First time Fuji User. A Fuji XE-2 Review

Jan 7, 2015

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

First time Fuji User. A Fuji XE-2 Review

Jan 7, 2015

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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feature image fuji review I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how great Fuji cameras are, so about 3 weeks ago I decided to get a Fuji. I was thinking of getting the XT-1 but I wasn’t so sure yet if Fuji’s are really as great as they say they were so I went with the cheaper XE-2 that has the same sensor as the XT-1. I got a bundled kit with an 18-55 f2.8-f4 lens.

Where to Get it: Fuji XE-2 | $800 body only: B&H | Amazon, + 18-55 f2.8-f4 lens| $1,100: B&H | Amazon

Specs of the Fuji XE-2

  • 16.3MP, APS-C, X-Trans II CMOS Sensor
  • EXR Processor II
  • 3.0″ 1,040k-Dot LCD Monitor
  • 0.5″ 2,360k-Dot OLED Viewfinder
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Continuous Shooting up to 7 fps
  • Intelligent Hybrid AF System
  • Digital Split Image and Focus Peaking
  • Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens

First Impressions:

Fuji Function (2) Out of the box the camera looks very sleek. It has a very nice built, and doesn’t feel like a toy camera unlike some DSLRs that are made out of plastic. Coming from a DSLR space, I seemed lost at first on how to control the exposure modes, shutter speed, aperture and ISO and took a while to figure things out, but once you get used to it it’s very easy to use. I thought that I would get a smaller lens because it’s a smaller camera, but the 18-55 is almost the same size as the Nikon and Canon kit lenses, yet f/2.8-4 is for sure better than f/3.5-5.6. I really liked how light the camera was and I actually want to bring this camera on my trips because of its small form factor (unlike walking around with a D3s and a 24-70 Nikon lens), the only thing that isn’t that comfortable is the way the camera is help, I might need to buy those leather grips if it helps. Fuji Function (1)

The Viewfinder

The XE-2 has an electronic viewfinder and a live view display. At first I used the electronic viewfinder which is pretty decent, but it needs time to getting used to if you come from using a DSLR. But after a while I realized this – why shoot with the electronic viewfinder when I can just shoot live view with the back display – which is actually a lot better. You get angles and point of view you don’t get often when using a DSLR, and because it’s a small camera it’s easier to move around. Fuji Function (4)

Fuji Xe-2 Review (17)
JPG straight from camera. Shot at a really low angle. ISO 800 | 1/32sec | f2.8

The Dials

Fuji Function (5) The dials for Shutter Speed and Exposure Compensation are a bit hard to move, which is both good and bad. When I shoot I need to use two fingers to move the dials. I like where the exposure compensation and aperture control is placed, but dislike the shutter dial because I normally use my index finger and thumb to move it, and your thumb gets in the way of shooting. (I’m legally blind in my right eye so I only use my left eye to look through the view finder so that’s maybe why my thumb gets in the way, but this may be the case for other photographers who use their left eye as well)

Fuji Xe-2 Review (8)
JPG straight from camera. Aperture Priority. -2 stops. ISO 200 | f8 | 1/4000s

FOCUSING and FPS

Fuji Function (8) It is my opinion the camera lacks in speed compared to a DSLR. The focusing is quick when your shooting in well-lit locations or when you have enough details in contrast to your subject, but in a low lit areas and with very small details to focus on, the camera sometimes has hard time focusing. I also noticed that sometimes it focuses at the back of the subject because of the big focus area. But still if you don’t compare it to a DSLR it’s still very workable. I didn’t have any success shooting Macro using auto-focus (not that I usually would). The XE-2 had hard time focusing, needed to switch to manual focus to shoot really close subjects. I AM amazed by the 7FPS of the XE-2 and the buffering is very quick which made shooting insects very easy. Fuji Xe-2 Review (5) Fuji Xe-2 Review (4) Fuji Xe-2 Review (10)

Low Light Shooting

Fuji Function (6) The ISO in the XE-2 is a game changer, I can shoot at ISO 3200 without worrying about noise. Actually, I can go up to 6400 and I know that I can still use it. Not worrying about ISO is really big factor, and I only have the kit lens, if I pair this with a Fujinon f/1.2 lens, it would be a low light. The first time I tried the high ISO is on top of a building, I was shooting hand held so that’s the reason for the blur.

Hand held | ISO 6400 | 1/8 | f3.2
JPG straight from camera. Hand held | ISO 6400 | 1/8 | f3.2
Fuji Xe-2 Review (3)
Changed to b&w in PS. ISO 6400 | 1/13 | f3.2

Colors and Dynamic Range

The way the Fuji captures color and its dynamic range is just Amazing. Enough said. I don’t think I have ever held a camera that captures this much color and dynamic range before, and I’ve seen and held a lot of cameras after teaching more than 700+ students.

