The X-E2 is very fast — equal to or faster than its competition at this price point. Fuji claims this camera has the fastest autofocus system of any consumer model camera currently available – with hyper fast AF speeds of 0.08 second. However, that super speedy AF rate is only available with a very limited selection of settings. From start-up to first picture capture is about 1.0 second.
The X-E2 features a Hybrid TTL (phase-detection/contrast-detection) AF system and captures images and video via its 23.6mm x 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS II (with primary color filter) sensor. The X-E2 saves images and video clips to SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards (including MicroSD with SD adaptor) and provides the ability to save images in either JPEG or RAW formats.
The X-E2’s built-in flash is located almost directly above the lens and a pop-up mechanism raises the flash slightly above the lens axis — so redeye will most likely be a problem. Here’s where things get interesting, the X-E2’s pop-up flash is on a jointed arm that lends itself to easy bounce lighting – simply calculate your bounce distance and hold the flash at the proper angle with the index finger of your left hand (while gripping the camera with your other three fingers and thumb). This feature substantially improves the X-E2’s general-use camera capabilities by allowing users to quickly bounce the flash for evenly lit natural looking portraits. In addition to the built-in flash the X-E2 also provides a hot shoe for using external speedlights from Fuji (dedicated TTL flash compatible) and other manufacturers, but some advanced flash features won’t be available with external flash units from other manufacturers.
Fuji claims the X-E2 is good for up to 350 exposures with a fully charged NP-W126 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery charges outside the camera in the supplied charger and requires about three hours for a full charge. Based on testing, 350 exposures seems a bit optimistic. DCR used the camera heavily for almost three weeks and was obliged to charge the battery three times. Reviewers would guess — based on usage — that the X-E2 is actually good for about 250 – 275 dependable exposures. This is important to note, since the battery icon will show as fully charged and then suddenly change to the low battery warning icon, rather than drop gradually on a scale.
Currently there are 9 prime lenses in the Fuji (X mount) lens lineup (including 3 from Zeiss) and 9 zooms including the very sharp 18mm-55mm/f2.8-f4.0 (28mm-80mm equivalent) Fujinon kit zoom. The X-E2’s kit zoom is faster (f2.8 maximum aperture) than the kit zooms of either of its primary competitor’s (NEX7 or OM-D E-M5) and it comes with a very nice tulip style hard plastic bayonet mount lens hood and a nice pinch-clip lens cap.
The X-E2’s movie mode seems to have been an afterthought. The X-E2 provides no direct video start/stop option. Users must first push the drive button and then select video from the list and then push the shutter button to commence filming (and push it again to stop) — the absence of a standard red stop/start video button is not necessarily a deal breaker — this somewhat primitive video capture method does work adequately, if rather slowly. The X-E2 records full HD video at 1920 x 1080p at 30fps or 60fps with stereo audio (Continuous recording: up to approximately 14 minutes) or HD 1280 x 720p @ 60fps or 30fps (Continuous recording up to approximately 27 minutes). Video clips are sharp, fluid, and hue correct and Fuji’s nifty Film Simulation mode can be used during video recording to more precisely control color saturation levels.
The X-E2’s default images show fairly neutral hue accurate color, balanced contrast, and impressive overall sharpness. JPEG color saturation is dependent upon which film simulation model users select. Be warned, however, that the Velvia model — for those of you too young to have shot color slides — is equivalent to the intense color or enhanced color modes of other MILCs. Image quality is dependably excellent outdoors in good light and slightly better than average indoors — although there is a slight tendency toward under exposure in bright lighting. Shadow detail capture was better than expected and highlight detail capture is noticeably better than average for cameras in this class. Noise levels below ISO 800 are negligible and dependably better than average for cameras in this class.
The Fujinon kit zoom’s f2.8 maximum aperture is just fast enough for shooting indoors and more than fast enough for most outdoor venues. Center sharpness is pretty good overall, but at the wide-angle end of the zoom corners are slightly soft. DCR didn’t notice any vignetting (dark corners) and barrel distortion is visible, but appears to be well corrected. Pincushion distortion is non-existent. Contrast is balanced and a bit harder than expected — which is nice since most digital cameras and many MILCs tend to flatten contrast. Chromatic aberration (color fringing) is remarkably well-controlled, but very minor color fringing is occasionally visible in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds.