The 16-megapixel Fuji X-E2 is the middle child in Fujifilm's "X" family of MILC models, but it's more than a just cosmetic update of the X-E1. The X-E1 was very popular with enthusiasts, but its relatively high price ($1399.00 with kit zoom) somewhat limited its appeal -- especially considering its principal rivals (Sony Alpha NEX7 $1249.00 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 $1299.00) were cheaper. The X-E2 retails for the same price as its predecessor, but both of its primary competitors are starting to sell at the deep discounts that often precede a new or updated model -- so consumers will have to consider their choices carefully when selecting a camera in this class. However, price should never be the only criteria when it comes to choosing photographic tools.
One major complaint consumers leveled at the X-E1 was that it had a slower than average AF performance. But it seems Fuji listened to those complaints, and added a new hybrid AF system to the X-E2 and an X-Trans (APS-C) CMOS II sensor, which in concert with the EXR II Processor, provides much faster AF speeds than its predecessor. Basically, the X-E2 retained all the best features of its predecessor while providing some truly useful improvements.
The X-E2 is essentially a stripped down version of the Fujifilm MILC flagship X-Pro1 model. It's an attractive camera, but it doesn't look much like a compact P&S or a DSLR. It does, however, resemble rangefinder cameras from another era, and it seems to be built to old-school standards.
The metal-alloy frame and magnesium top and bottom plates are robust and solid, but it doesn't feel heavy. Fit and finish are excellent and dust/moisture seals are more than adequate for typical users. The X-E2 isn't pocketable, but the included neck strap will keep this camera relatively secure. All controls are logically placed and easily accessed (by right-handed shooters) and the menu system, while feature-filled, is straightforward and easily navigated. Other salient features include no optical low-pass filter (for higher resolution images), a Lens Modulation Optimizer (that corrects for diffraction blur), 7fps burst shooting, a built-in bounce lighting capable flash (plus a dedicated hot shoe), WiFi connectivity, and in-camera RAW format conversion.
At first glance, X-E2's minimalist design appears almost Spartan when compared to other MILC's, but this camera feels surprisingly solid in the hands despite its diminutive size and uncluttered appearance. The X-E1's designers did a wonderful job on control placement and the X-E2 maintains that clean and functional design philosophy. The X-E2's controls are logically placed and easily accessed, at least for right-handed shooters. Here's an example of that thoughtful design philosophy. The X-E2's exposure compensation control is a thumb activated click stopped dial on the camera's top deck that provides direct access to this important function. Most other amateur and mid-level cameras often hide this feature within the menu system.
The X-E2 features a somewhat complicated menu system, but it isn't cluttered or confusing. The complexity is a direct result of the amazing usability of this camera. To put it another way, the X-E2 allows users to control virtually every aspect of the image making process and more control options logically require a more comprehensive menu system.
The X-E2's shooting modes include:
The X-E2 features a large and very bright 3.0-inch fixed LCD monitor with 1.04K resolution. The wide-viewing angle TFT LCD monitor is sharp, hue accurate, and fluid. The default info display provides all the information this camera's target audience is likely to need, the LCD gains up (automatically increases brightness) in dim lighting, and brightness can also be adjusted to the individual shooter's preferences. Here's the bottom line on the X-E2's LCD monitor -- WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) -- the colors you see on the screen are the colors the camera records.
The X-E2 also provides an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 2.36 million pixels resolution. The EVF is strangely placed just below the left-hand end of the top deck. This is great for vertical shots, but somewhat awkwardly positioned for horizontal shots. The EVF features a built-in diopter correction control for those who wear glasses.
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