Fuji Xe-2 Review (2)
JPG straight from camera. ISO 6400 | 1/125 | f3.2
Fuji Xe-2 Review (22)
JPG straight from camera. ISO 800 | 1/12 | f8
Fuji Xe-2 Review (14)
JPG Straight from camera. ISO 640 | 1/450 | f4
JPG straight from camera. ISO 250 | f4.5 | 1sec
JPG straight from camera. ISO 250 | f4.5 | 1sec

 Lens and Sharpness

Fuji Function (3) At first when I was shooting I didn’t really notice how sharp the lens really was until I was doing some post production on one of my portraits. I normally add an unsharp mask to my final layer to make my portraits a touch sharper but after editing one of the images I didn’t need to add this layer because the sharpness out of the camera was enough.

Shot inside the studio. Edited in photoshop, no sharpening added.
Shot inside the studio. Edited in photoshop, no sharpening added.
Fuji Xe-2 Review (19)
JPG image
fuji 100 percent crop
100% Crop
Fuji Xe-2 Review (9)
JPG straight out of camera. ISO 100 | 1/350 | f4
Fuji Xe-2 Review (12)
JPG straight out of camera. ISO 200 | 1/420 | f4

Battery

Better get an extra battery right away when you purchase this camera. It has a small battery and if you use the live view a lot you will need it. I covered an event and I got about 4-5hours with one battery when shooting with the back display. Fuji Function (7)

Fuji Xe-2 Review (7)
JPG straight out of camera. ISO 200 | 1/4000 | f5

CONCLUSION:

I’ll start with the cons first, the focusing is the one thing that bothers me, even with the recent update it’s still quite slow. Still workable, but slow. I also don’t like the grip of the camera, might get a leather case to see if it helps with the grip. The battery life is fine with me because I can always bring a spare battery, and shooting with the back live view for sure will use the battery more.

The Pros, however outweighs the cons. The quality of the images is superb for a small camera, it makes me want to take pictures outdoors and bring a camera everywhere I go (which is hard to do when your lugging around a Nikon D3s and a 24-70 lens). I can say that the quality of the image is the comparable to a full frame DSLR, maybe even better depending on the camera. The colors, the ISO, the sharpness of the camera are amazing.  I’m excited to use this on a paid job because I think it would do a great job, and having a lightweight camera will also be much easier for me. It was a very good decision to get this camera and actually thinking about getting an XT-1.

Fuji Xe-2 Review (24)
JPG straight out of camera. Using the flashlight of the led as light source. ISO 800 | 1/12 | f2.8
Fuji Xe-2 Review (25)
Studio shot using the Xe-2.

Fuji XE-2 | $800 body only: B&H | Amazon Fuji XE-2 with 18-55 f2.8-f4 lens| $1,100: B&H | Amazon

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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12 responses to “First time Fuji User. A Fuji XE-2 Review”

  1. gelopsycho Avatar
    gelopsycho

    Nice review. Thanks! Fuji X20 user here, love the qulaity of Fuji Cameras.

  2. edwood Avatar
    edwood

    I think you should mention the fact the half-press AF lock in Fuji cameras does NOT work as the rest of the camera world, I have never read about it in any review and it has been a cold shower when I finally got the X100T in my hands.
    in Fuji cameras if you half press the shutter button the camera will focus lock, so you can recompose the picture and finally take the shot.
    If you release the shutter to half without let it go fully normal cameras will keep the focus locked so you can take other pictures without refocusing but in Fuji World the camera will refocus anyway after the first shot (and with very slow AF speed compared to others).
    Try it and if you try to take subsequent pictures you’ll constantly miss the moment!
    I hope people will start complaining so much that Fuji will add the normal behavior in a future firmware ;-)
    So please if you find what I say meaningful update the review so more people are aware of what I personally find a big problem.

    1. Tom Avatar
      Tom

      Plop your camera in manual mode, use focus assist button for instant single autofocus lock and shoot away. Back button focus on the X100T and X-T1 works like on any Canon or Nikon I ever shot. I shot Canon and Olympus for 7 years and yes, their focussing was slightly faster, but also far more inaccurate. It would confirm focus, and upon inspection of the files afterwards it would be out of focus. Have not had that on any of my Fuji’s so far, not even when shooting in very low light. I’ll take accuracy over speed any day. Also, don’t use the smallest AF point on Fuji and keep it in high performance mode. Haven’t noticed any significant battery drain over normal mode and AF is noticeably faster.

