Last update: June, 2014

Fuji’s X-E1 and X-E2

In this post I’ll address what I see as the major differences between Fuji’s X-E1 and their newly released body update, the X-E2.

The refreshing thing about how Fuji is operating these days is all their recent X-Series cameras (aside from the X-A1) share the same APS-C “X-Trans CMOS” sensor so picture quality is nearly identical across all the bodies with the possible exception of the X-E2 and its Lens Modulation Optimizer (more on that later). Removing picture quality from the equation makes doing a head to head comparison much easier. But there are still some notable differences. Let’s take a look.

Autofocus

Fuji touts the X-E2 as having the “World's fastest AF speed of 0.08 sec.” It’s certainly quicker than the X-E1, but in good light, the X-E1 still holds its own remarkably well. For the benchmark lover, there’s a video demonstrating the difference in AF speed on YouTube. I question the second test a little bit as the X-E1 looks to have started much further out of focus that the X-E2, but there’s no question that the X-E2 is quicker to lock focus.

Where I notice a huge difference is lowlight situations. With the AF on both cameras set to the centre point, the X-E2 locks focus much faster, and on things that the X-E1 refuses to focus on at all. If you’re a night-time street shooter, the X-E2 should be at the top of your list.

Another consideration will be your current lens line-up. As noted in my extensive comparison, if you have and plan on keeping the FUJINON XF 60mm ƒ/2.4 Macro, the X-E2 will treat you much better in the AF department. 

Continuous Autofocus and Face Detection

These are big ones if you have small kids or rambunctious pets you’re trying to capture. The continuous AF in the X-E2 is a big improvement, if only for the half shutter press it takes to engage it. The savings in battery life alone make it a big upgrade. I would personally make use of Face Detection in the X-E2 along with Continuos AF if I was chasing kids around. In my use, Face Detection works great. I haven’t had an opportunity to use it in conjunction with Continuous AF yet though. 

Handling

Well, I was going to lead with my biggest gripe about the X-E1 being that you had to use a second hand to get at the AF button in order to change your AF point, but Fuji has added the Down Selector within the Function Settings on page 3 of the Shooting Menu. It can be configured to be any of the usual Fn items as well as the AF button so the X-E1 now behaves just like the X-E2. No more having to use your other hand to hit the AF button. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this feature, but I didn’t get the X-E1 until well after the firmware update announcement in June.

The only real differences between the two in handling now are the separation of the AF-L and AE-L buttons, the added Fn2 button on the X-E2 and the extra 180x setting on the shutter speed dial. Other than that it’s pretty much a wash. I personally like the more clicky feel of the buttons to the left of the screen on the X-E2. Others might like the larger size of them on the X-E1. The D-pad is barely smaller on the X-E2 to accommodate the larger screen, but this is a worthwhile tradeoff, and something I don’t even notice.

EVF (Electronic Viewfinder)

This is where things get interesting. The EVF on the X-E2 has the same resolution OLED screen according to Billy from The Fuji Guys, but the refresh rate is so much faster. I handed my camera to another fellow street shooter at our first FujiTuesday meet and he could tell the difference immediately. The lag on the EVF in the X-E1 is what was holding him back. Now, if you don’t do a lot of really lowlight shooting, or you primarily use the LCD to compose, this might not be a problem for you. See “Rear LCD” below.

One area where the X-E1 is preferable to the X-E2 is how using just the EVF works. When EVF-only is selected by cycling through the View Mode button options, shooting and menus happen in the EVF as you’d expect. Where the X-E1 clobbers the X-E2 is playback still happens on the LCD. With the X-E2, playback maddeningly happens in the EVF as well. Adding insult to injury, the X-E2 no longer has View Mode button, so if you want to get images on the LCD again, you’re gonna be hunting through some menus. Maybe some people prefer that it works like this, I really hope Fuji fixes it with an upcoming firmware update. It seems like a huge oversight.

Rear LCD

To my eye, there is no perceivable difference in the response time of the LCDs on the X-E1 and X-E2. There are differences in the size, and the toughness of the screen. The former is not really that big of a deal in my opinion. The size of the LCD on the X-E1 is perfectly usable. The latter can be solved quite easily with the purchase of an Expert Shield or something like it. This is something I’d recommend doing, even on the X-E2 (don’t bother with anti-glare, it makes the screen harder to see).

WiFi

The WiFi feature on the X-E2 could be considered a gimmick, but it’s not. It works really well, and files transfer from the camera to the app (speaking for iOS only) incredibly fast. This could come in super handy if you take someones picture and want to send them a copy right away. I haven’t used the WiFi transfer to the computer yet. I’d rather just use the built-in SD reader in my MacBook Pro.

Lens Modulation Optimizer

This is another one I have yet to fully test. What I’ve been able to glean from research is that Fuji’s LMO works on blur that results from diffraction, and little else. If you’re consistently pushing your lenses past ƒ/11 where diffraction really starts becoming an issue, and you are a JPEG shooter, you will certainly see some gains in sharpness from the X-E2. RAW shooters can carry on just fine with the X-E1’s and safely ignore this feature entirely. One data point I haven’t been able to find yet is whether engaging the LMO drains the battery any faster. It’s a processor-based task so it would stand to reason that does.

I hope to have time to capture the difference the LMO makes visually soon, and I’ll update this post with my findings once I can test things out properly. I haven’t heard a lot of people complaining much about the quality of Fuji lenses so far. Things can only get slightly better, and that’s great.

Exposure compensation range of ±3.0EV

Not much more to say about this one. It’s a nice addition to have an something I didn’t even know about until after I bought the camera.

Flash compensation range of ±2.0EV

Not much more to say about this one either, but the ±⅔ of flash compensation found on the X-E1 was much too little. 

Conclusion

That’s pretty much it. With all the firmware upgrades Fuji have been so awesome to push out, the X-E1 is still a really capable camera, even in the face of its successor. For me, the X-E2 was a must-buy. Partly because I wanted an all black camera, and my wife chose silver when we got the X-E1, but the main reason is autofocus and EVF performance in lowlight, where I love to use my Fuji cameras as I learn street photography. For someone looking to buy a camera to use primarily in decent to good light where they won’t be chasing youngsters around, the X-E1, especially at its discounted price, is an excellent buy.

 

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