Amid all the deserved hype around the launch of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 it was easy to miss the upgrade to the Fuji X-E2, in the form of the X-E2S. In truth this is really an evolution rather than a revolution but, true to form, Fuji have integrated some very welcome features into this incarnation.
Before I run through these it might be worth explaining Fujifilm’s strategy around their, interchangeable lens, CSC (compact system camera) line up. Fujifilm’s launch into the CSC market came with the introduction of the X-Pro1 4 years ago. This model was styled around the retro rangefinder type cameras. It was an instant success due to the beautiful design and stunning image quality. The X-E1 and X-E2 followed in the same vein but in a smaller form factor. Whilst there are benefits of using a rangefinder for certain types of shooting, especially street, there are many photographers who prefer the typical DSLR style body with a central viewfinder. Enter the Fujifilm X-T1 and subsequently X-T10.
My “affair” with Fuji started in 2013 when I bought the X-E1. I had always wanted a small, light rangefinder style camera to use as a carry round camera to be used alongside my Canon DSLR system. I loved that camera and I still do, but whilst the X-T1 with its fantastic features and design is now my favoured body, the X-E1 is always in my bag.
So when Fuji asked me to test the X-E2S I was intrigued to see how it would compare to my own two models. My thoughts here are not meant to be a definitive technical review, there are plenty of other sites that offer that, but more around the user experience which will hopefully help you decide whether this body might be the one for you.
The X-E2S inherits the rangefinder style design and functionality with a series of new or improved features. The X-E2S is the same small size as the X-E1 / X-E2 and weighs in at a meagre 350g (body only) great for discreet, unobtrusive shooting.
The X-E2S boasts improved viewfinder, autofocus system, handling and a more intuitive interface so let’s have a look at these in a little more detail.
One of the key benefits of the recent Fuji viewfinders is the ability to see in real time the exposure that you’re getting. Adjust the exposure or exposure compensation dial and see the screen go brighter or darker and confirm highlight and shadow control with the live histogram. The display is large with a 0.62x magnification and very bright and Fujifilm claim the EVF features the world’s shortest display time lag. The user can tailor the information appearing to their specific needs and this auto rotates when the camera is turned vertically, a really useful feature.
The X-E2S incorporates the superb new Auto Focus system that was introduced to the X-T1 and incorporated in the X-T10 and the new X-Pro2. This adds Zone and Wide Tracking to Single Point for easy capture of moving subjects. The standard single point mode offers 49 points for fast, precise focusing whilst the Zone mode allows users to select from three different sized zones from the 77 point focus area. The wide tracking feature excels at capturing moving subjects whether they are moving up and down, left and right or towards or away from the camera. This combined with Face and Eye detection options makes this a significant improvement over the old system and offers users one of the best and fastest AF systems available.
The addition of a new, silent, electronic shutter is perfect for candid captures or shooting in quiet places and a top speed of 1/32,000 second means that the fast Fujinon lenses can be used wide open outdoors on a sunny day without the need for an ND filter. The interval timer enables shooting up to 999 frames with intervals from one second to 24 hours.
The camera features Fujifilm’s APS-C 16.3 megapixel X trans-CMOS II sensor. This is unique to Fujifilm and the random colour array and lack of low pass filter helps deliver outstanding image quality and low noise.
For those who like to shoot in low light there is an amazing new top ISO of 51200 though I rarely shoot above 3200 ISO where I have no problem with the quality of the files. If you like to shoot video the X-E2S can capture 1080/60p video and offers the latest set of Film Simulation Modes, including the gorgeous Classic Chrome which gives a slightly muted retro feel. In order to make selecting your most used functions quick and simple you can customize the function buttons on the body. My selections are ISO, self timer (usually set to 2 sec for tripod shooting), focus point, AF mode and metering mode. Of course you can also configure the Quick “Q” menu to your own specification. The new model also features an enhanced grip and a new user friendly interface for the menu system.
For those that are new to Fuji or thinking about making the move across there are a few other key points I should highlight.
As with the X-E2 the X-E2S offers the user the opportunity to manage the “exposure triangle” of aperture, shutter speed and ISO together with exposure compensation easily on the camera without the need to dive into endless menu’s. Manual focusing is a breeze when using the focusing aids of digital split image and focus peaking. I find that setting my focus peaking to flash the highlights in red works best. If you shoot JPEGS rather than RAW, or want a very pleasant surprise, the Fuji cameras deliver stunning JPEGS straight from camera. There is a lovely, almost film like feel to them and you can fine tune them in camera to suit your style, they really do have to be seen to be believed.
A final point is that Fujifilm have earned deserved praise for their commitment to users buying into their system to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the steady stream of technological improvements. In this case existing X-E2 users can update their camera’s firmware at no cost delivering the new AF system updates, performance improvements and the new graphical interface introduced in the X-E2S.
X-E2 firmware can be downloaded for FREE here.
So in summary whilst the X-E2S does not incorporate all the latest technology from Fujifilm it does offer a lightweight, compact rangefinder style body, awesome autofocus system with a proven 16.3mp sensor delivering stunning image quality at a very keen price making this a very attractive proposition indeed.
All images were shot using the Fuji X-E2S