x100s with a 2nd XE2

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 21, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

  14. Mike, the lack of the View Mode is a DEAL KILLER FOR ME. I sure hope that Fuji doesn’t do this with the X-Pro 1. Happy shooting!

    Comment by Craig — November 22, 2013 @ 12:50 am

  15. HI Mike

    I have already ordered my X E2 body which is shipped now and I have already 35mm and zoom 16-50 waiting for the body. I was wondering about buying also prime 23mm but X100s used can be bough for a similar price than the prime itself. I know that aperture on the prime is an advantage but on the hand buying x100s I am getting opportunity not to change lenses which has always struggled me from using prime lenses. It is basically waste of time and can be annoying the photographer and/or the subject. Have you ever compared 23mm vs x100s in regards to sharpness? What would you advise?
    Thanks

    Comment by Rafal — November 22, 2013 @ 5:55 am

  16. Hi Mike, thanks for this great info. I have been waiting a couple of weeks for X-E2 (it is not in the Czech Republic yet). Meanwhile I have read many articles about both X-E1 and X-E2 cameras. Yesterday I bought X-E1, because one month ago I wanted this one. I have bought it from the second hand, just 3 months old and for a half of the X-E2 (actually also X-E1 here) price. When I compared pros and cons, there was not such a big difference for me and $ 500 or so is a fantastic price for new X-E1.
    By the way I have “converted” from full frame Nikon D700 and I love the X :)

    Comment by Jiri Ruzek — November 22, 2013 @ 7:33 am

  17. I hear you, Craig. They will have to bring it back with the next firmware upgrade. By the way, I love this last shot on your blog

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 22, 2013 @ 8:15 am

  18. Hi Jiri! Congrats, I agree, if you can get a second hand body for a great price – definitely the way to go. Just checked your site, great images!

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 22, 2013 @ 8:19 am

  19. Hey Rafal, I haven’t compared them but know for a fact that the 23mm 1.4 is the sharper lens. However, unless you shoot mtf charts the difference is negligible and the benefits you will be getting with a second body far outweigh the theoretical “sharpness” advantage. I have shot mostly wide open with the X100s and the results are stunning. I never felt the lens was letting me down. Hope this helps.

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 22, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  20. Thank you Mike. Those marked as a “new photo” have been taken with X-Pro1 (my first choice before I found out how fantastic X-E is:))

    Comment by Jiri Ruzek — November 22, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  21. The main dial lock feature is indeed available, as I found out today when it was in the locked position, and I had no idea how to unlock the control dial. Had to check the manual when I got home. A press of the menu/ok button for 3 seconds toggles it.

    Comment by chrisd999 — November 25, 2013 @ 12:44 am

  22. Thanks for pointing this out, Chris!

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 25, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  23. Pleased that you’re happy with your upgrade to the X-E2 but I thought you may find my reasons for not upgrading of interest and a pleasant contrast to yours?

    http://www.streetphotographyblog.co.uk/why-i-wont-be-upgrading-to-the-fuji-x-e2-anytime-soon/

    Comment by Kevin Shelley — November 29, 2013 @ 8:59 am

  24. Hi Kevin! Thanks for sharing! I added the link :)

    Comment by mike.kobal — November 29, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  25. Cheers Mike,

    I’ve added a link to your article in my article. :)

    Kev

    Comment by Kevin Shelley — November 29, 2013 @ 11:07 am

  26. I used to own an X-E1. I was completely disappointed from the poor ergonomics of that camera the build quality and reliability. It did go to Fuji repair it came back with more features working. Eventually they stopped. To make the story short. After seeing the physical changes that they have done for X-E2, I returned the camera and in exchange I bought the OMD EM1. Comparing the X-E1 or as a matter of fact the X-E2 with the EM1 is day and night. If you like photography quit lying to yourselves return these worthless piece of junk X-E1 or X-E2 and get a real camera it id well worth it.

    Comment by Nick — December 7, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  27. I hear you, Nick! Sorry to hear you had so many problems, I don’t treat my cameras with gloves, I don’t mistreat them either, up until now I haven’t had experienced any problems with Fuji’s until this point, I did manage to kill my Ricoh GR and had to send it in, luckily it is still under warranty. I know the Olympus is great fun and super fast, enjoy it!

    Comment by mike.kobal — December 7, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  28. Thanks for all your reviews and thoughts. Very helpfull!
    Coming from Panasonic GX1 with 20/1.7 I would like to upgrade toX100S or X-E2 with 27/2.8
    Could you roughly compare the AF performance in low and unfavorable light? I exect them to be somewhat sluggish but I am concerned about the accuracy, once they acquire the focus. I would really appreciate your comment.
    Thanks!

    Comment by tp — January 29, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

  29. af performance should be very similar, might be a tad slower then on m43, I don’t have a GX1 at hand, haven’t had accuracy problems with the 27mm on the XE2, however, fuji’s are notorious for missing focus more often in low light then the competition and I can confirm that from my shooting experience
    sharpness on the 27mm is already impressive wide open and if you need excellent high iso files it might be worth the trade off.

    Comment by mike.kobal — January 29, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

  30. Thanks so much Mike! I am not concerned with the image quality of the Fujis at all. I can live with a slow AF but not with an inaccurate one. What’s the use of a photograph with the focus where you don’t want it?
    In my case, this is my portable camera (always in the bag). For planned pictures, I would use something else.
    So, the lack of trust in Fuji’s AF is pretty much all holding me back from buying a Fuji…

    Comment by tp — January 29, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  31. Hi Mike
    Sorry if my english is very bad :)
    Im from indonesia, amataeur freelance photographer & usualy shoot wedding
    This year i sold all my eos system (5dii,7d, 2470 2.8, 70200 2.8, 1740 4, 50 1.4) that i usualy shoot with.
    Now i have fuji (xe1, xe2, 1855, 35).
    The fuji iq is creazy awesome, that no need big body to do that! :) its make me fall in love!
    IMO, the 5dii af speed in lowlight is not better than Xe2, OMD EM5/1 af lowlight is better, maybe better than 7d.
    But in my country that a mindset from alot of wedding photographer that “big body + grip+ white lense + red ring = pro photographer = showoff matter” & “mirrorless = a kid playing with toys”
    What do you think about that?
    Sorry again about my english, i hope you can understand what i write, =))

    Comment by fedrik — April 22, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

  32. yes, this also applies here in the USA, bigger is better for people who don’t know :)

    Comment by mike.kobal — April 22, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

  33. Hi Mike,
    Are the images on the FujiFilm X-A1 as sharp as the images on the Ricoh GR?

    The Ricoh is crazy sharp.

    Comment by Kim — May 17, 2014 @ 11:14 am

  34. nope

    Comment by mike.kobal — May 17, 2014 @ 11:33 am

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