The XE 2 Firmware Update: “Kaizen” Is Not Dead.

Dry Land Dog Sledding (Fujifilm XE-2, XF 18-55mm f2.8)

I may have been premature.

“Kaizen” lives! 

Last March, I wrote about an announcement by Fujifilm addressing the just-then superseded X100s. Basically they let everyone know, that contrary to their prior practice, they would not offer a firmware upgrade to bring the camera closer to their newer offering, the X100t.

Now this would to be common sense for a normal camera manufacturer. But to those not familiar with the Fujifilm “X” camera universe; the company had a history of offering cameras that were aesthetically and tactility pleasing, but on release, functionally sub-optimal. Then, through a series of firmware upgrades, they would be improved to a degree unheard of in the industry.

Some critics sniped that if the cameras were right from the start, that none of this would have been necessary. Maybe true. But manufacturers put out bad  products all the time. Fujifilm got a reputation for fixing theirs. In fact, the X1oos predecessor, the X100 had a variety of upgrades  each of which increased its capabilities. In fact the last upgrade, which was released after its replacement had been launched, was impressive enough that it made some of us who had upgraded, “second guess” our decision.


Fujifilm XE-2 , XT-10 (Sony RX100 mark III)

Lately Fujifilm seems to have caught up to the industry, and tends to released more fully formed products. The XT-1, the XT-10 and now the X Pro 2  all appear to be highly competitive with their competition. Still the company looks back to previous products.

This time their attention was focused on the 2-year-old modestly priced interchangeable lens body, the XE-2. Several weeks ago, they released possibly their most sweeping upgrade of an existing camera. Here’s what it entails:

From Fujifilm:

  • 1.New AF System
    • (1)New AF system with Zone and Wide/Tracking modes for effortless capture of moving subjects. (*)
      The AF System complements the fast and accurate 49-single-point autofocus system with new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes, which use 77 autofocus points across a wider area to substantially improve the camera’s ability to capture moving subjects.
    • (2)Improvement of AF accuracy.
      Single-point AF divides the focus area into smaller sections to more accurately determine the distance to the subject for even greater focusing accuracy. The built-in phase detection pixels have the detection range of 0.5EV, an improvement from the previous 2.5EV, delivering phase detection AF performance that enables fast focusing in low-light conditions and on low-contrast subjects.
    • (3)Eye Detection AF. (*)
      The firmware update provides Fujifilm’s Eye Detection AF, which automatically detects and focuses on human eyes.
      The function allows you to easily focus on the eyes even in difficult conditions, e.g. when shooting a portrait wide open to obtain a beautiful bokeh background.
    • (4)Auto Macro mode. (*)
      The firmware update introduces the Auto Macro function, which automatically switches the camera into the Macro mode while maintaining the conventional AF speed. You no longer have to press the Macro button to initiate a close-up shot. This update eliminates the Macro function assigned to the Macro Button, allowing you to assign a different function to the button.
    • (5)AF improvement in the Movie mode.
      The optimized algorithm delivers a more natural and smooth AF action during movie recording.
  • 2.Function enhancements
    • (6)High-speed electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32000sec. (*)
      The FUJINON XF Lens series lineup includes a number of fast fixed focal length lenses which boast very high sharpness with the aperture wide open, producing excellent out of focus “bokeh”. However, fast apertures are difficult to use if the light is too bright, so to ensure users can create shallow depth-of-field effects, the camera is now equipped with a fully electronic shutter offering a maximum shutter speed of 1/32000sec. The mechanical shutter will not operate at all when any speed for the electronic shutter is selected, which also delivers a completely silent shooting experience; perfect for shots of sleeping children, pets, weddings, and more. In addition, it is possible to set the electronic shutter in 1/3 steps from a range of 1sec to 1/32000sec. Notes1:  Shutter Sound
      The shutter sound can be muted if desired. Use the new “SHUTTER SOUND” and “SHUTTER VOLUME” options in the setup menu to choose the type and volume of the sound made when the shutter is released. Notes2: The Electronic Shutter may not be suitable for fast-moving objects. Flash can not be used.
    • (7)White Balance Bracketing. (*)
      Just fire the shutter once and capture the same scene at your selected white balance setting plus one frame at a warmer and another at a cooler color temperature. White Balance bracketing can be set in ±1, ±2 and ±3 steps.
    • (8)Enhanced ISO Auto Setting to AUTO1/AUTO2/AUTO3. (*)
      You can use three ISO Auto setting AUTO1/AUTO2/AUTO3 in menu.
    • (9)Exposure Compensation control in Manual.
      You can use the Exposure Compensation dial to make exposure adjustments while shooting in the Manual exposure mode with the ISO Auto setting.  
    • (10)Natural Live View function is just like the naked eye. (*)
      One of the great benefits of an electronic viewfinder is that ‘what you see is what you get’; the final image is displayed in real-time so any Film Simulation modes or other effects can be checked while shooting. But users sometimes need to see colors close to how they’re viewed with an optical finder, or to focus on shadow detail, which some high-contrast effects block out. To aid this, the Natural Live View function has been added and, when “PREVIEW PIC. EFFECT” is turned Off in the menu, an image close to the naked eye is displayed during live view.  
    • (11)Finer lines on the framing grid enhances visibility
      The lines on the framing grid, which you can choose to display in the Screen Set-Up menu, have been made finer   making it easier to view the subject.  
    • (12)New Video Frame rates (50P / 25P / 24P). (*)
      As well as the existing 60fps and 30fps selections, 50fps, 25fps and 24fps options will be available with the update. 50fps and 25fps allow video editing in the PAL regions, such as Europe, without converting the frame rate. 24fps offers a cinema-like view.
    • (13)Manual Shooting in Video mode. (*)
      The update will enable ISO sensitivity selection prior to shooting videos, as well as the ability to adjust aperture and shutter speed during movie recording.  
    • (14)Phase detection AF support for Instant AF. (*)
      In Instant AF mode, which is operated by pressing the AF-L button during manual focusing, the update will enable Phase Detection AF, providing faster focusing speeds.  
    • (15)Expansion of shutter speed in Program Shift mode. (*)
      In the current Program Shift mode, the slowest-speed setting is 1/4sec, but this will increase to a maximum of 4secs.
  • 3.Operability improvements
    • (16)The new user interface.
      The new user interface has been designed with particular attention paid to the size and layout of displayed settings.  
      This allows you to concentrate fully on shooting through the viewfinder.  
    • (17)Improved Shutter Speed Dial operation. (*)
      When the Shutter Speed Dial is set to T and the Shutter Type to Mechanical + Electronic, you can use the command dial to set a full range of exposure times from 30-1/32000sec. Previously, this was limited to 30-2 seconds. This means you can change the shutter speeds across a broader range without having to change camera position.  
    • (18)Name of Silent mode changed to avoid confusion. (*)
      The Silent Mode has been renamed to “SOUND & FLASH “.  
    • (19)Direct selection of AF area. (*)
      The update will let users select the focus area using the 4-way selector buttons, without pressing the Fn key.  
    • (20)Unlocked AE-L / AF-L Buttons. (*)
      The function of the AE-L / AF-L button is currently locked, but will be interchangeable, depending on the user’s preference.  
    • (21)Variable Focus Area during MF. (*)
      When working in Manual focus mode, the update will enable changing the size of the focus area during Instant AF with the AF-L button.  
    • (22)Q. Menu customization. (*)
      To make the Q Menu (used for quick access of frequently-used items) even more efficient, the update will allow its items and layout to be changed to the user’s preference.  
    • (23)Interlocking of Metering and Focus areas. (*)
      Users will be able to interlock the AF area position with the Metering area when Spot Metering mode is selected.  
    • (24)Movie Recording. (*)
      Movie recording starts by pressing a function button not the shutter button. “MOVIE” in DRIVE options is eliminated.
  • 4.Other changes with the update
    • (25)Supports focus limiter function for XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.    
      To be fully compatible with the lens, the new firmware supports focus limiter function for FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR.    
    • (26)“BACKGROUND COLOR” menu.
      “BACKGROUND COLOR” menu in “SCREEN SET-UP” menu is eliminated.
    • (27)The maximum number of images taken in the continuous shooting mode.
      JPEG in High-speed continuous shooting mode: approx. 28 images ⇒ approx. 18 images RAW in High-speed and Low-speed continuous shooting mode: 1 or 2 less images than before the update.