      1. edwood Avatar
        edwood

        Thank you Tom! I’ll try the High performance mode, I was afraid about battery drain so I have never enabled it.
        My problem is that I have to push 2 buttons where the rest of the world doesn’t need it and it’s just a flag in a line of firmware code.. so VERY easy to add, but probably the reason is philosophical ;-)
        About AF accuracy, I always had problems with DSLR (front, back focus and micro calibration), no more problems with contrast AF mirrorless cameras (I have Olympus and Panasonic), so the same applies to Fuji, except it is much slower (but I’ll try the High performance mode).
        Oh by the way, I LOVE the X100T, I just complain for the only issue I have

        1. Nátrium-tioszulfát Avatar
          Nátrium-tioszulfát

          “My problem is that I have to push 2 buttons where the rest of the world doesn’t need it”

          Just leave your comfort zone! :)

        2. Tom Avatar
          Tom

          Using anything but the smallest AF point should help with AF speed. I use size 2 when I can line up the shot carefully. Size 3 or 4 for street and action shooting. My 50-140 focusses very fast, even in bad light. The 56 not so much, tad slower. The X100T is good enough for my use, about the same speed and more accurate than my old Canon 500D and I used that for years without problems.

          I too have my gripes with Fuji, but they are peanuts compared to my gripes I had with Canon and Nikon. My Canon lenses were a mixed batch, even though most were their most expensive L kind. The 135L and 35L were all time favourites. Others I owned were soft, didn’t focus properly, build quality was sub-par on some, bodies felt plastic and in my view far too large. I also don’t get all the people who say a DSLR fits their big hands better? I’m 6ft5 and I would prefer a small capable camera any day over a large hulk of a DSLR. Small means you use it more, at least in my case. Build quality on Fuji is not up to the level of my Olympus E-M1, but that is a tank of a camera, best I’ve ever seen on a small body. Fuji is esthetically a nicer camera and I prefer the control layout, certainly with the new firmware updates.

          Having used Canon for years, I recently went back to one for a shoot and I hated it instantly. What may have seemed logical once since I didn’t know better, now seemed unnecessarily complex and illogical. Also, looking back, their current models have not changed much since years, despite years in which technology has moved along greatly. They got complacent and reluctant to change and I have no regrets stepping over to Fuji (and Olympus micro-four thirds).

          Will there always be problems or complaints with a camera? Of course! Apart from better focussing, the Fuji’s are as close to perfection as I would ever want. Oh, and please Fuji, give us more aperture blades on the primes, 7 is not enough! Oh, and a less flimsy memory card door is also welcome. Oh, and weather sealing on the X100 series, seriously, it’s about time. Oh, and stiffer aperture rings, like the one on the 50-140. Oh, and maybe even more retro styling, with more metal dials instead of plastic. …

          Helpful Fuji setup guide here, if you didn’t know it already.

          http://www.johncaz.net/blog/december-19th-2014

        3. Allen Mowery Avatar
          Allen Mowery

          On my Canons, I prefer using two buttons (one on the back for focusing and the shutter for…well…). I can control each function independently of the other, and my life is significantly easier (and more predictable). I’d have it no other way…

    2. Dave Deluria Avatar
      Dave Deluria

      I’ve had higher “keepers” using Fuji than I ever did using a Nikon D3. Even using DSLRs I would separate the focus from the shutter using AF-Lock. The focus peaking was something I never had on SLRs and it’s a godsend in the Fuji. I’ve also put enough shots using the new XF 50-140 F2.8 in Continuous shooting to confirm my own brave decision to ditch the heavy DSLR with my F2.8 trinity lenses. If ever, shooting with Fuji has made me confident to actually forgo getting the new XF 16-50 F2.8 in favor of using Fuji’s fast primes on the wide~normal focal range. I don’t feel I will miss a shot even using such narrow DOF at F1.4 or F1.2 these wonderful primes offer over traditional F2.8 zooms we were used to using on DSLRs

    3. Ofer Avatar
      Ofer

      I agree completely. Anyone used to professionally using a DSLR (or the older SLRs) would be annoyed by the forced re-focusing that fuji does. I can’t believe that the menus don’t allow an override of this function!

  3. Enrique Puig Avatar
    Enrique Puig

    Amazing review, liked the pictures you uploaded and how you squeezed it to portray the camera’s potential. Could you, and I can understand if you prefer not to answer this question, but detail the camera’s configuration (color, sharpness, shadow, etc) and what film simulation you used? Thanks!

  4. Vladimir Khudyakov Avatar
    Vladimir Khudyakov

    Almost same size as a entry-level Nikon. Almost same price with the KIT lens. Where is benefit? :)))

  5. llockke Avatar
    llockke

    I have an X100S, would you recommend the XE2 as a main body? I want an ILC for the times when my X100S limits me