Earlier this winter, while trying to organize my photographic camera gear, I noticed a lot of equipment that had seen little use(my RX 100) or had been funtionally replaced (my D 600). As is my practice, I posted them on eBay; happily they sold fairly quickly and for reasonable money. This always makes me feel fiscally responsible (which is probably delusional), and more importantly, makes my wife happy. It also makes her more sanguine when days or weeks later, the UPS driver pulls up and hands her a new, camera-sized box, addressed to me.
By far the most heavily used equipment in my collection is of course my Fujifilm gear. The newest camera in the system that I owned until recently is an X100s, which I have no desire to trade. The two latest Fuji bodies (the XE-2 and the XT-1) have newer processors, supposedly improved auto focus capabilities, and WiFi , which enables a variety of interesting functions. It occurred to me that I out to try one of these.
The most celebrated of the new bodies is the XT-1. The huge view finder and weather sealing make this a compelling choice for many people. Body-only, they are available for about $1100 now, and I considered buying one. However, what first attracted me to the Fujifilm “X” series was the rangefinder-like, compact form of these cameras. Because of this, they tend to be less intimidating to my subjects, especially while street, shooting. The XT-1 is not particularly large, but it looks like an SLR, which to me would not be nearly so stealthy.
Although the weather-sealed body of the XT-1 would seem to be an advantage for someone who works mainly out-of-doors, I rarely find photography opportunities when it is raining hard enough that I am reluctant to use my camera equipment. I have used (with appropriate precautions) my current Fuji film equipment in light-to-moderate rain or snow without any issues. I always have my Nikon gear for use in truly adverse conditions.
Given all of this, as always, I elected to cheap out, and obtain a XE-2. This was available new for about $700, a significant savings over the XT-1. Thus I benefit from almost all of the newest Fuji capabilities (and the exact same sensor) in what for me is a better form factor.
This is obviously not a new model and has been reviewed multiple times in multiple publications. I will not at this late date, add another. I offer this article as a comparison of the XE-2 to my two current interchangeable lens Fuji’s the X Pro 1, and and the X E-1.
For this purchase I selected a black version, so, that in my camera bag I might easily tell it apart from the Almost identical XE-1, which I have in silver. On arrival, it immediately struck just how plebian the packaging was, compared to elegant boxes that enclosed the original X100, and X Pro 1.
The XE-2’s construction is almost identical in quality to its predecessor. These cameras are perhaps slightly less robust than the upper models in the premium “X” line, but are still nicely built.
There has been some revision of the buttons on the body of the XE-2 compared to the XE-1. The “Q” button has been moved from its place handy to your right thumb, to a position just above the posterior view screen. Some people may think this is more ergonomic, but I was used to the previous set up, and this is more of an annoyance than anything else.
Eight of the various buttons can now have their function specified from the camera menus. This can be handy, but it can difficult to remeber which button now has which function (not much room for labels). I continue to believe that the urge to change control positions on newer devices, needs to be tempered by respect for the users familiarity with the previous control layout. This is something that Fuji tends to screw up (the variable location of the focus point selector on different Fuji cameras comes to mind).
There is a slightly larger rear viewscreen, with more pixels. More importantly, the view finder with the latest software update, has almost imperceptible lag, similar to the XT-1. This is important to me, as I really rely on the electronic view even on the Fuji models that have an electronic/optical hybrid viewfinder.
There are definitely some other significant improvements. First, the auto focus seems significantly upgraded. Fujifilm claimed that the XE-2 had the world’s fastest autofocus, when the camera was introduced. I’m not sure this was, or is, true but it is certainly quicker than previous Fuji’s. Comparison to earlier bodies also makes it clear that one can definitely acquire focus in situations where previous cameras would struggle. This to me is a real reason to upgrade.
Related to the autofocus is the availability of face detection. This has proved to be a very useful feature to the point where it has me considering an upgrade of my X100s to the “T” model which also has this feature. It can be set up to toggle on and off with a “function” button. It will quicly find focus and set exposure for multiple faces in a scene. unfortunately, it defaults to a fixed central focus point in the absence of a face(rather than a movable focus box) and thus needs to be turned on and off as conditions change. Could this be a future firmware fix?
I was very interested in the utility and usability of the Wi-Fi feature. The Sony RX 100 mark III was the first camera. I have owned with this feature, but it has proved difficult to link that camera with, for instance, my Samsung phone. In the case of the XE-2, I downloaded the Fujifilm app and was easily able to link to my phone. The remote control feature seems fairly well-designed, allowing control of focus point, aperture, exposure compensation, and a variety of other camera controls. I’m not sure what I will use it for, but it works well.
The camera has essentially the same sensor as my X 100s and the newer Fuji’s. So, image quality is essentially unchanged from any of the previous “X” bodies. Fine, I am satisfied with that. It does apparently output 14 bit rather than 12 bit RAW files which is a theoretical advantage for post processing.
So, I have a new camera body. I may sell the XE-1 or use it alongside the newer camera. Given my love of the Fujifilm prime lenses, it’s always nice to have a variety of bodies available so that you can travel about with multiple focal lengths mounted and ready.
I am however, waiting for the flagship X Pro 2, which is rumored to finally have a higher-resolution sensor, and a smaller body than its predecessor. I would assume it will have weather sealing, Wi Fi, and some of the other positive features of the XT-1/ XE-2. Depending on the quality improvements in the sensor, it will likely be a tempting upgrade.
It just never ends, does it?