I mean, wow, this is like  a new model, particularly with improvements like the electronic shutter. Also, there is the auto-macro feature which not only streamlines your photographic thought processes, but opens up another button for a custom function. Bravo!

Market Street Bridge in Snow (Fujifilm XE-2, XF 18-55mm f2.8)

In fact there is also a new model, the XE-2s, with a few additional features beyond the upgrade. But I doubt anyone with a XE-2 will buy the newer camera.

Now I have an XE-2, and performed the upgrade. To me it means that I have a rangefinder version of my XT-10 with all of its newer features. For instance, I checked the auto focus before and after the upgrade.  I have a end table in my office, who with walnut legs sitting atop a burgundy carpet.  When the light is low in the room, the naked eye can barely make out detail where the legs contact the carpet.  Prior to the upgrade, the XE 2 would struggle to find focus on those points.  It was fairly reliable in well lit areas, but compared to the newer cameras not instantaneous.   Now it is a virtual clone to the XT-10; instantaneous in good light, and very impressive on the carpet/table contact area.

The XE-2 is also the benefit, of the new user interface, which has crisper fonts, nicer LCD and viewfinder graphics, and of course  an information display that rotates from portrait to landscape when necessary.

Clones (Sony RX 100 markIII)

Clones (Sony RX 100 markIII)

I now have three cameras, The X100t, the XT-10, and the XE-2, which have nearly identical features, controls and capabilities (as I write this, the X100t is perhaps a step behind the others in auto focus speed, but still fine). This is very helpful; the ability to configure cameras in exactly the same way helps to act more instinctively, no matter which camera I am using.  In fact, the symmetry of this makes me wonder about whether I should cancel my order for the X Pro 2, which definitely will be a different camera than the others.

But then again… there is that new sensor.


As usual these images an others, can be viewed



About henrysmithscottage

Henry F.Smith Jr. has been involved in photography for 35 years. He has become well known as a chronicler of the Eastern US landscapes , though his portfolio includes, portrait, event, and "street photography". His work has been displayed in multiple galleries throughout the northeastern US, and is available for sale for use in public and commercial spaces. His book "Pennsylvania Seasons" is available through major booksellers. He is also a writer and editorialist whose work has appeared in a variety of "daily's" in Pennsylvania. "Dr. Smith" is also a Pulmonary and Sleep physician who practices in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He is happily married, with two wonderful children. Inquiries to purchase prints, and for photographic services can be made through:
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2 Responses to The XE 2 Firmware Update: “Kaizen” Is Not Dead.

  1. Pingback: The XE 2 Firmware Update: "Kaizen" Is...

  2. From what I gathered from the post I link to below, the differences are mostly cosmetic and the EVF is made of a slightly higher quality material. I had my heart set on the new one since this camera is already two years old, but when I saw that all the real changes were in the firmware update, I went ahead and ordered the original X-E2. That saves me a whole lot more money I can spend on lenses. I feel like I have to be missing some major feature that the “S” brings, but I just can’t find it.

    Here’s a rundown of the differences between the two cameras both running 4.0;


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